Monday, June 28, 2010

A Rarity Is Born:A Singer Who Can Actually Sing & Songs That Say Something

Forget the hair (and it's pretty cool too). This young woman is pure energy and pure talent. Part retro, part futuristic, her style, her music, the dance, the sound are all one onrushing breath of fresh air.The video for Many Moons had me but I first had a WTH-moment when I saw her Tightrope video. Both her albums, The ArchAndroid and Metropolis:Chase Suite I tell a larger story. It's like listening to scifi poetry put into music.

The entire chant sequence in Many Moons is just beautiful. My fave track is Come Alive (War of the Roses), an absolutely electrifying short piece. I also particularly enjoyed Cold War and Dance or Die but don't ever not listen to the whole album although the later part of ArchAndroid slowed down tremendously and sounded tepid but then don't take my word for it because the brisk pace of the first part had me hooked.

Want to listen to a new sound? Go Janelle Monae. Maybe I'll tire of her sound soon but right now, I just can't get enough of it!

Dying by Seeing

Okay, Mr Saramago, so you had to die a week after I finished your book, Seeing. This is the first Saramago I've read and it's a good (not fantastic, good) book. The latter part was fine especially as Jose Saramago learnt towards genre-bending. However, this could be because by then I was getting used to the lack of punctuation and formatting structures (maybe, it looked good on paper but those ultra-long paragraphs and absence of quotation marks stood in the way of the story, hear?, no, you can't again). The last few lines were, however, great and for once I almost clapped.

This is most likely not Saramago's best work (it isn't, I've heard) but it didn't lift off until the middle of the book. If this was from a lesser known writer, it wouldn't get so much attention. So, I'll give Seeing 3/5 but then Mr Saramago waited till I finished the book, so I can make that 3.5/5 and lets hope that will gladden his heart. Thanks very much and good bye, Jose.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Salmon Fishing In The Yemen

Paul Torday's Salmon Fishing In The Yemen came highly recommended as a funny novel and I wasn't disappointed. Picking it up, I came to expect the same comic madness as I ascribe to Joseph Heller's Catch-22 but found none such. What I found however was a funny novel of a different sort; the kind you expect from British comedies, deadpan-face, seriously-we-are-serious kind of funny and it was just as effective. Torday's portrayal of a fishery scientist's reaction to the idea of salmon fishing in the desert and his subsequent acceptance and love for the project despite initial reservations is a thoroughly believable narration.

Even as I went along with the absurd idea of fishing in the desert, even I began to think it less and less ridiculous and was just as moved in the end by the transforming power of this impossible dream.

Torday's triumph however is in doing all this with a straight face even while you are sure he has a smile tucked away. If you ever doubt he was writing a hilarious work, then you have to read the emails of the Al-Qaeda terrorists and the assassin they sent after the truly magnificent, truly cosmopolitan, maybe holy Muhammad ibn Zaidi bani Tihama whose money and will funded the audacious project. Even more than extracts from the Hansard and Peter Maxwell's (the PM's right hand man) junk autobiography, the terrorists who are distant except for a few pages gave me the maddest laugh of all.

A good work. I definitely will read Paul Torday again. On the strength of Salmon Fishing, he has earned two further readings of his works by me even if they fail to live up to this.