February 1, 2016

Book Notes - Ryan Gattis "All Involved"

All Involved

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

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

Ryan Gattis's novel All Involved masterfully recounts the Rodney King riots in Los Angeles from a number of perspectives.

Library Journal wrote of the book:

"An overwhelming and fully immersive performance from Gattis, who finds the humanity and poetry in the most inhumane of circumstances. A solid addition to all fiction collections, though not for the fainthearted."

Stream a playlist of these songs at Spotify.


In his own words, here is Ryan Gattis's Book Notes music playlist for his novel All Involved:


FREER's "Bombing Mix Tape, Vol. 6" (Side 1)

Although he appears throughout the novel, Day 5 is the day Jeremy Rubio (a.k.a. Termite, a.k.a. FREER) gets to tell his story. Restaurant worker by day and graffiti artist by night, he's a loner by nature. His Walkman has been his sidekick, his constant companion, as he stalks the streets looking for walls to paint.

"Side 2," as Jeremy says early in his section, "is all rap. Side 1's sound-track songs." And that's what we get in his section, songs from films. His eclectic taste shows his love of wildly different film and TV without saying it flat-out, which I hoped would always subtly undermine any expectation that just because he grew up in South Central Los Angeles, he can only like things that sprang from that environment. On the contrary, he's a streetwise nerd who exalts in being all over the map: Star Wars, Westerns, Sesame Street, and a Bond film all get a check.

Because the novel is historical fiction and set during the six days of the L.A. riots in 1992, I found I needed to let my creative decisions be guided by the period (anything on it had to be released before April 29, 1992) and the technological constraints of the time. As such, I loved the idea of doing an audiocassette that was 30 minutes to a side and building something that wouldn't just help build the character but would also score his journey in a unique and meaningful way.

1. "Burning Homestead" by John Williams & the London Symphony Orchestra, from Star Wars: A New Hope
We meet Jeremy in front of a house that has been riddled by bullets since he last saw it. The weepy trumpet owns the tone here and the filmic story parallel was too strong for me to resist: that a sinister force (in this case, a rival gang) took Jeremy's co-worker and friend Ernesto away in the same way that the Empire killed Luke's aunt & uncle. Neither Jeremy nor Luke knows exactly what happened to those close to them, but they can be fairly certain how it went down, and each is only left to stare at damaged houses with the knowledge that their worlds have been irrevocably changed.

2. "Theme from A Fistful of Dollars" by Hugo Montenegro, from A Fistful of Dollars
After a tense meeting where Jeremy is told to join the local gang or stop doing graffiti altogether, this comes on as he's walking away and trying to calm down. It's his "strolling music." I conceived of All Involved, in many ways, as a noir Western. The chaos of the 1992 riots essentially made gangland Los Angeles a modern version of the Wild West for six days: a setting for frontier justice and old scores to be settled. Choosing this song was a way to underscore that idea, and, of course, to set up a surprise encounter.

3. "Everybody Wants to Rule The World" by Tears for Fears from Real Genius
Jeremy is facedown in the grass when this comes on. The smoothness of the opening line ("Welcome to your life, there's no turning back") felt raw and perfect when playing for a character in mortal fear for his life, and I had to weave the song into the action. I love how upbeat the song's rhythm feels, but the more I listened to the lyrics, the darker they seemed.

4. "Theme from High Noon" by Tex Ritter from High Noon
The Western theme returns to give the sense that Jeremy's moment of truth has arrived, and a decision must be made. I love Ritter's delivery here, real old school. It's a warble that surely would have plucked on my Texan grandfather's heartstrings. His voice rumbles with a sense of duty and honor that isn't all that different from Jeremy's, who knows he must leave the city, but cannot do so without paying tribute to Ernesto—consequences be damned.

5. "Be Kind to Your Neighborhood Monster" by Grover & the monsters of Sesame Street from Monsters
This one was a real dig in the stacks, to score Jeremy making a genuinely shocking discovery about the power of the gangs in his neighborhood. Sure, he knew they were bad, but not like this. I could add more, but it'll ruin the surprise, so I'll simply say that a line like "proud of our family, true to the end" still gives me shivers, because it's just dead solid perfect.

6. "Ride of the Valkyries" by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, from Apocalypse Now
During his panicked search for something to serve as a proper canvas to create a piece dedicated to Ernesto and the life he lived, Jeremy stumbles onto a sizeable chunk of city property that is crying out to be vandalized. It's so good, in fact, that Jeremy is certain it's a trap. This song comes on right as he decides to risk it.

7. "You Only Live Twice" by Nancy Sinatra from You Only Live Twice
Jeremy's ultimate destination is Phoenix, but only if he can make it safely to the Greyhound bus station in Long Beach. There didn't seem a much better song to fit with the idea that if he makes it out, he'll have to leave everything he knows, and everything he has been to this point, behind.

Side 2:
Although it doesn't appear in the book, I planned it out anyway, and found myself listening to it often when writing Jeremy's section. It consists of: "100 Miles and Running" by N.W.A., "Hold Your Own" by Kid Frost, "Violent" by Tupac, "Real Estate" by Cypress Hill, "Steady Mobbing" & "Black Korea" by Ice Cube, and "O.G. Original Gangster" by Ice T.


Ryan Gattis and All Involved links:

the author's website

Financial Times review
Independent review
New York Times review
New Yorker review
Publishers Weekly review
Scotsman interview with the author
Spectator review

Breitbart interview with the author
Guardian interview with the author
L.A.Taco interview with the author
LA Weekly profile of the author
Los Angeles Times interview with the author
Vroman's Bookstore interview with the author


also at Largehearted Boy:

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

Online "Best of 2015" Book Lists

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

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February 1, 2016

Book Notes - Genanne Walsh "Twister"

Twister

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

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

Genanne Walsh's debut novel Twister, awarded the Black Lawrence Press's 2014 Big Moose Prize, richly evokes a sense of place and community.

Peter Orner wrote of the book:

"Genanne Walsh's Twister is a chronicle of a small town amid the calm before the storm—but so much more. This book digs beneath the surface of place to create a kind of Spoon River Anthology for our time replete with secrets, truths, startling reckonings—and very, very threatening weather. As fine a new novel as you will read this year."

Stream a playlist of these songs at Spotify.


