May 20, 2015

Shorties (An Interview with Laurie Anderson, Mark Danielewski on His New Novel, and more)

The Guardian interviewed Laurie Anderson.


The Rumpus interviewed author Mark Danielewski about his new novel The Familiar.


Aquarium Drunkard interviewed musician Jim O'Rourke.


The Guardian listed the top rural noir novels.


Detroit Metro-Times interviewed Michaelangelo Matos about his new book The Underground Is Massive: How Electronic Dance Music Conquered America.


Author Claire Fuller talked about the importance of meeting your readers at Tin House.


The Huntsville Times listed the new generation of southern rock classics.


Salon interviewed Jami Attenberg, Chris Bollen, Mat Johnson, Rebecca Makkai, and Nathaniel Popper about their new books.


The Cleveland Scene profiled singer-songwriter Jason Isbell.


The So Many Damn Books podcast interviewed author Lev Grossman.


Ratatat's new album Magnifique will be released on July 17th.


Lit Hub recommended Norwegian writers.


Great post-punk songs "that aren't by Joy Division, The Cure, or Bauhaus."


Bill Gates recommended books to read this summer.


Uncut interviewed singer-songwriter Robin Guthrie.


Laszlo Krasznahorkai has been awarded the Man Booker International Prize for his novel Seiobo There Below.

The Guardian shared a primer of the Hungarian author's life and work.


Paste looked back on music featured on David Letterman's late night show.


All Things Considered interviewed cartoonist Jules Feiffer.


Follow Largehearted Boy on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Tumblr, Google+, and Stumbleupon for links (updated throughout the day) that don't make the daily "Shorties" posts.


also at Largehearted Boy:

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

100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads
Atomic Books Comics Preview (the week's best new comics and graphic novels)
Book Notes (authors create playlists for their book)
daily mp3 downloads
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)

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May 20, 2015

Daily Downloads (Built to Spill, Kopecky, and more)

Every day, Daily Downloads offers free and legal music and/or stream.


Today's free and legal mp3 downloads:

Dolores: Peach Fuzz album [mp3]

Kopecky: "Talk to Me" [mp3] from Drug for the Modern Age

Laurence: Happy Town EP [mp3]

Lorna: "In Amber" [mp3] from London’s Leaving Me (out August 7th)

Max Gowan: Big People album [mp3]

The Sea The Sea: "How Will We Know" [mp3]

Steve Combs and Delta Is: Themes (Vol. 1) album [mp3]

Various Artists: Non​-​Genre Audio: The Compilation album [mp3]

Womb: Womb EP [mp3]


Free and legal live performances at other websites:

Built to Spill: 2015-05-11, Charleston [mp3]


search for more free and legal music downloads at Largehearted Boy


also at Largehearted Boy:

other Daily Downloads

covers collections
100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads

Book Notes (authors create 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 music, books, and pop culture news and links)
Soundtracked (composers and directors discuss their film's soundtrack)
weekly new album lists

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

May 19, 2015

Book Notes - Kirsty Logan "The Gracekeepers"

The Gracekeepers

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, T.C. Boyle, Dana Spiotta, Amy Bloom, Aimee Bender, Jesmyn Ward, Heidi Julavits, Hari Kunzru, and many others.

Kirsty Logan's The Gracekeepers is an exceptional debut, a vividly original fairy tale of a novel.

The Scotsman wrote of the book:

"Everything about this book is beautiful; the language is as poetic and diaphanous as nature and the many characters who contribute to the story are utterly authentic in this magic realist world. Every one of them stays with you, leaving you craving more about their back stories and their fates. Logan has a uniquely light touch on the theme of fluidity of gender and, above all, it all seems driven by humanity. This is a delicious piece of work from a supremely talented young writer."

Stream a playlist of these songs at Spotify.


In her own words, here is Kirsty Logan's Book Notes music playlist for her debut novel The Gracekeepers:


"We're All in This Together" – Gabby Young & Other Animals

From the song:
"And the souls were left resting
As they gathered up the crowd
No one was left guessing
No one was proud"

From the book:
"After that night's performance, the circus crew felt the storm finally stirring to life. With glitter in their blood, coals in their chests, choking on their secrets; they raised anchor and sailed into the night. Soon they lost sight of land. The first drops of rain fell."

I started writing The Gracekeepers in a tiny rented flat in a Scottish fishing village. It rained almost constantly: a light smirr that purred on the window when I was inside and left a glittering veil on my hair when I was outside. It was early October and I was always cold; after waking I'd pull on all my jumpers, put coffee on the stove, and huddle over the electric heater until I got the feeling back in my hands so I could type. In the week I spent in the village, there were two storms. The flat's window faced the harbour, which was basically a high stone wall against which the waves raged and sucked. The harbour was closed when the storms came, and it was easy to see why: anyone standing anywhere near that wall would have been swept out to sea. So I stayed inside, wrapped in my layers of clothing, watching the grey sky darken to black and making up a storm.

When I'm writing I play a handful of songs over and over until I don't really hear them any more. This one I listened to while sitting at the kitchen table where I wrote, and leaning on the stone windowsill feeling the chill seep into my legs, and sipping coffee while hopefully pushing buttons on my phone even though I knew there was no signal.

When I left the village I bought an antique brass compass, which I thought was a good sign because the main character in the book is called North. This became a superstition: every morning before beginning my writing, I had to make sure the compass pointed north. I did this every single day of the six months it took to finish the first draft.


"Oh Sailor" – Mr Little Jeans

From the song:
"When you feel like you're out there on your own
Know there is someone watching over you
When out at sea feels nothing like a home
Oh sailor we will blow the wind right"

From the book:
"As the little boat sailed away, back to the main ship anchored at the edge of the graceyard, Callanish felt that one end of a fine thread was tied to the boat's stern and the other to her ribs. With every beat of the oars she felt something over her heart stretch, and stretch, until it might break."

A few months after I started writing the book, my four-year relationship ended. I was midway through another writing retreat, this one at a 17th century castle in a woodland estate near Edinburgh. I went back home to Glasgow for one night to do a reading, and while I was there my girlfriend and I broke up. It was sudden, but also a long time coming.

It was January, and on my way back to the castle, snow started falling. I knew when the retreat was over I'd have to move out of the flat I shared with my now ex-girlfriend and back in with my mum. I didn't have anywhere else to go. I was lonely. I was angry. I was frantic and heart-hurt and terrified and determined to live a good life – a better life, the very best life – to show my girlfriend what she was missing. I spent the next two weeks tramping through the snowy woods or curled under a yellow woollen blanket in the library or hunched over my laptop. Every evening I spent hours in the deep Victorian bath, reading poetry books and listening to the rain fall on the skylight (you may have noticed a rainy theme; I live in Scotland, so.) By the time the retreat was over, I wasn't angry any more. Heartbreak is never fun, but it does help when you start to heal in a silent, snowy castle.

I listened to this song over and over, I think because it's about being lonely and lost, but is also beautiful and happy with its clink-clunk bells and uplifting chorus of voices. I wanted to do something similar with the book, and with my life: a story of learning to embrace isolation, to accept it, before you can begin a new life with companionship.


"Wakes" – Nina Nastasia

From the song:
"You misunderstood
If what you want from me
Is to give thanks for this empty tenderness"

From the book:
"No matter what she felt, the show must go on. She said the words, she performed the actions, she took her payment. But she only mimed grief. She didn't mean it. How could she? She didn't know this man, beyond his stitched-shut face and his wife's too-tight wedding ring. Sometimes she pretended that she was saying the words of the service about her mother. This helped, and on the darkest days she'd had to leave long pauses for fear that her voice would crack."

A year before I wrote this book, my dad died suddenly. He was 58 and I still don't know how or why he died. I wish I had some wise words to provide here about grief, but I don't. I still miss him. I will always miss him. Perhaps that's all there is to say about grief: it gets better, but it never gets completely better. Halfway through writing the book, my granddad (also my last living grandparent) died. A month later my boss died, in circumstances which seemed, to me at least, uncomfortably similar to my dad's death. This was always going to be a book about grief, so I was prepared to think about it in my imaginary life. I hadn't expected it to be touched by so much loss in my real life.

I listened to this song on a loop while writing the first funeral scene, or Resting as they're called in the book. There are several such scenes, as the other main character, Callanish, works as a gracekeeper – something between a hermit and an undertaker, who prepares dead bodies and puts them to rest in a floating, isolated graveyard on the equator. I was on another writing retreat, to another tiny seaside town – much of this book was written by water, which makes sense when you think that in Scotland you're never more than 40 miles from the sea. Of the ten cottages, mine was the only occupied one. It was winter and no one else wanted to rent a damp cottage in a damp town in a damp month. Every morning after my coffee I'd put on my coat and hat and gloves and scarf, and anything else I could find to keep out the biting wind, and walk down the path to the beach. The sand was always wet, the water underneath sucking at my boots with every step. I'd cup my hands around my eyes so I couldn't see any land at all, and stare out to sea. Callanish is alone in her graceyard, with no one else living for miles around, and it wasn't difficult for me to pretend that I was equally alone.


"Paris is Burning" – St Vincent

From the song:
"Dance poor people, dance and drown
Dance fair Paris to the ground"

From the book:
"Cash knew that this night would be like every other. The clowns would draw on masks, wrap their limbs in costumes, tuck and pad their torsos strategically so that the audience got their gleeful little genderfuck. Then they'd pretty-up their coracle for the after-show, make it all mysterious for the clam girls: layers of coloured fabric, strange bones, abandoned objects they'd found while skin-diving. When landlockers bunked up with a circus performer, they expected something special. They had all the slow-witted farm-boys they wanted on their grubby home islands – now they wanted exotic animals in unlocked cages. They wanted to blink glitter for at least a week after. They wanted a secret to keep from their future husbands."

Back at my mother's house, where I was now temporarily living, I got stuck back into my first draft. I had two tasks every day: to write, and to find somewhere to live. In the book, the three clowns initially seem to be the antagonists. But it's not as simple as that. I wanted to move past a binary: not just girl or boy, not just gay or straight, not just land or sea. The clowns aren't good and they're not bad. In many ways, looking outside the binary is good. I wanted the clowns to be sinister, threatening: a source of chaos. I listened to this song as I wrote their chapters, loving the way they twist and leer as the world burns. I'd revel in their gleeful smashing of accepted rules – but then I'd break off to look at flats and mortgages. It felt strange to be writing about anarchy and chaos, to imagine I was living in a world of people constantly on the move, while I was trying to anchor myself. At the same time, I found it easy to connect with them and their peripatetic lives. I didn't belong anywhere. Like all the characters in the book, I was trying to make a home – whatever and wherever that was.


