Art Kavanagh

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

When I wrote in my newsletter about the Jacobean play 🎭The Revenger’s Tragedy a few weeks ago, I concentrated on the subplot, which doesn’t have a tragic ending. But I didn’t use the term “tragicomic” and now I’m really not sure why not.

I’ve updated a page I keep of short stories that can be read online, to include (again) a link to Niamh Campbell’s prize-winning “Love Many”. I had previously deleted a broken link to another copy of that story.

Only cyclists are allowed to hate cyclists and, permitted such license, I will continue to despise myself every time I roll eyes at the fair-weather crew making their way back into the city after the daffodils have risen.

My sentiments exactly, Donald Clarke 🚲

I said “tab” in this reply, but in fact I don’t use browser tabs: they’re much too neat and organized for my taste. I open web pages in separate windows; one of the reasons I prefer Safari is that it lets me do that, avoiding tabs. Cmd-` switches quickly between open windows.

I actually finished reading Louise Welsh, The Second Cut a few weeks ago but I’m posting this now because I’ve just added a comment to my bookshelf page: I read it because it was recommended by Andrew Taylor on Twitter. Credibly interesting characters in dangerous situations 📚

I recently read all but one of the stories in Kevin Barry’s That Old Country Music in a library ebook. Last night, I read the remaining story in a (printed) anthology I already had. I felt that I grasped/appreciated the printed story better. Maybe it’s just a better story? 📖

The new issue of my newsletter, which I’ve just sent out, is about Candia McWilliam’s 1997 collection of short stories, Wait Till I Tell You 📖

Candia McWilliam, Wait Till I Tell You

Candia McWilliam, Wait Till I Tell You Short stories from Scotland and England in the 1990s How about this for a sentence? She left the house with her raincoat, her handbag and a pair of painful silver shoes she had worn to annoy Edward that morning, but which by the end of a day that included the plane south, a journey on the tube that had been almost alarmingly smooth, as though she would never have human feelings again, a hot train journey that made her homesick already for Scotland, and a promising period of eavestropping that ended with one of its participants’ disappointingly quiet death, annoyed her much more and burned her too, by virtue of their metallic finish.

Brad Mehldau is “the greatest living jazz pianist now performing”, it says here. Mehldau is great but for my money Enrico Pieranunzi just about shades it. Curious to hear more about pianists “now performing” but not living! 🎹 🎶

Mail from the UK has become more snail-like. About a month ago, I ordered two books from different booksellers both via Alibris. Both were dispatched on 21 Feb. The first arrived in 12 days; there’s still no sign of the second four weeks later. It used to take less than a week.

Yesterday, I added conditional text to my posts template, to insert some boilerplate into newsletter posts. I was pleased with myself for learning how to use if, and, not and in all together. But it won’t do me any good if the body of the email isn’t processed by Hugo. Oh well.

In this help topic about including images in posts, @manton says that newsletter emails are not processed by Hugo: instead MB converts the Markdown to HTML and adds it directly to the email. I wondered if people have any ideas/suggestions/hacks about formatting newsletter emails?

Alexander Larman in The Critic thinks that film director Joe Wright is a sacred cow. I’m barely qualified to comment, having failed to make it all the way through either Pride and Prejudice or Atonement, and given up after the unimpressive Hanna 🍿

The shuffle process, showing impeccable taste, selected two tunes from the same album, twice. Robert Glasper’s Covered and Maria Schneider’s Data Lords …

says Jazzy Blog Man, Mike Collins. But it didn’t even pick the right song from Covered, which is “Reckoner”, of course 🎶

I didn’t enjoy the early chapters of 56 Days, where boy (29) meets girl (25) just before pandemic restrictions are imposed: too much of the writing here has the tone and style of social media posts: instant history. Once the plot developments get going, though, it’s a blast📚

Got it, finally. I’ve updated the Help topic. Here is one of the tidied-up pages: not a “(Dublin Murder Squad, Book 3)” or similar in sight.

I feel like I’m really close to removing the unwanted garbage in brackets from the titles on my bookshelves but I’m still getting something wrong. Regex gave me strange, unexpected results so I tried using split — and I got strange, unexpected results with that too ☹️

Newsletter moves from Substack to Ghost and now I can’t find the RSS feed ☹️. The Whippet

Twitter suddenly started to show me a Home tab as well as “Latest Tweets”. So, I’ve just deleted the iPad app and I’ll use the web interface instead from now on. I don’t know why I was using the app in the first place.

The title of the new issue of my email newsletter, Talk about books, is “Fractured Spaces: Tana French, Faithful Place and Broken Harbour”. It looks at the two middle books in French’s “Dublin Murder Squad” series 📖

Fractured spaces: Tana French, Faithful Place and Broken Harbour

Fractured spaces Tana French, Faithful Place and Broken Harbour When Francis Mackey and Rosie Daly were about to escape their narrow lives and insupportable families, they met in a pub in Pearse Street, Dublin to go over their plans, and arrange the future they intended to share. This was in 1985, at a time when Ireland had for decades been economically on the ropes. The pub was a haunt of Trinity College students, so there was no risk that anybody they knew might see them there and wonder what they were up to.

I’d have thought that “reverse ransom” implies either that you pay the kidnappers to keep the victim or they pay you to take her/him back. But apparently that’s not what it means: California jogger Sherri Papini staged own violent kidnapping, FBI says

Machines will do the nasty jobs; human beings the nice ones

it says here: Covid has reset relations between people and robots. I hope the robots are OK with that.

I’ve at last managed to add notes/comments to some of the books on my “Finished reading” shelf, using a data template. Thanks 👏 to @jsonbecker for confirming that I was on the right track.

We don’t write things down to remember them. We write them down to forget.

Ha! That explains why I’ve never been much of a note-taker: I can usually forget most things without having to write them down first.