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Granta 70: Australia

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Product Details

  • Publisher: Grove Press, Granta
  • Publishing date: 01/02/2001
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-13: 9781929001002
  • ISBN: 1929001002

Synopsis

Blithely ignore the dictum (usually attributed to Elvis Costello) that "writing about music is like dancing about architecture," Granta 76: Music is all about music. The range of musical styles tackled by the contributors is wide--from New Orleans Bounce Rap and Debussy to Bob Dylan and Kathleen Ferrier--though curiously no one has chosen to write about jazz. (There is Richard Williams's excellent piece on Frank Sinatra's mob-funded hotel, the Cal-Neva, but that hardly counts.) The most apposite, if a little trite, way to view this collection is as a kind of literary version of the mix tape. Nick Hornby, no stranger to chronicling the delights of mix tapes, writes about them again here. Like the scads of anthologies or greatest-hits packages available, mix tapes usually have a distinct whiff of nostalgia about them.

The majority of articles in Granta 76: Music are autobiographical, but they manage (largely) to steer clear of misty-eyed reflection or sentimentality. Andrew O'Hagan, for example, movingly pays tribute to his aunt Famie and her favorite song "Cecilia," while Craig Brown resurrects the odd moment from his childhood when "Gin gan gooly" suddenly made more sense than "I am the Walrus" (goo-goo-ga joo). This volume is not without its fast-forward moments (Philip Hensher's gauche and flabby "Brandy" for one), but with such delights as Greil Marcus's profile of the American folk archivist Harry Smith and Julie Burchill explaining why she never wants to hear Massive Attack's "Unfinished Sympathy" again, it's more "Blood on the Tracks" than "Self-Portrait." --Travis Elborough, Amazon.co.uk


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  • Best Granta Edition I've Read Yet
    From Amazon

    The Assassin is a facinating story. I never knew that the father of Apartheid was assassinated and that there was a single "father of Apartheid". The man wasn't even South African but Dutch! Then there is a story about the assassin, who I had never heard of either. A half-African, half-Greek man from Mozambique whose father attempted to raise him as his first born, Greek son, only to have the son racked by terrible mental illness. The son was not able to socialize with others and no country wanted to claim him. His family could not stand him. The irony and blind chance that led him to assassinate the Prime Minister is astounding. It came at a time when the laws were becoming stricter and more intolerant of the racial intermixing and the policies were in a direct conflict with our assassin, who was considered white in South Africa but was asking to become coloured. I was really absorbed in the story and hope to read more about it. Other great stories and articles in this issue include a Hawaiian Hotel in which Paul Theroux learns observes some strange guests. An editor reveals what it is like to edit V.S. Napaul's books and the trouble with elderly mothers and addict jazz musicians. I enjoyed the whole issue.

  • Granta Devotes an Issue to Music
    From Amazon

    I loved most of the stories in this issue. My only complaint is too much focus on classical music when the cover "promised" the Beatles. By that I mean by looking at the cover photo.

  • Good International Issue!
    From Amazon

    The stories begin discussing the Titanic and go on to other distress zones, such as Serbia, Zambia and other places where women and children have endured hardship.

  • The Sad Times of a Poor Murderer
    From Amazon

    This is an important book that anyone interested in South Africa must read. Goethe famously said that to really understand something, first you have to love it. I don't know if this is always true, but van Woerden's sympathetic reconstruction of Tsafendas' sad and, through one deed, monumental life is a compelling example of this methodology. Still, I have strong reservations about the rhetorical project of the book. Van Woerden rightly sets out to prove that Tsafendas was not merely insane, but that he was a kind of living reductio ad absurdum of apartheid racism. However, I think van Woerden pushes his point too hard when, especially toward the end, he suggests Tsafendas was a martyr / prophet / hero of the 'new South Africa.' This might have been true of David Pratt (another sad story), but there is little doubt in mind that Tsafendas was profoundly mentally ill. We should pity him. Making a hero out of him after the fact is troubling. Even at the time, one should remember, Mandela and the ANC condemned Tsafendas' act. I am inclined to defer to that opinion.

  • great selection of short works about London
    From Amazon

    This is the first Granta book I've read but I'm definitely interested in more after this one. A collection of essays, stories, memoirs and photographs all based around the theme of London, it contains works by such well-known authors as Anthony Bailey, Ian Buruma, Amit Chaudri, Hanif Kureishi, John Lanchester, Dale Peck, Will Self and Graham Swift plus articles by two writers for the Observer. Sandwiched in between all of these works are ten 'London Views', where various authors ruminate on their favorite or most memorable views in and about the city.

    Many of the essays are accounts of the author's memories of their time spent in London, as in the childhood memories of Ferdinand Dennis and Ruth Gershon or the more recent recollections by Ian Hamilton and Lucretia Stewart. My favorite part, however, was the short fiction, especially Philip Hensher's mysterious tale of real estate in the late '80s and Lanchester's quirky story about an accountant's experience of a bank robbery. I also enjoyed Helen Simpson's 'With a Bang,' an account of life in Kew in the age of Nostradamus, an appropriate addition to a volume published in 1999.

    The stories taken collectively give a really in-depth view of London at the turn of the century. Yet even if you're not interested in London per se, the writing here is good enough to warrant buying this anyway.

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