"Papi Pacify" – FKA twigs

From the song:
"Never tell me no
Whisper you’re the one to fix it too
Even if you won't"

From the book:
"When people are cruel it's often said that they have no hearts, only cold spaces or lumps of ice in their chests. This was never true of Avalon. She had no heart, everyone knew, but there was nothing cold about her. In her chest burned an enormous coal, white-hot, brighter than the north star. North knew the truth about Avalon: she was made of fire, and she would burn them all."

There's a character in the book called Avalon. She's the ringmaster's wife, and she's sultry and furious basically all of the time. I loved writing her. She's the true antagonist: the spark that sets the whole thing alight. By the time I was writing Avalon's chapters, I had bought a flat. To get into her mindset I listened to this song over and over while sitting at my new kitchen table – which was actually my granddad's old kitchen table, one of the many pieces of furniture I inherited after he died. I lived alone and so I could write all night, headphones on, lit in the glow of my laptop. I'd been dating an assortment of women, and to be honest I felt pretty sultry and furious about it all. Then I met one woman who made all the others disappear. She moved in, and I was giddy with love basically all the time. I didn't write all night any more. For a while I barely wrote at all. But then she wanted to know about this book I was writing. From then on, every time I finished a chapter I'd read it aloud to her. For months, we shared a secret: we were both the only real inhabitants of this imaginary world I'd created.


"Heartbeats" – José Gonzalez

From the song:
"One night to be confused
One night to speed up truth
We had a promise made
Four hands and then away"

From the book:
"North had wanted Callanish to see the bear, to meet her family, but it was too dark. Instead she took the gracekeeper's hand and pressed it to the bear's broad back. At first she flinched, but then she let North's hand hold her own. The bear's snuffles caught from one breath to the next, but he did not wake. They kept their hands pressed to the bear's fur, feeling his heart beat strong and steady. Callanish smelled of warm breezes and saltwater. North breathed in deep, holding the scent inside her."

By the time I was writing the sections where the two main characters in the book meet, I was starting my new life with my soon-to-be wife. I was at an artists' retreat on the banks of Loch Long (this means 'ship lake', as 'long' is Gaelic for 'ship'). It was a testing ground for torpedoes during WW2 and is full of wrecks hidden beneath the water. The residences are made of converted shipping containers and overlook a little duck pond, and there are Highland cows wandering around – one morning I woke to find one peering through my window. I'd listened to this song before and always found it sad, a song of loss. But now when I listened, it felt like a love song. I played it over and over as I wrote about North and Callanish meeting: two strangers who recognise something familiar in one another. I wrote a lot that week. My girlfriend and I had adopted a puppy the week before, and I was keen to get my work done, get home and see them both.

Later, long after The Gracekeepers was finished and sold and edited, the six months it took to write the first draft took on a new clarity. I saw that I'd written a book about love and grief, while listening to songs about love and grief, while falling in love and – at least partly – out of my grief.


Kirsty Logan and The Gracekeepers links:

the author's website
excerpt from the book

Guardian review
Kirkus review
Lambda Literary review
Scotsman review

Weekend Edition interview with the author

BBC Radio 2 interview with the author
The List interview with the author


also at Largehearted Boy:

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)
Daily Downloads (free and legal daily mp3 downloads)
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
Word Bookstores Books of the Week (weekly new book highlights)

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This Week's Interesting Music Releases - May 19, 2015

Faith No More

Faith No More's Sol Invictus is the band's first new album in 18 years.

I can also recommend Bryce Dessner's Music for Wood and Strings, Holly Herndon's Platform, and Jim O'Rourke's Simple Songs.

Hot Chip's Why Make Sense?, Shilpa Ray's Last Year's Savage, the Fun Home: A New Musical cast recording and a vinyl edition of my favorite album of the year, Torres' Sprinter are also in stores and available to stream online this week.

Archival recordings include a reissue of the 15-CD box set Thelonious Monk: The Complete Riverside Recordings.

What new releases are you picking up this week? What can you recommend? Have I left anything noteworthy off the list?


This week's interesting music releases:

Bhi Bhiman: Rhythm and Reason
Brandon Flowers: The Desired Effect
Brian Wilson: Brian Wilson (remastered with bonus tracks)
Bryce Dessner and So Percussion: Music for Wood and Strings
Built to Spill: Untethered Moon [vinyl]
Ceremony: The L-Shaped Man
Du Blonde: Welcome Back To Milk
Dwight Yoakum: Second Hand Heart [vinyl]
Faith No More: Sol Invictus
Georgia Anne Muldrow: A Thoughtiverse Unmarred
Graham Parker: Mystery Glue
The Helio Sequence: The Helio Sequence
Holly Herndon: Platform
Holly Miranda: Holly Miranda
Hot Chip: Why Make Sense?
Jim O'Rourke: Simple Songs
Joanna Gruesome: Peanut Butter
Kopecky: Drug for the Modern Age
Lydia Lunch Retrovirus: Urge To Kill
Madisen Ward and the Mama Bear: Skeleton Crew
Morcheeba: Big Calm (reissue) [vinyl]
The Milk Carton Kids: Monterey
Nick Cave and Warren Ellis: Far From Men Soundtrack
Nirvana: Feels Like the First Time [vinyl]
Old Again: Grey Sky State of Mind
Paul Weller: Saturn's Patterns
Pet Symmetry: Pets Hounds
Rainer: Water
Ramones: Adios Amigos [vinyl]
Rush: Hemispheres (reissue) [vinyl]
Saun and Starr: Look Closer
Shamir: Ratchet
Shilpa Ray: Last Year's Savage
Snoop Dogg: Bush [vinyl]
Stevie Nicks: Crystal Visions [vinyl] (4-disc box set)
The Story So Far: The Story So Far
Strange Names: Use Your Time Wisely
Sun Ra: Duke Ellington's Sound Of Space (reissue)
Talk In Tongues: Alone With A Friend
Tanlines: Highlights
Tau Cross: Tau Cross
Thea Gilmore: Ghosts and Graffiti
Thelonious Monk: The Complete Riverside Recordings (reissue) (15-CD box set)
Torres: Sprinter [vinyl]
Total Babes: Heydays
Twenty One Pilots: Blurryface
Vaadat Charigim: Sinking As A Stone
Various Artists: The Darjeeling Limited (Original Soundtrack) (reissue) [vinyl]
Various Artists: Fun Home: A New Musical
Various Artists: Hedwig and the Angry Inch: Original Broadway Cast Recording (reissue) [vinyl]
Various Artists: Orphan Black: Original Television Soundtrack
Zedd: True Colors


