Archive for the ‘music’ Category

Proust gave me the flu

September 2, 2013

A few weeks ago, I found myself going to a wedding in Brittany, which was a delight in part for the chance to spend rather a lot of time on a train. Trains are probably my third favourite place to read (after in the bath and in bed), as they offer such long stretches of book time, punctuated with lovely views out of the window. They are also free from the many problems that plague other modes of transport, such as feeling sick, overcoming irrational fears of death, or having to mapread.

Swann's WayI decided this would be the perfect opportunity to at last get around to reading some Proust. Swann’s Way – the first volume of In Search of Lost Time – has been sitting on my shelf for years now, tempting me with the treats that so many say lie inside, yet also keeping me at arm’s length, knowing that this isn’t a book to be attempt when jammed on the tube, or when otherwise distracted with London life. To be honest, I felt more than a little daunted by it. It’s massive. It’s seminal. It’s one of those books you’re forever being told you’re not old enough to read, and wouldn’t it be awful to read it too early and so not enjoy one of the great works!

It took me a little while to settle in to Swann’s Way. As I sat on the Eurostar, I kept peeking over the husband’s shoulder at the glossy magazine he was reading and wondering if I was a glutton for punishment. Why Proust, when I could just read the Proust Questionnaire at the end of Vanity Fair?

I felt impossibly self-conscious with my Proust. I could barely get through a sentence without thinking about everyone else who’d read that sentence. I kept wondering what Virginia Woolf would have made of it, or E.M. Forster, or even Jane Gardam. I am reading Proust, I kept telling myself. This is the real deal. If I am anything like Alain de Botton, it will change my life.

So it was a shaky start. I think it always takes a little while to settle in to the classics, to adjust to their slower pace, their long serpentine sentences. But by the time I got off the train at Paris, I was hooked.

I can’t tell you how wonderful it was to be sitting on a TGV the next morning, reading about Combray while looking out at exactly that landscape! It is such a sensuous book, I could almost smell the ‘bitter-sweet scent of almonds emanating from the hawthorn-blossom’ and the myriad other scents that perfume the pages as I looked at their real-life counterparts flashing past the window.

What struck me above all is how clever Proust is with his long winding sentences. They twist and turn, wrongfooting you with every comma, until you come to the end and it all falls perfectly into place. Here is one of my favourites, from ‘Swann in Love’, the second part of the book, which explores Swann’s love affair with Odette:

He would go and join her, and when he opened the door, on Odette’s rosy face, as soon as she caught sight of Swann, would appear – changing the curve of her lips, the look in her eyes, the moulding of her cheeks – an all-absorbing smile.

When I first read this I was jolted after ‘face’, feeling there must be some mistake, you don’t open a door on someone’s face. I began again and realised what he does with that comma after ‘door’ is allow a sudden shift in agency from the action of Swann opening the door to Odette’s change in expression as she catches sight of Swann. Then there is another shift as the description of Odette’s smile – ‘changing the curve of her lips…’ is relayed as witnessed by Swann. It is though this smile is as intensely felt by each of them – Odette as she moves and Swann as he observes it. How perfectly intimate for two lovers to share such a flirtatious sentence. How impossibly clever of Proust to convey an emotion even in his syntax.

A Far Cry from Kensington by Muriel SparkSo many of Proust’s sentences are every bit as good as this one. It is such luxurious prose, so rich. As it happened, when I got back to London after the wedding, still in the middle of Swann’s Way, I quickly re-read Muriel Spark’s A Far Cry from Kensington for this Spectator article. I alighted upon a wonderful anecdotal description of Proust, from Spark’s Mrs Hawkins:

It’s about everything in particular.

She’s exactly right. Proust pays particular, minute attention to every little detail, resulting in these wonderful long sentences that perfectly capture each tiny gradation of everything.

Everyone goes on about the famous madeleine moment as being the epitome of wonderful writing about memory. (By the way, two things you might not know about that moment: 1. It’s dipped in lime-blossom tea; 2. It’s 50 pages in, not right at the beginning.) For sure it is good, but I thought just as good was the way Proust writes about music. This is also from ‘Swann in Love’:

The year before, at an evening party, he had heard a piece of music played on the piano and violin. At first he had appreciated only the material quality of the sounds which those instruments secreted. . . . But then at a certain moment, without being able to distinguish any clear outline, or to give a name to what was pleasing him, suddenly enraptured, he had tried to grasp the phrase or harmony—he did not know which—that had just been played and that had opened and expanded his soul, as the fragrance of certain roses, wafted upon the moist air of evening, has the power of dilating one’s nostrils. . . . This time he had distinguished quite clearly a phrase which emerged for a few moments above the waves of sound. It had at once suggested to him a world of inexpressible delights, of whose existence, before hearing it, he had never dreamed, into which he felt that nothing else could initiate him, and he had been filled with love for it, as with a new and strange desire.

