Salt in the Milk is not for the faint-hearted or for those averse to offensive language. In addition, it’s really only for diehard Sean Bw Parker fans as this collection of unconnected pieces has no beginning, end or middle. It’s a mishmash of rambling commentaries on world politics, drinking, music, drinking, and some pieces on the author’s life in Istanbul and thoughts on the treatment of women in Turkey. And of course, there’s the drinking. There are frequent repetitive, references to being “booze soaked” with ‘lots of alcohol consumed’. We get the idea early on that the author drinks, but what this book really has to do with his life in Turkey is unclear.
A large part of the text is taken up with transcripts of interviews with famous musicians, some of which only took place in the author’s mind. That said, fans of music, particularly David Bowie and other musicians who originate from Britain will likely enjoy the at times entertaining interviews. However it’s a shame Parker didn’t group the interviews with Turkish musicians separately because his genuine love of music introduces us to a wealth of Turkish musicians worthy of further investigation. Of particular note and interest are his interviews with the very talented Erdal Kizilçay and Fulya Özlem.
I have to admit that after closely reading the first fifty pages or so I took to scrolling quickly through most of the articles on music, only stopping to read the author’s thoughts on his life in Istanbul. His piece titled “Türkiye, the UK and physical Language” was the most interesting and well written. It was originally given as a lecture at a Turkish university, so I would assume the author spent some time thinking about what he wanted to say before he wrote it. This piece shows that when the author puts his mind to it he does have something worthwhile to say about Turkish culture. It’s just a shame the rest of the book is such a mess, relying too heavily on repeated name dropping and bad language in an attempt to grab our attention.
Parker really needs to decide what he wants Salt in the Milk to be – his reminiscences of the ten years he spent in Istanbul, or a collection of interviews with people in the music industry. If it’s the former the title fits, but the content is sadly lacking.
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