Tasting Desire

I hold with those who favour fire...


Belle de Jour - The Further Adventures of a London Call Girl
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After having been a bit of a fan of Belle de Jour, her blog, the first book, in parts also the tv series (although I wasn’t too fond of some of the changes and omissions they took upon themselves) for quite some time, I finally picked up her second book, Further Adventures of a London Call Girl, expecting more erotic humour and interesting concepts. It was especially her unveiling herself as Brooke Magnanti and seeing her in interviews as a stunning and wonderfully spoken woman, that made me want to read more.

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Especially in the beginning, I was thoroughly happy with it, too. I didn’t expect Jane Austen but I don’t think every book has to adhere to that kind of standard and the Belle de Jour books have their own charm: A strong female heroine, sex without it necessarily falling under erotica, real life struggles, humour and sarcasm. I am not usually a fan of sex in writing – well I am a huge fan of the concept – but I am rarely happy with the way it us done and rather forego it altogether than to see it ruin my mood. But Belle does it perfectly, without striving to make it too hot and too sizzling (which invariably seems to ruin it and make it cheesy) or ending up sounding clinical and just like an unaffected observer. There is fun and cheekiness in her writing, and she did supply me with two new superb fantasies:

  1. Being covered in poetry, applied with a soft pen or tiny brush, maybe tied up in the process. I’d go for Neruda, but that’s just me.
  2. Being blindfolded and led around the city, little warnings and instructions whispered in the ear.

When the book came into its second half, though, I started to grow a little tired of it and for a while I thought it was the writing that was lacking. But soon I realized that, really, I was disappointed in Belle, the protagonist, letting herself be lead around and treated like shit by a total idiot boy who didn’t deserve her in the least. Almost as though she betrayed that image of the strong and independent, sexy and awesome woman I had in my head. I wanted to slap her, really, but the book was still good – just different and I didn’t like the ending. Nevertheless, I am still a fan and as this is not really all fictional I cannot blame her for writing it that way – and I wouldn’t take it upon myself to blame her for living it. There’s probably something to learn in that for me, anyway.

Other books read by the same author:
- The Intimate Adventures of a London Call-Girl


CD-Review: Allie Moss - Passerby
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Allie Moss - Passerby, 2009

www.myspace.com/alliemossmusic

I first came across Allie Moss as Ingrid Michaelson’s background singer/guitar player and I suppose I never paid her too much attention until LastFm was kind enough to play me some of her own stuff. She has a gorgeously soft and melancholy voice, very feminine and haunting and her songwriting is beautiful. So I finally spent my brother’s amazon-birthday-gift-certificate on her album Passerby.

All in all, it’s a beautiful record, albeit maybe not surprisingly genius after knowing the singles, which I would still describe as the highlights.

“My hand in your hand underneath the table
Keeps me composed
Somehow you understand that I am more able than I know
Brave enough to let it go”

Let it go

I love lyrics that are simple in what they are tell you, not too cryptic, but that give that soft pulling sensation in your chest because they are so beautiful or genius or just because you are so jealous, you didn’t come up with that. Allie Moss definitely has those moments.

“We rise mud-scraped and bruised
Maybe we have to be a little bit broken to hear hope call.”

Prisoner of Hope

My favourite tracks of the record are Passerby and Someone to hold on to so far - but some of the others are beautiful enough to kick them off that top spot after a few more listening sessions. Its a quiet kind of music that doesn’t demand attention but just enjoys it in passing in its unassuming way and I adore that quality in her. Definitely a record worth buying if you’re into this kind of singer/songwriter music - for a newbie to the genre, I might probably recommend some more expressive people.

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Lichtung Cologne: Amber Rubarth, Jim Bianco, Erik Penny
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Johanna: What's up with you going to so many concerts lately?
Laila: Wha... why? I just want  to.

Basically that sums it up nicely, lol. This one was another awesome one, in total actually better than the last one (although I'm still squeeing about the genius that is Alison Sudol).

It was a bit of a venture into the unknown for me as I didn't own any of the act's cds and except for a youtube clip of Jim Bianco singing on the Late late show, I hadn't heared them at all. I knew of Jim and Amber through afiliations with other Singer/Songwriters I adore (Amber is in a band with Alex Wong - The Paper Raincoats - who also plays a lot with Vienna Teng), but I hadn't really heard any of her stuff. Also they were opening for Erik Penny, whom I had never heard of before.

