jazzy_dave: (Default)
Simon Winchester "A Map That Changed the World: The Tale of William Smith and the Birth of a Science" (Penguin)

Here is a book that whilst its subject is science it covers a far wider ground than i had anticipated before reading it.
It's one of those classic 18th century tales where there's science, religion, class, prejudice money and, out of the mess and shambles comes something that is really mind blowing. William Smith produced the first geological survey of the UK. All by himself. And a small version is reproduced on the inside front cover and it's a real thing of beauty.

It's set during that great upheaval in science, when Britain finally moved from being a medieval belief led society to one that valued science, facts, precision, deduction and started wanting to ask questions of the natural world. this is one example. It was driven by his being involved in the coal mining industry, then in the routing and digging of a canal through Somerset. What he'd seen by the vertical descent into the ground of the mines was reinforced by what he'd seen in the cut made across miles of Somerset - the rocks beneath our feet are different, but predictably different in different places.

It's got it's fair share of trials and tribulations, and the class system comes in for a fair old (and entirely justified) bashing, but Smith doesn't always seem to be the most astute of individuals. Even so, it's nice to see that he did finally get the recognition he deserved in his lifetime - even if he seems to have been largely forgotten since. Simon Winchester does write a good story, as well as managing to get some facts to stick in your brain at the same time. I thought this was a good read.


Jul. 14th, 2017 05:56 pm
jazzy_dave: (black jazz)
It was a wonderful relaxing day ending up in a meet with Phil at our local Spoons pub last night. Today i am back tn the fray again.Having done two visits already,one in Hempstead Valley and a pub food and drink visit in Maidstone , soon i shall be heading off to Canterbury via Faversham.

I have received for payments from companies i work for as well.So i have ordered this box set (on Amazon) of all of Ornette Coleman's Atlantic Recordings.

Beauty is a Rare Thing: The Complete Atlantic Recordings

Ornette is mentioned in the Wire Primers book ,and this set is highly recommended and only £26! This is one of the six discs on the set - which can be purchased individually, Free Jazz LP.

Ornette Coleman ~ Free Jazz

jazzy_dave: (bookish)
Annie Darling "The Little Bookshop Of Lonely Hearts"  (Harper Collins)

This is one of those books my brother gave me in one of his clearance endeavours. He can do that again. Also, this is not the type of book i would  normally  not read,,as romance novels per se are not my forte,  despite it being about a bookshop called Bookends. Anyway, i took the plunge and emerged pleasantly surprised.

I have to be honest though, in the beginning I wasn't sure if I liked either Posy or Sebastian, she definitely didn't sound like the kind of person who should be left in charge of a bookshop never mind be bequeathed one and then be expected to make it flourish. And right from the very beginning I got the impression that Sebastian is supposed to be her love interest, but he was so rude that I honestly didn't think I could read this book if he was her love interest. Thankfully, as the story progressed we see a slightly softer side to Sebastian, he offers to help Posy and to begin with we don't understand the reasoning behind it but it all becomes clear.

I loved the banter back and fro between Posy and Sebastian, as well as all the other quirky characters such as Nina and Verity.

Bookends is the kind of place that I would love to work! A small business, where you can make close friends in work colleagues, while doing a job you feel passionate about!

And for each and every sad moment within this story, there were happy moments. Happy moments that made you smile without thinking about it. And you cant really ask for more than that.

A good easy to read novel.
jazzy_dave: (bookish)
Jack Kerouac "Heaven and Other Poems" (Grey Fox Press)

The poems in this volume includes a series of his blues poems - San Francisco Blues; MacDougal Street Blues; Orizaba Blues; Orlando Blues - and a letter on his theory of jazz poetry. It includes two short autobiographies and a series of letters between Kerouac and a publisher.

The latter gives real insight into his writing: "I would like everybody in the world to tell his full life confession and tell it HIS OWN WAY" from a letter; or his essentials for modern prose which includes "telling the true story of the world in interior monologue" and " remove literary, grammatical and syntactical inhibition".

A couple of interesting quotes from "Heaven":

"The Church? Earth's dogmatic mistakes have nothing to do with Heaven"

"For we all go back where we came from, God's Lit Brain, his transcendent Eye of Wisdom / And there's your bloody circle called samsara by the ignorant Buddhists, who will still be funny Masters up there, bless em."

