September 13, 2018

Shorties (The Crime Fiction of Stephen King, Stream the New Mountain Man Album, and more)

Mountain Man

CrimeReads considered Stephen King's crime novels.


NPR Music is streaming Mountain Man's first album in eight years, Magic Ship.


September's best eBook deals.

eBook on sale today for $1.99:

The Color Purple by Alice Walker


Drowned in Sound interviewed members of the band A Place To Bury Strangers.


Hazlitt interviewed author Rawi Hage.


Turning the Tables profiled singer-songwriter Joanna Newsom.


Lisa Marie Basile discussed her new book Light Magic for Dark Times with LitReactor.


NPR Music is streaming Metric's new album Art of Doubt.


The Rumpus interviewed author Katie Jean Shinkle.


Stream a new song by Tim Hecker.


Cosmopolitan recommended YA books adults should read.


Stream a new song by Georgia Anne Muldrow.


The Pittsburgh City Paper profiled author Joyce Carol Oates.


Dawn Landes visited World Cafe for an interview and live performance.


Book Riot recommended heavy metal novels.


Stream a new Low song.


Literary Hub shared an excerpt from Eileen Myles' new poetry collection Evolution.


Aquarium Drunkard interviewed Richard Thompson.


Stream three new Liars songs.


Longreads interviewed author Olivia Laing.


Stereogum interviewed Melissa Auf der Mar.


The poetry longlist for the 2018 National Book Awards has been announced.


Stream a new Madeline Kenney song.



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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September 12, 2018

Evan Fallenberg's Playlist for His Novel "The Parting Gift"

The Parting Gift

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.

Evan Fallenberg's novel The Parting Gift is complex and rewarding.

Kirkus wrote of the book:

"Magnetic…a complicated study of the ways in which religious heritage—from codes of honor to familial expectations—interacts with business and acceptance, family and lovers, and self-realization…A beautiful novel whose only fault is ending too soon."


In his own words, here is Evan Fallenberg's Book Notes music playlist for his novel The Parting Gift:



Before I had a title for this novel, the writing I did went into a file called A Novel of Four Men. And while there are women in this book, it is the lives of several men in the context of a particular culture that dominate the book.

These men live, love and work in the same landscape, but due to their different backgrounds – religious, ethnic, cultural – they live almost parallel lives until circumstances throw them together. The very name they call the place that they co-inhabit is a question of who they are and what their angle is: Israel? Palestine? So it should come as no surprise that their cultural references do not overlap either.

Their own personal playlists are a case in point. Uzi, the forty-year-old tough-guy Jewish Israeli farmer, will favor Hebrew ballads and hits with a few English or American pop tunes from his teen years; Ibrahim, an Arab Muslim in his early twenties raised in the Israeli city of Acre, will listen to popular songs in Arabic from Lebanon or Egypt, along with some of the Arabic-language classics of earlier generations; the unnamed Narrator, a recent gay American immigrant to Israel in his late twenties, has his own Anglocentric choices that reflect his LA upbringing in the early years of the twenty-first century. Only Ziad does not get his own playlist, which seems to me a fitting representation of yet another of the deprivations he would experience as an uneducated Arab Muslim in the Occupied Territories.

The following are playlists for Uzi, Ibrahim and the Narrator, with huge thanks to Mahran Abu Stelly, Stav Levin and Zeev Duckworth for their help.

Uzi does not live with music: he doesn’t walk around with tunes in his head, doesn’t own a pair of earphones, wouldn’t have a clue what to answer if someone asked him what his favorite song was. But in elementary school he had a teacher who taught the children songs that have stayed with him for life, songs meant to inculcate Jewish Israeli children with a love of the land of Israel. So, for example, Psalm 114, When Israel Came out of Egypt…the Mountains Leaped Like Rams, here performed by Yehoram Gaon, is a hit with him, along with traditional holiday songs and songs based on the poetry of the great poets of the first modern waves of immigration to Israel, like Nahman Bialik and Leah Goldberg.

As a young teen, Uzi would have graduated to the jaunty militaristic tune Kol Hakavod (All the Honor) by Yehoram Gaon and certainly Arik Einstein’s Amru Lo (They Told Him), and he’d have passed through a phase of synthetic pop music from Europe with songs like Enola Gay by OMD and Take on Me by A-ha. Like many Israeli Jews of his generation, he can be tempted to take part in a group singalong.

Ibrahim is a son of Akka (Acre) on the north coast of Israel, an ancient town most recently controlled by Crusaders and Ottomans and now an Arab Muslim town of stone alleyways. Like his town, he is a combination of the old and the new. So on the one hand, like his parents he will love the grandes dames of Middle Eastern music and their most beloved songs – Umm Kultum’s Enta Omry (You Are My Life) and Fairouz (in the morning only, Fairouz is for mornings) singing Kifak Enta (How Are You) – but on the other hand he will be a fan of George Wassouf, Dawara El Ayam (The Turning of the Days), especially the lyric about going out to attain what you desire instead of expecting it to appear. And he loves Ila Kol Elli Bihebbouni (To Those Who Love Me) by Lebanese superstar Elissa. For sheer fun and pleasure, he can’t resist 3 Dakat (3 Beats) by Abu and Yousra. And finally, how could he not be partial to Waseem Akar’s Palestinian rap song Akka #1, the lyrics of which are nothing but a collection of hundreds of nicknames of the residents of Akka/Acre?

It’s a point of pride for the Narrator to be avant garde, the one to watch, so his music is anything but standard taste. For his Angelino side and for swaggering male appeal, there’s Mickey Avalon’s Mr. Right. For dancing around Uzi’s house when no one is home, he goes for Let’s Have a Kiki by Scissor Sisters. But his time with Uzi is all about Uzi, and the moods he goes through when with him, like blunt sexual attraction: Skin by Rihanna; what feels like love: Back to You, Selena Gomez; sex and more sex, not all of it nice: Daddy, by Sakima; smitten: Don't Wait, Mapei, Chance the Rapper & the Social Experiment; anger: Said the Spider to the Fly, the pAper chAse, which Uzi would never sit still to watch with him; and despair and accusation: You Lost Me by Christina Aguilera. The Narrator’s seductive letter to Adam might just fit nicely with May I Have This Dance - Francis and the Lights, featuring Chance the Rapper.

