July 9, 2018

Mikkel Rosengaard's Playlist for His Novel "The Invention of Ana"

The Invention of Ana

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 Jesmyn Ward, Lauren Groff, Bret Easton Ellis, Celeste Ng, T.C. Boyle, Dana Spiotta, Amy Bloom, Aimee Bender, Heidi Julavits, Hari Kunzru, and many others.

Mikkel Rosengaard’s novel The Invention of Ana is one of the year's most impressive debuts.

The New York Times wrote of the book:

"Mikkel Rosengaard’s intriguing first novel abounds with stories, layering one over another until we’re not sure who’s doing the telling (...) Ana reminds us that stories complicate one another, and sometimes add up to mysteries. A mystery might be fun to explore, like the human experience of time. But other mysteries pose a danger: Those who learn of them enter a night unlit even by stars."


In his own words, here is Mikkel Rosengaard's Book Notes music playlist for his novel The Invention of Ana:



Bob Moses - Too Close for Comfort
The Invention of Ana opens on a spring evening on a Brooklyn rooftop, and it was on a Brooklyn rooftop in 2012 that I heard Bob Moses play one of their very first sets. Bob Moses reminds of Brooklyn in so many ways. First, there's the name, a nod to Brooklyn city-planner overlord Robert Moses, the authoritarian power broker behind the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, the Brooklyn Heights Promenade, and hundreds of the borough's housing projects. Second, there are all the magical nights I spent at the now legendary Marcy Hotel, which was never a hotel but a private apartment cum clandestine after-hours club nestled between two noisy branches of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, a venue where Bob Moses were regulars. After gigs at the commercial clubs in Manhattan, major DJs like Deniz Kurtel and Soul Clap would travel to the Marcy to play after-hours set in the wood-paneled backroom where the sweat and the drugs flowed freely, and where everyone seemed to kneow each other from Blkmarket, GHE20G0TH1K, Resolute, or one of the other Bushwick warehouse parties. That sensation from the Marcy: of being young and impressionable and arrived in a new and strange place, of not being fixed in your form, open to being seduced or manipulated by that great big maniacal city, that is a sensation I'm trying to write around in The Invention of Ana.

Kate Bush - Cloudbusting
At the center of The Invention of Ana is the intimate relationship between Ana and her mathematician father, Ciprian, as he tries to enchant Ana with the magic of mathematics and keep his own dreams alive after being purged from the mathematical insitute at the University of Bucharest. Kate Bush' Cloudbursting explores a similar intimate relationship between the outcast psychoanalyst Wilhelm Reich and his young son, Peter, as they built cloudbusting machines, orgone boxes, and got lost in a world entirely of their own.

Christian Löffler - Live Sketch for Vivaldi
The Invention of Ana is a novel about storytelling. The protagonist, Ana, tells a naïve intern the story of how she came to live her sister's life. A story Ana's mother has told to Ana, who recounts it to the intern, who retells it to the reader—like a chain of storytelling. We humans tell stories to weave meaning out of the chaos that make up our lives. And as we try and understand each other, and sift through the complex webs of stories that constitute a life, we tend to mix irony with sincerity, sarcasm with sadness, the profane with the sacred, to express the full scale of human emotions. In this track, Christian Löffler is remixing Max Richter who is recompositioning Vivaldi, mixing together baroque and modernist and post-modernist forms of expression. The way a story or a piece of music is warped and contorted as it changes hands and is retold and imbued with the feelings and expressions of each new interpreter is something I am very interested in.

Kliche: Masselinjen (1980)
Kliché was a new wave band that revolutionized the Danish music scene in the 1970's and 1980's, a kind of folksy version of Kraftwerk. Over almost ten minutes, Masselinjen semi-ironically loops a refrain from Mao Zedong's 1945 text On Coalition Government: "The people and the people alone / are the motive force / in the making of world history". A slogan like that fits well with The Invention of Ana, as large parts of the novel takes place in 1970s and 1980s Romania during the pseudo-communist Ceausescu regime. Autocratic regimes almost always rely on a hysterical form of storytelling to prop up their government and I was very interested in the often surreal narratives Ceaușescu created about Romania. For example, the regime believed a strong Romania should hold 30 million inhabitants, not the 23 million living there at the time, and so they instigated a baby-making campaign: outlawing abortion, celebrating fertile women as Mothers of the Nation—awarding mothers a washing machine after their fifth birth and a Dacia car after their tenth—and even introducing a tax on childlessness, where any childless married couple over the age of 25 years old had to pay a tax penalty. With The Invention of Ana I was interested in exploring how one’s own life narrative life clashes with larger, overpowering official narratives of a political regime. In a liberal democracy everything can be renegotiated: you decide when and if you have a baby, and if you lose your job, you can get always another one. But in an autocratic regime like Ceaușescu's, reality is less malleable. It takes a stronger storyteller to break out of the mold.

Janet Jackson: What have you done for me lately?
Only one song is mentioned in the novel: After Ana's best friend gets a scholarship to study in Paris, Ana walks through her grimy Bucharest neighborhood listening to Janet Jackson's 1986 hit song, wondering what her hometown has ever done for anybody.

Pachanga Boys: Time
The Invention of Ana explores how storytelling and narratives can warp physical reality. Time, being such a fluid and little-understood phenomenon, is especially suspect to the power of story-telling. How we talk about time shapes we way we experience it. Most westerners intuitively think of time much like a river: something flowing from the past through the present into the future. In languages like Aymara or Malagasy, however, speakers tend to think of time more like a wind that blows from the future through the present into the past. In those languages, we humans are standing still in the present with our eyes fixed on the past, with the future blowing relentlessly against our backs. And for some physicists, time is neither a flow or a wind but a dimension much like a landscape. In the same way that China still exists while you and your consciousness are in United States, December 1927 still exists while your consciousness is in May 2018. According to this idea of the block universe, all moments exist simultaneously on the plane of time: your birth, your first kiss, last Saturday’s party and Sunday’s hangover too. All of it exists at once, and the sense that the present is somehow more real and alive than the past is just a trick of the consciousness, our limited minds trying to make sense of it all. Here, the German-Mexican duo Pachanga Boys explore similar themes in a gorgeous 15-minute track fit for early morning dance floors.

Saâda Bonaire - You Could Be More as You Are
Part of The Invention of Ana takes part in Morocco in 1981 where Ana's mother gets a job as a teacher for a mathematical exchange program, and Ana's dad gets carried away by Orientalist dreaming. In 1984, the German pop-duo Saâda Bonaire released an album of pseudo-oriental disco-funk tracks, toying with the Western fascination of the Middle East. In an Orientalist extravaganza, Saâda Bonaire dressed in Bedouin clothes and mixed reggae with overdubbed Kurdish folk music on tracks like You Could Be More as You Are and More Women making for a strange mix of German electro pop and the musical tropes an imagined Middle East—cultural appropriation at its weirdest best. If my writing could one day come close to sounding as funky and weird and mutated as Saâda Bonaire I'd be a very happy writer.

Arthur Russell: That's Us / Wild Combination
Much of The Invention of Ana is set in the Brooklyn art world. As an art writer, I often spend time with the artists, curators and art dealers, and if there is one artist that seems to unite the studios and exhibition spaces of Brooklyn over the last few years it's Arthur Russell. Perhaps because Russell lived an artist's life in the East Village, often playing at art venue The Kitchen, before dying of AIDS in 1992. Or perhaps because his songs somehow fits the spirit of the time: honest and mellow, self-conscious without being ironic, emotional without wallowing in pathos and self-pity.

Kollektiv Turmstrasse - Schwindelig
I rarely listen to music while I write, but when I do I often turn to mixes by Kollektiv Turmstrasse. The Hamburg-based duo create tracks according to what they call the 100 loop rule: if a part of a musical arrangement still doesn't annoy them after listening to it 100 times, it deserves a place in their track. That kind of pedantic perfectionism creates a smooth, dreamy, lyric-less sound that will suck you into the world you are conjuring on the page.

Justus Köhncke - So Weit Wie Noch Nie
And finally, just because it always makes me happy in all its Sound of Cologne silliness, makes me pick up the writing again on days when all sentences seem stuck, Justus Köhncke's remix of Jürgen Paape's So Weit Wie Noch Wie.


Mikkel Rosengaard and The Invention of Ana links:

the author's website

Kirkus review
New York Times review
Open Letters Review review
Publishers Weekly review


also at Largehearted Boy:

Support the Largehearted Boy website

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

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





July 3, 2018

Lincoln Michel and Nadxieli Nieto's Playlist for Their Anthology "Tiny Crimes"

Tiny Crimesv

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 Jesmyn Ward, Lauren Groff, Bret Easton Ellis, Celeste Ng, T.C. Boyle, Dana Spiotta, Amy Bloom, Aimee Bender, Heidi Julavits, Hari Kunzru, and many others.