A short book but well worth having if you are a Kerouac fan.
jazzy_dave: (bookish)
A. Alvarez "Night: An Exploration of Night Life, Night Language, Sleep and Dreams" (Vintage)

Alvarez brings a kind of journalistic quality to a subject that he apparently devoted four years to bring to fruition in this book. He looks at it from a bunch of different angles. The book takes on - dreams and nightmares, the fear of the dark, night shift work, the history of lighting, night motif's in painting and literature, and soon.

As a critic he analyses and reflects on what artists have had to say on the subject. The book starts with the poem, Acquainted with the Night, by Robert Frost and ends with a quote from Krapp's Last Tape, by Samuel Beckett. Many pages have passages from writers such as Stevenson, Freud and Coleridge, with Alvarez using them to examine a subject like the connection between dreams and surrealism.

The photographs and paintings that Alvarez chose to accompany his text are particularly haunting. One in particular: an untitled photograph by Roger Parry shows a dark room with a dull beam of light streaming in through a half-opened door. The photograph was taken from inside the room and a few objects can be dimly seen: a daguerrotype propped upside-down against the dark wainscoting; a length of rope that might be fastened into a noose. Alvarez has this to say about the photograph: "I no longer remember how I populated the darkness, but I remember the fear itself, particularly of the darkness that shrouded the upper floor, where I slept."

I found this a fascinating book.He's serious but playful, has a casual sophistication, a curious and sceptical mind, and a direct writing style.

Well worth seeking out.
jazzy_dave: (bookish)
Julian Barnes "The Noise Of Time"  (Vintage)

Shostakovich and his struggles to maintain his artistic integrity in the face of the sometimes urgent, sometimes insinuating pressures of "Power" are brought to life beautifully in this short novel. As he gets older, Julian Barnes seems to need fewer and fewer words to get across what he needs to, and this novel is short but intense, and primarily about Fear.

In this telling, Shostakovich is primarily driven by fear and the seeming inevitability of being crushed by Stalin's apparatus of repression - always referred to as "Power". The lasting image from the book is of the scared composer, standing every night outside his apartment by lift, with a small suitcase, waiting for the secret police to arrive (so that they don't disturb his wife). And yet, they don't come for him, whereas they do come for many of his peers. The paranoia of being one who remains, seems almost worse than being arrested (but of course, not actually worse).

Shostakovich is not portrayed as a hero, not even as a courageous man, although he does his best to stand up to Stalin in a telephone call where the Man himself smoothly persuades (but what choice does he really have?) the composer to join a cultural delegation to London. Its both a brave, pathetic and utterly futile resistance. Is he compromised - undoubtedly yes, both personally and artistically. In my opinion Barnes lets him off a little easily here but his point is to show the gradual assimilation of the composer and is ultimate submission to "Power"
jazzy_dave: (Default)
Iain Banks "Stonemouth" (Abacus)

A long time ago i read his The Crow Road and before that The Wasp Factory. his is the first of his non science fiction books i have read for a considerable number of years. This one is a gritty drama played out in a small insular Scottish town, named Stonemouth. Stewart has come back to Stonemouth after five years away. The reason for his absence and the reason behind the local's reaction to his return are slowly divulged over the weekend. Through the use of flashbacks and Stewart's introspective thoughts of the events before his departure we gradually are drawn to the dramatic conclusion of the book. In other words,a highly recommended read.
jazzy_dave: (Default)
A couple of modern classical pieces to end the night -

Erkki Sven-Tüür - Passion (1993)

Erkki-Sven Tüür- Illuminatio (Viola Concerto)
jazzy_dave: (bookish)

Hunter S.Thompson - "The Proud Highway: 1955-67, Saga of a Desperate Southern Gentleman" (Bloomsbury)

This is the fist installation of the Fear and Loathing Letters and hence is known as volume one.

I read a majority of this book during my travels over the last six months and often people around me thought I was crazy because of how often I would laugh out loud at his writings. It reminds me of the best of Spike Milligan's humour in many ways.

It was pure Hunter, same style of writing as his journalism, but with a more personal feel and added insights to what was going on in his life. I also felt like it took forever to finish, but I tried to view it as a marathon, not a sprint.
jazzy_dave: (jazzy drinker)
A couple of poems from the Beats

Hay For The Horses

Poem by Gary Snyder

He had driven half the night
From far down San Joaquin
Through Mariposa, up the
Dangerous Mountain roads,
And pulled in at eight a.m.
With his big truckload of hay
behind the barn.
With winch and ropes and hooks
We stacked the bales up clean
To splintery redwood rafters
High in the dark, flecks of alfalfa
Whirling through shingle-cracks of light,
Itch of haydust in the
sweaty shirt and shoes.
At lunchtime under Black oak
Out in the hot corral,
---The old mare nosing lunchpails,
Grasshoppers crackling in the weeds---
"I'm sixty-eight" he said,
"I first bucked hay when I was seventeen.
I thought, that day I started,
I sure would hate to do this all my life.
And dammit, that's just what
I've gone and done."

