Monthly Archives: February 2009

Katelyn to books: just sit there and look pretty.

badbeginningShit like this is why I own so many books. M. S. Corley has redesigned the Lemony Snicket and Harry Potter series as old Penguin Classics (via Readerville, and thanks to them for making me lust after things that don’t exist). If these were books instead of designs, the combined appeal of binging on something serial and carrying around a book that looked this awesome would force me to purchase them. And then I’d find out what happens to the Baudelaire children and maybe remember what happens to Harry Potter this time around. (I’ve read the books, which I’m not allowed to own because they’re too bulky and I just don’t care enough; I’ve seen the movies; and of the plot I’m telling you this: Harry Potter and Voldemort are nemeses. Someone dies at the end of the last one, right? Or doesn’t die? Which is important? I swear I read it.) But look how pretty! All starkly iconic and weird. And they have the numbers on them, which for some horrible reason publishers sometimes seem to disapprove of, even after the series is finished and a new edition is published. And if they were $2.95 apiece or whatever they would’ve been at the time, that would be nice, too.

Tangentially related: Stephin Merritt is writing the music for a stage adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s Coraline. When I found out I was sitting in a cubicle looking at tax forms and I got a fucking adrenaline rush. I don’t know if my body was anticipating stabbing people ahead of me in line for rush tickets or what. Merritt’s songs are already a step away from musical theater, with lyrics twice as good as most of it. I have to avoid thinking about this so that I don’t have a heart attack before I get the opportunity to see it. (How is this at all related? Merritt, as The Gothic Archies, also made an album to accompany the Lemony Snicket books. Click through to the Scream & Run Away video on MySpace; it is adorable.)

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apocalypses and other worlds

It’s appalling that I have only two books with post-apocalyptic content for this poll, and had to go with futuristic or fantastical settings for the rest. There need to be more, and I must read them all. Or at least be apprised of their existence to judge their worthiness.

Interworld is the tale of a (“very special,” per the book jacket) boy who fights to save multiple dimensions. Young adult. I love Gaiman, but I think he’s gone blind to mediocrity by getting too much love lately. Someone be mean to him, please.

A father and son wander through the post-apocalyptic (!) wasteland in The Road. Looks clipped and poetic, with lots of monosyllabic dialogue. I’m statistically most likely to run into other people who have read this.

Un Lun Dun is also a YA thing, about a girl in a sort of opposite-day London. It looks adorable, and there are little drawings. Unfortunately, it’s a largish hardcover.

We Who Are About To… is feminist sci-fi from the 70s. Or I’m assuming it is from the other Russ book I’ve read, which I don’t remember, but remember liking.

Jamestown is a futuristic, post-apocalyptic (!) retelling of the settlement of Jamestown, or the myth of thereof. Originally published by Soft Skull Press. Likely awesome.

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two months later…

I finished The Case of Wagner. It’s written much more prettily than The Birth of Tragedy, which was appreciated. There are two postscripts and an epilogue, which are clearer on the subject of Nietzsche’s objection than the rest of the text–which he realized, apparently; he says as much in a letter to a friend he asked to proof it.

My favorite part, from the second postscript, is when Nietzsche clarifies that he hates all contemporary music:

When in this essay I declare war upon Wagner–and incidentally upon German “taste”–when I use harsh words against the cretinism of Bayreuth, the last thing I want to do is start a celebration for any other musicians. Other musicians don’t count compared to Wagner. Things are bad generally. Decay is universal. The sickness goes deep. If Wagner nevertheless gives his name to the ruin of music, as Bernini did to the ruin of sculpture, he is certainly not its cause. He merely accelerated its tempo–to be sure, in such a manner that one stands horrified before this almost sudden downward motion, abyss-ward. He had the nïaveté of decadence: this was his superiority. He believed in it, he did not stop before any of the logical implications of decadence. The others hesitate–that is what differentiates them. Nothing else.

This comes immediately after his declaration that he has “given the Germans the most profound books they have–reason enough for the Germans not to understand a single word” and before a rant on the badness of Brahms. (I tried to write “evils” rather than “badness” there, but Wagner is the only one deemed worthy of evils. Everyone else just sucks.) Conclusion: Nietzsche is a hilarious misanthrope. I’d pay to see him in a Grumpy Old Men sequel.

Next up: The Conversations of Cow, which wins with 3 votes. Gob’s Grief gets 2, Just Another Soldier 1, and The Lathe of Heaven and Humboldt’s Gift are rejected.

 

P.S.: I also mostly dislike Wagner, since I don’t like opera. I may or may not have fallen asleep during the second act of The Flying Dutchman, resting my forehead on the balcony railing, and been nudged awake to find scary little children still singing.

2nd P.S.: I wonder whether the lovers in Sondheim’s Passion, which is what I listened to when I couldn’t unearth my music-class copy of Wagner’s Tristan and Iseult, have a “cruel nature” sort of love (the good sort, like in Georges Bizet’s Carmen) or a sentimental, redeeming love (like in Wagner, boo!). Run out, watch a musical and a couple operas, read The Case of Wagner, and let me know what you think.

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