Tired of reading the same recommended books from the usual sources? Just think of our weekly What We’re Reading column as your non-committal book club with The FADER and some of your favorite bands. For this installment, Savages’ Jehnny Beth, Fay Milton and Ayse Hassan give us their reading lists.
Poems about War by Robert Graves: Is one of the most significant books I read lately. It was written when Graves was captain of the Royal Welch Fusilier in the First World War in Europe. These poems made his reputation although he rejected them; they were excluded from all his Collected Poems for more than sixty years. I was stunned straight away by the efficiency of such poetry, the essence of life revealed bluntly in a context of a stupid war. The absurd, the nostalgia, the fear of the unknown, spoiled youth and true love… the poetical text gets to such deepness you can stand motionless after reading few lines as if you’ve been struck by lightning. Exactly what good poetry should always do.
My Voice Will Go With You: The teaching Tales of Milton H. Erickson Edited by Sidney Rosen: Is another extremely inspiring book I’ve read recently. I’ve started to be very interested in hypnotherapy after my lover was cured from his plane fear by a hypnotherapist. This book is particularly interesting because Erickson was a pioneer of the subject and an incredible inventor of really unorthodox methods to cure his patients! Thus a lot of hilarious passages in the book.
Big Butt Book by Dian Hanson: I offered this book to my lover Johnny Hostile who I share my life with and who adores callipygian women. I keep it on my bedside and it is translated in three languages (English, French and German). Needless to say the pictures and illustrations are amazing in this book! but also the text by Robert Crumb for example is very interesting, he explains how as a young repressed Catholic he wouldn’t allow himself to consciously accept his fantasies, he would draw girls in lovely details with big curves and then flush the secret drawings down the toilet. I love Robert Crumb’s comics, his work is always intensely personal, full of adolescent fantasies, and big butts!
The Myth of Sisyphus by Albert Camus: In a nutshell, Sisyphus—forever condemned to pushing a massive rock up a hill over and over ad infinitum—is a metaphor for the human condition. Life = struggle and without your struggle you don’t have much left. This sounds terribly depressing, but it’s actually a very optimistic view when you consider that you can re-evaluate your struggles and see them as the destination rather than the journey. There was a time a few months ago when everything seemed like an uphill struggle, so I emailed the rest of the band an image of Sisyphus pushing his massive rock up a steep hill. Probably followed by one of a panda sliding down a hill in the snow. Probably followed by three kisses and a love heart. The internet ruins everything.
Visions of Excess: Selected Writings 1927-1939 by Georges Bataille: Georges Bataille was a lunatic. He wrote things like this: “A dog devouring the stomach of a goose, a drunken vomiting woman, a sobbing accountant, a jar of mustard represent the confusion that serves as the vehicle of love.” He uses absurdity to bring clarity to reality and tops it off with absolute filth. My favourite chapter is called “The Solar Anus.” Yum.
Everest: The Hard Way by Chris Bonington: Chris Bonington and his team, set out (in 1975) to climb the South West face of Everest. They were attempting the ultimate challenge of mountaineering—to conquer the steepest and highest face in the world. This book is very significant for me as I have a keen interest in remote areas, human nature and societies’ codes of conduct. I also have a huge fascination in Everest, the seductive mountain which seems to have a hold on mountaineers and climbers (the rich—who pay mountaineers to get them safely up the mountain, like a tourist attraction!). For me Everest is something more than a mountain, it exposes how profoundly we (some people) are failing to have any kind of decent respect for our world, how our romance with nature has become sick and twisted. As I read, I search for pictures of the extreme beauty which offer humans the challenge, the deceased that are scattered along the (tourist) route—due to the challenges of retrieving the bodies and the chaos; viewing one photo which is a bizarre pedestrian traffic jam, which stretches past the dead and dying, left to die as those continue up the mountain to reach their goal! This causes a stir in my thoughts, different situation, different response. I can see that nothing is clear cut on the mountain but I am constantly bewildered by the decisions people make; at work, at sea and mostly on the mountain, mainly because the mountain seems to be the one place where everything you understand and live by changes, but why? This book allows you to experience the tension and challenges allowing you to question yourself!