If anyone's been wondering, I haven't been away and I haven't been ill. Simply, I've been suffering from some kind of malaise which removes from me any interest in doing anything, including writing about my life. Apart from that, this has been the holiday season in Israel; we work for a day and a half, and then it's a festival (day and a half at home). We then work for another two days and then it's shabbat. This has been going on for the past three weeks and will cease this Saturday, after which things get back to normal. I should also start feeling normal by then.
I've read The Time Traveler's Wife twice over this period; this is a book which I saw mentioned on Amazon whose blurb intrigued me enough to order it. I very much like this book, not only for its story but also for its prose style, which makes it a joy to read. Today was a very peaceful day, and reading the book increased my sense of peace.
I suppose that TTTW is very tame compared to some science fiction; one of my favourite SF authors is Robert Silverberg, and he has written several stories and books which are similar to TTTW. Silverberg has a good prose style, so reading him is always a pleasure. So what makes TTTW a mainstream novel and not SF? I think that it's due to the lack of plot. Not very much happens in this book. I mean, obviously things do happen as the book tells the story of the wife over about twenty five years, but there's no problem which the hero must resolve. In this sense, TTTW is similar to Silverberg's "Dying Inside", which has a similar non-linear structure, telling the story of David Selig who can read people's minds. Silverberg wasn't too sure whether DI should be categorised as SF; it's almost a mainstream story with SF overtones (for no one in the real world can read minds), and so TTTW is also a mainstream story with SF overtones.
It's not a dramatic book and it's not an intellectual puzzle (like the detective stories that I often read) and it's not escapism; it's simply a well-written and interesting novel which keeps one's attention to the very end.
On the music front, I've been on the usual eclectic round. One evening, apropos of nothing, I put "What we did on our holidays" by Fairport Convention on the stereo. This album dates from 1968, when the musicians were aged 18-24, and it was only their second recording. Apart from the brash "Mr Lacey", this is still a record to which I can listen with great enjoyment, especially the less obvious tracks such as "Book song" and "She moved through the fair". Whilst I play this album's successor, "Unhalfbricking", fairly regularly since I bought it with WWDOOH in 1970, there aren't many of Fairport's myriad albums which I play at all these days. There are many memories locked up in those recordings, and maybe I'm not always interested in reviving them (even though most of them date from my schooldays, which were far from unpleasant).
Iain Cameron wrote a very perceptive remark in his diary about a week ago:
EBTG [Everything But The Girl] - Walking Wounded - a techno extension of Amplified Heart - inevitable given the success of Missing. They seem to sit alongside Lamb as people who take the grammar of drum'n'bass and techno and use it within song forms. Is this a step on from what Suzanne Vega does around 1990 when she begins to bring electro elements into her songs?
Maybe that's what I've been trying to do: to take the grammar of techno and use it within song forms. The only EBTG which I could find was a disc of remixes which I downloaded. I didn't like it very much: far too much techno and four to the bar bass drums married to weak songs. The only tracks of theirs which I'm keeping for the time being are 'Missing', which was all right although not too much to my liking, and 'Mirrorball', which is better (this I downloaded from EBTG's site).
Continuing in this direction, I remembered a few songs by Natalie Imbruglia which also displayed an interesting mix between pop song and electronica, but when I listened closely, it was more like 95% pop song and 5% electronica as opposed to the 50:50 split which I thought I might find. Depeche Mode have a nice single ("Precious") being shown frequently on VH1, but I find them about 85% electronica and 15% song which again isn't good for my purposes. I find their songs incredibly weak whereas Natalie's are very strong (but not in a style which I like).
Amazon seem to think that I will like Goldfrapp although I'm not sure why. The description of their songs sounds tempting, but the songs themselves - or at least the 30 seconds which Amazon allows - don't intrigue me. I'll try and find more complete versions and then decide.