In her own words, here is Genanne Walsh's Book Notes music playlist for her debut novel Twister:


In my debut novel, Twister, a small Midwestern community grieves the loss of a young man killed in a war. Coincidentally, or not, there's also a powerful storm coming. The story opens with Rose, the soldier's mother, but then broadens to include a number of other characters—Rose's estranged stepsister, a neighboring family, and townspeople who appear at first glance to be less connected to the loss. I wanted to explore how a community copes with momentous change and existential threat—the earliest fragment of the story first appeared on the page during the lead-up to the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Though the book has major external pressures, the community's undercurrents intrigued me too. What do these people see in each other that they might not be able to face in themselves? Will they survive what's coming? If so, how will they be changed?

The playlist here comes mostly from songs mentioned in the novel, or from songs that struck me in some way while I was writing. So you'll note some threads: loss and grief, of course; but also dark humor, misunderstandings and missed opportunity for connection, and the shifting, elusive nature of dreams and memories.

Don't Forget Me by Neko Case
Maybe I should just list all the songs from Middle Cyclone and call it a day. This song grapples with nostalgia and bitterness about someone loved and lost—and the desire to be remembered. There's an oblique reference to Neko Case late in the book: a "big-voiced girl singing about memories and gunpowder"—a nod to "Don't Forget Me" and its directive to "Keep your memories/But keep your powder dry too."

A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall by Bob Dylan
Oh, man, this song. This song has the force of a prophecy. It captures a feeling of foreboding, of impending reckoning, that many of us recognize—even (or especially) when we're uncertain exactly what it is that's coming. What's a singer to do in the face of it? Take careful note of what you see, and know your song well before you start singing.

Blackbird by The Beatles
Twister's resident oddball, Scottie, lives in the back of a shoe store and secretly makes art out of bird bones. He's an outsider but also a visionary—he sees things that others miss. I think of this as his song. "Take these sunken eyes and learn to see."

Them There Eyes by Ella Fitzgerald
In the book there's a mention of a "favorite jazzy singer" playing on repeat on Rose's turntable. Though her name isn't specified, Ella Fitzgerald's voice was always the one in my head. Her vocal flexibility is intoxicating: lightness and joy threaded with deep sadness. Rose and her stepsister, Stella, were introduced to this record by their mother and father—awful parents in a lot of respects, but they had great taste in music.

Que Sera Sera by Pink Martini
Pink Martini does very well by this song. It's orchestral and dramatic, but with wry self-awareness. Stella, the bad girl of the family, has made a mess of her life in many ways—but she never stops asking questions and trying to understand things. This is her song.

Long Black Veil by Johnny Cash
There's a reference in Twister to a Johnny Cash cassette tape used as a coaster on an end table in Rose's house. A tape listened to so often, it's become part of the furniture. I love how succinctly and evocatively this song tells a haunting tale about a man who does the wrong thing but then an honorable thing, even though it costs him his life. And he's telling us all about it from the grave!

Perhaps Perhaps Perhaps by Cake
Sylvie, the teenage daughter of Rose's neighbors, has a memory of hearing this song when visiting Rose and Lance as a little girl. She's unable to speak of Lance's death to most people, and definitely unwilling to speak of it with her troubled family. But her grief is honest—there's a crack in the world that she won't pretend isn't there. Though Sylvie first hears the sugary Doris Day rendition, I like to think that eventually she'll find Cake's interpretation. And it will make her very happy.

It's Not Unusual by Tom Jones
In the book, Stella is plagued by an earworm, a tune emitted by her beeping alarm clock. I wanted to use lyrics from "It's Not Unusual," but couldn't because of permissions challenges. (I substituted "Camptown Races" instead, which I thought had a similarly frantic, almost bonkers momentum. See below.) Though Tom Jones's wacky hit isn't in the novel, it's there in spirit. "It's not unusual to be loved by anyone … It's not unusual to see me crying." The lyrics don't make much sense, but it's hard not to sing along.

Camptown Races by Dave Brubeck
I'm listing Dave Brubeck's version because it's a lovely riff and has no vocals. The original, written by Stephen Foster in 1850, has lyrics in the racist minstrel tradition. It seems appropriate to me that waking up to an electronic version of this song would drive Stella nuts. Yet, the tune has an energy that gallops into her consciousness. A few lines based on the lyrics come to her at a pivotal moment just before she has a close encounter with the tornado: "Going to run all night, going to run all day…."

Is That All There Is? by Peggy Lee
Rose quotes a line from this song in a letter to Stella. The fatalism and wit here have always slayed me. It walks the knife-edge between humor and despairing cynicism, always returning—triumphantly, if you ask me—to the dance.

I Dream a Highway by Gillian Welch
I listened to Time (The Revelator) quite a bit while writing the first draft of Twister. "I Dream a Highway," at more than fourteen minutes, is a song that takes you on a journey. Listening to it was a way to understand Lance, the dead soldier. Or to understand his continued pull on Rose and the others he left behind. Yearning, lost dreams, slippery intersections of present and past, a promise of revelation that never really comes—what's not to love? Plus, lyrics don't get better than this:

"Step into the light, poor Lazarus
Don't lie alone behind the window shade
Let me see the mark death made
I dream a highway back to you…."


Genanne Walsh and Twister links:

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

Beth Fish Reads review
Hungry for Good Books review
Story Circle Book Reviews review

Emerging Writers Network interview with the author
The Nervous Breakdown self-interview with the author


also at Largehearted Boy:

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

Online "Best of 2015" Book Lists

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

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Shorties (The Influence of Music on Virgina Woolf's Writing, Stream Sleater-Kinney's Austin City Limits Performance, and more)

The influence of music on the writing of Virginia Woolf.


Stream the Austin City Limits episode featuring Sleater-Kinney and Heartless Bastards


eBook on sale today: Ann Patchett's novel The Magician's Assistant.


Jhumpa Lahiri on writing and speaking Italian.


Gorilla Vs. Bear shared a mix of January's best new music.


Caroline Leavitt interviewed author Rick Moody.


Walter Martin of the Walkmen discussed his new album Arts & Leisure with NPR Music.


The Guardian interviewed author Claire Vaye Watkins.


Stream a new Raveonettes song.


Entropy recapped January's small press publications.


Latitudes recommended a selection of world music.


The Rumpus interviewed author Garth Greenwell about his debut novel What Belongs to You.


El Vy played a Tiny Desk Concert.


BBC Culture recommended February's best new books.


The Daily Beast reconsidered Bob Dylan's Desire album,


Huffington Post recommended binge-worthy literary series.


NYC of the '70s and '80s, photographed by Blondie's Chris Stein.