Tiny Crimes is a widely varied and fascinating anthology of very short crime stories.

The Chicago Tribune wrote of the book:

"An intriguing take on crime/noir writing, this collection of 40 very short stories by leading and emerging literary voices―Amelia Gray, Brian Evenson, Elizabeth Hand, Carmen Maria Machado, Benjamin Percy, Laura van den Berg and more―investigates crimes both real and imagined. Despite their diminutive size, these tales promise to pack a punch."


In their own words, here is Lincoln Michel and Nadxieli Nieto's Book Notes music playlist for their anthology Tiny Crimes:



One of our goals with Tiny Crimes was to show the wide variety of crime fiction. Tiny Crimes includes writers of different genres--literary, horror, SF, you name it-- investigating the criminal, the illegal, and the depraved. Crime is a universal aspect of human life, and crimes are found everywhere in fiction. Science fiction criminals in a dystopian future, surrealist detectives trying to solve absurd cases, horror fiction crimes more terrifying than ghosts and zombies. Crime is as common in music as it is in literature. Criminals and illegal acts are found all across the music spectrum, from post-punk and pop to hip-hop and country. Here’s just a small sampling of some:

“Stealing People’s Mail” by Dead Kennedys

The first song that comes to my mind with “tiny” crimes is this classic Dead Kennedys song about, well, stealing people’s mail. Not to downplay the seriousness of mail theft, but “Stealing People’s Mail” is a rare lighthearted song in the midst of the blistering satire of American life that is the DK debut album Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables. A favorite lyric is the description of the banality of the American mailbox: “And we got license plates, wedding gifts, tax returns / Checks to politicians from real estate firms / Money, bills, and canceled checks / Pretty funny pictures of your kids!”

“Adopduction” by Les Savy Fav

Les Savy Fav was always one of the best live bands indie rock bands, even if the music didn’t always translate as well off stage. But “Adoptduction” is brilliantly catchy song about being kidnapped and then adopted “by a guy with a moustache / and a chick with an eyepatch / who thought they could trade me back / for some quick cash.” It also has a literary connection in my mind, as I heard it around the time I read Charles Simic’s The World Doesn’t End and always think of Simic’s poem about being stolen back and forth by gypsies and parents.

“Best of All Possible Worlds” by Kris Kristofferson

One of the best cynical country songs ever, and one that bucks the normal country jingoistic patriotism for a pretty accurate summary of America “justice” system: “That policeman said Mr. Cool / if you're ain't drunk then you're a fool / I said if that's against the law tell me why I never saw / a man locked in that jail of yours who wasn't just as lowdown poor as me.”

“Thru Your Phone” by Cardi B

If you’re alive right now, you’re probably listening to Cardi B instant classic Invasion of Privacy this summer. As the title implies, there’s plenty of crimes and threats of illegal acts in here. “Through Your Phone” is one of the standouts among an album of standouts, which mixes Ali Tamposi crooning sadly about being cheated on--“I went through your phone last night / saw some things I didn't like”--with Cardi B threatening violent revenge: “I'ma make a bowl of cereal... with a teaspoon of bleach!”

“Mac 10 Handle” by Prodigy

Mobb Deep rap legend’s best solo song, “Mac 10 Handle,” isn’t about crimes exactly. Rather, it’s about a psychotic character who spends his time watching John Woo’s Hardboiled and planning crimes and vengeance. It has a great funky beat, and lyrics that alternative between the bizarre and the brutal. Only Prodigy can make the chorus of “I sit alone in my dirty ass room / staring at candles / high on drugs” sound menacing instead of ridiculous.

“Criminal Intent” by Robyn

“Somebody alert the authorities, I got criminal intent / Conspiracy to engage in lewd and indecent acts and events” is the chorus for Swedish electropop artist Robyn’s tongue-in-cheek dance tune “Criminal Intent.”

“I’m Waiting for My Man” by The Velvet Underground

Of all the types of crimes, taking illegal substances is probably the most common in rock n roll songs. Hell, the slogan of the genre is “sex, drugs, and rock n roll.” But with The Velvet Underground, instead of a typical song about the joys of partying we get a darker and more honest look at what illegal drug use is like: “I'm waiting for my man / twenty-six dollars in my hand / up to Lexington, one, two, five / feel sick and dirty, more dead than alive.”

“Long Black Veil” by Gillian Welch

“Long Black Veil” is a classic country crime ballad (if such a category exists), telling a narrative of adultery, murder, and wrongful execution. It’s been covered countless times since it was written in the 1950s by Danny Dill and Marijohn Wilkin, including by Johnny Cash, The Band, and Joan Baez. But Gillian Welch’s version is a particularly haunting one.


Lincoln Michel and Nadxieli Nieto and Tiny Crimes links:

Lincoln Michel's website

Criminal Element review
Publishers Weekly review

Vol. 1 interview with the editors


also at Largehearted Boy:

Support the Largehearted Boy website

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

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

David McGlynn's Playlist for His Essay Collection "One Day You'll Thank Me"

One Day You'll Thank Me

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 Jesmyn Ward, Lauren Groff, Bret Easton Ellis, Celeste Ng, T.C. Boyle, Dana Spiotta, Amy Bloom, Aimee Bender, Heidi Julavits, Hari Kunzru, and many others.

David McGlynn's One Day You'll Thank Me is a heartfelt and funny essay collection about parenting.

Booklist wrote of the book:

"Each brutally honest chapter is filled with heart and humor as McGlynn shares his most tender and most trying moments as a parent . . . All parents will relate and enjoy, but fathers of sons will most certainly relish this charming and hilarious tale of fatherhood."


In his own words, here is David McGlynn's Book Notes music playlist for his essay collection One Day You'll Thank Me:



One Day You'll Thank Me is a book of lessons about fatherhood, specifically about parenting boys. It begins when my sons are 5 and 2, and concludes when my oldest is about to start junior high. In a nutshell, it’s a story of good intentions gone awry, of parenting lessons I was forced to learn, and of making a home in a new place – in our case, in Wisconsin, a place where neither my wife nor I knew another living soul when we arrived in 2006.

The book started in 2010 with a short piece about my father’s awful Christmas presents. He’s easily the worst gift-giver I’ve ever known. His gifts wouldn’t fly at a white elephant party. Every Christmas, from the time I started high school until I graduated from college, I received, no lie, a sleeve of spaghetti noodles and a jar of marinara sauce—and not from some fancy gourmet store; I’m talking supermarket fare here. One year, I also got a two-foot Hickory Farms Beef Summer Sausage, which my college roommates used as a prop for gestures so obscene that afterward I couldn’t bear to eat the thing. My favorite—and perhaps the all-time worst gift ever—was the year my dad emptied all the change in his car’s ashtray into a Ziploc baggie, dropped the baggie in a box, and wrapped it. $17.30 worth of dimes and nickels. Merry Christmas, kid.

My parents had divorced when I was young, and my dad had moved to California while my sister and I stayed with our mother in Texas. My dad and I saw each other for only a few weeks a year, including about a week at Christmastime. So the Christmas morning suckfest was compounded by the fact that we only had a few days together. But on some level my dad also knew that the gifts themselves were beside the point. What we both wanted was the one thing we couldn’t have, which was more time. As an adult, and as a dad, I’ve come to appreciate the value, and the gift, of time. Far sweeter than any loot beneath the tree was fact that every morning my sons woke up in a house that had their father in it.

I’d always known I’d someday want kids, I just didn’t expect to have them when I did. Despite my precautions and faith in modern medicine, my sons were each conceived on different forms of birth control—which is likely evidence that I was a grave sinner in a past life and am paying for it in this one. But after growing up so far away from my dad and then being caught so completely off guard by parenthood, the rights and obligations of being a dad have always felt like a bit of a puzzle. I want to do right by my boys—like buying the right Christmas presents—but I often find myself worrying that I’m inadvertently handing out baggies of spare change.

In that same vein, my playlist is sort of a mixed bag, a wrinkled Ziploc of guilty pleasures, old-school dance party faves, and sweet, schmaltzy waltzes. If compiling a playlist has anything in common with fatherhood, it’s this: you figure out pretty quickly that you’re no longer cool. And then you realize you don’t care.

