June 13, 2017

Book Notes - Tom Stern "My Vanishing Twin"

My Vanishing Twin

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

Tom Stern's My Vanishing Twin is an imaginative and unforgettable novel.

Tobias Carroll wrote of the book:

"Few have ventured into the strange and compelling territory claimed by Tom Stern... [My Vanishing Twin] covers everything from stifled artistic ambitions to our capacity for self-destruction, but at the core of the book is the unconventional bond between two brothers, giving this offbeat tale an unexpectedly warm heart."


In his own words, here is Tom Stern's Book Notes music playlist for his novel My Vanishing Twin:


Stream the playlist on Spotify.


I wish my novels were songs. Songs live with us in a way that other modes of storytelling and communication simply can't, speaking to us with a lizard-brain primacy. My work aspires to this depth of connection and I hope it leaves you thinking and feeling like a great song can. I hope.

My rabid envy of song is all over My Vanishing Twin. The book's protagonist, Walter Braum, uses music to block out the complicated world around him. He joins bands like surrogate dysfunctional families. He believes in music in a way that he cannot bring himself to believe in anything else. But Twin is not really a book about music as much as it's a book inspired by music.

My Vanishing Twin is the story of a man who has compromised his life to a point of stasis when he discovers, due to a freak instance of a medical phenomenon known as Vanishing Twin Syndrome, that he is pregnant with his own twin brother. When the twin is born, he proves to be a highly functioning adult with a voracious intellect, effortless charm, and preternatural, savant-level business acumen. In the searing light of his twin's boundless adroitness, Walter decides to strip his static life down to essentials and to set out after the strongest passion he can remember having: his youthful desire to be a rock star. Only problem is, Walter knows nothing at all about music.

The following are some of the songs I listened to ad nauseum while writing Twin, songs that informed my thinking about the characters, the story, and the language of the book as well as the humor central to its tone.

"A Higher Power," Jens Lekman
Forgive my histrionics right out of the gate, but I fear this song is perfect. It is purely narrative, never betraying its story to comment upon its larger meaning, rendering its characters and their wondrous naiveté with stupefying clarity. I know these people. I know their ocean-deep infatuation. And I know their love won't last, but is all the more beautiful because of it. Oh, and the song is fucking hysterical. The opening lines: “She said let's put a plastic bag over our heads/And then kiss and stuff ‘til we get dizzy and fall on the bed.” God damn it! I hate it that I didn't write that! How did you do that, Jens?

"All I Want To Know," The Magnetic Fields
I could have chosen upwards of thirty songs by Stephin Merritt for this list. The man's music is just bafflingly beautiful and deeply funny at the same time. This song begins with a simple question asked of someone we quickly surmise is a former love: do you still want me? Merritt proceeds to draw this question out through the zigs and zags of the protagonist's futile attempts to move on. Sifting through guilt, longing, regret, indignation, responsibility owned and deflected, he naively seeks some shred of a definitive answer. It is a gorgeously human portrait that magnifies a universal half-note in the larger pop requiem of failed love. And Merritt crafts it with complete economy. I aspire to this standard of depth, intricacy, and honesty with the inner conflicts of the characters in Twin. I hope I got anywhere close.

"I Think I'll Be A Good Ghost," Say Hi
This song's main character contemplates the potential benefits that the afterlife might afford him and how effective he might be at haunting the people he once knew. It's a humorous elevation of a self-pitying impulse of our youths. The song lays bare the tension between the emotional desire to stay petulantly young and the inevitable maturation of our minds and bodies. In a very different tenor, Walter Braum fights his way towards reluctant maturation throughout his arc in Twin.

"Love Will Tear Us Apart," as covered by Jose Gonzalez
In visual arts, covering an artist is a rote technical exercise. In literature, it's plagiarism. But music's basis in performance affords the practice of listening to another artist's work and articulating what you hear back in your own voice. Bad cover songs are karaoke. Good ones reinterpret, reinvent, and expand upon their inspirations. This cover helps me to hear the original Joy Divison song with even greater depth. This idea of deepening knowledge through understanding someone else is central to the unusual sibling relationship at the center of Twin.

"Ohio," Damien Jurado
I heard this song countless times before I really listened to it. It's almost as though it was written to do this. It is a devastatingly beautiful, quiet story, unfolding softly with each verse. Eventually we discover the song is describing the complicated dance we do in the wake of misguided love and the scars it leaves. But it is also a tale of redemption, of lessons learned. The protagonist is so sparsely rendered, but every ounce of his longing and his acceptance comes through, making us love him, respect him, admire him even. Twin involves several disintegrating and conflicted relationships. This song reminded me how important it was not to judge either side of those relationships when rendering them.

"Sleep All Summer," Crooked Fingers
Yet another portrait of an imperfect relationship, this one growing out of a love turned vestigial and a mutual disinterest in moving on. This, too, is just as universal a facet of love and companionship as is a first kiss. And the fact that Bachmann wrote the song as a duet is just fucking brilliant. It strips away any blame and illustrates a conflict that is the product of his characters' choices, even if they know better. These people crave the warmth of the familiar over the truth.

"Every Little Hair Knows Your Name," Jens Lekman
I'm going to finish this list with the same artist that started it. Jens Lekman, for me, really set the narrative standard for this book. This is another song that makes me laugh as hard as it makes me want to curl up in a ball and moan. It's just so absurdly human. A protagonist who knows he's being ridiculous but simply has no other path forward through his heartbreak. It is an acknowledgement of how limited we are as individuals, and how the grandiosity of our emotions just doesn't seem to heed this reality. To me, Jens Lekman is the Joseph Heller of contemporary music. There's no greater praise, if you ask me.

The more I contemplate these songs, the more I realize they are all complicated portraits of struggling or failed relationships. And in many ways, that is exactly what My Vanishing Twin is about: two brothers trying to figure out how to live with the unprecedented family bond that has been imposed upon them.


Tom Stern and Boy links:

the author's website
the author on Twitter


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

Largehearted Boy's 2017 Summer Reading Suggestions

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

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June 13, 2017

Book Notes - Brontez Purnell "Since I Laid My Burden Down"

Since I Laid My Burden Down

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

Brontez Purnell's novel Since I Laid My Burden Down is powerful and moving.

Kirkus Reviews wrote of the book:

"A complex. . .look at one man’s experience of being black, queer, smart, soft, tough, artistic, and constantly in motion between rural and urban cultures."


In his own words, here is Brontez Purnell's Book Notes music playlist for his novel Since I Laid My Burden Down:


Stream the playlist on Spotify.


