November 8, 2018

Helen Klein Ross's Playlist for Her Novel "The Latecomers"

The Latecomers

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.

Helen Klein Ross's novel The Latecomers is an engrossing multi-generational saga of family and secrets.


In her own words, here is Helen Klein Ross's Book Notes music playlist for her novel The Latecomers:



The Latecomers is a multi-generational story that spans an American century. It’s set mostly in an ancestral house in New England called Hollingwood where the Hollingworth family and people who work for them live, separated by time. Events in the story range from 1899 to present day. Some of these songs I imagined heard at Hollingwood on a gramophone, others streamed into its restored parlors on Spotify.

The story starts at the turn of the (other) century. The Hollingworth family has wed and bred in the old house for decades. They hire a young Irish immigrant Bridey Molloy as a live-in maid. It’s before World War 1, when technologies like electric lights and rotary telephones are emerging, women’s roles are changing, and Bridey, who has just given up a child born out of wedlock, is emboldened by the promise of a fresh start. She cares for the Hollingworth family as if it were her own, until a mysterious death changes Bridey and the household forever. The truth behind the mystery remains buried until present day when the youngest Hollingworth inadvertently brings it to light.

Channeling The Latecomers through music made me realize that the book can almost be shuffle-played. The timelines are interweaved so that the story works no matter which chapter you read first. I'm not sure if this is a good thing or bad.

‘Ar Éireann Ní Neosainn Cé hÍ’, The High Kings

I chose this Celtic folk song not only because it’s gorgeous and haunting, but because it’s about a lover vanishing, which is what happens to Bridey. She’s a 16 year old Irish girl who runs away from home in 1908 with the boy she means to marry—but soon finds herself alone on Ellis Island and expecting a child.

‘The Paris Match’, The Style Council

In pre-WW1 America (and Ireland), French women were thought to be savviest about not only fashion, but sex. At first Bridey doesn’t believe she is pregnant because “you couldn’t conceive the first time you did it”, a fact confirmed by a friend “who’d been to France and knew everything.” Later in the book, when a Frenchwoman visits the house in New England where Bridey is employed, Madame shocks the householders with foreign notions like a new form of calisthenics called yoga, pastel-colored straw hats and the exotic practice of sending postal cards overseas to her dog.

‘Sequence: Virgines’, Anonymous 4

When Bridey first comes to New York, she finds refuge at the Holy Rosary Home for the Protection of Irish Immigrant Girls, an invention based on a similarly named Catholic mission that actually existed in Lower Manhattan. The Mission of Our Lady of the Rosary for the Protection of Irish Immigrant Girls took in nearly one third of the 307,823 Irish girls who passed through the Port of New York between 1883 and 1908. Chapter 7 begins on the Feast of the Assumption which celebrates the Virgin Mary’s bodily ascension into heaven. It is a “holy day of obligation” for Catholics, meaning they must go to Mass. I imagine this was one of the hymns that Bridey and her friend Mary hear that morning at 6 AM Mass before taking an omnibus uptown to work. It’s also the day when the nuns discover that Bridey is pregnant, which results in her being expelled from the Home.

‘The Empire State of Mind (Part 2) Broken Down’, Alicia Keys

The "Empire State of Mind" was first performed by Jay-Z and Alicia Keys at a benefit concert which paid tribute to the police officers and firefighters who died responding to the September 11 terrorist attacks.

The Latecomers begins with a prologue set in New York City on September 11, 2001. Emma is a teenager whose father works at Morgan Stanley in the North Tower. Standing in a crowd on an uptown sidewalk, she watches multiple screens in an electronics store window show the North Tower (Tower 2) going down, again and again, but can’t process the possibility that her father is gone.

‘Munchkinland’, the Munchkins from The Wizard of Oz

I still recall the amazement I felt watching this scene for the first time on our console television which was black and white. I didn’t know that color came in at this point, until told by friends whose houses “had color” which began my campaign at home for one.

The book introduces Sarah Hollingworth as she is reading aloud from The Wizard of Oz, a book so new, she’s first to check it out of the library. The lyrics remind me of a later scene in the book, in which upstanding Sarah meets “fallen” Bridey at The Home for Fallen and Wayward Girls:

the young lady who fell from a star
She fell from the sky, she fell very far

I played this list while making dinner last night and others in the kitchen begged me to omit this one as they found it too grating. I won’t be offended if you skip it—even though shared stats will tell me you did, heh.

‘Stop This Train’, John Mayer

The Latecomers begins in an era when train travel was still a modern marvel to most Americans, with its lounges, smoking cars, dining cars, sleeping cars, and railroad timetables predictable enough to let business travelers begin to schedule meetings in distant cities for the next day.

Many of the characters in this novel wish to get off the train, metaphorically speaking. Like Mayer, they discover that they “can’t take the speed it’s moving in.”

‘Seothín Seó {Irish shoheen sho}’, Caera

This is an ancient Celtic lullaby that Bridey sings to her baby before giving him up for adoption. It tells a story based on an old Irish superstition that babies are likely to be carried off by “wee folk” who are stolen children themselves. Some are adults whose children were stolen from them. In this song, a “wee woman” warns a washerwoman on a riverbank that her child might be taken, while hushing the stolen baby in her care, regretting that her own child remains lost to her forever.

Hush-a-by baby, babe not mine,
Shoheen sho, ulolo,
Shoheen sho, strange baby O!
You’re not my own sweet baby O!

It’s an unlikely scenario for a lullaby, isn’t’ it?—But then, so is our Rock-a-by-Baby that tells about a cradle with a baby in it falling out of a tree.

‘Anything Goes’, Harper’s Bizarre

Cole Porter wrote 'Anything Goes' in the 1930s, a song that includes references to the financial woes of “old money” when fortunes declined during the Depression, which is what happens to the Hollingworths. In the 1930s, they can no longer depend on their eponymous brass works manufacturing firm to keep them afloat. Vincent is the first son in generations who must seek employment outside the firm. He goes into advertising, which is also referenced in the song. “So Missus R. with all her trimmings/can broadcast abed from Simmons” is a stab at President Roosevelt who supposedly braced himself each week to hear what his wife Eleanor would say on her weekly radio show sponsored by a mattress company.