1. Brandi Carlile, “Josephine.” Seventh track on her 2007 album, The Story. My older son, Galen, learned to ride his bike to this song when he was 5. The first few times I tried to teach him, he dove for the grass whenever I let go of the seat. After he bloodied his hands, he left the bike lying on the sidewalk and vowed to never ride again. I tried to talk him into giving it another shot, but he said no way. Eventually, he taught himself to ride by leaning against the wall of the garage, clenching his fist, and declaring, “This is the ride of Angry Galen.” In his fury, he found his determination. And when at last he pedaled down the street, I heard him singing the chorus of “Josephine.”

2. Macklemore, “Thrift Shop.” When you have a young family, especially boys who consistently outpace the growth charts at the pedestrian’s office, you go through clothes and shoes pretty fast. Not to mention spoons, books, backpacks, lunchboxes, gloves, socks, clock radios, lamps, and Halloween costumes. We’ve been Goodwill and thrift store shoppers for years and we’re not afraid to admit it. Once, we even had to detour from the highway into a small town, in the middle of winter, in search of a clean pair of underwear, and the local thrift shop came through. Desperate times call for desperate measures, I suppose. “Thrift Shop” has long been a family anthem for keeping the budget in check. And it’s fair to say the boys learned to swear from Macklemore.

3. Lorde, “Royals,” arranged and performed acapella by the Florida State AcaBelles. The YouTube video of this college group performing Lorde’s hit went viral in 2013, when the boys were 8 and 6. That same year, we tried—and failed—to sell our house and move into nicer, larger digs. The deal fell through and we worried that we’d live in our small starter home forever. But at the end of that summer, we went to the western Ireland—a part of the world full of “torn up towns . . . with no post-code envy,” as Lorde sings, and had the time of our lives. The bigger house no longer mattered. Five years later, the boys are twice as large, the house feels twice as small, and we don’t think any more about moving. We crave a different kind of buzz.

4. Blackstreet, “No Diggity,” remixed for the 2012 film Pitch Perfect. We watched the famous “Riff Off” scene from the movie while standing in the kitchen in the late fall of 2014. Pitch Perfect had, by that point, made it to cable, where we happened—by accident—to catch it. When Anna Kendrick busted out with the opening lyrics to “No Diggity,” the boys froze in their tracks and stood transfixed before the TV. We watched the entire movie the next night, and have seen it at least a hundred times since. If we’re ever scanning through the channels and stumble upon the movie, it takes hardly a second for us all to get sucked in. And the “Riff Off” always gets us on our feet.

5. Ian Hues, “With Me.” Ian was my student at Lawrence University, and a member of a scholarship group that I mentored from 2012 to 2016. Ian and I, along with the other scholars, grew very close during his college years, and my wife and sons loved them all deeply. Ian began to record during his final few years at Lawrence and he’s still at it today. This song is the family favorite. Another member of the same scholars group, Danny Card, directed the video (shot at the college), and Kenneth Herrera, Kevin Marin, and Gintu Kottarathil appear in it as well. I couldn’t be more proud.

6. Randy Travis, “Forever and Ever Amen.” I’m not much of a country music fan, or of Randy Trvais, but my wife loves this song. We danced to it at our wedding, and every few months we turn it back on for old time’s sake. But the song really matters because my wife taught the boys to slow dance to it, in the backyard, on a cloudless summer night beneath stars. Young men need to learn a lot of things in the course of growing up. Slow dancing to a sappy song is chief among them.

7. Mungo Jerry, “In the Summertime.” Legend has it that lead singer Ray Dorset wrote this song in ten minutes on a second-hand Stratocaster. I first heard the song the summer I turned thirteen, my first summer visiting my father in California. My dad had bought a decommissioned mail truck for $250, sawed off the roof, and welded in a roll bar. Because it was a mail truck, the driver was on the right. Riding shotgun on left, where the driver ordinarily sat, as we bombed down the Pacific Coast Highway in the August sunshine, the summer felt both limitless and far too short. Wisconsin summers are exactly like that: sublime to the point of feeling spiritual, yet gone in a flash. This song stays in constant rotation between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

8. LL Cool J, “Mama Said Knock You Out,” the original 1990 version from the same album. It’s the perfect compliment to One Day You'll Thank Me's penultimate chapter, “Saturday Night’s All Right for Fighting.” The boys are only two years apart, nearly equal in size, and constantly in each other’s spaces. We’re always on the verge of a fight. On more than one occasion, I’ve grown sick of the petty squabbling that I’ve shoved the living room furniture out of the way, made them strip off their shirts, shake hands, and have at it until one of them cried, “Uncle.” Was this the right thing to do? At a certain point, I no longer cared. Someone’s ass was getting kicked.

9. “Rich Girl” by Lake Street Dive. A cover of the Hall and Oats Classic. The college where I teach boasts a pretty well-known conservatory, and the members of Lake Street Dive are all conservatory trained musicians. It also turns out that one of my colleagues had previously given some music lessons to Bridget Kearney, Lake Street’s bassist and principal song writer. We’d been listening to Lake Street Dive all summer when we found out they’d be playing in Milwaukee. The boys had never been to a concert before, so I bought tickets. The show went late, they couldn’t see over the jerk in front of us, and were mad that I wouldn’t spring for a second round of sodas. But they danced and sang along and to this day they’re still fans of the band. Before I know it, they’ll be going to concerts with their friends and won’t want me anywhere near them. But when it comes to concerts—as with most things in life—you never forget your first.


David McGlynn and One Day You'll Thank Me links:

the author's website

Kirkus review
Los Angeles Review of Books review

WGN interview with the author
WUWM interview with the author


also at Largehearted Boy:

Support the Largehearted Boy website

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

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

June 28, 2018

Sergio De La Pava's Playlist for His Novel "Lost Empress"

Lost Empress

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 Jesmyn Ward, Lauren Groff, Bret Easton Ellis, Celeste Ng, T.C. Boyle, Dana Spiotta, Amy Bloom, Aimee Bender, Heidi Julavits, Hari Kunzru, and many others.

Sergio De La Pava brilliantly takes on privilege, class, and race in his maximalist epic Lost Empress.

The Economist wrote of the book:

"The book oscillates between hilarious surrealism and shocking reality. As in his first novel, A Naked Singularity, Mr de la Pava (a public defender) deploys his expertise in a maximalist form reminiscent of Thomas Pynchon and David Foster Wallace . . . . With messianic fervour, he conjures up marginalised voices and the horrors of mass incarceration, against a backbeat of sporting thrills and that apocalyptic crescendo."


In his own words, here is Sergio De La Pava's Book Notes music playlist for his novel Lost Empress:



Run the Jewels: Close Your Eyes
“Bout to turn this motherfucker up like Rikers Island, bruh.” An island constructed out of garbage to forcibly enclose those of our brothers and sisters we wish to forget ever existed; souls then lost to us like a blank, save for those many moments when the island’s generational malice bubbles over sensationally (see, Browder, Ballard, Murdough etc.).

Beethoven: Moonlight Sonata
But only the Second movement, which exists in a kind of in-between state. In between the cosmic terror, there I said it, of the First and the unconvincing catharsis of the Third. Maybe our universe is this kind of inchoate landscape where intention and analytic evolution signify more than results, and it would be pretty to think so but still we don’t.

Bob Dylan: A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall
Good enough to almost make you forgive him for taking the Nobel that rightly belonged to Joni. That said, if you’re at Rikers Island, you’ll want your own poets.

Public Enemy: Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos
Chuck D is “in the justice” and charged with breaking him out is Flavor Flav, who would not be my first choice, although you would think he’d at least be on time.

Carlos Vives: La Gota Fria
This is a Colombian vallenato, one of the foundational ones. Vives and company stay faithful to the acerbic 1938 lyrics while brilliantly updating the instrumental backdrop. And what lyrics! Described at length is a kind of rap battle before these were a thing where the first-person narrator pulls no punches in eviscerating his opponent in what, accordion?

Girltalk: All Day
The sheer innovation of this thing. It’s as if Gillis has ingested all of humanity’s melodious confections and transmuted them into a schizophrenic but coherent whole that is like our one true seventy-minute song.

Daniel Johnston: True Love Will Find You in the End
Not sure the sentiment expressed in this song is true. Worse than that, I suspect strongly that it isn’t. This is skillful singing but not in any easily classifiable sense. The whole thing is strange, like so much of this artist’s work, but strange here is good.

Prince: 7
If I am yours now and you are mine and neither feels like ownership but more like consubstantiation then what are Space and Time in comparison? Can they stand in the way of Love?

Radiohead: Paranoid Android
If the weak needed rainfall’s softening impact to resist the powerful what sounds could we rely on to inspire the deluge? Yorke’s incantation from 3:33 onward may be our best bet but, truthfully, it’s looking pretty one-sided at the moment.


