February 15, 2017

Book Notes - Raoul Martinez "Creating Freedom: The Lottery of Birth, the Illusion of Consent, and the Fight for Our Future"

Creating Freedom: The Lottery of Birth, the Illusion of Consent, and the Fight for Our Future

In the Book Notes series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates in some way to their recently published book.

Previous contributors include Bret Easton Ellis, Kate Christensen, Lauren Groff, T.C. Boyle, Dana Spiotta, Amy Bloom, Aimee Bender, Jesmyn Ward, Heidi Julavits, Hari Kunzru, and many others.

Raoul Martinez's book Creating Freedom is an insightful and challenging manifesto for our times.

Kirkus Reviews wrote of the book:

"An impassioned social and political critique with glimmers of hope for change. British artist and documentarian Martinez makes his literary debut writing on a theme taken up recently by writers such as economists Thomas Piketty and Joseph Stiglitz, journalist Bob Herbert, and activist Ralph Nader: inequality, injustice, greed, and entrenched power have undermined democracy and threaten the common good and the future of our planet….An intelligent, rigorous manifesto."


In his own words, here is Raoul Martinez's Book Notes music playlist for his book Creating Freedom: The Lottery of Birth, the Illusion of Consent, and the Fight for Our Future:



Free markets, free elections, free media, free thought, free speech, free will — the language of freedom pervades our lives, framing the most urgent issues of our time and the deepest questions about who we are and who we want to be. It is a foundational concept at the heart of our civilization, but it has long been distorted to justify its opposite: soaring inequality, the erosion of democracy, an irrational criminal justice system, and a dehumanizing foreign policy. In Creating Freedom I argue that the more we understand the limits on our freedom, the better placed we are to transcend them. Drawing together findings and ideas from neuroscience, criminology, psychology, politics, climate science, economics, and philosophy, it's a wide-ranging analysis of power, control, and freedom, which asks us to question our inherited identity, question our society, and turn the power to choose into the freedom to create.

In the struggle for freedom, music has always played a powerful role, both as a unifying, inspiring force and as a means of creative expression. In the struggle to write about freedom, music proved to be a trusted ally, accompanying me through an often arduous process.

Here are the ten pieces that in various ways connect with Creating Freedom.


'I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free' by Nina Simone
One of the greatest obstacles to freedom comes from internalising the myths which lie at the heart of our culture — myths surrounding everything from free markets to free will. Rejecting these myths can be disorienting, but in doing so we create the space to imagine what it means to be truly free. To create freedom, we must yearn for it, and to yearn for it we must confront how little of it we have. This song is all about that yearning, and it works on a number of levels. Lyrics such as 'I wish I could break all the chains holding me' have a clear literal interpretation but, to varying degrees, whether we are aware of them or not, we all have metaphorical chains inhibiting our liberty. Perceiving these chains is often a challenge. As Rosa Luxembourg is reported to have said: 'Those who do not move, do not notice their chains.'

'A Change Is Gonna Come' by Sam Cooke
For me this a song about hope: the remarkable capacity of human beings to imagine and fight for a reality which has long been denied them. There are those we call 'realists' because their vision of the future deviates little from their understanding of the present. History teaches us that it has always taken 'dreamers' to change society for the better, whether by abolishing slavery, expanding democracy, or winning rights for women, people of colour, and other oppressed groups. Hope creates the possibility of change, whereas cynicism guarantees failure. Whenever I think of hope, I'm reminded of Howard Zinn's lines about holding on to hope in dark times: 'to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory'.

'Way Down in the Hole' by Tom Waits
I first heard this song watching the television series The Wire. I grew to love the song and the show. In particular, I admired how it exposed the double standards, brutality and injustice of our police, courts and prisons. In my research for Creating Freedom, I found that the modern criminal justice system is, on the whole, cruel, ineffective and irrational: a cause of injustice rather than an antidote to it. As decades of criminological research demonstrates, the punitive norms of our culture do not necessarily make us safer – there is evidence to suggest that they have a brutalising effect on the wider society, increasing rather than reducing societal violence. To understand that we make choices with a brain that we didn't choose, one shaped and reshaped from the moment of our birth by countless forces beyond our control, is to understand the need to reassess how we think about punishment and reward.

'Cello Suites' by Johann Sebastian Bach
I can't write while listening to music with lyrics, but I will often listen to classical music or jazz as I edit my work. Again and again I return to Bach's cello suites, which I find timelessly beautiful. There's a fluidity, an openness, a depth to the music which I feel mirrors the unifying ideal of freedom that runs through my book.

'Hermanos' by Atahualpa Yupanqui
A friend recently recommended this song to me. It's incredibly soulful, and the lyrics speak to some of the central ideals of Creating Freedom: solidarity, empathy and liberty. In a world riddled with division — division which too often cuts through the very movements intended to change it — the language of brotherhood, sisterhood, and the human family is extremely valuable.

'What Did You Learn In School Today?' by Pete Seeger
I wanted to include this song in the first Creating Freedom documentary 'The Lottery of Birth', but obtaining the rights proved too expensive. I still enjoy hearing its lyrics exposing how, much of the time, schooling aims not to educate, but socialise, not to liberate, but control. Formal education has always been, and remains today, a powerful mechanism of social control — a means of cultivating beliefs and dispositions that prepare the majority of us for lives of conformity, obedience and conditions of subordination.

'So What?' by Miles Davis
This is the opening track on perhaps the most famous jazz album of all time, Miles Davis' Kind of Blue. The evolution of jazz as an art form exemplifies a clear pattern in human creativity. Composers, musicians, poets, novelists, and painters have, throughout history, sought to escape the fetters of convention, push back boundaries and break (and then create new) rules. In the arts, jazz musicians turned improvisation into an art form, challenging centuries of musical tradition. Analogously, in the moral worlds we inhabit, to stay true to our deepest values we must always be prepared to question, challenge and reinvent the rules our parents, teachers, prophets and governments expect us to follow.

'Sodade' by Cesaria Evora
Not only does Cesaria Evora have an incredibly beautiful voice, but the concept of sodade (or 'saudade') is, in my view, bound up with the pursuit of freedom. 'Sodade' refers to a profound sense of loss and longing mixed up with feelings of nostalgia. The concept resonates because the inescapable truth is that the path to freedom has always demanded sacrifice and loss. All the liberties we enjoy today, under attack as they may be, were won on the back of struggle, courage and sacrifice. The fight for freedom requires opening up to the suffering and injustice that scars the world, and not turning away from the beauty, innocence and life which every day is destroyed by the broken systems that dominate our lives.

'The Rape of the World' by Tracy Chapman
Humanity's destruction of the conditions for life on earth is, as Tracy Chapman sings, 'the beginning of the end... the most heinous of crimes... the deadliest of sins... the greatest violation of all time'. In fact, it's misleading to place the blame on all of 'humanity'. Looking at emissions, for instance, the richest nations, comprising about 20 percent of the global population, are responsible for releasing about 70 percent of the greenhouse gases currently in the atmosphere. An economic system with a growth imperative at its heart, bound up with a value system that worships consumption and greed, is incompatible with the long-term survival of our species. In our highly indoctrinated society, it seems that people are more ready to accept the end of the world than question capitalism. I'm not religious, but if anything is sacred, worthy of our worship and protection, it is the soil and forests, the oceans and the air that sustain us all — the source of all our freedom.

'Gracias a La Vida' by Violeta Parra
With all its imperfections, injustices, and struggles, it's essential to remain connected to the beauty of life. To lose touch with the beauty in ourselves, each other and the natural world is to succumb to life's oppressive forces and risk cultivating cynicism and bitterness where once we nurtured dreams and hope. Sung in the haunting voice of Violete Parra, the lyrics of this song articulate a deep appreciation of being alive, of experiencing, feeling, and creating. The last lines of the song express the sense of interconnectedness I try to explore in the book: a sense that emerges when we see our identities as products of forces beyond our control and understand that who we are depends on who everyone else is. 'Thanks to life, which has given me so much. It gave me laughter and it gave me longing. With them I distinguish happiness and pain—The two materials from which my songs are formed, And your song, as well, which is the same song. And everyone's song, which is my very song.'


Raoul Martinez and Creating Freedom: The Lottery of Birth, the Illusion of Consent, and the Fight for Our Future links:

the book's website

Kirkus Reviews review

Guardian profile of the author
Little Atoms interview with the author
TEDx talk by the author


also at Largehearted Boy:

Support the Largehearted Boy website

List of Online "Best Books of 2016" Lists

Book Notes (2015 - ) (authors create music playlists for their book)
Book Notes (2012 - 2014) (authors create music playlists for their book)
Book Notes (2005 - 2011) (authors create music playlists for their book)
my 11 favorite Book Notes playlist essays

100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads
Antiheroines (interviews with up and coming female comics artists)
Atomic Books Comics Preview (weekly comics highlights)
guest book reviews
Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week (recommended new books, magazines, and comics)
musician/author interviews
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Short Cuts (writers pair a song with their short story or essay)
Shorties (daily music, literature, and pop culture links)
Soundtracked (composers and directors discuss their film's soundtracks)
weekly music release lists

Posted by david | permalink | post to del.icio.us





February 15, 2017

Shorties (Books To Help You Fight the Power, Ranking Magnetic Fields' 69 Love Songs, and more)

Orlando Weekly recommended books to help you "fight the power."


Paste ranked every song on Magnetic Fields' 69 Love Songs album.


NYLON interviewed poet Morgan Parker.


Stream a new song by Hoops.


The New Republic on Norman Mailer's friendship with convicted murderer Jack Henry Abbott.


Stream a new Molly Nilsson song.


