Reading/Listening

Here’s some things I’ve been sticking my ears and eyes into recently. No particular order, and any opinions expressed may be changed on a whim.


Watermark –Joseph Brodsky

Russian poet Joseph Brodsky visited Venice every year for 17 years. This is a book of ruminations, impressions, observations, very loosely strung on these visits. Musings on existence as it relates to water, time, light, reflection. It’s all quite opaque and obscure, sometimes drifting into stream-of-consciousness, but then suddenly the clouds part and his meaning becomes clear. I found it frustrating at times, but it’s deep and insightful; sometimes droll, even funny. Takes a level of mental fluidity to follow Brodsky’s train of thought and I felt quite lost for the first half; then it started to feel familiar, maybe like a visitor growing accustomed to a city…? Deserves another visit. 


Geronimo Rex  –Barry Hannah

I don’t know what you buy online when you’re drunk, but apparently I buy hefty novels by obscure writers from the American south. I haven’t the faintest idea what tipsily tortuous internet rabbit hole led me to Geronimo Rex, but days after the headache had subsided, I got a call from my local bookstore announcing its arrival. I must confess I struggled. It’s a long, dense, rambling coming-of-age tale set in dreary washed out towns in Louisiana and Mississippi. A thick, wallowing mire of love, lust, racism, violence, and marching bands, presented in a comic, vulgar, visceral language reminding me of Jim Harrison, Henry Miller, maybe a little Confederacy of Dunces. More profanity and uncomfortable racial epithets than you can poke a stick at. It’s disturbing, funny, and very long, but I’m glad I stuck with it.


The Razor’s Edge –Somerset Maugham

Although we’re in the world of wealthy high society, there’s always something dark and devious about Maugham, and it sucks you down without you noticing. The writing is beautiful, and it’s always fun to watch people unraveling.


Sicilian Carousel –Lawrence Durrell

I try, LD, I really do, but I always get two thirds through your books and give up. The descriptions of Sicily are tantalisingly evocative, and there are moments of momentum and humour, but also long slow delves into history and memory, drawn-out contemplation and ponderous pondering. Back on the shelf.


Kitchen Confidential  –Anthony Bourdain

AB’s big hit, the book that put him on the culinary and literary map. I’ve read this a few times- it’s terrific fun. I wish I’d known about it back when I worked in a restaurant- I thought it was just our place. Drugs, booze, sex, fine dining, fighting, backstabbing, conniving, crime, punishment, redemption, old New York- it’s a ripping yarn.