When “Weird Al” Yankovic was recording “Belvedere Cruising” in his home back in the 1970s, he probably never expected that he’d have a coffee-table book about him one day. At least, I would hope not, as that would probably betray a strangely-specific form of narcissism on Al’s part. If Al DID, though, I’d bet he’d expect one as good as Weird Al: The Book, by the AV Club’s Nathan Rabin. Continue reading
When I bought a copy of Evguénie Sokolov by Serge Gainsbourg, I thought it was, in fact, Serge Gainsbourg by Evguénie Sokolov. I had no idea that Gainsbourg had written a novella — I just figured the slim volume was a collection of essays about the man; this assumption was boosted by a long introduction by Bart Plantenga and an afterword by Russell Mael of Sparks. (As a fan of both Gainsbourg and Sparks, if I didn’t feel like I had to buy it before, that afterword would seal the deal.) It was only after I started reading the introduction that I realized what I had.
I typically find it hard to put down anything by Haruki Murakami, though usually, it takes me a bit longer than 4 hours or so to read one of his books. But it’s not really about quantity. After Dark is officially a novel, but it’s closer to a novella-and-change; it’s not quite 200 pages. But that’s all that it NEEDS to be. Murakami’s work always has a definite economy to it; even his longest — The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle — is as long as it needs to be.
The story takes place in one night in Tokyo. The narration is a little odd at first; it’s written like stage directions in prose form; the chapters each start with a short sentence saying which “set” we’re on (my word, not his), then a paragraph or two describing it in such detail it sounds like it’s written for a set dresser. Continue reading