Art Kavanagh

Talk about books: a newsletter about things I’ve read

Two of my favourite recorded performances of “’Round Midnight” are those by Keith Jarrett and Charlie Haden (Last Dance) and Jürgen Friedrich (Pollock). But I’ve just been reminded how much I like that by Jacob Karlzon on his album Today, which I don’t listen to often enough 🎹🎶

Incidentally, Naoise is my middle name. Until recently it was invariably considered a boy’s name. I’ve no objection to Irish parents appropriating traditionally masculine names for their daughters, but in this case I feel impelled to point out that the Naoise of legend was a chap

I finished reading Naoise Dolan’s Exciting Times 📚last night, and thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s essentially a love story, though an unusually nuanced and analytical one. (At least that’s how it seems to me, no expert on the subject.) I hope she’s writing more.

Here’s an entertaining and informative speculation by Noah Smith about the ways in which artificial intelligence may resemble Lovecraftian horror.

Present discontinuous: Tense and tension in J M Coetzee’s Disgrace 📖 Today’s issue of Talk about books newsletter is about J M Coetzee’s 1999 novel, written almost entirely in the present tense. It’s a suprising choice for a book whose themes are so grave and disturbing.

I should have remembered to edit the email version of today’s newsletter to remove the Twitter embed. It works fine in the web post, but in the email the next 3 paragraphs are run together in tiny text. Oh well, next time …

Present discontinuous: Tense and tension in J M Coetzee’s Disgrace (1999)

Two weeks ago I wrote about two short stories by Louise Nealon and said that I’d post separately about her first novel, Snowflake. That post about the novel is now on my personal site. Today’s subject was suggested to me by a recent tweet by Philip Pullman in which he objects to the use of the present tense in fiction: I don't care how many people enjoy it, fiction in the present tense is an ABDICATION OF NARRATIVE RESPONSIBILITY.

I was enthusiastic about Kavanagh’s poetry while at school and afterwards, until I read Anthony Cronin’s Dead as Doornails which turned me mildly ambivalent. I hope “On Raglan Road” can be redeemed from Luke Kelly maudlin treatment. Irish artists record Patrick Kavanagh’s poems

It took me a whole week to finish rereading Shame (1983) though it’s much shorter than most of Rushdie’s novels. I suspected I’d been unfair to it previously or misunderstood what Rushdie was trying to do, but I still don’t think it works. Undeniably interesting, though 📚

I just posted this on my personal site about Louise Nealon’s novel, Snowflake 📖. It’s kind of a supplement to my most recent newsletter issue, about 2 of her short stories.

I only just found out that this live recording exists of Chick Corea and Stanley Clarke playing as a duo in Marciac. I was actually in Marciac that year (2014) but didn’t see them — I can’t remember why not. (Link goes to YouTube) 🎹 🎶

Nobody is so awful that they don’t have any redeeming qualities. You can say what you like about Thérèse Coffey but at least she’s opposed to the Oxford comma 😜

Shorter words are harder. The more letters there are the less the likelihood that there will be several possible answers


Stupid 258 2/1/2

Stupid word game — thanks, @cdevroe

I’m now rereading Salman Rushdie’s Shame (1983) for the first time since the 1980s or early 90s. I want to write eventually about it, The Satanic Verses, The Moor’s Last Sigh and The Ground beneath Her Feet in my newsletter. I’ve already discussed Midnight’s Children and Fury 📚

Much as I love the title’s echo the work of a different Andrew M, I haven’t yet made up my mind to read Instant Fires, reviewed here in the Irish Times. I started the author’s earlier novel, One Star Awake, but didn’t get far before giving up 📚

This issue of Talk about books (newsletter) is a bit later and shorter than expected. I’d intended to write about the novel Snowflake as well as two short stories by Louise Nealon, but it seems I have more to say about the novel than I thought so I’m keeping that for later 📖

Two short stories by Louise Nealon, author of the novel Snowflake

Author’s first published story wins prestigious prize, 2017 In 2017, Louise Nealon’s first published short story won the Seán Ó Faoláin prize, which was judged by Paul McVeigh. It’s titled “What feminism is” and is the first-person narrative of a young woman, a writer, who finds herself competing with other young women to have sex with the male coeditor of a college literary magazine, whom at one point she describes as having “the composure of a priest”.

Oh, I didn’t notice till after I posted the link that that interview is available as audio! I just read it in the feed reader without seeing the audio link. I noticed a significant number of transcription errors and flubs, admittedly.

Here’s a fascinating interview by Henry Oliver (who is writing about late starters) with economist Noah Smith. It’s largely about motivation, a topic that I’ve recently become interested in having completely failed to grasp it for most of my life. Some transcription errors tho

I’ve just finished reading Daphne du Maurier’s My Cousin Rachel. I think it may be the first thing by du Maurier I’ve read but it won’t be the last by any means. I got a copy of The Scapegoat and I’ll be moving on to that soon 📖

Palin into insignificance (again): Sarah Palin loses Alaska special election to Democrat Mary Peltola

My old bookshelf page had notes or comments for many of the books I had read, from a JSON data template (to which I added the comments by hand as I finished the corresponding book). I didn’t bother reviving that, as I’d prefer to keep my notes in a haphazard, slapdash form 😜

I stopped updating my bookshelves at the beginning of July. There’s something about tracking my reading that feels wrong to me. But @Manton’s improvements to Epilogue have tempted me back. So, I just added 8 books I’d read in the meantime to Finished Reading and 1 to Current

Finished rereading Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency for the first time in more than 30 years. Hilarious and clever. I don’t remember Adams’s second Dirk Gently instalment, The Long Dark Tea-time of the Soul, being as funny or as good but I still want to reread it 📚

Useful search results from the library’s ereading app.