Jim Shorkey


Donald Barthelme – Sixty Stories
March 27, 2009, 5:18 pm
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Donald Barthelme’s Sixty Stories is one of the books that populates the many piles of books lying around my house waiting to be read.  A new biography (by Tracy Daugherty) has just been released about him. Last week his biography was reviewed on the front page of The New York Times Book Review and there was also a longish piece in the New Yorker a couple of weeks back. They sparked enough interest for me to rebuild the piles of books to make Sixty Stories the top of the pile. Barthelme (who died in 1989), has been called  a post modernist, and absurdist and also challenging. I’m only three stories in and the challenging description is the one that’s sticking.  He was given a lot of latitude at the New Yorker where editor William Shawn thought “his work should be read like poetry rather than fiction”. Probably a good approach. I just woke up from a nap after drifting to sleep while reading “Robert Kennedy Saved From Drowning”. I think the pattern of non-sequiturs triggered something in my brain. The dreams I just had were very trippy indeed. They were also very “challenging” to follow. 

Donald Barthelme - Sixty Stories

Donald Barthelme - Sixty Stories

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Comet Gain – Broken Record Prayers
March 27, 2009, 11:12 am
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I don’t really know why I wrote about Comet Gain yesterday, there wasn’t really a trigger other than I was already on youtube. In one of those moments of serendipity, e-music just added their new album today. It is an early preview (the album isn’t released until April 7th).  Broken Record Prayers features20 songs culled from singles, compilations, Peel Sessions, and new material recorded between 1997 and 2007. The songs I know already I heartily recommend. The ones I don’t, I’ll recommend tomorrow.

Comet Gain - Broken Record Prayers

Comet Gain - Broken Record Prayers



Denis Johnson – Angels
March 27, 2009, 11:04 am
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Denis Johnson writes about losers.  Their stories are grim, their luck always bad.  Yet reading his stories always seems uplifting.  The writing is so funny that you don’t get depressed by the circumstances of the characters. The dialogue is always original, and is so unexpected that each quote seems that it couldn’t have been imagined. It must be real. I’ve read a few of his books but not enough to know that many of the characters from last year’s Tree Of Smoke were culled from his other works. It was an essay in the Virginia Quarterly that alerted me to this fact. I found out that two of my favourite characters came from his debut novel, Angels. The characters weren’t really a part of the bigger story in Tree Of Smoke, but after reading Angels, I can see why Johnson wanted to ad to there story.

 

Denis Johnson - Angels

Denis Johnson - Angels



Comet Gain
March 26, 2009, 3:00 pm
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I have been subscribing to e-music for well over a decade. It is probably the best music deal out there although every change on the site means a drop in value. There are many ways they can be infuriating but when I get cranky I always remember my favourite find on there – Comet Gain. I think it may be my only pure e-music find.  I can’t think of anything else that I wasn’t aware of before sampling on their site.  Of course, a lot of the time it I have only read about a band, so e-music is valuable in that it may be the first time I actually hear the band.

Anyhoo, here is a sample of Comet Gain.



Elvis Costello – Pretty Flamingo
March 26, 2009, 2:34 pm
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Actually Elvis plus Nick Lowe and Squueze. I love this version and this video is the one on my YouTube bookmark. I watch it often as it’s hard to land on this page and not listen to it.

 



The Bluebells – “Hey, Is It True”
March 26, 2009, 2:24 pm
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This is the Bluebells YouTube find I spoke of yesterday.

NOTE: There seems to be a problem with the embedding here. Sadly I am a new at this and am unsure of  whether it is something I can fix. I am looking into it. In the meantime, try searching for it on your on on YouTube.

NEWER NOTE: It seems that preventing the embedding is a choice of the youtube poster. Sorry about that, but please do search on your own.



The Poems
March 25, 2009, 9:10 pm
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Recently, I pulled out all my old vinyl copies of  The Bluebells and I went on-line to see if there was any material that I didn’t have.  I found out that they did have a second album that was only available on Japanes vinyl. Very expensive. That made me sad, even more so when I found out that YouTube had a clip of one of the songs and I really, really liked it. The good thing was that I found out main songwriter Robert Hodgens had a new group The Poems. Even better news came when I found out they were on e-music. Not quite Bluebells but still some great pop.

The Poems - Glasgow Calling

The Poems