Sergio De La Pava and Lost Empress links:

the author's website

Economist review
Kirkus review
New Yorker review
Publishers Weekly review
Quarterly Conversation review

Largehearted Boy playlist by the author for Personae


also at Largehearted Boy:

Support the Largehearted Boy website

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

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

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June 27, 2018

Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week - June 27, 2018

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.


A Bubble

A Bubble by Geneviève Castrée

This beautiful and heartbreaking board book was crafted near the end of the artist's life. It was intended as a gift for her two-year-old daughter before she passed away in 2016 from pancreatic cancer. Her illness takes on the form of a bubble in the child's eyes. The bubble is both isolating and protective, enveloping and distancing for both during a confusing time.


Flâneuse

Flâneuse by Lauren Elkin

Rejecting Baudelaire's flâneur, Elkin proposes the flâneuse in her broad cultural study. A flâneuse is a wandering, attentive, light-footed city woman who idles and drifts against the current.


Sludge Utopia

Sludge Utopia by Catherine Fatima

Told with great intimary, Fatima's novel is a about desire under capitalism, ethics, love, depression, etc. Reminiscent of Sheila Heti's narrators, the narrator of Sludge Utopia is reflective, revealing, and deeply curious on having and wanting.


American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassination

American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassination by Terrance Hayes

In a pressing collection of seventy poems bearing the same title, Hayes elicits the weight of America's past while enduring Trump's present. He is deftly observant, sober, and tender in his varied musical sonnet formations.


Gumballs

Gumballs by Erin Nations

This collection offers an array of candy-colored, crisply drawn short comics about Erin Nations' gender transitioning, toils in customer service, and search for connection and love. Refreshingly honest and silly in equal measures.


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)

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Jordy Rosenberg's Playlist for His Novel "Confessions of the Fox"

Confessions of the Fox

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 Jesmyn Ward, Lauren Groff, Bret Easton Ellis, Celeste Ng, T.C. Boyle, Dana Spiotta, Amy Bloom, Aimee Bender, Heidi Julavits, Hari Kunzru, and many others.

Jordy Rosenberg's ambitious novel Confessions of the Fox is a raucous, irreverent, and incredibly clever debut.

Booklist wrote of the book:

"Resonant of George Saunders, of Nikolai Gogol, and of nothing that's ever been written before . . . irreverent, erudite, and not to be missed."


In his own words, here is Jordy Rosenberg's Book Notes music playlist for his novel Confessions of the Fox:



Songs Listened to While Composing Confessions of the Fox, as Reported by William Kneebone (1690-1735, approx.), wool draper and, now, non-consensual character in this travesty called a novel.


What satisfaction to report on the absurd goings-on of the author who has summoned me from the restfulness of death to endure years of his daily histrionics, deluded elations, and sniveling sentimentality. It must be a species of sadism that would compel this author (who I refer to as my tormentor) to rouse a long-dead wool draper from merciful slumber in order to be forced to witness, through the befuddling fog of historical distance – not to mention the inscrutable screen to which I am consigned and from which I peer out, horrified – the appalling parade of emotions as he tarries with the stories of those of us who were in point of fact content to moulder quietly in the merciful cool soil.

Some will say that, in life, I was a cruel employer to the person who has become the so-called hero of the novel written by my tormentor – a hero who my tormentor has glorified beyond all reason. I ask, however: does having paid a fair price for the labor of someone who was admittedly a child when he came into my charge, justify the penalty I have now paid in being subject to the clangings, shriekings, and poundings of what I must insist is only nominally music?

So be it! These cruelties were committed unto me and herewith the soundtrack to my misery.


“Nightswimming, “ REM. Dear Lord. The strangled sobs on the part of my tormentor at the lines “they cannot see me naked” still rings in my ears.

“Dreamer,” Livin Joy. This one often occasioned my tormentor’s flingings to and fro in contortions of dancing. Then the dog would rush over. I tell you it was a spectacle.

“There Are Still Secrets,” Prurient. Pure wretchedness. Very very loud thudding. I am frankly concerned that this one has so grated my ears that the very canals are shredded from the inside out. I have repeatedly written to my doctor for advice on this condition and been ignored. I begin to suspect I am being pooh-poohed.

“Lady Cab Driver,” Prince. My tormentor listened to this on his knees. It was shameful.

“Book of Love,” Boy. This is an opaque work. I can make neither heads nor tails of the simultaneously thrilled and melancholy declamations of the vocalist regarding not being “a boy.” Nor of my tormentor’s squawkings-along.

“Mother,” Danzig. I’d rather not relive the leapings-to and fro that accompanied this blast of self-flattering attribution of “dangerousness.” Unquestionably provocative of a creeping rash of skin-ulcers I developed from the sheer noise, although my doctor will neither confirm nor deny the song as the cause.

“Take Your Time (Do It Right),” The S.O.S. Band. Just who does my tormentor think he is? The bouncing he did to this one hurt my head terribly.

“Antipop,” Dreamcrusher. I pleaded with my tormentor for cotton balls during this torrent of sound and was rewarded with a lecture about the greatness of “NIHILIST QUEER REVOLT MUSIK.”(https://dreamcrusher.bandcamp.com)

“Shadows of the Night,” Pat Benatar. God help me I take it that my tormentor believes this song represents a theory of relating to readers.

“Confetti,” Cold Cave. Oh the wailings-along to “I never thought that we wouldn't rule the world/I always think we will I keep my fist clenched still.” My tormentor routinely cried during this one.

“17 Days,” Prince. Also listened to on his knees. No — alternating between knees and the absurd flingings I have come to dread as they jostle me so. That my tormentor is so simultaneously pathetic in himself and cruel to me is an irony I will leave to the philosophers to untangle.

“Drop Out,” Rocket From the Crypt. The franticness accompanying this one is indescribable. Clearly my tormentor fancies himself an underdog. It’s despicable, considering that – between the two of us – he is clearly the one with all the power. Lest you need a reminder, Reader: I am dead!!

“Baby Wants to Ride,” Frankie Knuckles and Jamie Principle. This one my tormentor treated like an anthem. Almost biblical was his devotion to this song. Upon the opening strains, he did neither fling himself nor bend on his knees and sing, but simply listened, rapt, to the tinklings emitted from that hot and surely disease-bestowing little trinket which he is often fondling to what end I cannot imagine.

“Take Me Home Tonight,” Eddie Money. I did hear my tormentor defend his affection for this song to a visitor by delivering a sphinxlike compendium of unfathomable declamations: “Synth-laminated eros!” “the 1980s!,” “I know it’s overly gendered!,” and “but when Ronnie Spector sings ‘baby’. . .”

“Rocks Off,” The Rolling Stones. Hark ye, reader, I did find the complaints issued in this song to be oddly familiar. Indeed, I could not help but wonder if the singer of these lines and I shared a kind of disease of a certain sourness, a – what shall we call it? – an infectious enervation of the joints and also of the – ahem – nether regions. In any case I did beseech my doctor with concerns about “rocks off,” and he once again did not respond. Either he ignores my missives, or. . .I must consider that perhaps he remains as dead as I once was. But here I must point out that it would have been a mercy for my tormentor to, when awakening me, also have awakened from eternal slumber my doctor, who is the only soul on earth who quite understands the particulars of my delicate constitution and case. Alas.


Jordy Rosenberg and Confessions of the Fox links:

the author's website
excerpt from the book
excerpt from the book

Booklist review
Boston Globe review
Kirkus review
Publishers Weekly review

HuffPost profile of the author
INTO profile of the author
Slate interview with the author
Weekend Edition interview with the author


also at Largehearted Boy:

Support the Largehearted Boy website

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

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

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June 26, 2018

Joanna Luloff's Playlist for Her Novel "Remind Me Again What Happened"

Remind Me Again What Happened

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 Jesmyn Ward, Lauren Groff, Bret Easton Ellis, Celeste Ng, T.C. Boyle, Dana Spiotta, Amy Bloom, Aimee Bender, Heidi Julavits, Hari Kunzru, and many others.

Joanna Luloff's novel Remind Me Again What Happened of is an unforgettable exploration of memory, identity, love, and friendship.

Kirkus wrote of the book:

"A novel of sonorous character study, showing both the limits and allure of truly knowing another person—and oneself."


