(随筆) is a genre of Japanese literature consisting of loosely connected personal essays and fragmented ideas that typically respond to the author’s surroundings. The name is derived from two Kanji meaning “at will” and “pen.”
Just listened to HMMaMG on disc. Its a rock memoir, but Brownstein is not glamorizing Sleater-Kinney or her life.
She begins Chapter 1 by writing “I’ve always felt unclaimed. This is the story of the ways I created a territory…something that could steady me, somewhere I belonged.” Something many people feel on some level. The first quarter of the book is growing up in Bellevue, WA.
She formed a band in 11th grade called Born Naked: “We agonized over band names (though clearly not for long enough).
After high school, she dropped out of Western Washington U and moved to Olympia, WA and was deeply immersed in the music and art scene. Bands like Heavens to Betsy, Bikini Kill were inspring her.
The book moves through the different stages of Sleater-Kinney and Carrie’s relationship and friendship with Corin. The details are a joy to read if the music means something to you, but if it doesn’t Brownstein draws the reader deep into the punk life and aesthetic–the make do, the camaraderie, and because of the relative success of the band, she is able to tell the story about how that very basic view of the world expands as success draws the outsiders back into itself.
The book doesn’t really get on to Portlandia, but as Brownstein says in the interview that is a bonus on the disc set, her description of life in Olympia is where ideas and material for the IFC show comes from in part.
Reading this along with Viv Albertine’s book brought back my sense of the late seventies early eighties, however much I was drawn to this music–especially female voices, X-Ray Spex, Penetration, Siouxie, the Slits–I only touched on the life as I moved through the world of fringe theatre rather than music.
The penultimate paragraph of Shrill begins: “My little victories–trolls, rape jokes, fat people’s humanity–are world building. Fighting for diverse voices is world building.” and the last paragraph is “We’re all building our world, right now, in real time. Let’s build it better.” Lindy West has spent the last several years writing loudly, and shrilly towards that better world,and many people have had to stand up for their behaviour because of her work. At the same time, and nothing she is asking for is more than common decency, she has been thoroughly vilified on social media and even in regular media. It seems that all this has made her stronger and more determined, and this book is testament to her fortitude. She is has written for Jezebel , The Guardian and The Stranger , the alternative newspaper in Seattle. And despite all this work, I hadn’t really noticed her until This American Life told the story of how she met with one of her trolls. She has been trolled out of all decency, in ways that truly make you wonder about a whole section of what I struggle to call humanity with vile threats and insults. It is impossible to write this without feeling that trolling has become central to our daily lives under this current regime–but that is another story–listen to the segment, and see if you don’t feel disgusted and realise that there can be humanity behind that anger and that somehow, the rest of us have to be as brave as West is in speaking out minds, in speaking out when one human insults and dehumanizes another. She has, understndably, left Twitter, and social media is the poorer for her absence, but if Twitter and the other companies don’t trolling and other similar abuses, we will all leave for something that allows us to build a better world.
It seems as if local, personalized, community businesses are going to survive the onslaught even more powerful, and perhaps more ruthless rivals than the chain stores and big boxes, then creating local, sustainable solutions is the way to go. And the idea of CSA (community supported agriculture) for books, where people pay a subscription and the books are brought to them, might be one of the paths. I found an article on the website of the amazing PM Press that was from 2009, and I thought, I wonder how that’s working, and then the New Yorker, published an article about Samantha Haskell and her store, Blue Hill Books in Maine.
As the broader publishing world flounders, alternative presses are turning to their communities for support.
“In search of sustainability, some publishers and booksellers are adapting ideas from the food movement. Community-supported agriculture (CSA) — in which consumers buy a share of a farm’s produce yield for the season — translates to community-supported publishing (CSP), in which readers subscribe to an independent press that in return delivers books to their doorstep every month.”
A full-fledged novel that opens its wings and flies as a young woman sets out from pre-War Germany to London , returns to Berlin and ends in Barbados. Yelin’s graphic novel opens up so much that happened in Europe in the twentieth century through Irmina’s finally unrequited love for a young Barbadian.