also at Largehearted Boy:

weekly music release lists

100 online sources for free and legal music downloads
Book Notes (authors create music playlists for their book)
Daily Downloads (free and legal daily mp3 downloads)
musician/author interviews
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Short Cuts (writers pair a song with their short story or essay)
Soundtracked (composers and directors discuss their film's soundtracks)

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Shorties (An Interview with Nikki Giovanni, Stream the New Vaccines Album, and more)

The Los Angeles Review of Books interviewed poet Nikki Giovanni.


NPR Music is streaming the new Vaccines album, English Graffiti.


Biographile recommended biographies of blues musicians.


Amelia Gray listed 10 of her favorite dark books at Publishers Weekly.


Waxahatchee's Katie Crutchfield visited World Cafe for an interview and live performance.


Tin House interviewed author Charles Baxter.


BrooklynVegan interviewed Jon Fine about his memoir Your Band Sucks: What I Saw at Indie Rock's Failed Revolution (But Can No Longer Hear).


The Hairpin interviewed Jessica Hopper about her new book The First Collection of Criticism by a Living Female Rock Critic.


Spoon covered the Cramps' "TV Set."


The Irish Independent profiled author Irvine Welsh.


American Songwriter interviewed Ellis Ludwig-Leone of the band San Fermin.


The Millions shared a brief history pf colloquial book titles.


The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle profiled singer-songwriter Jason Isbell.


Justin Marozzi has been awarded the 2015 Ondaatje Prize for his book Baghdad: City of Peace, City of Blood--A History in Thirteen Centuries.


Don McLean talked to the Telegraph about writing his 1971 hit song "American Pie."


The New York Times profiled Judy Blume, whose novel for adults In the Unlikely Event is published next month.


Stream Courtney Love's new single.


Author Jami Attenberg discussed her 15v minutes of pop culture fame and the effect it had on her book sales at BuzzFeed.


The Oxford American remembered B.B. King's early singles.


Five hundred new fairy tales were discovered in Germany.


The forthcoming Kinks biopic will be directed by Julien Temple.


Poet Joseph Brodsky's first interview after being exiled from the Soviet Union in 1972.


Follow Largehearted Boy on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Tumblr, Google+, and Stumbleupon for links (updated throughout the day) that don't make the daily "Shorties" posts.


also at Largehearted Boy:

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

100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads
Atomic Books Comics Preview (the week's best new comics and graphic novels)
Book Notes (authors create playlists for their book)
daily mp3 downloads
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)

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

Daily Downloads (My Morning Jacket, Broken Fires, and more)

Every day, Daily Downloads offers free and legal music and/or stream.


Today's free and legal mp3 downloads:

Broken Fires: Silhouettes album [mp3]

Fleece: Scavenger album [mp3]

Miss Velvet: Miss Velvet's Whimsical Universe EP [mp3]

Ratboys: "Femme Fatale (Velvet Underground cover)" [mp3]
Ratboys: Have a Heart single [mp3]
Ratboys: Space Blows single [mp3]
Ratboys: Tixix single [mp3]

Various Artists: Because Mountains Are There To Climb album [mp3]

Various Artists: Benefit for Nepal album [mp3]


Free and legal live performances at other websites:

My Morning Jacket: 2015-05-15, Athens [mp3]


search for more free and legal music downloads at Largehearted Boy


also at Largehearted Boy:

other Daily Downloads

covers collections
100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads

Book Notes (authors create 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 music, books, and pop culture news and links)
Soundtracked (composers and directors discuss their film's soundtrack)
weekly new album lists

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

May 18, 2015

Book Notes - Catie Disabato "The Ghost Network"

The Ghost Network

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, T.C. Boyle, Dana Spiotta, Amy Bloom, Aimee Bender, Jesmyn Ward, Heidi Julavits, Hari Kunzru, and many others.

Inventive, engaging, and fast-paced, Catie Disabato's debut novel The Ghost Network is the perfect summer read.

Kirkus wrote of the book:

"A thrilling debut novel... Ultimately, the novel, with its intricate structure and agile pacing, adds up to a layered, well-executed story within an inventive story. Artistic ambition, cultural critique, and a revolutionary philosophy drive the mysteries underlying this complex, charismatic novel."

