Our June issue is coming fresh out of the oven to you so soon, which means it's time for Now Playing! Here's a sneak peek of a few of our June contributors, as they discuss what they've been enjoying lately and how it feels.
I'm 2000 and late to everything, so I just finally finished reading Less by Andrew Sean Greer (those library waitlists are no joke). I burst into happy tears at the end, which has to be a first for me. Read it and weep with me.
The music that has been presiding over my playlist in the last few days has been Algleymi, the second album of the Icelandic black metal band Misþyrming. During the first years of my emigration from Hungary, I had the privilege and the misfortune of spending a whole winter all by myself on that godforsaken rock in the Atlantic they call Iceland, letting me experience levels of loneliness and beauty I have never imagined to be possible before. During high winter there, the sun is only up a few hours a day, but even then, it is usually shrouded by an impenetrable layer of grayness and silent desperation – the closest you can get on this planet to the experience of travelling in the infinite blackness of outer space. Coming to terms with these unusual circumstances, I quickly realized that the melancholy tunes of my former musical taste will not be enough to ensure my survival: I needed something stronger, something that was born from the very same material as this all-encompassing darkness, but something that nevertheless punches it back in the face. So, I delved into the Icelandic black metal scene that had just experienced a period of vibrant revival at the time, spearheaded by the fearless and brutal boys of Misþyrming – and even though later I have left that enchanted island of ice and fire, I have been carrying with myself that obsidian-black armor around my heart ever since.
i just spent the last 70 hours playing the video game horizon zero dawn, where it’s possible to ride + fight large, mechanical beasts (basically mecha-dinosaurs)— & that’s exactly what i did. the inner paleontologist in me LiVeD
I’ve finally delved into the rich world of Elena Ferrante with My Brilliant Friend and I must say that it lives up to all its praise. I feel engrossed and engaged and I cannot put it down. It’s been years since I’ve felt the urge to read for hours before bed, but that’s exactly where this sprawling character-rich novel has put me. I think about it when I’m at work. I cannot recommend it enough for the inevitable emotional investment it will foment.
I associate every one of my solo visits as an adult to Budapest—which is always where I discover the work I translate—with a particular album I listened to on repeat during that time. Summer of 2017, I bopped along the busy streets of the city to Blossom by Milky Chance. That winter, it was to the bluesy vibes of Elli Ingram’s Love You Really. Summer 2018, it was Sophie Strauss’s folksy album, Yeah No Fine. This past winter, I fell in love with Billie Eilish’s dont smile at me. I found Billie’s haunting voice and melancholy lyrics on these slow tracks to be quite fitting for the dreary weather and the early dark that set on the city each evening. As luck would have it, she released WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO? in time for me to memorize its lyrics front to back before arriving in Budapest a week ago. The mix of bouncy, techno tunes flavored with her trademark sad songs are entirely reflective of how I feel in this city this time of year—elated and full of energy that summer is here, that the city is buzzing with locals and tourists alike, pouring out of ruin pubs and onto the warm streets; and yet occasionally melancholiac, as I often tend to be anyway, for all the disappointment and loss I’ve experience in this city over the years, and because I know my heart will forever be torn between Hungary and America. I suspect WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO? will be my soundtrack for summer 2019, but who knows? It’s still only in June.