EDITOR’S FOREWORD: We’ve had a few posts over the nearly 7 years of our existence that have focused on works of literature, but very damned few. That’s not shocking, because this is first and foremost a blog about music. But for some musicians who dare to talk about it, and for many ardent fans, there are connections between these two forms of art.
Beyond those connections, some of you (maybe even the majority of those who visit this putrid site) spend as much time reading for pleasure as you do battering yourselves with violent sounds. For those in that group, and for those who are open to finding new inspiration, we bring you a very different kind of list from Neill Jameson of Krieg. I selfishly hope this will spawn both comments on this post and more features on our site about written works of art that dovetail with our interests in metal.
Our thanks to Neill for the following words:
I fashion myself to be cultured, which is basically a bullshit way of trying to make being a socially awkward fucking nerd seem somehow romantic and interesting to people besides my cats.
I tend to read a lot, though not as much as I did in the past, which has been a New Year’s resolution every year. I’m sure this is fascinating to absolutely no one, not even my cats, but it gave me the idea to share my other passion with you while you try to avoid work or are spending time on the can, namely books.
A lot of what has inspired me through the years lyrically has come from literary works. Considering it seems that the average American these days is petrified of reading and treats books that aren’t a Dan Brown novel like punishment, I feel it’s somewhat of my duty as a pretentious dickhead to try to get someone to pick up a book for something besides beating their children with them. Here’s a few authors I find worth reading.
Welsh is mostly known for writing Trainspotting, which people mostly know because of the movie, but the book itself is a lot more immersive and complex than its film companion.
Welsh writes dialogue in phonetics which mimic the accents and mannerisms of the geography where his characters are from. He’s written around a dozen novels, several collections of short stories, plays, and a lot of critical essays on subjects including politics and culture, and he continues to be incredibly productive to this day.
His writing deals with the low-culture side of life, the degenerates and forgotten, the common man/woman whose life isn’t turning out how they’d envisioned. The fucked, to put it bluntly. He shows an obvious love for language and its myriad of uses, as well as a desire to work with complex and evolving/devolving characters in subversive situations, but never in a manner that makes you lose your sense of immersive disbelief.
Working-class sensibilities, but with an obvious eye to the arts and culture of music, a brilliant gateway drug to a world of literature you won’t find at an airport bookshop below the pornography and next to the mini bottles of Scope.
BRET EASTON ELLIS
Another modern writer whose career seems to be defined by the controversy surrounding one book out of his numerous volumes: American Psycho. If you’ve only ever seen the film adaptation then you’re missing the bigger picture of not only this novel but most of Ellis’ work in general.
As much satirical as it is masochistic and violent, American Psycho is more an echo of the excesses of the cultural landscape of the materialistic world of the upper class 1980s, just with a lot of physical violence as a metaphor for the ugly emotions driving the time period.
Ellis’ books all seem to have a theme running throughout, which is how greed, self-interest, narcissism, and selfishness are the true root of suffering, be it physical or emotional. I’ve found him to be a quick read because his style is simple yet refined and he wastes no time being able to suck you into the filthy world his characters reside in. It’s amazing how books he wrote two decades ago still feel modern because of how they reflect the American zeitgeist.
Here’s a name you’ve probably seen mentioned in articles that academics write on music which come out dry and pretentious, like the authors of these articles parent’s wedding night. His theories on life and creation get attributed in everything, especially harsh noise pieces. I once read a book about noise in music that mentioned him every three pages (the book was so dry that I actually began a running count). And I suppose this is all well and good, especially since he did construct a lot of written work on philosophy and criticism, but that is just one side to his mind, the other being his many works of disturbing fiction.
Bataille wrote as if the concept of “taboo” was as foreign as a flashlight to King Arthur, and with an elegance that managed to make even the most despicable scene of carnality seem erotic, though absolutely fucking gross. I have Jef Whitehead to thank for introducing me through a copy of Story of the Eye, which is an excellent flashpoint for a reader interested in the subversion of religion, morality, and eroticism. Unfortunately a lot of his work is currently out of print and I don’t have much luck in used bookstores.
Before someone mentions it in the comments section and calls the police to have me arrested; yes Hamsun was a Nazi sympathizer in his old age. But I’m not here to write about the political proclivities of the man but rather his work, specifically of interest to whoever is still reading this piece, his early work.
His first few short novels, especially Hunger, deal with similar stuff as Russian writers of the late 1800s/early 1900s deal with, the perception of the creators’ reality, especially under incredible (and self-imposed) hardships (think Notes from the Underground).
Hallucinatory at times, Hamsun is able to create characters of great conviction who are not entirely attached to reality. His later works began to focus more on his home country of Norway’s traditions and culture, resulting in a Nobel Prize for his book Growth of the Soil, which is an excellent account of the life of a man in between the pioneer periods and industrial era of the 1900s. Hamsun’s writing does not deal with anything political.
Lilin is controversial because his books, which are somewhat promoted as memoirs, are apparently mostly works of fiction. I’ve only read Siberian Education, but it was enough to warrant me writing a bit about it.
Lilin weaves a tale of growing up in a criminal community while beautifully describing the customs and traditions of the Siberian criminal. Fiction or not, it does help stir up questions of ethics and morality, especially in the Western world, and is beautifully written. His stories are well-constructed and flow nicely, while, as Irvine Welsh put it in his own review of the novel, it makes you question the nature of the ideas of good and evil.
I know this piece was a bit different and I promise I won’t do it again, but I felt the need to share my other artistic love with someone, and unfortunately for you, this seemed like the right place for it.Thank you to both NCS and its readers for indulging me.
EDITOR’S AFTERWORD: “I won’t do it again”? What will it take to change your mind?