Friday, December 2, 2011

Best of 2011 Countdown: #23

Hey look, we're a week into our countdown!  23 is a lucky number, right?  It's Michael Jordan's jersey number!  Today's post is going to be awesome, I just know it.


Austin Chronicle Music Anthology
Edited by Austin Powell and Doug Freeman
UT Press

Gianna rocking the Glock
As many of you know, Liz and I are in a band [Oh crap.  It's going to be one of those days.  You failed me, 23]. I play an insane Glockenspiel and Liz is up front wailing on her ax. It’s an actual ax, which as it turns out is much less expensive (and easier to play) than a guitar. Right now we are primarily playing in jails, prisons, and the occasional halfway house in what seems to be a never-ending effort to find Liz a husband. We are just finishing up an extended tour of the prison system of Huntsville, TX…what can I say; Liz wants to shop local for her feller [I believe in supporting the local economy].

Anyway my point is, we are really embedded (and not to brag, but pretty well known) in the music scene here in Austin and that is why we find The Austin Chronicle Music Anthology indispensable as musicians, Texans, and book lovers.

Liz playing her ax
More than just a retrospective, it is an excellent history of the music scene as told through thirty years of reporting by the Chronicle.  Starting off with a foreword by Daniel Johnston, the book rips through names from The Butthole Surfers to Stevie Ray Vaughan, to The Gourds, Townes Van Zandt to Spoon.  The highlight for me was REM’s interview with Roky Erickson.

Complete with great photographs on nearly every page, this is a must have for the music lover in your life…or just your lover. [I would like to take this opportunity to point out, once again, that I do not date felons...or Gianna.]


Girls in White Dresses
Jennifer Close

Okay, so long, long ago, my former post-college roommate and supposed good friend Tracy decided that she wanted to marry her boyfriend Aaron, which was fine (though Aaron is somewhat to blame for Zorro's disciplinary issues).  Tracy, however, ignored the many, MANY overt and obnoxious statements I'd made and decided that I should be a bridesmaid in her wedding.  I should point out that I sent out running commentary on the torture inflicted upon me by this wedding, and Tracy and her family all received these.  They thought I was funny or something.  I'm not sure they fully comprehended the hell they'd asked of me.  On top of this, the maid of honor, Marnie, decided that the two feeble requests I'd made regarding the dress--no black, with sleeves--would be disregarded entirely.  I looked like a cadaver in a black satin shroud.  No alcohol can burn away this trauma.
There's nothing okay about this.

Which brings me to Girls in White Dresses.  Jennifer Close's debut collection of linked short stories perfectly captures the anxieties, social obligations, petty jealousies, drunken musings, and dear friendships that characterize--for me anyway--women in their 20's and early 30's.  These are women who are just out of college, beginning careers, still young enough to join friends at bars after work, searching for companionship.  Close nails the whole wedding ordeal, as all of your friends wed and you attend numerous showers and fork over hundreds of dollars on gifts and it's never reciprocated if you're the single one, and then the babies start coming and there are more showers and more dollars spent and conversations revolve around poop and everyone is supposed to find this adorable or some shit.  ....I might be projecting.  My point is that I loved Girls in White Dresses.  Jennifer Close is a strong writer, and on top of that she's a bookseller, so she gets a gold star from me.  And don't think that this is just a "chick book," much as I hate women being called "chicks."  This is a literary debut from a talented writer that actually was a favorite of many of the men working in the Knopf offices.  I can't wait to read what she writes next.  

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