Stream a playlist of these songs at Spotify.


In her own words, here is Catie Disabato's Book Notes music playlist for her debut novel The Ghost Network:


My novel The Ghost Network is about a pop star named Molly Metropolis who disappears at the peak of her fame and the two young women – Caitlin Taer and Regina Nix – who try to find her and fall in love. I started writing the novel fueled by my love of pop music, especially top 40 pop. While I was writing the music I love guided me, inspired me, and provided my source material to create from.

Here are the songs of this book:


"City of Atlantis" – Molly Nilsson
Molly Nilsson is a European pop singer and one of the inspirations for Molly Metropolis's name and sound. The soundtrack to my writing this novel was dark synth sounds over everything else, which I think grew out of my love for this song and my feeling that this song matched the tone I wanted to create for this novel.

In regards to the lyrics, when I first heard the song, the only words I heard clearly were: "Let them chant this/ In the city of Atlantis." Obviously the idea of the lost city of Atlantis resonated with my obsession with secret cities and disappearing islands, an obsession that fueled a lot of the creation of The Ghost Network.

"Bad Romance" – Lady Gaga
This is one of our best pop songs – dramatic and fun, with strong hooks in the chorus, the bridge, and the verses. It's an earworm without being annoying. I think that this is the Gaga song that will last the longest, that will be played by our children at their early 2000s throwback dance parties. I also love to shout "I'm a free bitch, baby!" a lot.

"My Molly" – Ariel Pink & Sky Ferreira
A song about being overwhelmed by and obsessed with a girl named Molly – so, like, duh. When I listen to this song, the language of the opening lyrics ("earth shaking/ body quaking/ hair waving/ my Molly") lets me imagine a group of people watching Molly Metropolis perform, and feeling ownership over her as a fan. Ariel Pink has an earlier version of this song without Sky Ferreira, a recording that has a lot more lo fi noise on it. I like the Sky Ferreira version better because the production is more pop-y, and especially because having a woman sing the lyrics gives the song a bit of a queer edge which works super well with The Ghost Network.

"Only Girl (In the World)" – Xiu Xiu (originally performed by Rihanna)
I think this is the best cover of a pop song I've ever heard. The original is killer, and Jamie Stewart manages to change everything about it and still put out a fantastic track – which is what the best covers do. It has the dark synth sound that was my soundtrack when I was writing this book; I love the violins. I love Jamie's vocal performance in this track as well. He sounds so nakedly desperate! The way he distorts the vocals just adds to the deep emotional place he takes this song to. And I'm a sucker for covers where they don't change the original pronouns. Love that. Again, this adds a queer element into the performance.

"Style" – Taylor Swift
I'm a Tay superfan and her newest album came out during the final stages of my last edit, and listening to Style, my idea of Molly Metropolis's sound clicked into place. I've been into outrun electro since we all got into it when the Drive soundtrack came out, and I love the way Tay (& producer Max Martin) mix it into pop here. If someone asked me what a Molly Metropolis song sounds like, I'd play them this song.

"Run My Heart" – Twin Shadow
This is one of my favorite songs on one of my favorite albums, which I listened to obsessively in the years when I was writing this book. The sound of "Run My Heart" was the early inspiration for Molly's outrun electro style, before "Style" came out.

"Tattoo" – Jordin Sparks
When I was first figuring out what Molly Metropolis's first album would sound like, I made a huge playlist of pop tracks released in 2008-2009, to get a sense of what her contemporaries were putting out. 2008 and 2009 was a great era for pop. Rihanna put out Loud, one of the best pop albums of the 2000s, and Beyoncé was in her Sasha Fierce phase and Gaga was at her pinnacle. But "Tattoo" stands out even with intense competition because it's just such a well-executed earworm. The chorus is long, but incredibly catchy, you never want it to end. I listened to it over and over while writing. Because I'm a normal human writer, I imagine my characters singing passionately at each other to express their feelings, and in the musical version of The Ghost Network, Tattoo is a song Taer would sing to Nix right before Taer disappears.

"Cold War" – Janelle Monáe
I love Janelle Monáe and her fixation on the movie Metropolis was the inspiration for Molly's fixation on the same. I listened to this song when I was writing about the New Society's decision to fight against Molly. It's the theme song for the secret war going on throughout the book. This is one of Janelle's simplest songs, from a production perspective, but the vocal performance is just out of this world. I get shivers when I hear it.

"Music for Girls" – Baxendale
I know nothing about Baxendale; I've never heard any of their other songs. But I love "Music for Girls." It's a story-song, about a boy who likes dance/house music (which is "music for girls") and eventually becomes a hot DJ in a London club and falls in love – but the emotional core of loving music. I loved the pop synthy energy in the production of this track. The story I was writing especially resonated with these lyrics in the bridge, which are about music: "And it's everything to me/ Feels like I'm fighting for something!"

"The Resurrectionist" – Pet Shop Boys
Writing about a pop star who is influenced by 80s synths means that I had to listen to some Pet Shop Boys. They are a major influence on Molly's sound. This song's production was inspiring, but so was the content. The song is written about the doctors working in London in the late 1700s who developed modern surgical practices. They were called the Resurrection Men because they would rob graves for fresh corpses to operate on. Just as I was beginning to write The Ghost Network, I got really into this part of the history of medicine, and because these doctors would also operate on exotic animals that were brought to them by the explorers who sailed to the Caribbean, I got into the Age of Exploration and mapmaking, which somehow got me into the Situationists, and all of a sudden I was writing a novel about maps. This song marks, for me, one of the early mini-obsessions that brought my book to life in my head.

