A Darker Figure Newsletter #66: Shows, Review of "Shelter in Place," and Being Someone's Something
Hello and welcome to the A Darker Figure Newsletter. Did you know that I have a website where all of my different projects get posted with fun little blurbs and listenable links? Talking to Ghosts episodes, new music releases, upcoming projects, shows I am playing or producing, everything.
We played a show last night with LA band HAEX and it was awesome. They don't have an album out yet, but it is closed, so keep an ear out for it! If you are in Everett, WA or Vancouver, BC you can go see them this weekend! Everett I believe is tonight at Obscurus.
Review of Alexander Maksik's Shelter in Place
(if you are going to read this already, skip this review and save yourself because it is a great book)
This week I finished Shelter in Place by Alexander Maksik. This was an extremely enjoyable read on a morose topic. I saw a review of one of his earlier books that said that his writing was almost philosophical and I believe that this applies to Shelter in Place as well. The book is centered around the question of "is violence the answer to violence?" There is much, much more than that in the book, but I believe that it all boils down to this in the end. From the very beginning of the book we are confronted with murder. It is not a crime thriller or a detective story, it is just there as fact. Here are the opening chapter of the novel:
In the summer of 1991 my mother beat a man to death with a twenty-two ounce Estwing framing hammer and I fell in love with Tess Wolff.
Now, many years later, they have both disappeared and I am alone here on this pretty clearing in the woods.
Alone, save for the tar and the bird and the other things, for which I have no name.
The entire novel is constructed in short chapters. Sometimes this is a device used to connect a series of short stories into one larger picture, but for Shelter in Place it is more a construction of memory. The timeline jumps, but it is intimately connected as if someone where just free-writing the story from a memory they were recalling to someone. This, to me, is interesting because this 2011 article from Jezebel found that Maksik's debut novel, You Deserve Nothing, was based on the real story of how he was quietly let go from a school in Paris after an affair with a student. The student has come out to say that that is literally her story written down in places and that some of the things that are included in the book were told in confidence. Some things were made up to fill the story in and make it more readable, but a lot of the students have said that it is pretty much exactly their experience with Maksik. This makes me wonder if some of the scenes in Shelter in Place are real experiences because they feel honest and heartbreaking in places. There is a through line of depression that takes form as bi-polar disorder - the tar and the bird from the first chapter above - that is real. It is crippling and it is a void that anyone with a tendency for depressive states will recognize.
All in all, it has been my favorite book this year. It was compelling and really well written. The short chapters make it a thrill to read because you know that you could probably fit in a few more pages every time you go to stop reading.
Our Everett show last weekend was great! It is always fun to play some of those [product] songs, especially the older ones because they are full of energy. The Blood of Others is an emotional experience to play live and I love the feeling of it because it communicates the way that I feel a lot of the time and the things that I want to say. But [product] is just plain fun. The message is brutal and immature compared to The Blood of Others, but jumping around and screaming is a nice release sometimes.
There was a younger person at the show, who is also in a band that is very good called Chrome Corpes, that told me that my demo ...and the connection fails was a really important album to him. And that is crazy. I know exactly what he means because I have a few albums that came into my life at the right time and changed some things around for me. It is hard to hear this sort of thing about something that you have created though because it brings out the imposter syndrome. I wrote that demo before I was 21. Before I was straight edge or vegan or even being honest with myself. So it feels to me now like a frustrated younger self trying to say the things that I believe now, but not quite knowing what was going on. He asked me what the album was about and I wish that I had given him a better answer. I was flustered by the statement and the question, and his own nervous energy, and said that it was about nolongerhuman and the breakup that Clint and I had, which were the first stepping stones of me being straight edge. Which is true, mostly, but it is more about me being confused about what I wanted and trying to find it. Either way it was very strange for me and I really appreciated it.
Last week was kind of a long one so I will leave this here for you.
The next The Blood of Others show that I have coming up isn't until 7/7/17 in Seattle, but if you are into electronic music and want to come out to a show that I am producing here in Portland, please come see Technophobia, Pleasure Curses, and Neybuu at The Lovecraft on 6/11. I am also doing a Sky Symbol Rituals set at Volt Divers on 6/10.