‘Mercedes Benz’, Janis Joplin

Janis Joplin recorded this song in 1970, all in one take. Three days later, she died. I was in tenth grade, and like most of my classmates, devastated. How could someone so young and so vibrant die? We went to an all-girls Catholic school and probably for this reason, we were thrilled by the audacity of those lyrics. Ask the Lord to prove his love by buying you a big fancy car? Dig it!

My character Ruth is the same age I was in 1970. In a scene that opens Chapter 53, she turns up her car radio to hear Jimmy Hendrix, then Janis Joplin, glad that “Casey Kesem was playing their songs constantly now, as they’d both just tragically died.” Readers who came of age when I did will remember what a big deal announcer Casey Kesem was in those days. He made the “Top 40” a thing for my generation and it was usually his station blaring from our transistor radios swinging from wrist straps.

‘Toot, Toot, Tootsie’, Al Jolson

This song is from the 1927 film The Jazz Singer, the first full-length “talkie.” My character Vincent goes with friends to see its premiere at Radio City Music Hall. What surprised me was how little talking there was in the film, which featured only about two minutes of spoken dialogue. In my research, I discovered that people in Hollywood were slow to embrace the idea of “talkies.” Studio heads were skeptical, unconvinced that people who went to see movies, would also want to hear them. For several years, both silent and “talkie” versions of each film were made until it became clear that, yes, the new technology would catch on.

‘Bonjour Tristesse’, Juliette Greco

Before this was a song, it was a French novel of the same title, published in 1954. Its author Françoise Sagan was only 18. Even more impressive to me than her diminutive age was that she achieved best-seller fame with just 30,000 words, less than half the word count of most novels. Otto Preminger brought the book to film in 1958. This is a song from its soundtrack and I include it because its lyrics mourn the loss of a lover, as my character Mr. Hollingworth mourns the loss of his beloved Madame Brassard.

‘Elsa’s Procession to the Cathedral, from Lohengrin’, The Marine Band

The Latecomers features two weddings, one that takes place in 1910, the other in 2016. Both brides wear the same family veil and process up the aisle to the same music: the Bridal Chorus from Wagner's Lohengrin (opera, 1850) The piece most people know as “Here Comes the Bride” skyrocketed to popularity with church organists after 1858 when it was chosen by the daughter of Queen Victoria for her nuptials. I chose this version because it’s an unusual band transcription.

"Jenny Wren," Baptiste Trotignon

Paul McCartney wrote this in 2005, inspired by a Charles Dickens character of the same name in Our Mutual Friend. A wren appears early on in my novel, when animal-loving Hannah Hollingworth coaxes a wren into the house, afraid it will freeze. She won’t put it out until she is told that “a bird in the house meant someone was going to die”—a prediction that plays out before the end of the book. Because the story unfolds in non-linear timelines, the death foretold has already occurred in the first chapter.


Helen Klein Ross and The Latecomers links:

the author's website
excerpt from the book

Kirkus 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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November 8, 2018

Shorties (An Interview with Diane Seuss, A Pedro the Lion Tint Desk Concert, and more)

Diane Seuss

Entropy interviewed poet Diane Seuss.

The Rumpus shared four poems by Seuss.


Pedro the Lion played a Tiny Desk Concert.


24 "best books of 2018" lists were added to Largehearted Boy's master aggregation on Tuesday (bringing the total to 131), including The Kitchn's hottest new cookbooks, PDN's best photo books, Strategy + Business's best business book lists, plus much more.


The Adulting Well Podcast interviewed Jawbreaker's Blake Schwarzenbach.


November's best eBook deals.

eBook on sale for $1.99 today:

Captains and Kings by Taylor Caldwell
The People's Republic of Everything by Nick Mamatas


Rolling Stone recommended essential Joni Mitchell songs for her 75th birthday.


Ian King discussed his book Appetite for Definition: The A to Z Guide to Rock Genres with Washed Up Emo.


NPR Music is streaming Azusa's new album, Heavy Yoke.


The Millions interviewed author Álvaro Enrigue.


Stream two new Conor Oberst songs.


The New York Times recommended children's books about heroic young refugees.


John K. Samson covered Christine Fellows' "Saturday Night on Utopia Parkway."


Michael Chabon discussed the Star Trek: Short Treks episode he wrote with CNET.


Stream a new song by DAWN.


Poet Natasha Tretheway discussed books and reading with the New York Times.


Stream a new Mavis Staples song.


Katie Kitamura discussed her writing routine with PBS NewsHour.


Ben Nichols talked to the Missoulian about the literary inspirations behind the latest Lucero album, Among the Ghosts.


The Creative Independent interviewed author Eugene Thacker.


Cursive played an acoustic Stereogum Session.


Vulture interviewed author Idra Novey.

Literary Hub shared an excerpt from her new novel Those Who Knew.


Stream a new song by Keep Shelly in Athens.


Literary Hub recommended debut works of fiction by women over 40.


Deer Tick covered the Pogues' "White City."


Book Riot recommended books with unreliable narrators.


Stream a new song by Bad Waitress.


National Geographic matched national parks with books to read there.


Stream a new song by Twist.


Full Stop interviewed author Laura van den Berg.



also at Largehearted Boy:

Support Largehearted Boy

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

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

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

November 7, 2018

Jonathan Lethem's Playlist for His Novel "The Feral Detective"

The Feral Detective

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.

Jonathan Lethem returns to detective fiction with the timely The Feral Detective.

The Washington Post wrote of the book:

"A highbrow mystery. . . . Fans of Motherless Brooklyn take note."


In his own words, here is Jonathan Lethem's Book Notes music playlist for his novel The Feral Detective:



1. The song “I Can See Clearly Now” recolonized my life and invaded my book in the most absurd way. My friend Mimi and I were making a joke about “mansplaining” and we shortened the term to ‘splain’, and then Mimi said, “I can’t stand the ‘splain.” That led us to “It’s ‘splainin’ men” and “The ‘splain in Spain falls mainly on the plain” and “How I wish it would ‘splain” and so forth, until we got to “I can see clearly now, the ‘splain is gone”. And then it got stuck in my head, and I think I realized how deeply that song had sunk into my heart when I was a kid and the Johnny Nash hit was constantly on the radio. Subsequently I’d quarantined the song as ‘corny’ in some way, but really I was protecting myself from the surging feeling of optimism and connectedness that I associated with it, and of which I was now wary. I stumbled across the Doyle Bramhall cover of it and that blew the doors off my quarantine. I don’t know anything, particularly, about Doyle Bramhall, but he replenished an anthem for me. And of course, like the book, it has a lot of landscape in it – open sky, and what falls on you out of it.