What a long quotation – and this is just picking out key bits from two whole pages – but I hope that from here you can see how well he writes about that inexpressible, tantalising power of music. He captures, perfectly, the way a certain exquisite phrase can get under your skin and lift you out of yourself, and how hard it is to pin it down, or conjure the same feeling in any other way. (Incidentally, for more on the actual phrase of music that inspired Proust, see this intriguing blog.)

Who am I to write about Proust? All I can say is that I loved it more than I’d anticipated and would thoroughly recommend it for a holiday or a long train journey. I finished it when I went to Andalucia last week for some villa relaxation with friends – many of whom were reading Laurie Lee, to my intense delight! I lay by the swimming pool in the hot Spanish sun and was utterly absorbed in Proust’s luxurious, endless sentences.

It was only once I’d finished Swann’s Way that I was struck with flu. Literally, no sooner had I put it down than my throat started to ache. The last few days of the holiday were Proustless and snot-filled, and my husky snottiness continues now I am back in London.

I worry that the only cure is to read more Proust. While Swann’s Way was heavenly, I fear that the remaining six volumes might have to wait until I spend rather a lot more time in France than a weekend’s train journey. Until then, I shall stick to hot lemon and honey, into which I might just dip a madeleine.

Daphne and Proust

Proust is, of course, Daphne’s cup of tea. She particularly loves the slow pace and long sentences.

The Queen of the Night

March 19, 2012

I do hope that none of you forgot it was Mother’s Day yesterday. Last week, appropriately enough, I spent a little while thinking about mothers in literature for the Spectator. It transpires that good mothers in books are few and far between. However tricky your mum, she’ll seem a treat after considering the likes of Medea and Mrs Bennett.

These ponderings about literary mums were buzzing around at the back of my head, when I went to see my younger brother-in-law conduct a very impressive student production of Mozart’s The Magic Flute at the weekend. This was actually my second Mozart experience of the week. The first was during an MRI scan, when I spent a peculiar sci-fi half-hour in a tunnel having my protons very noisily magnetically aligned, while Mozart was played to me on huge noise-cancelling headphones.

I hate admitting to this, but I really don’t like Mozart. Not quite as bad as Haydn, who I really can’t stand, but still too twiddly and fiddly for me. Give me some meaty Beethoven any day. When the MRI lady asked what music I wanted to listen to, I said classical please; she then said, what sort of classical, I said, oh any sort. She suggested Bach. I said perfect. So there I was, in the tunnel, having been told not to move at all, worrying that I was breathing too vigorously, the weird drilling sound of the magnets began and one of Mozart’s piano concertos twiddled into action. Bonus, I thought. As if it could have got any worse. But I did find myself wondering if it could ever have occurred to Mozart that a couple of hundred years after his death his music would be played in such a deeply weird situation.

For me, Mozart operas are the exceptions that prove the rule. I absolutely love them. All the silly trilly bits that I find so annoying in his other music, no longer sound twee and fiddly, just wonderful and fun and even quite beautiful.

The Magic Flute was a far more pleasurable Mozart experience than my MRI scan. Although, after the MRI scan I was left with some far-out pictures of my wonky spine, whereas The Magic Flute just left my spine feeling distinctly tingly. My favourite arias from the opera have always been the fun and silly Pa-pa-pa-pa, pa-pa-pa-pa one sung by Papageno and Papagena towards the end, and the wonderfully melodramatic Queen of the Night one, ‘Hell’s vengeance boils in my heart’. Here is Diana Damrau singing the latter:

I bet now your spine’s tingling too.

The Queen of the Night is really an amazing lady. She is undoubtedly my favourite literary (or operatic) mother. First of all, she enters with thunder and lightening. Here is a picture of the set design for her arrival from an 1815 production.

Pretty impressive.