These men prove that, no matter what our culture, we are what we listen to.


Evan Fallenberg and The Parting Gift links:

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

Kirkus review


also at Largehearted Boy:

Support the Largehearted Boy website

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

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

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

Shorties (Jessica Hopper on Her New Memoir, Indie Supergroup boygenius Profiled, and more)

Night Moves

Jessica Hopper discussed her memoir Night Moves with Paste.


The New York Times profiled indie supergroup boygenius (Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers and Lucy Dacus).


September's best eBook deals.


Stream a new song by The Spirit of the Beehive.


The Philadelphia Inquirer and Elle previewed fall's most anticipated books.


Shepherd Express interviewed Wilco's Jeff Tweedy.


Vulture recommended September's best paperback books.


Stream a new version of Echo and the Bunnymen's "The Killing Moon."


The New York Times recommended books about the sexism women face in Hollywood.


Aquarium Drunkard shared a mix of "choice live-in-the-studio performances recorded in the 1970s at the Record Plant in Sausalito, California."


The Paris Review and Longreads interviewed author Olivia Laing.


Stream a new Buke and Gase song.


Electric Literature recommended tell-all memoirs by the children of celebrities.


Stream a new Jade Hairpins song.


Electric Literature interviewed author Wayétu Moore.


Stream a new song by the Weather Station and Jennifer Castle.


Guernica features a new essay by Elizabeth Crane.


The Quietus profiled the band Sauna Youth.


Vol. 1 Brooklyn interviewed author Andrea Kleine.


Stereogum interviewed members of Los Campesinos!.


Literary Hub previewed fall's nonfiction pop culture books.


Book Riot interviewed author Jeff Vandermeer.


Book Riot recommended books for Hispanic Heritage Month.



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

September 11, 2018

Diana Evans' Playlist for Her Novel "Ordinary People"

Ordinary People

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.

Diana Evans' smart and entertaining novel Ordinary People is one of my favorite books of the year.

The Guardian wrote of the book:

"If Ordinary People is about compromise, it is also about how we live today and, refreshingly, Evans shows this through the prism of black and mixed-race identities, conjuring an urban milieu that is middle-class and non-white.... [This novel] has universal appeal in its reflections on love and yet carries a glorious local specificity.... It could easily be reimagined for the screen, though the film would not capture the sheer energy and effervescence of Evans’s funny, sad, magnificent prose."


In her own words, here is Diana Evans' Book Notes music playlist for her novel Ordinary People:



Music was so much a part of the writing of Ordinary People that the playlist made itself. It took me seven years to complete and the music kept me going. I would hear a Michael Jackson song on the radio and remember exactly what I was trying to do. I’d listen to John Legend’s Get Lifted album all the way through, sometimes while doing yoga, and feel a tremendous excitement at the idea of fusing this music into the lives and minds of my characters. It was an experimental exercise, to see how closely music could walk with sentences, how the lyrics of the songs could speak of the book’s multiple psychologies. There are songs in every chapter of Ordinary People, as there are songs in every life, dancing songs, driving songs, cleaning songs, talking and drinking and thinking songs. The novel was originally called ‘Bell Green’, after the area in which it is set in South London, but the name was later changed in acknowledgement of its major salute to music, that title song in particular containing a beautifully accurate account of the conflicting phases of love. This is a book to be read and heard at the same time, then listened to again in pure sound, bringing the characters and their world back to you on the replay. Music is memory. It reminds us who we are.

1. Q-Tip, Breathe And Stop (4.03)
A deep-set hip hop party tune played in the house of Ordinary People's the Wiley brothers in celebration of Obama’s first election win, which now feels like eons away in the midst of the orange horror, but Q-Tip helps me remember. It was a historical moment that I wanted to document in the context of ordinary people’s lives.

2. Mariah Carey and Jay Z, Heartbreaker (4.45)
Mariah Carey is the sweet, trilling, smooching, honey-scented voice that has accompanied us through three decades of R&B and pop. The noughties and the nineties would not have been the same without her and long may she endure. Here’s another party song in which a rap from Jay-Z ends up smothered in candy-floss.

3. Michael Jackson, P.Y.T. (3.58)
When I was thirteen I did a staged dance routine to P.Y.T. with some school friends and believed for the duration that we were actually popstars. Michael Jackson had that effect on us: he was one of us; we were in his life in the same way that he was in ours – at least that’s what he made us feel, a grand, deep connection.

4. Isaac Hayes, By The Time I Get To Phoenix (18.44)
This is a long song, building slowly over eighteen minutes, reaching a beautiful brassy climax, it’s breathtaking. Isaac Hayes has the most warmly sumptuous, enveloping voice. It’s a perfect song for crossing a river, which is why it was chosen as Melissa and Michael’s Thames-crossing soundtrack in Ordinary People.

5. Beres Hammond, There For You (4.52)
A sweet and simple reggae love song from one of the most distinctive and longstanding voices in the genre. Hammond has that gravelly, slightly growling, elastic sound to his voice that can bring virtually any rhythm track to life. This is the song Melissa and Michael would marry to if they ever were to (a question left open at the end of the book).

6. Amy Winehouse, Love Is A Losing Game (2.35)
How I miss Amy. How I was waiting patiently for more songs from her singular stormy boat. I love the way she sings, drifting around the beats, falling back and coming back, and the dangerous determined sadness. At least she left us what we have of her. This song has a hazy, back-room quality that shines in quiet, foreboding afternoons.

7. John Legend, I Can Change (5.01)
John Legend’s Get Lifted album is reviewed in Chapter 4 via Michael’s love-life ruminations on the 176 bus through London on his way in to work one morning. Here Snoop Dogg gives John (or Michael) some home truths on the importance of changing one’s womanizing ways when one comes across a girl who’s ‘off the hizzle’. More hizzles follow. I couldn’t resist.

