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If On a Winter's Night a Traveller Gives You a Book List

The Amber Fresh Chronicles

If On a Winter's Night a Traveller Gives You a Book List

Andrew Ryan

i’m very love sick. it hits me at 4 in the afternoon, sometimes earlier. i wade my way through it til sunset and then i pop out the other end. after that i can cook, think about the future, do soup kitchen, luxuriate in the shower. before that, i’m a mess. him him him, my mind hums. him him him.

last night at soup kitchen one of the men started talking to me about nabokov. i don’t know how we got there, but we got there. “the problem with nabokov,” he said, “is once you start reading him you can’t stop.” once i start anything i can’t stop. except yoga, and quitting smoking, and swimming and learning swedish and all the rest. “is it such a problem, to not be able to stop?” i asked. “56 novels, yeah it’s a problem.”

anyway, the guy made me a list of books to read in his lovely curly font, curly like all the tattoos up his neck and onto his face and the big glossy spacers in his ear lobes and his manner to me, all curly, all lovely. all the young guys were at one table last night, giggling, asking for toasties and teas and ice cream and giving me and each other funny looks. curly cheekily threatened to not finish his sentences if i stopped his flow again by getting up to get something for someone. i like all these men. i don’t know if they’re dealing drugs under the table (‘junky’ by burroughs just put fresh ideas of what happens outside my vision into my head) and laughing when i walk away, but i’m pretty sure what’s happening is just that week by week we’re becoming friends.

these are the books curly told me to read. i’m going to read them in order, except nabokov who i’ve given up on already. maybe we can have a bookclub except we never talk about any of the books or know who’s read what. (like moss growing in iceland. it’s probably happening and that’s a nice thing, but you can’t know for sure):
“desperation” – nabokov
“boredom” – alberto moravia
“contempt” – albert moravia
“if on a winter’s night a traveller” – italo calvino
“the island of the day before” – umberto eco
“white noise” – don dellilo
“satanic verses” – salman rushdie

nick allbrook gave me ‘if on a winter’s night a traveller’, which is convenient because i’d like to tell you about a show he played at. similarly convenient is the fact that louis, a guy who played in the ‘darling rangers’ who i’d also like to tell you about just walked by where i’m sitting, and we shook hands and met for the first time, him wearing a wonderful woollen jumper from someone, me wearing a wonderful woollen jumper from, well, nick.

i started ‘if on a winter’s night a traveller’ many times, maybe even on my way to france, but never finished it. but like moss i’m going to persevere.

nicholas allbrook gave me ‘if on a winter’s night a traveller’, which is convenient because i’d like to tell you about a show he played at. similarly convenient is the fact that lewis, a guy who played in the ‘darling rangers’ who i’d also like to tell you about just walked by where i’m sitting, and we shook hands and met for the first time, him wearing a wonderful woollen jumper from someone, me wearing a wonderful woollen jumper from, well, nick.

i started ‘if on a winter’s night a traveller’ many times, maybe even on my way to france, but never finished it. but like moss i’m going to persevere.

so those two and a bunch of others played on friday at the oddfellow. the oddfellow is down some stairs and into a wide limestone and wood cave, carved out by men maybe even pre-hi-viz. i went down there and sat with nick, him in a great outfit of big dark blue overalls and a black long-sleeved shirt. clothes don’t really matter but if you’ve got food and freedom it’s nice to look around and see people wearing the exact outfit you’d also like to be wearing – this is what happened in this case – or an outfit that brings your eyeballs pleasure, like stephen bellair in sportswear with two cute buns for his hair to nestle in.

anyway, we talked about france and all the other things, and lovely andrew campbell, smelling like a man and with a secret look that says “all pleasures belong to me” came and sat with us too. i was looking round the room trying to see all the men from darling rangers – i’d been waiting to see them play, and almost seen them a bunch of times, but always left whatever place it was too soon. drage, one of the kings of songs here in perth, and strawberry pete gower, who i’ve told you about before, everyone acknowledging his talent and waiting for him to either self-destruct or play a million great guitar songs on their backporch til 5 in the morning, were both maybe late for their own show, but in a way that’s all part of the show.

so then it happened, they all were there and started it up, straight into drage pouring his organs through the sound of his voice and wild in the eyes, and redhead felix who gives me free icecreams sometimes at the movies being perfect on the drums, and ash who is the groomed lynchpin of the ungroomed, grimey 208s, home to the darkest, heaviest shows we get even when the music isn’t that dark or heavy, where drage sleeps under the staircase, and their great bassplayer with his elbows up high, and lewis, the best person to watch going nuts on his keyboard. all their friends were watching and also a few little scatterings of marines who were all in town to eat kebabs and look at women’s asses in between playing cards on the ship and learning to kill things. poor guys. i felt happy for the ones down there, seeing drage sweating away at a similarly bizarre game, violent in its own way but violent for creation rather than destruction.

in between sets i was up the stairs outside on the pavement, watching marines flow by. nick sung me ‘war pigs’ because i couldn’t remember how it all went, which he was going to cover in his set, and i laughed as he sang and remembered being 14 listening to that song and holding hands with my friend’s cousin very softly and surely, me on a couch, him laying next to the couch, with black sabbath on tape and surfing stories as the backdrop to a non-fatal holiday crush.

that holiday we all floated in a fat black tyre tube out across the deep waters of king george sound, all the way from bombie rock to goode beach, me seeing sharks everywhere in all the weedy shadows, and the boys pushing us off at intervals into the water, everyone tight in their wetsuits and loose in pleasure, all the days stretching out before us to be filled with weed and black sabbath tapes and that big ocean, salty frozen hands and faces getting warmed back up again in front of fires on the couches and carpets of someone’s grandparents’ house.

so yeah, then hamjam played and nick played, great as every time i’ve written about them. i went off walking in between, feeling lonely but still happy, joe and ben arriving at the right time to buoy me, and stephen bellair giving me a hug at the right time to buoy me, and i didn’t watch hideous sun demon even though it was their special show, but whatever they did couldn’t have made me love them more than i already do (lots). but dean, singer, feature-film star in the waiting, poured cool, gentle water during the week over an internet drama involving some raging family, hurt at life and at the fact their son/brother got beaten in a band competition, and that made me love him more. cool water to let them fizz away their anger and get back to loving their family’s music, to the exclusion of all others.

so there you go. time to read.