The Los Angeles Review of Books interviewed poet Chris Santiago.


Yumi Zouma covered "She's Electric" by Oasis.


Book Riot recommended February's best small press books.


Stream a new Arbouretum song.


Literary Hub featured a conversation between authors Emma Donoghue and Laird Hunt.


Rubblebucket visited World Cafe for an interview and live performance.


Signature recommended books that imagine the United States at war with itself.


Stream a new Passion Pit song.


The Rumpus interviewed author Mila Jaroniec.


The Guardian listed 10 of the best Britpop songs.


Book Riot recommended horror story collections written by women.


PopMatters interviewed Jamie Stewart of Xiu Xiu.


The Los Angeles Times profiled the new literary magazine Sublevel.


Philly Voice interviewed singer-songwriter Craig Finn.


Elan Mastai talked to Paste about his debut novel All Our Wrong Todays.


Ryan Adams talked to Drowned in Sound about his new album Prisoner.

Adams also played DJ at All Songs Considered.


Electric Literature and Literary Hub interviewed author George Saunders.


Stream a new Los Campesinos! song.


eBooks on sale for $1.99 today:

I'm Your Man: The Life of Leonard Cohen by Sylvie Simmons
In Gratitude by Jenny Diski
Margaret the First by Danielle Dutton
Nashville Chrome by Rick Bass
Our Noise: The Story of Merge Records, the Indie Label That Got Big and Stayed Small
A Replacement Life by Boris Fishman

eBooks on sale for $2.99 today:

The Master by Colm Toibin
Spill Simmer Falter Wither by Sara Baume



also at Largehearted Boy:

Support Largehearted Boy

previous Shorties posts (daily news and links from the worlds of music, books, and pop culture)

List of Online "Best Books of 2016" Lists
Essential and Interesting Year-End 2016 Music Lists

Atomic Books Comics Preview (the week's best new comics and graphic novels)
Book Notes (authors create playlists for their book)
Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week (recommended new books, magazines, and comics)
musician/author interviews
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Short Cuts (writers pair a song with their short story or essay)
weekly music release lists
WORD Bookstores Books of the Week (recommended new books)
weekly music release lists

Posted by david | permalink | post to del.icio.us

February 14, 2017

Book Notes - Shanthi Sekaran "Lucky Boy"

Lucky Boy

In the Book Notes series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates in some way to their recently published book.

Previous contributors include Bret Easton Ellis, Kate Christensen, Lauren Groff, T.C. Boyle, Dana Spiotta, Amy Bloom, Aimee Bender, Jesmyn Ward, Heidi Julavits, Hari Kunzru, and many others.

Shanthi Sekaran's novel Lucky Boy is both engrossing and timely.

The San Francisco Chronicle wrote of the book:

"With wit, empathy and a page-turning plot, the novel stirs ethical questions in the reader that the author rightly refuses to answer. Shanthi Sekaran has written a tender, artful story of the bravery of loving in the face of certain grief."


In her own words, here is Shanthi Sekaran's Book Notes music playlist for her novel Lucky Boy:



Music helps me understand what I'm feeling and seeing. It deepens my connection to the places I go. Sometimes, it allows me to shape my surroundings into what I want them to be. When I walk through San Francisco's financial district, for instance, I put my headphones in and listen to Rufus Wainwright sing "Hallelujah" and the people around me turn from techies and traders and vagrants into a species of urban angel, each a bearer of love and sorrow and memory. I've been thinking of Lucky Boy's soundtrack for years now. I started designing it long before I finished the book. So I thought I had it all figured out. But putting this list together for Largehearted Boy, I started to understand even more about the novel I'd written. I started to see emotional layers I hadn't named before. There's a lot of melancholy in this soundtrack, a lot of longing and some regret. There's also joy and ferocity and the rhythm of trains.

"Bright Whites" by Kishi Bashi

In the first chapter of Lucky Boy, Kavya and Rishi Reddy find themselves at their friend Preeti's wedding. "Bright Whites" opens with a chorus in Japanese, which might seem incongruous with an Indian wedding, but we're in California, where cultures and languages couple and uncouple without a second thought. Since I don't know Japanese, what I hear in these opening bars are a joyous bird call. I see the opening chorus playing over an ultra-bright suburban expanse of lawn, the faces and bodies of wedding guests blurred in the sunlight, sun spots staining the camera lens. I see a heavy gold choker over an elegant neck, a head thrown back with laughter, a glass of champagne held aloft. Translated into English (on Reddit), these opening lines say "It's after all/ it's useless after all/ I can't stop, I can't stop although it's useless after all/ I can't bear, I can't bear/ I can't bear although it's useless after all." The verses then move into English, braiding melancholy with melodic joy. When I was deciding on a title for my novel, I very nearly used a phrase from this song. Lucky Boy was almost called You and Me at the Edge of the World.

"Mundian To Bach Ke" by Panjabi MC

I've chosen this for a post-ceremony scene at Preeti and Vikram's wedding, because this song plays at every. single. Indian. wedding. During the wedding reception, Kavya sits apart from the dancing, feeling like an outsider among people she's known all her life. She can hear and feel the dance floor, but she can't bring herself to join it. The lyrics themselves I find a little problematic; the song's title translates to "Beware of the Boys" and its first lines warn:

Keep your face down and hide it with a scarf
Don't just give your love to anyone, beware of the boys
You've only just grown up, beware of the boys.

But like I said: every Indian wedding. Ever.

"Boom Skit" by M.I.A.

This song starts off with a soft, rhythmic intro, the "Jum jum jum" borrowed from popular Hindi music. I hear these opening bars and see Kavya cycling up a Berkeley hill, the percussive push of her feet on pedals, the steady thrust of her calves. The vocals kick off with a virtual reply to "Mundian To Bach Ke". Then they move on to address a wider audience, specifically those who'd prefer that M.I.A. "keep her face down":

Brown gal, brown gal, turn your shit down

You know America don't wanna hear your sound

Boom boom jungle music, go back to India

With your crazy shit, you're bumming up the area

Immigrants often find themselves apologizing for their noise, for their difference, for the space they occupy. M.I.A. is not one to apologize. Neither is Kavya. She is not one to turn her shit down.

"Diablo Rojo" by Rodrigo y Gabriela

This song starts out with a breathless thrum—not from drums, but from the guitarists' hands. Rodrigo and Gabriela do all their own percussion by slapping the wood of their guitars. It's fascinating to watch. The song's percussion dominates its melody. Its percussion is its pulse, and the melody that rises above it is a sort of story. I hear this song and I see La Bestia, the largest and most dangerous freight train in Mexico, snaking up the countryside. "Diablo Rojo" finds Soli and Checo and their gang on top of La Bestia, moving up through the Mexican countryside, the wind incessant, the tracks grinding beneath them. I hear this song and I feel what Soli felt: "the demonic rumble of the train below, the rush of the valley speeding northward." But I also feel the song's joy, its sense of freedom. Soli was in terrible danger on this journey, but she was also on an adventure.

"Palmitos Park" by El Guincho

This song is all about fun. I see it playing the first night that Soli spends with Checo. The track was recorded live, and you can hear the audience's whoops and whistles. These make me think of the trackside little town where the group finds itself that first night, with outdoor restaurants where their littlest member, Pepe, begs for leftovers. I see it playing, also, when Soli and Checo steal a jug of wine and run with it back to their encampment. This night was, perhaps, the highlight of Soli's journey north. It was a night that enabled her to finally feel young and free and safe.


"This Will Be Our Year" by The Zombies

This is a song of love, of promise, of a couple who have come a long way to find hope on the horizon. I see this as Rishi and Kavya's song, and as Soli and Ignacio's song. It could play when Ignacio is born, and again when Kavya and Rishi await his arrival, gazing out the kitchen window, wholly unaware of how their lives are about to change.

"Heaven" by Beyonce

When I hear this song, I see an overhead shot of Kavya, Rishi and Ignacio curled up in bed together, and I think of this passage from Lucky Boy:

Sometimes Kavya caught herself watching her husband and her son as if they were a film, a fleeting series of rapidly flipping stills that one day would flip into silence and darkness. She tried to catch these moments before they flipped away. Remember this, she'd tell herself, when she and Rishi and Iggy lay in bed together on a weekday morning, all of them a little too warm, a little too lazy to get up and start their day.

The final refrain, "Heaven couldn't wait for you, so go on, go home", speaks of the idea that love does not equate to ownership, an idea that Rishi and Kavya continually push away. The outro to the song is the "Our Father" prayer recited in Spanish, an echo of the scene when (I won't give away why) Soli whispers the prayer, "La Salve".

"These Hands" by Hhymn

It took me a long time to figure out how Rishi felt about his foster son, Ignacio. When I decided that Rishi would come to love him, I had to figure how that love would grow, what would propel it forward. The great thing about a song is that it can leap over all that writerly agonizing and explain an emotion in the space of three minutes and eighteen seconds. Rishi becomes a father in a very physical way—carrying Ignacio on his shoulders down a Berkeley sidewalk, worrying about the rasp in the boy's chest, fitting him for a gas mask. It's fitting, then, that "These Hands" is about attachment and memory as expressed through the body. It's a song filled with longing. It's also by my friend Simon's band. The last time I saw it played live was in a bar in Nottingham. I've loved this song for years. It moves me to tears sometimes.

"Bird on a Wire" by Leonard Cohen

I see this song playing during Rishi's trip to Mexico. I've specifically chosen the version with Leonard Cohen himself on vocals, and not a cover. In this section of the book, Rishi tries to reconcile desire with morality, ambition with probability. The characters in Lucky Boy are forever wrangling with want—wanting too much or too little, wanting what they can't have. I think specifically of this moment in the song:

I saw a beggar leaning on his wooden crutch

He said to me, "you must not ask for so much"

And a pretty woman leaning in her darkened door

She cried to me, "hey, why not ask for more?"

