Snow Borne Sorrow, Black Swan Green, Three Word Titles

Why am I seeing young subway readers digging into Melville? Who told these people that Moby Dick is anything more than (the cliche is true) a whaling manual bookended by 50 pages of fiction? Did Brokeback Mountain inspire them to check out Billy Budd? Just rent Claire Denis’ Beau Travail. That’s all the Melville you need, with maybe the exception of Crispin Glover’s Bartleby.

I am happy to see a splurge in readers checking out David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas. This guy is probably the real thing. Number 9 Dream and his debut Ghostwritten ( premature pass at the achieved experiment of Cloud Atlas) are equally good, if not as accomplished as Cloud Atlas. The kind of stuff where the user reviews on Amazon state “great work, but not for everyone” which makes me laugh, my first thought being well, yeah, because not everyone can read (or just reads Grisham).

He’s got a coming-of-age novel, Black Swan Green, coming out in the US in April.

Awright. The muzak. Hatred in steel drums goes out to Clinic, for their new single “Tusk,” for not being the cover that its title promises. And I miss the Silver Apples-y territory of their second proper album. Please take more drugs in the future.

But since I am your demon lover, I follow my abuse with affection. Although we’re suffering a global warming thaw, the recent snow borne sorrow got me listening to, well, Snow Borne Sorrow, by Nine Horses, a David Sylvian-led collaboration resulting in clavinet and cello and weird keyboard pop of a moody type, some slight funk, as on “Serotonin,” or the cinematic bliss of the deep drums and plucked bass of “Wonderful World.” And yup, that’s Stina Nordenstam or whatever her name is, dueting with The Syl, as few women or men can. Great work, but not for everyone; especially the acquired taste of Sylvian’s voice.

Maybe I should bust out my Japan records.


2 thoughts on “Snow Borne Sorrow, Black Swan Green, Three Word Titles

  1. Amazing that the biggest Vollmann partisan in the five boroughs would slag Moby Dick as being too discursive. But it is worth reading just for the chapter on Cetology, which includes the following: “Be it known that, waiving all argument, I take the good old fashioned ground that the whale is a fish, and call upon holy Jonah to back me.”


  2. True enough a nice read, but J Frank Parnell knows nothing of this “Vollmann” you speak of … but of Melville’s true wonderment: would holy Jonah back any man who would share his bed with a heathen at Peter Coffin’s and not waive all Christianity for at least a reacharound?


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