Fathers and Sons, Ivan Turgenev

It was a great relief to get stuck into one of my favourite writers. If you going to engage with an art form you might as well go straight to its golden age. Otherwise, what’s the point? Life’s too short. Modernism gets a bit too carried away with motifs and symbols. If I wanted symbols I’d buy drum kit.

My daughter once brought an ‘anarchist’ home. I learnt he’d been on anti-austerity marches, stole form supermarkets as a political act (and I presume, to save money) and he lived in a squat. I was fascinated. Alas, he was stupid and boring. He was so unnuanced, so confident in his assertions and views and unable to grasp the definition of anarchy which he thought giving the state more power.

A similar situation occurs in Ivan Turgenev’s Fathers and Sons (sometimes known as Fathers and Children) so I was hooked up in this story of a ‘nihilist’ who comes to stay with a family. At the end of a novel, it’s quite common for writers to tie up the loose ends in an epilogue. Trollope did this a lot, it’s a way of satisfying the reader’s curiosity about what happened to the minor characters. In Fathers and Children, Turgenev’s use of the epilogue gives the entire story its meaning. When I read the classic novels by authors I know from experience are truly great, I often feel a little bit disappointed when I’m halfway through and I can’t detect enough greatness. But my curiosity about how the author will meet my high expectations, keeps me turning the pages.

Fathers and Sons has a beautifully tragic ending. Only Russians seem to be able to write about death and grief and in this book it is that most terrible of all griefs, that of doting parents on a bright and ambitious son.

But books, no matter how good, occupy the background of my thoughts. The foreground is Chico Chica. It will be an interesting summer, as I meet promoters. This means going out most nights of the week and listening to live music – I seem to have gone off listening to recordings.

We have a photo shoot coming up. The dress code will be elegant and flamboyant. I might, just might, wear my new yellow silk cravat. The photos will emphasise Chico Chica as a five piece band. We were missing out on opportunities because promoters thought a trio would be too intimate for certain rooms and events. The truth is, we do both – three or five.

The most exciting news (apart from the cravat) is that Chico Chica will be recording new material. This is long overdue and has been a source of immense frustration for me. We will do things piecemeal so we’re not looking beyond a day in the studio, that’s five songs, and we’ll see how things go from there. We have not yet decided which studio but we are getting advice on this. Suggestions welcome.

 

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