Forbes recommended books that will immediately improve your writing.


PopMatters recommended David Bowie deep cuts.


Author Anjan Sundaram on his favorite books about people trapped in oppressive systems.


The Los Angeles Review of Books interviewed singer-songwriter Robyn Hitchcock.


Alexander Chee talked to Weekend Edition about his new novel The Queen of the Night.


The Producer of Bernie Sanders' folk album We Shall Overcome talked to All Things Considered about the project.


The Guardian kicked off its list of the top 100 nonfition books.


Salon interviewed Dave Stewart about his new memoir Sweet Dreams Are Made of This.


Diane Rehm talked to Weekend Edition about her new memoir On My Own.


Stream the new DIIV album Is the Is Are at Stereogum.


Paste listed January's best books.



also at Largehearted Boy:

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

Online "Best of 2015" Book Lists
Essential and Interesting 2015 Year-End Music Lists

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

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January 31, 2016

Largehearted Boy Weekly Wrap-Up - January 31, 2015

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


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

Aaron Gilbreath for his essay collection This Is: Essays on Jazz
Amber Sparks for her short fiction collection The Unfinished World
Diane Williams for her short fiction collection Fine, Fine, Fine, Fine, Fine
Ed Tarkington for his novel Only Love Can Break Your Heart
Jeff Wood for his novel The Glacier
Rachel Cantor for her novel Good on Paper
W.B. Belcher for his novel Lay Down Your Weary Tune


Lists:

Online "Best of 2015" Book Lists (a collection of year-end book lists)
Essential and Interesting 2015 Year-End Music Lists
Largehearted Boy Favorite Food and Drink Books of 2015
Largehearted Boy Favorite Nonfiction of 2015
Largehearted Boy Favorite Novels of 2015
Largehearted Boy Favorite Short Story Collections of 2015


Weekly New Book Recommendations:

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


New Music Recommendations:

The Week's Interesting Music Releases


And of course, the daily literature and music news posts:

Shorties (news & links from the worlds of music, books, and pop culture)


also at Largehearted Boy:

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

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January 30, 2016

Atomic Books Comics Preview - January 30, 2016

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

Benn Ray is the owner of Atomic Books, an independent bookstore in Baltimore. He also runs the Mutant Funnies Tumblr.

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


Curb Stomp

Curb Stomp
by Ryan Ferrier / Devaki Neogi

Curb Stomp is like a female, punk rock version of the cult '70s film The Warriors.


Dumb #1 & 2

Dumb #1 & 2
by Georgia Webber

Dumb 1 & 2 collects the long sold-out first two issues of Georgia's real life trauma of dealing with the loss of her voice.


Future Shock 0

Future Shock 0

Future Shock is a full-color sci-fi comics anthology featuring the work of underground talents like Lala Albert, William Cardini, Victor Kerlow, Pat Aulisio, Josh Burggraf and more.


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


Atomic Books & Benn Ray links:

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


also at Largehearted Boy:

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

Online "Best of 2015" Book Lists

Antiheroines (interviews with up and coming female comics artists)
Book Notes (authors create music playlists for their book)
Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week (recommended new books, magazines, and comics)
musician/author interviews
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Short Cuts (writers pair a song with their short story or essay)
WORD Bookstores Books of the Week (weekly new book highlights)

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January 29, 2016

Book Notes - Aaron Gilbreath "This Is: Essays on Jazz"

This Is: Essays on Jazz

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

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

Aaron GilbreathThis Is: Essays on Jazz is a vital and entertaining collection, one of the finest books on jazz (or any genre of music) I have read.

Roxane Gay wrote of the book:

"The richness of the eight essays in Aaron Gilbreath's This Is is a fitting tribute to the richness of jazz itself. Gilbreath weaves unique insight with a profound understanding of the history of jazz. His crisp prose and diverse range make you want to turn the page and run to the record store in equal measure."

Stream a playlist of these songs at Spotify.


In his own words, here is Aaron Gilbreath's Book Notes music playlist for his essay collection This Is: Essays on Jazz:


I love jazz ─ not that smooth, easy listening, cocktail hour stuff, but the soulful, infectious Be bop and Hard bop recorded between the 1940s and '60s by rebels in suits. The deeper I got into it, the more fascinated I became by its history and the forces that compel us to make things, be it music or literature. Reading about jazz generated certain questions in my mind, so I started writing essays to mull them over. My book explores both jazz and creativity, from the complicated genius of Miles Davis to the self-imposed exile of pianist Jutta Hipp, from the role heroin and sobriety played, to what it means when a song famously made as a first-take gets performed live for ten years. The book isn't a unified study. It isn't exhaustive. It's a collection of essays I wrote out of curiosity and appreciation then gathered between covers before I started obsessively writing about something else.

I self-published the book because who wants to put out a short, eclectic assortment of essays about a niche form of music? Jazz isn't big business, and neither are essay collections. Unless you're a popular author between novels, commercial book publishers generally consider essay collections too random and the word 'essay' off-putting. As a book, the logic goes, essays need to justify themselves, so collections need an arc or through-line to unite the pieces, either as a memoir in stories or to tackle some big 'idea' like poverty or parenting; they can't just be miscellanies. And that's fine. But I follow Thelonious Monk's approach to making music and don't let commerce get in the way of making what I like. I also like a good miscellany. This Is contains fresh takes and new tales, and I want jazz fans to have it. I made the cover out of William Gottlieb's Library of Congress photos, and the talented Adam Robinson (of Publishing Genius) laid it out. Here are some of my favorite jazz tunes, and some that played roles in the writing of this book:

"O.D." by Freddie Redd

The more I read about mid-century jazz, the more undeniably heroin was weaved into the music's development. Heroin didn't make jazz. Talented people made jazz. But heroin accompanied it through its formative years. Many musicians used it, some briefly, others for too long, and many never at all, but the drug's prevalence made me curious: how could a period of time marred by abuse also be filled with so many iconic albums, like Blue Train, Saxophone Colossus, Soul Station, Cool Struttin' and Kind of Blue? It mystified me. Heroin is horrible, but could it be helpful, too? It wasn't a question I heard people asking, because it's dangerous and anti-social, but the evidence suggested the possibility. So with an open mind I made a list: next to the names of individual musicians, I wrote the titles of the albums they were best known for, wrote the date(s) each musician got off heroin, and figured out which of the era's most celebrated albums were written before they got clean, and after. It was a fruitful exercise, and the divide wasn't so clean either.

