Sunday, October 17, 2021

Anthony Powell, Casanova's Chinese Restaurant (1960)

Well that was slightly better time. What of the name? Well, there was some fusion Italian-French restaurant that then went out of business and was bought by the Chinese restaurant down the block so there you have it.

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Saturday, October 09, 2021

Anthony Powell, At Lady Molly's (1957)

Am I taking a FULL MONTH to finish each of these?  THAT'S not practical!  Well...I had various things going on.  Preparing for classes...breakthrough COVID...memorizing the entirety of "The Raven" for no reason...spending too much time playing Eastward on the ol' Switch...you know how it goes.  And it's too bad, because I think this one was actually pretty engaging; it's just hard to really judge when you go so darn slowly.  OH WELL.

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Wednesday, September 08, 2021

Anthony Powell, The Acceptance World (1955)

This book takes place in the early thirties--Great Depression times, although you wouldn't really know that from the book itself.  The title refers to the idea that trading partners have to operate on faith to a certain degree--that is, you have to pay someone before you've actually gotten what you're supposed to be getting, and sometimes that works out, and sometimes not.  This is generalized to life in general.

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Wednesday, September 01, 2021

Cleaners from Venus, Back from the Cleaners (1995)

Okay, so there's this band, Cleaners from Venus, which is basically just one guy, Martin Newell, who's been releasing pop music since the early eighties, first as CfV, then under his own name, and lately returned to CfV (and he's incredibly prolific: I just checked, and saw that he's released FIVE new albums since I last checked in 2015).  It's basically the same kind of stuff regardless: eccentric pop music sometimes reminiscent of XTC.  He's really a very good songwriter.  And to add to his mystique, for a long time, he only released his music on cassette tape, and it was very hard to find--since, it's almost all been released digitally, but his discography is very messy, with loads of rarities everywhere.

Anyway, before all this, he did release two best-ofs, Golden Cleaners and Back from the Cleaners.  That was how I first heard the band.  They're both out-of-print, but the former is more or less reproduced by the current CfV best-of, and I'm pretty all the tracks are readily available on their original albums anyway.  Back from the Cleaners is a different story.  It's hard to find for a reasonable price, and it includes a lot of rare tracks: a few of them can easily be found elsewhere, but a lot of them are b-sides and complication tracks and previously-unreleased (and, to my knowledge, still only ever released here) material.  But don't think it's any lesser in quality than his other material!  Newell's one of these dudes who can somehow just toss out great pop songs like it's nothin.'  My favorite here is "Monochrome World," one of the otherwise-unreleased tracks.  It's absolutely insane that such a great song should be so hard to find.

Is this available online?  Well...not really.  The amazon listing alleges that you can buy it in mp3 format, but if you click on the button, it just takes you to the completely-different current best-of.  There's this, which LOOKS like it might be legit, but turns out to be one of those dodgy-as-fuck sites that wants you to give them your email and who knows if you'll get it anyway (and actually, come to think of it, I'm going to intentionally fuck up that link so as not to give them extra traffic--don't bother clicking on it; it will avail you naught).  But me, I'm getting rid of a bunch of old CDs--like most people, I only listen to music digitally these days--and I thought before I ditch this one, it would be a good idea to make a cool rare album a bit easier to find.  So here it is, ripped as 320 kbps files, and I even scanned the booklet, in which Newell explains a bit about where these tracks come from.  Enjoy.

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Anthony Powell, A Buyer's Market (1952)

 

This picks up a few years after A Question of Upbringing.  I guess that's not exactly a shocker.  Ol' Nick is working for some sort of publishing company, although it's pretty vague; certainly not what the book is about.  What IS it about?  Well...in the beginning we are introduced to a painter named Mr. Deacon (Powell's extensive treatment of artists of various stripes certainly parallels Proust) who was a long-time family friend of the Jenkins,' and at the end, he dies in a bathetic way by falling down the stairs at his own birthday party. 

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Monday, August 16, 2021

Anthony Powell, A Question of Upbringing (1951)

Here we go, folks!  This is the first in Powell's twelve-book series A Dance to the Music of Time.  I'd been meaning to check this out for a long time, but I feel like I was a little traumatized by reading In Search of Lost Time; the idea of embarking on another massive multi-volume novel filled me with trepidation.  This isn't as long as Proust, but it's not too far off.  Altogether, it's several thousand pages, all told, easily giving it a place on wikipedia's list of the longest novels.  Yeesh.  But you've gotta maintain that adventurous spirit, so I dove in.  And really, I needn't have worried: there are certainly Proustian aspects to this, but this first book at least is A LOT more accessible and...well, fun.

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Sunday, August 08, 2021

Anthony Trollope, Phineas Redux (1874)

Oh Tony Baloney--I just can't quit you.  So...what's Phineas been up to lately?  Well, in a similar move to the one the author pulled in Barchester Towers, his wife Mary died between the two books, in childbirth (the child died as well, which is too bad--it might have been interesting to see him have to deal with single-fatherhood).  He still has his comfortable government office in Ireland, but his ol' pals in the Liberal Party convince him to come back to England and run for Parliament again.  He does this, and although he loses at first, it turns out that his opponent had engaged in bribery so he's declared the winner.  But as you will perhaps remember, MP was an unpaid position at the time (that STILL seems nuts to me--and before he becomes a duke, Plantagenet Palliser himself is one (in the House of Commons, that is), which renders gibberish the idea that members should have other careers), so he's gunning for a cabinet position so he can even AFFORD to be in politics, and despite the help of various people (notably Glencora Palliser), he's not having much luck.

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