I jokingly referred my novel Since I Laid My Burden Down to this one source as "my Tyler Perry meets Tennessee Williams Southern Gothic Pulp Trash Non- Memoir" (I love IDENTITIES). Anywho as I took the project on more and more over the course of it I noticed the book started to look like a lot of things beyond that, and other things beyond what I initially calculated (and I'm the fucking author! Dang....). I was grateful for that. Also in terms of "seeing" a story as I sometimes myself heavily rely on various fake movie stills in my head and how music always paints it—either as a mood setter or a way to move away from a particular mood. I have made movies and I will continue to until I one day get the budget to make a narrative film with like a shit ton of fly ass soundtrack so I can finally see a mixtape of mine on vinyl.

Soundtrack to Since I Laid My Burden Down

1- "Since I Laid My Burden Down" (gospel song-it's on this soundtrack for super obvious reasons)


2- "Shed So Many Tears" by Tupac
This song is on I would like to think as some kind of 8th grade anthem for DeShawn. Very Black boy w/ hella Jesus angst all over this track but besides that is the fact that the beat still slaps like 20+years later....dude.....


3- "Lights Out" Angry Samoans
I imagine this to be a DeShawn teen angst anthem. Irl I think I was 16 when I heard this song and had a small seizure when I did.

4- "Dreams" Fleetwood Mac
In the movie this would play in DeShawn's dad's pick-up truck as they are booking it down 2 lane Deep South highways with a dead deer in the back of the truck.


5- "I GOT 5 ON IT" The Luniz
"Where you from? Oakland...smokin'..."


6- "You Can Hide Your Love Forever" Comet Gain
DeShawn's ode to Michael.


7- "He's Outta Sight" The Rondelles
DeShawn's ode to Arnold.


8- "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds" Natalie Cole
Natalie Cole covering The Beatles and I DIE every time. It would come (in the movie) at a scene of epiphany?


9- "You Ain't Hittin' On Nothin'" Irma Thomas
Good song to cast riddance spells too. A good ass ode to any grown ass person who needs to get some sorry ass lovers out of there life!


10- "I Can Feel Him Slipping Away" Mamie Lee
Northern Soul stomper and also DeShawn's goodbye song to Jatius.


11- "Give It Up Turn It Loose" En Vogue
A bunch of Oakland Divas giving us some good cleansing energy for any sister scorned. Ashe. ✨✨✨✨


12. "A Change Is Gonna Come" Sam Cooke
This was a Sunday household favorite of mine growing up.

13. "Dance Song 97" Sleater-Kinney
An ode to DeShawn's teenage Molly Ringwald meets Carlton from Fresh Prince - freak out New Wave bed room dance party of one song.


Brontez Purnell and Since I Laid My Burden Down links:

Kirkus Reviews review
Publishers Weekly review

Fiction Advocate interview with the author
Foglifter 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

Largehearted Boy's 2017 Summer Reading Suggestions

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

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

Shorties (Sherman Alexie on His New Memoir, Stream Perfume Genius's Tiny Desk Concert, and more)

VICE shared an excerpt from Sherman Alexie's memoir You Don't Have to Say You Love Me.

Alexie talked to the New York Times about the book.


Perfume Genius played a Tiny Desk Concert.


The Rumpus interviewed author Gary Lutz.


Stream a posthumous Alan Vega single.


The Guardian profiled cartoonist Jillian Tamaki.


Salon interviewed singer-songwriter Jason Isbell.


The New Yorker profiled author Barbara Browning.


Stream a new Wolf Alice song.


Literary Hub interviewed playwright Hang Ong.


Aquarium Drunkard interviewed singer-songwriter Kevin Morby.


The Los Angeles Review of Books examined the popularity of flash fiction.


Stream a new Lushloss song.


Literary Hub recommended books about the decline of western civilization.


Zadie Smith on the paintings of Lynette Yiadom-Boakye.


Literary Hub shared an excerpt from John Corbett's book, Vinyl Freak: Love Letters to a Dying Medium.


Literary Hub shared an excerpt from Victor LaValle's new novel The Changeling.


The Quietus interviewed members of the band alt-J.


Book Riot listed all the books featured in season 5 of Orange Is the New Black.


Stream Palm's Shadow Expert EP at Stereogum.


The Quietus interviewed cartoonist Steve Tillotson .


Stream Turtlenecked's Vulture album at Stereogum.


Signature recommended books to read after finishing the first season of The Handmaid's Tale.


Paste is streaming Sammy Brue's debut album I Am Nice.


Aspen Public Radio interviewed author Megan Abbott.


Stream a new Ex Eye (a Colin Stetson side project) song.


Cultured Vultures recommended 2017's best big books to come.


Drowned in Sound interviewed Alex Luciano of the band Diet Cig.


Emma Straub discussed her new bookstore with The Riveter.


Stream a new song by the Lone Bellow.


Hobart interviewed author Dan Chaon.


eBooks on sale for $0.99 today:

A Father's Law by Richard Wright
The Interrogative Mood by Padgett Powell

eBooks on sale for $1.99 today:

Across the Bridge by Mavis Gallant
Blind Ambition by John W. Dean
Disappearance at Devil's Rock by Paul Tremblay
The Drowning Season by Alice Hoffman
Finks by Joel Whitney
Gone to Soldiers by Marge Piercy
The Hippest Trip in America by Nelson George
History by Elsa Morante
Insurrections of the Mind by Franklin Foer
The Humans by Matt Haig
Living Like a Runaway by Lita Ford
The Los Angeles Diaries by James Brown
The Memory Place by Mira Bartok
Moshi Moshi by Banana Yoshimoto
My Cross To Bear by Gregg Allman
Not My Father's Son by Alan Cumming
An Object of Beauty by Steve Martin
Pavilion of Women by Pearl Buck
Post Office by Charles Bukowski
She Got Up Off the Couch by Haven Kimmel
A Widow's Story by Joyce Carole Oates

eBooks on sale for $2.99 today:

All Creatures Great and Small, All Things Bright and Beautiful, and All Things Wise and Wonderful: Three James Herriot Classics
The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach
Back to Blood by Thomas Wolfe
Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
Frog Music by Emma Donohue
The Group, The Company She Keeps, and Birds of America: Three Novels in One Collection by Mary McCarthy
Jackie Under My Skin by Wane Koestenbaum
Land's End by Michael Cunningham

eBooks on sale for $3.99 today:

And the Band Played on by Randy Shilts
Black Deutschland by Darryl Pinckney
Dry by Augusten Burroughs
A Home at the End of the World by Michael Cunningham



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
WORD Bookstores Books of the Week (recommended new books)
weekly music release lists

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

June 12, 2017

Book Notes - N. West Moss "The Subway Stops at Bryant Park"

The Subway Stops at Bryant Park

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

N. West Moss' brilliant story collection captures the everyday lives of New Yorkers as well as the city they call home.

Kirkus Reviews wrote of the book:

"...Moss' ability to probe the rich, complicated depths of those the city views as ordinary--its doormen, library workers, waitresses, and bench-sitters--and capture the profound currents of emotion found in the everyday animates this collection and makes it uniquely illuminating."


In her own words, here is N. West Moss' Book Notes music playlist for her short story collection The Subway Stops at Bryant Park:



Bob Dylan "The Times They Are A-Changin'"
Harry McClintock "Big Rock Candy Mountain"
J. S. Bach's "Goldberg Variations"
J. S. Bach's Cello Suite #1
Erik Satie Trois Gymnopedies
Peter Ecklund's "Waltz of the Secret Agents"

While this short story collection has many characters whom I have come to love, the chief among them, the one whose heartbeat pulses beneath the entire collection, is Omeer from the opening story, "Omeer's Mangoes."

Omeer, a doorman at a building across the street from Bryant Park, is an immigrant from Iran. He is a guileless man, a character type I seem drawn to in real life as well as in fiction – the kind of person who thinks the best of the world even as it is letting him down. It sounds absurd to state the obvious, but I love kind, honest people. I do. But I worry about them in such a cruel world unprotected by the armor of cynicism. And Omeer is that figure for me. Not only is he shy, he is in love with the world around him, more so perhaps because he is an immigrant to the U. S., and as is sometimes the case, Omeer has fallen in love with the country quite permanently, despite the ways it may shut him out or let him down. The fact that a cup of coffee in the Bryant Park Hotel costs $9, amazes and delights Omeer, who never seems to think, "I hate that it's so expensive, I hate that I can't even afford a cup of coffee on the street where I work." No, Omeer's mind would not work that way. The $9 cup of coffee is a sign that the country and street he loves is alive, that it commands respect. He is proud that they charge so much for a cup of coffee.

When I think of Omeer, I think of the live piano music in the park, which he loves to sit and listen to in the summer, but if I were scoring the soundtrack to his movie, Omeer's song would have to be the Harry McClintock version of "Big Rock Candy Mountain" for all of its false cheer, hinting at the dark underbelly of the hobo life.

The pathos of that song is that it sounds quite jaunty. It's ostensibly about a "hobo" who says as he walks along the train tracks that he's "headed for a land that's far away / beside a crystal fountain" called the Big Rock Candy Mountain. In this world "handouts grow on bushes" and "the sun shines every day." This couldn't be more Omeer's point of view of New York City and Bryant Park. He sees everything as abundance. It's a place according to McClintock "where there ain't no snow / Where the rain don't fall / The wind don't blow."

But just as in the song, these are wishes in response to the horrible realities of life. You only wish for no snow, rain and wind when you are quite buffeted and chilled by them in reality. Thus the song is a kind of a prayer for what the narrator wishes was his life, as opposed to the hunger, fear and deprivation he suffers in reality. The very cheerfulness of the song is an antidote, the listener feels, to the hardships of real life. It reminds me of how, when confronted by a scary dog, our first reaction is to say, "Good dog!" in the hopes of what, diminishing the dog's ferocity? Are we hoping that saying so will make it true?

Omeer's lack of cynicism makes him vulnerable to his tenant's belittling ways, vulnerable to his wife's demands, vulnerable to his son's scorn, yet even as his life crumbles around him, or perhaps because it is crumbling, he is filled with increasing optimism. "He would be back in spring," the story concludes, "right here to listen to the music with his companions, the park like a cradle, rocking them all together. Incredible." He longs for the beauty of companionship, even as he is so utterly alone. The park to him, is what he hopes it will be, a place of abundance as in the song where there's "a lake of stew / and of whiskey too / you can paddle all around it in a big canoe." And while there are jails in the song, they are made of tin, "And you can walk right out again, / As soon as you are in." The optimism of this song, and of Omeer, in the face of the reality of the world, is what does me in.

The other prominent character running throughout the stories is my father, Lloyd Moss, who in addition to being my dad, was an announcer on WQXR in New York City for 53 years. He loved music, was a musician himself, playing the trombone in the Army in Korea a life-time ago. He liked classical music, but was knocked over by the jazz of the 1920s and 30s.

Dad was actively and slowly dying while I was writing this collection, and the sorrow of his diminishment and death were the canvas I was painting on, so to speak. The piece of music that reminds me most of him in his incarnation in the book is a song he would never have been interested in even slightly. It's Bob Dylan's "The Times They Are A-Changin'."

To be tragic in a Greek sense, the hero must fall from a great height, and for most of us, our fathers are our heroes. They are so high up for us, so massive, so filled with life and wisdom, that it is unthinkable that they should wither and die, and so our father's death is a personal tragedy to all of us. As much as this tragedy feels unique, it is quite the opposite, is one of the things that connects us to one another, and this Dylan song, where "the first one now will later be last" moves me for it's universality. i listened to it in my car a few years after Dad had died and had to pull over at the tragedy inherent in each of us.

"Admit that the waters around you have grown, /and accept it that soon you'll be drenched to the bone" seems like the story of each person's ultimate succumbing. It's the story of life, writ large and clear. I was simply bearing witness to this man, so in love with life, a man who owned FIVE tuxedoes (all from Goodwill). Who could ever have imagined him, able to recite dozens of filthy limericks, egging me on to late nights of Champagne when I wanted to just go to sleep already, how had he ended up barely able to make it from his apartment to Bryant Park across the street? There he would sit, listening to the piano music, and say to me over and over again, "Look at how lucky we are."

There's a bit of him in Omeer, and a bit of Omeer in him. I suppose that all of us stand in a river of change, and there comes a time when we each crawl out of the river and onto the bank, the change too much for us, the world flowing onward away from us.

The other songs in this playlist I see as the soundtrack to the movie version. The woman in "Dubonnet" is transformed by listening to Bach's Goldberg Variations on the piano in the park, and so that must be on the list, although after the story had been published, I was ill and recovering from surgery, and it was another piece of Bach's that I would have preferred to put in that story, which is J. S. Bach's Cello Suite #1. It is remarkably successful at achieving musical resolution. I swear that this piece of music helped to heal me, and I think it could have had an impact on poor, nervous, terrible Dubonnet as she sat in the park, although I don't know how it would come across on the piano, and it's hard to imagine a cellist in Bryant Park, but now that I've said that, I'll probably see one next time I'm there.