The larger question concerns the relationship between sobriety and creativity. We know the big picture: drugs destroy lives, kill people, waste talent. These are all true. But the relationship between art, intoxication and clarity was more complex than that, and I wanted to explore it in jazz and represent that complexity in a more nuanced way than the familiar good/bad, clean/strung out dichotomy. The jazz film The Connection provided an interesting lens. The Connection is the story of junkie jazz musicians waiting around one New York apartment for their dealer, and the soundtrack that pianist Freddie Redd wrote for it is badass. This song "O.D." is one of the fast ones. The title's dark, but the music is intense, triumphant, invigoratingly up-tempo. It fueled the writing of my book's title essay, "This Is."

"Dancing in the Dark" by Sonny Clark

While planning a trip to Japan in 2014, I discovered Koya Abe's small used record store in Tokyo's Shimokitazawa neighborhood. Specializing in used jazz, blues and early rock and roll, Koya's shop sounded awesome, so I emailed him and we arranged a time to meet. When he and I went to dinner at an izakaya, we played each other music on our smart phones, including this. Many things slay me about this song. One of them is the way that the drummer's ride cymbal and high hat kick in when pianist Sonny Clark shifts from the quieter, softer intro into his long propulsive solo, and the musicians lock in tight. Koya felt it. Like so much jazz, this version is a cover, and Clark's rendition is lively and bright yet somehow, like his life and the song title, touched with darkness. I talk more about this in my book, but the brilliant, productive Clark died young. He was a sure-footed soloists, so light on the keys when building his intricate melodies, and so hard-driving when he swung. He's one of jazz's best pianists, and his music has developed a cult following in Japan. I wish it enjoyed the same in America.

"You Turned The Tables On Me" by Kenny Burrell

I discovered this happy song on that same Japan trip. While shopping for jazz in a store beneath a busy Tokyo street, I found the Detroit Jazzmen CD on a crowded shelf. I hadn't known it existed. This was one the things that excited me about shopping for jazz in Japan: albums that have lapsed out of print in the US stayed in print over there, and I wanted to find stuff I'd never heard of. Even though Detroit Jazzmen is a group recording by all-stars Tommy Flanagan, Pepper Adams, Paul Chambers and Kenny Clarke, guitarist Kenny Burrell has the most song credits, so the album's often listed as his.

Some jazz guitar is corny. Like, really bad corny. This is not. Here, Burrell and the band swing hard, and the song is joyful and sweet. It reminds me of Japan, because once I found it, I listened to it over and over on that trip, including when I wrote the Koya essay.

"Cleopatra" by Jutta Hipp

Although I'd had a few of Hipp's albums for years, I knew nothing of the pianist's life. Then one day I was reading some jazz history somewhere, and I came upon a scene where a guy from Blue Note Records drove from Manhattan to Jutta Hipp's Queens apartment to hand-deliver a $35,000 check for the decades of back royalties she'd accrued after she'd disappeared. It was such a cinematic moment, surreal and suggesting multitudes, that I knew I had to write Hipp's story. It took about a year. Many more years passed before the story appeared in print in the beautiful quarterly Apology magazine, edited and produced by ex-Vice editor Jesse Pearson.

Hipp's album With Zoot Sims is considered her masterwork. It is masterful. But she scattered many jewels throughout her concentrated oeuvre. "Cleopatra" is one of them. The precise turns of its labyrinthine melody remind me of the circuit board complexity of Tokyo's city streets, and how easily you get lost in them. Hipp's song also has a desultory feel that reminds me how I felt during some of those days in Japan, wandering and exploring alone far from home, which made me wonder how she felt leaving her native Germany to play music in America, alone.

"So Tired" by Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers

Reading novelist Haruki Murakami, you come across countless references to American pop music and jazz. He turns song titles into book titles and his characters talk about records. To explore the influence of jazz on Murakami's writing, I visited the site of his old jazz club in Tokyo. It closed ages ago, but I had an awesome adventure there with two strangers and a bookstore owner who used to sell books to the young Murakami. The author now owns something like 10,000 records, but seeing Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers perform in Kobe, Japan in 1964 started his love of jazz. This song "So Tired" features the same, or close to the same, lineup of musicians Murakami saw. It's from the album A Night in Tunisia, and these guys jam. It helped put me in the mood while writing much of the book, with its tight, in the pocket rhythm shaping my thoughts and ushering them through my typing fingers. The month after the Kobe concert, the band recorded an album called Kyoto. It seems Japan changed them, and the band changed Japan, partially, through Murakami's books.

"Five Spot After Dark" by Curtis Fuller

Speaking of Murakami, this mid-tempo song is a masterpiece of tone and color. It appears on Fuller's best known album Blues-ette, and makes an appearance in a pivotal scene in Murakami's nocturnal novel After Dark. The novel features a trombone-playing protagonist, and the title shares part of the song's title and late night hour. Fuller is a trombonist. Few wind instruments are as uncool and cumbersome as what they call the 'bone, but he tears it up and makes it swing, fast, slow and mid-tempo. When I saw Fuller perform in New York years ago, he wore a baseball cap that said "Old School." Some Japanese superfans sat on chairs right beside the stage, waiting to get their records signed. I shared their excitement. Fuller played on Coltrane's album Blue Train. He's a legend. I stayed for both sets and walked from the club to the train late at night, savoring the cool 2am feeling of New York City's streets.

"Autumn Leaves" by Mickey Baker

Written by Joseph Kosma in 1945, this French pop song became a jazz standard that everyone from Frank Sinatra to Nat King Cole covered. One of the most famous renditions is Cannonball Adderley’s on his album Somethin' Else. Adderly was a searing alto saxophonist who led his own band after making his name touring with Miles Davis and playing on Kind of Blue. Davis expressed his admiration by playing trumpet on this, Adderley's only Blue Note album as a leader, and one of Hard bop's best.

Rock guitarist Mickey Baker's version is just as good, but for different reasons. It's insane. If you've seen the movie Dirty Dancing, you've heard Baker play. He's the male voice on the song with the sexy dialogue that goes:

"Sylvia?"
"Yes, Mickey."
"How do you call your Lover Boy?"
"Come here, Lover Boy!"
"And if he doesn't answer?"
"Oh, Lover Boy!"

