Monthly : January

Reading long

Crandolin by Anna Tambour (Chomu Press).

Crandolin is an enchanting and playful novel, packed full of idiosyncratic characters, lyrical flourishes and sly humour, while ruminating on two of my very favourite subjects – food and music. The characters include a master confectioner, a bladder pipe (bagpipe?) player and a trio of Russian train-workers, and their temporally and geographically disparate stories are tied together by a greedy gastronome who discovers a stain in a fabled recipe book.

I won’t read another book like this this year, if ever.

Reading short

Driftings by Ian McDonald (Clarkesworld)

A haunting story about a collector of tsunami flotsam, about the connections in the debris and about the unimaginable power of the oceans. Brilliant.

Daltharee by Jeffrey Ford (Lightspeed)

Ford in charmingly bonkers mode. A fun piece about miniature cities, and the rights of the citizens who live there.

Love As Deep As Bones by Ilan Lerman (Black Static)

Ilan Lerman has recently been leaving fingerprints in the dark-but-barely-fantastical side of the genre, and this tale of downward spiralling drug users, his first (I hope of many) appearance in Black Static, reminds me strongly of when BS used to be TTA magazine. Yes, it classifies as horror, but mostly it shivers your unnervement bone and it shivers it good.

Listening to

Under Mountains by Rachael Sermanni

This is one of the most assured first albums I’ve heard in hears. A fragile collection of absolutely beautiful songs that showcase Sermanni’s unique voice with clever use of stripped back accompaniment and inspired, earthy vocal harmonies.

Being at

Bitter Ruin at Nice N Sleazy

By accident or design I’d managed to miss seeing Bitter Ruin several times before finally catching them in their support slot for Ben Folds Five last year. And, while I enjoyed their performance, I knew I was missing out on the essence of them on such a big stage in front of a largely disinterested audience. So it was excellent to see them announce a small-venue solo tour so soon. And small venues, like Sleazies, are exactly the places to enjoy this act. Their personalities are genuine and charming, their songs soar through the entire range of dynamics possible for two people and a guitar, and their performance encompasses a dramatic sweep that absolutely captivates from the first song to the last. These are performers of rare technical ability, and their songs are fascinating. Highlights for me were set stalwart Trust and Ticker Don’t Tock, a song so intricate it appears to have been assembled by a master watchmaker. Encore, Child In A Sea Cave simply swept me away.

Loved this gig.

ps For anyone visiting Sleazies – it seems that since Broadcast opened next door there’s all probability you’ll get extra gig for your buck if you stand near the fire door on the right. Cuddly Shark sounded rocking, but it kinda impinged on the quieter moments of Bitter Ruin’s set.

4 thoughts on “Monthly : January

  1. Ta from me, too. Neil. No one weaves music into fiction as hauntingly as you, so I’m glad to see one of my favourite horror stories of all time (which happens to be yours), “Arrhythmia” included in the new infinity plus Quintet. And I’m looking forward to hearing the burble, sniffing out and savouring your own musicfood casseroles.

  2. Very much a pleasure, Anna – Crandolin is such a hard book to summarise (like a great meal, I suppose), but it is full of little things that make you go, ooh!

    And thanks about Arrhythmia. It’s one of my favourites too. As it happens, I’ve got a new music-themed story coming out in the Solaris Rising 2 anthology. And I’m working on a new “musical” story too (about love songs and pacemakers), so hopefully you’ll see that sooner or later.

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