Thursday, February 25, 2010

"Location 1880"

Charlemagne Palestine & Pansonic - Mort Aux Vauches (ROOT BLOG)
England in 1819 - Three Cheers for Bertie (MySpace)
Jonathan Lethem, Chronic City (Amazon)
Jaga Jazzist - One Armed Bandit (lala)

I listen to long droney things like the Charlemagne Palestine piece linked above with relish; they order my head like dutiful library pages re-shelving books left askew by careless, fickle patrons, but just the idea of tackling a really long book exasperates me. I chuckled as the protagonist of Chronic City chucked a stand-in for Infinite Jest into an infinite ravine. So, that is why I've never stepped foot into a Neal Stephenson book and probably never will. Chronic City is a mere 480 pages*, a pithy greeting card compared to Mr. Stephenson's tomes, and look how long it is taking me to read that. I'd probably go to my grave with Cryptonomicon tucked under my coffin pillow.

I tore through 2666 (912 pages) with the idea that it was a ransom that would free me from being kidnapped by Roberto Bolaño's writing. And it did.

Thing is, I applaud Stephenson and other long-winders for their muse and how they horsewhip the words out of them. I've found that folks that write long books also write lots of long books in succession; sometimes long series of long books where the story (presumably) arcs over the spines and creates a full and inhabitable world. And even if they don't, look at those gorgeous spines, screaming out among the dull reds and blues of library binding. My Kindle home screen will never look that sexy.

England in 1819, Baton Rouge's own answer to Sigur Rós et. al., is quite a lovely thing. Jaga Jazzist, makers of one of my favorite albums of 2005 has only gotten more interesting.

* I am iPhone Kindling Chronic City, so page numbers become quickly and startlingly meaningless. I'm currently on "Location 1880," whatever that means. Somewhere in chapter six.

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