His 1950's pop duo Mickey & Sylvia scored a hit with the song "Love Is Strange," but few people know Baker's name. Baker was an inventive, blues-based guitarist who played rock and roll but had wanted to be a jazz musician. Although he could sing, he was more known for his animated session work on other people's hits, including Ray Charles’ “Mess Around” and Big Joe Turner’s “Shake Rattle & Roll.” He only recorded a few of his own full albums. My favorite is Wildest Guitar, which includes "Autumn Leaves." 'Wildest' says it all. He played with delay and reverb pedals and double-tracked his guitar, often so one track played just behind the other, giving the music a psychedelic, sometimes welcomingly confusing quality. As Aquarium Drunkard put it, Baker's style "burst with expression" along with, I'd add, touches of surf guitar. His version of "Autumn Leaves" isn't jazzy. It's what rock musicians can do when they pass a standard through the unique filter. By changing the instrument and experimenting with effects, Baker refashioned this into a song you'd never expect to have been touched by Nat King Cole. Not surprisingly, Wildest Guitar also includes a cover of "Lullaby of the Leaves" and "Old Devil Moon." Baker truly reinvented the wheel.

"So What" by Miles Davis

Miles Davis was a complicated genius. As a huge fan of his music, I struggled to reconcile his violence and aggression with his talent and the tenderness of his solos. So I explored that in one essay. My book also contains a piece about listening to Miles Davis' classic song "So What" over the course of his ten years of live performance. "So What" is one of the most beloved and well known songs in jazz. Its recording on Kind of Blue is said to be the result of pure first-take improvisation, because the band recorded it the same day Miles gave them the sheet music. This characterization's only partially true. Davis played the song in concert for a decade before dropping it from his repertoire. Listening to its many iterations led me to an exploration of the nature of spontaneity, freshness and improvisation in general. Jazz is an improvisational art form, so how does a song change as people play it over and over and over and over? I listened to "So What" over and over to find out. To me, it's a perfect song.

"Remember" by Hank Mobley

Noted critic Leonard Feather described Mobley “middleweight champion of the tenor saxophone.” But there's nothing middle weight about this song or this album Soul Station. In my essay about Mobley, I sing his praises and describe my relationship with this song, so naturally, while writing the essay, I listened to it and many of the tracks off Soul Station on repeat. Jazz is music to live to, try to, love to, cry to. This song is the sound of pure joy. When The New Yorker culture critic Richard Brody found my essay about Mobley online, he called it a "Painful, beautiful appreciation." If it's pitiful to cling to a complimentary three-word tweet from one of your favorite New Yorker writers then call me pitiful, because I'm clinging. As Mobley experienced, praise for your work often comes too little, too late.

"Come on Baby" by Jimmy Smith

One person's piss is another person's milk, and not everyone shares my love of organ jazz. The first essay in the book is about organist Jimmy Smith and the trove of unreleased recordings that Blue Note Records had, and still has, in their vault, which is about the power and wonder of the unknown. Smith is an incredible player, partly from his musical ability and ear, partly for his choice of instrument. When he started playing Hammond B3s, it wasn't seen as a sophisticated jazz instrument. Smith fixed that. He locked himself in his garage and tinkered with his organ until he figured it out, then he emerged and changed the face of jazz. Organ jazz might not be your thing, but you have to admit that the covers of Smith's albums Crazy! Baby and Home Cookin' would look good hung on your wall.

"Between The Devil and The Deep Blue Sea" by Mary Lou Williams

From Billie Holiday to Anita Oday, most of jazz's best singers were women, but it's tragic and familiar how few female instrumentalists were recorded during jazz's golden age, or whose names get mentioned alongside men like Miles and Getz. Mary Lou Williams is one of jazz's great pianists. She played a lot, recorded less (and probably less than she would have preferred), but what she left on record is top shelf. I hate to use clichés, especially when writing about a musical form built on improvisation, but Williams truly paved the way for other female jazz musicians, both white and of color.

"Stompin' at the Savoy" by Marian McPartland

I love Mary McPartland's early albums as much as I do Mary Lou Williams'. When people come over for dinner, I play The Marian McPartland Trio and Jazz at the Hickory House records in the background, and often when I'm writing, too. If you like jazz, you've heard "Stompin' at the Savoy" too many times. McPartland starts her version by paring the melody down to its most haunting elements ─ just chords, soft and sent drifting over the baseline ─ before diving into a mid-tempo romp that somehow makes the familiar enjoyable again.

"The Bachelor" by Donald Bagley

Here's a sad song. The first time it played on a Pandora station at work, I stopped whatever I was doing and turned up the volume. At that moment, I knew this was one of the special ones. I ordered the mp3 album and vinyl that week. This song has helped set the mood that lubricates my mind when I need to write, sometimes better than strong tea. Bagley was a bassist. He only released three of his own records as a leader, and this is from his sole trio session, Basically Bagley. Great stuff, but this dark, blue beauty is the highlight. Sometimes I like being sad. This song makes it feel good.

"The Lion and the Wolff" by Lee Morgan

Trumpeter Lee Morgan was a prodigy with a productive, busy career cut short by a dramatic on-stage murder. I wrote a short piece about it in the book. He played with everyone from a young age, wrote scores of lasting originals, and his death cannot overshadow his creative triumphs or the way he colored the entirety of Hard bop with his nimble, gymnastic solos. His style is so singular you can recognize it in a lineup. This soulful Morgan original appears on his stellar but slightly overlooked Lee-Way album. The title is a tip of the hat to Blue Note Records' co-owners Alfred Lion and Francis Wolff, and maybe, just maybe, also a reference to their dogged business practices.


Aaron Gilbreath and This Is: Essays on Jazz links:

the author's website


also at Largehearted Boy:

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

Online "Best of 2015" Book Lists

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

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This Week's Interesting Music Releases - January 29, 2016

Walter Martin

Walter Martin's Arts & Leisure and Wet's Don't You are my favorite new albums in a slow week for music releases.

Reissues include a Siouxsie and the Banshees 6-CD box set and two Crooked Fingers albums on vinyl (Bring on the Snakes and Crooked Fingers).

What new releases can you recommend this week?


