Top Shelf: Something Old, Something New

Familiar gig, newish venue.

I’m trying, sign. I’m trying. Geez.

For seven years, I regularly wrote book reviews on my blog, Glorified Love Letters, and I spent four years editing literary links of interest on the Word Riot blog, in a column titled Notes From Elsewhere. At the same time, I wrote about music and recent news stories at Persephone Magazine, among other occasional topics. Word Riot changed ownership and underwent a publishing hiatus until recently, and P-Mag has gone quiet for now.

Somewhere along the way, I stopped writing anything more than a few sentences on Goodreads with each book finished. I don’t know how this gradual decline in my publishing schedule happened — a hazy mix of illness punctuated by moments of busyness, is all I can speculate — but I realized I missed it. Tossing off a few links on Twitter isn’t good enough for me; I want something less fleeting, but incorporating bits of what I’ve done before.

So here we are with Top Shelf, a collection of links I’ve enjoyed, thoughts on what I’m reading and hearing, and maybe a little sense of accomplishment along the way.

Music and books: entryways into creativity, storytelling. I just want to talk about art I like. Length and content will vary. Format may vary too.

Let’s try this:

Speaking of the intersection of music and literature: Caught By The River has an excerpt from the rock memoir by The Go-Betweens’ Robert Forster. It’s a lovely little scene of fandom, of dedication, and what that means when one has found one’s own success.

One of the best sentences I read this week: “Royal Bodies” by Hillary Mantel, an essay about Henry VIII, but also Kate Middleton:

“His leg caused him chronic pain and historians — and, I’m afraid, doctors — underestimate what chronic pain can do to sour the temper and wear away both the personality and the intellect.”

Ah, yes, I know something about that. When one’s work is all dependent on the brain, the brain suddenly becoming foggy can be detrimental to one’s outlook on life. I’ve had myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) for almost a decade, and I’m still learning how to work despite/with it.

(Mantel also recently wrote a great essay on the late Princess Diana.)

Here’s Lindsay Hunter and Roxane Gay talking about Hunter’s new novel Eat Only When You’re Hungry. Forever stanning for Roxane.

“I Stan For Roxane” — Put that on a t-shirt. One N.

Liam Gallagher, previously of Oasis, has his first solo album, As You Were, arriving in October. Though I tend to be Team Noel in the ongoing war between these brothers, it’s good that Liam is at least trying here with a song that may as well have the parenthetical (Sorry I’m Often Petulant). I’m sure the rest of the album is full of snarling rock, and I’ve already preordered a CD because I am a dinosaur who still likes CDs sometimes.

Right now I’m reading Ghostwritten by David Mitchell, an author whose writing is so good, I could eat it. It’s his first novel, and I enjoy seeing the beginning of his playing with different and overlapping perspectives. It makes me want to read all his books again, in order, since they all share the same universe.

(BTW, did you know there’s a whole conference dedicated to him? Unusual perhaps, for a living author. It’s held each year at the University of St. Andrews. It’s exactly the sort of deep-dive nerdy thing I’d love to participate in one day.)

A few more links of note before I go:

“Self-Serving Writing is the Only Writing You Can Trust” — Juliet Escoria talks to Chelsea Martin about mining one’s life for writing purposes.

But remember: In the end, you’re really going to need an editor to rip the whole damn thing apart. (Thomas E. Ricks, The Atlantic)

Until next time, friends.