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Blog: Reading Actual Books

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This week I have been reading an ACTUAL REAL BOOK. Actually, I've been reading TWO - I’m Sorry You Feel that Way by Rebecca Wait and Good Pop, Bad Pop by Jarvis Cocker. SPOILERS: they were both good.

It's unusual for me to have ACTUAL BOOKS on the go because I have very much gone over to the way of The Kindle. This is partly because I live in a very small flat, and so Actual Real Books soon PILE UP and would have to be escorted en masse to the charity shop several times a year, but also because I really really like having a whole BUNCH of books to choose from. For example, on Tuesday night I was going to Peterborough for an abortive attempt to watch FOOTBALL - the massive rainfall that took place at lunchtime was "unexpected" and apparently continued to be for the rest of the afternoon. SOME* (*me) would say that it was pretty bloody EXPECTED and so was the dismal state of the pitch BUT I DIGRESS. Beforehand I was worried that I only had my REAL BOOK with me for the journey, and so would have nothing else to read if I finished it en route. With the Kindle I would have had a whole LIBRARY of books to choose from, but with only an Actual Book I would be stuck. As it happened I DIDN'T finish it, and also spent most of the journey home FUMING over having spent nearly a hundred quid to basically go to the pub, but STILL, the point is I normally wouldn't buy physical copies of books but did here, for REASONS.

I got a physical copy of "I'm Sorry You Feel That Way" in case the person who had read reviews and suggested it to me wanted to read it too. These reviews had said it was "HILARIOUS!" and "The Funniest Book I Have Read All Year" but I must say it really really wasn't. This reaction may partly have been because I'd just re-re-re-re-re-read Molesworth, which IS very funny still, but mostly it was because the story was tragic and moving and gut-wrenching and not very funny at all. I did really enjoy it, and the much-mentioned-in-reviews Joke About Peterborough WAS a really good one, but by the end I was thinking "why on earth did they choose to promote it like this?" As I say, it was dead good, but not at all what was promised.

And then I bought the physical copy of "Good Pop, Bad Pop" because it had loads of pictures in it, and The Kindle is REALLY BAD at coping with books with pictures. I'm really glad I made that decision as the Actual Book is GORGEOUS, beautifully designed, with the imagery perfectly integrated with the text as PART of it rather than an added extra. The text also was GORGEOUS and really nicely written. I guess you would EXPECT that of Jarvis Cocker, who has a beautiful way with words in his songs, but previous experience reading Books Written By Britpop Lead Singers had warned me that they don't always work as well in PROSE as in SINGING. This was very much not the case here, as the whole thing was beautifully and ENGAGINGLY written from start to finish.

More than that though, the story that he was telling was ACHINGLY familiar to me, and probably to Anybody Else Who Has Ever Been In A Band. For LO! despite calling itself an "inventory" and having a CONCEIT of being about items he finds in the attic, it is really a MEMOIR of his life and especially BAND life, and it is EXCELLENTLY done. All the way through I kept thinking "HA! I remember doing that" with things like playing his first concert in SCHOOL, or being absolutely terrified going out FLYPOSTING, or one day suddenly realising you didn't have to write jokey songs or boring songs but could actually write about REAL STUFF, or having different pubs for different sorts of bands, or... well, LOADS of it really.

Also really lovely is the fact that there is SO MUCH of that stuff because Pulp took SO LONG to go from Local Band Playing Local Pubs to Massive Band On Telly. It all finishes WAY before they got famous, so I'm hoping that the (surely inevitable) second volume will go into ENORMOUS detail about How Bands Actually Work and the general Hanging Around-NESS of it all. Having said that, I don't really mind what he writes about - it was so BEAUTIFULLY WROTE that I could happily read whatever he fancies typing! MORE PLEASE!

posted 19/2/2024 by MJ Hibbett

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