January Recommendations

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The first month of this year has been cold and rainy in Seattle but it did bring a number of surprises in books, music and theater.

  • I am sure many of you have seen the announcement last week that Amazon.com will be producing a weekly internet-only Bill Maher show called “Amazon Fishbowl with Bill Maher”. The fishbowl concept is something that Amazonians are very familiar with; frequently musicians, authors and other artists will visit Amazon, to talk about their work, and to give short performance or read from their work, etc. Last Friday author Max Barry read a chapter from his latest book Company and at lunch time Scottish singer-songwriter KT Tunstall performed. KT was truly spectacular, making use of a playback machine to create her on backing’s on the fly. Here is a videostream from her website that demonstrates the process. She is an incredible strong live performer. Her album is not out yet in the US, but you can preorder it, or you can get it directly from the UK.
  • In the past I have read most of Ian Rankin’s Rebus novels, enjoying the later ones more than his earlier ones. I think he rightfully got an Edgar Award for Resurrection Men in 2004. It wasn’t until 2 weeks ago that I discovered two unknown novels by him at the Toronto airport (on my way back from CUTC) which he had originally written under the pseudonym Jack Harvey: Blood Hunt and Bleeding Hearts (there is also a 3rd one: Witch Hunt). The books are fast-paced thriller stories, very different from the moody and complex Rebus ones. They are very enjoyable and addictive entertainment, of the kind that makes you read through the night.
  • Last night I went to see the 1st event performance at UW School of Drama of Bertolt BrechtThe Good Woman of Setzuan”. This was a very strong performance with interesting set design and costumes. What made it particular interesting was the original score developed for the performance based on blues and ragtime music. Opening night is on Wednesday Feb. 1 and it will run through Feb 12. You will not be disappointed.