Saturday, 22 October 2016

At Least You Can Laugh at Yourself

Some of you may be fans of the Ladybird 'HOW IT WORKS' books - spoofs really, of the ones you used to read in your childhood. Including Mindfulness, the Wife, the Hipster, the Shed and Dating, they hit the spot of 'Hahahahahahahahaha that's so funny! Oh wait, that's me...'

Well now they've brought out a new selection to add to your collection! Okay, Blogger is hating me right now and not allowing photos to load so you'll just have to envision the covers. But they have released the Student, the Cat, the Dog, the Sickie and the People Next Door. Which will be the funniest? Come in and see for yourself! Apparently forthcoming for Autumn will be The Grandparent, the Meeting, Red Tape,and  Zombie Apocalypse. It's good to be prepared!

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Music or Literature?

I'm sure we've heard it so many times already this week but Bob Dylan is the recipient for the Nobel Prize in Literature for 2016. 

If you need some context, here's an article from the Rolling Stones Magazine. An excerpt follows "According to the Swedish Academy, Dylan won "for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition."

Since its announcement a few days ago it has ignited debate about what is literature? What is art? Where does music fit in? What is poetry? Regardless of your opinion on what fits where it is doubtless that Dylan has contributed to the music, storytelling and lyrical scene more than a regular person could ever hope to in their lifetime! It's been interesting to consider also what can be considered as 'high' and 'popular' culture. I suppose working in a bookshop we have to keep pretty up to date with all the prize winners and latest awards results. It's funny though because 

  [Is this a good time to slip in that we stock music books and biographies??] 

But that also got me thinking when I saw this mammoth book 'HIP HOP RAISED ME', what other categories of music can fit into the literature category? Who can deny that some influences are pretty formative experiences in one's life (if not by even judging from the title of this book)?
I'm not a particularly huge listener of hip hop although there's both some stuff that I really like and also dislike. It's more the context and history of it as a means of expression that I'm interested in. From the Thames and Hudson website:

Hip Hop Raised Me is the definitive volume on the essence, experience, and energy that is hip hop, and its massive and enduring impact over the last forty years. It’s packed with contact sheets, outtakes, and glory shots of artists, collectives, and fans from iconic photographers including Martha Cooper, Henry Chalfant, Eddie Otchere, Normski, Janette Beckman, Chi Modu, Nabil Elderkin, and Mark Humphrey, as well as photographs of hip-hop ephemera and vinyl courtesy of specialist collectors. With the help of his definitive catalogue of interviews with hip-hop artists from the 1990s to today, conducted at key moments in their careers and including Jay-Z, Kanye West, Eminem, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Drake, Nicki Minaj, J Cole, Kendrick Lamar, Nas, and the Wu-Tang Clan, DJ Semtex examines the crucial role of hip hop in society. He reflects on the huge influence it has had on his own life and the lives of many others, providing inspiration to generation after generation of young people. Taking a thematic approach, Semtex traces the characteristics and influence of hip hop from its origins in the early 1970s with DJ Kool Herc’s block parties in the South Bronx, through its breakthrough to the mainstream and advent of gangsta rap in the late 1980s, with artists such as Run DMC, Public Enemy, and Ice T, to the impact of contemporary artists and the global industry that is hip hop today. 

The recent release of Solange's album 'A Place at the Table' among many other releases is indicative of this as she comments on her experiences as an African American woman in America. (That's just a side note because I've had some of them on repeat!)

It's definitely a massive book and even though I couldn't open it thanks to shrink wrap it looks like it's full of photographs, interviews and other insightful information although that makes it sound drier than I'm sure it is. Personally, I think it doesn't seem right to exclude music from the grouping of literature, not to say that all music and lyrics can be considered literature and obviously not all literature is music, but in the way that words have been used to convey a message, idea or emotion. Obviously winning a Grammy in itself is a pretty big awesome deal but to say  why couldn't they just give Bob Dylan a Grammy instead seems a little demeaning and dismissive of the role that music has in people's lives and as a form of communication. I could definitely go my whole life without TV if I really had to but I doubt that the same could be said for music let alone books! Lyrics aren't necessarily 'just part of music' or 'just trivial entertainment' but can be incredibly profound. In the least pretentious way possible, give it the credit it deserves! Furthermore, it seems a little difficult to create such strong divisions between the different written arts. This can be seen when plays may be seen literature but not necessarily scripts or films. It's an interesting thought as to why.