We’re moving through. I finished “Independence Day” by Richard Ford, which is a fine read. The follow up to “The Sportswriter”, it picks up with Frank Bascombe during his self-styled ‘Existence Period’. He’s selling real estate in Haddam, New Jersey and it is summer in the early 80s. His son has stuck a “Lick Bush” bumper sticker on his car. Ford has these mesmerizing, long, laden sentences that are a treat just for their own sake. Allied to the bigger meaning (although he can be guilty of overreaching) it is a pretty thrilling experience. I’d recommend it. You can pick it up from Bloomsbury (caveat: my employers) here. I’m starting “Generation X” (Abacus) which is probably still Douglas Coupland’s most famous book. It has dated to some extent, but its clear to see why it had such a big influence. Coupland’s tropes are on clearly on display (you could run Gen X into Microserfs and at points not really know the difference in style or character) but perhaps that’s no bad thing. The anger in the book is more poignant and relevant than ever. The situation has gotten worse, not better. Human beings are not really very good at thinking about the intangibles, the future, their children’s children (unless it’s as a doting grandparent in which case it’s fine and that’s brilliant). The bigger betrayal is unrealistically low taxation, investment and an economy geared entirely around conspicuous consumption and housing bubbles. Yes, you’re a clever swine and your 3 bed house is now worth a million but you just didn’t earn it, baby. You merely got old. And now you want to tell me how to live.
Music-wise, the new(ish) Caveman album is great, as is the new Maximo Park effort. “Leave This Island” is a great track, worth digging out. I gave the new Katy B album a listen but it just simply isn’t as good as her debut. Debut albums always hold a special promise, a special energy, 18-20 years of creativity exploding on to the scene. There’s something magical and restive about the best of them (and something dismal about the worst, and most disappointing, efforts). I think of “Word Gets Around” (Stereophonics), “The Things We Make” (Six. By Seven) as high points in their entire future careers. Television’s debut. Sometimes the first time is the best time (not that often).