Because of the daily piano music in the park, and in the lives of my characters, and for the rather elegiac tone of the collection as a whole, I think Erik Satie's "Trois Gymnopedies" is appropriate. And if this were a movie, when Dad dies in the book, I’d ask that Peter Eklund’s “Waltz of the Secret Agents” be the sound-track because
that whistling is so beautiful and eerie that it reminds me of the journey a person takes when he goes off from this world to wherever he goes from there. "


N. West Moss and The Subway Stops at Bryant Park links:

the author's website

Kirkus Reviews review

American Microreviews interview with the author
Fiction Writers Review 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

Largehearted Boy's 2017 Summer Reading Suggestions

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

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

Book Notes - Dave Boling "The Lost History of Stars"

The Lost History of Stars

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

Dave Boling's novel The Lost History of Stars is a compelling story of war and its effects on family.

Kirkus Reviews wrote of the book:

"If history is written by the victors, this may explain why so little is known about the travails of the Boers, Dutch colonists of South Africa, against the British….The novel sheds much-needed light on the deaths of thousands of Boer civilians in these camps. A valuable testament providing glimmers, however scant, of hope for humanity"


In his own words, here is Dave Boling's Book Notes music playlist for his novel The Lost History of Stars:



I learned to write in a pressurized crucible: The newspaper game. Decades as a sports columnist sometimes called for me to crank an 800-word deadline column in 15 or 20 minutes while 70,000 football fans were screaming or the Laker Girls were doing a routine 15 feet away from press row. You learn how to focus on the story because deadlines are heartless; deadlines don't give a damn about your annoyances.

So an early lesson was to have a set of headphones or ear buds playing something that would wall off the distracting noise with a more tolerable noise. Confession: I've got a playlist called "Background Stuff." It's all mind-numbing New Age drivel -- angel harps and tinkling bells. But it's effective and helps me focus.

And when writing fiction, I find that songs lyrics can get tangled up in my prose, so I usually avoid them in favor of instrumentals while I'm trying to be creative. But I definitely use music to get me in the mood for writing in the first place. In which case, I am inspired by virtuosity in almost any form.

Many of the following pieces helped while I was writing my new novel, The Lost History of Stars. My routine is to work on a number of projects at once, allowing my mind to go in the direction it most wants to go on a given day. So the following is the range of music I rely on, and the circumstances in which they're most effective.

"Nessun Dorma," Luciano Pavarotti

It's a climactic aria from Puccini's "Turandot." I'm not an opera buff, having insufficient patience for three hours of melodrama. But this has a swelling crescendo so powerfully rendered by Pavarotti that it seems capable of lifting the weight of human spirit.

Also, check out the video of the 1998 Grammy broadcast when Pavarotti had to pull out because of throat problems and Aretha Franklin jumped in for him on short notice. Hold onto your socks, and then ask yourself: Is there anything talented humans can't do?

"All Along the Watchtower," Jimi Hendrix

Hendrix doing Dylan lyrics? Beat that. There can't be a better first line than "There must be some kind of way out of here, said the joker to the thief." Makes you want to write a book to tell that story, doesn't it? I'm a Seattle guy now so I sometimes drive past the Hendrix statue on the sidewalk on Capitol Hill. Some towns have statues of generals on horseback; Seattle has Hendrix on his knees wailing to the sky. Glorious.

His "Crosstown Traffic" is a close second for me when it comes to music that cures a sluggish morning and drives me to the keyboard.

"Concerto de Aranjuez," Joaquin Rodrigo

My first novel, Guernica, was set in the Basque country during the Spanish Civil War. During the editing process, I listened almost exclusively to this moving piece on an endless "repeat" cycle. To me, it's the musical essence of Spain. It helped me climb into my scenes and inhabit them with my characters. I could see the dancers and feel the Spanish heat radiating up from the dry earth. Now when I turn it on, it means getting focused on creating evocative scenes.

"Cold Water," Damien Rice and "When It's Cold I'd Like to Die," Moby

These two songs have similar themes and invite a powerful sadness. These set a tone on days when I might be too upbeat for a grim scene I might have to write. Seriously, it's really difficult to write sad stuff on a beautiful morning after a great breakfast with a loving spouse.

"Roady," Fat Freddy's Drop

Sometimes I need to toss in a wildcard song or two -- something out of my normal comfort zone -- like a palate-cleanser. I got this one from my son and it gets me thinking out of the box. Fat Freddy's Drop is a New Zealand band playing music that feels like global fusion. The subtle opening leads to an organ/bass line and the lyrics "You know if feels so good when I know you're skankin' with me. Yeah, feels so good when I know you're skankin'." Yes, doesn't it just! It's a playful musical stew with the balls to just ignore the walls between formats and genres.

"Poetry," Pablo Neruda

Here's some DIY listening matter that I've found enjoyable and great for triggering creativity. The idea came from a conversation with my daughter. Why is it we can remember the lyrics to songs so easily while it's much harder to memorize the lines of a poem? Maybe we absorb the spoken word easier than the written. As a present, she made digital recordings of many of the poems she knew were my favorites. The Neruda listed above ("And it was at that age poetry arrived in search of me …") is on a playlist with half a dozen other favorites like Yeats' "The Second Coming," and the advice of Polonius to Laertes from Hamlet Act 1, Scene 3. If thinking great thoughts leads to great creativity, these things can provide the sparks.

"The Waters of March," Susannah McCorkle

This rendition of the Antonio Carlos Jobim song makes you feel like you're listening to McCorkle while drinking with friends in the Oak Room of the Algonquin Hotel -- even if you've never been there. "It's the promise of spring, it's the joy in your heart," it goes. If not, it's pretty close.


Dave Boling and The Lost History of Stars links:

the author's website

Historical Novel Society review
Kirkus Reviews 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

Largehearted Boy's 2017 Summer Reading Suggestions

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

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

Shorties (Andrew Sean Greer on His Story in the New Yorker, Stream the New Jason Isbell Album, and more)

Andrew Sean Greer talked to the New Yorker about his story in this week's issue.


NPR Music is streaming Jason Isbell's new album The Nashville Sound.


Read It Forward recommended books to read after The Handmaid's Tale.


Stream a new Ride song.


Literary Hub recommended books you may have missed in May.


Stream a new Frightened Rabbit song.


Signature recommended classic beach reads.


