Aphex Twin + Ann Petry

The Aphex Twin review is up at Artforum. The short version of my experience: the Spotify playlist of what Aphex plays live has been more useful to me than seeing the show. This cohort of soft bois is making filigree scrimshaw—you want high resolution for the texture. Hammering volume doesn’t do anybody a favor.

The best iteration of Aphex Twin’s recent live strategy seems to have been his appearance at Field Day in 2017. Even on YouTube, it’s high-spirited and energizing. The video/audio balance is more human-friendly than the interrogatory blare of the Avant Gardner show.

When Heidi (unnamed companion) asked about Aphex Twin’s “pretty stuff,” this mix is a good example of what she was referring to.

In high school, I had two theater mentors, equally incredible and entirely distinct. It’s not a stretch to say that I wrote plays because of them and loved being on stage because of them. Nancy Fales Garrett was my playwriting teacher and directed me in “Romeo in Juliet”; Tazwell Thompson directed me in three different productions and taught me in an improv class. (His vision for Max Frisch’s “The Firebugs” was to put the chorus in black-and-white drag—no colors, all surreal costumes: cowboy, priest, cop.)

When I was working on “We Three Kings,” both of them independently told me to read Ann Petry’s “The Street.” Dutifully, I bought it. Lazily, I looked at but did not read it. Time passed, lots of it. I thought about “The Street” when I saw Esther B. Fein’s piece on Petry in 1992, and again last November when Tayari Jones wrote an appreciation of Petry. Still didn’t read it. And then, this week, while wondering about all the books sitting in a storage space on Sixth Street in LA, I read Parul Seghal’s review of the Library of America reissue. Enough!

Petry’s voice has lift and her descriptions move nose to tail, quickly. The plot is wired enough that I don’t want to spoil it. Below are two quick excerpts, to give you a feeling of the prose. Lutie Johnson gets a room in Harlem, in the forties, and things don’t go all that well.

And later.

Imagine if there was an Ann Petry rave!

(Photo by Zach Dilgard)