This week's interesting music releases:

Aubrie Sellers: New City Blues
Basement: Promise Everything
Benji Hughes: Songs in the Key of Animals
Bill Frisell: When You Wish Upon a Star
Black Tusk: Pillars Of Ash
Bloc Party: Hymns
Buddy Miller and Friends: Cayamo at Sea Sessions
Cian Nugent: Night Fiction
Crooked Fingers: Bring on the Snakes (reissue) [vinyl]
Crooked Fingers: Crooked Fingers (reissue) [vinyl]
Cross Record: Wabi-Sabi
Def Leppard: Def Leppard (reissue) [vinyl]
Eric Clapton: The Studio Album Collection 1970-1981 (9-LP box set) [vinyl]
Gretchen Peters: The Essential Gretchen Peters
Milk Teeth: Vile Child
MONEY: Suicide Songs
Nevermen: Nevermen
Phil Collins: Both Sides (remastered and expanded)
Phil Collins: Face Value (remastered and expanded)
Phil Collins: Take a Look at Me Now (remastered and expanded)
POP ETC: Souvenir [vinyl]
Saul Williams: MartyrLoserKing
Sia: This Is Acting
Sierra Hull: Weighted Mind
Siouxsie and the Banshees: Classic Album Selection Volume One (6-CD box set)
St. Lucia: Matter
Tedeschi Trucks Band: Let Me Get By
Troye Sivan: Blue Neighbourhood [vinyl]
Walter Martin: Arts & Leisure
Wet: Don't You


also at Largehearted Boy:

weekly music release lists

Essential and Interesting 2015 Year-End Music Lists

100 online sources for free and legal music downloads
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)
Soundtracked (composers and directors discuss their film's soundtracks)

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Shorties (Saul Bellow's Last Interview, Graham Coxon on Bert Jansch, and more)

Hazlitt shared the story behind Sal Bellow's last interview.


Graham Coxon on meeting folk legend Bert Jansch.


19 year-end "best books of 2015" lists were added to the Largehearted Boy master aggregation last Wednesday (bringing the total number of lists represented to 1,882) , including Kate Mulgrew's favorite books.

See also:

Largehearted Boy's list of essential and interesting 2015 year-end music lists.


Brevity features a new essay by Matthew Gavin Frank.


Kotomi, a.k.a. Los Angeles-based musician Lauren Hillman, shared a mixtape of her favorite songs at Turntable Kitchen.


VICE interviewed Sunil Yapa about his new novel Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of a Fist.


The graphics on David Bowie's Blackstar album are now free to use non-commercially.


Literary Hub interviewed Graywolf executive editor Jeff Shotts.


SPIN shared a primer to the music of Sia.


Boing Boing profiled comics publisher First Second Books.


The Centre Daily Times profiled singer-songwriter Richard Thompson.


Charlie Jane Anders discussed the books that influenced her novel All the Birds in the Sky at WIRED.


Fresh Air interviewed Brittany Howard of the Alabama Shakes.


The Boston Globe listed 2016's most anticipated books.


Heavy Blog Is Heavy listed January's best albums.


Paste profiled independent publisher and cartoonist Spike Trotman.


eBooks on sale this month:

American Appetites by Joyce Carol Oates
The Exiles by Allison Lynn
Gate of the Sun by Elias Khoury
The Happiest People in the World by Brock Clarke
Harlequin's Millions by Bohumil Hrabal
The House of Rumour by Jake Arnott
The Hundred Year-Flood by Matthew Salesses
A Life in Men by Gina Frangello
Meatspace by Nikesh Shukla
Speed Dreaming by Nicole Haroutunian
The Summer Son by Craig Lancaster
This Glittering World by T. Greenwood



also at Largehearted Boy:

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

Online "Best of 2015" Book Lists
Essential and Interesting 2015 Year-End Music Lists

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

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January 28, 2016

Book Notes - Ed Tarkington "Only Love Can Break Your Heart"

Only Love Can Break Your Heart

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

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

Ed Tarkington's debut novel Only Love Can Break Your Heart is a moving and lyrical coming-of-age tale.

Library Journal wrote of the book:

"This heartbreakingly effective coming-of-age story about the importance of love in one’s life is replete with moments of harsh cruelty and tender love. Beautifully written, it vividly brings to life its Southern characters, landscape, and small-town claustrophobia. Readers will stop and reread paragraphs, not because of confusion but for the pure joy of the language."

Stream a playlist of these songs at Spotify.


In his own words, here is Ed Tarkington's Book Notes music playlist for his novel Only Love Can Break Your Heart:


Inviting the author of a novel whose two main characters happen to be vintage vinyl enthusiasts to write an annotated playlist is sort of like asking Donald Trump to talk about himself. Naturally, the music that informs the lives of Rocky and Paul, the two brothers whose fraught journey from innocence into experience forms the central narrative of Only Love Can Break Your Heart, holds great significance to me as well, both with and far beyond the context of the novel. So I'll try to show some restraint.

The playlist business is a bit tricky for me. I'm an album guy—I still believe in putting a disc on the turntable, dropping the needle, and letting it play all the way through. To me, an album is like a novel; the high points and grace notes depend on your having been present for the whole party. Still, I've made a few mix tapes in my time, and my picks have many highlights, as you shall see.


After the Gold Rush by Neil Young
Paul Askew, the troubled, charismatic older brother of my novel's narrator, treats Neil Young as his lodestar. Paul's favorite album, After the Gold Rush, embodies the mournful mood of the 70s, when Paul and Rocky come of age. My novel's title is borrowed from track three, which I realized only as I was finishing the book had so completely infiltrated my imagination that the lyrics could be considered a synopsis: "When you were young/ and on your own,/ How did it feel/ to be alone?" This album took on another level of meaning for me in my mid-twenties. My dad had just died, I was about to wash out of graduate school, and the girl I loved had decided to marry someone else. So I put all my stuff in the back of my truck and drove out to Colorado to begin again, playing After the Gold Rush on repeat all the way from the Blue Ridge to the Rockies. No doubt, Neil's association with that experience led me to draw so heavily on songs like "Only Love Can Break Your Heart" when I sat down to write my novel—so much so that I stole the title for my own.

The White Album by the Beatles
Since my beloved aunt gave me an original numbered copy of it for Christmas when I was ten, the White Album has been my desert-island #1. My narrator gets his nickname, Rocky, from his wayward older brother Paul, partially due to a faint resemblance to Sylvester Stallone (droopy eye, mop of curly dark hair), but also from "Rocky Raccoon." For the novel, however the critical bit of sound on this album, however, is the gibberish between "I'm So Tired" and "Blackbird," which, when played backwards, becomes "Paul is dead, man, miss him, miss him."

