(Thanks to my Tatay for sending me the link.)
...Practically everything I know about writing, then, I learned from music. It may sound paradoxical to say so, but if I had not been so obsessed with music, I might not have become a novelist. Even now, almost 30 years later, I continue to learn a great deal about writing from good music. My style is as deeply influenced by Charlie Parker’s repeated freewheeling riffs, say, as by F. Scott Fitzgerald’s elegantly flowing prose. And I still take the quality of continual self-renewal in Miles Davis’s music as a literary model.
One of my all-time favorite jazz pianists is Thelonious Monk. Once, when someone asked him how he managed to get a certain special sound out of the piano, Monk pointed to the keyboard and said: “It can’t be any new note. When you look at the keyboard, all the notes are there already. But if you mean a note enough, it will sound different. You got to pick the notes you really mean!”
I often recall these words when I am writing, and I think to myself, “It’s true. There aren’t any new words. Our job is to give new meanings and special overtones to absolutely ordinary words.” I find the thought reassuring. It means that vast, unknown stretches still lie before us, fertile territories just waiting for us to cultivate them.
The last Murakami book I read was Kafka on the Shore, sent to me by the wonderful Jojoes of Cornell when it first came out. Kafka reminded me of Gaiman/Sandman’s A Game of You. For some reason, I wasn’t compelled to run to Fully Booked to grab a fresh copy of Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman but I saw the film version of the short story Tony Takitani, thanks to Baryon (who with the help of Toronto’s China Town DVD pirates, has also my kept my Tadanobu Asano in Cafe Lumiere / stories-that-go-nowhere fixation at bay). Anyway, the Takitani flick was elegant and sad just like the collection of posh shoes and clothes it featured. From that point perhaps I was finally detoxed from Murakami. Or so I thought. But now I have this desire to catch up on ol’ Haruki’s writing by reading After Dark. The reviews on Amazon UK look promising (e.g. “how the city was more of a character than in many of his other novels..etc.”) Jazz as the soul of the urban and HM’s twists of surrealism are a sublime fusion, IMHO. Incidentally, since the Elephant blog is kinda in a coma, am cross-posting this there. Heh. Wala lang.
As for jazz, I’ve been to two free gigs recently and they were quite cosy. The first one was at this pub over at Belsize Park. The band was called Titanic Syncopators with Peta Webb (heh, well) and they played 1920’s and 1930’s Hotcha. The band leader was a trumpeteer and his mates were an alto sax guy and two guitarists and a drummer. Peta Webb was cool but not too detached to smile at the crowd. Their more laid-back versions of On the Sunny Side of the Street and Love me or Leave Me covered on a still sunny evening, were perfect for the venue where, I think, aside from the bartenders, and two perfectly-behaved resident hounds, Aldo and I and another pair of non-regulars who strayed in were the only ones below 50. (Which seemed to balance out our earlier trip to Camden Market where we seemed to be the only ones in our thirties, as everyone on the street was younger, heh.)
The second jazzy gig I caught in London on Aldo’s birthday was the Ingrid Laubrock duo. Laubrock is an alto saxophonist and her partner that day was Chris Wells on piano. On the Waterloo bridge outside, rain started pouring. Inside, music by Thelonius Monk just flowed for free as people went in for mere shelter, the press photo exhibit or the theatre, while others drunk beer and munched on their tuna-cucumber whatever sandwiches. Some peeps actually listened and enjoyed the performance.
Nyak, what is happening to me? Am blogging about jazz instead of attending the Roskilde festival (which I am vicariously experiencing thru Abby’s weatherproof dispatches). I haven’t forgiven myself for missing the chance to see Bjork, Arcade Fire, Muse, and the Beastie Boys. Then again, am feeling just a bit too unfit for a bivouac right now. Perhaps I could still catch one or two of them acts in some other concert sans the mud. Hay ang lola ko na.
Best described as a Murakami detox support group, we're all fans of the quirkily brilliant Japanese author, Haruki Murakami, and writing about such things as films we've seen recently and books we're reading (not to mention meandering musings on the man's work, of course) helps us to pass time while waiting for the next book from Haruki-baby.