I really just wanted to go to support alternative music and have a nice evening and I had some idea that Jim Bianco would be amazing live. So I spent the day getting into their sound on their respective myspace pages and basically thought, what the hell, for 10€ you can't really do much wrong here. I even got my brother to come along by means of emotional manipulation ("But we never do stuff together anymore...").

It was good he was along though, there was quite a long wait until they got started (about an hour) and with him, we just sat at the bar and got a bit drunk, made fun of people (quietly though) and discussed the artpieces on the wall (that in normal volume).

 

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http://www.myspace.com/amberrubarth
http://www.myspace.com/jimbianco
http://www.myspace.com/erikpenny

Review: Haruki Murakami - After Dark
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Book 04: Haruki Murakami - After Dark
(This year's challenge is going so badly, I have no words lol)




Reading Murakami is always 'something else' and I've found it a quality that is difficult to explain to someone who has never read him. I'm sure the same is true for many other authors and maybe it speaks of my lack of knowledge about other Japanese writers or writers he could be compared with, but just from my personal point of view, Murakami is really special and really beautiful.

I should mention that by necessity, I read this as an English translation from the original Japanese. Not having read a translation in quite a while now, I have to admit there is a certain level of professional distraction there (I study translating), for example when I wonder if Murakami really set the beginning of his book in a "Denny's" or whether the translator substituted that for a Japanese chain restaurant of a similar feel in order to help the reader feel the same thing about the minimalist description as a Japanese reader would and eliminate the note of foreigness when the feel should be of a place that is totally everyday and unremarkable. I actually think I'll check how the German translator did that next time I'm in a book-store, might be some indication. But whichever it was, I did feel it was a good translation, with a nice feel for the mood and after I got used to it again, I actually forgot about the translation aspect, which I deem a good thing.

After Dark is the story a young woman, Mari, and the people she meets, interacts with and thinks about in course of a night in a Japanese metropolis. There is a young man, she vaguely knows who used to fancy her beautiful older sister, later the manager of a love hotel, a blonde and stout woman, other employees there, a young chinese prostitute, the man who beat her up and stole her clothes... All the interactions lean towards a very stark sense of realism, with dialogues and descriptions and yet, as though capturing that sense we all get at night-time, there is also something mysterious about it all. As though, after dark, it is perfectly natural to have odd and interesting conversations, meet new people and be someone slightly different than you would be during the day.
Next to to this sphere, the book also tells us about Mari's sister Eri, but here Murakami comes into fantastical and mysterious realm he is so famous for, describing scenes and occurances that can't quite and maybe might yet somehow be real somewhere.

Without going on now to reveal all the spoilers, it is really beautiful book. It's short and to the point and mysterious and beautiful and it makes me rather curious to finally pick up one of Murakami's longer works.


Other Books read by the same Author:

- Sputnik Sweetheart
- South of the Boarder, West of the Sun
- The Elephant vanishes

New Haircut
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Got a new hair-cut and i LIKE it :)

 

And now I'm off to go to class and then to see a nice concert with my little brother. Because I have no cool friends who are into the music I'm into. Off to see Jim Bianco, Amanda Rubarth and some German guy I have never heard off (and who is the headliner lol) named Erik Penny.

Edit: He's actually American, only lives in Berlin and did a great job, too.

The prettiest girl
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After a week of strenuous preparation for my big seminar presentation (which went amazingly, in case you were wondering - and its ok if you were not), I finally have some time to catch up on some much deserved blogging.
Specifically, blogging about last week's concert with the incredibly talented and insanely beautiful Alison Sudol from A Fine Frenzy, who made ma fall completely in love with her all over again.

It was actually one of those difficult days, had to give a different presentation in a class that ended at 7 pm, which - incidentally - was when the club she was playing at opened for entry.
I basically ran out of class, trying to make it at least in time for the concert to start and not mind that I'd stay in the back - but Cologne isn't tiny and public transport has its very own trap-falls, so that I ended up about 15 minutes late and completely missing the first opening act.

I got there, quickly slipped downstairs to hand in my jacket and purse and basically the moment I got into the club, they announced here and there I stood, in the very back among very very tall parents who were getting cuddly. She was opening for Owl City, which explained the insane number of really really young teenies and I was rather bad at fighting my way to the front. I always admire people who can do that.

