Just kidding. This issue of the newsletter is not about life, the universe, and everything. But as any Douglas Adams fan knows, you can’t just number something forty-two and not acknowledge the answer to the ultimate question. And for those if you who somehow don’t know what I’m talking about, consider that my book recommendation for the month: hie thee to thy usual purveyor of books, be it brick or virtual, and purchase/borrow a copy of Hitchihiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, posthaste.
I just got back from the vet, where my cat is currently recovering from surgery after ingesting not only metallic thread from a Christmas ornament, but apparently also some plastic Easter grass she found in the closet for good measure. I look forward to an evening of nursing the most truculent cat I’ve ever owned back to health, hoping that she allows me to give her the medication she needs without it turning into a wrestling match that will leave me with several new claw and bite marks.
My back injury is improving, although perhaps not quite as quickly as I hoped (does it ever?). I’m now only seeing the physical therapist once every other week to make sure that the battery of exercises they’ve given me are doing what they’re supposed to do. I’m not completely off the medication, but I’m down to a fairly low dose. That, in turn, is allowing my stomach to calm down a bit, as prescription strength anti-inflammatory drugs are not gentle on the digestion. Thank god, because I’m not sure how I would have gotten through Christmas without scotch.
I’ve been working on a new project. I haven’t settled on a title yet, so I’ve taken to referring to it as my “sublime gothic nightmare”. That should give you at least a general sense of the tone, if nothing else. I submitted eight chapters and a synopsis to my agent last week. So now I’m waiting to get her feedback on it, and occupying myself with a short story I’ve been tinkering with for a while, and Christmas preparations. The holiday will be held at my house this year, and, well, hosting and planning are probably not my strong suits. As long as no one cries this time, I’ll consider it a success. Anyway, I don’t want to say to much about this new project yet, because it’s still in that very malleable faze where the moment I say “this is what it is!”, it morphs into some else entirely. But I think I can say with a fair amount of confidence that it is the most ambitious thing I’ve ever attempted, both in terms of scope and narrative prose. I hope I can share more about it with you in the coming months.
Hey, but what I can share right now is the delightful Brazilian cover for Hope and Red! I am so pleased with how the two main protagonists are rendered (especially that knife-twirling!). I’m not sure when it will be released, but presumably soon.
I thought I might as well do my Best of 2017 Music Lists now. I mean, I suppose something might sneak in right at the end of the year, but unless it’s a new Grouper album, I think I can live with the omission. Some of these artists I’ve already featured on the newsletter, others I haven’t.
In my life, I generally break down music into two categories. Music that I listen to, and music that I write to. The main difference between them is simply that the first category has lyrics, and the second generally does not.
This year, my “music to listen to” list was heavily dominated by female vocalists:
Plunge by Fever Ray
MASSEDUCTION by Saint Vincent
Hiss Spun by Chelsea Wolfe
Okovi by Zola Jesus
Exile in the Outer Ring by EMA
Melodrama by Lorde
What Now by Sylvan Esso
Guppy by Charlie Bliss
Swear I’m Good at This by Diet Cig
Tourist In this Town by Alison Crutchfield
Cigarettes After Sex by Cigarettes After Sex
Only that last band, Cigarettes After Sex, features a male vocalist. I’m not sure why my list turned out this way. Perhaps it was my mood, or perhaps the ladies just really owned this year.
About a month ago, I toyed with the idea of starting a music podcast that featured instrumental music that I like to write to. But after only a small amount of research regarding copyright and podcasting, my head was spinning and I decided I really had other things to do with my life (and money). What a shame. I’d already come up with several cool, artsy episode titles like “Every night, I see the suns of other worlds” and “I always remember the way to go home, but I never have returned.” Ah well. One less thing for my friends to make fun of, I suppose.
Some writers don’t listen to music when they write. Some don’t have a problem with lyrics while they’re writing. But if you’re like me, or if you simply are curious to check out new, non-mainstream instrumental music, the below are all either 2017 or late 2016 instrumental albums that are worth a listen on your streaming service of choice:
Luciferian Towers by Godspeed You! Black Emperor (rock)
Aytcheby Joseph Shabason (jazz)
Diaspora by Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah (jazz)
Narcopop by Gas (electronic)
Wood / Metal / Plastic / Pattern / Rhythm / Rock by 75 Dollar Bill (umm…rock? I guess?)
An Act of Love by Earthen Sea (electronic)
World Eater by Blanck Mass (electronic)
Concrete Desert by The Bug & Earth (electronic)
KWIATY by Jacaszek (electronic)
Une Meeles by Maarja Nuut (iTunes categorizes it as klezmer?? I would probably say modern classical)
The Olympians by the Olympians (motown jazz)
And that’s probably it for me until after Christmas. Hope whatever holiday you’re celebrating this season genuinely feels like a celebration. Because despite what you may have heard, the bad guys haven’t won and we are all still here, doing what we can to make the world a little better. And remember that it is one hundred percent fine to bribe your literary agency with fancy tea sets.