Thursday, May 04, 2006

Books 'n' Records

Just a few notes on what's on the bookshelf/CD player:

Last week I read The Power and the Glory, this week I'm reading The End of the Affair, both for the first time. Where have you been all my life, Graham Greene? ... Over the weekend I read King Dork, by Frank Portman, which was good, although my expectations were slightly higher than the book turned out to be. The kids in this young-adult novel, by the way, don't listen to CDs (it's vinyl instead), nor do they have cell phones, cars, iPods, or any of the other iconic impedimenta of today's youth. And yet it's supposed to take place in the present day? Try around 1985 instead ... The Fiery Furnaces have just come out with Bitter Tea, and I can't recommend it too highly. Just as plot is the backbone of fiction, and draughtsmanship of art, melody is the backbone of music — and no-one these days writes better melodies than FF's Matt Friedberger. The fact that he festoons them with all kinds of collaged sound effects, synth blats and beeps, backwards tapes, and cartoonish keyboard doodles matters not a whit (in fact, I like it): the tunes themselves adhere to the synapses with the delirious speed of ad jingles. But what ad jingle ever had lyrics like

The isolated lady,
an isolated older lady:
a dignified dame who keeps her own counsel,
in love with the out-of-the-way,
identifying with the unfamiliar,
contemptuously turns her back on the wicked world
with its vulgar delusions and correspondingly
scorns its regard.
("Whistle Rhapsody")

Very cool.


Dr. Frank said...

Hey Ed,

Glad you liked the book. Just to claify, the book is set in 1999, actually. No iPods. No cars, because they are 14. No cell phones because mobile phones were expensive and they are lower middle class (and have no friends to call anyway.) And record collecting geek types will always prefer vinyl to CDs - in fact this is a topic that is specifically addressed in the book.

Thanks again, and I hope this helps.


EMC said...

Points well taken, Dr. F., will revise post accordingly. When can we see a sequel?