Stream a new Trailer Trash Tracys song.


The Rumpus interviewed author Julie Buntin.


BBC 6 Music interviewed Radiohead's Thom Yorke.


The White Review interviewed author Elif Batuman.


Stream a new Gordi song.


Literary Hub recommended works of literary horror.


The Creative Independent interviewed members of Future Islands.


The Washington Post recommended new graphic novels.


Stream a new Pains of Being Pure at Heart song.


The New York Post recommended Father's Day book gifts.


NPR Music is streaming Beth Ditto's new album Fake Sugar.


Men's Journal and Vulture recommended June's best new books.


Hilton Als on Diane Arbus.


Teju Cole talked to Weekend Edition about his new book Blind Spot.


The New Yorker examined the persistence of prog rock.


The Creative Independent interviewed author Maaza Mengiste.


Stream a new Toro Y Moi song.


Guernica interviewed author Julia Fierro.


Men's Journal and the Australian profiled singer-songwriter jason Isbell.


Work in Progress interviewed author Jeff VanderMeer.


Stream a new Fawns of Love song.


The Salt interviewed John T. Edge about his new book The Potlikker Papers: A Food History of the Modern South.


Salon previewed summer's best new music.


Joyland features new short fiction by Nicholas Mancusi.


Stream a new Emily Haines song.

Haines discussed her new solo album with Rolling Stone.


The Rumpus interviewed author Sabina Murray.


Drowned in Sound reconsidered Unwound's Leaves Turn Inside You album.


eBooks on sale for $0.99 today:

A Father's Law by Richard Wright
The Interrogative Mood by Padgett Powell

eBooks on sale for $1.99 today:

Across the Bridge by Mavis Gallant
Blind Ambition by John W. Dean
Disappearance at Devil's Rock by Paul Tremblay
The Drowning Season by Alice Hoffman
Finks by Joel Whitney
Gone to Soldiers by Marge Piercy
The Hippest Trip in America by Nelson George
History by Elsa Morante
Insurrections of the Mind by Franklin Foer
The Humans by Matt Haig
Living Like a Runaway by Lita Ford
The Los Angeles Diaries by James Brown
The Memory Place by Mira Bartok
Moshi Moshi by Banana Yoshimoto
My Cross To Bear by Gregg Allman
Not My Father's Son by Alan Cumming
An Object of Beauty by Steve Martin
Pavilion of Women by Pearl Buck
Post Office by Charles Bukowski
She Got Up Off the Couch by Haven Kimmel
A Widow's Story by Joyce Carole Oates

eBooks on sale for $2.99 today:

All Creatures Great and Small, All Things Bright and Beautiful, and All Things Wise and Wonderful: Three James Herriot Classics
The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach
Back to Blood by Thomas Wolfe
Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
Frog Music by Emma Donohue
The Group, The Company She Keeps, and Birds of America: Three Novels in One Collection by Mary McCarthy
Jackie Under My Skin by Wane Koestenbaum
Land's End by Michael Cunningham

eBooks on sale for $3.99 today:

And the Band Played on by Randy Shilts
Black Deutschland by Darryl Pinckney
Dry by Augusten Burroughs
A Home at the End of the World by Michael Cunningham



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
WORD Bookstores Books of the Week (recommended new books)
weekly music release lists

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

June 9, 2017

Book Notes - Blake Nelson "Boy"

Boy

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

Blake Nelson once again proves himself one of our finest young adult writers with his surprising and moving novel Boy.


In his own words, here is Blake Nelson's Book Notes music playlist for his novel Boy:



So I have this friend I was especially close to in college and through my twenties. Not only did we have many youthful adventures, but we also helped form each other's aesthetics. We molded each other and ourselves around what was going on around us in NYC and across the country during the 1980s.

He and I wrote hundreds of letters to each other during that time and we keep promising to exchange these letters, so we can look at them again.

So I found his letters to me and before I sent them back, spent a couple evenings reading through them. Wow. They really took me back. Suddenly I was twenty-two again, running around the East Village with Basquiat in my brain and Echo and the Bunnymen in my Walkman.

So when I sat down to write my next book, I wanted to capture some of that sense of discovery and self-definition from my own life. Boy, was the result. The plot: a bright but directionless high school kid stumbles into the world of photography. And finds his true calling.


"Walk in the Park" by Beach House
As a young man I had issues with feelings. I didn't like them. I wasn't sure what they were. I probably didn't actually have any. So part of my artistic journey has been to locate them, consider them and try to recreate them in my stories. I do this because "feelings" are generally what people who consume the arts are looking for. So I listen to Beach House.

"Florescent Adolescent" by Arctic Monkeys
Ah, when the young criticize older people for being tired, dull, hypocritical and irrelevant! I was merciless like this when I was young, I DESTROYED the old guard at every opportunity. So now I have to smile and take it.

"Kill Vs. Maim" by Grimes
I love artists like Grimes. She starts off as a darling of the liberal arts, social warrior, rainbows and glitter crowd ... then she turns around and shows everyone that she's totally hardcore, she's not going anywhere, she's fucking SERIOUS.

"Dream Machine" by Mark Farina
This slow, minimal, clanking dance groove was kind of my favorite song throughout the year of writing Boy. The laconic vocal mentions "Rebels on the dance floor" which I'm assuming is ironic.

"Hey Cool Kid" by the Cloud Nothings
Really weird, blank song about nothing that goes nowhere and is self-defeatingly casual and unproduced, and is, in it's innocent "whatever-ness" a masterpiece.

"Cigarette Daydreams" by Cage The Elephant
How is it you can always tell if a band is from the Midwest? They believe in things a little more, their own romanticism for one. "You can drive/All night/Looking for the answers in the pouring rain."

"King" by Years and Years
And then the British show up and save us from ourselves with their transcendent, transporting dance club hits.

"Here I Dreamed I was an Architect" by The Decemberists
Did I mention that I had just moved back to Portland when I was writing Boy? So yeah, I happened to catch Colin Meloy playing a couple songs at an event by himself with guitar. Jesus, he is talented. So I dug up some Decemberists songs which ended up on all my playlists.


Blake Nelson and Boy links:

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

Kirkus Reviews review

Largehearted Boy Book Notes playlist by the author for Destroy All Cars
Largehearted Boy Book Notes playlist by the author for Recovery Road
Rookie 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

Largehearted Boy's 2017 Summer Reading Suggestions

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

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

This Week's Interesting Music Releases - June 9, 2017

Planetarium

Big Thief's Masterpiece, Cody ChesnuTT's My Love Divine Degree, and Sufjan Stevens, Bryce Dessner, Nico Muhly, & James McAlister's Planetarium are all albums I can recommend this week.