"The Metro" – Berlin
"The Metro" is a weird pop synth song about a public transportation and as such, it is the soul sister of my novel. I listened to this over and over while writing any part of the novel were Taer or Nix had to run around a lot or do a lot of physical activities. I imagined the opening synth riff as Nix's soundtrack when she's running around without shoes on in the winter in Michigan. And of course, this track has a total outrun electro sound, and like "Run My Heart" was influential in my development of Molly's sound.

So Fine – Telepathe
I listened to this song often in the first year of writing this book, 2009, when I was banging out the (very rough) first draft. So Fine has the dark synth sound I love, that was the guiding aesthetic of my audio mood board for The Ghost Network. Unlike all the other songs on this list, the music video for So Fine was just as important as the track itself. Early scenes in the video show band members Busy Gangnes and Melissa Livaudais in this really beautifully disheveled apartment, and although I never describe this in the book, I always imagined that was what Taer's apartment looked like. The vibe that I got from the song and video both was guiding for me in terms of developing Nix and Taer's relationship. I imagine these beautiful girls and artfully messy girls, their hair always frizzy from wearing hats, Taer slowly gaining a little belly fat in the winter as I imagine she does every year, sleeping in an unmade bed, the kitchen counters always covered in crumbs – it was from these imaginings that I was able to form the characters whose relationship is really central to the novel.

"Lose It" – Austra
More pop, more women singing pop, more dark synths. The lead singer of Austra, Katie Stelmanis, was trained as an opera singer. There are lots of places in this song where I have no idea what she's saying, which I'm totally fine with because her voice is so beautiful, but I much prefer the sections where I can understand what she's saying – especially in the latter section of the song where she repeats: "In the darkness comes/ Another, another/ Holder her by the thumbs/ The other, the other." I interpret these lyrics as life being dark, and finding someone to love in that darkness, and holding on tightly to that love. These stanzas are my love theme for Nix and Taer.

"Noise on the Radio" – Claire Cronin
Claire is one of my closest friends and I've been listening to her music since I was in high school. I love her voice. She's perhaps my favorite vocalist of all time. There parts of my novel that are really keyed up and I need the synths to get myself going, but there are also really quiet sad moments, and I always listened to Noise on the Radio to get myself in the right mood. I imagine Nix and Taer listening to this song right before Taer's own disappearance. At that time, they are deeply in love, but their love is hurting them.

"Til the World Ends (The Femme Fatale Remix)" – Britney Spears, Ke$ha, Nicki Minaj
I listened to every pop song about the end of the world that exists as research for Molly's apocalyptic lyrics and to insert a bit of that on-the-precipice-of-the-end energy into the story. I will claim this one as my favorite. It's like a "Dancing Til the World Ends" combo meal, everything from Britney's original track, plus two sides. Nicki's verse is of course on point, and Ke$ha actually wrote the lyrics so her vocal presence is like a fun little Easter egg.


Catie Disabato and The Ghost Network links:

the author's Tumblr

Globe and Mail review
Kirkus review
The Millions review
Publishers Weekly review

The Nervous Breakdown interview with the author
San Francisco Chronicle profile of the author


also at Largehearted Boy:

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)
Daily Downloads (free and legal daily mp3 downloads)
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
Word Bookstores Books of the Week (weekly new book highlights)

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Book Notes - Neil Smith "Boo"

Boo

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, T.C. Boyle, Dana Spiotta, Amy Bloom, Aimee Bender, Jesmyn Ward, Heidi Julavits, Hari Kunzru, and many others.

Neil Smith's Boo is an original and masterfully told debut novel, a dark and deeply affecting depiction of the hereafter.

Neil Smith will be in conversation with his editor Lexy Bloom at Manhattan's McNally Jackson bookstore on June 3rd.

Publishers Weekly wrote of the book:

"Short story writer Smith (Bang Crunch) delivers a splendidly confident debut novel, a fantasy of emotional healing in a unique afterlife."

Stream a playlist of these songs at Spotify.


In his own words, here is Neil Smith's Book Notes music playlist for his debut novel Boo:


"Stayin' Alive" by the Bee Gees
Boo died in September 1979, a year and a half after the Bee Gees topped the Billboard charts with this single from the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack. For dead thirteen-year-olds living in a heaven modeled after a public-housing project, I can think of no better theme song than "Stayin' Alive," which according to Robin Gibb is all about survival. The lyrics even mention "the wings of heaven." Like the song's narrator, Boo has been "kicked around" since he was born.

"Strange Fruit" by Billie Holiday
Haunting, eerie, devastating, "Strange Fruit" was chosen as the song of the century by Time in 1999. Originally written as a poem by Abel Meeropol, a white Jewish teacher, the song became famous thanks to versions sung by Billie Holiday (1939) and Nina Simone (1965). The lyrics describe a lynching with references to "blood on the leaves" and "strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees." In my novel, Thelma Rudd, a black thirteen-year-old who died on the end of a rope, sings the song at a Halloween pageant in a reenactment of her death.