Blue by Joni Mitchell
I came to Joni Mitchell late, thanks to one of those "get twenty CDs for a penny" record club deals we all used to fall for—usually more than once. The first time I played Blue—by myself, very loud, with the windows to my tiny cottage in the Blue Ridge Mountains outside of Charlottesville open in the cool twilight hours of late summer—I was immediately smitten with the girl on the cover, fragile and beautiful and sublimely gifted. My narrator Rocky's first love is his brother's girlfriend Leigh, whose long blond hair and troubled soul come straight out of the idea of Joni Mitchell wishing for a river to skate away on.

Number One Record by Big Star
I discovered ill-fated cult heroes Big Star through the Replacements, the band I most identified with when I was in high school, when a boy's operative modes of thought veer sharply between fury, mirth, defiance, and soul-searching. In Only Love Can Break Your Heart, Rocky tries to impress a girl in drama class with the classic teenage overture: a mix-tape. In the slate of classics the song "Thirteen" might be the best song ever written about young love and longing. So much of what my novel is about comes down to this one question: "Would you be an outlaw for my love?"

Let it Be by the Replacements
In the novel, Rocky and Paul are pretty indifferent to anything recorded after 1980, but the devil-may-care attitude of the Replacements infuses the character of Rocky's free-spirited pal Cinnamon Kintz. Cinnamon is based largely on my memory of a very cool older girl in my art class, on whom I formed a hopelessly unrequited crush when I was a lowly, awkward high school freshman. What Big Star's "Thirteen" is to young love, the Replacement's "Sixteen Blue" is to the loneliness, anxiety, and insecurity of adolescence—the desire to be seen and known, as well as the fear of it—something I recall all too well, and which drives young Rocky as he searches for his answers to the big questions.

The Trinity Session by Cowboy Junkies
Best known for a mesmerizing cover of the Velvet Underground's "Sweet Jane," The Trinity Session is really an early alt-country album. The band borrows from the likes of Hank Williams, Patsy Cline, and Waylon Jennings, but the hazy reverb of Michael Timmins' guitar and his sister Margot's mournfully angelic voice make those songs utterly their own, and got in my head like few things I've ever heard. The idea of a fragile beauty out walking after midnight informs both of my female leads, both damaged by men who were supposed to take care of them—as does the image of a wounded soul singing "Someday I'll get over you…but I'll always miss dreaming my dreams with you."

Nebraska by Bruce Springsteen
I was listening to Nebraska a lot in the years I was writing Only Love Can Break Your Heart. The song that played over and over in my head was "Highway Patrolman," in which a man describes seeing his beloved brother lose himself in booze and an urge to violence and is unable to save him from his demons. "Nothing feels better than blood on blood," Springsteen sings, proclaiming the irrevocable strength of family ties, in all of their beauty and terror.

The Wreckage by Will Hoge
My wife and I left Florida for Nashville just as the real estate market crashed. The starter home we'd expected to yield a nice down-payment on a new house plummeted in value and took nearly two years to sell. We had no friends and were living off the kindness of strangers. At our lowest point, we were living in an extended stay motel room with our five month-old daughter and our dog. A year later, we'd managed to get into a house in East Nashville, but were paying two mortgages and trying to raise a family on a fledgling teacher's salary. Around that time, I started hearing a song on the radio called "Even if it Breaks Your Heart." For a floundering writer feeling pretty desperate and starting to wonder if all the years of struggle had been a waste of time, Will Hoge's voice was like a cry in the dark. "Gotta keep believin' if you want to know for sure," he sang. Hoge knows a little something about persistence—he was still in a wheelchair when he wrote that song, recovering from a horrific scooter accident, happy to be alive but in desperate financial straits and unsure when he'd ever be able to perform again. Another year later, he was back out on the road; a year after, the Eli Young Band's cover of the song went to #1, and Hoge was nominated for a songwriting Grammy. No doubt, the message of that song and the comeback story behind it were in my mind when I started getting up at 3:30 in the morning every day to write the book that brought me here to you, dear reader. So keep on dreaming—even if it breaks your heart.


Ed Tarkington and Only Love Can Break Your Heart links:

the author's website

BookPage review
Charlotte Observer review
Chicago Tribune review
Nashville Scene review

Salon interview with the author
The Tennessean profile of the author


also at Largehearted Boy:

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

Online "Best of 2015" Book Lists

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

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Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week - January 28, 2016

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

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


Was She Pretty?

Was She Pretty?
by Leanne Shapton

Another of Shapton's books is once again available to us: Drawn + Quarterly is republishing Was She Pretty?, which conjures the qualities of everyone's exes, creating a sort of mosaic of jealous fixation and anxiety. It's also humourous and highly relatable! How do we contend with the people who came before us in the lives of our loves?

Don't miss Leanne Shapton and Adrian Tomine in Montreal on February 5 at the Rialto Hall!


Beverly

Beverly
by Nick Drnaso

Minimalist in its economy of details, this collection of short stories is brilliantly illustrated with a style reminiscent of Chris Ware. Sordid sexual anxieties or social insecurities are here contained within clear lines. Yet, the infamous ligne claire’s regularity is challenged by the themes at the heart of each stories, repressed emotions and weird fantasies. We are very excited to be hosting the launch for this book on February 17th at our store.


Oblivion

Oblivion
by Sergei Lebedev

Blending the personal with the political with a poetic narrative style, Lebedev's voice sheds light on a part of Russian history that its current leaders would prefer to forget. This is a bleak, grim book, but a fascinating one! Couple it with Ludmila Ulitskaya's The Big Green Tent, Oleg Kashin's Fardwor, Russia! A Fantastical Tale of Life Under Putin, or Vladmir Sorokin's The Blizzard, and slake your thirst for contemporary Russian lit.


Dinette magazine

Dinette magazine

Dinette has quickly become a store favourite since its inception last November. This second edition is no less wonderful than the first. Dedicated to brunch it's full of tantalizing recipes, New York brunch spots and a Québécois epicurean event list of upcoming events not to be missed. There are so many drool worthy pages that this magazine should come with it’s own napkin!


Rosalie Lightning

Rosalie Lightning
by Tom Hart

In 2011, the worst happened to author Tom Hart and his wife Leela: their nearly two year old daughter Rosalie died inexplicably. Rosalie Lightning tells the story of this devastating loss through an intertwined narrative of thoughts and recollections.


Librairie Drawn & Quarterly links:

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


also at Largehearted Boy:

other Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week

Online "Best Books of 2015" Year-end Lists

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

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Shorties (How Comics Became Literature, Jenny Lewis on Her Rabbit Fur Coat Album's 10th Anniversary, and more)

How comics became literature.