The new Arcade Fire single Everything Now is available on vinyl.

Archival recordings include radio broadcast collections from Bob Dylan & Neil Young, the Grateful Dead (a 12-CD box set), and Nine Inch Nails & David Bowie.

What new music are you looking forward to or enjoying this week?


This week's interesting music releases:

Ambrose Akinmusire Quartet: A Rift In Decorum: Live At The Village Vanguard
Anathema: The Optimist
Ani DiFranco: Binary
Arcade Fire: Everything Now [vinyl]
Big Thief: Masterpiece
Billie Holiday & Lester Young: Complete Studio Recordings
Birthday Massacre: Under Your Spell
Bob Dylan and Neil Young: Live on Air 1988
Chuck Berry: CHUCK
Cigarettes After Sex: Cigarettes After Sex
Cody ChesnuTT: My Love Divine Degree
David Crosby: New Year's Eve with The Dead
Deb Talan: Lucky Girl
Elvis Costello & Burt Bacharach: Painted from Memory (reissue) [vinyl]
Glen Campbell: Adios
Gov't Mule: Revolution Come...Revolution Go
Grateful Dead: Broadcast Collection 1976 - 1980 (12-CD box set)
Hazel English: Just Give In / Never Going Home [vinyl]
Ice Cube: Death Certificate (25th Anniversary Edition)
Katy Perry: Witness
King Crimson: Live in Europe - 2016
Kirin J Callinan: Bravado
Kronos Quartet: Folk Songs
Lady Antebellum: Heart Break
Lindsey Buckingham / Christine McVie: Lindsey Buckingham / Christine McVie
London Grammar: Truth Is A Beautiful Thing
The Magpie Salute: The Magpie Salute
Miles Davis: The Legendary 1960 European Tour
Nine Inch Nails and David Bowie: The Complete Broadcasts
Patsy Cline: Complete Releases 1955-62
Paul Simon: The Concert in Hyde Park (CD and DVD)
Phoenix: Ti Amo
Raekwon: The Wild [vinyl]
Rancid: Trouble Maker
Rise Against: Wolves
The Secret Sisters: You Don't Own Me Anymore
Slow Dancer: In A Mood
Sting: The Studio Collection: Volume II (5-LP box set) [vinyl]
Suffocation: ...Of the Dark
Sufjan Stevens, Bryce Dessner, Nico Muhly, James McAlister: Planetarium
SZA: CTRL
Thelonious Monk with John Coltrane: Complete 1957 Riverside Recordings (3-LP box set) [vinyl]
Various Artists: Iconic Performances From the Monterey International Pop Festival
Various Artists: Music from The American Epic Sessions
Various Artists: Nothing But A Houseparty - The Birth Of The Philly Sound 1967-71
Volumes: Different Animals
Yes: The Greatest Hits
ZZ Top: Cinco: The First Five LPs (5-LP box set) [vinyl]


also at Largehearted Boy:

Support Largehearted Boy

weekly music release lists

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

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

Shorties (Books Destined To Become Classics, Overlooked '90s Songs, and more)

Barnes and Noble listed books that are destined to become classics.


Double J listed overlooked songs of the '90s.


VICE shared an excerpt from Scott McClanahan's novel The Sarah Book.


Stream a new Iron & Wine song.


The New Yorker profiled author Can Xue.


Fanzine interviewed singer-songwriter Marissa Nadler about art.


Signature shared a reader's guide to the works of Margaret Atwood.


Stream a new Oneohtrix Point Never song.


Delia Cabe discussed her book Storied Bars of New York with CarolineLeavittville.


Punk magazine Razorcake is holding a subscription drive.


VICE interviewed Roxane Gay about her memoir Hunger.


Stereogum interviewed Sean Yeaton of Parquet Courts.


The Guardian profiled author Naomi Alderman.


Paste profiled singer-songwriter Faye Webster.


VICE recommended apocalyptic fiction.


Stream a new Cheap Fantasy song.


The Los Angeles Review of Books podcast interviewed author Jess Arndt.


NYCTaper shared a recording of a recent Ween performance.


The Washington Post and Signature recommended gift books for dads.


Stream a new Sia song.


Gothamist shared a short history of New York City's Strand Bookstore.


Joan Shelley visited Radio Heartland for an interview and live performance.


Paste shared an excerpt from Catherynne M. Valente's book The Refrigerator Monologues.


Stream a new song by Hater.


Justin Taylor remembered Denis Johnson at n+1.


eBooks on sale for $0.99 today:

A Father's Law by Richard Wright
The Interrogative Mood by Padgett Powell

eBooks on sale for $1.99 today:

Across the Bridge by Mavis Gallant
Blind Ambition by John W. Dean
Disappearance at Devil's Rock by Paul Tremblay
The Drowning Season by Alice Hoffman
Finks by Joel Whitney
Gone to Soldiers by Marge Piercy
The Hippest Trip in America by Nelson George
History by Elsa Morante
Insurrections of the Mind by Franklin Foer
The Humans by Matt Haig
Living Like a Runaway by Lita Ford
The Los Angeles Diaries by James Brown
The Memory Place by Mira Bartok
Moshi Moshi by Banana Yoshimoto
My Cross To Bear by Gregg Allman
Not My Father's Son by Alan Cumming
An Object of Beauty by Steve Martin
Pavilion of Women by Pearl Buck
Post Office by Charles Bukowski
She Got Up Off the Couch by Haven Kimmel
A Widow's Story by Joyce Carole Oates

eBooks on sale for $2.99 today:

All Creatures Great and Small, All Things Bright and Beautiful, and All Things Wise and Wonderful: Three James Herriot Classics
The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach
Back to Blood by Thomas Wolfe
Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
Frog Music by Emma Donohue
The Group, The Company She Keeps, and Birds of America: Three Novels in One Collection by Mary McCarthy
Jackie Under My Skin by Wane Koestenbaum
Land's End by Michael Cunningham

eBooks on sale for $3.99 today:

And the Band Played on by Randy Shilts
Black Deutschland by Darryl Pinckney
Dry by Augusten Burroughs
A Home at the End of the World by Michael Cunningham



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
WORD Bookstores Books of the Week (recommended new books)
weekly music release lists

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

June 8, 2017

Book Notes - Haroon Moghul "How to Be a Muslim"

How to Be a Muslim

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

Haroon Moghul's memoir How to Be a Muslim is a poignant and often hilarious memoir of growing up as a second generation Muslim immigrant.

