brothercyst: betty davis, etc

Monday, January 14, 2008

betty davis, etc

Today I heard the most excellent singer I'd never heard of: Betty Davis. Husband of Miles Davis. Maybe-girlfriend of Jimi Hendrix. And her own albums are viscerally, startlingly good. Particularly choice songs include "Anti Love Song," "If I'm In Luck I Might Get Picked Up," "Game is My Middle Name," and "In the Meantime," all from her self-titled album, which can be bought on iTunes. I'm late to the party on this. How had I never heard of her before?

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This weekend I worked on Midnight Picnic and read Revolutionary Road. I had never read it before; it is a very meticulous and precise book about (in part, and most interestingly for me) psychological maneuvers that people in relationships use against each other. Yates seems very cold and disappointed in people.

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My friend Erin started a blog. I like it.

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Somebody from Per Contra emailed with this link: a new writing contest.

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I also went to Brighton Beach and ate Russian food and walked on the glass-covered beach. I had shoes on, and it was fun.

3 comments:

paula said...

I sort of understand the coldness you refer to after reading Revolutionary Road, to the book, yes, but not in regard to Yates himself. He has a lot of distance from his characters, but he's not without his love for them. He seems harsher to the "times", the fifties, than toward his characters caught in that time. And even moreso, he catches that difficult thing of- when you have kids, its not so easy to pack up and move to Paris. This is no little theme of life to me- the real responsibilities of family. Everyone from Tolstoy to Greene to-many others! - ponder this theme in their work.

I think Disturbing the Peace is his most underated book. I have never read such a great book on mental illness and I've read many. I also think that Blake Bailey's biography of him is compassionate and honest.

Nick said...

The only one I've read is RR--I'll read Disturbing the Peace, Easter Parade, and Liars in Love in the relatively near future, I hope.

He was certainly empathetic to his characters--understood them inside and out--but I felt like he was so disappointed in Frank Wheeler that it verged on disgust. Maybe that kind of disappointment begins with a kind of love. I'm not sure if I felt that he was disappointed in Frank Wheeler for not being a more adventurous person or if he did not believe Frank was capable of transcending his own inherent limitations.

I felt like Yates admired April Wheeler more and felt worse for her. She was genuinely unhappy, it seemed like, while Frank pretended to be unhappy but resisted any change in his circumstances.

paula said...

You might be right re: verging on disgust. I read it at least five years ago and so I can't recall. I remember loving how he used the mentally ill character as the "truth teller". I also remember thinking it was really pro-choice. But mostly, I enjoyed the meticlous aspect that you mentioned: he created a very well thought out world. And he was so free with POV! Ending with the neighbors' point of view, switching around all the time and it always worked - his omniscience really worked.

I've read all of his stories- even the little not finished ones- and love them. I've done a reread a few times. Easter Parade left me angry with how he ended it- for months and months - and then it dawned on me that it was about compassion. I read that more recently.

As you can tell, I'm sort of obsessed with him. I rarely read biographies but I read his by Blake Bailey. I think I'm the only person who doesn't think he a complete loser after reading it. I think his life was a good life, as good as it was going to be. I don't meant that to be cynical, either.