2. Father John Misty’s “Things It Would Have Been Helpful to Know Before The Revolution” does a good job of framing the intricate irony which us non-preppers, non-peak-oil, non-militia, non-off-the-gridders use to manage the increasing certainty that the preppers, peak-oilers, etc. digested the memo about the environment a lot more directly and capably than we did.

3. When the oceans come and reclaim the floodplains, we’ll all be looking for “Higher Ground”, and that fact is a thing for which a lot of the desert people in the book seem to be making themselves ready. This Ellen Mcilwaine cover of the Stevie Wonder song makes me laugh and want to dance every time. It’s so funky and so white at the same time. She’s an absolutely amazing guitarist. It reminds me of what the Rabbits – a tribe in my book of, mostly, women – might sound like when they’re partying. It occurs to me now that this songlist seems to specialize partly in music by people I don’t know anything more about than I – or you – could read about on Wikipedia.

4. Conversely, I know too much about Leonard Cohen, who I’ve been listening to and reading since I was sixteen, probably to my detriment. He was introduced to me by the novelist L.J. Davis, who was the dad of my then-best friend. When in the very first song I heard the couplet “You were Marlon Brando, I was Steve McQueen/You were K-Y jelly, I was Vaseline”, I thought, “You can do that?”, which is always a salutary thought for an aspiring writer. I associate Cohen with notions of “how do we get out of this place?”, the place in question being both the self generally, and conventional versions of masculine romanticism. One of his personal solutions was a long retreat to Mount Baldy, the top of which I can see from my office window now, and which plays a part in the book. Between that, and dying the same week as the traumatic 2016 election, he seemed necessarily to play a part in my novel.

5. Back to people I don’t really know anything about. Doris, who sings “Did You Give the World Some Love Today, Baby?”, is Swedish, I think. More white-lady pop funk, and another anthem which embarrasses me and opens me up. I like being embarrassed.

6. Dave Graney interviewed me on the radio in Australia. Speaking of being embarrassed, I had no idea he was an accomplished musician until he casually handed me his newest CD, Fearful Wiggings, at the end of the show. The strange spaciousness of “I Was There”, which is a duet with Clare Moore, reminds me of the feeling of strange spaciousness I feel in the Mohave, where there is also “nothing to see” and yet you seem compelled to try to see it, the nothing. This song inaugurates the “secretly Australian” theme of this playlist.

7. “I want to change your mind/I want to set it right, this time”: I used this song, “My Mathematical Mind”, by Spoon, to rev myself up to write this book hard and fast and angry. “Planning for the apocalypse is not considered cool”: preppers again. “Quit riding the brakes”: what I want to do in my writing, and in my life.

8. “Are You Looking After Yourself”, Courtney Barnett. Australia again. I guess the reach of this distant land (New Zealand too) and its music into my heart (beginning with my beloved Go-Betweens, and all the Flying Nun bands), is associated in my mind with outlaws and exile, a desperate marginality, the unforgiving blaze of the sun, and the impact of Stanley Kramer’s On the Beach on me when I was ten years old and unready for such dire apocalyptic visions (though it helped make me ready, and hungry, for more). The tenderness of Barnett’s inquiry here is something else, the question I’d want to ask my character Phoebe, or really any of my characters, or my dear friends.

9. “Rattlesnake”, by King Gizzard and the Wizard Lizard. Australia again. The best crazy-ass shit comes over you in the desert, if you let it, and I was driving around in Jeeps listening to this crazy-ass band a whole bunch in the year I wrote the book. Just don’t get bitten.

10. The Mekons’ “Wild and Blue” has been another anthem to open up my heart, one that never has embarrassed me once.

11. “Anti-Aging Global Warming”. This world we’ve wrecked belongs now to the kids, and I probably should spend every day I spend as a college professor trying to remind them not to listen to anything anyone over thirty has to say on any subject. French Vanilla, a very young band who seem right on target to me every time, are as pissed as they ought to be.

12. “My Oh My”. Cohen again. At least he sounds like he’s sorry.

13. I’d be overcomplicating it if I claimed Divine Fits’ “Would That Not Be Nice” is really doing anything here except acting as an energizer for a book that was written in a spirit of rage and velocity. Well, no, there’s something more. If what redeems Leonard Cohen for me is his capacity for mordant ruefulness, I I find this song drenched in another flavor of ruefulness, one I long to find in myself, a thing to temper my rage without damping my velocity. Quit riding the brakes, and laugh at yourself, and dance, and get high, and make out with the person in the passenger seat. It’s only the end of the world.

14. Who needs Doyle Bramhall, it turns out, except as a route back into your youthful wonder, the part of you that doesn’t find Johnny Nash’s song embarrassing in the least. “Look all around you, there’s nothing but blue sky!”


Jonathan Lethem and The Feral Detective links:

the author's website
the author's Wikipedia entry

Booklist review
Kirkus review
Washington Post review

Entertainment Weekly interview with the author
Los Angeles Times profile of the author
Vulture profile of 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

Shorties (An Excerpt from Jenny Hval's Debut Album, An Interview with Can's Irmin Schmidt, and more)

Jenny Hval

Literary Hub shared an excerpt from Jenny Hval's debut novel Paradise Rot.


SPIN interviewed Irmin Schmidt of Can.


24 "best books of 2018" lists were added to Largehearted Boy's master aggregation yesterday (bringing the total to 131), including The Kitchn's hottest new cookbooks, PDN's best photo books, Strategy + Business's best business book lists, plus much more.


UDiscoverMusic listed the most misunderstood political songs.


November's best eBook deals.

eBook on sale for $3.99 today:

A Well-Tempered Heart by Jan-Philipp Sendker


Noisey interviewed singer-songwriter Lucy Dacus.


Complex recommended comics to read before you die.


Book Riot recommended must-read books by Egyptian authors.


Vol. 1 Brooklyn interviewed author Marion Womack.


Guernica interviewed author Ottessa Moshfegh.


Entertainment Weekly examined the trend of making comics of classic novels.


The Guardian recommended modern Victorian novels.



also at Largehearted Boy:

Support Largehearted Boy

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

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

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

November 6, 2018

Maryse Meijer's Playlist for Her Novella "Northwood"

Northwood

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.