In her own words, here is Joanna Luloff's Book Notes music playlist for her novel Remind Me Again What Happened:



At its center, my novel is an investigation of memory, its ties to identity, sense of home and belonging, and the fragmentation and fractures that come when we lose it. When Claire suffers memory loss, she, her husband Charlie, and best friend Rachel, become detectives of their own past. Rachel hunts down all of Claire’s favorite foods to help trigger her lost history, believing that sensory memories might help rebuild Claire’s ties to the past. I imagine that a lot of this detective work also centers around music. The two friends spend a lot of time digging through storage boxes, one or two of which must hold CDs from their graduate school days as well as the albums Claire might have saved from her parents’ collections and her high school and college years. Here is a list of songs I imagine playing in the background in the homes of my characters—from childhood through graduate school and, eventually, in Charlie’s home after Claire returns from the hospital.

Claire, Charlie, and Rachel lived in Boston during graduate school in the late 90s into the early 2000s. I picture them spending the very little money they had on music – sifting through the stacks at Other Music in Cambridge and going to shows at The Paradise, The Middle East, and T.T.’s. Here are some songs I associate with this time in their lives.

Blonde Redhead’s Loved Despite of Great Faults: a love song from the band’s album Melody of Certain Damaged Lemons. The song keeps asking “where do we go from here” and speaks to the fears and hiding and intimacy shared between the speaker and the “you.” It’s also a song about memory and nostalgia and the desire to travel over shared territory, to be reminded of the past.

Goldfrapp’s Human: this song’s twists and turns seem to move from sweetness to anger and accusation. I think Goldfrapp’s shifting cadences and pulsing emotion would appeal to Rachel.

Ms. John Soda’s Misco: this is song that engages with the desire for stopped time and stasis. When Claire returns home, both Charlie and Rachel reminisce about the home and family they once shared. This song’s refrain: “It's not here to stay/'Cause he is stopping you/But we are going home/To keep the stop in time” makes me think of their longing for a past that can no longer be. The static-like distortion to the music also sounds to me like hiccups or a skipping record that can’t quite move forward.

Zero 7’s In The Waiting Line: Though Claire would have listened to this song long before she loses her memories, the lyrics speak to her skepticism and frustration around Rachel and Charlie’s version of their shared history as well as their distrust of her version. Claire’s restless energy echoes the song’s frustration about being stuck in a waiting line.

Luna’s California (All the Way): Technically, Luna’s Bewitched album came out a bit before Claire, Rachel, and Charlie would have lived together, but Luna played The Middle East throughout the late 90s and early 2000s. This song is all about regret and questioning the distance between the past and the present. For Charlie, particularly, the lines: “Why has my sympathy now turned to malice?” and “Why can’t we smile like we used to” would resonate with his shifting feelings toward Claire.

Broadcast’s Long Was the Year: The idea of the past staying in the past (or not) juxtaposed with a longing for a loved one’s commitment to staying is also evident this song. I can imagine the central question in this song -- “Will you stay now that you’re back?” – being asked by every character in the novel.

Both Rachel and Claire tease Charlie’s for his preference for electronic and dissonant music, so these next selections are in honor of Charlie’s musical taste despite what Rachel and Claire might think of it.

Mum’s We Have a Map of the Piano
Boards of Canada’s Turquoise Hexagon Sun
Four Tet’s Everything is Alright

On the happier days of summer, afternoons spent at Fenway park or just wandering through the city, I imagine Claire, Charlie, and Rachel listening to Belle and Sebastian’s album The Boy With The Arab Strap, specifically the song A Summer Wasting.

And, (almost) last, here are some songs that I imagine have been unearthed from Claire’s saved cassettes and records from her childhood home.

From her parents’ record collection: Jim Croce’s I’ll Have to Say I Love You in a Song, Carole King’s I Feel the Earth Move, Bob Dylan’s Isis, and Simon and Garfunkel’s Homeward Bound.

From her angsty teenage years and college: Sinead O’Conner’s Troy, The Smiths’ Cemetey Gates, The Cure’s Lovesong, The Pixies’ Cactus, Mazzy Star’s Be My Angel.

I’ll close out the playlist with a more contemporary song by Camera Obscura – Troublemaker. Even their most melancholic songs have a playful, bright energy, an almost teasing promise that even when things are at their worst, we might all be able to laugh about our hurt. There’s a lot of distrust and injury in this song—secrets long kept, a long-awaited return that crushes rather than reignites hope—but there is also resilience and a refusal to quit. All of the characters in this song cause trouble for one another, but I like to think that troublemakers aren’t only out to harm. They are often tricksters that encourage “fires on hot days;” the upheavals they cause are often for the good even if you don’t always realize it in the moment.


Joanna Luloff and Remind Me Again What Happened links:

the author's website

Kirkus review

Largehearted Boy playlist by the author for The Beach at Galle Road


also at Largehearted Boy:

Support the Largehearted Boy website

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

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

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June 25, 2018

Joe Mungo Reed's Playlist for His Novel "We Begin Our Ascent"

We Begin Our Ascent

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 Jesmyn Ward, Lauren Groff, Bret Easton Ellis, Celeste Ng, T.C. Boyle, Dana Spiotta, Amy Bloom, Aimee Bender, Heidi Julavits, Hari Kunzru, and many others.

Joe Mungo Reed's novel We Begin Our Ascent is a compelling and meditative debut.

Kirkus wrote of the book:

"Exceptional … Reed's first novel lives squarely within Don DeLillo's sphere of influence … but Reed relies more heavily on plot than DeLillo, and the effect is remarkably successful: Alongside the ideas and the jokes, there is real suspense and human drama. … Fast and smart, funny and sad, this is an outstanding sports novel, and Reed is an author to watch."


In his own words, here is Joe Mungo Reed's Book Notes music playlist for his debut novel We Begin Our Ascent:



We Begin Our Ascent tells the story of a professional cyclist, Sol, in the middle of the Tour de France. At the book’s outset, things are not going so well for Sol’s team, and the novel recounts – though an account of the race, and via flashbacks to Sol’s home life with his wife, Liz – the way in which increasingly desperate attempts by Sol, and his team to turn things around lead Sol into dubious moral territory and a questioning of the values that have driven his career.

The novel is a story of ambition which, I hope, speaks not to those interested in professional cycling but to anyone whose pursuit of a goal has lead them to places they did not expect.

Tour de France by Kraftwerk
There’s one very obvious choice here, so let’s begin with it! The aesthetic of this song reflects a key part of what drew me to write about professional cycling. Cyclists treat their bodies like machines: they obsess about how to fuel themselves, and they consider how many watts of power they can output and for how long. However, to complete a race like the Tour de France also requires an irrational romanticism. To find meaning in all the suffering of the race must necessitate an aggrandising, perhaps sentimental, perspective. The interplay between the mechanistic and the emotional is something I love about this song.

Livin ' on a Prayer by Bon Jovi
In one of the race scenes in the novel, the team leader, Rafael, sings Bon Jovi over the radio channel which each team rider receives through earpieces. I had the inspiration for this detail when I read that a real team manager, Bjarne Riis, would sometimes sing Abba songs to his riders as they raced. I chose Livin' on a Prayer because I felt it suited the fictional circumstances: Bon Jovi’s music is of Rafael’s era, and he inflicts it through the airwaves on his younger riders. It is a small example of the tendency exhibited elsewhere in the book, by which Rafael pushes his own preferences onto his team.

Exploration of Space by Cosmic Gate
I mention in the fifth chapter of my novel that the cycling team mechanics service bikes while listening to techno. From what I’ve read, being a team mechanic is a difficult job. These guys drive all day and then work all evening cleaning and preparing bikes for the next stage of the race. The energetic, slightly silly Exploration of Space is the kind of thing that I imagine Northern European bike geeks pumping out of a stereo to keep themselves energised.

Bassoon Concerto in E minor RV484: I. Allegro Poco by Antonio Vivaldi, Milan Turkovic, The English Concert

Liz, the wife of the novel’s narrator, plays the bassoon. Her mastery of this unfancied instrument is a sign of her drive toward perverse challenges. There is an intricacy and a balance to this piece that reflects Liz’s attentive, thorough personality.

An Alpine Symphony Op. 64: II. The Ascent by Richard Strauss, London Symphony Orchestra
European bicycle races tend to be decided in the mountains: this is where winners make time on their competitors and where ordinary, mid-level racers struggle to complete their day’s racing. The image of high mountains as a rarefied zone, in which essential truths are discovered and beauty comes with a tinge of dread, has a long lineage in European culture, well exemplified in Strass’ An Alpine Symphony.

I Wanna Be Sedated by The Ramones
A rider’s experience of multi-stage racing is as much about inactivity as it is about physical exertion. What defines a cyclist’s success in a long tour is their ability to recover, and in service to this fact riders spend a great amount of time between stages doing very little. The song’s essential itchiness, and the refrain of “Nothin' to do, nowhere to go,” speaks to the frustration of this kind of waiting.