So I watched from there, but it was good anyway. She is incredible life, her voice so strong and perfectly on pitch and a cuter girl, you haven't seen. So friendly and lovely and nice and funny. She sang about 8 songs, among them a new one that made me crazy curious about the next album, she danced and joked and talked to teh audience.
I was actually a little embarrassed for Cologne - they kind of treated her like an opening act, which yes, she was, but I was there just to see her and therefor felt somewhat righteous about treating her like the star of the show she was (completely stole Owl City's show, but more on that later). It was even worse where I stood, when she sang the one song that came to some recognition in Germany, Almost lover, she heard that people seemed to be singing along and so for the last chorus she asked really adorable, "Do you guys wanna sing it?" And all the parents looked around at me like something was wrong with me when I sang along at the top of my lungs. Haha, in your face stupid parents and Owl City fans.

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It was all entirely too short though, and I can't wait for her to come back to Cologne - this time as a headliner though. Not that the money wasn't well spent just to see an opener, but I'd rather Owl City got none of it. He came on after her, which a huge pink light show (is it just me or does a light show always suggest inadequacy rather than amazing talent) and really badly tuned acoustics (In her act the voice and instruments were perfectly balanced and you could hear her perfectly, in his set this was really off).


And, here is the thing, I would use the word 'gay' as an insult, ever. But there is such a thing as so gay its a bit difficult to watch, Jonny Weird for example. Owl City was a bit like that, and I'm not into his music to begin with, so really I thought I'd go, it had been a long day and I wasn't about to spoil my Alison-euphoria with this pop stuff that made the teenies scream. (Like, really? Did you listen to the opening act at all? And you scream and go crazy for this stuff? I live in a weird world).
So I went back down-stairs to get my purse and coat and wanted to go by the bar area to see if I couldn't buy some nice Alison-merchendise.... to find her actually standing right there, talking to two other fans who had apparently had the same thought as I (namely that Owl City wasn't worth the aching feet). I waited until they moved away and there she was - just right there, looking incredibly perfect with her porcellain skin and her red hair and that adorable smile. Yes, I have a crazy crush on her, completely well founded.
She gave me a hug and I told her how great I though she was and how I loved her music and we talked a tiny bit about how she liked coming to Germany and to Cologne. One of the other fans was so nice to snap that picture of us and I was so nervous, every muscle in my face twitched when it was taken.
I wanted to squee all the way home and the next few days, too. Although, really, it should be forbidden to look so perfect, it makes the rest of us feel woefully inadequat.

Great night, wonderful woman, amazing perfomer - won't forget it in a hurry.

Review: Ian McEwan - Enduring Love
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Book 03: Ian McEwan - Enduring Love









Ian McEwan is probably the author I have read the most books of and am closest to having the read the complete works of  (not counting J.K. Rowling and a few authors of other children's books authors of my childhood) and at this point I am only missing some earler, more obscure works and the very latest one, Solar, for which I am waiting to come out in paper-back. There is something about his writing that has fascinated me from the first page of Atonement and still holds me captured to this day.
His books are never easy or just entertaining, but there is something in his writing that makes the reader find it as hard as the protagonists - not hard in the way classics can be sometimes, but hard emotionally. And this is the same in each book - except the feeling or the corner of your heart or head it attacks is a different one each time. It took me a while to get behind this, but with every book of his I am more convinced of what a master story-teller Ian McEwan really is, quite beyond the simple magnitude of his writing and his characters.

Enduring Love is the story of a stalkee, the life-altering moment that made the stalker focus on him and the way the obession unfolds and takes roots in a man's life, rotting everything good he has built for himself. The title alone is genius to me because in a way the word 'love' or the concept of love is completely taken apart and smashed to the ground and left to rot with the overuse and abuse of it. But that is what stalking and obsessive love is and it is incredibly fitting.

Reading Enduring Love was surprisingly hard despite the fact that I know McEwan's style. But there was something about this book that when I read more than 30 pages in a row, it depressed the hell out of me - at one point I read it waiting for an appointment for over an hour at a time and by the time I was sitting in the dentist' chair I was almost crying with self-pity and was - inretrospect - rather rude and taciturn to the poor man. It just took a lot out of me emotionally, but that to me is also the genius of this book.
It is not easy, it doesn't just fly by like basic entertainment. It sticks and it makes you work for the relief and the finish-line and in fighting for it it becomes particularly valuable somehow. It is intense and heart-breaking and honest to fault in its descriptions and dialogues and I have nothing but the utmost respect for Ian McEwan for his work and his mind.

