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Why everyone loves Kate Bush

Kate Bush

(Corbis)

The week’s best arts and culture reads – including happy accidents in architecture and praise for retiring TV titan, David Letterman.

On Kate Bush
Ian Penman | London Review of Books | 10 April 2014
If Wuthering Heights makes you think of Kate Bush before Emily Bronte, read on: “She’s someone you might have known at sixth-form college, or at your Saturday job (the artier kind, obviously: knick-knack stall at the local market); definitely a scream down the pub, with her packet of Silk Cut and pint of scrumpy. She has the soul of a Manic Pixie Dream Girl, but the robust mien of Mrs Thatcher at a cabinet meeting.”

Accidents in architecture
Mark Lawson | New Statesman | 10 April 2014
Shigeru Ban, winner of the 2014 Pritzker prize for architecture, creates “emergency structures from improbable materials in crisis zones”. For disaster victims in Japan he has designed shelters made from beer crates and shipping containers. His “masterpiece to date” is a cardboard cathedral in Christchurch, New Zealand, built after an earthquake. “Whereas most buildings start on paper, many of Ban’s end in it”.

Letterman’s last great moment
Bill Simmons | Grantland | 8 April 2014
David Letterman’s announcement of his retirement was one of the great moments in television: “There was stunned silence. Two solid seconds of quiet felt like two hundred. The spiritual king of late night was stepping down... The old man told a story, then a second story, then a third story, and suddenly, he was gone”. Jay Leno had the bigger audience, but he never matched Letterman’s mystique.

The keys to his heart
Stuart Isacoff | Wall Street Journal | 7 April 2014
British pianist Stephen Hough talks about the difference between playing and composing, and why composing is more satisfying: “It’s the difference, I suppose, between being a foster parent and having your own flesh and blood child. There is no less love − some foster parents are the most heroic and wonderful possible. But I imagine it is different for a woman to see the actual child coming out of her body. You can’t match that”.

Where storytelling does not reach
Karl Ove Knausgård | Samtiden / Eurozine | 3 April 2014
Chatty essay about the relationship of writer and editor. The editor’s main job is “to support the writer, which very often means to trick him, to tell him that his work is really good, just carry on”. The writer needs support, because “to fail on your own is all right for a while but only up to a point, since it is not like failing at a game, but a serious failure. It grows more and more difficult to defend your writing”.

Biblio bizarre: Who publishes in Google Books
Ben Schmidt | Sapping Attention | 3 April 2014
Large-scale book digitisation makes Ngrams possible; but it also makes Ngrams obsolete for analysing literature later than 2000. Digitisation “changes what a book is in ways that makes the selection criteria for Ngrams − if it made it into print, it must have some significance − completely meaningless. Minor decisions about whether an e-book actually exists or not can cause shifts in 40% of the corpus”.

Sex, death and dissonance
Tom Service | Guardian | 1 April 2014
Anton Bruckner was “a credulous yokel who propositioned girls half his age; a death-obsessed ghoul who kept a photo of his mother’s corpse; a cranky, backwards-looking obsessive.” Perhaps a drunkard too. But his obsessive personality produced “some of the greatest, grandest and most ambitious symphonies” of the 19th Century. His music, filled with “violent sonic terrors”, is “the cosmos in pain”.

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