Monday, July 9, 2012

#574: Bear with me....

Re-reading Rafi Zabor's jazz novel THE BEAR COMES HOME (1998) 4 something like the 3rd time. Got all the way thru it a coupla yrs back after 1 earlier attempt -- am now re-reading The Good Parts. You should try 2 read The Good Parts, 2 -- they R very good.
Briefly, THE BEAR is about a bear who plays jazz saxophone, & his struggles & travels, as he tries 2 figure out How & Where a saxophone-playing bear fits in2 Reality. Or If he fits. & there's Love 2 complicate matters, of course.
Some of this is Great Stuff -- vivid & involving & funny. The Bear is Good on the sax. He records an album. He & a busload of laid-back jazzers tour the country in support of the album. The story of that tour & especially the scenes of The Bear playing in various jazz clubs R real & funny, vivid & suprising.
Because all is not EZ 4 The Bear. Tho most people seemta take a saxophone-playing bear in stride, some freak out. Some folks call the cops. The Bear spends some time in jail, & in a psychiatric hospital. He ponders the riddles of life & faces down despair.
& then there's his love life, which is NEthing BUT EZ.
Actually, the dramas that make up his love life -- as necessary & "normal" as they R -- tend 2 drag the book down. The Bear's girlfriend is not always the EZest person 2 live with. & she has 2 daughters that havta B rescued from her abusive X-husband. All this stuff takes 2 long. The book Bcomes 2 long -- it goes on 4 almost 500 pgs. It coulda bn cut by 100 & nothing major woulda bn lost.
But I would urge you -- especially if you're a jazz fan -- 2 read THE BEAR 4 the Good Parts. All the scenes of The Bear playing with his band R magical -- especially 1 long scene that Dscribes The Bear's 1st club performance, near the end of the book's 1st section. His album-recording Xperiences R marvelous. The band's long, winding conversations aboard their tour bus R hysterical. There R lotsa great 1-liners. The REVIEWS of The Bear's album R marvelous. & there R comments about lotsa great jazz musicians -- & sevral jazzers have walk-on parts in the book. The Good Stuff is a lotta fun.
The 1st section of THE BEAR was serialized in the pages of the old MUSICIAN magazine in the late '70s -- during the period when I thot it was the best music mag I'd ever read. Zabor useta write record reviews 4 MUSICIAN, & is also a jazz drummer. He has a coupla other books out -- I, WABENZI is a vivid travelogue of a trip 2 the Middle East, but it's only the 1st 1/2 of the story Zabor was trying 2 tell. Not sure if the other 1/2 ever got published....
THE BEAR won Zabor the PEN/Faulkner Award, & parts of it R an absolute joy 2 read. You can get a copy now 4 about 6 cents at (This is not an ad.) I'm on my 3rd copy....
Am also 130 pgs in2 Max Barry's SYRUP (1999), his 1st novel, on the strength of his JENNIFER GOVERNMENT (reviewed below). In this 1, a young man tries 2 make his fortune at Coca-Cola, marketing a new soda called Fukk. Not CREATING it (who CARES what it TASTES like?), just marketing it. But things Don't Go Well....
This 1 is even more fast-paced & cynical, & the chapters R even SHORTER (if that's possible) -- some R only 1 sentence long. Good fun, so far....

Still bored with mosta my musical intake, but have bn playing stuff at work nevertheless as Summer really gets rolling here in the Pacific NW -- highs the last few days have bn in the low-2-mid-80s, & there's bn nothing but sunshine ... & heat-lightning at nite.
Am saving up $$$ 4 a new-music-acquisition tour of local Goodwills & 2nd-hand shops at the end of this month (proceeds from which I will eventually report-on here of course), but til then here's a list of the latest recommended fave raves from Work....
Joni Mitchell -- Raised on Robbery.
Bob Seger -- Feel Like a Number, Rock and Roll Never Forgets.
Five Man Electrical Band -- Absolutely Right.
Queen -- It's Late.
Boz Scaggs -- You've Got Some Imagination, Dinah Flo.
Billy Squier -- My Kinda Lover.
Cars -- Dangerous Type.
Nick Drake -- Introduction, Hazey Jane II, At the Chime of a City Clock, One of These Things First, Hazey Jane I, Northern Sky, Sunday.
Keith Jarrett -- Country.
Pat Metheny -- First Circle, New Chatauqua, Ozark, Praise, The Search.
Lyle Mays -- Ascent.
Steve Tibbetts -- Ur.
Mary Chapin Carpenter -- This Shirt, Downtown Train, You Win Again, Middle Ground, Passionate Kisses, The Hard Way.
Journey -- Spaceman, Something to Hide.
Police -- Omegaman, Secret Journey, Darkness, On Any Other Day, Does Everyone Stare?
Dream Academy -- Bound to Be, The Edge of Forever, In Places on the Run, This World.
Bangles -- Everything I Wanted, Where Were You When I Needed You?, I'll Set You Free, Be With You, Hero Takes a Fall, Going Down to Liverpool, Dover Beach.
Wigwam -- Bless Your Lucky Stars, Simple Human Kindness, Do or Die.
Golden Earring -- Snot Love in Spain.
The Pop -- Go!
Mark Knopfler -- Going Home (Theme from LOCAL HERO).
Happy the Man -- Service With a Smile, Wind-Up Doll Day Wind, Open Book.
Group 87 -- Future of the City, Moving Sidewalks, One Night Away from Day.
Scarlet Rivera -- Day of the Unicorn.
Camel -- Unevensong, Sasquatch, West Berlin, Mother Road, Never Let Go.
Caravan -- Memory Lain/Hugh/Headloss, Be All Right, A Hunting We Shall Go....
Split Enz -- Hard Act to Follow.
Stories -- Darling, Love is in Motion, Circles, Words, Please Please, What Comes After.
Rollers -- Hello and Welcome Home, I Was Eleven, Stoned Houses #2, Washington's Birthday.
Beatles -- Misery, I Don't Want to Spoil the Party, Everybody's Trying to be My Baby, Rock and Roll Music.
Nitty Gritty Dirt Band -- House at Pooh Corner.
Bobby Russell -- Saturday Morning Confusion.
John Fogerty -- Almost Saturday Night, Rockin' All Over the World.
Edward Bear -- Close Your Eyes.
Fanny -- Ain't That Peculiar?, Charity Ball.
Uriah Heep -- Easy Livin'.
Bram Tchaikovsky -- Let's Dance.
Dramatics -- What'cha See is What'cha Get.
Trashmen -- Surfin' Bird.
Fendermen -- Mule Skinner Blues.
Freddy Cannon -- Pallisades Park.
Elvis -- Promised Land.
Chuck Berry -- You Never Can Tell.
Beach Boys -- There's No Other (Like My Baby).
The Records -- All Messed Up and Ready to Go, Teenarama, Girls That Don't Exist, Starry Eyes, Up All Night.
New England -- Hello Hello Hello, Don't Ever Wanna Lose Ya, Alone Tonight.
REO -- Don't Let Him Go.
Kinks -- Victoria, Village Green Preservation Society, Dead-End Street, Shangri-La, Apeman, Sunny Afternoon.

More soon....

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