Jenny Lewis discussed her album Rabbit Fur Coat (released 10 years ago this month) with the Los Angeles Times.


19 year-end "best books of 2015" lists were added to the Largehearted Boy master aggregation last Wednesday (bringing the total number of lists represented to 1,882) , including Kate Mulgrew's favorite books.

See also:

Largehearted Boy's list of essential and interesting 2015 year-end music lists.


Stereogum is streaming the new POP ETC album Souvenir.


Author Wendy C. Ortiz talked books with VIDA.


Singer-songwriter John Vanderslice discussed his current favorite bands with The Bay Bridged.


Everything you ever wanted to know about the ampersand.


NPR Music is streaming the soundtrack to the Elliott Smith documentary Heaven Adores You.


Hazlitt reconsidered Truman Capote's book In Cold Blood 50 years after its publication.


NPR Music is streaming Sidestepper's new album Supernatural Love.


The Guardian recommended books on gender identity.


NPR Music is streaming Lucinda Williams' new album The Ghosts of Highway 20.


The Literary Hub interviewed Garth Greenwell about his debut novel What Belongs to You.


NPR Music is streaming Dr. Dog's new album The Psychedelic Swamp.


The theatrical adaptation of Roberto Bolano's novel 2666 opens February 6th in Chicago.


The Oakland Press profiled singer-songwriter Richard Thompson.


B&N Reads recommended 2016's best short story collections.


NPR Music is streaming the new Junior Boys album, Big Black Coat.


The Advocate recommended LGBT graphic novels you might have missed.


The A.V. Club reconsidered Randy Newman's 1974 album Good Old Boys.


eBooks on sale this month:

American Appetites by Joyce Carol Oates
The Exiles by Allison Lynn
Gate of the Sun by Elias Khoury
The Happiest People in the World by Brock Clarke
Harlequin's Millions by Bohumil Hrabal
The House of Rumour by Jake Arnott
The Hundred Year-Flood by Matthew Salesses
A Life in Men by Gina Frangello
Meatspace by Nikesh Shukla
Speed Dreaming by Nicole Haroutunian
The Summer Son by Craig Lancaster
This Glittering World by T. Greenwood



also at Largehearted Boy:

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

Online "Best of 2015" Book Lists
Essential and Interesting 2015 Year-End Music Lists

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

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

January 27, 2016

Book Notes - Rachel Cantor "Good on Paper"

Good on Paper

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

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

Rachel Cantor once again proves herself a masterful storyteller with her smart, funny, and though-provoking second novel Good on Paper.

Publishers Weekly wrote of the book:

"Translation is a metaphor through which Cantor uses her considerable powers with language to refract larger questions about family bonds, storytelling, and letting go of fantasies of new life and waking up to the life that is yours."

Stream a playlist of these songs at Spotify.


In her own words, here is Rachel Cantor's Book Notes music playlist for her novel Good on Paper:


Good on Paper features a bookstore called People of the Book. It plays a variety of music, depending on the taste of whoever's on shift. Marie, the dyspeptic billboard artist, has a thing for grunge:

"All Apologies" Nirvana (MTV Unplugged in New York).

As it happens, I listened to that CD a lot when I was writing early stories about Shira, the protagonist of Good on Paper. The song is about apologies, I guess, as is Good on Paper, but the lyrics fall short of Dante's four-part "technology of forgiveness," as Shira can tell you. Maybe this is why, as a customer and not as a bookseller, she removes the grunge CD and replaces it with raga:

"Raga Maluha Kalyan – Jod," Nikhil Banerjee

She probably should have been more tolerant, having been, in her day, tambourinist for the punk band Gory Days (Shira played a very ironic tambourine). The band's sole release, the relentlessly pornographic Second and Third Coming, is only available on cassette, unfortunately, but no doubt they were influenced by:

"Lust for Life" – Iggy Pop

I'm totally faking it, by the way: I know nothing about punk music. Ahmad, Shira's old friend and de facto co-parent, is a qawwali guy. He certainly enjoys:

"Yaadan Vichde Dhol Diya," Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan

Shira's seven-year-old daughter Andi, meanwhile, doesn't share her parents' musical tastes; she's all about the Raffi medley:

"Medley – He's Got the Whole World / One Light One Sun / This Little Light," Raffi

Okay if you skip ahead; Shira would, given a chance. Benny, meanwhile, part-time rabbi and owner of People of the Book, is fond of Shlomo Carlebach. When he leads his New Age congregation to welcome the Sabbath bride, he probably uses this version of "Lecha Dodi":

"Lecha Dodi," Shlomo Carlebach

"Lecha Dodi" (Come, My Beloved) draws on rabbinic interpretations of the great love poem Song of Songs, which figures prominently in Good on Paper.

"Song of Songs: Si Ignores Te, O Pulchra Inter Mulieres," Giovanni Palestrina

may or may not be a setting of a portion of the Song. Extra points because it's an Italian rendering (albeit in Latin), and Shira is a translator from the Italian. Benny may or may not have designs on Shira when he invites her over to his place and offers her Makers Mark and plays her Meredith Monk:

"Basket A – High Basket," Meredith Monk

Good on Paper also involves readings of another great love story: Dante's La Vita Nuova (The New Life).

"La Vita Nuova: Il Sogno," Nicholas Maw

may or may not be a setting of a poem from Vita Nuova (but it's quite lovely). Speaking of Italian, the poet Shira is charged with translating in this book is Romei, a Roman by way of Romania. When Shira first hears him speak, she is convinced he is an American faking an Italian accent. He might as well be singing

"That's Amore," Dean Martin

While we're on the subject of the Rat Pack, Shira's an extreme fan of New York; she's very upset because she might have to move to Connecticut (New York, New York!)—but no, I wouldn't do that to you!

"New York, New York," Duke Ellington

That's better, right? In the end, Good on Paper is a love story, and a story about dancing in the face of love, so I end with:

"Dance Me to the End of Love," Leonard Cohen


Rachel Cantor and Good on Paper links:

the author's website
excerpt from the book

Boston Globe review
Kirkus review
Minneapolis Star Tribune review
Publishers Weekly review
San Francisco Chronicle review

BookCulture interview with the author
Largehearted Boy Book Notes essay by the author for A Highly Unlikely Scenario
Melville House interview with the author


also at Largehearted Boy:

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

Online "Best of 2015" Book Lists

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

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