London-based musician A Grave With No Name – a.k.a Alexander Shields – has been crafting haunted art-rock for awhile now. He’s set to release his sixth album of reflective solitary sounds on 19th January 2018.
The record is called Passover and it’s made up of a collection of songs telling “interlocking short-stories”, which is why we asked Shields to share with us his top reads for BEAT book club.
Check out ‘Wreath’, the first cut from Passover and dig into Shields literary selections below.
Shout out to local libraries!
Beloved – Toni Morrison
“Perhaps the most powerful book on this list. The novel tells of Sethe, an escaped slave, who kills her two-year old daughter rather than allow her to be taken back to the plantation from which she fled. There is a deeply sorrowful, and ghostly use of language and imagery used throughout, which is like nothing I have encountered before, or since.”
The Underwater Welder – Jeff Lemire
“I picked up this graphic novel at random in my local library, and since then Jeff Lemire has become one of my favourite writers and illustrators. This particular book tells the story of an oil rig worker, whose wife is pregnant with their unborn son. Whilst working at the bottom of the sea, his memory begins to unravel, and explore his relationship with his own father, and the nature of memory itself. A haunted tone of regret permeates Jeff Lemire’s work, and that’s something I certainly can identify with.”
The Invisible Man – Ralph Ellison
“I must confess I was unaware of this hugely important work, until it was brought to my attention in an exhibition of photographer Gordon Parks I caught in Berlin whilst supporting Simon Joyner last year. Narrated by an unnamed Black man, the novel addresses many issues relating to race and identity pervading throughout the U.S. at the time of writing, which are still all too apparent today.”
Don’t Suck, Don’t Die: Giving Up Vic Chesnutt – Kristin Hersh
“Kristin Hersh is the driving force behind the band Throwing Muses, and a fascinating solo artist in her own right. She wrote this unflinching memoir about her friend Vic Chesnutt, who is one of my favourite songwriters. Rather than focusing solely on his music, she explores their personal relationship, and reveals the complicated man behind the stunning body of songs he left behind after his death in 2009.”
Native North American Art – Janet Catherine Berlo, Ruth B. Phillips
“This is another book that I picked up at random from my local library. It provides a fascinating overview of Native North American Art history, exploring the sacred and secular, political and domestic, and the importance that art plays in preserving the integrity of the Native American culture. It’s an accessible and fascinating read, that lead me down a worm-hole of finding out more about the subject, which has been a big influence on my last couple of albums.”