October 28, 2018

I’m now ten months into my self-imposed project to write about a book, a record and a film each month this year. This has been a dry month for books so my choice is a bit limited. I’m not far enough Killing Commendatore by Haruki Murakami to write about that, so I have to choose a book I didn’t really enjoy. My book choice for October is The Last Days of New Paris by China Miéville.

I thought this book promised but then, for me at least, failed to deliver. The idea of surrealist art being brought to life to fight the Nazis is a delightful one. As my daughter pointed out, it’s as if Miéville has a hat full of bizarre and whimsical ideas and draws a few out to produce a book.

I found that the book left me feeling like an ignorant reader; that perhaps knowledge of surrealism was a prerequisite to fully appreciate this book. After finished the story, this was underlined by the pages of explanatory material included.

Within the book there were ideas that I really enjoyed (spoilers!) such as Hell sending a secret agent to foil the Nazi’s plans however I wish he had explored the implications of this more deeply.

I personally think the book would have been more enjoyable if it had included illustrations, perhaps photographs taken of the manifestations in New Paris.

I completely failed to watch any movies this month, so that only leaves my music of the month…

I bought a copy of David Syvian’s Dead bees on a cake this month and thoroughly enjoyed listening to it end-to-end. I have enjoyed Sylvian’s music since the days of Japan and recall playing their single Ghosts on pub jukeboxes in Dundee when I was a student, probably not the most popular choice! Dead bees on a cake is an album that’s hard to categorise into one specific genre; jazz? new age? ambient? alternative? I really don’t know but I love the sound and enjoy wallowing in Mr Sylvian’s singing.


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