8. Roy Ayers, Running Away (6.44)
A background song to Michael and Damian’s man-to-man chat in the Satay Bar in Brixton one Friday night. One of the few venues in Brixton that has ridden the bleaching storm of gentrification and come out the other side more or less in tact. Roy Ayers remains a beloved figure in black music and this is a signature hit.

9. Jill Scott, One is the Magic Number (3.49)
Timing is everything. Sometimes the wrong song comes at the wrong time even when it’s a good song, and says the unsayable. Melissa and Michael are out on date night trying to rekindle the flame when Scott, swaying on stage before them at the O2 in green smoke, sings this beauty about the glory and attractions of lone-ness (as opposed to loneliness).

10. Jaguar Wright, Country Song (3.56)
An extremely overlooked, under-exposed artist in the soul pantheon, Jaguar Wright is gutsy, funky, quirky, and she swivels around a beat like it’s made of water, or jelly, or something similar. Another background tune to set the scene of Melissa and Damian snow-trapped and bearing their souls to one another while drinking Rioja.

11. Susana Baca, De Los Amores (5.14)
There’s no other sound quite like the combination of Susana Baca’s mournful scintillating voice with guitar strings or a bow on a double bass. Immediately transporting, elegant and subtle, this song has a haunting, mysterious quality, the singer’s passion spilling over the sides. Another red wine background song.

12. Nina Simone, Mr Bojangles (4.58)
When I die I will have this song played at my funeral. My favourite Nina Simone song, resplendent in its melancholy, tender in its celebration of a chequered life, playing in the kitchen during Melissa and Michael’s sombre talking about a boy who has been killed in their neighbourhood.

13. I Wayne, Living In Love (3.33)
Possibly my favourite reggae song of all time. It has a surging, ringing quality to it, an endlessness, and seems to continue in your head when it’s over. ‘I like to see my people living in love/I hate to see them fighting and swimming in blood’. The opening lines, expressing a simple, universal wish in a perennially troubled world.

14. Nirvana, Come As You Are (3.39)
This song is playing in the belly of an angular Spanish villa near the climax of the novel, with someone reading Tolstoy upstairs, and someone barbequing downstairs, and Michael Jackson waiting in the wings for his big moment. This song has a hardcore gloomy bounce I have always found impossible not to react to with strong head movements.

15. John Legend, Ordinary People (4.41)
I have a confession to make: this is not, as you might expect, my favourite John Legend song. But it’s the one off the Get Lifted album that speaks most accurately of the peaks and troughs of love, and of my desire to see the everyday in middle-class black lives normalised and humanised. Thank you, John.


Diana Evans and Ordinary People links:

the author's website
the author's Wikipedia entry

Financial Times review
Guardian review
Kirkus review
Publishers Weekly review
Telegraph review

Weekend Edition interview with the author


also at Largehearted Boy:

Support the Largehearted Boy website

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

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

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

Fatimah Asghar's Playlist for Her Poetry Collection "If They Come for Us"

If They Come for Us

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.

Fatimah Asghar's debut poetry collection If They Come for Us is both intensely personal and political, profound and poignant.

Booklist wrote of the book:

"[Fatimah] Asghar presents a debut poetry collection showcasing both a fierce and tender new voice. The poems, largely based on the experience of living in America as a Pakistani Muslim, reflect Asghar’s keen perceptions about the search for, and inability to firmly fix upon, one true identity. . . . As Asghar traces the threads of her experiences, she slowly unfurls the larger fabric of her heritage and, in doing so, honors all who have been pushed aside, divided from country and culture, misrepresented, and misunderstood. Through simultaneously lyrical and frank poems like ‘Kal,’ ‘Ghareeb,’ and ‘Halal,’ Asghar allows poignant contradictions to rise to the surface, like a lotus reaching through mud and murky water to beautifully bloom."


In her own words, here is Fatimah Asghar's Book Notes music playlist for her poetry collection If They Come for Us:



My collection of poems If They Come for Us explores the impossible categories of a national identity in a constantly shifting world. I’ve always been fascinated by my mother and her generation in my family. They lived through the 1947 Partition of India and went through several identities in one lifetime—British Indian colonial subjects, Kashmiri, Pakistani, British immigrants living in London, and then American. What does it mean to have who you are changed so often, and so violently? The book really sits with that, as well as my own grappling with identity, growing up as an orphan, and my battles with sexuality while living in a very Islamophobic America.

Music was a critical aspect in writing my book, and influencing my work. Here are 8 songs that helped shape my book.

1. PROJECT CHICK by Cash Money Millionaires

This song came out in 2000, when I was 11. It would play on the radio all the time and my immigrant Uncle and Aunt, who were learning English at the time, would put our names in it and sing, “Fati is a project chick,” without realizing what that meant. Being older and thinking about the lyrics of the song, I realize how fucked up that is since the song is so graphically about sex. But we didn’t really know it at the time. The song is also referenced in a poem in the book, called “My Love For Nature.”

2. ALWAYS ON TIME by Ja Rule and Ashanti

So much of this book rests in the nostalgia of childhood for me, in the age of Ja Rule and Ashanti. This is one of my favorite songs from childhood and was so much of the soundtrack to me growing up.

3. DEEWANI MASTANI from the soundtrack from Bajirao Mastani

I was thinking a lot about Bollywood and cinema while writing the book (particularly for the poem Film Treatment: How We Left) and this is one of my favorite songs that I would have on repeat over and over again. I love the song and the movie, and the opulence shown in the scene when this plays.

4. PARTITION by Beyoncé

Given that Partition is a huge theme in my book, OF COURSE I listened to Beyoncé’s Partition over and over again. There’s an entire suite of poems in my book called “Partition” that examine the historical event of the 1947 Partition in India, and one of those poems delves into the Beyoncé song.

5. WAY UP by Jamila Woods

I feel like the thesis statement to my book is “just because I’m born here/ don’t mean I’m from here” from this song by Jamila. Jamila was working on her album at the same time that I was working on my book—so many of my memories of the time period that I have constructing this book are alongside going to the studio with Jamila and watching her construct her album.