Maryse Meijer's novella Northwood is a beautiful and evocative literary fairy tale.

Kirkus wrote of the book:

"Meijer is an expert at worldbuilding, and the narrative she spins is fractured across fairy tale, mythology, and the occult . . . Like Anne Carson or Maggie Nelson, Meijer creates her own genre, somewhere between poetry and prose, myth and reality . . . Memorable, strange, and haunting. Fans of Kelly Link, Carmen Maria Machado, and Kate Bernheimer will find much to love in Meijer's haunted woods."


In her own words, here is Maryse Meijer's Book Notes music playlist for her novella Northwood:



While writing Northwood over the course of three years, I went through several cycles of songs that I’d play while working. It started out very sappily romantic—Elvis, The Righteous Brothers, just a lot of old stuff—and then it got kind of dark in the middle period—P.J. Harvey, Aldous Harding, Xiu Xiu—and then, at the end, things became more peaceful. I was also looking for music that called up the spirit of the woods, animal energy, etc; but most of all, I wanted songs of longing, particularly by women, or interpreted in a way I found feminine.

P.J.’s song “The Northwood,” which is a rare b-side from one of her early albums, quotes the poem “Song of Wandering Angeus”, by William Butler Yeats. The idea of a song quoting a poem quoting a doomed love affair was a totem for me; in both Harvey and Yeats’ pieces, the lover goes out into the wild to sort out the fire within them. And that’s where my book starts: in the woods, with a fire.


1. The Northwood, P.J. Harvey
2. It's a Fire, Portishead
3. Horizon, Aldous Harding
4. Porno, Arcade Fire
5. Crazy in Love, Antony & the Johnsons
6. The Fox, Niki & the Dove
7. I Dream a Highway, Gillian Welch
8. Unchained Melody, The Righteous Brothers
9. Dear God I Hate Myself, Xiu Xiu
10. Hanging On, Active Child
11. Summit Down, Dead Forest Index
12. Mustn’t Hurry, Fever Ray


Maryse Meijer and Northwood links:

the author's website

Kirkus review
Publishers Weekly review

Largehearted Boy playlist by the author for Heartbreaker


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

"Best Books of 2018" Lists Update - November 6th

For the eleventh straight year, I am aggregating every online year-end book list I find in this post. As the lists appear online, I will add them to this master list, updating daily.

Please feel free to e-mail me with a blog, magazine, newspaper, or other online list I have missed.

Daily updates to the master list of online "best books of 2018" lists.

Please consider making a donation or leaving a tip to Largehearted Boy to support posts like these.


Today's Updates to the Online "Best of 2018" Book Lists:


BookClubbish (best books)
Caring.com (best caregiver books)
Contemplative Nostalgia (best books)
Indigo (best biographies)
Indigo (best business books)
Indigo (best cookbooks)
Indigo (best fiction)
Indigo (best historical fiction)
Indigo (best non-fiction)
Indigo (best romance)
Indigo (best teen books)
Indigo (best thrillers)
Kitchn (hottest new cookbooks)
Love Sawyer (hottest holiday romance books)
PDN (notable photo books)
Strategy + Business (best business books)
Strategy + Business (best economics books)
Strategy + Business (best innovation books)
Strategy + Business (best leadership books)
Strategy + Business (best management books)
Strategy + Business (best marketing books)
Strategy + Business (best narratives)
Strategy + Business (best strategy books)
World Fantasy Awards (fantasy books)


also at Largehearted Boy:

Online "Best Books of 2018" Lists
Online "Best Books of 2017" Lists
Online "Best Books of 2016" Lists
Online "Best Books of 2015" Lists
Online "Best Books of 2014" Lists
Online "Best Books of 2013" Lists
Online "Best Books of 2012" Lists
Online "Best Books of 2011" Lists
Online "Best Books of 2010" Lists
Online "Best Books of 2009" Lists
Online "Best Books of 2008" Lists
Best of the Decade (2000-2009) Online Book Lists

2017 Year-End Online Music Lists
2016 Year-End Online Music Lists
2015 Year-End Online Music Lists
2014 Year-End Online Music Lists
2013 Year-End Online Music Lists
2012 Year-End Online Music Lists
2011 Year-End Online Music Lists
2010 Year-End Online Music Lists
2009 Year-End Online Music Lists
2008 Year-End Online Music Lists
2007 Year-End Online Music Lists
2006 Year-End Online Music Lists
Best of the Decade (2000-2009) Music Lists

other lists at Largehearted Boy
Book Notes (authors create playlists for their book)
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
musician/author interviews

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

Shorties (A Profile of Don DeLillo, Parquet Courts Covered Neil Young, and more)

Don DeLillo

The Guardian profiled author Don DeLillo.


Parquet Courts covered Neil Young's "We R in Control."


20 "best books of 2018" lists were added to Largehearted Boy's master aggregation Saturday (bringing the total to 107), including The New York Times/ The New York Public Library's list of the best illustrated children's books, Food Network's best cookbooks, Seventeen Magazine's best YA books, plus much more.


Noisey interviewed Hiss Golden Messenger's MC Taylor.


November's best eBook deals.

eBook on sale for $1.99 today:

The Shrinking Man by Richard Matheson


Ty Segall visited The Current for an interview and live performance.


Jeff Jackson discussed his novel Destroy All Monsters with Electric Literature.


Stream a new William Tyler song.


Ms. Magazine interviewed poet Natasha Trethewey.


Stream a new Iceage song.


The Washington Post recommended literary podcasts.


Vulture recommended November's best books.


Stereogum shared notable covers of Queen songs.


The Millions previewed November's best poetry collections.


Stream a new J Mascis song.


Literary Hub shared an excerpt from Jonathan Lethem's new novel The Feral Detective.

CrimeReads interviewed Lethem.


Stream a new sing by Piroshka.


William Gass discussed the most important books in his life.


Book Riot recommended ballet memoirs by diverse dancers.


Literary Hub shared an excerpt from Eula Biss's essay collection, Notes From No Man’s Land.


Literary Hub interviewed poet Jenny Xie.



also at Largehearted Boy:

Support Largehearted Boy

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

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

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November 5, 2018

Jeremy T. Wilson's Playlist for His Story Collection "Adult Teeth"

Adult Teeth

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.

