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i get sick of fiction sometimes. just too much birthay cake. it's all made up and i'll probably forget most of it anyway. but what else to read? popular science usually does the trick but in the absence of any in the books-to-read mountain i chose this which, to my shame, i'd bought several hundred years ago and never touched. the best american essays of the century, ed. joyce carol oates & robert atwan. it's a treasure trove, as they say in blurb-speak. mark twain, zora neale thurston, martin luther king, maya angelou, joan didion, susan sontag. it's tempting to give a few synopses but the joy is finding the seemingly unpromising stuff you don't expect to enjoy.
... what you're doing and read this. out on boxing day, oddly. a collection of essays from vintage about the joys / importance of reading from zadie smith, carmen callill, tim parks, michael rosen and others.. including me.
ligeti etudes / pierre laurent aimard: joanna macgregor said that when these were written pianists were saying to one another that they were unplayable. thankfully they practised hard.
mondo paradoxa / kk null & john weise: some people might think this wasn't music. some people might think this was inconsiderate builders next door. i love it.
playbach 4/ jacques loussier trio: rather sickly. bach arranged for jazz piano, double bass and drums. but my dad had the lp it so it tastes of childhood. the dogtooth speakers covers, pears and custard, paddling pools... and digging up this stuff is what spotify does brilliantly.
paul simon / paul simon: ditto, but this is still fantastic.
a wonderful exhibition just opened at modern art oxford. graham sutherland: an unfinished world curated by george shaw (a painter whose humbrol coventry landscapes i love). i had, for a long time, thought of him, along with john piper, as a rather dowdy, insular painter of half-hearted not-quite-abstractions. i was wrong. it's also a joy to see mao - a place i love - packed with warm human stuff (the artwork and the people) after some cool, cold and less-than-popular shows.
that was sutherland, this is shaw (you knew that, of course...)