"Friendship" by Cole Porter
Boo's parents sing this Cole Porter standard as a duo to their customers at their barbershop, Clippers. Boo later sings it to his new friend Johnny Henzel when the two of them are on the lam. After Johnny is jailed, Boo sends his friend a line from the lyrics: "If you're ever in a jam, here I am." Cole Porter wrote the song for the 1934 musical Anything Goes. Over the years, it's been sung by many duos, including Ethel Merman and Bert Lahr, Lucille Ball and Vivian Vance, and even Paul McCarthy and John Lennon.

"Monster Mash" by Bobby Pickett
Though religious holidays aren't celebrated in my heaven, Halloween is still a big deal. The dead children of Town dress up as ghouls and zombies with fake knives sticking out of their backs and fake blood dripping from their wounds. They put "Monster Mash" on their record players and do spastic dances inspired by the moves of Frankenstein's monster. Bobby Pickett wrote and recorded this "graveyard smash" in 1962. In it, he imitates the voice of horror-movie master Boris Karloff.

"The Wobblin' Goblin" by Rosemary Clooney
Another novelty song for Halloween, this gem recounts the story of a goblin who can't fly too high because his magic broom keeps breaking. I learned the lyrics when I was five and have never forgotten them. In my novel, Boo discovers a music box that plays the tune. But this innocent children's song takes on a more sinister note when Boo also discovers bullets inside the music box. Will he use them to put an end to Johnny's afterlife? Fun fact: Rosemary is George Clooney's aunt.

"Miss Otis Regrets" by Ella Fitzgerald
Thelma Rudd, formerly of Wilmington, North Carolina, is the first friend that Boo makes in Town. A gifted singer, she plans to mount a one-woman show called Out to Lunch inspired by Miss Otis's misadventures. In the song, written by Cole Porter in 1934, a butler tells the story of his employer, a lady who strays down on lovers' lane and later pulls out a gun and shoots her lover down. She's hanged for her crime, but not before she utters the unforgettable line, "Miss Otis regrets she's unable to lunch today."

"To Wish Impossible Things" by the Cure
In 1992, Boo finds a portal back to America and encounters a goth teenager with mascaraed eyes, white makeup, and a nest of messy black hair. On the kid's T-shirt is the name "Robert Smith," a reference to the Cure's lead singer. In the goth's apartment, Boo hears a slow song sung by a gloomy man who says he's always wishing for "impossible things." This was my sly way of bringing back to life my brother, also named Robert Smith, who OD'd when I was around Boo's age. The Cure also recorded a song called "Just Like Heaven."


Neil Smith and Boo links:

the author's Wikipedia entry

Kirkus review
Lambda Literary review
LitReactor review
Ottawa Citizen review
Publishers Weekly review


also at Largehearted Boy:

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)
Daily Downloads (free and legal daily mp3 downloads)
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
Word Bookstores Books of the Week (weekly new book highlights)

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Shorties (Recipes from Novels, Reconsidering Neil Young's Ditch Trilogy, and more)

CookFiction.com shares recipes from novels, movies, television shows, and more.


The A.V. Club reconsidered Neil Young's "Ditch" trilogy of albums: Time Fades Away, Tonight’s The Night, and On The Beach.


Drowned in Sound interviewed singer-songwriter Paul Weller.


Biographile interviewed author Amitava Kumar.


Pitchfork explored the influence of Sun Ra's music on modern musicians.


The Atlas Review interviewed author Valeria Luiselli.


Dissolve examined fictional pop music acts.


Author Jac Jemc talked food with Entropy.


Shortlist listed songs that reference books.


The New Yorker interviewed Dorthe Nors about her story in this week's issue.


SPIN interviewed singer-songwriter Torres.


Lit Hub profiled author Nell Zink.


The Quietus interviewed musician Holly Herndon.


PopMatters shared an excerpt from Alberto Manguel's book Curiosity.


Electronic musician Laurent Garnier discussed songs that have shaped dance music at the Guardian.


The Wall Street Journal recommended books to read this summer.


A new Public Image Ltd. album is coming September 4th.


The Los Angeles Review of Books interviewed author Kazuo Ishiguro.


NPR Music is streaming Los Hijos De La Montana's self-titled album.


The shortlist for the 2015 Caine Prize for African writing was been announced.



Weekend Edition interviewed Kirsty Logan about her novel The Gracekeepers.


All Things Considered recommended new albums from Africa.


The Atlantic profiled author Herman Wouk, calling him "the great war novelist America forgot."


Paste listed great contemporary art and music crossovers.


Harold Bloom listed the books that helped shape "the American sublime" at The Week.


Follow Largehearted Boy on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Tumblr, Google+, and Stumbleupon for links (updated throughout the day) that don't make the daily "Shorties" posts.


also at Largehearted Boy:

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

100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads
Atomic Books Comics Preview (the week's best new comics and graphic novels)
Book Notes (authors create playlists for their book)
daily mp3 downloads
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)

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Daily Downloads (The Old Ceremony, The Duke of Norfolk, and more)

Every day, Daily Downloads offers free and legal music and/or stream.