Jeremy T. Wilson's impressive short story collection, Adult Teeth, makes everyday life enthralling.

Booklist wrote of the book:

"Like Lorrie Moore and Bobbie Ann Mason's short fiction, Wilson's stories display subtle humor and a deft ear for dialogue, making for a wonderfully varied and enjoyable debut collection."


In his own words, here is Jeremy T. Wilson's Book Notes music playlist for his story collection Adult Teeth:



Thematically Adult Teeth is tied together loosely by the idea of transition. Characters stand at the threshold of major and minor shifts in their lives and aren’t responding particularly well to the potential change. A major transition occurred in my life when I moved from Ft. Worth, Texas to Perry, Georgia, where my parents grew up. I was going into the eighth grade, an already awkward time, and I had to start over in a town that didn’t even have its own movie theater or mall but had at least a dozen churches. A band from Athens, Georgia saved me.

I found R.E.M. roughly at the same time I moved in 1987, when Rolling Stone heralded them as America’s best rock-n-roll band. I’d been listening mostly to Duran Duran and glam rock, so R.E.M. was a welcome departure, and discovering them helped make this new state cool and filled it with an unexpected poetry and mystery. The cover to Murmur with its kudzu swallowing some abandoned structures mimicked my feelings of dislocation. Something wild and hungry was out there ready to eat me up. One of my new friends gave me a mixtape of his favorite R.E.M. songs, and we sat with a tape deck rewinding and rewinding Michael Stipe’s inscrutable lyrics. Did he just say: “We could gather throw up beer”? We picked up guitars and learned all their songs. We made more mixtapes for our friends and girlfriends. We got political and pretentious and echoed Stipe’s aphorisms in our own brooding, adolescent voices: “Love songs are odious.”

I thought for a really long time about the best way to create this playlist, but in the end it just seemed right for me to ascribe an R.E.M. song to each of the stories. Some of them are set in Georgia; some of them are set in Chicago, but all of them are about transitions in some way, those liminal spaces where “things they go away/replaced by every day.”


1. “Begin the Begin,” Life’s Rich Pageant for “Welcome to Gorilla City”

This just makes sense, right? There’s the obviousness of beginning at the beginning to kick something off, so here we go. Sara’s living an artless life until she sees these animals wheat-pasted on the local water tower and gets the urge to save them. She understands the fleeting nature of art and that’s what makes it beautiful. She faces a moment where she needs to start over, but where? “Example, the finest example is you”

2. “Crush with Eyeliner,” Monster for “Trash Days”

I remember hating Monster when it came out. I didn’t understand what was happening to the band I loved. They seemed to be making fun of themselves, or trying lamely to introduce grunge into their jangle. I didn’t get it. But this was always my favorite song. Stipe singing about lust and personas instead of the evils of Styrofoam or acid rain felt fresh. In the story, LeAnne suspects her out-of-work husband has purchased a sex doll and is hiding it from her. “I’m the real thing,” Stipe sings, and Thurston Moore echoes, “I’m the real thing.”

3. “Losing my Religion,” Out of Time for “Rapture”

One of the things I love about Stipe is his ability to take clichés and colloquialisms and turn them into something original. He’s almost like a folk artist in that way. The Howard Finster of indie rock. Here, an old southern saying about getting fed up gets twisted into the refrain for an obsession. Probably the best R.E.M. song ever, where all of their individual super powers are on full display. I mean, Peter Buck claims he was just learning how to play the mandolin and stumbled into the opening riff. Genius. The story features obsession, religion, and loss, but no mandolin.

4. “Life and How to Live It,” Fables of the Reconstruction for “Nesting”

I love the self-help connotations of the title of this song, which fit with the way Megan’s preparing for the baby by reading books. There’s an irony in this title as well, because, really? Could we ever get all that from a book? Yet we try, and we try. With parenthood looming, Tate is desperate for some guidance, not necessarily from books, but from his deceased father, a man who could build anything. Tate’s father may or may not have come back as a ghost to talk to Megan and help her build the playset that Tate can’t build himself. “My carpenter’s out and running about, talking to the street/My pockets are out and running about/Barking in the street to tell what I have hidden there.”

5. “Camera,” Reckoning for “Leaving Charity”

However you interpret the lyrics to this one, there’s definitely a spirit of loss pervading the song. One person is leaving another, whether it be to the great beyond or just out of town. “When the party lulls if we fall by the side/Will you be remembered? Will she be remembered?” Clark asks his buddy to film his departure with his camera, and Mac doesn’t want his best friend to leave, but he’s too stubborn to tell him how he really feels.

6. “It’s the End of the World as we Know it (And I Feel Fine)," Document for ”Everything is Going to be Okay”

Of course it’s not going to be okay. We might as well dance to great rock songs!

7. “Photograph” Born to Choose for “Inside the Happiness Factory”

When this song came out in 1993 it was a dream come true for me, Michael Stipe AND Natalie Merchant?! It appeared as the first track on the pro-choice benefit album: Born to Choose, which also features Tom Waits, Lucinda Williams, and Pavement, among others. The lyrics are sort of bland in retrospect, but they certainly fit for a character who receives a mysterious text message and photo that he reads way too much into. “From the threshold what's to see/Of our brave new century?/The television's just a dream/The radio, the silver screen”

8. “The One I Love,” https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B000TRZ28E/ref=nosim/largeheartedb-20 for “Chopsticks”

The main characters in this story are having a divorce party, and a friend of theirs is downstairs playing DJ for the occasion, thinking it’s funny to play all kinds of love songs. Of course that douchebag would choose this song. It’s not a love song, and everyone knows it.

9. “You Are the Everything,” Green for “Piss-ants”

When I listen to this now I think the song must’ve been buried deep in my subconscious while I was writing this story. There’s a kitchen. There’s a beautiful woman. There’s someone lying in the backseat with their teeth in their mouth, maybe. It’s funny how stuff like that works. We take in so much culture and media, how is all of it supposed to stay out of our work? Authors sometimes say they don’t read other people while they’re writing. “I don’t want to sound like somebody else,” they say. Like there’s some sanctuary they can retreat to that’s immune from influence. We can’t escape it; we carry with us what we carry with us.

