Literature is a textually transmitted disease, normally contracted in childhood. — Jane Yolen in her Touch Magic: Fantasy, Faerie & Folklore in the Literature of Childhood
We’ve a long tradition here on the Kinrowan Estate of giving storytellers who make it here the same boon we grant musos of food, drink and a place to sleep. Nothing fancy mind you, but good enough that a few of the storytellers ended up staying here during the Winter for extended periods. Mind you not as storytellers, but as staff working for the Groundskeeper, in the Kitchen or, in centuries past, for the Gamekeeper or our Gillie.
We all tell tales, be the writer of a given work, the reader of that work and the reviewer of the same work. The tale we tell will always differ from person to person and none of us is wrong about what we think of a given work. So don’t be offended if our review of a given work differs with your opinion of that work.
Now shall we see what’s up for this time? Of course we should! We’ve got a tasty collection of reviews and other things, so let’s get started…
Richard sets an appreciative eye on a Andrew Cartmel novel: ‘The second in the JACK NAPIER, The Run-Out Groove is as much shaggy dog story as it is detective novel. Yes, there’s death, attempted murder by burning alive, and all sorts of other dark and violent goings-on, but the book’s tone is so light and its voice so off-handedly charming that it doesn’t register as ferocious. Instead, it has the feel of a yarn spun by a friend over a couple of drinks, and the telling is too good for you to call bull on any of the more outlandish aspects.’
Richard also says a certain novel is a delightful mess: ‘There’s a thin sliver of overlap in the Venn diagram of books that are bad and books that are compulsively readable. It’s the territory Dan Brown occupies, and it’s now got a new resident: George Mann, whose novel Wychwood is a hopeless pile of hokum that nevertheless keeps the reader eagerly turning pages until the end.’
Robert has a look at the first two volumes of a new series by Tanya Huff, Peacekeeper: ‘Tanya Huff has started a new series, a spin-off of her Confederation novels, again featuring now former Gunnery Sergeant Torrin Kerr leading a group of her former Marine comrades. Kerr may be out of the Marines, but she hasn’t left fighting for the Confederation: she and her group are now free-lancing doing those jobs that need to be done but that no one wants to admit any involvement: call it “black ops,” with plausible deniability.’
While poking around in the back reaches of the Library, Robert ran across an old favorite, Roger Zelazny’s collection The Doors of His Face, the Lamps of His Mouth and Other Stories: ‘Although he published his first story in the early 1950s, Roger Zelazny didn’t really impact the science fiction scene until 1963. That’s when I remember reading “A Rose for Eccelsiastes” in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction (with their best cover ever illustrating Zelazny’s story). He followed it up the next year with the title story of this collection, which won him his first Nebula award. Zelazny and his contemporaries went on to become the American branch of science fiction’s New Wave, and pushed the envelope until it was altered beyond recognition.’
Charles Stross, the noted SF and fantasy writer who’s English by birth and resident in Scotland by choice, has a look at the Scottish fry-up here. And I found recently an article in The Register called ‘The ultimate full English breakfast’ – which is subtitled ‘have your SAY Forget Brexit, lets use grease and dead things to heal a gaping political chasm.’ The article is thisaway and do read the comments on it as they’re worth their weight in greasy fry bread.
Gary reviews the new release by American jazz pianist Vijay Iyer’s sextet. Far From Over is, he says, ‘an hour of jazz that roars and soars and sings with defiance and joy.’
English musician Jack Cooper’s first solo album is called Sandgrown. Gary says it’s ‘a song cycle of sorts painting a sonic picture of his hometown, the port city of Blackpool on the Lancashire coast in northwestern England. This is a quiet record, what might have been termed shoe-gaze in the ’90s, with lo-fi production and Cooper apparently playing all of the instruments and singing all of the vocals.’
Jo has a detailed look at Itzhak Perlman’s In the Fiddler’s House: ‘From the formal opening triumphant strains of “Brave Old World” to the highly-varied, improvisational closing “Di Gayster,” this recording explores the nooks and crannies of Klezmer music. The brain-child of Michael Alpert, violinist for the group Brave Old World, this recording explores four of the best-known contemporary Klezmer groups (the Klezmatics, the Andy Statmand Klezmer Orchestra, the Klezmer Conservatory Band, and Brave Old World) and, in the process, gives a brilliant overview of what Klezmer music is all about. The addition of Itzhak Perlman is the piece de resistance.’
Kim has a conversation with several members of Danú, an Irish group when they were early on in their career: ‘I spoke with Ciarán Ó Gealbháin (vocalist) and Donnchadh Gough (bodhrán and uilleann pipes) about the influences on Danú’s music, and the blending of new sounds with the old traditions. Their main stage set on Friday evening was one of the high points of the evening for me, they were enthusiastic, with both great instrumentals, and a vocalist with an actual great voice. Danú hail from Co. Waterford, although several musicians have come from other parts of Ireland, and the fiddle player, Jesse, is a U.S. expatriate.’
Here at GMR, Dori Freeman is one of our favorite new Americana singers, Teddy Thompson is one of our favorite journeyman folk singers, and dad Richard Thompson is one of our favorite musicians ever. Dori has a new album coming in September, and just released the first single. Teddy produced the album and sings harmonies, and RT plays guitar on the single: here’s ‘If I Could Make You My Own.’
The up-and-coming UK folk trio The Young’uns have a new album called Strangers coming September 29. The first single off Strangers is a stirring anthem based on a true story about courage and the personal quest for justice called “Be The Man,” and it features piano, violin and cello accompaniment. The signature harmonies are there in the third verse, though, so do check out “Be The Man.”
Our coda is Aaron Copland’s ‘A Fanfare for The Common Man’ as performed by the Rolling Stones. Yes the Rolling Stones! A number of bands including Styx and ELP (Emerson Lake and Palmer) have adapted it for use. So here’s their decidedly offbeat version. And if you think that’s odd, come back next week for the story of a well-known metal band that performed in the Antarctic, making it the only band so far to perform on all seven continents.