Here it is, my weekly-ish Sparks post, full of what ruled my world this fortnight or so. What’s been making you happy this week?
I Love To Be Excited About Music: Wild Belle Is My Mid-Winter Music Pick-Up
Wild Belle are a brother-and-sister duo from Chicago. They were brought to my attention by a friend, who described them as “Lana Del Rey, but reggae.” This is both slightly true and not true at all. There is a lot of reggae influence in their bright, lush pop music, and a slight jazzy smokiness to lead singer Natalie Bergman’s voice that might invite the LDR comparison. But for something that sounds on paper like it could be high-concept, their music is much less studied — there’s a kind of naturalness and ease that seems to emanate from their pleasure at making their music. Maybe it is those reggae rhythms, but it’s emotionally open and just so fun — a perfect tonic on a bright, cold winter’s day. They have an EP out, but their full-length Isles is coming in March, which I am excited for — I think it’ll be a perfect herald to the springtime.
I have a feeling this will become one of those omnipotent bands that you hear in stores, on TV and in commercials, but I’m okay with this.
Bring Up the Bodies! Bring Up the Bodies!
Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel is one of those lovely, rare books that I became engulfed in, and when I was done, I shut the cover and wondered how it worked its magic. Like: how did that happen? Never did I think I’d become engrossed in the saga of Thomas Cromwell, one of the chief ministers of King Henry VIII, and never did I think it’d be as compelling and spellbinding as this. And I’m still trying to figure out how it worked to snare me in.
On some level, every chapter is action-packed: there is scheming, political intrigue, sex, rumor, and scandal. But it’s all filtered through the sieve of Cromwell’s dark, labyrinthine, analytical yet strangely objective mind: it’s like he’s laying out three different chess games at once, calculating probabilities, weighing other players’ motivations — and then acting swiftly. Part of the pleasure of the book is seeing him calculate and seeing how these play out — whether or not he’s right or wrong, and how. He’s an enigmatic figure, yet strangely sympathetic — moments of memory, grief and sorrow dapple his consciousness beautifully throughout. Anyway: this isn’t a book for everyone, and it’s not your typical historical novel. But if you are willing to play along with Cromwell, it’s excellent and captivating.
OTHER GLINTS OF GENIUS, BEAUTY AND TRUTH
++++ Chronicle Books is looking for funny Tumblrs to turn into books. ++++ ‘Twas a prolific writing week ++++ Gingerbread and toffee coffee in the morning…it smells heavenly ++++ My head is so full of ideas and energy, it’s a bit overwhelming…I think next week I need to chill out a bit and take some time to sift through them all and figure out where to put my energy +++++ But of course, first I have to FINISH OFF MY BOOK PROJECT! Hoping to dig in and do it this weekend +++++ 12 excellent short films at Sundance are available to watch on YouTube! Speaking of Sundance, one of the nicest guys in my class at film school — a great screenwriter — just got his film acquired at Sundance for a sweet deal after high praise and buzz. Congrats! So great to see great people succeed +++++ I love Jenna Lyons, the head designer at J. Crew, and her personal style, so I was very psyched to see this slideshow and profile in the New York Times on her.
Have a beautiful weekend, lovelies!