How To Meditate

Poem by Jack Kerouac

-lights out-
fall, hands a-clasped, into instantaneous
ecstasy like a shot of heroin or morphine,
the gland inside of my brain discharging
the good glad fluid (Holy Fluid) as
i hap-down and hold all my body parts
down to a deadstop trance-Healing
all my sicknesses-erasing all-not
even the shred of a 'I-hope-you' or a
Loony Balloon left in it, but the mind
blank, serene, thoughtless. When a thought
comes a-springing from afar with its held-
forth figure of image, you spoof it out,
you spuff it off, you fake it, and
it fades, and thought never comes-and
with joy you realize for the first time
'thinking's just like not thinking-
So I don't have to think

jazzy_dave: (bookish)
Abbie  Hoffman "Steal This Book" (Da Capo Press)

I was very intrigued with the title of this book, and as it was only twenty five pence recent;y found in a charity shop it was a steal!

It is very much a construe cultural book of the sixties and seventies and is somewhat outdated now. However, it is fascinating to read about how the counter couture viewed itself in the heady days of the early 1970's.

Then maybe it is relevant again. Much of the information is out of date,yes, but not the overall feeling that we live in a dictatorship again (as Abbie celled the US in this book a "Latin dictatorship) with the twin evils of Trump and May,and that an underground socialist t revolution and anarchy is just what we need right now

An enjoyable mind changing book either way.

jazzy_dave: (bookish)
Patti Smith "Just Kids" (Ecco Press)

This is the second book on music i have read within the last few weeks,but like Coltrane, Patti Smith is one of my favourites, and her story i guessed would be a fascinating one. I was not wrong. This autobiography is about her enduring relationship with Robert Mapplethorpe, and their development as artists during the 60's and 70's in New York City. It is as much about their special bond as it is about their work and how they came to be well known as well as how hard it was for them in the beginning. Often broke with insecure jobs and having to find money to pay for rent which was almost ninety per cent of their income, even in a low rent area of the city. Mapplethorpe eventually went to San Francisco but came back a changed man having had gay relationships, with his art taking a darker tone,and the relationship with Patti fracturing yet remained friends.

In a nutshell it is about how they found each other haphazardly. They shared apartments, studio space, and their souls with each other. The reader follows along on their paths of discovering their artistic callings and themselves as humans in the modern world. There are creative highs and lows - many examples of the "starving artist" are found in these pages - but together they weathered them all. Their deep friendship outlasted their romantic relationship and they kept in contact up until Mapplethorpe's death from AIDS in the late 1980's.

While the memoir is incredibly heartfelt and moving, the way that Patti Smith chose to transcribe it is what makes it truly memorable. Each sentence has a power and emotion behind it, so that the writing is not only powerful but powerfully poetic. You share in the tragedies and triumphs, and really feel their world. I am now looking forward to reading her next memoir "M Train".
jazzy_dave: (Default)
Ben Ratliff "Coltrane: The Story Of A Sound" (Picador)

Ratliff's stated goal in this book is to not focus as much on standard biography, but to chart the evolution of Coltrane's music. It's a short work, broken into two roughly 100 page segments, the first being a just-the-facts-ma'am recounting of the evolution of his music, and then the second part the story of how the music he created has influenced others.The book ends by charting Coltrane's influence amongst younger jazz players, who are a generation or two removed from direct influence. An interview with the saxophonist Marcus Strickland is particularly revealing, showing how Coltrane's music is viewed in today's jazz environment.

I enjoyed this book as a long-time fan of Coltrane. Ratliff is a clear and lively writer, who traces Coltrane's stylistic development in a lively and easily understood prose. Of course the reading is greatly enhanced if you have access to the work he discusses, so prepare for lots of good listening. There is enough discussion of critical reception and excerpts of interviews with Coltrane's colleagues to flesh out the musical story of a man not given to talking about himself much. This is not a straight biography, rather more of a popular work of critical assessment.


May. 29th, 2017 11:07 pm
jazzy_dave: (Default)
The afternoon was mostly a milky white blandness with a hazy sunshine barely breaking through.I listened to some music, mostly jazz based from Herbie Hancock, Bill Lawrence to Michael Garrick. After having a battered cod meal with jacket potato and garlic bread i then watched some episodes of Charmed on DVD.