This is a song of regret, of love and apology. Cohen's voice is nasal and crackly, and the rendition is painfully slow, the words virtually leaking from his mouth. He sounds like he hasn't slept in a very long time. By the time he gets to Mexico, Rishi feels a lot like Cohen sounds.

"At the Bottom of Everything" by Bright Eyes

In my imagination, this song begins playing over the final few seconds of my movie. I'd skip the spoken intro and start at 1:37 with "1-2-1-2-3-4". The credits roll, and we zoom out from the bustle of Mexico City, panning over mountains, over deserts, and settling on a yellow train, churning up through the countryside. This is the first song I decided would be on my Lucky Boy soundtrack. This was five years ago, before I'd even finished my first draft. I tried to choose the verse from this song that most aptly evokes Lucky Boy's themes, but every verse is the best verse. They all say something to or about my book. I settled on the one below, because it speaks to idealism, to blind love, to plunging into the unknown. But really, just listen to the whole song:

We must hang up in the belfry

Where the bats and moonlight laugh

We must stare into a crystal ball

And only see the past

And into the caverns of tomorrow

With just our flashlights and our love

We must plunge, we must plunge, we must plunge

This movie would begin with a train and end with a train. Its middle would be composed of forward motion, plunging and pushing into the unknown and into foolish desire. I can't listen to this song and not see a train, Soli and Checo on top of a train, Rishi charging up a hillside, manic with ambition, or Kavya pushing Iggy on a swing, drunk with hope. Finally, I see myself in a dark movie theater, listening to the final bars of this song and clasping someone's hand. My film ends and the credits roll and I'm left with the comforting dark.


Shanthi Sekaran and Lucky Boy links:

the author's website
excerpt from the book

Chicago Tribune review
Kirkus Reviews review
New York Times review
Publishers Weekly review
San Francisco Chronicle review
St. Louis Post-Dispatch review

All Things Considered interview wit the author
Berkeleyside profile of the author
Capital Public Radio interview with the author
DIY MFA interview with the author
Expat Parent interview with the author
Get Lit interview with the author
The Grotto interview with the author
Publishers Weekly profile of the author


also at Largehearted Boy:

Support the Largehearted Boy website

List of Online "Best Books of 2016" Lists

Book Notes (2015 - ) (authors create music playlists for their book)
Book Notes (2012 - 2014) (authors create music playlists for their book)
Book Notes (2005 - 2011) (authors create music playlists for their book)
my 11 favorite Book Notes playlist essays

100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads
Antiheroines (interviews with up and coming female comics artists)
Atomic Books Comics Preview (weekly comics highlights)
guest book reviews
Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week (recommended new books, magazines, and comics)
musician/author interviews
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Short Cuts (writers pair a song with their short story or essay)
Shorties (daily music, literature, and pop culture links)
Soundtracked (composers and directors discuss their film's soundtracks)
weekly music release lists

Posted by david | permalink | post to del.icio.us

Book Notes - David A. Ensminger "Out of the Basement: From Cheap Trick to DIY Punk in Rockford, IL, 1973-2005"

Out of the Basement: From Cheap Trick to DIY Punk in Rockford, IL, 1973-2005

In the Book Notes series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates in some way to their recently published book.

Previous contributors include Bret Easton Ellis, Kate Christensen, Lauren Groff, T.C. Boyle, Dana Spiotta, Amy Bloom, Aimee Bender, Jesmyn Ward, Heidi Julavits, Hari Kunzru, and many others.

David A. Ensminger's Out of the Basement: From Cheap Trick to DIY Punk in Rockford, IL, 1973-2005 melds musical and personal history in this fascinating book.

Third Coast Review wrote of the book:

". . . .while his story may mostly take place in this distant exurb of Chicago, its communal tales and universal sound will resonate with everyone."


In his own words, here is David A. Ensminger's Book Notes music playlist for his book Out of the Basement: From Cheap Trick to DIY Punk in Rockford, IL, 1973-2005:



Writing Out of the Basement partly stemmed from my need to eulogize those I have lost on the punk path over the years -- the local kids in the black hole. Punk icons like Green Day bask in the limelight of crammed stadiums, but many people have been relegated to the dustbins. Also, I feel people in the Midwest have a different, all-encompassing relationship to music, likely due to prolonged, battering winters that sweep across the flatlands and sideswipe well-worn homes. When one has nothing but hours on end, playing LPs, making homemade cassettes, and smashing a drum kit are not just distracting pastimes, they are a lifeline – a coping mechanism and way of enduring the world.

I don't think a single day slips by me without some kind of soundtrack. Music remains so essential. Think about it. One's heart and circulatory system have rhythm, one's gait and manner of walking have rhythm, one's speech and modes of talking have rhythm, hopefully one's sexual adventures have rhythm (imagine sex without rhythm, how inconvenient and weird), and typing on this very keyboard has rhythm. Hence, when I sketched out the book in my mind, it flowed with music, right from the get-go, forming a hidden sonic territory that fit like a glove atop the narrative. Here are some samples below.


"1969" by the Stooges
When I first began to play music at home, I practiced a sense of "making do" with material on-hand -- now known more popularly as the backbone of Do-It-Yourself culture. I bought one cheap snare drum down the street from a wiry-haired, weed-inhaling, Dungeons and Dragons playing teenager, then rigged up pots and pans alongside it with some empty plastic gallon drums from the local potato chip factory. This was my … drum set. Eventually, my father drove me north to the verdant southern rim of Wisconsin where he took me to a farmhouse with a small wooden jazz kit from the 1940s sitting in an idle room. He bought it, and I returned home, brimming with confidence. First, I attempted "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" by Iron Butterfly, but I soon felt more in sync with "1969" by the Stooges, which me sister routinely played. That wild-ass, distorted-beyond-belief, chanting and clattering psych-punk song became the first tune I could play beginning-to-end in front of my bewildered mother.

"He's a Whore" by Cheap Trick
When I was a boy, these boys were local heroes -- the band name was embossed on the back of black jackets everywhere, their music always blasting from jukeboxes blinking in otherwise damp basements. They released a million songs, it seemed like, that highlighted Bun E. Carlos as the human metronome – so firm and fierce on drums; Tom Petersson as the handsome, swashbuckling bassist; Robin Zander as the crystalline-voiced commodore; and Rick Nielsen as the chameleon. He wore myriad gauche sweaters, exulted in facial contortions beyond belief, and swooped his arms in a windmill, like Pete Townshend of the Who. Punks loved them aplenty, including the singers of Negative Approach, Adolescents, and more. Cheap Trick were the hidden link between power-pop's effusive musicality and bold punk gumption, as evidenced in this dark tune that Big Black lethally covered.

"Home of the Brave" by Naked Raygun
Naked Raygun were tribal elders from Chicago that finally garnered some belated attention in 2015 by opening for Foo Fighters at humongous Soldier's Field. They began as wonky, off-kilter, experimental punkers welcomed by the students at the Art Institute of Chicago, attended by my brother, but quickly morphed into a powder keg of tuneful, anthemic, chainsaw-guitar punk along the lines of the Buzzcocks, Chelsea, and Stiff Little Fingers, bands they deeply admired. I once traveled to see them in Dekalb, IL (separated from Rockford by fields where German POWs used to harvest produce for canneries during the summers of late World War II). Though 300 people teemed into the rented hall to see the band, I snuck behind one of the PA stacks, where I stood alone and watched the band demonstrate their uncanny, prolific knack for catchy, spirited music. Soon, in my vain attempt to look like the singer Jeff Pezzati, I began wearing sweaters and combat boots. Punker-than-thou kids from rougher neighborhoods threw soda cans at me in the high school halls. I learned punk is not one big happy family, yet soon I was in a cover band, drumming on Misfits cover songs with the same lads. "Home of the Brave" is a powerful, succinct tale of young people leaving for better places and time – the kind of choice I made when leaving Rockford to venture to New Mexico in 1993. Musically, it embodies their classic guitar chops, Pezzati's whooping yowls, and Eric Spicer's pummeling drums effortlessly syncopated in brief bursts. It still leaves me breathless.

"Takin' a Ride" by the Replacements
For anybody remotely Midwestern, the Replacements are one of the uber-punk bands of the 1980s. They stuck one foot in trammeled, garage rock detritus, the other in a kind of powerful roots music that would not fully raise its head until the middle of their botched "career." Their 1981 album Sorry Ma, Forgot to Take Out the Trash is a loud volley of brash teenage snot-smeared punk ("I'm A Customer" "I Hate Music" "Rattlesnake") mixed with indelibly earnest adult visions ("Johnny's Gonna Die" "Kick Your Door Down" ‘"Raised in the City") that act as mini-cinemas of life in the crowded solitudes of the north. I was not able to see them life until they played a vintage, ornate theatre in Rockford during the late 1980s, when their career had begun to plateau and energy wane. I desperately wanted to hear some of their freshman fare, so I kept yelling "Otto" to their puzzled bass player Tommy. Of course, they ignored my pleas. So, after a handful of exhausting minutes, I screamed "Alex Chilton." One song later, bassist Tommy winked at me, and they burst out with that tune, about a renegade rocker from Memphis. But this opening salvo from their first album still makes me feel déjà vu for the Midwest.

