12 January 2013

Everyday I write the book


It was ambitious. I planned and built the shelves in the alcoves after we’d had all the walls replastered. In the front room, the art books and hard books in the first alcove, the second would have the videos and eventually DVDs. The back room would have all the paperbacks, children’s and travel books, maps etc. The back alcove was for music. A newly built-in cupboard for the vinyl and cassettes, music centre sitting on top. Three shelves above built to hold CDs, with a shelf above them for music books. As my mother would say: my eyes were bigger than my belly.

Once we unpacked the books and distributed them around the house I found that I didn’t have as many music books as I had thought, the books had been in boxes for a couple of years they had multiplied in my mind. There were a couple of Rolling Stones’ biographies, a borrowed Doors’ book (I will return it, promise, it’s only been 30 years), a book of album covers and a few other odds and sods. The shelf looked a bit empty.

I had a copy of Atrocity Exhibition by J G Ballard. There is a track on Closer, Joy Division’s second and last album called Atrocity Exhibition, which was why I rescued the book from my library’s reject bin. That went onto the shelf.

A couple of Dead Souls came along, another track from Joy Division, one from Gogol, one from Ian Rankin. I think that Rankin gets a lot of his titles from songs, so maybe his comes from Joy Division and not Gogol, who knows?

This started a new game, over the years I’ve filled the shelf with books whose titles reflect songs or bands, some such as Atrocity Exhibition and Dead Souls were the inspiration for song titles; Joy Division’s titles didn’t always appear in the lyrics. Others like This Charming Man and Girlfriend In A Coma have been motivated by The Smiths; Girlfriend has quotes from The Smiths throughout the book.

Ray Davies’ Waterloo Sunset is an example of an artist ripping himself off. Transmission by Hari Kunzru is probably a coincidence, whereas Unknown Pleasures by Jason Cowley surely is tribute to Ian Curtis. I’m not sure in which list Shadowplay by John Milne comes.

Steppenwolf by Hermann Hesse must have been the inspiration for the 70s band, on the other hand The Lurkers by Charles Butler is more likely to come from the term that has come into common use since the explosion of the internet rather than from one of my favourite punk bands from West London.

It’s a entertaining game to play in bookshops; you end up reading authors that you wouldn’t normally and with books such as Suspect Device, a short story collection on Serpent’s Tail you can try to match the stories to songs or bands and have that same satisfaction you get from completing a Sudoku or a crossword.

And of course Read It In Books is both an Echo And The Bunnymen and The Teardrop Explodes B-side, but you knew that.

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