10. “Nightswimming,” Automatic For the People for “It Don’t Get No Better Than This”

This album came out after I graduated from high school and had just started college. The song drips with instant nostalgia. I was already missing a place I had been eager to leave. In the story, Peeps is convinced he’s ready to get out of his small town, mostly because people tell him these days are the best of his life. In the end, he goes swimming. It’s night.

11. “Stumble,” Chronic Town for “Adult Teeth”

This song has nothing in particular to do with this story, but I love at the beginning of the recording how you can hear Stipe laugh and then say “teeth” just before clicking his teeth together. I played this tape so much I wore off all the words.

12. “Electrolite” New Adventures in Hi-Fi for “Florida Power and Light”

While I do think there are some good songs in the post-Bill Berry incarnation of R.E.M. (“Supernatural Superserious” is an irresistible earworm), I don’t carry them with me as much as I do the albums when R.E.M. was still a four piece, the song credits all listed as Bill Berry/Peter Buck/Mike Mills/Michael Stipe, thus the exclusion of any songs after 1997 on this playlist. As Stipe said in a New York Times interview in 2011, “Bill was a great editor. He couldn’t wait to get to the end of a song, so he kept them short and concise and without flab, and we lost that without him.” Every short story writer needs an inner Bill Berry. This is the best closing track off any R.E.M. album, and in the story something is definitely ending. It might’ve been cool if this was the last track the band recorded, so I’ll make it the last song on my playlist. The music stops and all you hear is the sustain of the piano and Stipe’s voice: “I'm not scared/I'm outta here.”


Jeremy T. Wilson and Adult Teeth links:

the author's website

Chicago Tribune review
Foreword Reviews review
NewPages review

NewCity Chicago 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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Shorties (An Interview with Paul Auster, Lucinda Williams on the 20th Anniversary of Car Wheels on a Gravel Road, and more)

Paul Auster

PopMatters interviewed author Paul Auster.


Rolling Stone interviewed Lucinda Williams about the 20th anniversary of her Car Wheels on a Gravel Road album.


20 "best books of 2018" lists were added to Largehearted Boy's master aggregation yesterday (bringing the total to 107), including The New York Times/ The New York Public Library's list of the best illustrated children's books, Food Network's best cookbooks, Seventeen Magazine's best YA books, plus much more.


Stream a new Andrew Bird song.


November's best eBook deals.

eBook on sale for $1.99 today:

The Asylum of Dr. Caligari by James Morrow
The Man Who Fell to Earth by Walter Tevis
Where I Lost Her by T. Greenwood


Paste previewed November's best albums.


Between the Covers interviewed author R. O. Kwon.


Thom Yorke talked to Weekend Edition about his score to the film Suspiria.


CrimeReads interviewed author Joseph Fink.


Phoebe Bridgers covered (Sandy) Alex G's "Powerful Man."


Daily Dead interviewed author Michael Seidlinger.


The A.V. Club previewed November's best books.


Drowned in Sound interviewed Pixies guitarist Joey Santiago.


Weekend Edition interviewed poet Natasha Trethewey.


The Rumpus shared a list of books for the end of the world.


Leslie Jamison recommended books to understand drinking at the Guardian.


CrimeReads recommended modern Gothic novels.


David Grann recommended books about adventure and exploration at The Week.


Book Riot recommended books for college bound students.


Remember when Martin Amis wrote about Space Invaders?



also at Largehearted Boy:

Support Largehearted Boy

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

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

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November 3, 2018

"Best Books of 2018" Lists Update - November 3rd

For the eleventh straight year, I am aggregating every online year-end book list I find in this post. As the lists appear online, I will add them to this master list, updating daily.

Please feel free to e-mail me with a blog, magazine, newspaper, or other online list I have missed.

Daily updates to the master list of online "best books of 2018" lists.

Please consider making a donation or leaving a tip to Largehearted Boy to support posts like these.


Today's Updates to the Online "Best of 2018" Book Lists:


American Indian Youth Literature Award (best books by and about Native Americans)
Américas Award (children’s and young adult books that portray Latin America, the Caribbean, or Latinos in the United States)
Arab American Book Awards (best books by and about Arab Americans)
Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature (books about Asian/Pacific Americans and their heritage)
Batchelder Award (children's books in translation)
Bookforum (authors' favorite books)
Children’s Africana Book Awards (best children’s and young adult books on Africa)
Coretta Scott King Book Awards (best books by African American authors and illustrators of books for children and young adults that demonstrate an appreciation of African American culture and universal human values)
The Dolly Gray Children's Literature Award (authors, illustrators, and publishers of high quality fictional and biographical children, intermediate, and young adult books that appropriately portray individuals with developmental disabilities)
Essentially a Nerd (diverse literary award lists)
Ezra Jack Keats Award (emerging talent in the field of children’s books)
Food Network (best cookbooks)
The Manual (best cookbooks)
May's Blossom (favourite books)
New York Times/New York Public Library (best illustrated children's books)
Notable Books for a Global Society (books that promote understanding of and appreciation for the world's full range of diverse cultures and ethnic and racial groups)
Schneider Family Book Award (books that embodies an artistic expression of the disability experience for child and adolescent audiences)
Seventeen (best young adult books)
South Asia Book Award (children's and young adult books about South Asians living abroad)
Walter Awards (diverse books written by diverse authors)


also at Largehearted Boy:

Online "Best Books of 2018" Lists
Online "Best Books of 2017" Lists
Online "Best Books of 2016" Lists
Online "Best Books of 2015" Lists
Online "Best Books of 2014" Lists
Online "Best Books of 2013" Lists
Online "Best Books of 2012" Lists
Online "Best Books of 2011" Lists
Online "Best Books of 2010" Lists
Online "Best Books of 2009" Lists
Online "Best Books of 2008" Lists
Best of the Decade (2000-2009) Online Book Lists

2017 Year-End Online Music Lists
2016 Year-End Online Music Lists
2015 Year-End Online Music Lists
2014 Year-End Online Music Lists
2013 Year-End Online Music Lists
2012 Year-End Online Music Lists
2011 Year-End Online Music Lists
2010 Year-End Online Music Lists
2009 Year-End Online Music Lists
2008 Year-End Online Music Lists
2007 Year-End Online Music Lists
2006 Year-End Online Music Lists
Best of the Decade (2000-2009) Music Lists

other lists at Largehearted Boy
Book Notes (authors create playlists for their book)
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
musician/author interviews

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November 2, 2018

Idra Novey's Playlist for Her Novel "Those Who Knew"

Those Who Knew

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.