"Rock the Casbah" The Clash
I was a HUGE fan of the Clash, a young boy who stayed up beyond curfew to watch them on the Concert for Kampuchea and then wept slightly, because the fluid reggae of "Armagideon Time" was not the slice of punk rancor I expected. For years, I sat in my sister's pink bedroom, whose walls were adorned with posters of David Bowie and Rachel Sweet, with my headphones plugged into her stereo, belting out Psychedelic Furs, 999, Iggy Pop, and the Clash. Later, circa 1989/90, when the Clash had become, um, passé, I rediscovered the Combat Rock album's mystique when fleshing out this tune with my pals Erik and Weasel (who went on to form the free-jazz punk wonkers The Flying Luttenbachers), which we cut live to tape in my parent's basement while forging some of our own weird ska-punk ventures ala the Offs. This song seems timely as ever, even more potent, given repercussions of the Arab Spring. I still believe that rock'n'roll can be the backbone of revolution, and the shareef still won't like it.

"Name In Mind" by Soulside
The Washington D.C. scene, the likes of Government Issue, Dag Nasty, Kingface, Shudder to Think, and Soulside, all of whom gigged in Rockford, made a huge impact on sections of the underground music scene. A few of Rockford's most notable kids actually zoomed out to the East Coast to experience the Dischord Records phenomena first-hand, as if on a pilgrimage. Before the Soulside gig, the band landed at the house of my band's (Insight) singer, Chris Furney. We promptly let them take over the back garage, our practice space, where they churned through some new material destined to blossom on their Soon Come Happy album. I sat on the floor for almost an entire hour watching each of them tentatively tackle grooves until they grew restless and jumped over to the half pipe sitting in the adjacent neighbor's backyard for some skateboard kicks. Just last year, I sat on a panel with Soulside singer Bobby Sullivan at the Woody Guthrie Center; later that night, a coterie of us ended up a local dive bar, where a young punk DJ tossed this tune on his spinning record player. Though Sullivan had sequestered himself on the back patio, I excitedly grabbed him, and yanked him to the dance floor, where he lip-synced the whole song, never missing a portion, smiling like Buddha, just a block away from where the Sex Pistols played in 1978. It was a surreal and sublime moment.

"Power to the Amplifier" by Trenchmouth
The band would have remained terribly obscure had not their nimble, explosive drummer Fred Armisen gone on to become a millennial superstar whose exploits on Saturday Night Live! and on the hipster program Portlandia have become memes ("Put a bird on it!"). Plus, singer Damon Locks, a pioneer of black punk in the heartland, is also an infectiously talented artist who made the album art for Relationship of Command by At the Drive-In. Nothing really compares to the tumult unleashed by the crew—dollops of Third World rhythms, jazz slanted akimbo, punk ferocity, and tailor-made abstract poesy. They became part of the regular borderline circuit, gigging in the Rockford/Beloit area for years when not spreading themselves nationally. Like Fishbone and Mars Volta, they attracted diverse listeners, not just the usual craven and carved-up punks. Though I saw them in New Mexico and other locales, nothing can replace those moments caught freeze frame in time, when they shredded the Rockford night with their unique, tumultuous tunes that landed somewhere between the Contortions and Beefeater, forcing everyone to re-think the parameters of punk.

"Mannequin" by Wire
Wire had a profound impact on punk that criss-crosses the coasts: in D.C., Minor Threat and Dag Nasty vehemently covered "12XU" (a tune that that became a template for hardcore punk by accident) and Second Wind covered "Mr. Suit," while on the West Coast bands like the Minutemen re-purposed Wire's sense of urgency, no frills (no solos, no bullshit) truncated tunes, and added L.A. punk trauma, roots rock fervor, and jazzy spiels. In fIREHOSE, former Minuteman bass player Mike Watt paid homage by covering "Mannequin." I choose it here because I played in a band called Pink Flag (the name of Wire's debut LP in 1977), which did not survive long, but covered the entire album, tune by tune. Singing for the unit was Paul Kissick of PineWood Box, one of my idols. The first "audience" experience I ever played was a basement gig by the river, where I stepped behind the drumset to play "Nervous Breakdown" by Black Flag with some of the band. Even though I was no more than 14 or so, they welcomed me to the fray, and I have been on the path ever since. Kissick was brutally killed in a bizarre incident, but his kindness, humor, poetics, and gusto stay with me. I can still hear his faux British accent as he blurted out this tune when we opened up for a heavy metal band that stared at us as if we were foreign objects.

"Skate" by PineWood Box
Kissick led previous bands like the Zero-Types, Near Mrs., and Juicy Fiancé, but for me PineWood remains his crowning achievement. At the helm, he exuded intoxicating flair and became a legend because he rejected defeatism, avoided rock clichés (he was never a cranky asshole), and was always restless. Their early tunes combined Southern California-slanted surf punk with trembling first stage Cure as well as the shattering guitar tones of 1970's Dead Boys. Later, though, they channeled Bauhaus, 45 Grave, and Sisters of Mercy. However, the nervy, agitated "Skate" narrates the skateboard death-trip of Tommy by eventually unfurling Cramps-like rockabilly romp. Like bands soaking up the heady, mishmash, fluid years of 1974-1978, PineWood Box pulled from a variety of antecedents, bolted together different aesthetics and sounds, and squashed the borders of genres. They seemed to change their music whenever the mood, impetus, or desire felt right. This puts them in the vein of the Clash, Buzzcocks, Wire, Siouxsie and the Banshees, and more. Plus, the band's modus operandi -- campy B movie, monster matinee movie aesthetics – was unforgettable, including publicity photos atop graves or flyers awash in images of menacing ghouls in top hats or cobwebbed nocturnal cityscapes. They were rogue rockers.

"Groupthink" by War on the Saints
By and large, War on the Saints were local heroes too that stepped aside from the usual punk performance templates and boxed-in categories. At first, they were known as We Hate Cake and led by the cantankerous street poet Chris "Buzzsaw" Gaffney (RIP), who was as much Charles Bukowski as he was a rock'n'roll form of decontrol shaped by the history of Detroit rock city. Then Vince Jumapao took over, and the band mutated from straight-ahead garage rockers to War on the Saints, well, ahead of its time and difficult to stamp. They mixed masterly drums, exotic guitars, tough bass, challenging tempos, and vocals reminiscent of Die Kreuzen and Kingface into a unique amalgam. Later on, people might have said, hmm, this doesn't seem far removed from Squirrel Bait or the first album by Soundgarden, but at the time it definitely felt powerful, evocative, and otherworldy. Even stranger, their first EP was released on Positive Force Records, known for its output of 7 Seconds, Verbal Assault, and Youth of Today material. Needless to say, the band continued to find appreciation in Germany and elsewhere, but locally had trouble staying afloat. Still, their resilience, spirit, and approach made a terrific impression on me, even today.


David A. Ensminger and Out of the Basement: From Cheap Trick to DIY Punk in Rockford, IL, 1973-2005 links:

Dagger Zine review
Razorcake review
Third Coast Review review

Indie Guides interview with the author


also at Largehearted Boy:

Support the Largehearted Boy website

List of Online "Best Books of 2016" Lists

Book Notes (2015 - ) (authors create music playlists for their book)
Book Notes (2012 - 2014) (authors create music playlists for their book)
Book Notes (2005 - 2011) (authors create music playlists for their book)
my 11 favorite Book Notes playlist essays

100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads
Antiheroines (interviews with up and coming female comics artists)
Atomic Books Comics Preview (weekly comics highlights)
guest book reviews
Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week (recommended new books, magazines, and comics)
musician/author interviews
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Short Cuts (writers pair a song with their short story or essay)
Shorties (daily music, literature, and pop culture links)
Soundtracked (composers and directors discuss their film's soundtracks)
weekly music release lists

Posted by david | permalink | post to del.icio.us

Shorties (An Interview with Kate Zambreno, Stream Ryan Adams' New Album, and more)

BLARB interviewed author Kate Zambreno.


NPR Music is streaming Ryan Adams' new album Prisoner.


The history of dream pop.


The Calvert Journal recommended recently published Balkan novels.


The Quietus interviewed Teri Gender Bender of Crystal Fairy.


The Guardian interviewed author Jonathan Lethem.


Stream three new Brian Jonestown Massacre songs.


The New Yorker shared love stories from its archive.


Stream a new Gold Connections song.


Signature recommended books as antidotes to alternative facts.


Stereogum is covering Rogue Wave's Cover Me album.


George Saunders discussed the audiobook edition of his debut novel Lincoln in the Bardo with Book Riot.


Stream a new Luxury Death song.


Authors shared their favorite love stories from fiction at the Irish Times.


Stereogum is streaming Grails' new album Chalice Hymnal.


The A.V. Club previewed Manuele Fior's graphic novel The Interview.


Chuck Prophet visited World Cafe for an interview and live performance.


Entertainment Weekly interviewed Victor LaValle about his new comic The Destroyer.


Steve Gunn shared two Smiths covers at Aquarium Drunkard.


Electric Literature interviewed author Kevin Wilson.


PopMatters examined the music used by the Trump administration.


Literary Hub, The Millions, and Newsweek listed the week's best new books.


All Songs Considered shared Prince playlists to stream.


Electric Literature interviewed John Darnielle about his new novel Universal Harvester.


Margaret Atwood talked comics with the Washington Post.


Fanzine features new short fiction by Tobias Carroll.


