If on a winter’s night a traveler

winters night cover2

You are about to listen to the Tapes On Books mix for If on a winter’s night a traveler by Italo Calvino. Relax. Concentrate. Adjust the volume on your laptop. Plug in your headphones. Tell your family to back off, you are about to listen to a damned book-mix-thing and you just want to be left alone for a minute, dammit. Are you drinking? Maybe, you should start drinking. It couldn’t hurt, cause, really, you care little for the book. It was kind of a jumbled mess when you first read it in college. You get it…how a book about the ritual of reading is a great idea. And it was a pretty hip book, overall. And very “meta” as you recall. But if you are being honest, you were really just trying to woo that girl who worked in the library by reading such an “out there” novel. Man, that chick was smoking. Oh well, that didn’t work for you either. You’re pretty much guessing the mix isn’t too good. You peruse the songs. Pretty predictable. And overly goofy. You are imagining that the guy who made this thinks he is pretty fricking smart. A real Einstein of mix-making. Talking Heads? “Oh. I never heard of them,” you say to yourself with your internal sarcastic tone. Dean Martin…is he for real? Two Elvis Costello songs, you note. You wonder what sort of jackass uses two Costello songs in one mix. And, you don’t even want to get started on Belle & Sebastian. Gawd, you hope this blogger doesn’t try to get cute. He’ll likely cut off the last part of the songs or something stupid and pretentious like that. What an ostentatious prick. You can just see him sitting there in his tight jeans and ironic band t-shirt. Black-rimmed glasses. Ugh. Never mind him, you are confident in your tastes. Nothing to fret about really. You decide again you might as well give the mix a try. What else are you going to do for the next hour while you are Facebook stalking and ebaying Ghostbusters memorabilia? Okay, settle in. Volume up? Oh, yes, you did that already.

Finally, you move the cursor over the link that says, If on a winter’s night a mix. You click. A jangling guitar rings in your ears.

You, the Reader: The Book I Read – Talking Heads
Oh, hi you. You, the reader, second person hero of the book. Well, sometimes you are you and sometimes you are the reader. And sometimes, the reader is the reader and you are just you the reader not “you, the reader”. And sometimes you are the other reader. Or sometimes the author. Or sometimes the other reader or the author talking about you, the reader. It just kinda depends on how you, the reader, or you, the other reader, or you, the author, are feeling about reading and how you are feeling about you.

If on a winter’s night a traveler: Casablanca Moon – Slapp Happy
Bogarting the Bogart. I do love the Noir sensibilities of the title story. I think I’d be okay if every story began with some type of mysterious suitcase. I sometimes carry a suitcase around to seem mysterious. I think mostly people think I am just a vagrant accountant.

Ludmilla, the Other Reader: Is She Weird – The Pixies
I love how Ludmilla as a character goes from some flimsy rom-com love interest to international book printing conspirator to tortured-writer’s muse. And the best (or worst) part is that in the end you start to figure out that Calvino likes Ludmilla, the reader, a whole heck of alot more than you, the reader. Ouch.

outside the town of Malbork: Editions of You – Roxy Music
Just remember there is always a better version of you waiting in the wings. A smarter, stronger, cleaner breed. And they totally have a newer iPhone than you do too.

Professors Uzzi-Tuzii and Galligani: Dead Language – Bedhead
My dead culture is preferable to your dead culture.

leaning from the steep slope: Watching the World Go By – Dean Martin
Silas Flannery’s semi-autobiographical ode to symbols, gullibility, and girl-watching is the best Anton Chekhov story that should have never been written. Calvino is the Weird Al of modern literature. Won’t somebody give the man an accordion?

Hermes Marana: The Imposter – Elvis Costello
Okay, I mean, I know he is pretty much just a bad guy stalker, but jealously filling the world with “fake literature” to prove reality is a void and therefore turn off Ludmilla from all her potential reader lovers is kind of sweet in its own way. Confusion for confusion’s sake is a great super-villian power too.

without fear of wind or vertigo: We All, Us Three, Will Ride – Palace Music
It really isn’t easy to find a song that resonates militaristic Ménage à Trois. Somebody should probably write that song.

Irnerio: No Culture Icons – The Thermals
This guy probably stays up all night on Pinterest looking at artsy book shelves and shit.

looks down in the gathering shadow: There Goes Your Corpse Again – Deadly Snakes
This story is one Conga line scene away from being the novelization of Weekend at Bernies 2.

Lotaria: Every Word – Holly Golightly
Even though you never know who sis is going to show up as, you’ll know that she will be hanging on to your every word. Har har.

in a network of lines that enlace: Hanging On the Telephone – Blondie
Postmodernism called. They want their gibberish back.

in a network of lines that intersect: Kaleidoscope – Ride
If I ever become an insanely paranoid billionaire, I definitely need a kaleidoscope room and minions of body doubles. I could probably do without the murderous spouse.

Diary of Silas Flannery: Every Day I Write the Book – Elvis Costello / Reader Meet Author – Morrissey  
The diary section was by far my favorite part of the book – literary espionage, parables of peeping tom authors, philosophical neurosis, unrequited love (I mean, who doesn’t go for Ludmilla in this book?), figurative vampire readers, and literal alien ghost writers.

0n the carpet of leaves illuminated by the moon: Flowers of Romance – PIL
Important relationship advice – if you are going to screw your boss’ wife make sure you do it in front of him and his daugher…but, you know, in a tasteful artsy way.

Apocrypha: Ghost Writing – Neko Case
“…He adds that in the final analysis there is nothing to be shocked about, since, in his view, literature’s worth lies in its power of mystification, in mystification it has its truth, therefore a fake, as the mystification of a mystification, is tantamount to a truth squared.”

around an empty grave-: Ain’t No Grave – Johnny Cash
Isn’t strange how Johnny Cash just sounds like magical realism now? How does one become that awesome?

Prison Library: Young Adult Friction – Pains of Being Pure At Heart
Getting your bones jumped in a prison library I would imagine be rather unpleasant. So, okay, in this case, it’s is more like getting your bones jumped in a secret organization’s possibly fake prison where books are fed into a giant machine and analysed. Either way, you, the reader, seem to take it all in stride.

What story down there awaits its end?: Blank Frank – Brian Eno
Remember that episode of Star Trek with the teen with awesome powers but can’t talk to girls so he just makes them disappear or turns them to iguanas? Italo totally cribbed this one from that one.

The Eight Readers: Tell Me A Story – Iggy Pop
To tell you the truth, I pretty much lost focus around the part where the eight dudes start talking about which types of books they like and waxing poetic about Arabian Nights. So, yeah, here is a song that probably works. Oh and in full disclosure, I never read Arabian Nights either. So, I really have no clue what the hell was happening…or is happening.

-he asks, anxious to hear the story.: Wrapped Up in Books – Belle & Sebastian
YES! Finally, an ending! Readers live happily ever after…

The End?: All Over Again – Jay Reatard
Oh. Wait. WHAT? That’s the ending? Really? One of those looping book things? I mean, seriously. Oh. Okay. Thanks.


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