Idra Novey's brilliant novel Those Who Knew is timeless and haunting, and one of my favorite books of the year.

Publishers Weekly wrote of the book:

"Propulsive . . . Novey’s storytelling is taut and her diction sharp . . . The book [has a] striking sense of momentum. Add in a slight and intriguing sense of the supernatural, and the result is a provocative novel that has the feel of a thriller."


In her own words, here is Idra Novey's Book Notes music playlist for her novel Those Who Knew:



Aretha Franklin, "Respect"
I listened to an interview with Aretha Franklin just before drafting the moment in Those Who Knew when two female characters slip on some fake beards and invent a revolution. I had been relishing the idea of writing this scene for some time, and wanted to convey how essential joy and camaraderie can be to avoiding the trap of resignation. While trying to figure out why I kept fixating on the intimacy of this scene, I listened to an extraordinary interview with Aretha Franklin about the day she came up with the refrain for "Respect." It was while dancing around with her sister in the living room, enjoying each other’s voices and company, unseen by anyone else.

Silvio Rodriguez, "Playa Giron"
In 1961, Playa Giron was the beach where over a thousand armed Cuban exiles landed during the Bay of Pigs invasion, an attack sponsored by the CIA as an attempt to overthrow Castro. Rodriquez dedicated this song to the fishermen who worked with him on a boat at Playa Giron. I thought often about this soulful song while writing Those Who Knew, and how powerfully this song addresses the legacy of U.S. interventions, so few of which students in the U.S. ever learn about at school.

Beautiful Chorus, "Human Nature"
When life gets frenzied, I highly recommend the restorative, resonant songs of Beautiful Chorus. Especially in the morning, the harmony of the voices in Beautiful Chorus makes for glorious company.

Etta Baker with TajMahal, "Railroad Bill"
Etta Baker played guitar into her nineties and the finger-picking badassery in this duo with TajMahal is a welcome reminder that the second half of life may very well lead to the most passionate art of your lifetime. In the writing world, there are a number of rewards for novelists under a certain age, but few for those who first publish a novel after age 35, as Toni Morrison did, and Marilynne Robinson and Alice Munroe. For anyone coming to fiction mid-life, when the age-based forms of recognition in this country are no longer an option, I highly recommend the fingerpicking wizardry of Etta Baker in her nineties playing with TajMahal.

Ani DiFranco, "Napoleon"
This song has such a satisfying refrain about the power grabbing that is human history. The rest of the lyrics are great, too, but especially: “Everyone is a fucking Napoleon.”

Cat Power, "Ruin"
“What are we doing? We’re sitting on a ruin…” The lyrics of this song have felt increasingly prophetic as the twenty-first century continues. There is a powerful momentum to this song, too, that is contagious. After listening to it, that question “what are we doing” really stays with you.

Valerie June, "Shakedown"
I turned to the songs of Valerie June while working on my first novel and again while writing Those Who Knew. June’s lyrics are so sharp and her vocal range is phenomenal. I could listen to "Shakedown" all day. In fact, many days I do.


Idra Novey and Those Who Knew links:

the author's website
excerpt from the book

BookPage review
Kirkus review
Publishers Weekly review

Largehearted Boy playlist by the author for her novel Ways To Disappear


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

Anita Felicelli's Playlist for Her Story Collection "Love Songs for a Lost Continent"

Love Songs for a Lost Continent

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.

Anita Felicelli's Love Songs for a Lost Continent is one of the year's strongest story collections, exceptionally nuanced and powerful.

Foreword Reviews wrote of the book:

"Across the collection, love and pain, displacement and connection, personal identity and culture are reconfigured until even the most prosaic home becomes lethally wistful."


In her own words, here is Anita Felicelli's Book Notes music playlist for her story collection Love Songs for a Lost Continent:



For better or worse, I'm strongly affected by sound. I often wish I'd been called to songwriting rather than fiction writing. Songs are like drugs, directly transporting a listener into emotions and moods so much faster than fiction does. When I'm first drafting fiction, I listen to specific music almost as a form of method acting, to get into a character's spirit, but I'm extremely careful about what sounds I allow into my space. I get irritable if my spouse elsewhere in the house turns on other sounds, whether it's music that doesn't fit or television to entertain our children. I never listen to music while revising because I need to hear the sound of the specific words, but sometimes when I'm trying to get back into a character's head space, I'll listen to certain songs to carry me back. At its heart, Love Songs for a Lost Continent is an anti-authoritarian story collection, and the music from which I borrowed certain effects or played while drafting reflect that spirit.

Deception - Public Enemy, "911 is a Joke"

Deception, the story that kicks off the collection, is also the story that's most explicitly against power structures. Although it might seem like an odd choice for a story set in an imaginary South Indian village, Public Enemy's "911 is a Joke" perfectly captures the anger and disenfranchisement of a young woman who can't trust society or the authorities to protect her, who is being told to doubt her perceptions of traumatic events, whose own memories are being casually replaced by medical technology that the powerful have not properly tested.

Elephants in the Pink City - The Clash, "Rudie Can't Fail"

When you need a jolt of caffeine, but you can't actually drink any, The Clash is the band to turn to. "Rudie Can't Fail" is a reggae-influenced, anti-establishment song about Jamaica's rude boys. It's full of the kind of confident, rebellious energy that propels Kai, the gay teenage protagonist of Elephants in the Pink City to leave his traditional parents and little sister behind in the palace hotel and take off down the streets of Jaipur. I think, too, it's the kind of song Kai would have covered had he been able to start a band.

Love Songs for a Lost Continent - David Bowie, "Life on Mars"

A good friend made me a tape of David Bowie's Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars when I was twelve-years-old and I've never quite recovered from the love affair I had his with his music after that. I might go so far as to say every piece of fiction I've ever written has been affected by Bowie. The tender yearning of Bowie's "Life on Mars" gets at the relationship between the unnamed protagonist of Love Songs for a Lost Continent and his misfit, imaginative, lower-caste Tamil nationalist girlfriend Komakal. The surreal cut-up lyrics describe a girl a bit like Komakal with her "sunken dream," and the sorrow of the piano and Bowie's voice does, too.

