Novellas

The other day I said here that I considered myself a “novella-ist,” rather than a “novelist.”  I also mentioned that, had I the time, I’d start up my own press that published only novella-length work, since there are so few publishers that seem to be interested in doing novellas.  Though I decided to take that post down for personal reasons, I’m replacing it now with this one.

Here is a very short list of some of my favorite books that are novella-length:

Paul Auster: City of Glass (= 1/3 of The New York Trilogy)
Albert Camus: The Stranger
Adolfo Bioy Casares: The Invention of Morel
Shirley Jackson: The Haunting of Hill House
Franz Kafka: The Metamorphosis (novelette?)
Gabriel Garcia Marquez: Chronicle of a Death Foretold (must reread)
Horace McCoy: They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?
Carson McCullers: Reflections in a Golden Eye + The Ballad of the Sad Cafe
Vladimir Nabokov: The Eye
Alain Robbe-Grillet: Jealousy + In the Labyrinth
Georges Simenon: Monsieur Hire
Muriel Spark: The Driver’s Seat

More soon…

“The Seer” (Swans 2CD)

Wow…

The latest 2CD release from an old-time favorite “heavy” band of mine — Swans — is just astounding.  Swans disbanded in 1997 (the year I saw them live in Philly, when Jarboe was still a regular member) and then reformed in 2010, if I’ve got my facts “all lined up.”  In that year (2010) they released a very good, though not quite “classic,” IMO, reunion CD that I listened to regularly for a while and then more or less stopped playing in favor of other, newer things by other artists.  This release, however, is destined to be on repeat-play for a good while into the future, I think.

At nearly two hours, “The Seer” features several long tracks that are reminiscent of some of the work Swans did on “Soundtracks for the Blind” (which, to date, had been my favorite Swans release), except overall heavier/more intense (yes, that’s right), and minus the drones/taped conversations that were featured so prominently on “SftB,” which gave it its soundtrack-esque feel.  (EDIT: The first half of “A Piece of the Sky” is actually pretty drone-like, though what I meant was that the CD isn’t interspersed with “drone” pieces the way that “SftB” is.)

The title track, “The Seer” — which is the longest single track on the album — runs for 32:14, while “Apostate,” @ 23:01, is almost like listening to early Swans in terms of its noise/intensity, though it’s more textured and, therefore, more interesting than, say, an early, repetitive track such as “Money is Flesh.”  There are also a few shorter tracks on the two discs worth mentioning, particularly “The Daughter Brings the Water” (2:41), which might have been a strong outtake from one of the more melodic Angels of Light albums, and “Song for a Warrior” (3:58), which features rather laid-back, almost countrified lead vocals from the always-excellent Karen O. (of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and also a guest vocalist on two top-notch 2011 releases: David Lynch’s “Crazy Clown Time” and Reznor/Ross’s sdtk. to “The Girl w/the Dragon Tattoo”).  I should also mention that the inimitable Jarboe is credited with a “voice collage” on the track “A Piece of the Sky” (19:10).  Though her usually distinctive vocals aren’t quite as recognizable here as on her contributions to other Gira-related works, such as “The Body Lovers,” it’s nice to recognize that she and Michael G. are apparently not adverse to working together these days.

There is also a 3 disc version of this release, which includes a live DVD, but, sadly, that version was not available when I ordered my copy, so I can’t comment on the live material.  But: I can definitely say that the 2CD studio album is every bit as good as any “classic” Swans album I own.  And that’s saying a lot.

~m

Writing on the wall…

I’m back, and I’ve started writing the follow-up to a detective/noir novella-in-stories I penned in 2010.  Excited to see where it goes.

Over the last two weeks of summer break, I was fortunate to have had enough time to read Haruki Murakami’s 1,157 page novel 1Q84.  What did I think?  Brilliant.  The ending was a bit tidy, but on the whole I really liked it.

I got myself a Kindle Fire, and I’m loving it.  Cheaper than an iPad, it’s also smaller and, IMO, ideal for reading books, if not necessarily surfing the web (though, like the iPad, it’s easy enough to “zoom in” on details).

I’ll try and keep this blog fresh.  Was recently informed that a dark children’s fiction of mine won’t be published until October, rather than at the beginning of this month.  Stay tuned…

~m