6. NIGHTS by Frank Ocean

I love this song and this entire album for the way that it feels both very present/modern and very nostalgic. This song is incredible because it’s hard to tell who is the victim and who is the fuckboi—things aren’t clear, which is so much of real life. Frank has this amazing way of writing lyrics that feel like you’re both living in the time period/ emotions he’s writing about, and beyond them. That’s the line I tried to hit with my book— trying to approach my childhood without judgment, celebrating nostalgia, and making room for the present.

7. MOON SHOES by Ravyn Lenae

I love the lyrics to this song. It’s so unsure, it really hits that feeling of being awkward and feeling like an alien in your own skin—like you don’t even know what your emotions are or what they mean. That’s so much of what my book feels like to me, is always feeling like an alien, seeing how other people act and trying to mimic that to seem normal.

8. SOY YO by Bomba Estereo

I put this song on when I want to feel like the shit. It’s such an anthem. The little girl reminds me of me and my friends growing up.


Fatimah Asghar and If They Come for Us links:

the author's website

The Adroit Journal review
Booklist review
Publishers Weekly review

Broadly interview with the author
Chicago Reader profile of the author
HelloGiggles interview with the author
Publishers Weekly interview with the author


also at Largehearted Boy:

Support the Largehearted Boy website

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

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

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

Shorties (Margaret Atwood on Her New Comic, Pitchfork's Best Albums of the 1980s, and more)

War Bears

Margaret Atwood discussed her new comic War Bears with Entertainment Weekly.


Pitchfork listed the best albums of the 1980s.


September's best eBook deals.


Kate Bush will publish a book of her lyrics.


Maria Dahvana Headley recommended books at the Seattle Review of Books.


Billboard profiled singer-songwriter Debbie Neigher, whose new musical project is titled Lapel.


The Rumpus interviewed author Thomas Page McBee.


Stoney Roads listed the best Australian music blogs.


Ms. magazine interviewed poet Ada Limon.


Stream a new song by Erika Spring (of Au Revoir Simone).


Paste interviewed cartoonist Lisa Hanawalt.


Melvins and Sleep's Al Cisneros share cover of Black Sabbath’s "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath."


New York magazine recommended books that explain the opioid crisis.


Stream a new Moaning Lisa song.


The Irish Independent recommended the best books about schools, teachers and rebellious students.


Stream a remastered version of Bauhaus's "Bela Lugosi's Dead."


The Wesleyan Argus ranked oral histories.


Rolling Stone shared three acoustic songs by Courtney Barnett.


Literary Hub previewed fall's best books.


Stream a new song by Lala Lala.


The OTHERPPL podcast interviewed author T. Greenwood.


Literary Hub shared Haruki Murakami's introduction to The Penguin Book of Japanese Short Stories.



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

September 10, 2018

Melanie Hobson's Playlist for Her Novel "Summer Cannibals"

Summer Cannibals

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.

Melanie Hobson's novel Summer Cannibals is a mesmerizing debut.

Kirkus wrote of the book:

"A tale of scorching family dysfunction that ranges among the gothic, domestic, and carnal, snagging the reader's attention with its odd, unpredictable vision."


In her own words, here is Melanie Hobson's Book Notes music playlist for her debut novel Summer Cannibals:



Some of these songs, I listened to relentlessly while holed up in my trailer writing my novel Summer Cannibals. I work in a 1954 aluminum Spartan trailer that’s parked in my back yard – a sort of faraday cage that makes music streaming a little challenging -- but I figure it out, because music is an essential part of my process. I listen for various reasons – to make the words come more easily, to give me a break from the words, to drown out the barking of my dogs or the pneumatic wheeze of neighborhood blowers. And music highlights and reminds me how important breath is in the composition of a line. How reading is tuned to the way we breathe – and how a writer can finesse that to make her work take a stronger hold on us.

“Summer Cannibals” by Patti Smith
The title of my novel, of course, is from Patti Smith whose song of the same name underpins the entire book. Her lyrics are a distilled and potent warning cry for the destructiveness of greed. When I was younger and flicking through albums at the record store, her image was a confusion of androgyny to me at a time – early teens – when our tribe was separating so firmly into girl vs. boy. She was, deliciously, all about her art. I suppose she scared us a little in the way she didn’t dress and didn’t style her hair and didn’t conform to the accepted version of feminine. But, mostly, she excited us, my girlfriends and me. We recognized a woman who’d found her place, and it wasn’t anywhere that any other adult had shown us was a possibility before.

“Oh Bondage! Up yours!” by X-Ray Spex
The female-led band X-Ray Spex was an early influence on my book. The first drafts of the novel included lyrics from their songs as epigrams. “Oh Bondage! Up Yours!” is a must on this playlist, delivered in the peculiar and arresting voice of lead singer Poly Styrene who defied the typical look and sound of a punk band. She was mixed race and wore braces on her teeth, and inserted a squealing voice into a genre stuffed with rat-a-tat growls and yells – and I love the bad-assery of that. Its brio. Its fearlessness. “Summer Cannibals” began as my own scream against critics who’d tried to re-shape my work to fit a more saleable mold. I’d spent years re-working a different manuscript, following the edits sent back with each rejection, but no matter how hard I tried to twist it into something acceptable, it never worked. Screw it. I’ll write exactly what I want, I scowled. Dental braces and all.

“Heroes” by David Bowie
David Bowie died while I was working on this book, and I was surprised by how deeply it affected me. I’d always been a fan, but it took his death for me to really get what a committed artist he was – creating until the very end. I found that to be profoundly moving. There were many days that I listened to his song “Heroes” on continuous replay, internalizing that velvety voice with its message of hope. That there’s victory, at some point, even if just for one day. Keep going keep going keep going.

“My Neck, My Back” by Elle King
This song is a sultry, perfectly raunchy ode to female desire. There are a few scenes where I can imagine it, like a naughty greeting card, playing at full volume when a reader opens the book to those places. And why not? Isn’t that life too? This song is permission.

