Showing posts from February, 2023

Calm Weather and the Melancholy Tide

Recently, I got an inexpensive used copy of Twice Twenty-Two , a 1966 book made up of Ray Bradbury's story collections Golden Apples of the Sun (1953) and Medicine for Melancholy (1956) — the collections on either side of The October Country (1955). I've been revisiting Bradbury a bit over the last year or so. Though his stories were important to me when I was young, he's someone I hadn't read with any passion since childhood, thinking he was a writer whose childish spirit must not have much to say to me in adulthood. I was wrong. It may seem strange to say of someone who is so famous and beloved, but Bradbury is an easy writer to underestimate. We associate him with themes of childhood, with nostalgia, with sentimentality. And there is truth in those associations. But it was an essay by the wonderful horror writer Joel Lane (collected in This Spectacular Darkness ) that sent me back to Bradbury and convinced me that Bradbury's obsessive theme is less childhood t

Boys for Pele

It was a relatively warm January in New York City in 1996 when Tori Amos released her third solo album, Boys for Pele , which I bought on CD that week at Tower Records on Broadway. I don’t remember the day, but I do remember the big, lighted poster of the album’s cover displayed in the window of the store: Tori Amos with muddy legs, sitting in a rocking chair on what looks like a farmhouse porch, a hunting rifle in her hands, a dead rooster hanging to her side from the roof. I remember, too, the disorienting, invigorating shock of hearing “Blood Roses”, “Father Lucifer”, and “Professional Widow” for the first time. The music with which we feel our way through adolescence and early adulthood is often the music that ends up haunting the rest of our lives. My memory glues each of Tori Amos’s first three albums to specific, deeply meaningful moments of life and growth. The other albums for which I have such specific memories — memories of place and event, but even more so memories of sens