Ice Trilogy – Vladimir Sorokin (Mudd Up Book Clubb January 2012 pick!) – aaaahhhh! I wrote: “Itâ€™s ambitious, totally nuts, capable of generating new emotions, perhaps the first â€œ21st Ctâ€ novel Iâ€™ve read.”
Embassytown – China MiÃ©ville. Language, addiction, bio-urbanism. Embassytown is especially wow in light of the rest of MiÃ©ville’ ouevre.
My Common Heart – Anne Boyer. My one complaint: (not tryna be greedy but) IT’S TOO SHORT!
“At night I dream of a poetry for the crowd. I imagine the bodies pressed against each other until there is not one set of feet left on the ground.”
:in the category of city slickers:
[Photo: Tyrone Brown-Osborne]
Down & Delirious in Mexico City – Daniel Hernandez. You heard the radio show we did, right?
plus an important Mexico addenda:
El Narco – Ioan Grillo. Lucid overview of “Mexico’s criminal insurgency,” putting the complex mayhem into historical perspective while avoiding the sensationalistic.
“If the East India Company was the first drug cartel, then the Royal Navy was the first band of violent cartel enforcers. After the two Opium Wars, the company won the right to traffic in 1860. The Chinese kept smoking and took the poppy with them in their diaspora round the planet.”
“I ask Mathilde [a poppy farmer in the Sinaloan mountains] to describe the effect of these flowers. What is the magic property they have? What is it that makes them so valuable? She looks at me blankly for a moment, then answers in a slow, thoughtful tone.
‘It is a medicine. And it cures pain. All pain. It cures the pain you have in your body and the pain in your heart. You feel like your body is mud. All mud. You feel like you could melt away and disappear. And it doesn’t matter. Nothing matters. You are happy. But you are not laughing. This is a medicine, you understand?’
I’m burnt out on the NYC 70s & 80s glorification/nostalgia/histories, a genre that seems to metastasize each year, but Will Hermes’ Love Goes To Buildings On Fire is exemplary for its wide-eyed span: a five-year history of musical innovation in New York City that takes on rock guitars, salsa, rap, jazz, minimalism. Rare that these contiguous/adjacent scenes get examined together. There’s a paragraph in here about how session musicians formed a kind of connective tissue across scenes & studios — so many ways to think about how music circulates and histories congeal. Here’s to more thought-provoking anticoagulants in 2012.