Her first aria is almost as wonderful as her second. Here’s Natalie Dessay:

Within five minutes, she manages to get a man under her control and sends him off to rescue her kidnapped, beautiful daughter. Just like that, the Queen of the Night has set her daughter up with a Prince. Mrs Bennett, touché.

Then, via her three ladies, she gives Prince Tamino the magic flute of the title, which enchants and brings happiness to anyone who hears it. She also gives Papageno, the bird catcher, the silver bells which will end up saving his life more than once. So far, so perfect. She is the bestower of magical gifts. She sets the plot in action. She gets her daughter a princely husband. Really, a bloody wonderful mum.

But everything becomes more complicated once Sarastro comes on the scene. Suddenly, the Queen of the Night is cast into shadow, she is just ‘Ein Weib tut wenig, plaudert viel’ – a woman who does little and chatters much. Chatter! Definitely the wrong word for that incredibly striking aria.

Now we’ve reached the bit of the opera which can drag a little. Here is all the Masonic stuff, where everything is about the number three, and Tamino has to go through various (well, three) tests in order to prove himself worthy of Pamina and a successor to Sorastro. When Pamina asks to be freed and go back to her mother, Sorastro says she can’t because her mother is ‘stolzes’ – proud, and that:

Ein Mann muß eure Herzen leiten,

Denn ohne ihn pflegt jedes Weib

Aus ihrem Wirkungskreis zu schreiten.

A man must lead your hearts

For without him every woman is

misguided to step out of her sphere.

Hummm… not really the view of the minute is it? Do we really believe that Sarastro has kidnapped Pamina just so a man can rescue her? This bit of plot feels very problematic to me. I remain unconvinced of Sarastro’s goodness and very reluctant to see the Queen of the Night cast as a villain. But anyway, on it plods…

AND THEN … The Queen of the Night reappears with her infamous aria, in which she commands Pamina to murder Sarastro. Clearly she’s as fed up with his misogynistic waffle as I am! If only Pamina would agree to murder him, then it would be a far more exciting opera. But she refuses. Poor old Queen of the Night has well and truly lost her daughter. She will reappear again at the very end in a last ditch attempt to storm Sarastro’s temple, but fails and is cast out to the night. Perhaps she can at least console herself that she’s succeeded with her match-making and that Tamino and Pamina will live happily ever after.

Whether we see her as good or bad, the Queen of the Night is certainly one of the most demanding parts ever written for a soprano. Mozart originally wrote the part for his sister-in-law Josepha Hofer, who was known for her incredible voice. It’s the part with the best arias, the part for the best voice. The Queen of the Night – if she has the talent – will always steal the show.

Perhaps it was with this good-bad ambivalence in mind that Whitney Houston (R.I.P.) reimagined the Queen of the Night in her epic eighties hit of the same name.

As she puts it, ‘Don’t make no difference if I’m wrong or I’m right’. Who cares if she’s good or bad!? She is the Queen of the Night and has ‘got more than enough to make you drop to your knees’. Really this is the important thing. She’s the most impressive character, the one you come away remembering.

The Queen of the Night is by far and away the coolest literary mother. Only thing is, she might be a bit of a tough act to follow.

Do the Reggae

July 19, 2010

I have an awkward confession to make, which some of you might have suspected already …

I don’t really like pop music.

I know that this makes me a real granny.

The problem is that I love lots of classical music (see my post here about making up stories to it, especially to Schubert) and tend to find that whenever I listen to pop music, it feels a bit empty in comparison.

OK, I can hear you screaming. And I’m more than willing to accept that I’m completely wrong and that pop music is a brilliant thing in its own right. But for whatever reason, the fact remains that I just don’t get much out of listening to it.

But Reggae is the exception. I feel a deep connection to Reggae music. A connection which was best expressed in my brief but happy days of being a Reggae DJ, and which was rediscovered on Saturday night when I went to see Toots and the Maytals give a jaw-dropping performance at the Barbican.

When I was DJ-ing Reggae I never stopped to ask myself what it is exactly that makes me love Reggae so much. It’s far more similar to pop music than classical. If anything, the rhythm, riddim (instrumental bit) and chorus, are repeated so many times that I should find it really dull. A huge proportion of Reggae tunes start with a rolling snare drum, such as the marvellous Police and Thieves by Junior Murvin (here on YouTube). How predictable! (Although admittedly, how useful when DJ-ing.) Why doesn’t it bore me to tears? Why do I find that everything in me jumps awake and smiles as soon as that drum roll heralds another brilliant tune?