Pitchfork looked back on the 1998 Chicago music scene.


eBooks on sale for $1.99 today:

I'm Your Man: The Life of Leonard Cohen by Sylvie Simmons
In Gratitude by Jenny Diski
Margaret the First by Danielle Dutton
Nashville Chrome by Rick Bass
Our Noise: The Story of Merge Records, the Indie Label That Got Big and Stayed Small
A Replacement Life by Boris Fishman

eBooks on sale for $2.99 today:

The Master by Colm Toibin
Spill Simmer Falter Wither by Sara Baume



also at Largehearted Boy:

Support Largehearted Boy

previous Shorties posts (daily news and links from the worlds of music, books, and pop culture)

List of Online "Best Books of 2016" Lists
Essential and Interesting Year-End 2016 Music Lists

Atomic Books Comics Preview (the week's best new comics and graphic novels)
Book Notes (authors create playlists for their book)
Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week (recommended new books, magazines, and comics)
musician/author interviews
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Short Cuts (writers pair a song with their short story or essay)
weekly music release lists
WORD Bookstores Books of the Week (recommended new books)
weekly music release lists

Posted by david | permalink | post to del.icio.us

February 13, 2017

Book Notes - Sari Wilson "Girl Through Glass"

Scratch

In the Book Notes series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates in some way to their recently published book.

Previous contributors include Bret Easton Ellis, Kate Christensen, Lauren Groff, T.C. Boyle, Dana Spiotta, Amy Bloom, Aimee Bender, Jesmyn Ward, Heidi Julavits, Hari Kunzru, and many others.

Sari Wilson's debut Girl Through Glass is one of the finest New York City novels I have read, a compelling book where sense of place is integral to the coming-of-age story.

The Los Angeles Review of Books wrote of the book:

"Masterful…Wilson’s New York City imagery is applied exquisitely and dynamically…In the end, the well-honed story line of Girl Through Glass is not unlike a certain kind of stylized psychological ballet, á la Antony Tudor, with heightened characters dancing along dire boundaries. Powerfully stark."


In her own words, here is Sari Wilson's Book Notes music playlist for her debut novel Girl Through Glass:



This playlist is a combination of songs that appeared (or, at one point, appeared) in Girl Through Glass, and pieces of music that I listened to while writing, looking for clues to time, place, character—for a way in. Together I hope they create a mood, and also a kind of narrative. The permissions process for song lyrics is quite onerous and a number of lyrics ended up on the cutting room floor. It's nice to invite them back here.


"Mandy" by Barry Manilow, 1974

At one point this song was in the novel. I can't remember exactly how it was used, but it was something like this: Oh, Mandy! they wail, as they tumble out of Carnegie Hall, their pocket money in the back pockets of their Jordache and Sassoon jeans, down a midtown street, the business people moving out of their way with annoyed glances. You came and you gave without takin'! At this moment, they feel something like demigods, half dancers and half girls, belonging to two worlds at once and so not having to observe the rules of either. "But I sent you away," moans Mira. "Fuck you," says Val and then they laugh and hit each other. Mira doesn't usually curse, she is too invested in her own goodness even then.

This is before, before her dad left, before everything.


"MacArthur Park" by Donna Summer, 1978

This song, too, was once in the novel. Donna Summer's voice blasted you out of yourself, out of your childhood. Her voice was full of strange and unknowable things—a cake, in the rain, in the park melting in the dark. Mira, Haijuan, Val, and the other girls others dare each to belt the song out—MacArthur Park is melting in the dark!—at the top of their lungs as they are getting ready for ballet class. Their Keds are off, their jeans down by their ankles, their leotards not yet pulled up. The ballet mothers look over disapprovingly, knitting and frowning. They girls sing out even louder—I'll never have that recipe again!—just to piss the mothers off.


A Chorus Line: "One" by Marvin Hamlisch, et. al., 1975

Mira's mother has commandeered "One," the most iconic of the A Chorus Line show tunes for herself. Since Mira's dad has left, her mom is frighteningly pleased with herself. Her mom is redecorating the living room. She is replacing chairs with throw cushions. Her mom is singing "One singular sensation/every little step she takes," off key. Mira plugs her ears.


Scherzo No. 1 in B minor by Frédéric Chopin, 1831-1832

Mira follows Maurice through the Manhattan streets. She insists on being an actor in her story, even if it leads to nothing good. The clouds are white, split-open looking, a storm has just past. At the entrance to Central Park, by some monument or other, Maurice turns, confronts her, asks her directly, with a small unreadable smile, if she has been following him. She does not have to say yes.


Romeo and Juliet Ballet: Dance of the Knights, Sergei Prokofiev, 1935

Mira and Maurice at Café des Artistes. Mira has been selected by the great Balanchine to study at his school. This is a pinnacle moment for young Mira, this 13-year old ballet girl, raised in privilege and pain. And also for her consort, and a wealthy middle aged man who favors capes and ascots. When I understand the destructiveness of their bond, I seek out this inescapable, propulsive Prokovief juggernaut and think, "Right. Exactly."


Piano Concerto no.2 op.18 by Sergei Rachmaninoff, 1900-1901

Mira walks through Central Park after she's been stood up by Maurice. The taxis rush by her, a blur of yellow, tires and swift metal, a plunge into darkness under the overpass, smells of piss, sweet and acrid. The violins swell through her new Walkman headphones as she passes out of the park onto Fifth Avenue. The stately stone buildings greet her. She pushes on East. She will find out what happened to him.


The Rite of Spring by Igor Stravinsky
Written for the 1913 Paris season of Sergei Diaghilev's Ballet Russes. The original choreography for the ballet was by Vaslav Nijinsky.

How many times did I listen to "The Rite of Spring" while trying to get into Kate's head? Kate, in her opening scene, is preparing for her lecture on the birth of Modernism, this historical moment which has great personal meaning for her. I can see her in her simple study, at her glass desk, pushing back her unruly red hair while she works on her notes. She has always been a nervous over-achiever, going so deep into her work that she forgets herself. She moves to her ochre chair, cuing her laptop to a pirated DVD of a performance of Le Sacre du Printemps. The sunset is long gone.


"All of the Lights" by Kanye West, 2010

I listened to this one often, late at night, when editing the book. That was the year we spent in Michigan. The trees outside were so green they looked blue. It snowed, off and on, until May.


Sari Wilson and Girl Through Glass links:

the author's website
the author's Wikipedia entry

Kirkus Reviews review
Los Angeles Review of Books review
New York Times review
Publishers Weekly review
Washington Post review

Boston Globe profile of the author
Chicago Review of Books interview with the author
CarolineLeavittville interview with the author
Huffington Post interview with the author
Weekend Edition interview with the author
Writer's Bone interview with the author


also at Largehearted Boy:

Support the Largehearted Boy website

List of Online "Best Books of 2016" Lists

Book Notes (2015 - ) (authors create music playlists for their book)
Book Notes (2012 - 2014) (authors create music playlists for their book)
Book Notes (2005 - 2011) (authors create music playlists for their book)
my 11 favorite Book Notes playlist essays

100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads
Antiheroines (interviews with up and coming female comics artists)
Atomic Books Comics Preview (weekly comics highlights)
guest book reviews
Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week (recommended new books, magazines, and comics)
musician/author interviews
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Short Cuts (writers pair a song with their short story or essay)
Shorties (daily music, literature, and pop culture links)
Soundtracked (composers and directors discuss their film's soundtracks)
weekly music release lists

Posted by david | permalink | post to del.icio.us

Book Notes - Albert Goldbarth "The Adventures of Form and Content"

The Adventures of Form and Content

In the Book Notes series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates in some way to their recently published book.

Previous contributors include Bret Easton Ellis, Kate Christensen, Lauren Groff, T.C. Boyle, Dana Spiotta, Amy Bloom, Aimee Bender, Jesmyn Ward, Heidi Julavits, Hari Kunzru, and many others.

Albert Goldbarth's The Adventures of Form and Content imaginatively masters form and content, and is another thought provoking essay collection from the author.

Kirkus wrote of the book:

"A nostalgic, rueful, and sometimes sweetly funny collection."


In his own words, here is Albert Goldbarth's Book Notes music playlist for his essay collection The Adventures of Form and Content:



page one


page two


page three


Albert Goldbarth and The Adventures of Form and Content links:

excerpt from the book

Kirkus Reviews review
Spectrum Culture review


also at Largehearted Boy:

Support the Largehearted Boy website

List of Online "Best Books of 2016" Lists

Book Notes (2015 - ) (authors create music playlists for their book)
Book Notes (2012 - 2014) (authors create music playlists for their book)
Book Notes (2005 - 2011) (authors create music playlists for their book)
my 11 favorite Book Notes playlist essays

100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads
Antiheroines (interviews with up and coming female comics artists)
Atomic Books Comics Preview (weekly comics highlights)
guest book reviews
Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week (recommended new books, magazines, and comics)
musician/author interviews
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Short Cuts (writers pair a song with their short story or essay)
Shorties (daily music, literature, and pop culture links)
Soundtracked (composers and directors discuss their film's soundtracks)
weekly music release lists

Posted by david | permalink | post to del.icio.us

Shorties (Margaret Atwood on Graphic Novels, Stream the New Son Volt Album, and more)

Margaret Atwood talked graphic novels with Bustle.


NPR Music is streaming Son Volt's new album Notes of Blue.


eBooks on sale for $1.99 today:

I'm Your Man: The Life of Leonard Cohen by Sylvie Simmons
In Gratitude by Jenny Diski
Margaret the First by Danielle Dutton
Nashville Chrome by Rick Bass
Our Noise: The Story of Merge Records, the Indie Label That Got Big and Stayed Small
A Replacement Life by Boris Fishman

eBooks on sale for $2.99 today:

The Master by Colm Toibin
Spill Simmer Falter Wither by Sara Baume


Stream a new Jesus and Mary Chain song.


Signature listed important books written during the Harlem renaissance.


Stream a new Spiral Stairs song.


The Los Angeles Review of Books interviewed author Javier Marías.