The Washington Post wrote of the book:

"Rarely does a book come along that captures the complicated nature of Muslim life in the West with such probing clarity and authenticity. Haroon Moghul's "How to Be a Muslim: An American Story" is perfectly titled: part memoir, part history lesson, part philosophy. It is a profound and intimate book — the story of a single American Muslim that also illustrates the fears and strengths of a community."


In his own words, here is Haroon Moghul's Book Notes music playlist for his memoir How to Be a Muslim:



"Climbing Up The Walls," Radiohead

When I'd first started researching suicide, I told myself it was better to look it up than act it out. Theoretical exercises. Passive ideation. Until I found carbon monoxide. "You go to sleep," some kind anonymous soul wrote on a crowded message board, "and you wake up dead."

"Geek Stink Breath," Green Day

Neither my upstanding mother nor her geeky adolescent child had any idea what Green Day was about, let alone what the name referred to. My eyes scanned the liner notes, a jagged white font set against an oily black paper that revealed every fingerprint, and alighted on the word that almost rhymed with "steam," the word that Billie Joe Armstrong raged into the microphone. Methamphetamine. I wasn't precisely sure what this was, except that it was 200 percent haram. Mightily forbidden. I might've suffered a small cardiac event. This was what I liked?

"Stinkfist," Tool

I might have prayed to God right there and then that I'd be forgiven. But here's the thing. I don't think I had that much interest in being forgiven. Because the scandalous CD was not binned, tossed, or left to gather dust.

"Father and Son," Cat Stevens

The first job I ever applied for was at McDonald's. Had my mom and dad discovered this, they'd have been horrified: my priority should've been school. But I needed to pay for prom, so as I sat in that plastic chair, testifying to my aptitude for flipping burgers, guilt wasn't the first feeling that came to mind. I'd tried to go along. I'd bought into it: We didn't drink. They did. We didn't dance. They did. We didn't date. They did. We did not like girls, never mind need them.

"2 Heads," Coleman Hell

I'd not expected this would end, even as I'd made plans to go away for college. We can hold two contradictory hopes in our head and still be devastated when one of them gives way. It's wanting to have your cake and eat it too. But what the hell else would you do with cake?

"Black," Pearl Jam

If every person has one great test, then mine was—and may still be—parting. I'd learn I could deal with death. But I couldn't accept that God would let lives get entangled only to be yanked apart. How can you live forever and be parted forever? That's death. A real end without resurrection. A place where Islam can't go.

"Ya Rayah," Rachid Taha

The inevitable response to engaging so many, feeling briefly of some flickering cosmic significance, then finding myself deposited in a lifeless, carceral, overly air-conditioned cellblock, staring out windows impossible to defenestrate therefrom. Someone else made the room. Someone else stayed overnight before me. Someone else would clean up after me. It'd be like I was never there. The end was the beginning was the hospitality industry.

"Surat Yusuf," Idrees Abkar

"O my father," Joseph relates, "I saw eleven star, the sun and the moon, and they prostrated to me," and the next words out of our professor's mouth sent a sciatic tingling down my legs. "Did you all hear how eleven is inflected?" he asked the class, most of whom were not Muslim, did not have a Qur'an before them, and in general had no idea what the hell was happening.

"Wake Me Up When September Ends," Green Day

I'd begun to contemplate walking away from the Islamic Center, hoping to go somewhere else or at least be someone else. I was tired of every thing having to mean everything. New York was big enough, NYU was vast enough, to contain other possibilities. But the Prophet warned us a time would come when holding onto Islam would be like holding onto hot coals.

"Losing My Religion," R.E.M.

We were touring the death camps of a brilliant civilization. Less museum, if you will, and more mausoleum. We had no choice but to face a slow-motion holocaust; most of Spain's Jews were wiped out or expelled relatively quickly, while the much larger Muslim population was whittled down over many decades.

"Cosmic Love," Florence + the Machine

She reached over, her hijab very much still wrapped around her wavy dark hair and grabbed my cheek with her teeth. She didn't break skin, but she could have. Should have. She didn't leave for another seven days. She read me poetry. She recited it to me on the balcony. She had a way of finding the most wonderful and heartfelt music, songs that could get me through anything. She left me. She left me Florence and the Machine.

"Alive," Pearl Jam

Somehow I found an ounce of courage and pushed back. For if being a terrible Muslim was the cause of bipolarity, depression, or other such ailments, then how come I met so many terrible Muslims who weren't depressed, manic, or suicidal?

"Ghoom," Junoon

He was talking to God and we happened to be behind him, squeezed in so tightly we could hardly find places for our foreheads on flawless plush carpet. Abkar started crying. Bawling, truly. What, after all, does it really mean to talk to the One who made you? "You. . . ." He whispered. Then he mumbled it. Screamed it. "You," he managed, in between roiling sobs, "brought us from nonexistence into existence." This thought entering him stabbed us too, but he kept on, no rest for the bewildered, him tearing us open and firing a water cannon of tears into our hearts. Abkar made what was foundational into what was conclusive, thundering it, panhandling for it, returning to it, swearing by it, running a giant circle around us and spinning us around with him.

"Fantasy," Mariah Carey

Once I was in a Stop & Shop parking lot and a gaggle of blond girls swarmed toward me in a wave of spring-break exuberance, beautiful, bright-eyed and uniformed, yellow shirts and yoga pants. They carried glitter-marker signs, which read in curly girlie twenty-two-point letters do you need a hug? and why does this shit only ever happen to me plus yes but I can't touch you but thanks for letting me know what paradise kind of looks like. I dove into my Nazgûl-black Camry at the time—and pretended like I wasn't the lamest person ever for declining. I should go to heaven just for that.

He already knows I think that. Deal with it.


Haroon Moghul and How to Be a Muslim links:

the author's Wikipedia entry
excerpt from the book

Publishers Weekly review
Washington Post review

Atlantic interview with the author
Macleans 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

Largehearted Boy's 2017 Summer Reading Suggestions

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

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

Shorties (Maggie Nelson on Darcey Steinke's Novel Suicide Blonde, Stream the New Beth Ditto Album, and more)

Maggie Nelson reconsidered Darcey Steinke's novel Suicide Blonde (first published 25 years ago) at the Paris Review.


NPR Music is streaming Beth Ditto's new album Fake Sugar.


NPR Music is streaming Royal Trux's new album Platinum Tips + Ice Cream.


Kirkus Reviews profiled Catherine Lacey.


Stream a new Japanese Breakfast song.