So I’ve had a bit of a think about it.

The feeling of Reggae is so overwhelmingly positive and, literally, ‘upbeat’. OK, etymologically, ‘upbeat’ refers to a beat of the bar in which the conductor’s baton is raised – which tends to be the last beat of the bar – but there’s something about the beats in Reggae music which always feel so ‘up’, so dancey, so looking forward to the next one.

The third beat of the bar tends to be emphasised, which gives everything a bit of a jiggly rhythm. Pop music feels to me quite ONE two three four. Live Forever by Oasis, is resolutely ‘MAYbe, I don’t REally want to know, how your GARden grows, cos I just want to fly. LATEly …’ The accent’s always on the beginning of the bar.

But in Pressure Drop by Toots and the Maytals, for instance, the guitar does its little ‘ch ch’ on the third beat and the emphasis in the lyrics is often there too – ‘I said WHEN it drops, oh you’re gonna FEEL it, know that you were doing wrong … It is YOU, oh yeah …’ (Here it is on YouTube, which might make those beats a little bit clearer.)

The emphasis just isn’t where it would be in a normal pop song. So it almost trips you up when you’re dancing, but not quite – instead it just gives you a little skip, a little lift, a little jump to your step. This third beat emphasis makes Reggae much lighter than pop music. And I guess it’s always needed to be light, given the heat of Jamaica. Just imagine dancing to it for hours in a Jamaican dance hall!

So instinctively I like Reggae’s cheekiness, its lightness of foot, its fun. It makes you (or at least me and everyone else who piled into the Barbican) unable to sit down or stand still. It makes you feel that you just have to dance.

Then there are the lyrics. Jamaica is all over them. References to places like Kingston Town and Trench Town are scattered throughout, giving rise to a kind of mythical geography of the island in the 1960s.

I first heard mention of ‘Kingston Town’ in Harry Belafonte’s Jamaica Farewell (here it is on YouTube). I was just as sad as him that he had to leave a little girl behind in Kingston-on-Thames when he went off to Jamaica. And I felt slightly proud that I knew a couple of people who lived there; until that point I’d never really rated this peripheral bit of London, next to Richmond. I started calling Kingston, ‘Kingston Town’, until one of my friends who lived there clarified the situation, telling me that there was another Kingston in Jamaica. Then everything fell into place.

But aside from a bit of nostalgia about my Kingston Town naiveté, there isn’t much of a reason to feel a connection to the Jamaica that shines sunnily through the lyrics. I would love to go there – in fact I have suggested it as a honeymoon destination (the fiancé thinks it might be a bit dangerous) – but I’ve never been.

But then there are the other places that are mentioned. The ones like Babylon and Zion that aren’t really in Jamaica. I remember singing Rivers of Babylon by the Melodians (here on YouTube) when I was at primary school. The song made me feel sad. It made me think about being an Israelite fleeing from the Egyptians, being in a strange land and weeping by a river. And I wondered why none of the C of E girls objected to singing a Jewish song all the time.

Of course, when I was older I learnt that the plight of the Israelites was used as a parallel for African slaves taken to strange lands, like Jamaica. I expect Reggae stars would feel a bit annoyed about a white middle-class Jewish schoolgirl thinking that their songs about oppression were actually about her history. But they chose that parallel, and, well, I do relate to it.

Take Bob Marley’s Zion Train, for instance (here on YouTube). Even if I don’t particularly want to get on a train to Holy Mount Zion in Israel, I still understand the somewhat complicated yearning to return to a true homeland, and have some inkling of what it means to be displaced from it.

When I discovered the phenomenal Desmond Dekker, I felt a little glow when I heard his song Israelites (here on YouTube). Yes, he’s singing about me! – I thought. Or, at least, Yes, I have something in common with him.

So that’s why I love doing the Reggae. There’s an instinctive connection to the rhythm – it’s cheeky unexpected emphasis on the third beat that makes me feel happy and dancey and keeps me on my toes. And there’s a slightly more thoughtful connection to the lyrics. Who knew that the Old Testament could be so much fun?

Schubert’s stories

June 21, 2010

I was at a piano recital the other day which ended with Schubert’s Wanderer Fantasy. ‘Oh I love this piece,’ I whispered to the fiancé during the tell-tale opening bars. (You can listen to it here on YouTube – try and ignore his too-short shorts.)