Stream an unreleased Bruce Springsteen song.


The New Yorker shared an excerpt from Patricia Lockwood's forthcoming memoir Priestdaddy.


Tara Jane O'Neil shared a cover of Big Star's "Ballad of El Goodo."


Hazlitt interviewed Sarah Manguso about her new book 300 Arguments.


NYCTaper shared a recent Dean & Britta performance.


Literary Hub profiled author Mary Gaitskill.


Friends and colleagues remembered music journalist and author Marc Spitz at SPIN.


Salon hosted a discussion between authors Miranda Beverly-Whittemore and Robin Wasserman.


Bookworm interviewed author Michael Tolkin.


John Darnielle talked to CBC Radio, the Raleigh News & Observer, and the MashReads podcast about his new novel Universal Harvester.


Michael Chabon discussed his novel The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay at the Guardian.


The Tallahassee Democrat and Financial Times interviewed guitarist Richard Thompson.


Weekend Edition interviewed Viet Thanh Nguyen about is new short story collection The Refugees.


Musicians discussed their favorite political albums at Paste.


Weekend Edition and the New York Times Book Review podcast interviewed George Saunders about his debut novel Lincoln in the Bardo.


Jason Isbell discussed his forthcoming album with Rolling Stone.


Neil Gaiman talked to NPR Books about his new collection Norse Mythology.


Paste interviewed singer-songwriter Jens Lekman.


Alana Massey talked to Paste about her new book All the Lives I Want.


Drowned in Sound reconsidered Sleater-Kinney's The Woods album.


The Cut recommended books to read to children about refugees and immigration.


NPR Music is streaming Alison Kraus's new album Windy City.


NPR Books previewed 2017's best poetry books.


Esme Patterson played a Tiny Desk Concert.


Author Lydia Peelle listed her favorite books at The Week.



also at Largehearted Boy:

Support Largehearted Boy

previous Shorties posts (daily news and links from the worlds of music, books, and pop culture)

List of Online "Best Books of 2016" Lists
Essential and Interesting Year-End 2016 Music Lists

Atomic Books Comics Preview (the week's best new comics and graphic novels)
Book Notes (authors create playlists for their book)
Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week (recommended new books, magazines, and comics)
musician/author interviews
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Short Cuts (writers pair a song with their short story or essay)
weekly music release lists
WORD Bookstores Books of the Week (recommended new books)
weekly music release lists

Posted by david | permalink | post to del.icio.us

February 10, 2017

Book Notes - Scott Crawford "Spoke: Images and Stories from the 1980s Washington, DC Punk Scene"

Spoke: Images and Stories from the 1980s Washington, DC Punk Scene

In the Book Notes series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates in some way to their recently published book.

Previous contributors include Bret Easton Ellis, Kate Christensen, Lauren Groff, T.C. Boyle, Dana Spiotta, Amy Bloom, Aimee Bender, Jesmyn Ward, Heidi Julavits, Hari Kunzru, and many others.

Scott Crawford's Spoke: Images and Stories from the 1980s Washington, DC Punk Scene, a companion to his documentary Salad Days, is a fascinating oral history of an important era in American music and is also filled with breathtaking photographs.

Publishers Weekly wrote of the book:

"This volume serves as a visual and narrative companion to Salad Days, a 2014 documentary, also by Crawford, that explores the 1980s Washington, D.C., hardcore punk scene. Like the film, the book sheds light on the ways in which the music coming out of the nation’s capital, by bands such as Bad Brains and Fugazi, served as a mode of political and economic critique."


In his own words, here is Scott Crawford's Book Notes music playlist for his novel Spoke: Images and Stories from the 1980s Washington, DC Punk Scene:



The tracks that I've chosen as a soundtrack of sorts for Spoke (as well as the documentary film that it's based on, Salad Days) have been in my head since I first discovered punk rock while living outside of Washington, DC in the 1980s. Virtually every photo that I chose for the pages of Spoke has a song attached to them. That said, here are a couple of standout bands and/or tracks that had a particular impact on me.


RITES OF SPRING
As much as guitarist/lyricist/vocalist Guy Piccittio would probably cringe at me for this, he's as close to a poet as I'd ever met. His lyrics were thoughtful, metaphoric, and at times, heartbreaking. But it was the WAY he delivered those words that made the difference—sung with a kind of anguished intensity I'd never witnessed before. By their debut album's final closing number (the aptly named "End on End") it feels like you've been taken on a highly personal, cathartic journey with a band just on the verge of exploding. The album just hints at their chaotic live shows—where it wasn't unusual to see them leave the stage with their guitars splintered and cymbals smashed. They were clearly living in the moment, playing as if every show might be their last. STANDOUT TRACK: "For Want Of"

GOVERNMENT ISSUE
GI were part of the earliest wave of DC hardcore punk. The late John Stabb served as their charismatic, sarcastic frontman—his spaztic antics always playing center stage to the band's often revolving lineup. Of all of the first wave of DC punk bands, GI's musical evolution was remarkable, later peppering their guitar-heavy approach with bits of psychedelia, new wave and pop (with Stabb's vocal approach often sounding like Dave Vanian). Their final two albums were the bands' crowning achievements ("You" and "Crash"), featuring anthem after anthem, contemplative lyrics and a level of musicianship unlike earlier versions of the band due in part to a solidified rhythm section.  STANDOUT TRACK: "Jaded Eyes"

MINOR THREAT
What can I say about this band that hasn't already been said? Every song in their canon is a classic—from "Bottled Violence" to "Salad Days", they were a band that inspired every group around them (much like the Bad Brains had done before them) to raise their game. It's especially notable that over the course of their 3 years together, not only were they DC's biggest local draw, they were also barely out of their teens. STANDOUT TRACK "Out of Step"

MARGINAL MAN
A five piece powerhouse, Marginal Man were known not only for their live shows, but for their "proto-emo" lyrical approach—with songs like "Identity," "Marginal Man," "Forever Gone" and "Double Image" exploring deeply personal territories. They were one of the few DC punk bands in the 80s to tour the country (twice) and developed quite a following in the process. Vocalist Steve Polcari was always in motion—and always in control of the crowd (often inviting them on stage to stage dive, while other bands at the time frowned on such behavior). Full disclosure: members of the band befriended me as a 12 year kid (watching me go nuts at their shows) and I saw them as my defacto big brothers—always keeping a watchful eye on a kid at a crossroads. Personal connections aside, Marginal Man's brand of introspective punk-pop still holds up today—sounding neither dated or cliche—serving as further proof of their potent songwriting abilities.  STANDOUT TRACK "Missing Rungs"

BEEFEATER
While the Red Hot Chili Peppers were busy covering their cocks with socks on the West Coast in the mid-80s, DC's Beefeater showed how potent a combination of funk, metal and punk could (and should) be played. With a confrontational live approach—where frontman Tomas Squip's social activism was often at the forefront—their shows were always unpredictable affairs, but the band's collective musicianship was awe-inspiring to watch. STANDOUT TRACK: ""Insurrection Chant"

DAG NASTY
After his band Minor Threat broke up, guitarist Brian Baker knew he needed to showcase what he did best: play tuneful punk rock songs. Dag Nasty would become that band—and with much success. They were unabashedly punk rock--fast, tight, loud and never without a classic Baker guitar hook. Though they'd go through 3 vocalists and multiple lineups, the band consistently released albums throughout the 80s, with "Can I Say" as their classic debut and the uneven "Field Day" proving to be their swansong in 1988.  STANDOUT TRACK: "Can I Say"

BLACK MARKET BABY
Black Market Baby were unlike a lot of the other punk bands in DC at the time. Influenced more by Johnny Thunders than say, the Bad Brains, their songs were loud, anthemic and unapologetic. Musically, the band had chops that many of the younger groups at the time had yet to develop. They had a local reputation as boozy hellraisers (which wasn't that far off the mark) and I remember thinking their live shows always felt dangerous —with drunken brawls and some type of violence virtually guaranteed. As you can imagine, that sense of danger only made me love them more. Their "Senseless Offerings" LP remains a DC classic.  STANDOUT TRACK: "Downward Christian Soldiers"

FUGAZI
By the end of the 80s, Fugazi began playing around town and their sonic approach was decidedly different from anyone else at the time. Gang of Four inspired punk with tuneful yet urgent delivery by guitarists Ian MacKaye and Guy Piccittio, and a rock solid rhythm section in bassist Joe Lally and drummer Brendan Canty. Their live shows were sweaty, communal affairs and the band became known for their extended sets and impromptu dancers that would join them on stage. Fugazi's outspoken social activism, strict adherence to playing only all ages shows, work ethic and commitment to touring are the stuff of legend. STANDOUT TRACK: "Waiting Room"

SOULSIDE
Part of the "third wave" of DC punk, Soulside's brand of punk was always positive, catchy and later on, edgier with off-kilter rhythms and artier guitar explorations (paving the way for them to start Girls Against Boys soon after vocalist Bobby Sullivan quit). Also noteworthy: Soulside were the first U.S. punk band to tour behind the iron curtain in the late 80s.  STANDOUT TRACK: "Baby"

VOID
Perhaps one of DC's most notorious outfits, Void combined frenetic tempos, metallic guitar bursts and an explosive live show. They were also the first DC punk band that I ever saw live, so they hold a special place in my heart. Though they only released a split LP with labelmates Faith, their relatively short lifespan has taken on almost mythical proportions among punk and metal fans. STANDOUT TRACK: "Who Are You"

