Art Kavanagh

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

Jim Collison is not himself aphantasic but 4 of his children are. He says they’ve all done well. Interestingly, they’ve all worked in STEM fields. (The teacher/children’s librarian is planning a science club for children.) Previous research suggests we do better in STEM.

John Naughton in The Observer says that Microsoft’s backing for, and other developments at, ChatGPT are causing panic for Google/Alphabet. Maybe a good time to revisit my post from 3 years ago on the future of search.

I see there’s a new novel by Salman Rushdie out. Coincidentally, I was just about to start rereading The Satanic Verses today, to write about it in Talk about books 📖

When I was posting my stories on Medium years ago, I generally added an image at the start, as recommended. I’ve now removed all of these images except this one, which I like a lot, even though it’s not directly relevant to the story, “Dear Old Stockholm”. Should I delete it too?

I’ve never read any Jeffrey Eugenides but he’s an author I’ve long had in mind as somebody I should read. I think this piece in The Guardian by Dizz Tate might have put me off, though 📚

As a “small memorial to David Crosby”, John Naughton has chosen a Stephen Stills song. I’d have picked “Long Time Gone” or “The Lee Shore” 🎶

Today’s post in Talk about books is titled Social distance: Sally Rooney, Beautiful World, Where Are You and it looks at Rooney’s treatment of social class in her third novel 📖

Social distance: Sally Rooney, Beautiful World, Where Are You (2021)

When I wrote before in Talk about books about Sally Rooney’s fiction, I said that Normal People’s Connell and Marianne split up in 2012 because Connell couldn’t afford to stay in Dublin over the summer and had to go back to County Sligo, while it didn’t occur to Marianne that he had been hoping she would ask him to stay with her: she had instead thought he was trying to dump her.

Maybe the book doesn’t need to be “disrupted” in the first place? suggests Lincoln Michel.

I bought an album by Kenny Drew on Bandcamp last week (download only, no CD) and it’s really good. Solo/Duo: 4 tracks are duets with Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen, 4 solo piano and 4 live duets with bassist Bo Stief. I should really have listened to Drew before now 🎶 🎹

I finished reading John Haffenden’s William Empson, Volume 1: Among the Mandarins 📚 last week, having put it aside for several months. I’ve just added a comment to my Bookshelf.

To absolutely nobody’s surprise, I got no takers for my offer of a sample print edition of last week’s Talk about books post. So, I decided to try making a demonstration video instead.

Brad Mehldau has a book, Formation: Building a Personal Canon, Part One 📖, coming out in a couple of months. Scott Flanigan’s review is on the LJN site. There’s also a solo piano album of Beatles songs (not ones he has recorded before) in 3 weeks 🎶 🎹

I keep my iTunes Library (so named since 2004) on an external disk. I found that, to import a CD, I have to reset the library location to the default, then afterwards move the files to the external drive, change the library location back and manually update the links. What!??!

I’ve been trying to import a CD into my Apple Music library for the first time in many months. I don’t know where it was putting the ripped audio files but not anywhere that I could play them or copy them to an iPod. No location shown on the File tab. I’ve had it with Apple.

The Guardian lists Crosby’s 10 greatest recordings, including this one, which I hadn’t heard before: “Morrison” by Crosby, Prevar & Raymond. RIP 🎶

This really is the end of an era. Legendary US musician David Crosby dies aged 81 🎶

Claire Harman has some very welcome suggestions as to where to start with the stories of Katherine Mansfield 📖

The British tabloid press behaves shockingly, but even outrage at its flagrant racism could not sustain my interest through long passages about wedding arrangements and housing options.

Laura Miller reads Spare 📚 (so I don’t have to).

Several analyses suggest that U.S. riders are more likely to wear helmets compared with cyclists in other countries — all while suffering the highest fatality rate per distance traveled.

Bike helmets: the history — and danger — of a modern safety obsession 🚴

Empson claimed never to form visual images when reading or thinking

From John Haffenden, William Empson, Vol. 1: Among the Mandarins. I’m not at all surprised but pleased to learn that Empson was apparently aphantasic. A mathematician-poet turned literary critic: I think it fits 📖

That’s where I want to be in the future. Exploring unknown territory that empowers others and adapts to the needs of a community.

Craig Hockenberry. Whatever replaces Twitter won’t be a “Twitter replacement”. We don’t yet know what it will be.

I’m surprised to see The Eyes of Laura Mars🍿, “this brilliant slice of giallo-esque baloney”, at number 4 in this ranking of Faye Dunaway’s best performances. I don’t remember it being well received at the time, but I suppose tastes change.

Here’s with some important points to make about violence in contemporary writing, film and games, particularly Fantasy. What do we call a “violence-prude”?. (Medium but no paywall.)

I have extremely mixed feelings about Caoilinn Hughes’s The Wild Laughter 📚on first reading. Some bits I really hated, yet I was never tempted to abandon it, and I’ll certainly read it again. I’ve loved her earlier work, so this is a shock.