When the concert was over I started chattering about the music. ‘I love that bit near the end,’ I said. ‘Where the big evil troll is stomping around and then all the little birds get startled and fly off.’

The fiancé looked blank.

‘You know – bam ba-ba baaam, ba bam ba-ba baam …’ (It begins just before the nineteenth minute on the YouTube clip.)

‘Oh.’ An eyebrow was raised. ‘How did you describe it?’

‘The bit with the stomping troll and the scared birds flying around.’

‘Do you really think about that sort of thing when you’re listening to music?’

Now, it honestly hadn’t occurred to me that it isn’t normal, when listening to music, to imagine stories. What else can one think about?

Well, the fiancé, apparently, doesn’t think about much, when listening to music. His mind wanders. His musical brother says his mind wanders too, but that sometimes he thinks about what’s going on musically.

I’d love to think about what’s going on musically. To think – aha, this is where it’s shifting into the relative minor. Or, oh, yes here comes the Development Section. Or, what a good use of the Imperfect Cadence. (Incidentally, here is an earlier post I’m quite fond of about cadences and books.)

Unfortunately, I’m not nearly well-versed enough in musical lingo, and I don’t have remotely enough musical nouse to be able to pick up that kind of thing from listening to something. Yes, occasionally I’ll think oh the tune’s come back, but it’s higher up this time. Or, it’s quite fugal here. And I suppose it makes me feel slightly smug – similar to the feeling when using words like ‘alliteration’ and ‘enjambment’ to write about poetry. But it’s not particularly meaningful.

Perhaps the fiancé might have understood me better if I’d described the bit with the evil troll as where the left hand plays a variation on the theme in a minor key, loudly and threateningly. But, frankly, I feel that ‘evil troll stomping around’ captures the spirit of the piece much more accurately.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t spend the entire piece spinning out one single narrative. That evil troll at the end isn’t the culmination of a fairy-tale plot involving toll-bridges and witches and the like.

The opening makes me think of a young man, running over the hills, bursting with excitement desperate to tell everyone his news. Occasionally he jumps and skips, while trying to say what’s going on. There’s an (inaudible) person listening to him, telling him to calm down and go through everything from the beginning, more slowly. And then that’s when it sort of starts again, more softly (after 40 seconds on YouTube), but every now and then he gets overcome by excitement and has to jump up and down on the spot (1 min 10 or so). But the music swiftly gets too complicated to fit with this rather basic scheme. Then, I suppose, my mind wanders. It still feels quite pastoral. Definitely hills and flowers and sunshine – perhaps a little stream somewhere. And then there’s that element of danger around 2 min 50. Perhaps then it’s like floating along a gentle stream in which there are suddenly rapids, or a sharp rock.

But once you get to 3.40 or so, it’s not like that at all. Then it’s more of a gentle, playful dance. In fact this, swiftly followed by the loud chords (4.30), makes me think of a farmboy and a milkmaid messing around on haystacks and then a big angry farmer bursting in on them, followed by a farcical chase around the haystacks.

I find it really difficult to listen to the piece without imagining any scenes from stories taking place. They don’t link up, but little snippets are definitely brought to life. And I think it happens with any piece. Let’s stick to Schubert for now, as his music is particularly beautiful. But take his Piano Trio in E-flat. According to YouTube the bit I particularly love was used in Barry Lyndon. But here it is, in any case.

This is set in the very early morning, just before sunrise. It’s somewhere in the Orient – perhaps Constantinople – and a young lady, wrapped up in a travelling cloak, is looking out from a window, or possibly a rooftop, at a soldier’s camp. It’s quiet and cold and barely light, but the soldier she’s in love with is keeping watch, marching very steadily to and fro.

And what about Schubert’s String Quintet? One of my all-time favourites. It’s here on YouTube.

The opening feels like the scene’s being set for a fight. Walking twenty paces, drawing swords and then … just after the minute mark WHOOSH – bam BAM. Then the fight really starts. At this point, it feels more like a couple having a horrid fight. The woman keeps getting hysterical – the shrieking violins, and the man gets thunderously cross, and then suddenly it melts away at 1.50 and they remember why they’re in love. Perhaps the man says it first (the cellos) and then the woman agrees when the violins take up the tune at 2.27. The piece feels quite nostalgic, as though perhaps they really do spend the whole time going over their relationship – the beautiful highs and the more threatening horrible bits (4.20). It’s the sort of argument that could only take place late at night, when tired, and endlessly tempted to just forget it, make friends and cuddle up and fall asleep together. Which, I suppose, they do by the time they get to the second movement (here).

