Thanks and Praise

After an entire day of snow yesterday, we shoveled out this morning, then, since it was such crisp and beaming day, took a nice stroll into town for brunch. To my wife Maureen I recounted my blessings: it was fortunate I didn't have to drive during the blizzard and had plenty of time to clean up afterward on this sunny Sunday. Hey, there had been plenty of times to deal with weather last winter, I'm thankful we're almost through January and Ive managed to escape the dreaded precarious drive so far; for me, two large and twisty mountains stand between home and work.

As I continue to read At Last, St. Aubyn does not attenuate the graphically acute tone of his earlier volumes. This is a good thing. His character, Dr. David Melrose, the sadistic patriarch of this narrative quintet, is perhaps the most purely evil I've ever encountered in literature. I won't give away any of the lurid details, but suffice to say that he leaves no aspect of cruelty unexplored and gets quite creative into the bargain. Being a physician, he is by definition, a paradox. The fifth novel opens during the wake of Patrick's mother Eleanor, a lifelong victim hence enabler of her hateful husband. I'm about a third of the way through and they have yet to perform the cremation, so much of the book is told in flashback narrative. 

Some other new books I'd like to mention here are:  
  • The Past by Tessa Hadley about a family reunion of sorts revolving around the fate of an ancestral country rectory. It was received fairly well in this week's NY Times Book Review. Maureen has decided to read this one next. 
  • Mr Splitfoot by Samantha Hunt is a contemporary Gothic tale about two women on separate journeys in space and time heading toward a common reckoning. This was one I found and thought sounded interesting. It's been called a "subversive ghost story that is carefully plotted and elegantly constructed".

Joanna Newsom
In the music realm, I spent last evening listening to a very offbeat album of songs by Joanna Newsom. She is primarily a harpist and chanteuse that has been recording since around 2003; she has a vocal style very evocative of Kate Bush, whom I love. The latest album to which I listened is entitled Divers. It contains some seemingly straightforward melodic work but often the songs morph into haunting and delightfully eccentric ballads. Listen to eponymous cut below.