writers of the world, write.

The idea of this blog is, despite the SK title, to be 90% music and 10% books, manly because there still seems an active volcano of emerging and exciting bands out there, as well as countless golden oldies who keep on rocking (in the free world) with something interesting to say, or a new idea to express. Sadly, the same can’t be said for books. I tend to read dead writers, so they aren’t going to publish anything new (except in the case of JD Salinger), and so there’s little point writing about them here except when there’s a cool film out.

So it’s all the more exciting when an author turns up who is very much alive in fact born in 1979, who has a new book out, and I find out I’ve read all of her books without actually meaning to. Her name is Gwendoline Riley. She’s ace. She writes about herself in all her “novels”, she seems isolated and afraid of the world, trying to figure out broken hearts and broken lives through her slender little novels and there’s always a glimmer of love and hope, even if it’s just the safety net of music and more isolation. I’ve no doubt in my mind she’s the greatest English writer of the day. Ok, there might not be much competition out there, and we can forget the Booker Prize winners of the past few years.

Funny thing is I’d forgotten about her. I read her brilliant first novel “cold water” in 2002, and her second one “sick notes” seemed exactly the same and came out a year or so later. I remember really like those early books, all youth and hope despite the setbacks of life. Then working for a book wholesaler I picked up her third one in the free book section, it was “Joshua Spassky” a more straight forward love story with disappointments and failures thrown in. Then life took over a bit and her books gathered dust in between living in England and Germany., it was only the other day when I was scanning the bookshelves looking for something other than Tozer (as interesting as “The blessedness of possessing nothing” is it can seem a bit unreachable from my cozy Habitat armchair), that I re-read parts of JS, and it tore at my heart in the way the best songs and books can.

So, as it turned out, Gwendoline Riley has a new book out – her first since JS – called “opposed positions” which I’ve just picked up the hardcover of at Uckfield library, and I’ve only read the first few pages but I’ve already decided this is the book of the year. Best not to mention I’ve not read a single other book published this year…

So, anyway, that’s it really. No videos. No songs. No pictures. Although if I were to put a song on it would have to be a Smiths song as Miss Riley always writes about them in her books, but I think our old friend Morrissey is getting quite enough attention as it is at the moment, don’t you think?

JD Salinger mystery man

Funny, but for a “writer” (even an occasional one) I use to hate books at school. We had to read Thomas Hardy and all that stuff that just bored me senseless. One day, age 15, my brother threw a copy of “catcher in the Rye” into my room and said I should read it because the guy in it is like me. It sounded crazy, and thank God he was wrong, but after I read JD Salinger my life was never the same again. I had no idea literature could be so exciting, so transforming and so powerful. The way it could haunt your dreams, make you think about life and question your place in it After I read “catcher in the rye” I went straight onto “on the road” and never looked back.

Unlike Kerouac who laid his life open for all to see, Salinger was secretive. Nobody knew anything about him. When he died a couple of years ago I was fortunate enough to write a piece about him for a little book magazine here in England, but I still didn’t know much about him and nobody seemed to know anything.

So now there is this film and book tie-in, take a look at the little clip. It looks awesome.

hear rad new albums from Julie Ruin and Belle and Sebastian here!

Arrived back in ImageEngland late last night after a month away, and if like me you’ve got the end-of-summer blues here are a couple of things to bring back a little sunshine into your life. First the sensational news JD Salinger has new books comming out after 2015, but if you are looking for more immediate pleasure you can check out the new albums from the always awesome Kathleen Hanna and her band Julie Ruin here via NPR first listen and a new collection of b sides from belle and sebastian over at the Guardian newspaper website. Happy listening.