“Katmandu” by Bob Seger
When I found my energy flagging, Bob Seger’s “Katmandu” went on at maximum to bring back that twenty-one year old who listened to it on her Walkman, on the plane, all the way to the real Katmandu by myself. It was a gift from my parents: a round-the-world airline ticket where I chose the stops. Years later, when I dropped out of grad school to be a writer, and hopped a Greyhound bus from Canada to my boyfriend in the States – no green card, no prospects, no plan – my stunned parents didn’t connect the two, and neither did I. But now I look back and the connection is obvious. ‘…I’m leaving and I can’t be late, and to myself be true …. I’m going to Katmandu.’

“Hold On” by Alabama Shakes
This song contains all the pain and ache of having come through adolescence, and not being sure how you survived it. And of wanting to attribute it to something meaningful, rather than just dumb luck. We all strive to be special, and that’s the trick of writing fiction – finding what’s unique about your characters and rendering it in a believable way. And sometimes, yes, you have to hold on and wait because it takes time, and that’s a hard thing to reconcile as your mind – and the story – gallop ahead.

“FourFiveSeconds” by Rihanna
It has a pure stripped-down groove that I would sometimes hook onto to help my own flow and composition. It’s meditative in the best way, and so perfectly wrought – even down to the juxtaposition of the voices – that it reminds me art is built one chord at a time, and it’s okay to start simple and then build up and layer on top of that. It also reminds me that – always, always, always – we work from the shoulders of those who’ve come before us. Paul McCartney, Rihanna, Kanye West ….. that’s a trio grounded in musical history.

“Magic Carpet Ride” by Steppenwolf
It’s the soundtrack for the novel’s remembered party scene. It is possibility and freedom and experimentation, and allowing passion to rule. It’s the fun and intoxicating side of that, when your whole world is held within the trajectory of a single night. A golden time. I recall one evening in my teens, the pub’s house band was playing a frenzied version of this song and everyone in that second-floor space was dancing to make the building fall down ….. except my friend Angus, asleep with his head against the throbbing speaker, a beatific smile on his face. Legs outstretched and crossed at the ankles, totally at peace, carried off by that song to what I can only guess was a paradise. What we were all searching for.

“The Letter” by Macy Gray
If Goldi had a song, it would be Macy Gray’s “The Letter”. It’s buoyant and resilient and without pretension, with an underlying sadness built from the struggle of living. Of longing to be free. Goldi, of all the characters in my novel, is the one who’s most sure of herself, and who’s interesting blend of naiveté and experience is embodied in the raspy girl-voice of Macy Gray.

“Add it Up” by The Violent Femmes
This is pent-up desire and rage, full volume and unrepentant. No other explanation necessary.

“I’m On My Way” by The Proclaimers
This particular song could be David’s delusional beat at the end of the novel. It has a sort of self confidence that seems to have more to do with the imposed rhythm, rather than with reality. And there’s something about the singer’s pronounced Scottish accent that makes me – a child of Commonwealth – feel instantly at home and relaxed. Comfort food. It has cultural echoes from that time before the boyfriend and the Greyhound bus, when home was a different (now foreign) place. Being a fiction writer is an odd existence. You inhabit multiple worlds, real and imagined, but there’s nothing quite like that early world you first spoke into as a young child. Nothing quite as real.

“S.O.B.” by Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats
Because, often, writing is either an all-night bender or a parched throat. This song captures that dichotomy. And its knee-slapping, foot-stomping, hand-clapping a cappella performance is a comforting reminder to a solitary writer that we’re part of a chorus, even as we labor alone. That the voices we’re making might actually have an audience. ‘Sonofabitch, give me a drink…..’ Just maybe, someone is listening, and they’ll hand you one.

“Go Home” by Summer Cannibals
It wasn’t until I’d sold the book and come up for air that I came across a band who, like me, had borrowed from Patti Smith. I include them on this playlist because they’re fiercely awesome and because I hear, in the timbre of the lead singer’s voice and in her lyrics, a progression from Poly Styrene and my novel’s beginnings. There’s an easy confidence, a solidity, an unapologetic sneer at any naysayers who may still foolishly question her right to belong.


Melanie Hobson and Summer Cannibals links:

the author's website

Kirkus review


also at Largehearted Boy:

Support the Largehearted Boy website

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

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

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Shorties (To KIll a Mockingbird: The Graphic Novel, New Music from Okkervil River, and more)

To Kill a Mockingbird

The Telegraph reported that Harper Lee's classic To Kill a Mockingbird has been adapted into a graphic novel.


Stream two new Okkervil River songs.


September's best eBook deals.

eBook on sale for $1.99 today:

A Day in the Life of a Smiling Woman: Complete Short Stories by Margaret Drabble


Noisey shared a guide to get into Steve Albini.


Tor.com recommended forgotten great science fiction writers.


Drowned in Sound interviewed electronic folk artist Maarja Nuut.


Author Olivia Laing discussed her favorite books at The Week.


Stream a new song by Elvis Costello.


Diana Evans talked to Weekend Edition about her new novel Ordinary People.


The St. Louis Post-Dispatch profiled singer-songwriter Jason Isbell.


Porochista Khakpour discussed her memoir Sick with the Los Angeles Review of Books podcast.


TOBACCO covered Eric Carmen's "Hungry Eyes."


The Guardian recommended the best books about history's forgotten women.


Rolling Stone and Stereogum reconsidered Hole's Celebrity Skin album on its 20th anniversary.


The Frisky recommended books every woman should read.


Stream a recent Neko Case live performance.


Book Riot recommended engaging novels about World Ear II.


Stereogum reconsidered Belle and Sebastian's The Boy with the Arab Strap album on its 20th anniversary.


The New Yorker features new Tessa Hadley short fiction.


Rolling Stone interviewed Paul Banks of Interpol.


Melanie Hobsin recommended novels where houses have a life of their own at Literary Hub.


Stream a new Kurt Vile song.


Literary Hub interviewed author Amanda Stern.


Paste listed the saddest songs of the 20th century (so far).


Publishers Weekly profiled Restless Books.


Paste interviewed Death Cab for Cutie frontman Ben Gibbard.


FSG Work in Progress interviewed author Rachel Cusk.


Stream a new How To Dress Well song.



