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Recent reads

Updated: Feb 29

With Autumn in, I feel the need to rapidly record my rare reads of the receding-out-to-sea summer.

Rememberings, Sinéad O'Connor, 2021.

I'm sorry I didn't get to know Sinéad O'Connor more before her early death this year. I knew her hit version of Prince's song Nothing Compares 2 U, and I continue to secretly envy her shaved head and her guts in using it to protest the music industry's beauty expectations for female singers. O'Connor had a difficult childhood with an abusive mother, and suffered from mental illness. She cared about others, and the truth which she stated with courage, most famously when she ripped up a photo of the Pope on Saturday Night Live as a protest against sex abuse in the Catholic Church, before it was widely known. She says she was misunderstood -- if she hadn't become a musician, she would've been a priest or a missionary. She offers interesting accounts of her encounter with Prince (eery) and how Bob Dylan's music influenced her. Her simple explanations of her songs, including those from her album I do not want what I haven't got make me want to listen to them. Rememberings was written before the suicide of O'Connor's son Shane, which led to more misery than she could bear.


Why Sinéad O'Connor Matters by Allyson McCabe (review)


The Last of the Nomads, W.J. Peasley, 1983. The story of the search, in the 1970s, for the Aborigine couple Warri and Yatungka, the last Mandildjara people to remain living in the desert in Western Australia. I liked this fascinating and respectful view into a lost lifestyle, radically different from ours, and meeting the couple dedicated to each other throughout every step of life. Also a documentary film.

Writer Leila Slimani

Watch Us Dance, Leila Slimani, 2022. Part 2 of a trilogy about life in post-colonial Morocco, based partly on the author's family, Watch Us Dance was the only novel that looked readable on the small shelf of the Paris airport convenience store where I was on my way to the USA, bookless. I enjoyed the story, characters and references to the political history of Morocco. Some might enjoy the portrayal of the beatnik invasion (including Jimi Hendrix, apparently) in the 60s; I never enjoy reading about hippie culture, but thankfully it doesn't go on for long. I would like to read Part 3 which is in the works, but probably won't venture backwards to Part 1, In the Country of Others. Slimani is a French-Moroccan writer who lives in Paris and has written several books including The Perfect Nanny, a chilling tale about a not perfect nanny for which Slimani won a prestigious French literary prize. I preferred Watch Us Dance.

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