Pianologues at Summerhall, Edinburgh

‘I used to play this with my Dad …’

… so opens the pianologue — a masterful interweaving of stories, music and the stuff of life from acclaimed pianist Will Pickvance. From late night piano sessions with his father, Will conjures a rich array of characters, blending humour with heartbreaking melody, and exploring what it is to be a son, a father, a dreamer, and how music touches us all.

pianologue noun a dramatic composition for solo performer with piano, see pianoliloquy Continue reading

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40.71, -73.95, 28/02

chalk, light
piano from Música Callada by Federico Mompou

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Nested Narratives

Dominic Thiem, the Austrian tennis ace and world no.8, is packing away his rackets after a hard won three-setter in Rotterdam. It was only a first round match, and he’s relieved to be through. What’s left of the crowd is filing out — it’s late now — when a shabby-looking journalist from a minor website comes bouncing up.

‘Dominic!’ the journalist cries, pulling out his mic, ‘What have you got for me? Tell me about it.’ Continue reading

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cherry blossoms and haiku


a corrupt world
in its latter days…
but cherry blossoms!


haiku by Kobayashi Issa
trans. David G. Lanoue

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On Niche Annoyances and Traffic Circle Fountains

Fountain Circle by Seth Lemmons. CC 2.0 License.

What’s the Big Deal? (Fountain Circle by Seth Lemmons. CC 2.0 License)

My favourite crossword blogger, Rex Parker, recently went on a rant about how crossword puzzles depicted in film and television are often completely spurious. Fictitious grids are written into scripts and rarely respect the rules of crossword or clue construction. As result, something that escapes the notice of the vast majority of observers incites disdain and outrage from the devoted few who care about such things.

I find these sort of niche annoyances fascinating because they are a window onto foreign worlds of passion and knowledge. This is why I was so tickled when my friend, the water artist Pierre Luu, went on a tirade against the placement of fountains in traffic circles. Personally, I’d liked to see water spouting about as I drove past. What could be the problem? Continue reading

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Faction, Magical Realism, and This

Washing Hands Campaign by Emmanuel Bakary Daou. © Emmanuel Bakery Daou, 2014. All rights reserved. Courtesy Rencontres de Bamako.

Washing Hands Campaign by Emmanuel Bakary Daou. © Emmanuel Bakery Daou, 2014. All rights reserved. Courtesy Rencontres de Bamako.

I had just finished reading a review copy of George Plimpton’s oral biography of Truman Capote at the time I wrote my first true crime book, so I had flexible notions of just how objective and “true” true crime had to be. When my book was published, one of the more sincere journalists in the newsroom was aghast at the narrative liberties I had taken. I remember cooly responding, “Relax, it’s faction.”

A decade or so later, Viken Berberian gave me an early draft of his book Das Kapital, A Novel. I was alarmed by the factual liberties he had taken: the novel was set in the early 21st century yet the terrorist group blew up the Crystal Palace exhibition centre, which in fact had burned to the ground in 1936. When I mentioned this, he said, quite cooly if I recall, “Relax, it’s magical realism.” Continue reading

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Learning from George

ismereading_fAn essay-memoir about Shakespeare & Company, George Whitman, Paris, and that whole world …

Learning from George
by Adrian Hornsby, published by Paravion Press, 2015
see more …

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Moko & Loupe

with music by s i n k
written and directed by Adrian Hornsby
Watch the film (18 mins), or the Youtube trailer (45 sec)

Moko & Loupe is a short comic film about friendship at the frayed ends of a world that’s coming undone. It was written by Adrian Hornsby for Tim Vincent-Smith and Quinn Comendant, and filmed together in London and the Isle of Sheppey in 2012. It premiered with s i n k performing the music live in the Summerhall Old Anatomy Theatre, Edinburgh in 2013. Many live screenings have followed.

s i n k is an acoustic improvising trio of accordion (Daniil Dumnov), violin (Tim Vincent-Smith), and saxophones (Matt Wright). The music for Moko & Loupe is to an original sink score — part composed, part chance. Tim Lane plays the sansula. Continue reading

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In Praise of Bookstores

Jonny Diamond is at the heart of an enthralling and hopeful new project. He explains it best in his own words:

I lived in a bookstore in Paris for six months. It was a romantic and terrible experience: a Turkish toilet, cheap wine by the Seine, all the books I could ever read, cockroaches at the bottom of syrupy cocktails, freezing nights on a short cot in the art section. Wonderful and terrible.

While there, I met the man who would introduce me to my wife, the man who would give the speech at my wedding, and the man who would—years later, in New York—kick-start my professional life. Three different men, one bookstore.

The wife in question (the only, the wonderful wife) owned a bookstore in Brooklyn. It was there I went after Paris, for my first job in New York, cash-in-hand at the end of a shift. I loved that job, loved more what it led to. My wife, Amanda, now runs a different bookstore, in a different town. Happily, it has both bar and children’s section—my four-year-old and I can be found there often.

Bookstores have always been central to my life, and remain so: for the pleasures they afford, the opportunities they provide. Bookstores, at least for my young family, are both escape and livelihood.

To read the rest – and we urge you to do so – click here to visit the Literary Hub website.


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Best of 2014 – Black Dwarf

Sampling old musical passages to create new music is a rich and widely discussed practice. But sampling old music to make new photography?

My work with the °CLAIR Gallery introduced me to the photographer Petr Lovigin and his remarkable ‘Black Dwarf’ video. Simply put, it is the most beautiful piece of art I saw in all of 2014. It has everything I love: oddity and splendor and, perhaps most importantly, a nice little intellectual kick; thanks to Lovigin, I discovered that Alexander Vertinsky was the baddest Russian composer and artist I’d never heard of.

I sent Petr an email in Bangladesh where he is in the midst of a multi-month project. He answered three questions for me:

1. Why Vertinsky? Is he beloved in modern Russia?

I think that no. Already one century past his maximal activity. But for me that time (Silver Age of Russian Art, October Revolution 1917, Civil War 1918-1920) is very interesting… I know all the songs of Vertinsky but his romance ‘’Black Dwarf’’, the story behind it – it’s like it is about me.
Continue reading

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