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Posted on Sunday, June 12th, 2005

During the last few weeks that I’ve been writing this journal I’ve not posted very often about anything other than my music and where it takes me. I forget that I can write here about other things as well.
When I’m working a lot on a musical project I tend to filter out other music from my life, and exist, albeit temporarily, in a musical vacuum. This is never a concious decision, it’s just the way it is. I guess my main source of distraction, apart from two children, is reading. I consume books, I re-read things often and rarely give up on something even if I don’t like it much. I continually jump genres and, happily, will have two or three books on the go at the same time. At the moment I’m enjoying The Air Conditioned Nightmare by Henry Miller which I picked up at City Lights in San Francisco a few weeks ago, a compendium of literature celebrating the virtues of vice titled Drinking, Smoking and Screwing which I bought on the same trip featuring extracts from books by Charles Bukowski, J P Donleavy, Anais Nin, Sam Shepard and other too numerous to mention. It’s most enjoyable and has introduced me to a few writers that I didn’t know before. What else? Recent reads have been The Wicked Wit of Winston Churchill, Blood and Champagne, a biography of Robert Capa, The Story of the Eye written by Georges Bataille, Journey to the End of the Night written by Celine, The Spanish Civil War written by Antony Beevor, The Outsider written by Albert Camus and La Premiere Gorgee de Biere et Autres Plaisirs Miniscules by Phillipe Delerm. The last there is somewhat of an anomoly as it the only book I’ve, so far, been able to read in French. While my spoken is, well, I don’t know, adequate (most around me would say otherwise), my comprehension pretty good but my reading and writing are non existant, no doubt due to assimilating the language as opposed to taking the time to learn it… 🙂 So the achievement of actually reading that book (it is a collection of two and three page vingettes) is enormous..
One downside to living in France for and anglophone is finding books. I often have to rely on amazon, which doesn’t really satisfy as the whole experience of book shopping is more than just buying the book, it’s being in the bookstore, browsing, accidently finding things that you wouldn’t have thought interested you, being seduced by a book jacket and smelling the coffee from the adjacent starbucks. I often find myself visiting bookstores here in Rennes just to absorb a bit of the atmosphere. It is however, an unfulfilling and frustrating experience as I can’t read most of the books and worse, they don’t do the bookstore/coffeeshop thing here in France.

13 Responses to “books….”

  1. Ted

    Bulowski’s Dirty Old Man is one hell of a fun romp if you haven’t had the pleasure….

  2. Ted

    Uhhh, that was supposed to be Bukowski…..

  3. glint

    Bukowski is a favorite, as is Miller. Try Tom Robbins or Barry Gifford if you get a chance, highly recommended!

  4. Jon Gordon

    What do you mean they don’t do the coffee/bookstore thing in France? I thought it was a French idea in the first place.

  5. mike

    Yeah… I live next to that racetrack Bukowski wrote about all the time. On “list of things to do this week.”

  6. Sebastian6

    I was turned on to Story of the Eye by Bjork. I read it and understood it as a Marquis De Sade type romp, but what did you find to be the overarching theme of that book, Robin? I didn’t quite get it. Is it simply that we, as humans, can and will find the most pleasure in an outwardly ringing splash of more and more absurd?

  7. Doug

    “How To Clean Just About Anything” that part about just under the breasts…a madness for it is swept. Taint.

  8. harvey

    Salut Robin…..I’m quite envious, I lived in France for two years in the early 90s, not so far from Rennes. I know what you mean about finding books, I ended up reading all kinds of rubbish. I did find the atmos good for reading though, a small bar/ coffee shop just by the river running through Quimper. My best memory of Rennes is when hitching down to Carnac to meet my then girlfriend. I met this guy on the boat who invited me to visit his family home where a very nice and civilised party was going on in the garden of what was a very old town house. I often visit France when I get the time, either Brittany or St Maxime in the south. I am trying to teach my daughter French for her first trip this year…. but 4 may be a little young and my French is still not brilliant.

    cheers Harvey

  9. Jon Gordon

    Get her an Asterix book or something.

  10. Jon Gordon

    Incidentally, if you’re reading this Mr. Guthrie, I recently heard a CD from someone called Raymond Woolson which scared me slightly, so accurate were his transpositions of both some of your earlier work and that of Runrig – possibly actionable if released fully I thought

  11. Henk

    Robin you should work with Robert Smith of The Cure.. I hear they are looking for new members.. That would be amazing.
    Oh and dont read too much Bukowski or you’ll turn into a perv ^_^

  12. mike

    Hey, man – was reading about Michel Houllebecq this morning and thought of you. You might like his work. I’m thinking of checking it out, but might not be too healthy for some people…

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