If only it worked the other way round too, and that while reading I thought of the perfect soundtrack. Then I’d probably have an incredibly high-flying career with a film studio, scoring out music for feature films. I’d be played on Classic FM. But I’m not too unhappy about the current situation, just getting a bit over-excited when listening to music.

Reading and Writing in Cadences

March 18, 2010

Just before dropping off into a snooze in an attempt to heal the wounds, post-tonsil-removal (if only I could use that excuse forever), I often think about my novel-in-progress. I’ve felt quite guilt-stricken about not really doing any work on it for nearly three whole weeks now (ouch, but I shall keep blaming the tonsils) and so these little not-quite-fully-awake thought meanderings tend to be an attempt to feel a bit less slack.

Yesterday I was thinking about the atmosphere that I want to surround the ending. From the very first moment of the novel’s conception – one glorious evening in the bath – I’ve wanted the ending to be about creating a certain feeling, something murky and unsettled, something that doesn’t let the reader walk away and leave it completely behind, something that resists a perfect resolution.

Perhaps because I was in that half-asleep state, and perhaps it was the remnants of painkiller still in my bloodstream (sadly I don’t think I can compare myself to a pre-‘Kubla Khan’ Coleridge), it occurred to me that what I need is to write an imperfect cadence.

Yes, an imperfect cadence, as in music theory. I have to say I’ve always been rubbish at music theory, but I just about grasped the concept of cadences. They occur at the end of a piece, or the end of a phrase, and there are four basic types: perfect, imperfect, plagal and interrupted. You can listen to them all here.

But this isn’t supposed to be a not-particularly-good crash course in music theory. I thought it could be quite fun to think of cadences in books. Bear with me …

Essentially a perfect cadence – from the dominant note (Vth in a scale) to the tonic (Ist in a scale) – feels like certain resolution. Finished, ta-da, the end. So, for novels, although this must be by far the most common closing cadence, it is particularly apt for the end of a detective story. Think of Agatha Christie’s Poirot stories. All the characters are assembled in the drawing room, your mind is spinning from all the different possibilities of who the murderer might be, and then Poirot puts everyone out of their misery, unmasks the villain and peace is restored.

The other easy one to spot is a plagal cadence. This is from the subdominant (IV) to the tonic (I) and can be quickly recognised as the ‘Amen’ at the end of hymns. It sounds churchy, religious – the correct resolution but in a bit of a preachy tone. In book terms I’m afraid that Graham Greene instantly springs to mind. I know he’s a brilliant writer but why does everything always have to end up being about Catholicism? The same goes for Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited.

Then there are the two types that are harder to recognise. The imperfect cadence is, unsurprisingly, the opposite of perfect. So the progression is from tonic (I) to dominant (V). It feels unfinished, the listener is waiting for the tonic to come back again at the end and a happy resolution to be found. It leaves one unsettled, uncomfortable, uncertain of what will happen next – because something almosthas to happen next. It makes me think of Twin Peaks – I will never ever forget that final image. And King Lear, when Albany, Edgar and Kent are left standing at the end looking forward into an uncertain future after the horror that has passed. ‘We that are young / Shall never see so much, nor live so long.’ What will they see? What will happen next? What can possibly happen next when the world seems to have exploded into nothingness? That’s what I want in my novel.

And then, finally, the interrupted cadence. This is from the dominant (V) to any note that isn’t the tonic. It often goes to the supertonic (II), the subdominant (IV) or the submediant (VI). I expect there is a better, more nuanced explanation of this somewhere, but what matters for me is that this cadence always feels utterly unresolved. It’s more of an opening into something new than an ending. I suppose the effect is an extreme version of that of an imperfect cadence – one isn’t so much waiting for resolution, as waiting for a whole new chapter. This cadence brings to mind books that were initially published in serial form, like Little Dorrit, or pretty much anything else by Dickens. And it doesn’t make me think of the final ending, it makes me think of those significant moments in the plot where one episode ends, leaving one desperate to know what happens next. Cliffhangers. Although they’re now to be found more in TV soap operas than in novels.

It’s a comforting thought, that rather than striving for the perfect ending, an imperfect one can be infinitely more haunting. My eyes (and ears) are peeled remain peeled for more.