I’ve created the artwork for a new podcast, Folk Tunes and Englishness. This will be a three-part series in which Dr Alice Little explores English traditional music, its history, and how it is played and passed on today, with input from various musicians, researchers and collectors.
Very glad to be a small part of this, and podcast art is an exciting first for me!
Dr Alice Little, Knowledge Exchange Fellow with the University of Oxford and the English Folk Dance and Song Society, speaks with folk musicians and researchers Cohen Braithwaite-Kilcoyne, Nicola Beazley, Stewart Hardy, Tom Kitching, and Marie Bashiru about the borders of English folk music – regionally, racially, and conceptually.
From the traditions of the North East to those of the North West, from Scottish musicians in England to the influences of Irish immigration, this episode features recordings of a range of folk music (including previously unreleased tracks) in addition to the discussion.
The unnamed, isolated city state where Anna Blume searches in vain for her missing brother is extreme in its desolation, its daily hardship, its moral rot, its cruel bureaucracy, even in its nature, with a brutal, historically ‘Terrible Winter’ to make the urban nightmare even less survivable. The subcultures that spring up in this doomed world, including comically bizarre death cults, precisely different disciplines of scavenging, and a resourceful criminal underbelly, are briefly sketched, but enough to build a horrific overall impression and a gripping backdrop to Anna’s tale.
This sort of dystopian near-future setting makes this novel in one way an outlier in Paul Auster’s work, but otherwise it has so many of his hallmarks — a protagonist on an obsessive, all-consuming personal quest, a fluid, absorbing narrative marked by sudden changes of fortune, and memorable oddball characters encountered along the way.
Perhaps it’s not quite toppled the mighty Moon Palace as my absolute favourite Auster novel, but it’s up there.