Hotel Song by Regina Spektor
My novel contains many scenes set in nondescript hotel rooms. This song’s mention of smoking cigarettes might not resonate with the experiences of professional cyclists. The reference to cocaine, given a few notorious cases in the sport’s history, might actually be quite apt.

Lo Vagabondo by I Nomadi
Winner of the 1998 Tour de France, Marco Pantani was a huge fan of karaoke. As Matt Rendell recounts in his excellent biography, The Death of Marco Pantani, the cyclist sung ‘Io Vagabondo’ on Italian TV. Instead of singing the first line of the song as written - “I’ll fly into the sky of life” – the nervous Pantani accidentally sang “I’ll disappear into the sky of life.” The mistake has a chilling resonance given that Pantani’s life ended tragically and all too soon. One of the riders in We Begin Our Ascent is noted to be a karaoke singer as a tiny tribute to Pantani.

Helplessness Blues by The Fleet Foxes
The desire expressed in this song – to be “a functioning part of some great machinery” – is a key facet of the personality of my narrator, Sol. Sol is a middling rider, very happy to be moving along in the middle of the pack, and to be putting his energy into assisting his team leader rather than racing for personal victory. This self-effacing quality is tested by events. The question of how collective ambitions can lead individuals into morally compromising positions is the main meditation of my novel.


Joe Mungo Reed and We Begin Our Ascent links:

Kirkus reviews
New York Times review
Publishers Weekly review


also at Largehearted Boy:

Support the Largehearted Boy website

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

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

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June 22, 2018

Karl Taro Greenfeld's Playlist for His Novel "True"

True

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 Jesmyn Ward, Lauren Groff, Bret Easton Ellis, Celeste Ng, T.C. Boyle, Dana Spiotta, Amy Bloom, Aimee Bender, Heidi Julavits, Hari Kunzru, and many others.

Karl Taro Greenfeld's novel True is a dark and compelling coming of age story.

Booklist wrote of the book:

"Greenfeld’s dynamic writing is infectious; his deeply flawed heroine is as compelling as she is damaged."


In his own words, here is Karl Taro Greenfeld's Book Notes music playlist for his novel True:



As a character, True seems almost indifferent to the larger culture around her, outside of her passion, soccer. The novel is set during True’s junior and senior years in high school, 1996-98. These were the last years before the widespread advent of digitally downloadable music, when Shawn Fanning was still dreaming up Napster in his Northeastern University dorm room. We still had to buy compact discs at music stores and we might spend an hour or two flipping through those rectangular, impossible to open jewel box packages. Music magazines—Rolling Stone, Spin, Vibe and Ray Gun—were crucial tastemakers, and we occasionally made decisions about new bands based on a review and how they looked on their CD case.

Kurt Cobain had passed away in 1994, but Nirvana’s music spawned a renaissance in guitar rock, and effectively ended the hair-metal era. Alternative Rock became a genre. Within just a few years of its inception as a format, it would lose almost all meaning, gradually expanding to include bands as diverse as the Violent Femmes and Pavement and Radiohead and Pearl Jam.

Now, the entire alternative genre could more easily be described as guitar rock’s last stand. Radiohead’s The Bends was released in 1995, Oasis’ Definitely Maybe was released in 1994, Pearl Jam’s Vitalogy was in 1995. Soundgarden, Stone Temple Pilots and Blur were all vital, if widely different, rock bands. But for the generation growing up on an MTV that still showed music videos, the future was all too apparent: hip-hop and teen idols would rule the millennium. Guitar would become dad rock.

It’s hard now to recall MTV’s cultural influence. It was a national television channel that could make an artist with the showing of one video. The introduction, in 1997, of Total Request Live would be the vehicle of the late 20th century explosion of teen idol acts, from Backstreet Boys, whose debut album was released in 1996 to Britney Spears, whose “… Baby One More Time” would debut in 1998. By then the Spice Girls had already sold 51 million albums and you couldn’t turn on MTV without being inundated by boy bands or Britney.

The mid-90s was the era of the great schism between West Coast and East Coast hip-hop, with P-Diddy and Dr. Dre as rival impresarios and Notorious BIG and Tupac Shakur their representative artists. In Los Angeles in the mid-90s, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, WarrenG and Ice Cube were ubiquitous, blaring out of car stereos—which back then were frequently stolen from our cars---and at house parties. On the west coast, Notorious BIG did not have nearly the airplay that he did in New York, and Wu Tang Clan was restricted to occasional spins on the Nine Deuce Trazy, as 92.3 FM, the leading hip-hop station, was known. However, also inescapable would have been the rap-metal of acts like Limp Bizkit and Korn, which were then both regulars on MTV. That’s a genre that has not aged well.

We don’t like to think of our characters as being vacuous, but I suspect True, as she was written, did not have discerning taste in music and would probably go along with whatever her peers were playing. There is only one sequence in the book in which music is important, when True goes to a house party thrown by the boys soccer team, and there she encounters a common enough phenomenon of her time, a battle for control of the stereo, between guitar-rock fans and rap fans. “There seemed to be a war going for control of the music,” she recalls. That’s a battle that, over time, we now realize the guitar rock fans lost.

The playlist I am including is the music that the rival factions, rap fans and guitar rock fans, would be playing that evening, an inflection point in the life of my central character, when she meets her first lover, and her rivalry with a teammate becomes personal as well as athletic.


Playlist:


The Rap Faction:


Tupac Shakur ft. Dr. Dre – California Love

The ultimate celebration of West Coast hip-hop, It’s Dr. Dre definitively making his case—“A state where you never find the dance floor empty”-- and also propelling Tupac to mega-star status. “It’s all good from Diego to the Bay. . . Dre. Putting it down for Californi-A.”

Snoop Dogg – Gin and Juice

“Rolling down the street smoking endo, sipping on gin and juice. Laid back. With my mind on my money and my money on my mind.” Snoop laid down the soundtrack to '90s LA, complete with NWA genealogy and credibility through Dr. Dre. This was one of his numerous party anthems that could be counted on to get hands in the air like you just don’t care.

Ice Cube – It was a Good Day

Another vivid celebration of LA life. If NWA is the Mt. Rushmore of West Coast Hip Hop, the break-up left fans factionalized between Easy-E and Ice Cube, with Dre somehow transcending the feud by immediately developing new acts like Snoop and Tupac. And Cube would somehow live the most LA life of all, making his acting debut in Boys N the Hood and becoming among the most successful rappers to cross over to acting.

Sir Mix A Lot – Baby Got Back

Because, come on, it’s a fucking party.

Warren G ft. Nate Dogg – Regulate

Another blast from the Coast that gave the East Coast the vapors. Released in 1994 just a few months before Notorious BIG’s Ready to Die, it was an almost casual expression of Death Rows and Suge Knight’s dominance. If you were living in LA in 1994 you knew you were living in the cultural capital of Hip-Hop. P-Diddy, BIG, Wu Tang and Mace were about to fire back, but for a few months, even P-Diddy had to admit the West Coast was the shit.

Master P – Make Em Say Uh

There was some pretty lousy hip-hop released during the mid-90s and much it was played at high school parties. It’s hard to remember now, but for a few years, Master P was arguably the most successful producer and rapper in the world, founding his own label, No Limit, and financing his own films. He never had an agenda in the West Coast-East Coast battle, content to release some commercial rap songs and amass a personal fortune estimated at $350 million. “Make Em Say Uh,” wasn’t great hip-hop, but you could not escape it. The video featured guys in gorilla suits dunking basketballs and the song included the chorus, “na na na na.” Did I mention he’s worth $350 million?


The Rock Faction


Pearl Jam - Corduroy

With Cobain’s demise, Pearl Jam inherited the title of most popular rock band in America, and while it was never released as a single, Corduroy represents Pearl Jam at the peak of their powers and was high school party staple through the 90s.

Third Eye Blind - Semi Charmed Life

This was one of the best songs about the highs and lows of crystal meth use ever written, and the band got massive airplay, with the drug references bleeped out, because of an irresistibly catchy hook. A 1997 teen party would gravitate toward rock radio hits, and occasionally, such as in this case, they were actually great songs.

Guns N’ Roses – Sweet Child O’ Mine

There were still a few million music fans who believed Guns wasn’t yet a totally spent creative force. I wrote an essay about them for Harper’s that pretty conclusively makes the case that they were. And within a few years, my own daughters, both millennials, wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between Guns N’ Roses and Led Zeppelin, because for them, the history of guitar rock is about as relevant and interesting as the Battle of Jutland. But True mentions this song coming on at one point during the party, so here it is.