What the hell is feminism anyway?
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In my love of documentaries, I was watching one about the women's right movement. It started with the early years of the 60's, they interviewed all these wonderful older women who were active in that time, many of them still are and their courage and their bravery was hugely inspiring to me.
They had convictions that were so important for the time, and all them gave me that feeling that they were well-rounded women, who loved life and had ideas and loved and and tried and failed and won. Basically they seemed like super-heroes to me, super-heroines, really. And they did make me feel like there were still things to fight for and to improve upon and like I am often taking things for granted that they fought so hard for.

But then I saw the last part of the documentary, which focussed on today's feminist movement - and that just made me so angry. They are basically women who protest against the sexual objectification about women - that really seems to be it. They are anti-porn, anti-prostitution, they protest against rape and domestic violence, and basically they sit around griping about how terrible men are. Men aren't even allowed to join their group, as though they would ruin it or as though this isn't an issue that concerns them at all.

I mean, of course rape is an important issue, as is domestic violence, but these things are already illegal and while you might argue about the procedures that go on and all, it all just paints a certain picture of men and women that I just hate. Them: Predators, Us: Victims. And here is the deal, I never see men making me feel like a victim at all - it's women like that who victimize us and who make us feel like we have to fear men.
I am not a victim, I refuse to be one and I hate how some women are made victim by men as they are - but there are men who are made victims too, my other man and by women. This is not soley a women's problem and I don't know what men they socialize with but none of the ones I know and like are anything like that predator picture the femists paint at all. In fact I know many men who call themselves feminists.

And then there is that matter of porn and prostitution. Saym porn, everybody knows women are objectified in porn, but really, so are the men. I mean porn is just sexist, none of them men are like men really are, porn is sexis and racists and all kinds of things, but it serves a ertain purpose - it gets people off, that's all. And I simply don't buy into that myth that men expect women to be like women in porn. And I don't buy into the myth that women are so much better: Hello, my name is Laila and I enjoy looking at naked men and women. I will admit that maybe most women tend to have more aestetic standards when it comes to that, while the mere fact of nudity seems to be enough for a lot of guys, but we do the same thing.
Also, men earn like a third of what women earn in porn - now who's exploited?

Oh yes, and men are terrible because they see women as something that can be bought, ordered like a pizza. Well, first off there are men in the sex-trade too, but I just want to charge these feminists to actually talk to some protitutes - I mean, its obviously not an awesome job and when there is force involved or drugs then its obviously a bad thing (but again, then its already illegal), but when its just someone making some money - who are they to judge them for it? Or the men who pay them for it? Because in theirt mind, men are so horrible, the only reason they could ever pay a prostitute is because they are disgusting and horrible and cruel and objectifying.

It just bothers me - really bothers me, how they paint men and how they paint women. I am femists but I enjoy my sexuality and men's sexuality, I enjoy nudity and I don't look at every man as a potential fucking rapist.
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Review: Salman Rushdie - The Enchantress of Florence
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Book 02: Salman Rushdie - The Enchantress of Florence








It is difficult to give an accurate review of this book because I ended up putting it away for almost 5 month and then picked it up again for the last 130 pages last week.
I wouldn't say it's Rushdie's best but there was something about it that captured me and kept the story alive in me over a semester of so much studying that I couldn't get read at all.

As in most Rushdie books I have read, there are a myriad of characters with foreign names (sometimes different names for one and the same person) that i have trouble keeping apart but it could have been worse. It usually became more or less clear in the narrative.
I loved the magic and the fairydust and the overwrought language that transports you away from our everyday life into this mystical land of the past where somehow the mere belief of the supernatural makes it real for the people and therefore real in a way. This kind of story needs big words and a big narrative and nobody does that quite like Rusdie.

I loved the small moments in it that touched me deeply. Like the story of an elephant believed to have lost his mind because the emperor called him butterfly (or something to that effect). But he didn't have him killed because he saw it as his fault, that someone with the wrong name couldn't help but go insane...
There were a lot of little things that gave me pause for thought and yet, the narrative pulled though.

I wasn't vastly amazed by the way it was told structurally, but I could get on board with it and finish it and it did move me a lot so I would say, it's more a yay than a nay.

(no subject)
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After a semester of not reading exactly one full book (Lucky, Alice Sebold) and really nothing to report but how exhausting it is to do an MA while having 2 jobs, I finally decided to get my lj back in order.
I love this thing and between deleting it and starting to update it again, I'll go with some updates and hopefully next semester won't be quite as depressing.

I'll update some stuff here - including the people I follow and other little details but generally, its good to be back!

And here is something just because it makes me strangely happy watching it:

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