Book Club

For this event we have asked Jeff Mangum to pick a group of books to recommend to attendees, and you can see the titles Jeff has chosen below. Our friends at Verso ( are helping us run the book club for the event. We will be concentrating on two of the books from Jeff's list.

On Saturday, Adam Harper will be joining us to discuss Silence, by John Cage (Marion Boyars). Adam Harper is the author of Infinite Music: Imagining the Next Millennium of
Human Music-Making (Zer0 Books). He discusses aesthetics and criticism in music, art and life on his blog Rouge’s Foam. He also studies musicology, composes music and has written for the Wire and Dummy magazines. The first few people to attend this session will win a copy of Infinite Music. Here is a list of discussion points:

What is music? Is there such a thing?
What is silence? Is there such a thing?
Why write music? Why organise sound?
How do we organise sound?
How should we organise sound?
What is ‘experimental’ about experimental music?
What is contemporary music?
Has Cage’s vision for the future of music been realised?

On Sunday, we will focus on One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez (Penguin), led by Stephen Hart. Stephen Hart is Professor of Latin American Film, Literature and
Culture at University College London. He is the author of numerous books on Latin American culture, including the biography Gabriel García Márquez (Reaktion). Here is a list of discussion points:

How are the magic and the realism combined in One Hundred Years of Solitude?
How much is One Hundred Years of Solitude rooted in Colombian history?
Are there autobiographical elements in One Hundred Years of Solitude? If so, what has Gabriel Garcia Marquez the writer done with them?
Is One Hundred Years of Solitude a political novel?

Books chosen by Jeff Mangum:

Aurelia - Gerard de Nerval (1855)

Aurelia is French poet and novelist Gerard de Nerval's account of his descent into madness--a condition provoked in part by his unrequited passion for an actress named Jenny Colon. One of the original self-styled "bohemians," Nerval was best known in his own day for parading a lobster on a pale blue ribbon through the gardens of the Palais-Royal, and was posthumously notorious for his suicide in 1855, hanging from an apron string he called the garter of the Queen of Sheba. This hallucinatory document of dreams, obsession and insanity has fascinated artists such as Joseph Cornell, who cited passages from it to explain his own work; Antonin Artaud, who saw his own madness mirrored by Nerval's; and Andre Breton, who placed Nerval in the highest echelon of Surrealist heroes.

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The Banquet Years: The Origins of the Avant-Garde in France, 1885 to World War I - Roger Shattuck (1968)

Portrays the cultural bohemia of turn-of-the-century Paris who carried the arts into a period of renewal and accomplishment, who laid the ground-work for Dadaism and Surrealism.

"A sweeping portrait of an era." - Justin O' Brien
"...a fascinating and often brilliant account..." - Alfred Kazin
"...I am full of admiration for a book which searches very deeply into the social and philosophic foundations of modern art, and presents a theory that is at once comprehensive and convincing." - Herbert Read, The London Magazine

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Memoirs Of My Nervous Illness - Daniel Paul Schreber (1903)

In 1884, the distinguished German jurist Daniel Paul Schreber suffered the first of a series of mental collapses that would afflict him for the rest of his life. In his madness, the world was revealed to him as an enormous architecture of nerves, dominated by a predatory God. It became clear to Schreber that his personal crisis was implicated in what he called a "crisis in God's realm," one that had transformed the rest of humanity into a race of fantasms. There was only one remedy; as his doctor noted: Schreber "considered himself chosen to redeem the world, and to restore to it the lost state of Blessedness. This, however, he could only do by first being transformed from a man into a woman...."

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One Hundred Years Of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez (1967)

'Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendia was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.' Pipes and kettledrums herald the arrival of gypsies on their annual visit to Macondo, the newly founded village where Jose Arcadio Buendia and his strong-willed wife, Ursula, have started their new life. As the mysterious Melquiades excites Aureliano Buendia's father with new inventions and tales of adventure, neither can know the significance of the indecipherable manuscript that the old gypsy passes into their hands. Through plagues of insomnia, civil war, hauntings and vendettas, the many tribulations of the Buendia household push memories of the manuscript aside. Few remember its existence and only one will discover the hidden message that it holds...This new edition of Gabriel Garcia Marquez's most celebrated novel is published to coincide with celebrations to mark the 80th birthday of this Nobel Prize winning author in 2007.

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Silence - John Cage (1973)

Composer John Milton Cage, Jr., is best known for his avant-garde music, including pieces such as Imaginary Landscape No. 4 (1951) in which 12 radios are turned on intermittently. His 1943 premiere concert of percussion buzzers, pottery and scrap metal, all chosen for their potential sound. Cage was born in Los Angeles in 1912 and studied music privately, becoming a teacher at the Chicago School of Design in 1941. Between 1944 and 1966, he was musical director at Merce Cunningham and Dance Co., and in 1949 he won a Guggenheim fellowship. Cage wrote Virgil Thompson: His Life and Music (1959). His essays and lectures on music were collected into several books, including Silence: Selected Lectures and Writings (1961) and A Year from Monday: New Lectures and Writings (1967).

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