BookPage recommended historical fiction for summer reading.


NPR Music is streaming Palehound's new album A Place I'll Always Go.


Ben Arthur shared a song inspired by Patricia Lockwood's memoir Priestdaddy at Poets & Writers.


Stream a new Peaking Lights song.


Eugene Lim talked to the Chicago Review of Books about his novel Dear Cyborgs.


NPR Music is streaming Steve Earle's new album So You Wannabe An Outlaw.


Book Riot recommended books about Chicago's South Side.


Stream a new Mogwai song.


Hazlitt interviewed author Pasha Malla.


NPR Music is streaming Fleet Foxes' new album Crack-Up.


Literary Hub recommended books to read during pride month.


The Creative Independent interviewed singer-songwriter Sufjan Stevens.


Bookworm interviewed author Colm Toibin.


Stream a new Arcade Fire song.


Salon interviewed authors Christopher Bollen, Gabe Habash, Jennifer Kitses, Catherine Lacey and Pamela Paul.


The Globe and Mail interviewed singer-songwriter Steve Earle.


The Rumpus interviewed author Gary Lutz.


Stream a new Bonobo song.


The National recommended books for summer reading.


The Omaha World-Herald listed the best albums of 2017 so far.


Naomi Alderman has been awarded the 2017 Baileys Prize for her novel The Power.


Stream a new Oh Sees song.


The Brooklyn Rail interviewed Joseph Scapellato about his short story collection Big Lonesome.


All Songs Considered interviewed singer-songwriter Torres.


amNewYork profiled author Julia Fierro.


Stream a new PJ Harvey and Ramy Essam song.


Slate interviewed Arundhati Roy about her new novel.


Rolling Stone interviewed Devo's Mark Mothersbaugh.


eBooks on sale for $0.99 today:

A Father's Law by Richard Wright
The Interrogative Mood by Padgett Powell

eBooks on sale for $1.99 today:

Across the Bridge by Mavis Gallant
Blind Ambition by John W. Dean
Disappearance at Devil's Rock by Paul Tremblay
The Drowning Season by Alice Hoffman
Finks by Joel Whitney
Gone to Soldiers by Marge Piercy
The Hippest Trip in America by Nelson George
History by Elsa Morante
Insurrections of the Mind by Franklin Foer
The Humans by Matt Haig
Living Like a Runaway by Lita Ford
The Los Angeles Diaries by James Brown
The Memory Place by Mira Bartok
Moshi Moshi by Banana Yoshimoto
My Cross To Bear by Gregg Allman
Not My Father's Son by Alan Cumming
An Object of Beauty by Steve Martin
Pavilion of Women by Pearl Buck
Post Office by Charles Bukowski
She Got Up Off the Couch by Haven Kimmel
A Widow's Story by Joyce Carole Oates

eBooks on sale for $2.99 today:

All Creatures Great and Small, All Things Bright and Beautiful, and All Things Wise and Wonderful: Three James Herriot Classics
The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach
Back to Blood by Thomas Wolfe
Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
Frog Music by Emma Donohue
The Group, The Company She Keeps, and Birds of America: Three Novels in One Collection by Mary McCarthy
Jackie Under My Skin by Wane Koestenbaum
Land's End by Michael Cunningham

eBooks on sale for $3.99 today:

And the Band Played on by Randy Shilts
Black Deutschland by Darryl Pinckney
Dry by Augusten Burroughs
A Home at the End of the World by Michael Cunningham



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)
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June 7, 2017

Book Notes - Min Kym "Gone: A Girl, a Violin, a Life Unstrung"

Gone: A Girl, a Violin, a Life Unstrung

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

Min Kym's Gone is a fascinating and intimate memoir.

The Wall Street Journal wrote of the book:

"Moving... An honest account of what it is like to have a life knocked off course by a freakish occurrence... Particularly intriguing is her account of her early years, which deals with the experience of being a 'child prodigy' and effectively rebuts many of the myths that surround musically talented children.... She writes beautifully of her own anxiety as she was forced to choose between devotion to her violin career and her desire to have a more 'normal' childhood."


In her own words, here is Min Kym's Book Notes music playlist for her debut novel Gone: A Girl, a Violin, a Life Unstrung:



These are 10 songs I listened to whilst writing Gone. All of them favourites from childhood but some rediscovered during those 2 years. Thank you for listening to them with me! 


1. Elgar Salut "d'amour"
Love's greeting. Elgar at his most romantic, and written as an engagement present for his wife to be.  I remember hearing it for the first time aged around 7 or 8 and being completely enchanted by its beautiful harmony and melody. Simply magic!


2. Bob Dylan "Blowin' in the Wind"
I listened to this a lot whilst writing the book. It questions so perfectly the man made world being but a mere interpretation of life's meaning.


3. Tarrega Recuerdos de la Alhambra
An incredibly evocative piece of music that sweeps you into the nostalgic past of 13th century Grenada. Just beautiful.

4. Hungarian Dance no 2
A real fiesta of a piece. Bohemian and full of vigour and passion, its spirit and verve is wonderfully inspiring - and guaranteed to get you toe-tapping along!


5. Beethoven piano concerto no 4 finale
The last of his concertos that he was able to perform himself before his advancing deafness became a certainty. It is a radiant work and my personal favourite of Beethoven's concertos.

6. Verdi Caro nome from Rigoletto
A touching and poignant aria from the heroine Gilda, an innocent and sincere expression of first love.

7. The wonderful jazz standard "Everytime We Say Goodbye" by Cole Porter
Just a simple song about the happiness of togetherness, and the agony of separation.
 
8. Mozart Serenade no 10 K361
Known as the "Gran Partita" it is a sublime and effortless conversation between 13 instruments - 12 woodwind and continuo. Absolutely exquisite music that could not have been written by any other than the genius of Mozart.
 
9. Adagio from Schubert String Quintet
Written only months before his death, you can hear how Schubert has already entered into another world - he takes you with him to the gates of heaven.
 
10. Faure finale from piano quartet no 2
A tour de force, impressionistic work. That there is comparatively little known about the history of this work adds to its mysterious allure. Full of passion and relentless drive, it culminates in a crescendo of pure joy.


Min Kym and Gone: A Girl, a Violin, a Life Unstrung links:


The Arts Desk review
Financial Times review
Guardian review
Guardian review
Kirkus Reviews review
Spectator review

All Things Considered profile of the author
Guardian interview with the author
Irish Examiner profile of the author
The Leonard Lopate Show interview with the author
New York Times interview with the author


also at Largehearted Boy:

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

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