Weekend Week Start

book cover for the art of cruelty by maggie nelsonbook cover for the detective and the pipe girl by michael craven

I read a bunch this weekend, while falling asleep, while almost napping on Saturday, while waking up in the middle of the night. I read news articles, discogs prices, and books. One book was a thriller ebook page turner downloaded on my phone called The Detective & the Pipe Girl by Michael Craven. It was a standard mystery novel, predictable and addicting to read.

I’m also reading The Art of Crueltyby Maggie Nelson. She writes about art, violence, and the ways violence occurs through art in people’s lives. She asks questions that are the obvious ones to ask, which surprisingly are the least often asked versions that people analyze when writing about violence. Her work is much more compelling than studies about violence and the media (what does that mean exactly?) because she writes about art works both contemporary and not so recent, popular culture, and current events. Reading her essays at the same time as devouring a neo-noir mystery gets complicated.

For example the detective narrates an entire about how he learned to fight. There are repetitive instances of meeting women for the sake of meeting women, who are barely described as more than “beautiful” or “sexy”. Often the main character is not the person doing the most sexist, ridiculous actions, however the narrator is doing all the telling. A sideline character is described by the narrator as always seeking out women. It’s the main description of his character. The narrator also repeatedly states rhetorically “Do you know a person like this? You know a person like this”. The whole “it is what it is” approach works at first then gets frustrating because things rarely are what they are, especially in cliched detective books.

Part of me wishes that every mystery paperback novel came with an essay from Nelson’s examination of violence. I paused more than once and wondered why I was still reading the detective book with it’s distorted views. Addiction to mindless violence on the page? Does it make me feel good about how a narrator presents his survival methods as “total commitment” and some father issues?

Anyway, thinking about all the above along with other things I enjoy, like listening to music. Sometimes I like the intensity of musicians like Vatican Shadow, who transfers current wars’ events into a rager of electronic music. Maybe these are better things to analyze than a quick action mystery read. Even if seeing blasting music is something completely different than reading a book. Wow, is that what has happened to me? Writing about reading books whilst falling asleep, instead of making it out to seeing live spectacles of loudness? Though I’m still reading The Art of Cruelty so insert a stay tuned message here.

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