Irmina meets Harold, an Oxford student, at a cocktail party soon after she arrives in London, and she gets to know him as she attends a secretarial school and their romance deepens, through joyous times and the racism of the society, which she being German is outside.
In London, Irmina describes herself to Harold as “typist, a Fraulein, Suffragette, Bluestocking, Communist and Emigrant. She loses her accommodation, her parents are no longer able to send her money, and not wanting to become a maid, she returns to Germany, and reenters German society and meets a young architect, Gregor Meinrich. Hitler’s power is increasing, and:
Gregor: “Progress isn’t being made anymore”
Irmina: “But it MUST! It HAS to go on! We’re sacrificing so much here!
Gregor gives up architecture and joins the German army.
In the final section, Irmina now a school administrator, receives an invitation from Harold to visit him in Barbados, where he has become the Governor General.
The colours of Europe are greys and browns. the Caribbean has a little more green and blue although they are still muted, and the air of melancholy that hangs over Irmina’s life is only brightened slightly in this last chapter.
TThese are the memoirs of Riad Sattouf’s childhood. He was born in France, but when his father graduates with his doctorate, they move first to Libya, and then to his father’s homeland, Syria. The series was originally published in France to a mixed reception. The son of an Arab father and a French mother, Sattouf is often seen as anti-Arab. At the same time he s admired and seen as a master of graphica up there with Spiegelman, Satrapi and Sacco. He has the hard satirical stance that worked for his regular column in Charlie Hebdo. Sattouf has come to fame recently as the only Arab contributor to Charlie Hebdo, at the time of the massacre. You can read more about him and the controversy around this book–some people find him racist and insensitive, others are great admirers.
These are full integrated graphic works. The drawings are essential to the storytelling. The people are cartoonish– each character’s nose is the most prominent feature. Despite the simplicity of the drawings the characters thoughts and feelings are clearly communicated. A nice touch is that even though each the format is basically black and white, each country has it’s own colour wash: France is blue, Libya is yellow and Syria is pink, with the occasional object in full colour. Abdul-Razak (his father)’s radio is red. Gadafi, and portraits of him and his green book are green and the soldiers’ berets, when they get to Syria are deep red.
It’s hard for me to get my head around the fact that this dear man is no longer with us. His work is extraordinary, but his presence was inspirational every time I was with him.
The other week, we wrote about British poet Tom Raworth, who had announced he was dying. Late Wednesday, American poet Charles Bernsteinconfirmed on social media, Raworth let go peacefully at home, surrounded by family. His wife Val called it “a release from his sufferings.” The Poetry Foundation has written a wonderful obituary, remembering Raworth as “a funny, warm, sprightly gentleman, who seemed to know exactly how we he wanted to live.” In his final weeks, rumors that the candle had gone out erupted several times, only to prove untrue, leading Bernstein to observe, “The intensity of the vigil is the measure of how much he meant to both those who knew him and those who know him by his work.”
Cory Doctorow has written an important book. Many good friends have been telling me this for years about his other books and his on-line writing. Finally I took their advice. I borrowed his book out of the library. I could probably have downloaded it for free somewhere, found the audio book on a torrent site, but I went with the old fashioned media sharing establishment in my town. They probably own all of Mr. Doctorow’s books and the ones they don’t happen to own. I wouldn’t ever have to buy one, although at least they bought them.
This is what Information Doesn’t Want to Be Free is about. It’s about how the internet has completely turned much of artistic production and business upside down. The old ways of making money from books, from recorded music have been smashed and all the federal agents, all the business tycoons, all the artists in the world will not put back together again.
“Computers are copying machines.” and that is why we need a book that reminds us about the “reality of the internet today and the regulations that surround it, and the ways that those regulations shape successful strategies for earning a creative wage.”
Read the rest of the article on the wonderful Lit Hub
The prequel to Sunburning was self-published unfortunately under the auspices of a giant killer of small and large business, but that is too crude a case to make over a book that is just as worthwhile as it’s successor. Check out more of the scenes under the title of Powdered Milk .