Art Kavanagh

Talk about books: a fortnightly publication about things I’ve read

LitHub has just posted an essay from the late Martin Amis’s The Rub of Time (2018) 📖. It’s about Jane Austen and what’s wrong with the adaptations of her work, originally published 1998.

Just read Anne Enright The Gathering 📚: Interpersonal dynamics in a large Irish family — twelve siblings born alive, though not all of them stay that way for long. Enjoyable enough but a bit dull compared to some other Irish fiction I’ve been reading (Kevin Barry and Claire Kilroy).

The last time I ordered a book by post from the UK, it took about 6 weeks to get here, so I was prepared for a long wait for this one 📖. But it came this morning, just 11 days after I ordered it. I’m resisting the temptation to take the rest of the day off.

What a ridiculous way to put it! If she was 10 months older then, then she’s 10 months older than him now, unless one of them has died in the meantime, which doesn’t seem to be the case.

I gave up on Garrett Camp’s ages ago because it was mostly showing me stories from The Guardian, Slate and other sites I was regularly visiting anyway, rather than stuff I couldn’t have found for myself. Artifact, from the Instagram founders, seems to be suffering from the same problem ☹️

In the latest Talk about books, I’m looking at two volumes of short stories by Kevin Barry, Dark Lies the Island (2012) and 📖That Old Country Music (2020). There’s a narrowing of range, and not just geographically, between his second and third collections but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Short stories by Kevin Barry: Dark Lies the Island and That Old Country Music

Kevin Barry has published three novels and three volumes of short stories. I haven’t so far read any of the novels: their descriptions didn’t immediately make them sound like the kind of thing that would appeal to me, though the stories may ultimately persuade me that the longer fiction is equally worth my attention. I’ve read the two most recent collections of short stories, Dark Lies the Island (2011 2012) and That Old Country Music (2020), one after the other though in reverse chronological order.

I might be overdosing on Irish writing. I’ve spent most of today trying to write a newsletter post about Kevin Barry’s short stories. Earlier, I started to read Anne Enright’s 2007 Booker-winner, The Gathering📚, which somehow I never got around to before, and frankly I’m feeling bogged down.

I appear to be trying to persuade the leader of the Lib Dems to join a socialist Labour party that doesn’t even exist, using a GCSE study guide on the 20th century.

Ah, the subtle ironies of British politics. Zoe Williams meets Ed Davey

I love this, from Lincoln Michel on the skewed distribution of AI “gains”:

… the calls to replace people with AI are focused on artists and workers rather than management or owners … Surely the job of a studio head trying to analyze data and predict which films will bring back returns at the box office is easier to replace with computer program than a scriptwriter. You’d save a hell of a lot more money that way too.

Henry Oliver has been reading David Edmonds’s new biography of Derek Parfit, and says:

… he had little sense of connections between his past and present self, and little sense of any narrative of his own life. This is consistent with his views on personal identity, that it is something of an illusion …

Parfit probably had aphantasia. But this makes it sound as if he also had SDAM. (The two often, though not invariably, go together.) I have both, yet don’t really grasp Parfit’s theory of personal identity.

Want to read Sylvia Townsend Warner, A Stranger With a Bag 📚. I’ve been looking for about 6 months, but it’s out of print and most secondhand copies, though not exorbitant, cost more than I’d like to pay. Yesterday, I found one for €6.50 (€13.86 inc postage). It won’t be in great condition 🤷‍♂️

I’m reading Emma Forrest, Cherries in the Snow 📚. Emma Forrest is writing a short series in The Guardian about her icons. Her column on Eve Babitz prompted me to read something more substantial by her. There are 2 vols of memoir but I prefer fiction and this is the first novel by her that I found.

Just read Claire Kilroy, All Names Have Been Changed 📚. A group of creative writing students gradually and painfully free themselves from the (anxiety-inducing) influence of their loved and admired teacher, the heavy drinking, washed-up Glynn. The problem is that Glynn is both a cliché and a caricature.

I was finding it much easier to push the water through my Aeropress ☕️, so I thought the seal must be leaking air, and bought a new one. It turns out it wasn’t the seal: the hand grinder had worked its way loose and had been grinding the beans much more coarsely. Could have saved myself €13.

Of course, Twitter still wouldn’t show me the Lil Nas X tweet unless I signed in first, which I can’t do because I deleted my account weeks ago. My loss, no doubt.

Twitter seems to have found a new way to be childishly obstructive. The Twitter links from Helen Lewis’s newsletter today can’t be opened directly from the feed reader. Of course, it’s easy to copy the link and just paste it into the browser address bar 😎

Scrolling through this ranking of Vin Diesel’s films 🍿, I can’t help wondering if he hasn’t been a bit typecast occasionally.

Finished reading Claire Kilroy, The Devil I Know 📚 An enraged, angry satire written in the wake of the 2008 financial collapse. I’d forgotten how bleak and hopeless things were then. Funnier in retrospect but still infuriating. Quite different from the other book of hers that I read (Tenderwire)

Latest post from Talk about books is about two very short novels by Ian McEwan, Amsterdam and On Chesil Beach 📖. They’re starkly dissimilar — one has been described as “brilliantly acid”, the other as a “beguiling” story of how love can easily go very wrong — but music is central to both.

Two short novels by Ian McEwan: Amsterdam and On Chesil Beach

This is my fourth post about the fiction of Ian McEwan. I’ve previously discussed Saturday, Enduring Love and his spy novels, The Innocent and Sweet Tooth. This time, I want to write about two of his very short novels, which were published almost a decade apart: Amsterdam (1998) and On Chesil Beach (2007). Although several of McEwan’s novels (including On Chesil Beach) have been nominated for the Booker prize, Amsterdam is the only one to have won it.

Remind me again what Web3 was: Web3 Funding Continues To Crater — Drops 82% Year To Year

Now that Claire Kilroy has a fifth novel out, her first since 2012, it’s high time I read the two I’ve had lying around for ages. I meant to start with All Names Have Been Changed (2009), but found my copy of The Devil I Know (2009)📚 first, so I’m beginning there. I loved Tenderwire (2006).

This is a game changer for me: I’ve found out how to follow a Substacker’s notes without getting their emails too. It’s still an algorithmic feed but it doesn’t seem too bad.

If we could control love, nobody would love anybody. Nobody would take that chance.

Smokey Robinson has a new album out at 83 🎶