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

September 7, 2018

Elliot Reed's Playlist for His Novel "A Key to Treehouse Living"

A Key to Treehouse Living

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.

Elliot Reed's novel A Key to Treehouse Living is an inventively told, lyrical, and moving debut.

Kirkus wrote of the book:

"Crisp and lyrical, emotionally assured, delightfully inventive―Reed has made a marvelous debut."


In his own words, here is Elliot Reed's Book Notes music playlist for his debut novel A Key to Treehouse Living:



I am very picky. Part of the reason I am so sensitive to music is that I have no sense of smell, and my ears have compensated for it. My vision is also quite poor. I do not listen to music while composing new material, but I do sometimes listen to music while leaning back in the chair and planning the next revision. I do not look for new songs or new music to listen to while revising because searching for the right thing would take too long and I would feel bad about not working on writing but instead looking at, listening to, and frequently changing the music. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. There are a few songs on this list (Emahoy Tsegue, Thou, Alice Coltrane, William Basinski) that I listen to while revising; I have probably listened to each of the albums these four songs come from over a hundred times. The other songs on the list were the songs I was listening to in my life while I was working on A Key to Treehouse Living. They represent the murky region from which this novel emerges, and are elementally more liquid than desert, rock, or mountain because the book is more of a mystery than a drama.

Allen Toussaint – “Southern Nights”
There’s not a lot I can say about this song. It makes me very emotional. This album is a treasure, especially the title track. Listen to it while cycling around New Orleans or Gainesville or Jacksonville in the middle of the night in August. The central character of A Key to Treehouse Living, William Tyce, is somewhat nocturnal and rides a bike. Maybe you’ll see him coasting down a hill one night.

Emahoy Tsegué Maryam Guèbrou – ''The Homeless Wanderer''
I must have listened to this song over a hundred times while revising and transcribing my book, which is also about a homeless wanderer. Emahoy is an Ethiopian nun who plays the piano in an original and deeply peaceful way. I could listen to her solo-piano album all the time and not become bored of it.

Thou – “Free Will”
I can’t really write while listening to music with lyrics. Metal vocalists are an exception. There are lyrics in Thou’s album Heathen, and they are typical metal lyrics: they sound like they’ve been written by Confucius or the Buddha. This song, and the album it comes from, is perfectly epic (not too cheesy, like the vast majority of heavy metal) and acoustically fascinating. There is a place in my book where Tyce defines “L’Apelle Du Vide,” and I think Thou would approve.

Alice Coltrane ft. Pharoah Sanders – “Journey in Satchidananda”
This wonderful music establishes a singular atmosphere: texturally rich, unpredictable, compelling. The album has a good cover. I’ve never heard the harp played the way Alice plays it. I’ve always wanted to know how to play the sitar like it’s played on this track. I find it hard not to listen to music without imagining myself playing the music.

Rich Gang – “Lifestyle ft. Young Thug, Rich Homie Quan”
From my perspective, rap music is the most interesting genre of music being produced today. Almost every week I hear some new and amazing sound come from the world of rap. This particular track came to popularity in 2014, when I was living alone in a shotgun-style duplex across from this bar called Fletcher’s in Gainesville, Florida. I wrote a lot of A Key to Treehouse Living in that house. People would park outside Fletcher’s and party and listen to this song over and over, max volume, all night. No matter where I was inside my half of that shotgun (the other was vacant, except for the bugs), I would hear this song loud and clear. At first I got sick of it, but then I came to love it.

William Basinski – “Cascade”
Basinski is one of my favorite ambient composers. I can listen to him and work at the same time. This track, Cascade, is as good as anything I’ve heard by Brian Eno or any other more famous ambient composer. I am particular about my ambient music. It must not trigger emotion, but must not be ugly. It must not be too repetitive, but it must be iterations of the same theme over and over. It must be a lot harder to make good ambient music than one would think.

Duchess – “Let’s All Go to the Beach! (II)”
This song captures the Florida I knew. It was often hard to be optimistic in such oppressive heat. Thinking about going to the beach was often as good as or better than actually going to the beach. The narrator of my book thinks about the place where his river meets the ocean, but only abstractly. He never goes there. He’s more interested in the names of the beaches, as is Duchess.

Napalm Death – “Scum”
In 2014, I was driving around Florida and often sleeping in a black van from 1988. The van had a broken tape player and speakers that only sometimes came online. I stole this Napalm Death tape from a friend in Portland, OR, and felt that magic would happen whenever I played this tape on my broken system. I think the band Napalm Death is amazing, but I’m not sure I’ve ever sought out their music since losing that tape and fixing those speakers. Napalm Death were only children when they recorded this album, in Britain, in 1987. Listen to the drumming. Listen to the guitar. Listen to the vocals. These kids had a lot to say. A gross punk-rock junkie-type makes a very brief appearance in Treehouse, and I imagine this dude listened to a lot of music that was a bad rip-off of Napalm Death.

Lightnin' Hopkins – “Baby, Please Don't Go”
I also had a Lightnin’ Hopkins tape I would play in that van. Hopkins is arguably much better, musically, than Napalm Death. I imagine Lightnin’ would have enjoyed Napalm Death, maybe because he’d be amused to hear his influence on British Death-Metal. Blues guitarists invented the wheel, and invented fire. Lightnin’ has a personality that comes out of the recording. His music is perfect.

George Jones – “Walk Through This World With Me”
A good friend of mine introduced me to Jones around the time I started working on what was originally called The Glossary of William Tyce. I was going through a pretty uncertain time when I began this work, as was the friend who introduced me to Jones. We were living in a double-wide trailer in rural Missouri together, right near the Missouri River. I found that some George Jones tracks actually could cause the listener to dissociate from sorrow. Listen to his voice. This is true country, not the over-produced, intellectualized, misogynistic propaganda you hear on the radio today.


Elliot Reed and A Key to Treehouse Living links:

excerpt from the book

Booklist review
Kirkus review
Minneapolis Star Tribune review
Publishers Weekly review

The Millions interview with the author


also at Largehearted Boy:

Support the Largehearted Boy website

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

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

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

This Week's Interesting Music Releases - September 7, 2018

Mountain Goats

The Mountain Goats' surprise Hex Of Infinite Binding EP is the week's standout release for me.