Today's free and legal mp3 downloads:

The Duke of Norfolk: "A Revolutionary Waltz" [mp3]

Eliot Wilder: Remember Me album [mp3]

Faun the Flame: "Thief" [mp3]

Great Mutations: Cheap Stuff EP [mp3]

The Old Ceremony: New Stream for the Old Ceremony album [mp3]

Omoh: St. Clara EP [mp3]

Sarah Kang: Fair Weather EP [mp3]

Scary Little Friends: From the Beginning album [mp3]

Secret Friend: "Blue Sky" [mp3] from


Free and legal live performances at other websites:

Thimble Circus: 2015-05-10, Athens [mp3]


search for more free and legal music downloads at Largehearted Boy


also at Largehearted Boy:

other Daily Downloads

covers collections
100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads

Book Notes (authors create 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 music, books, and pop culture news and links)
Soundtracked (composers and directors discuss their film's soundtrack)
weekly new album lists

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May 17, 2015

Largehearted Boy Weekly Wrap-Up - May 17, 2015

A list of the past week's Largehearted Boy features:


Book Notes: (authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates to their book)

Ben Snakepit for his comics collection Snake Pit Gets Old
Casey Gray for his novel Discount
Laline Paull for her novel The Bees
Lauren Acampora for her short story collection The Wonder Garden
Sara Nović for her novel Girl at War
Shya Scanlon for his novel The Guild of Saint Cooper


Weekly New Book Recommendations:

Atomic Books Comics Preview (recommended new comics and graphic novels)
Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week (recommended new books, magazines, and comics)
WORD Bookstores Books of the Week (recommended new books)


New Music Recommendations:

The Week's Interesting Music Releases


And of course, the daily music and news posts:

Daily Downloads (10 free and legal mp3 downloads every day, plus links to free live recordings online)
Shorties (news & links from the worlds of music, books, and pop culture)


also at Largehearted Boy:

100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads
Antiheroines
Atomic Books Comics Preview
Book Notes
Contests / Giveaways
Cover Song Collections
Daily Downloads
Lists
weekly music release lists
musician/author Interviews
Note Books
Soundtracked
WORD Bookstores Books of the Week

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May 16, 2015

Atomic Books Comics Preview - May 16, 2015

In the weekly Atomic Books Comics Preview, Benn Ray highlights notable new comics and graphic novels.

Benn Ray is the owner of Atomic Books, an independent bookstore in Baltimore. The Mobtown Shank is his blog, and his comic Said What? is syndicated weekly in the Baltimore Sun's B-Paper.

Atomic Books has been named one of BuzzFeed's Great American Bookstores, as well as one of Flavorwire's 10 greatest comic and graphic novel stores in America.


Extraordinary People: A Semi-Comprehensive Guide to Some of the World's Most Fascinating Individuals

Extraordinary People: A Semi-Comprehensive Guide to Some of the World's Most Fascinating Individuals
by Michael Hearst / Aaron Scamihorn

What do P.T. Barnum, Charlie Chaplin, Nikola Tesla, Bruce Lee, Evel Knievel, Harry Houdini, Temple Grandin, Ben Franklin, Bessie Coleman and George Washington Carver all have in common? They are all in this excellent, all ages compendium of Extraordinary People. Each entry includes a portrait by Aaron Schamihorn and is loaded with fascinating facts and histories of some of humankind's most colorful characters.


The First Collection of Criticism by a Living Female Rock Critic

The First Collection of Criticism by a Living Female Rock Critic
by Jessica Hopper

The title of Hopper's collection of criticisms proudly declares its significance. Critics do more than act as arbiters. They serve a greater social function than simply giving a work of art a thumbs down or one star out of ten or a dreaded 0.0 on Pitchfork (I'm looking at you Sonic Youth, Robert Pollard, Liz Phair, Kiss, Flaming Lips). Critics inform. Critics educate and inspire. Critics provide cultural context. Critics can also ruin. But critics do more than explain, they offer a viewpoint - a way of seeing. They bring out things we, as biased fans, as haters with or own subjective agendas, as overwhelmed consumers may have missed in our rush to live our lives while finding new content to bring into those lives. Critics help us understand art and by extension the world we live in. Critics educate us and in educating us, they (and we) make art better. Hopper's work should be considered alongside names like Greil Marcus, Chuck Klosterman, Lester Bangs, Ellen Wills, Dave Marsh and Robert Christgau. She is a critic whose writing can challenge us as only something that offers us the truth can.


Night Nurse #1

Night Nurse #1
by Jean Thomas / Winslow Mortimer / Alex Maleev / various

If you were watching the Netflix Daredevil series and were wondering who is that character Rosario Dawson was playing, well, it's sort of a hybrid character. But part of that hybrid is Night Nurse: Hell's Kitchen's vigilante fixer-upper. Marvel collects some of this quirky character's stories here in this over-sized special one-shot.


Wuvable Oaf

Wuvable Oaf
by Ed Luce

Ed Luce's great comic Wuvable Oaf is collected here in a nice, slightly over-sized hardcover edition. Oaf is an ex-wrestler and a bear who most likely suffers from toxoplasmosis (given his love for cats). There's romance, there's the San Francisco music scene, and there are cats. So many cats...


Questions, concerns, comments or gripes – e-mail benn@atomicbooks.com. If there’s a comic I should know about, send it my way at Atomic, c/o Atomic Books 3620 Falls Rd., Baltimore, MD 21211.


Atomic Books & Benn Ray links:

Atomic Books website
Atomic Books on Twitter
Atomic Books on Facebook
Benn Ray's blog (The Mobtown Shank)
Benn Ray's comic, Mutant Funnies


also at Largehearted Boy:

other Atomic Books Comics Preview lists (weekly new comics & graphic novel highlights)

Antiheroines (interviews with up and coming female comics artists)
Book Notes (authors create music 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)
WORD Bookstores Books of the Week (weekly new book highlights)

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