Hema and Kathy - Arcade Fire, "The Suburbs"

The desperation of Arcade Fire's mournful "The Suburbs" has a grandeur that meshes with how my protagonist Hema feels about her adolescence in Los Altos Hills in Hema and Kathy. She's up against the ordinary conditions of suburbs — suffocating social expectations, micromanaging parents — conditions to which many teenagers, including her best friend Kathy reconcile themselves. But Hema wants nothing more than to shed the shackles of bourgeois conformity, to have a grand, passionate life. And yet, both she and Kathy feel as the Arcade Fire lyrics go, I think, about their friendship: "If I could have it back/All the time that we wasted/I'd only waste it again."

Snow - Grandmaster Flash and Melle Mel, "White Lines"

Snow is a short story about Devi, a Tamil immigrant who was once an overachiever, but who's become bulimic and a cocaine addict in the course of adapting to her life as a model in New York City. The lyrics are a little on the nose, but I listened to a lot of groovy old-school hip hop like Grandmaster Flash and Melle Mel's "White Lines" while writing Snow. There's a sound in the song that I can only describe as sparkles, and it influenced the ice, reflective glass, and fairytale Snow Queen imagery of the story.

Once Upon the Great Red Island - Talking Heads, "Road to Nowhere"

Like Bowie, the weird energy of the Talking Heads songs has probably seeped into a lot of my fiction, and none of their songs fits my mood more frequently than "Road to Nowhere." Once Upon the Great Red Island is a story about a couple that leaves San Francisco for Madagascar, motivated by very different things. Tarini wants to escape an atmosphere she finds oppressive and expensive: as a result of tech bros taking over the Bay Area, she's unable to afford living there. When her boyfriend Leon, a hedge fund financier, wants to move to Madagascar to start a vanilla farm and reconnect with his French ancestor's colonial past, she agrees, mostly because he's financing it, not out of love. At least they start out with high hopes.

The Logic of Someday - The Roots, "You Got Me"

I first heard "You Got Me" by The Roots featuring Erykah Badu in the early aughts during a five-year-long troubled romantic relationship. Whenever this grief-filled song comes on, I remember the worst time of my life, the most devastating experience of my life. It's a peculiar aspect of my psychology, perhaps, that I'm nostalgic for intense pain, that I still love that particular pain, and that I would be willing to relive the worst time of my life by listening to this song repeatedly during the writing of The Logic of Someday. The story is about a push-pull, ruin-your-life relationship. The song speeds up significantly at the end, with Erykah Badu's words repeating faster and faster. This is the way a relationship speeds up as it circles down a drain, and I tried to build this rhythmic shift in to the story.

Everywhere, Signs - Soundgarden, "The Day I Tried To Live"

While The Day I Tried to Live starts out slow, there's something ominous in the opening guitar. The addition of a driving beat allows the rage to build. And Chris Cornell's voice! I don't know if this song would be anywhere near as powerful without the anguish in Cornell's voice. The effect of suppressed rage, how anguish and injustice can be transmuted and come out as something else, is what I was trying to generate in the angriest, saddest story in the collection, "Everywhere, Signs" about a severely bullied Tamil Christian girl in Pittsburgh after 9/11 who, without warning, tells a lie that transforms her life and the lives of those around her.

Wild Things - Pharcyde, "Passing Me By"

I wrote the first draft of Wild Things in 1998, before I'd ever heard Pharcyde's "Passing Me By." Although the clever lyrics are from the point of view of a man talking about the women who have passed him by, I feel like the song gets at the feelings of both my main characters, Jenny, a white online pornography writer, and Malik, a black queer elementary school teacher and jazz buff. The occasional saxophone, multi-vocality, and the confessional quality of Passing Me By fits their left-of-left Berkeley romance. Malik is more vulnerable and open, both about who he is and what he wants while Jenny keeps mum about herself.

The Art of Losing - Liz Phair, "Whip-Smart"

If there's a more moving song about a mother raising a boy than Liz Phair's "Whip-Smart," I don't know it. The Art of Losing is a story about an elderly mother who gets a late-night phone while on a second honeymoon with her husband, a call she's been expecting all of her son's life. Most mothers, I think, begin motherhood by having high hopes about the kind of son she's going to raise, how he's going to be different. Liz Phair's voice is a little affectless in this song, but I think somehow her voice set off by a backdrop of outdoor chirping and the fairy tale and childhood imagery of the lyrics is what gives the song its inexplicable beauty and power. I kept remembering how sad "Whip-Smart" makes me feel, while writing The Art of Losing.

Rampion - Cocteau Twins, "Heaven Or Las Vegas"

Rampion is an otherworldly and surreal reworking of the fairy tale Rapunzel. I don't know what the lyrics of the Cocteau Twins' dream pop "Heaven or Las Vegas" are (beyond the strange, but resonant binary of the title words repeated), but the shimmery, ecstatic quality of their song was an effect I was aiming towards with the story. There are some moments when singer Elizabeth Fraser sounds like an animal, others when she sounds like she's talking to a baby. I like to think that if the narrator sang her story, she would have a voice a little like this.

Swans and Other Lies - Siouxsie Sioux, "The Passenger"

Iggy Pop wrote the original song "The Passenger" (apparently inspired by driving around with David Bowie). But as a fan of Siouxsie & the Banshees, it's her 1987 version, her velvety vocals I hear when I think of my short story Swans and Other Lies. It's a road trip story about a hitchhiker who joins forces with a con artist. There's a reversal in this story that echoes the reversal of Siouxsie singing it instead of Iggy Pop. I listened to "The Passenger" repeatedly during the drafting of this story, and I hope its fun, almost danceable energy found a way in.

The Lookout - Lou Reed, "Perfect Day"

Lou Reed's "Perfect Day" is a song that makes its meaning through an atmosphere of foreboding and the dissonance between Lou Reed's dry sad voice and his seemingly hopeful words. There's a genius to the lyrics, which shift from deep yearning about a perfect day drinking sangria in the park, to quietly, seriously admonishing the listener, "You're going to reap just what you sow." This mixture of longing, nostalgia, dread, sorrow, and admonishment is built into the DNA of The Lookout, which is climate change flash fiction about a young mother who raises her baby in a tower looking out for rain during a severe drought.


Anita Felicelli and Love Songs for a Lost Continent links:

the author's website

The Aerogram review
Foreword review
Heavy Feather Review review
Kirkus review
Los Angeles Review of Books review

Jaggery interview with the author
The Teal Mango 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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