Last night as I slept
I dreamt I met with Behan
I shook him by the hand and we passed the time of day
When questioned on his views
On the crux of life’s philosophies
He had but these few clear and simple words to say
Beginning of ‘Streams of Whiskey’
Your usual host here, Iain, our Estate Librarian, is off assisting Gutmansdottir, our resident naturalist who’s cataloging the enigma that’s The Wild Wood, and Tamsin, our resident Hedgewitch, in the task of updating the catalogue of botanical chapbooks we’ve acquired over the past several years. Some are dry, technical things as Some rare mushrooms found in remote Scottish woodlands, others such as one entitled A treatise upon the matter of why Border strawberries start blood red and turn bone white as they ripen: a joke by a Fey botanist, or a quirk of the uncertain nature of Fey botanical evolution? are fascinating.
I’m continuing Iain’s practice of giving you just four book reviews with some being new, but most being from our almost overwhelmingly deep Archives. (This Autumn will be the twenty-fifth anniversary of us being published on the net!) Likewise other reviews follow the same pattern with some work several times such as Jay Ungar and Molly Moson’s Harvest Home and Charles Stross on the full Scottish breakfast being used as we see fit.
Terry Jones and Alan Ereira’s Terry Jones’ Medieval Lives entertained David quite a bit: ‘This is a wonderful book. Entertaining, thoughtful, filled with information and wit. It challenges both our ideas about the past, and our hopes for the future. Can’t wait to see the series!’ I did mention that it’s the Terry Jones of Monty Python fame, didn’t I?
Elizabeth looked at a unique shared story narrative: ‘The Medieval Murderers (authors actually: Michael Jecks, Susanna Gregory, Bernard Knight, Ian Morson and Phillip Gooden), after pooling their talents on The Tainted Relic, have done so again with The Sword of Shame. As in Relic, each author contributes their own murder mystery, written within the time period of their choice and with their own characters, with the only catch being that each story revolves around the same object.’
A novel by Patrick Rothfuss caught the favour of Kathleen: ‘The Name of The Wind is a first novel. It’s one of those “first” novels that blindsides the reader with such power and skill that one wonders how the author has managed to stay unpublished until now. The answer, of course, is that the author has been gathering experience and honing his skills; he has been writing for years, and only now has let his work loose to a grateful world.’
Donna R. White’s A Century of Welsh Myth in Children’s Literature gets an appreciative review by Kim: ‘The prospect of an adult discussion of some of my favorite childhood authors has great appeal, if only because it legitimates my occasional re-reading of Alan Garner and Lloyd Alexander as an adult. Although my adult self wishes to quarrel with certain aspects of their interpretation of the Mabinogi (a series of Welsh tales told orally for centuries and then written down in various forms), their work undeniably had a great impact on how I came to view the world, at least the best parts of it.’
Dark chocolate is always good right? Wrong. Well it wasn’t ‘tall good in the castoff the Dagoba chocolate that Camille reviewed for us. How bad was it? Let’s just say much of it went uneaten despite sitting out for several days.
The idea of four Finnish cellists playing Metallica didn’t appeal initially to Mia: ‘How often is an album of cover tunes the most original, creative, and enjoyable CD imaginable? Well, how about when the self-styled “Four Bowmen of the Apocalypse” released Apocalyptica Plays Metallica By Four Cellos? Yes, that’s right, four classically trained cellists playing music by one of the loudest, angriest bands in the heavy metal universe. Sound strange? Not being a big fan of Metallica to begin with, I wasn’t overwhelmed with any great desire to listen to Apocalyptica. Then I heard the first track, and discovered my mistake. Apocalyptica is amazing.’ As good as that album was, she also reviews a second album by them, Inquisition Symphony, which she says is even better!
And the idea of ‘ritual groove music’ didn’t initially appeal to Gary, either. What is it, pray tell? ‘The works combine minimalism, modern classical, jazz and more, played in repetitive patterns that sometimes evolve slowly, sometimes take quick right turns,’ he says, speaking of the enigmatic release called Continuum from Swiss pianist and composer Nik Bärtsch’s group called Mobile.
Robert takes a look at a couple of CDs, Divine Passion: Rain Water and Beautiful Hands, from Australian artist/writer/composer Caiesal Mór that — well, let him tell you: ‘I mentioned commonalities between these two collections, and that’s really it: Mór has quite effectively used that “reach for the gut” quality of music to provide opportunities to do a little bit more than listen. The result is a pair of CDs, each with its own brand of charm, that can be what you want them to be.’
Our What Not this outing is a reading space: Zina has a cool place, one I hadn’t thought of: ‘The landing on the staircase on the first and second floors, with the window seat. I tend to disappear into my books, so noise and people walking past is never a problem. Maeve is not a ‘drape yourself across the reading material’ sort of cat, so as long as I’m not taking up her favorite pillow, she’ll deign to let me sit with her for a while and sometimes will even purr for accompaniment.’
Thirty years ago, the Pogues released their first song, ‘Streams of Whiskey’ and this cut is from their performance in Markthalle, Hamburg on the 21st of April 1985.