FAITH
Led by Ian MacKaye's younger brother Alec, the Faith remain one of the most underrated bands of the era.  MacKaye had an enigmatic, unpredictable stage presence, seemingly on another plain than the rest of us, while the band's twin neck-bending guitars worked together to create melodic mayhem. Like many of their DC brethren, the band was shortlived, but left behind two classic albums (the split LP with Void and "Subject to Change") STANDOUT TRACK: "Subject to Change"

SCREAM
Heavily inspired by seeing the Bad Brains, Scream was the first band to release a full length album on the fledging Dischord label in 1982 ("Still Screaming"). Though capable of playing at breakneck speed, they also combined elements of metal and even reggae into their fiery repertoire. They released several albums and singles over the course of the 80s—with "This SIde Up" being my personal favorite—culminating in a large body of recorded work. After losing original drummer Kent Stax, Scream recruited a local goofball named Dave Grohl as their drummer. The band would tour the US and Europe, gaining a devoted following in the process. STANDOUT TRACK: "Walking by Myself"


Scott Crawford and Spoke: Images and Stories from the 1980s Washington, DC Punk Scene links:

the author on Twitter

Shockwave review

Dazed interview with the author
A Punk in My Soup interview with the author


also at Largehearted Boy:

Support the Largehearted Boy website

List of Online "Best Books of 2016" Lists

Book Notes (2015 - ) (authors create music playlists for their book)
Book Notes (2012 - 2014) (authors create music playlists for their book)
Book Notes (2005 - 2011) (authors create music playlists for their book)
my 11 favorite Book Notes playlist essays

100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads
Antiheroines (interviews with up and coming female comics artists)
Atomic Books Comics Preview (weekly comics highlights)
guest book reviews
Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week (recommended new books, magazines, and comics)
musician/author interviews
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Short Cuts (writers pair a song with their short story or essay)
Shorties (daily music, literature, and pop culture links)
Soundtracked (composers and directors discuss their film's soundtracks)
weekly music release lists

Posted by david | permalink | post to del.icio.us

February 9, 2017

Book Notes - James Rhodes "Instrumental"

Instrumental

In the Book Notes series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates in some way to their recently published book.

Previous contributors include Bret Easton Ellis, Kate Christensen, Lauren Groff, T.C. Boyle, Dana Spiotta, Amy Bloom, Aimee Bender, Jesmyn Ward, Heidi Julavits, Hari Kunzru, and many others.

James Rhodes' memoir Instrumentaloffers testament to the lingering effects of sexual abuse as well as the healing powers of music.

Booklist wrote of the book:

"In this triumphant and arresting memoir, Rhodes charts his ongoing recovery and journey to his place as today's most exciting classical pianist . . . Rhodes writes with an arresting charm, at times cold and clinical, shockingly self-effacing, then painfully personal and poetic--sure to register powerfully with readers with similar experiences (he gives 'trigger warnings' before the more gruesome scenes). A gripping testament to the immense tragedy of sexual abuse, the magic of music, and the power of hope."


In his own words, here is James Rhodes's Book Notes music playlist for his memoir Instrumental:



Although it deals with some pretty challenging and heavy topics (suicide, child rape, mental illness - kudos to Bloomsbury for taking this on) Instrumental is a book primarily about music. Each chapter title is a specific piece and along with an opening page or two about that piece there is an accompanying Spotify playlist where readers can listen. I've included some pieces here which are also in the book and also chosen a few that are stupendously good and only didn't end up on that playlist because I ran out of chapters or I discovered them after the book went to print.

Bruckner Symphony no 7 Karajan/Berlin Philharmonic
A few years ago I told my piano teacher that I hated Buckner. I'd never heard any of his symphonies but rather like dismissing an X Factor contestant because he 'looks funny', I'd written him off. My teacher hit me (well, slapped) and forced me to sit and listen to this recording. All 70 minutes of it. It changed my life.

Ravel Gaspard de la Nuit/Chopin 2nd piano concerto Ivo Pogorelich
For my money this is the greatest piano recording of all time. Pogorelich has tilted slightly to the left mentally over the last few years, but I challenge anyone not to be totally knocked sideways by playing of this calibre. Visceral, jaw-dropping interpretations of both the 20th Century's greatest keyboard composition and Chopin's teenage masterpiece.

Bach Keyboard Concertos (both volumes) Glenn Gould
No description needed here. Glenn Gould and Bach. It's like bread and butter or Meryl Streep and awesome. They just go together without question. There's a reason a Gould album was out on the Voyager space probe as an example to alien life of what humanity is capable of.

Ben Folds Rockin' the Suburbs
The only rock star I'd sell a kidney to meet and work with. Since Ben Folds Five emerged I've listened dozens of times to every one of his albums. He's irritatingly precocious, writing, playing, producing, singing every track himself and gets bonus points for not being an egocentric dick. I confess to a slight man-crush.

Piano Transcriptions, Arcadi Volodos
Volodos does things to the piano that should be illegal. He carries on the rapidly dying-out tradition of pianist/transcriber in these electrifying performances of both his and others' transcriptions. Listen to the coda of Tchaikovsky/Feinberg's 6th Symphony Scherzo and see if you can remember to breathe at the same time...

Chopin/Godowsky etudes Marc-Andre Hamelin
Along with Volodos, Hamelin carries the title of 'greatest living virtuoso'. As if Chopin's studies weren't hard enough, Godowsky came along and made them almost unfathomably more difficult. And Hamelin makes them sound like child's play. These are incredible reinventions of bona fide masterpieces played shockingly well.

Liszt Sonata in B minor Mikhail Pletnev
Pletnev recorded this piece twice. And it's the first recording which will, in my mind, never be bettered. He takes 35 minutes to get through it, as opposed to the average 28-29 minutes and turns it into the epic, symphonic, giant monstrosity of a piece that Liszt surely intended it to be. Add to that the other works on the disc which include a Mephisto Waltz that makes me want to vomit with excitement and you have the perfect Liszt recital.

Rufus Wainwright Want One
I love Rufus' music. From his lazy 'fuck you' drawl to his immense lyrics ('Is there anyone else who has slightly mysterious bruises') and his willingness to use classical orchestration and themes. This is my go to album, filled with warm personal memories and always inspiring. 14th Street and I Don't Know What It Is are the stand out tracks for me but they're all superb.

Mozart piano concertos 21/22 Annie Fischer
Fischer is something of a hero of mine - a chain-smoking, can't really be bothered to practice, rock star of the keyboard. These are so immaculately played and made even more special by her choice of cadenzas in both concertos - Busoni and Hummel. Mozart has been called 'too easy for amateurs and too difficult for professionals'. She nails it.

Rachmaninov piano concertos 1 and 2 - Krystian Zimerman 
Yawn. Yet another recording of Rach 2. A piece as overplayed and ubiquitous as Grieg's In the Hall of the Mountain King. But in Zimerman's hands it is like hearing it for the first time. No mean feat. Both concertos here are bordering on sociopathic in their intensity.

Mozart Don Giovanni
Teodor Currentzis/Musica Aeterna

I've saved the best for last. Currentzis is the greatest living conductor. He has record all three Da Ponte operas and they are almost exclusively the only albums I now listen to. They contain within them everything there is to know about the world, God, humanity, humility and passion. I have never, ever heard recordings where one can say without question 'this is what the composer heard in his head as he was scribbling the notes down on paper'. Currentzis manages to get his orchestra and singers to do things with their instruments that I'd never thought possible. Buy Giovanni or Cosi fan Tutte or Figaro and listen in absolute wonder at the miracle of what we, as a species, are capable of.

When Instrumental went through the court system in the U.K. in its fight for publication (thankfully culminating in a Supreme Court victory), it was Currentzis who saved my life during those 18 months of litigation, monstrous legal bills and blind panic. If I were allowed ten desert island discs I'd only take these three. Life changing.


James Rhodes and Instrumental links:

the author's website
the author's Wikipedia entry

Guardian review
Kirkus Reviews review
Spectator review


also at Largehearted Boy:

Support the Largehearted Boy website

List of Online "Best Books of 2016" Lists

Book Notes (2015 - ) (authors create music playlists for their book)
Book Notes (2012 - 2014) (authors create music playlists for their book)
Book Notes (2005 - 2011) (authors create music playlists for their book)
my 11 favorite Book Notes playlist essays

100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads
Antiheroines (interviews with up and coming female comics artists)
Atomic Books Comics Preview (weekly comics highlights)
guest book reviews
Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week (recommended new books, magazines, and comics)
musician/author interviews
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Short Cuts (writers pair a song with their short story or essay)
Shorties (daily music, literature, and pop culture links)
Soundtracked (composers and directors discuss their film's soundtracks)
weekly music release lists

Posted by david | permalink | post to del.icio.us

Book Notes - Tom McAllister "The Young Widower's Handbook"

The Young Widower's Handbook

In the Book Notes series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates in some way to their recently published book.

Previous contributors include Bret Easton Ellis, Kate Christensen, Lauren Groff, T.C. Boyle, Dana Spiotta, Amy Bloom, Aimee Bender, Jesmyn Ward, Heidi Julavits, Hari Kunzru, and many others.

Tom McAllister's novel The Young Widower's Handbook is a moving and compulsively readable debut.

Booklist wrote of the book:

"McAllister's debut novel is at turns funny and touching, particularly in the vignettes sandwiched between the narrative, which delve into Hunter’s thoughts and feelings about his marriage and his wife. Expect comparisons to Jonathan Tropper and Nick Hornby."


In his own words, here is Tom McAllister's Book Notes music playlist for his debut novel The Young Widower's Handbook:



I listen to music the whole time I'm working. If I'm lucky, I get so locked in that it fades into white noise, but often I at least start with some song or genre to try to establish a specific mood for that day's writing. I don't want to make it sound too ritualistic; there aren't specific songs lined up for specific types of scenes, but I like to use the music to create the atmosphere I need to feel fully immersed in the work.