Radiohead – The Bends

I like to imagine that some precocious high schooler at a house party thrown by the boys soccer team would sneak on the title song from this 1995 album. It’s as epic and overblown as guitar rock gets, and compared to later Radiohead it is so accessible and anthemic that it hardly seems like the same band. But for a high school boy high on testosterone and beer, the monumental heaviness should have been irresistible. Or were the nerds listening to this in their cars and were not even invited to the party?

Oasis – Supersonic

Despite the repeated mantra that Oasis never really made it in America, Definitely Maybe sold over a million albums in the US. And Supersonic was in heavy rotation on KROQ, LA’s formerly new wave rock station that suffered an identity crisis in the 90s as to whether to play bands like Pearl Jam and Oasis who were decidedly not new wave but were new and making bands like The Cure and Depeche Mode seem like quaint anachronisms while U2 had become a bloated, touring monster releasing mediocre albums like Zooropa and Pop. U2 would return to relevance with 2000's All That You Can’t Leave Behind, but, in the mid-90s, they merged into the general MTV blur of Madonna, The Spice Girls, No Doubt and a few other acts that would have been in heavy rotation in True’s world.


Karl Taro Greenfeld and True links:

the author's website
the author's Wikipedia entry

Kirkus review


also at Largehearted Boy:

Support the Largehearted Boy website

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

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

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Barney Hoskyns' Playlist for His Book "Major Dudes: A Steely Dan Companion"

Major Dudes: A Steely Dan Companion

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 Jesmyn Ward, Bret Easton Ellis, Celeste Ng, Lauren Groff, T.C. Boyle, Dana Spiotta, Amy Bloom, Aimee Bender, Heidi Julavits, Hari Kunzru, and many others.

Major Dudes: A Steely Dan Companion collects interviews with Donald Fagen and Walter Becker along with commentary about the band and reviews of its albums. Barney Hoskyns has curated a collection of journalism that serves as a Steely Dan biography when taken as a whole.

The Brooklyn Rail wrote of the book:

"Hoskyns has judiciously gathered a lot of perceptive thinking, especially admirable because of how unmusical most rock critics are and how complex the Dan’s music is."


In his own words, here is Barney Hoskyns' Book Notes music playlist for his book Major Dudes: A Steely Dan Companion:



For Major Dudes Only: The Rock Snob's Steely Dan

I've eschewed the no-brainers ("Do It Again," "Dirty Work," "Reelin' in the Years," "My Old School," "Rikki Don't Lose That Number," "Kid Charlemagne," "Aja," "Peg") and instead gone for the true connoisseur's choices – or, more simply, the Dan classics I happen to love the most.

It will surprise some that it's so Gaucho-heavy, but I've always maintained it's close to being their best album (read the late Ian MacDonald's brilliant analysis in Major Dudes if you disagree). And yes, I've even found room for a track, "Bad Sneakers," from the deeply unloved Katy Lied.

1 "Kings" (Can't Buy A Thrill)
Third track on the Dan's remarkable first album, "Kings" is a trenchant and tightly funky dissection of political/monarchical power, piano-based and sung in Donald Fagen's uniquely droll sneer of a voice, joined by the sassily soulful L.A. trio of Clydie King, Venetta Fields, and Sherlie Matthews, aka the Blackberries. "While he plundered far and wide," Fagen and the 'berries sing of Good King Richard, "all his starving children cried…"

2 "Razor Boy" (Countdown to Ecstasy)
Here's Fagen in more wistful mode, with plaintive jazz chords (and Victor Feldman's vibes) serving as the platform for a cryptic song of reproach and warning ("when the razor boy comes and takes your fancy things away"). Though the second verse borders on the apocalyptic ("the coming is so close at hand"), the mood remains elegantly melancholic and even finds room for an exquisite "Skunk" Baxter pedal-steel solo.

3 "The Boston Rag" (Countdown to Ecstasy)
Hot on "Razor Boy"'s heels comes one of the Dan's most infectious anthems, a song that drops us seamlessly into the troubling world of "Lady Bayside" and "Lonnie the Kingpin" – Steely Dan's patented demi-monde of drug casualties and passé dance steps.

4 "Night By Night" (Pretzel Logic)
One of SD's funkiest pieces, "Night" starts like a '70s TV cop show, then struts over choppy clavinet and oozing horns as Fagen tells his story of hand-to-mouth street survival and the urgent need to cash in this "ten-cent life" of "jealousy and mayhem." Irresistible.

5 "Any Major Dude Will Tell You" (Pretzel Logic)
One of the last times we hear an acoustic guitar on a Steely Dan record, the slinky song of reassurance that bequeaths its name to our Dan companion kicks off deceptively like the Eagles. But Frey and Henley never wrote words like "You tell me your superfine mind has come undone" or "Have you ever seen a squonk's tears? Well, look at mine."

6 "Bad Sneakers" (Katy Lied)
Katy Lied may not be greatly loved – and may have been sonically screwed up by a technical cock-up – but it still boasts delightful songs like this vignette about a chump in trouble who wants to go home to New York City from L.A.'s San Fernando Valley. "Sneakers" is also the first time we hear the auxiliary vocal tones of Michael McDonald on a Dan album.

7 "The Royal Scam" (The Royal Scam)
One of Becker and Fagen's most powerful statements of struggle and injustice, the last (and title) track of their 1976 masterpiece is as ominous as it is indignant, pivoting on the on-beat of its thumping funk groove as Fagen bewails the fate of Puerto Rican immigrants "hounded down/to the bottom of a bad town."

8 "Black Cow" (Aja)
The audiophile's album of choice was kicked off by the sparse funk of this epic plaint about a faithless femme fatale in Manhattan, sung by the dupe "who must make everything right" when she "staggers homeward." The playing by the arsenal of session maestros (Larry Carlton, Chuck Rainey, Vic Feldman again) is exceptional, and the anguish of Fagen's protagonist all too real.

9 "Home At Last" (Aja)
By contrast to "Black Cow," this reboot of Homeric wandering is suffused by longing and the tantalizing possibility of arrival at a homeland that's just out of reach. Drummer "Pretty" Purdie anchors the track, while guitarist Carlton offers one of his trademark, curlingly acute solos. And yes, that's still the Blackberries backing Fagen up on those pining vocal lines.

10 "Babylon Sisters" (Gaucho)
If Aja hinted at Californian decadence, the sometimes-maligned Gaucho reveled in it. Picking up where "Black Cow" left off, "Sisters" was the slickest Dan track yet. Cerebral funk about the beautiful people of Malibu – the "show folk on the sand" – the six-minute classic encapsulates the miasmic glamor of L.A. life at the tail-end of its most debauched decade.

11 "Hey Nineteen" (Gaucho)
Rather more playful than "Sisters," Gaucho's second track was also its first (hit) single. It's the song of a wealthy Scarsdale playboy attempting – with the aid of "Cuervo Gold and fine Colombian" – to charm a 19-year-old female blissfully ignorant of who Aretha Franklin was. Simultaneously funky, funny, and ever-so-slightly pathetic.

12 "Gaucho" (Gaucho)
Possibly Becker and Fagen's greatest song, Gaucho's title track is the smoothly glossy but heartbreaking song of a wealthy gay man whose lover – a "nasty schoolboy with no place to go" – is canoodling with a "man from Rio." Over elegant piano chords (Steinway and Wurlitzer), Fagen's slowly unfurling vocal lines detail the abject humiliation of the sugar daddy who watches the rival in the "spangled leather poncho" he's borrowed from the boyfriend. Immaculate.


Barney Hoskyns and Major Dudes: A Steely Dan Companion links:

the author's website
the author's Wikipedia entry

Brooklyn Rail review
Houston Chronicle review

Largehearted Boy playlist by the author for Joni: The Anthology
Largehearted Boy playlist by the author for Small Town Talk: Bob Dylan, The Band, Van Morrison, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and Friends in the Wild Years of Woodstock


also at Largehearted Boy:

Support the Largehearted Boy website

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

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

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This Week's Interesting Music Releases - June 22, 2018

Rolling Stones

Summer has rolled in, and the music release lists are getting shorter. Gang Gang Dance's Kazuashita, Kamasi Washington's Heaven And Earth, Lera Lynn's Plays Well With Others are this week's albums I can recommend.

Best Coast's children's album, Best Kids, is out today.

Reissues include a remastered and expanded edition of The Legendary Pink Dots' Any Day Now.

