I’m sitting in the quiet of the junk room at home, listening to “On Green Dolphin Street” by Miles Davis. I’m going to blame a good friend on the internet that once suggested listening to “Cafe Jazz” while working from home. I never really listened to Jazz when I was young - I suppose I associated it with music snobs in black polo-neck sweaters, propped on bar stools in basement music venues.
Maybe that’s me now. Maybe I’ve become the music snob?
Please don’t tell me I’ll start looking at black polo-neck sweaters, sandals, and goatees.
About fifteen years ago I bought a Macbook, and joked that I would become interested in the Apple fanboy uniform - jeans, polo necks, and sneakers. I used to sit on the train to and from London each day with the Macbook propped on my lap, pretending to “fit in” among the commuters. Before long I gave up on that idea and reverted to reading banned books.
I read SO many banned books during that time. I think the biggest let-down was “Lolita”. The most entertaining in terms of reaction from strangers was “Tropic of Cancer”. For such a little known book, a lot of people seem to know what might be in it. I guess it’s no different to reading “Fifty Shades” these days - although I suppose far fewer people know anything about Henry Miller’s books.
I read “Crash” recently - or rather, I attempted to read it. I had never read any of J G Ballard’s books before, and wondered what all the fuss was about - with various arts journalists seemingly having accidents in their pants about how great, good, and wonderful Crash was. I hated it. It somehow crossed a line for me - several hundred pages of deliberately shocking perversion cloaked in some kind of high-brow literary experiment.
Of course “Crash” was made into a movie - which is oddly better than the book for a change. Most of the book is the inner monologue of the protagonist’s mind - his perversions, and battles against them. I discovered the movie first - it’s not the first time either.
Many years ago - back when I was single - I became interested in French cinema. I loved that French movies took more chances with stories - smaller stories about the human condition that Hollywood would never go anywhere near.
La Lectrice made me fall head-over-heels in love with Miou Miou. Or at least, as head-over-heels in love as you might be in your late teens when you’ve only seen somebody in one movie, and your French is bad enough that you couldn’t follow the dialogue so had to read subtitles throughout.
For years I remembered the movie but gave it no thought - until realising it might have been based on a book, and went on something of a detective expedition across the internet in search of it. The book was translated into English a few years ago by a wonderful small publisher called Peirene Press - “Reader for Hire”, by Raymond Jean. It’s only a short book, but is strangely captivating.
Perhaps I should consign much of my un-read book mountain to one side for a while and jump down some new literary rabbit holes. Of course the problem in doing so is knowing where to start.