The Young Widower's Handbook begins with an ostensibly healthy young woman dying suddenly, and follows her husband, Hunter, as he tries to piece his life back together. Because this is an emotionally heavy premise, one of the challenges I faced in writing the book was balancing the tone. If I pushed too hard on the grief, it would be a miserable slog for the reader, and if I pulled away from it too much, I ran the risk of writing an overly saccharine Chicken Soup for the Widower's Soul that didn't deal with the subject matter honestly. The effort to maintain a tonal balance is reflected in this playlist.

"Perfect Day" – Lou Reed

Because Hunter's wife, Kait, is dead by the second chapter, most of their relationship is relayed through flashback. In one flashback, we see some of Hunter's early, fumbling attempts to explain his love to her. In one scene, instead of talking, he plays Lou Reed's "Perfect Day," which I hope we can all agree is one of the most beautiful, melancholy songs ever written. When I was young and still learning how to talk to women, my go-to move was to handwrite the lyrics from songs I loved and give them to the girl I was interested in, and though now I realize this is a very bad approach, the teenaged version of me just didn't know what else to do. In high school, I sent this song to three different people. It was never well-received.

"Elephant" – Jason Isbell

This novel is motivated by the fear that one day I will wake up and my wife will be gone. She is the best thing in my life, and being a good husband to her is one of the few things I think I do well, and so most days, there was a real urgency to the writing. I was able to put myself deep in the mindset of having lost my wife, and at the end of the day I would be drained and miserable in a way I never have while writing before. Some days, though, I needed a little help to create that mood. Jason Isbell's song is one of the best I've ever heard about watching someone you love die. It's unflinching and sad, and so human, and it's perfect.

"Cold, Cold Ground" – Tom Waits

When you want to wallow in your misery and feel terrible and lost, this is a good song to listen to on a loop all day. I'm sure Hunter would have done exactly this when he was at his lowest points, letting Tom Waits' growling vocals and the mournful accordion wash over him. I included this song on this list too because it's a little weird and I wanted readers to sometimes feel unmoored by the progression of this book.

"Rock 'N' Roll Suicide" – David Bowie

During the early drafts of The Young Widower's Handbook, the first four songs on this list were by far the ones I listened to most. Each of them brings a different angle and sound to the concepts of death, grief, and mourning. No matter how many times I listen to this song, I find myself interpreting the chorus differently. Sometimes it seems hopeful and supportive, and other times, it seems desperate and flailing, and when you're really feeling lost in your grief, you can cover all these bases at once.

"Movin' Right Along" – Alkaline Trio

This is a pop punk cover of a song by The Muppets, which is included here because, a) Hunter takes his wife's ashes on a road trip across the country, b) this song always makes me smile in a completely uncomplicated and unthinking way, and c) there are moments of levity and hopefulness on the trip. Sometimes, even when you're at your lowest points, there are brief, unexpected moments of joy that force their way into your life. When Hunter sets out on the road, he heads toward the west coast thinking he's found a solution to his grief. He thinks he's going to find closure. He's excited to be on the road and doing something.

"Burnin' Up" – The Park (feat. Darondo)

Sometimes when you're on the road, the thing you need most is just a propulsive, funky song that grooves and keeps you awake and moving. The highway can be lonely and empty and relentlessly boring, and you need something to liven things up.

"One Day" – Kings Go Forth

The lyrics of this song make little to no sense, but it sounds so good I don't care. This is another uptempo song that matches the lurching progress Hunter makes across the country, as he seems stuck in neutral for a while and then suddenly finds himself charging through intense periods of activity where he's trying very hard to seem normal but coming off a little desperate.

"Now and Then" – Arlo Guthrie

About two-thirds of the way through the book, Hunter ends up hitching a ride with a group of strangers on their own road trip. The driver is a grandfather who insists on playing his own music, including this Arlo Guthrie song that features the line, "Now and then I don't feel lonely," at a time when Hunter is really reaching for reasons to believe he won't always feel so alone.

"It Serves Me Right to Suffer" – John Lee Hooker

Originally released as "It Serves You Right to Suffer," the subtle edit he makes in the title and lyrics in his Live at the Café Au Go Go (And Soledad Prison) changes the whole tone and meaning of the song. The original is spiteful and angry, and this one is more self-loathing, though not nearly as unpleasant to listen to as the title suggests. There's this underlying sense of menace and simmering tension that John Lee Hooker creates, pushing you to the edge of your seat with his voice alone and setting you up for the release that comes in the next track.

"Impossible Soul" – Sufjan Stevens

If I'm being completely honest, I only really love about 11 minutes of this song, but I love those 11 minutes so much I had to include it here. It's a long, disorienting, uncomfortable song that plays around with different instruments, samples, and chanted choruses, while singing about a broken heart. About 13 minutes in, it transitions to this incredible crescendo that is hopeful and joyous and encouraging, repeating these lines: "It's a long life, better pinch yourself/ Put your face together, better get it right/ It's a long life, better hit yourself/ Put your face together, better stand up straight." Every time I listen to it, "Impossible Soul" activates that mysterious part of my brain that just lights up and makes me love being alive, and the whole journey of the song—in its range of emotional expression, its nonlinear approach, its yearning for something better—matches what I was hoping to accomplish in The Young Widower's Handbook.


Tom McAllister and The Young Widower's Handbook links:

the author's website

Kirkus Reviews review
Publishers Weekly review

Huffington Post interview with the author
OTHERPPL interview with the author
Radio Times interview with the author
Salon interview with the author


also at Largehearted Boy:

Support the Largehearted Boy website

List of Online "Best Books of 2016" Lists

Book Notes (2015 - ) (authors create music playlists for their book)
Book Notes (2012 - 2014) (authors create music playlists for their book)
Book Notes (2005 - 2011) (authors create music playlists for their book)
my 11 favorite Book Notes playlist essays

100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads
Antiheroines (interviews with up and coming female comics artists)
Atomic Books Comics Preview (weekly comics highlights)
guest book reviews
Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week (recommended new books, magazines, and comics)
musician/author interviews
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Short Cuts (writers pair a song with their short story or essay)
Shorties (daily music, literature, and pop culture links)
Soundtracked (composers and directors discuss their film's soundtracks)
weekly music release lists

Posted by david | permalink | post to del.icio.us

February 8, 2017

Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week - February 1, 2017

In the weekly Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week, the Montreal bookstore recommends several new works of fiction, art books, periodicals, and comics.

Librairie Drawn & Quarterly is one of Montreal's premiere independent bookstores.


The Lonely Hearts Hotel

The Lonely Hearts Hotel
by Heather O’Neill

New from Montreal starlet Heather O’Neill is a lush story of two spectacularly talented orphans. Set in Montreal and New York between the wars, the novel follows its protagonists as they glisten in the muck and mire of the cities’ underbellies. One is a piano prodigy, the other a gifted dancer—both must use their magnetism to survive and thrive in their ruthless surroundings. Thoroughly researched and beautifully imagined, The Lonely Hearts Hotel is another marvelous effort from one of Montreal’s finest.


A Simple Story: The Last Malambo

A Simple Story: The Last Malambo
by Leila Guerreiro, translated by Frances Riddle

Leila Guerreiro’s A Simple Story is, quite simply, the story of a dancer. Malambo is a viciously demanding strain of dance with a host of devotees who wrangle their bodies through the motions. One such fanatical dancer is Rodolfo Gonzalez Alcantara, who covets the prestigious title of Champion of the National Malambo Festival. A Simple Story recounts delirious obsession and mastery, and proves beyond a doubt that journalism has a place in the literary bracket.


Zonzo

Zonzo
by Joan Cornellà

Joan Cornellà became an internet sensation with his extremely twisted, extremely funny comic strips. The Spanish cartoonist’s distinct brand of disturbing, surreal humour is perfectly contrasted with his rubbery lines and sugary palate. The wordless strips in Zonzo will make you feel bad for laughing, but rest assured you will laugh.


The Estrangement Principle

The Estrangement Principle
by Ariel Goldberg

Published with Nightboat Books, The Estrangement Principle is a book-length essay that examines the problematic label “queer art”. Ariel Goldberg calls upon the work of artists such as Renee Gladman and Jack Waters to assess the complexity of categorization and argues for a wider array of associations for the art created by queer identified people. Goldberg mixes cultural criticism with personal anecdotes, which, along with nimble and erudite prose, make the arguments in The Estrangement Principle extremely compelling.


Universal Harvester

Universal Harvester
by John Darnielle

John Darnielle, author of Wolf In White Van and composer/vocalist for the Mountain Goats, expanded his revered lyricism into the captivating prose that stalks between the covers of his newest novel. In Universal Harvester, a Video Hut employee’s small town life takes a dark turn when unsettling footage is found on a VHS tape. Darnielle has a deft touch for the creepy, and utilizes it perfectly in his sophomore effort.


Librairie Drawn & Quarterly links:

Librairie Drawn & Quarterly's blog
Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Facebook page
Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Tumblr
Librairie Drawn & Quarterly on Twitter


also at Largehearted Boy:

Support the Largehearted Boy website

other Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week

Antiheroines (interviews with up and coming female comics artists)
Atomic Books Comics Preview (weekly new comics and graphic novel highlights)
Book Notes (authors create music playlists for their book)
guest book reviews
musician/author interviews
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Short Cuts (writers pair a song with their short story or essay)
WORD Bookstores Books of the Week (weekly new book highlights)

Posted by david | permalink | post to del.icio.us

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