Mirah's Understanding and Waxahatchee's Great Thunder EP are other releases I can wholly recommend.

Led Zeppelin's The Song Remains the Same live album has been remastered and is available in both 2-CD and 2-CD, 4-LP, 3-DVD box set versions.

Vinyl reissues include L7's Hungry for Stink.


This week's interesting music releases:


Adult.: This Behavior
Alice Coltrane: Spiritual Eternal: The Complete Warner Bros. Studio Recordings
Black Joe Lewis: The Difference Between Me & You
Bob Seger: Heavy Music: The Complete Cameo Recordings 1966-1967
Chic: It's About Time
Chilly Gonzales: Solo Piano III
Clutch: Book Of Bad Decisions
The Durutti Column: Without Mercy (4-CD box set)
Eminem: Kamikaze
Eric Bachmann: No Recover
Gaslight Anthem: Sink or Swim [vinyl]
Ghostland Observatory: See You Later Simulator
Grateful Dead: Pacific Northwest '73-'74: Believe It If You Need It (3-CD box set)
Grateful Dead: Portland Memorial Coliseum, Portland, OR, 5/19/74 (6-LP box set) [vinyl]
JEFF the Brotherhood: Magick Songs
Kathy Mattea: Pretty Bird
L7: Hungry for Stink (reissue) [vinyl]
Led Zeppelin: The Song Remains the Same (remastered)
Led Zeppelin: The Song Remains the Same (Super-Expanded Edition (remastered and expanded) (2-CD, 4-LP, 3-DVD box set)
Lenny Kravitz: Raise Vibration
Mike Farris: Silver And Stone
Mirah: Understanding
Mothers: Render Another Ugly Method
Mountain Goats: Hex Of Infinite Binding EP
The Munsters: The Munsters (reissue) [vinyl]
Paul McCartney: Egypt Station
Paul Simon: In The Blue Light
Pig Destroyer: Head Case
Posies: Frosting on the Beater (remastered and expanded)
Punch Brothers: All Ashore [vinyl]
Rae Spoon: Bodiesofwater
The Replacements: Another Planet
Ruston Kelly: Dying Star
Sauna Youth: Deaths
Say Hi: Caterpillar Centipede
Spiritualized: And Nothing Hurt
St. Paul & the Broken Bones: Young Sick Camellia
Suicidal Tendencies: Still Cyco Punk After All These Years
Swamp Dogg: Love, Loss And Auto-Tune
Teleman: Family Of Aliens
Various Artists: Alfred Hitchcock: The Classic Soundtrack Collection
Waxahatchee: Great Thunder EP
William Elliott Whitmore: Kilanova
Willie Nelson: At the Boarding House


also at Largehearted Boy:

Support Largehearted Boy

weekly music release lists

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

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

Shorties (Gary Shteyngart Interviewed, Phoebe Bridgers Profiled, and more)

Gary Shteyngart

The Guardian and Hazlitt interviewed author Gary Shteyngart.


FADER profiled singer-songwriter Phoebe Bridgers.


Vol. 1 Brooklyn interviewed author Bart Schaneman.


Stream a new Julia Holter song.


Noisey shared a primer to the discography of Spiritualized.


Electric Literature interviewed author Alissa Nutting.


The Mountain Goats covered the Sex Pistols' "Holiday in the Sun."


The Oxford American shared a new essay by William Boyle.


Mudhoney's Steve Turner ranked the band's albums at Noisey.


David Small discussed his new graphic novel Home After Dark with Mother Jones.


Sylvan Esso and Collections Of Colonies Of Bees covered Califone's "Funeral Singers."


Iowa Public Radio interviewed author Jacqueline Woodson.


Stream a new Devendra Banhart song.


The Creative Independent interviewed poet Dorothea Lasky.


Stream a new Men I Trust song.


Vulture profiled author Jonathan Lethem.


Young & Sick covered Passion Pit's "Sleepyhead."



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

September 6, 2018

Lydia Kiesling's Playlist for Her Novel "The Golden State"

The Golden State

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.

Lydia Kiesling's novel The Golden State is one of the year's strongest debuts, a profound examination of motherhood and love.

Publishers Weekly wrote of the book:

"Kiesling's intimate, culturally perceptive debut portrays a frazzled mother and a fractious America, both verging on meltdown . . . Kiesling depicts parenting in the digital age with humor and brutal honesty and offers insights into language, academics, and even the United Nations. But perhaps best of all is her thought-provoking portrait of a pioneer community in decline as anger and obsession fray bonds between neighbors, family, and fellow citizens."


In her own words, here is Lydia Kiesling's Book Notes music playlist for her debut novel The Golden State:



My first novel, The Golden State, is about an American woman named Daphne who is working at a university and parenting a 16-month-old alone in the Bay Area while her Turkish husband, Engin, is in Turkey dealing with a protracted green card problem—a casualty of weaponized bureaucracy. Feeling at sea in her own life, Daphne takes her toddler Honey and her inherited Buick LeSabre and flees for her ancestral mobile home in the high desert country of northeastern California, where Oregon and Nevada and California meet. There, she mothers Honey with varying degrees of competence, conducts anguished Skype sessions with Engin, and visits old haunts. She meets neighbors who want to secede from California, and links up with an elderly woman named Alice who is on a long road trip of her own. Among other things, the book is concerned with documenting the feelings—often sad ones—conjured up by beloved places and people. Here are some of the sounds that inform those feelings.

1. Gitme Sana Muhtacım, Zeki Müren
I started learning Turkish in Turkey in 2005 with the help of a book I bought in the airport, my very gracious coworkers and friends, and various love interests (there is a semi-lewd Turkish expression about this). But one of the best things that ever happened to my Turkish was Professor Helga Anetshofer at the University of Chicago, where I did a master’s degree five years later. One of her teaching methods included having us translate Turkish songs, movies, and television interviews. We spent a few days on Zeki Müren, a much-beloved queer Turkish pop icon. She loved this song, which we had to transcribe and translate, and I love it too. It’s very sentimental, which you can tell from the music whether you understand the words or not—the title is “Don’t go—I need you.”

