Thursday, 10 November 2011

All the Lights Playlist Part 2: Guest Post by Jamie Lee Searle

Following on from yesterday’s Part 1 of the playlist, I jumped at the chance when Katy asked if I’d like to write a guest post and choose the next five tracks. I was lucky enough to edit her translations of Clemens Meyer’s All the Lights, and fell for many of the stories in the process. Here are my picks:

Story Six: I’m Still Here – a journeyman boxer from Rotterdam on the road in Germany, who gets knocked down time and time again, but keeps on trying to make money to support his wife and future child. The song: Simon and Garfunkel’s The Boxer, not just because of the title, but the lyrics: ‘In the company of strangers/In the quiet of the railway station running scared.’ And, because he gives into temptation on occasion too: ‘I do declare, there were times when I was so lonesome/I took some comfort there.’

Story Seven: All the Lights – A man meets up with an old flame. Perhaps my favourite in the collection; the simple but powerful prose highlights everything they don’t say to each other. The song: Neil Young’s Heart of Gold. Because, for me, it fits the mood – that wistful awareness of what you could have had, but moving on all the same…

Story Eight: The Short Happy Life of Johannes Vettermann – a disturbing tale of a man holed up in an opulent hotel suite with drugs and hookers and memories. The song: Jimi Hendrix’ Purple Haze. Because the tense, hallucinogenic atmosphere of the song matches how I felt when I was reading and editing it.

Story Nine: A Trip to the River – a guy gets let out of prison and goes to visit his cellmate’s daughter to pass on some money to her, only to find she’s working as a hooker. The song: Johnny Cash’s San Quentin. ‘And I walk out a wiser, weaker man’. Because both the story and the song tell of difficult lives, bad things happen and repeat through the generations – but there’s an element of gritty determination to keep going too. And also because I love Johnny Cash and was determined to fit him in somewhere.

Story Ten: In the Aisles - about a shelf-stacker who spends his nights working in the aisles of a cash'n'carry and forms a tentative bond with two co-workers, an old man and a young, fragile married woman. The song: Barbara Jones' I Can't Help it, Darling. Katy actually suggested this one and I agreed as soon as I listened to it - because it has a bitter-sweet feeling that reminds me of the prose.

Thanks, Katy, for letting me join in!

Jamie Lee Searle is a German to English translator and blogs at
Many thanks from me too, for the editing and the playlist. Come back tomorrow for more musical fun, pop-pickers!

No comments: