The Marvelous Misadventures of Ingrid Winter by J.S. Drangsholt. Norwegian comic novel about a harassed, eccentric academic and mother struggling to cope with office politics and the demands of parenting.
I liked the over-the-top satire of academic politics, which were reminiscent of David Lodge. In particular her cough-syrup-dazed trip to Russia in a haze a paranoia was brilliant.
The parenting stuff has some nice bits of observational comedy, but her parenting life and housing "problems" seemed so paradisiacal compared to mind I found it hard to sympathize.
Overall, fairly amusing, not that brilliant.
What I'm Reading 2
The KLF by John Higgs. Not a typical music biography. It's about the band known as the KLF, the K Foundation, The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu, the Timelords, or the JAMs, focussing mostly on Bill Drummond. Higgs starts by asking the question of why they burned a million pounds in cash after leaving the music industry: something they themselves claimed not to understand. He painstakingly acknowledges the consensus view "because they're a pair of attention-seeking arseholes" but considers some other options too.
It's a fascinating story. Drummond started off in the punk movement. After playing some music himself Drummond became manager of Echo and the Bunnymen and The Teardrop Explodes, and spent some time working in the established music industry.
In the Eighties as part of the KLF-y bands they did experimental early hip-hop and sampling tracks. (Higgs is refreshingly honest about how incredibly shit most of this sounded). They annoyed the music industry by blatantly ripping off not just small samples but huge chunks of Abba and WHitney Houston on their records. As the Timelords they stumbled in to a novelty hit "Doctorin' the Tardis". FOr the benefit of youngsters Higgs explains that Doctor Who was incredibly uncool at this point as the series stumbled towards cancellation with Sylvester McCoy and Bonnie Langford. There's a long, great, digression where he credits the KLF with reviving Doctor Who.
The KLF rode this success to catchy, successful "perfect" dance-pop records like "What Time is Love", while being independent of record labels and contemptuous of the industry. Invited to the Brit Awards they tried to subvert it with a hard metal performance and then maching-gunning the audience with blanks. They then left the music industry, failed to break into the art industry as the K Foundation, then burned the money and went quiet.
Though they're usually portrayed as master manipulators out to get rich, Higgs regards them as sincerely eccentric to the point of being insane. That seems to be the opinion of many people who actually know them.
I thought this was a fascinating book, not just for the KLF but for the complex web of influences from Alan Moore to Doctor Who to the Illuminatus Trilogy. Absolutely worth reading.
Socioeconomics. Everything the Market Thinks About Inflation Might Be Wrong.
Video. Phobos and Deimos eclipse.
Articles. Fifth Element revisited.
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