This week's interesting music releases:


American Aquarium: Things Change [vinyl]
Best Coast: Best Kids
Bishop Briggs: Church of Scars [vinyl]
Brothers Comatose: Ink Dust & Luck
The Cure: Mixed Up (remastered and expanded 3-CD box set)
The Cure: Torn Down: Mixed Up Extras 2018 (2-LPs) [vinyl]
Dan + Shay: Dan + Shay
Dawes: Passwords
Donna Summer: On The Radio: Greatest Hits Vol. I & II (2-LPs) (reissue) [vinyl]
Frank Zappa: Burnt Weenie Sandwich (reissue) [vinyl]
Gang Gang Dance: Kazuashita
Gnod: Chapel Perilous
Ike Reilly: Crooked Love [vinyl]
Jack River: Sugar Mountain
Jedi Mind Tricks: The Bridge & The Abyss
Jeffrey Foucault: Blood Brothers
Jill Barber: Metaphora
Kamasi Washington: Heaven And Earth
Legendary Pink Dots: Any Day Now (remastered and expanded)
Lera Lynn: Plays Well With Others
Lily Allen: No Shame [vinyl]
Manic Street Preachers: Resistance Is Futile
Marduk: Viktoria
MIles Davis: Ascenseur pour l'echafaud [vinyl]
Nine Inch Nails: Bad Witch
Panic! At the Disco: Pray For The Wicked
Paul Simon: Graceland: The Remixes
Paul Simon: The Ultimate Collection
Phil Cook: People Are Dying [vinyl]
Project Pablo: Come To Canada You Will Like It
The Record Company: All Of This Life
Sudan Archives: Sink [vinyl]
Tom Waits: Bastards (remastered)
Tom Waits: Bawlers (remastered)
Various Artists: Restoration: Reimagining The Songs Of Elton John And Bernie Taupin [vinyl]


also at Largehearted Boy:

Support Largehearted Boy

weekly music release lists

Book Notes (authors create music playlists for their book)
musician/author interviews
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Short Cuts (writers pair a song with their short story or essay)
Shorties (daily book and music news and links)
Soundtracked (composers and directors discuss their film's soundtracks)

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June 21, 2018

Roxane Gay's Playlist for Her Collection "Ayiti"

Grove Press published a new edition of Roxane Gay's collection Ayiti this week with two previously unpublished stories. Below is her 2012 Book Notes playlist for the book.

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, Kevin Brockmeier, George Pelecanos, Dana Spiotta, Amy Bloom, David Peace, Myla Goldberg, and many others.

Roxane Gay's story collection Ayiti is filled with powerful depictions of Haiti and its residents, and is an auspicious debut for this talented author.

Necessary Fiction wrote of the book:

"Throughout Ayiti, Gay surely doesn’t paint an overly optimistic image of Haiti, but she offers an honest one, an image of Haiti that is alive and breathing, not static and doomed. Ayiti offers the reader a more nuanced perspective of Haiti than the simplistic view that the easily accessible TV news and Internet tend to provide. The collection brings us to attention in two ways. First, it forces us to realize that we are complicit in the idea of Haiti as a nation of nothing but poverty and destruction, because no work is required to maintain that vision. Second, and perhaps with more impact, it suggests that tragedy and beauty are not mutually exclusive, that in fact, these two realities can share a complicated space."


In her own words, here is Roxane Gay's Book Notes music playlist for her collection, Ayiti:



I am the daughter of Haitian immigrants. I am Haitian American. It is from this identity that I have tried to make sense of what it means to be Haitian, what it means to leave a country like Haiti, what it means to stay, and what it means to go back, or go home. The writing in Ayiti represents a lot of my older work. In this collection, I am trying to make sense of what Haiti is and what people assume Haiti to be because they are such vastly different things. I grew up in the Midwest, never near relatives or large Haitian communities. It was only when we would go to Haiti during the summer that I could start to see what it was like to be surrounded by people who looked like me and sounded like my parents and shared the same blood. The Haiti of my childhood was quite different from Haiti today. I loved those visits and sometimes, I remember that time with a bittersweet taste on my tongue. Haiti is a country that is always changing. In my book, I hope I've managed to find some part of the country that was my first love.


"Baissez Bas" by Tabou Combo

Growing up, we lived, off and on, in Omaha, Nebraska. There was a very small Haitian community—a handful of families who lived in Omaha, Lincoln, and even parts of Iowa. Nebraska is very different from Haiti. It was never going to be home but when these families got together regularly, it was a small piece of home to hold onto. On these nights, my parents could be around people who looked like them and talked like them and laughed like them. My brothers and I, and the children of the other Haitian parents, hated the regular get-togethers. The adults would hang out upstairs at the patriarch of the community's house, talking, often about Haiti, each person with an idea of how to fix her problems. We kids would spend all our time in the basement sulking and complaining. There was an organ we were not allowed to touch and when we pressed the keys, an adult would come racing down the stairs to stare at us sternly. There was always lots of Haitian food—steaming bowls of rice and fried and boiled plantains and legumes and griot and picklies. Late in the night, the parents would join us in the basement and listen to konpa The one song I always loved was "Baissez-bas" by Tabou Combo. Baissez bas is a command—it means get down low. When the song came on, everyone would dance with wild abandon, lowering their bodies to the floor while rocking their hips to the beat. I still know all the words.


"Mon Colonel" by Sweet Micky

The current president of Haiti is Michel Martelly but he is better known as the musician Sweet Micky. I would say, only in Haiti but Ronald Reagan was president of the United States for eight years. Stranger things have happened.


"Mi Tierra" by Gloria Estefan

There is a sizable Haitian community in Miami and that city has always fascinated me as this place that is in the United States, but that often feels like Port au Prince. When we traveled to Haiti we flew out of the Miami airport and many times, because of the odd ways of connecting from the Midwest to the West Indies, we'd have to spend the night at a hotel in Miami. I loved how when we drove down the street, I could hear all kinds of music, music we never heard in Nebraska. If a Gloria Estefan song came on, my mom would hum along and dance in her seat. Watching her always felt so magical because she did not let herself relax like that often.


"This Woman's Work" by Kate Bush

The story, "In the Manner of Water & Light," is all about women—mothers and daughters trying to reconcile history with their relationships to one another and the unavoidable ways that mothers and daughters must sometimes betray each other. I've always loved Kate Bush's "This Woman's Work," for what the song says abut how sometimes, no matter how hard we try, we can fail each other.


"I'm on Fire" by the Chromatics

Haiti has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world and better yet, the water is so very warm because the island is hot. Sometimes, the air is so thick and hot, you can't help but feel like you are on fire. It's the best kind of burning.


"Voodoo Child" by Jimi Hendrix

It's surprising how often people, upon learning I am Haitian, have asked me if my family practices voodoo. I was raised Catholic, so for many years, I hardly knew what the question meant. The older I got, the more I started to invent outlandish responses. It became a game to see what people would believe (apparently, anything).


"I Can't Make You Love Me" by Bonnie Raitt

Unrequited love is something I love to write about and in "There is no ‘E' in Zombi Which Means There Can Be No You or We," Micheline learns that even when she has the power to command the man she loves to love her, that love might not feel the way she needs it to.


"I Am a Town" by Mary Chapin Carpenter

When I lived in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, I saw what rural American poverty looks like in new ways. It always frustrated me to see that kind of poverty in a country that is, purportedly, the wealthiest country in the world. It felt (and is) senseless. The U.P. was also an interesting place from within which to consider poverty in countries like Haiti, where it is different—more absolute, equally senseless. The essay, "All Things Being Relative," is where I think through the differences in these poverties.


"They Can't Take That Away From Me" by Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong

Growing up, my parents taught us that Haiti was the first free black nation in the Western Hemisphere and they always said this with pride. Today, I say those words with pride. Haiti is many things and Haiti struggles but more than anything, Haiti is free. Nothing will ever change that.


Roxane Gay and Ayiti links:

the author's website

Monkeybicycle review
Myfawny Collins review
Necessary Fiction review
A Salted review

Fictionaut contributions by the author
HTMLGIANT contributions by the author
The Kenyon Review interview with the author
Monkeybicycle interview with the author
Other People with Brad Listi interview with the author
The Rumpus contributions by the author
Vol. 1 Brooklyn interview with the author


also at Largehearted Boy:

other Book Notes playlists (authors create music playlists for their book)
Antiheroines (interviews with up and coming female comics artists)
Atomic Books Comics Preview (weekly comics highlights)
musician/author interviews
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Shorties (daily music, literature, and pop culture links)
Soundtracked (composers and directors discuss their film's soundtracks)

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

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