Art Kavanagh

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

I don’t like the sound of this. Hope I’m wrong. Songtradr acquires Bandcamp 🎶

“Background music” is noise pollution. I’m sitting in a coffee shop in a shopping centre while waiting for my bus,and making no progress with the book I’m trying to read. Doesn’t help that I still have dilated pupils from eye examination 4 hours ago.

Latest from Talk about books: Out of series: Liz Nugent, Unravelling Oliver and Lying in Wait 📖

Liz Nugent’s first two novels combine familiar, naturalistically described settings with melodramatic action and motivations that are shockingly twisted. The result is crime fiction like nobody else’s.

Out of series: Liz Nugent, Unravelling Oliver (2014) and Lying in Wait (2016)

The previous post from Talk about books was “A double standard: Wilkie Collins, The Law and the Lady”. A few years ago, before I started Talk about books, I wrote about Liz Nugent’s third novel, Skin Deep (2018). (The subtitle of that post, “A woman to blame”, is something I stole from Nell McCafferty’s book about the Kerry babies case, if you were wondering why it sounds familiar.) At that point, I had already read Nugent’s second novel, Lying in Wait, which had come as a bit of a shock to me.

I’ve just been reading Ethan Iverson’s remarks about William Friedkin’s films, including Jade (1995). About Jade: I used to think David Caruso was pretty good, before CSI: Miami. Was I hallucinating or did something go wrong?

The up-arrow on my 2019 MacBook Air (butterfly keyboard) no longer works. Usually, that’s no problem but today I needed to search through Terminal history for a command I’d forgotten: sudo umount /Volumes/WALKMAN

I correctly guess-remembered the command; later learned that Ctrl-p is another “up”.

This priceless “mute interview” with Samuel Beckett following his Nobel prize win (1969) looks as if he directed it himself. Sorry it’s on Facebook. (I was able to view it and I don’t have a Facebook account.)

Booker shortlist dominated by Pauls 📖

If this lawsuit makes US copyright law stricter against AI, all it would do is make companies hesitant to develop and innovate in their products.

He says that like it’s a bad thing! Why George R.R. Martins’s generative AI lawsuit will cost authors even if they win

John Marshall, drummer with Soft Machine has died. I have two albums he made for ECM with Arild Andersen (b) and Vassilis Tsabropoulos (p). I’m going to listen to one of those now 🎶

And this what pushed the post about off the front page: Tracking my reading. Yet again, I’m giving up the idea of keeping track of the books I read.

This post from the start of this year has just dropped off the end of the front page of my personal site, so I thought I’d give it a bit of a boost, trying to keep it visible. Why I don’t trust

What we think of as vanilla—sweet, bland—is a lie. Real vanilla rather than synthetic vanillan can taste “dark-sweet, of smoke and cherries; or earthy as chocolate and coffee; or buttery, or caramelly or plummy; or stung by the faintest numbing hint of anise.”

NYT, via Helen Lewis. This is the main reason I get so angry when developers talk about “plain vanilla JavaScript”.

I’ve just reread Candia McWilliam’s A Little Stranger 📖. I love these old Picador paperbacks, they remind me of how I felt back in the late 80s. I realized I’ve reread this before: I remembered some details I wouldn’t have noticed on first reading!

In Normal People 📖, the fictional Connell cast his first vote in a general election for Declan Bree (as did I, 30-odd years earlier). Now, the veteran Cllr Bree is citing Connell in support of a motion about preposterously high student rents.

I read John McGahern’s novel Amongst Women 📖 in 1991 or 1992, and I couldn’t understand the praise it had attracted. To me it seemed just another tale about “the idiocy of rural life”, dull and inconsequential. I’ve just reread it for the only time and … what on earth was I thinking back then!?

What’s the point of having a nuclear arsenal if you can’t use it to bluff? Elon Musk let Russia scare him — The Artlantic

The latest post from Talk about books is about Wilkie Collins’s 1875 novel, The Law and the Lady 📖. Valeria Woodville is advised by many wise and well-meaning people that to investigate her new husband’s hidden past can result only in misery and despair. Her husband is of the same view.

Hi @help, the status of my current newsletter is that it’s “scheduled to go in -9 minutes” (i.e. 9 minutes ago). It seems to be stuck. Your help would be much appreciated, thanks. @manton

A double standard: Wilkie Collins, The Law and the Lady

Wilkie Collins wrote about 25 novels and many short stories but the four novels that he published in the decade from 1859 are the most highly regarded and the ones for which he is best known. They are The Woman in White (1859), No Name (1862), Armadale (1864) and The Moonstone (1868). The Law and the Lady (1875) is arguably a less dazzling performance than any of those four, but it is nevertheless entertaining, well plotted, full of surprises and well drawn characters.

Échappé belle

I spent several hours yesterday writing 1,300 words for my newsletter. I write in Tot, which syncs between Mac and iPad (and in principle iPhone) via iCloud. This morning, I opened Tot on the iPad to make a small edit, and was perturbed to find that the document was blank. Presumably it hadn’t synced with the Mac yet for some reason of its own. I forced quit Tot on the iPad and woke the Mac.

I just deleted 32 feeds from my feed reader (NetNewsWire) and subscribed to them in Substack app instead. As I said yesterday, I’m using the app regularly for Notes now, so it might make sense to read my subscriptions there too. I’ve got the OPML file that I can easily reimport if experiment fails.

I’ve been using the Substack app (on iPhone) and website (on Mac and iPad) daily because Notes. I’m now thinking that, since I’m using the app/site anyway, maybe I should follow my subscriptions there too instead of in NetNewsWire. Heresy? Might try temporarily, as an experiment.

After tinkering with it occasionally over 5 years, I’ve finally abandoned my short story “Purpose of Amendment” (the first part of 3 is still up). I was really making an argument instead of telling a story, though I tried to disguise the argument by giving the protagonist some questionable views.

I do think no story has ever been read properly unless it’s read twice.

Claire Keegan 📖