2. Home on the Range, Sons of the Pioneers
My grandmother’s stepfather was a rodeo rider and stuntman who was inducted into the Cowboy Hall of Fame, and I’ve always had a soft spot for cowboy songs. The only words I knew of this song were the chorus, which I used to sing to my older daughter when she was trying to sleep. But listening to the full song, it takes on an element of shame and horror: “The Red man was pressed/ From this part of the west/ 'Tis unlikely he'll ever return/ To the banks of Red River/ Where seldom if ever/ Their flickering campfires burn.” My book takes place in a thinly fictionalized town in the part of California where the so-called Modoc Wars took place, during which many Native people were murdered or forcibly removed from their land. Now that I know all the words, it joins the universe of artifacts I can’t see or hear the same way. My book’s narrator, Daphne, undergoes a series of similar readjustments.

3. Penceresi Yola Karşı, folk song
The Fatih Akın movie Head-On (Duvara Karşı/Geigen die Wand) came out around the time I first moved to Turkey, and it’s one of my absolute favorites, although it’s very bleak. It’s in Turkish and German and has a killer soundtrack across languages and genres. This folk song, “Her window faces the road,” appears as an interlude in the movie (here) and I loved both the sound of it and the visual aspect (and then the words, once I understood them). At the time I also was obsessed with Akın’s movie “Crossing the Bridge,” about the Istanbul music scene, in which a Canadian artist named Brenna MacCrimmon sings this song, and talks about it in excellent Turkish. I watched her as I was just starting to learn Turkish and thought, “I want to speak Turkish like that.”

4. İkili Delilik, Sezen Aksu (remix)
Daphne would definitely have heard this dance remix of a song called “Double Madness” by the megastar Sezen Aksu as she was running around Taksim in the hedonistic mid-aughts when she first met Engin (he would not have been into this song, but she would).

5. Bigmouth Strikes Again, The Smiths
While Daphne favors sentimental Turkish songs, Engin is a Smiths fan.

6. That Old Rugged Cross, Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash version
A friend of my grandparents played this song on the guitar and sang at my beloved grandfather’s funeral at the Elk’s Lodge, which is a memory I poached for Daphne in the book.

7. Yüksek Yüksek Tepelere (Turkish folk song)
(Pop version by Candan Erçetin: https://open.spotify.com/track/50cT7mXkTHhKvt2HBV7lme)
This folk song is traditionally sung at a henna night before a wedding in Turkey. The tenor is sad because in its original context, the bride is preparing to leave her family for a new household, including in-laws. In the book, Daphne’s sister-in-law throws her a semi-ironic henna night (they aren’t actually getting married in Turkey, for immigration reasons) and this song is sung. The words are poignant:

“Don’t let them build houses in the high, high hills
Don’t let them marry off brides to distant lands
Don’t let them scorn a mother’s one-and-only

Let the flying birds know
I miss my mother – my mother and my father
I miss my village...”

8. Uzun İnce Bir Yoldayım, Aşık Veysel
This is another classic—“I’m on a long, narrow road”—by a poet and singer who was born in 1894 in the Ottoman Empire. It’s sort of a quintessential wanderer song, with lines like “I don’t even know what state I’m in—day and night I’m going…I’ve been walking since the minute I was born.” Daphne is on an extended road trip she doesn’t exactly understand the meaning of; she just needed to get up and go. This is a bit like a cowboy song, I think. (I first heard it on this wonderful video cover by an advocacy group called “Play for Nature” featuring musicians from all over Turkey.)

9. Elimde Fotoğrafın, Bergen
Bergen (Belgin Sarılmişer) was a singer in the Arabesk genre. This song is ridiculously sad—sung to a lover as a photograph in the singer’s hand. This is one of many very sentimental songs I periodically listen to on YouTube when I’m feeling morose. The song is even more tragic when you consider Bergen’s life: she was blinded in one eye by an acid attack from her husband (her signature look on album covers featured bangs over one eye). When he got out of jail he shot and killed her. She was 31.

10. Eşarbını Yan Bağlama, İbrahim Tatlıses version
I know this as a song by the mega-star also known as “İbo,” but I think it is actually a folk song. One of my Turkish conversation buddies in a language program I did in Izmir played this song for me and now I also love it. The title is literally “Burn her scarf, bağlama” [a musical instrument]. It’s the only somewhat upbeat song on this list. And since my previous exposure to Tatlıses was through another Turkish friend who found him corny, he’s also emblematic for me of the elements in any country that are completely invisible to foreigners like me—musical tastes and leisure activities and style of dress that can map to class and age and family and region and all kinds of other things that you can spend years trying to learn and never quite get. When you listen to music from another cultural tradition, you bring your own weird and exotifying gaze to it, but you have no idea how it is perceived in its own context or if it is “cool.” (And cool, in any context, is obviously its own subjective and constantly shifting target.)

11. Dağlar Dağlar, Barış Manço
One of my favorite songs. It means “Mountains, Mountains,” and Daphne sings it to herself as she drives herself, her toddler Honey, and their new friend Alice over the border into Oregon on a mission of nostalgia. In the book, Daphne recalls this song and reflects on the way that songs are difficult for language learners, because they do things with language that are different than speech. You can’t use facial or situational cues to figure out context and meaning the same way. This is, like most songs I seem to like, a melancholy love song.

12. You Are My Sunshine, Gene Autry version
It’s hard for me to listen to this song without bawling. My grandmother, whose ghost animates the book, sang this to her kids, and my mom sang it to me, and I sing it to my kids if I can keep it together (it’s so weird, incidentally, that this is treated as a lullaby when the words are really kind of threatening and grim). Sometimes I think I wrote a whole book just to try and set down the atmosphere that this song sets down in under three minutes.


Lydia Kiesling and The Golden State links:

the author's website

Bookforum review
New Yorker review
Publishers Weekly review
San Francisco Chronicle review
Slate review

Literary Hub profile of the author
Slate interview with the author
ZYZZYVA 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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