Wednesday, 7 March 2018

'Listening to Stonehenge'

The Uncertainty of All Earthly Things by Mark Valentine is, unsurprisingly, proving to be a first-rate collection. 'Listening to Stonehenge' is a tale of an expert on classical music contracted compile a CD of British music. The problem is that the theme is monuments, and there are few - if any - suitable pieces. So begins a quest for obscure works that leads to a forgotten female composer of the inter-war years, and a piece entitled 'Stonehenge'.

This is a tale of the gig economy, interestingly enough, with our narrator making a precarious living writing sleeve notes etc for several employers. It also offers amusing insights into the world of cheap classic music publishing - the 'Glorious Britain' stuff, complete with 'Spitfire over the Cliffs of Dover' cover. It's a slight tale, but the finale, in which the expert flees a bizarre, disturbing rendition of the elusive work, has just the right touch of surreal nightmare. It's a bit Dead of Night, in fact - that's a hint, but I hope not a spoiler.

More from this running review very soon. The next one may have goats...

Perhaps I should include the list of contents while I'm about it, as the titles are so evocative.
To the Eternal One
The Key to Jerusalem
Listening to Stonehenge
Goat Songs
In Cypress Shades
The Mask of the Dead Mammilius
Yes, I Knew the Venusian Commodore
The Scarlet Door
Vain Shadows Flee
The Uncertainty of All Earthly Things
as blank as the days yet to be
Notes on the Border

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