Monday, April 10, 2006

Matters of Health and Taste

In the coming weeks, I hope to be posting more regularly on books and art, for two reasons. First, publishing fine literature is what I do for a living, so I can claim to have expertise even when folks quarrel with my tastes. Second, writing about politics too frequently is, I'm convinced, dangerous to my health, although Oedipa Maas insists that his "frantic heart muscle, and subsequent super-high blood pressure, has enabled me to get all my work done early." Lucky him: the result for me has been an inability to wake up in the morning.

With all this in mind, I've added two features on the right side of this site; underneath "my favorite blogs," you'll find a list of books I've read in the last two months that I vigorously recommend--and, I'm afraid, the list will often convey the fact that I am really, really behind in my reading. In addition, I've added a few recently purchased CDs that are in heavy rotation on my various players; the current selections, I know, scream big homo.

Of these, I want to single out Kirsty MacColl. All of her CDs have been re-issued in recent months; her premature, tragic death five years ago stole one of the music world's leading talents. A notably witty songwriter with an instantly likeable voice, she is only now, I think, transcending her reputation as the woman who wrote most of Tracey Ullman's best songs, sang back-up for The Smiths and The Talking Heads, and had minor hits in the U.S. with an ethereal cover version of Billy Bragg's "New England" and the hip-hop-tinged "Walking Down Madison." All of her albums are worth a listen, but her greatest hits package, Galore, is (if you can get a copy) a good place to start. You can read much more about her career here.