I also did some reading, with just two chapters left on the current paperback on Thomas Cromwell.

Now folks, that black cat that i befriended is still hanging around the Quays. Only now he prefers being in the offices as he gets fed there and much fuss over him. He has now been given the name of Merlin, having first sneaking into our cluster called Merlin House.

At least the cat is not going hungry. Loves the attention though!
jazzy_dave: (bookish)
Dan Falk "Universe On A T Shirt" (Penguin Canada)

I was rather disappointed with this book assuming that it would be at the cutting edge of what we know about the universe or at least speculate on it.As such, it is mostly a rehash of the history of science, from Galileo to Bohr.However, it does include a few dozen pages on current efforts such as string theory but there is not enough meat on this to get the intellectual juices excited. I was hoping it to be better, and hence you cannot always judge a book by its cover.
jazzy_dave: (Default)
James Baldwin "Blues For Mister Charlie :A Play"

Inspired by the case of Emmett Till, an African-American teenager who was lynched in Mississippi in 1955 at the age of 14, this is a dramatic look at southern small-town race relations at the mid-century point. As a play, though, it doesn't capture the usual power of Baldwin's prose. I don't think a reading can do it justice especially with the many characters on stage. Now,if only i could see a staged version of the play,then i would go back to re-read this paperback.
jazzy_dave: (bookish)
Of course, whilst i was in Eastbourne the last shop i visited just had to be right next door to a Waterstones bookshop .I succumbed ,and having read one book on Thomas Cromwell from a historian who seemed to put all the blame on Thomas rather than the King (Henry VIII),this book is a more up to date revisionist account.

jazzy_dave: (Default)
Robert Hutchinson "Thomas Cromwell: The Rise and Fall of Henry VIII's Most Notorious Minister" (Orion)

This was an intriguing, easy to read account of the career of Thomas Cromwell, notorious chief minister to Henry VIII.

Robert Hutchinson sets out the main events of Cromwell's life and times without going into much detail. . Hutchinson brings to life the Tudor court in all its madness and corruption, illustrating how easy it was to fall foul of the king and meet a gruesome end. Some of it being very gruesome so i recommend reading without eating food in front of you.

This is really just a primer and he does write in an engaging style and hence this book would be a good starting point for anyone interested in Henry VIII's world or that of the Tudors in general.
jazzy_dave: (Default)
Ted Hughes "Poetry In The Making" (Faber and Faber)

This is a student friendly discussion of what Ted Hughes calls "imaginative writings" and are drawn from The BBC program"Listening and Writing". He selects various writings from contemporary modern poets to illustrate his essays and thesis,and in particular - Larkin, Dickenson, Eliot,Plath and himself, to convey a sense that poetry can be made by beginners and how to go about it. As a primer on how to write poetry and improve the creative process, this short book of 128 pages is ideal. It is also an effective introduction to his work and that of other poets who have influenced him.
jazzy_dave: (Default)
Pierre Bayard "How To Talk About Books You Haven't Read" (Bloomsbury)

This is a surprisingly thoughtful rumination on books.

How to Talk About Books You Haven't Read,  by a hip French literature professor named Pierre Bayard,; because make no mistake, this is not exactly a practical how-to guide to faking your way through cocktail parties, but more a sneaky examination of what it means to "read" a book anyway, if by "read" you mean "understand, relate to, can recall details of, and can discuss with others."

After all, if we read a book as a child and then completely forget its story as an adult, do we still get to count that as a "read" book?

Bayard gets into all kinds of interesting questions like this, ultimately arguing that the most important thing we can do as readers is understand the entire time period that book is a result of; in the goal of accomplishing that, then, he argues that it's perfectly okay to just read the Cliff Notes of famous huge books you know you're never going to get around to actually reading, perfectly okay to discuss a book at a cocktail party you're familiar with but haven't actually sat down and scanned each and every page. This is how we learn, he argues, how we grow as both humans and patrons of the arts; every Wikipedia entry we read, every conversation we fake our way through, every BBC adaptation we check out, ultimately helps us understand the full-length books we do sit and closely read from the beginning to the end, which is why we shouldn't be ashamed of any of these activities but rather proud of them.

Funny, smart, and very French; a very fun afternoon of reading.


jazzy_dave: (Default)

September 2017

3 45 67 89
1011121314 1516


RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Sep. 22nd, 2017 12:46 am
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios