March 14, 2017

Shorties (Books Every Woman Should Read in Her Twenties, Stephin Merritt's Albums Ranked, and more)

Writers recommended books every woman should read in her twenties at NYLON.


Stereogum ranked the albums of Stephin Merritt's bands.


The Guardian is still counting down the top 100 nonfiction books.


The Quietus profiled the band the Moonlandingz.


The Los Angeles Times interviewed author Maggie Nelson.


Stream a new Tara Jane O'Neil song.


Literary Hub profiled someone trying to bring an independent bookstore to the Bronx.


Stream a new song by Annie Hardy of Giant Drag.


Publishers Weekly listed the best interlinked story collections.


VICE profiled a mental health center exclusively for musicians in Athens, Georgia.


The Nation explored the connection between the Trump presidency and dystopian fiction.


Diarrhea Planet covered Bruce Springsteen's "Born to Run."


Signature recommended nonfiction books written in the form of letters.


Esquire interviewed singer-songwriter Ty Segall.


The Guardian Books podcast interviewed author Ayòbámi Adébáyò.


Stream a new PINS song.


The New York Times examined the continuing relevance of S.E. Hinton's novel The Outsiders 50 years after its publication.


Stream a new Guided By Voices song.


R.I.P., author Amy Krouse Rosenthal.


St. Vincent's Annie Clark discussed her line of signature guitars with Vice News.


Flavorwire interviewed John Jennings about adapting Octavia Butler's Kindred into a graphic novel.


Paste listed the best cover songs performed by Bob Dylan.


The Wellcome Book Prize has announced its 2017 shortlist.


Morning Edition profiled the band Hurray for the Riff Raff.


Read a previously unpublished F. Scott Fitzgerald story in the New Yorker.


CLRVYNT interviewed two members of the band sleet.


eBooks on sale for $1.99 today:

An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser
Ball Four by Jim Bouton
Claudius the God by Robert Graves
Hocus Pocus by Kurt Vonnegut
I, Claudius by Robert Graves
L.A. Son by Roy Choi
The Man Who Fell to Earth by Walter Tevis
Maurice by E.M. Forster
A Passage to India by E.M. Forster
Shoeless Joe by W. P. Kinsella

eBooks on sale for $2.99 today:

The Breaks of the Game by David Halberstam
Bruce by Peter Ames Carlin
Sacred Hoops by Phil Jackson
White Line Fever by Lemmy
Woke Up Lonely by Fiona Maazel



also at Largehearted Boy:

Support Largehearted Boy

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

List of Online "Best Books of 2016" Lists
Essential and Interesting Year-End 2016 Music Lists

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





March 13, 2017

Shorties (An Interview with Ursula K. Le Guin, Reconsidering LCD Soundsystem's Sound of Silver, and more)

The Times Literary Supplement interviewed Ursula K. Le Guin.


Stereogum reconsidered LCD Soundsystem's Sound of Silver album 10 years after its release.


Granta shared an excerpt from Mohsin Hamid's novel Exit West.


All Songs Considered reconsidered Elliott Smith's Either/Or album 20 years after its release.


Melissa Febos talked to the Los Angeles Review of Books about her new memoir Abandon Me.


Yumi Zouma covered "Champagne Supernova" by Oasis.


Caroline Leavitt interviewed Kurt Baumeister about his novel Pax Americana.


Stereogum reconsidered The Velvet Underground & Nico's self-titled album 50 years after its release.


Valeria June visited World Cafe for an interview and live performance.


Kanishk Tharoor discussed his new short story collection Swimmer Among the Stars with Weekend Edition.


Stream a new Eluvium track.


The A.V. Club recommended female cartoonists whose works you should read.


Stream a new Pontiak song.


Hari Kunzru talked to Weekend Edition about his new novel White Tears.


James Mercer talked to All Things Considered about the new Shins album Heartworms.


Actress Michelle Dockery discussed her favorite books at the New York Times.


HEALTH covered New Order's "Blue Monday."


Ariel Levy talked to Weekend Edition about her memoir The Rules Do Not Apply.


John Vanderslice talked to the Daily Californian about his Tiny Telephone Recording studio.


Nickolas Butler talked to Paste about his new novel The Hearts of Men.


Digital Trends interviewed Jay Farrar about the new Son Volt album


Jami Attenberg talked to the Literary Hub about her new novel All Grown Up.


The Growlers visited The Current studio for an interview and live performance.


Kea Wilson talked to The Rumpus about her novel We Eat Our Own.


Weekend Edition profiled the band Japandroids.


Publishers Weekly and Vulture interviewed author Elif Batuman.


Pitchfork examined Buddhism's influence on the music of Arthur Russell.


Vol. 1 Brooklyn features new fiction by Lynn Steger Strong.


eBooks on sale for $1.99 today:

An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser
Ball Four by Jim Bouton
Claudius the God by Robert Graves
Hocus Pocus by Kurt Vonnegut
I, Claudius by Robert Graves
L.A. Son by Roy Choi
The Man Who Fell to Earth by Walter Tevis
Maurice by E.M. Forster
A Passage to India by E.M. Forster
Shoeless Joe by W. P. Kinsella

eBooks on sale for $2.99 today:

The Breaks of the Game by David Halberstam
Bruce by Peter Ames Carlin
Sacred Hoops by Phil Jackson
White Line Fever by Lemmy
Woke Up Lonely by Fiona Maazel



also at Largehearted Boy:

Support Largehearted Boy

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

List of Online "Best Books of 2016" Lists
Essential and Interesting Year-End 2016 Music Lists

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

March 10, 2017

This Week's Interesting Music Releases - March 10, 2017

Hurray for the Riff Raff

Hurray for the Riff Raff's The Navigator is one of the year's finest albums.

I can also recommend Laura Marling's Semper Femina and Magnetic Fields: 50 Song Memoir.

A remastered and expanded edition of Elliott Smith's Either/Or is also in stores this week.

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


This week's interesting music releases:

Amelia Curran: Watershed
Bush: Black And White Rainbows
Buzzcocks: Time's Up (reissue)
Cameron Avery: Ripe Dreams, Pipe Dreams
Can't Swim: Fail You Again
Crystal Fairy: Crystal Fairy [vinyl]
Damaged Bug: Bunker Funk
Depeche Mode: Where's the Revolution (Remixes)
Elliott Smith: Either/Or: Expanded Edition (remastered and expanded)
Flagship: The Electric Man
Frank Zappa: Live On Air: The Early Years
George Jones & The Smoky Mountain Boys: George Jones & The Smoky Mountain Boys (reissue) [vinyl]
Greg Graffin: Millport
Ha Ha Tonka: Heart-Shaped Mountain
Hurray for the Riff Raff: The Navigator
Jerry Garcia Band: GarciaLive Volume Eight: November 23rd, 1991 Bradley Center
Laura Marling: Semper Femina
Leonard Cohen: Upon a Smokey Evening
Magnetic Fields: 50 Song Memoir
Miles Davis Quintet: Freedom Jazz Dance: The Bootleg Series, Vol. 5 [vinyl]
Nathan Fake: Providence
Paul Weller: Jawbone (Music From The Film)
Peter Murphy: Bare-Boned and Sacred
Pieta Brown: Postcards
R. Stevie Moore and Jason Falkner: Make It Be
Shelby Earl: Man Who Made Himself a Name
The Shins: Heartworms
ShobaleaderOne: Elektrac
sir Was: Digging A Tunnel
Soundgarden: Ultramega OK (remastered and expanded)
Steve Earle: Live from Austin TX (CD/DVD)
Steve Hackett & Djabe: Summer Storms & Rocking Rivers
Temples: Volcano [vinyl]
Tennis: Yours Conditionally
Valerie June: The Love of Animals
Various Artists: Outro Tempo: Electronic & Contemporary Music From Brazil [vinyl]
Velvet Underground: Boston Tea Party July 11th 1969
The Who: Live at Leeds (remastered) [vinyl]


also at Largehearted Boy:

Support Largehearted Boy

Essential and Interesting "Best of 2016" Music Lists

weekly music release 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)

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

Shorties (Writers Share Their Love for Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Musical Legacy of Arthur Russell, and more)

Writers shared their love for Buffy the Vampire Slayer at Literary Hub.


Stereogum examined the musical legacy of Arthur Russell.


eBooks on sale for $1.99 today:

An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser
Ball Four by Jim Bouton
Claudius the God by Robert Graves
Hocus Pocus by Kurt Vonnegut
I, Claudius by Robert Graves
L.A. Son by Roy Choi
The Man Who Fell to Earth by Walter Tevis
Maurice by E.M. Forster
A Passage to India by E.M. Forster
Shoeless Joe by W. P. Kinsella

eBooks on sale for $2.99 today:

The Breaks of the Game by David Halberstam
Bruce by Peter Ames Carlin
Sacred Hoops by Phil Jackson
White Line Fever by Lemmy
Woke Up Lonely by Fiona Maazel


Jens Lekman visited The Current studio for an interview and live performance.


John Darnielle talked to Iowa Public Radio about his novel Universal Harvester.


Paste recommended shoegaze albums for people who don't like shoegaze.


The Millions interviewed author Laird Hunt.


Stream a new Juliana Hatfield song.


LitReactor recommended Spanish-language authors.


Stream a new Los Colognes song.


Literary Hub ranked 75 covers of Mikhail Bulgakov's novel The Master and Margarita.


Stream a new Dream Wife song.


Tin House shared an excerpt from Annie Hartnett's novel Rabbit Cake.


Aquarium Drunkard interviewed Martin Courtney of the band Real Estate.


CarolineLeavittville interviewed author Lauren Grodstein.


Stream a new Boss Hog song.


The Rumpus interviewed author Alexandra Naughton.


Stream a new Will Johnson song.


Paul La Farge examined the complicated friendship of H. P. Lovecraft and one of his biggest fans, Philip Barlow, at the New Yorker.


Sxip Shirey talked to PopMatters about his new album Bottle of Whiskey and A Handful of Bees.


Author Ingrid Rojas Contreras talked political activism with Paste.


MinnPost interviewed composer Sarah Kirkland Snider.

MinnPost: How would you describe your music to someone who's totally new to it?

Sarah Kirkland Snider: I would say that all of my music — whether for voice, orchestra, chamber ensemble, or solo instrument — is narrative. I strive to be open to all of my influences and write with as broad-minded an aesthetic palette as possible, in order to have a diverse emotional vocabulary and render musical narratives as candidly and precisely as possible.


WWNO interviewed authors Jami Attenberg and Colson Whitehead.


Jay Farrar talked to Long Island Weekly and the Knoxville News Sentinel about the new Son Volt album Notes of Blue.


The Washington Post recommended the best books for raising activist kids.


Paste profiled Jay Som's Melina Duterte.


Crag shared an excerpt from Nat Baldwin's new book The Red Barn.


Stream a new song by Richard Edwards of Margot & the Nuclear So & So’s.


Jami Attenberg talked to the Los Angeles Review of Books about her new novel All Grown Up.


One Quart interviewed El Perro del Mar's Sarah Assbring.


Cosmonaut Avenue features an excerpt from Sarah Gerard's new essay collection Sunshine State.



also at Largehearted Boy:

Support Largehearted Boy

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

List of Online "Best Books of 2016" Lists
Essential and Interesting Year-End 2016 Music Lists

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

March 9, 2017

Shorties (Read and Listen to Excerpts from George Saunders' Novel, Stephin Merritt on the New Magnetic Fields Album, and more)

Read an excerpt (and listen to audiobook excerpts from George Saunders' debut novel Lincoln in the Bardo at the Times Literary Supplement.


Stephin Merritt talked to Morning Edition about the new Magnetic Fields album 50 Song Memoir.


eBooks on sale for $1.99 today:

An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser
Ball Four by Jim Bouton
Claudius the God by Robert Graves
Hocus Pocus by Kurt Vonnegut
I, Claudius by Robert Graves
L.A. Son by Roy Choi
The Man Who Fell to Earth by Walter Tevis
Maurice by E.M. Forster
A Passage to India by E.M. Forster
Shoeless Joe by W. P. Kinsella

eBooks on sale for $2.99 today:

The Breaks of the Game by David Halberstam
Bruce by Peter Ames Carlin
Sacred Hoops by Phil Jackson
White Line Fever by Lemmy
Woke Up Lonely by Fiona Maazel


John Darnielle discussed his novel Universal Harvester with Consequence of Sound.


The Current interviewed Patti Smith.


Literary Hub recommended great novels you may have missed in February.


The A.V. Club reconsidered Elliott Smith's Either/Or album 20 years after its release.


Bonnie 'Prince' Billy covered Merle Haggard's "Mama Tried."


OUPblog shared an excerpt from Andrew McCarron's book Light Come Shining: The Transformations of Bob Dylan.


Stream a new Ty Segall song.


Signature recommended the best books on Somalia.


Stream a new Do Make Say Think song.


Literary Hub ranked notorious literary muses.


Turntable Kitchen shared a Cinco de Mayo playlist.


CarolineLeavittville interviewed Victor Lodato about his new novel Edgar & Lucy.


NPR Music is streaming Conor Oberst's new album Salutations.


Unbound Worlds interviewed Paul La Farge about H.P. Lovecraft's influence on his writing.

Literary Hub shared a conversation between La Farge and his editor.


PopMatters profiled singer-songwriter Sam Phillips.


The A.V. Club interviewed Jay Som’s Melina Duterte.


Bookworm interviewed Fantagraphics editor Gary Groth about comics.


Hurray For the Riff Raff’s Alynda Segarra on being an activist musician in the age of Trump at SPIN.

American Songwriter interviewed Segarra.

Hurray for the Riff Raff visited World Cafe for an interview and live performance.


Keggie Carew talked to All Things Considered about her new book Dadland.


Stream a new Craig Finn song.


Paste interviewed cartoonist Jeff Lemire.


The A.V. Club reconsidered The Velvet Underground & Nico's self-titled album 50 years after its release.


Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie talked to the Washington Post about her new book Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions.


Drowned in Sound is streaming the Homesick's new album Youth Hunt.


Comics Beat interviewed Maggie Umber about her new graphic novel Sound of Snow Falling.


Stream a new Aimee Mann song.


Margaret Atwood talked to the Los Angeles Times about her Angel Catbird graphic novels.


Stream a new Afghan Whigs song.


Fresh Air interviewed Mohsin Hamid about his novel Exit West.


Signature examined the role of music in political resistance, specifically the works (and life) of Fela Kuti.


BOMB interviewed author Eleni Sikelianos.


Stream a new Chastity Belt song.



also at Largehearted Boy:

Support Largehearted Boy

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

List of Online "Best Books of 2016" Lists
Essential and Interesting Year-End 2016 Music Lists

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

March 8, 2017

Book Notes - Paul La Farge "The Night Ocean"

The Night Ocean

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.

Paul La Farge's The Night Ocean is an engrossing novel inspired by the life of H. P. Lovecraft.

The New York Times wrote of the book:

"A beauty of a tale...A book full of pleasures...The Night Ocean emerges as an inexhaustible shaggy monster, part literary parody, part case study of the slipperiness of narrative and the seduction of a good story."


In his own words, here is Paul La Farge's Book Notes music playlist for his novel The Night Ocean:



The Night Ocean is a novel about the horror writer H.P. Lovecraft, and his friendship with a young fan named Robert H. Barlow, who went on to become a poet and a brilliant anthropologist and scholar of Aztec civilization. I wrote the book in upstate New York and New Hampshire and at a monastery on the banks of the Hudson River. I listen to music when I write, but I mostly don’t remember it afterward — it’s as if the music gets totally used up in my memory by the writing itself. Still, here are some songs that feel related to my book in one way and another. I wouldn’t recommend listening to them back to back: that way lies auditory madness.

The Mountain Goats, "Lovecraft in Brooklyn" (2008)

Heretic Pride came out after I abandoned an early version of The Night Ocean, and before I wrote the version that ended up sticking. I love the song but I felt ambivalent about its reference to Lovecraft, who did, in fact, live in Brooklyn for two years. They were without a doubt the two least happy years of his not-exceedingly-happy life, and if you read the letters he wrote to his aunt in Providence, he’s so full of despair and hatred for New York City that he sounds like he’s completely lost his mind. I worried that the Mountain Goats’ song would make my book unnecessary, because everyone would listen to it and know the story of Lovecraft in Brooklyn, and there would be nothing left for me to tell. It was a ridiculous fear. The song doesn’t even tell the story of Lovecraft’s time in Brooklyn.

Gilbert & Sullivan, "In Enterprise of Martial Kind" (1889)

You wouldn’t necessarily guess it, but H.P. Lovecraft, whose creations include octopus-headed Cthulhu, the fishlike Deep Ones, and the fearsome, protoplasmic Shoggoths, liked light opera. In The Night Ocean, I have him sing "In an Enterprise of Martial Kind," from Gilbert & Sullivan’s The Gondoliers, with Robert Barlow’s father. I don’t know if Lovecraft ever really sang that song, but it fit the mood of the scene: Barlow’s father was a paranoid schizophrenic who’d retired from the Army to live with his family in Central Florida, and the song is about the Duke of Plaza-Toro, who runs away from battle whenever he can. It also happens that I saw a lot of Gilbert & Sullivan as a kid — although never The Gondoliers. I was even in a middle school production of HMS Pinafore, which was so bad that my parents walked out halfway through.

William S. Burroughs, "William's Welcome (What Are You Here For?)" (1990)

I got the Dead City Radio CD in 1990, as a Christmas gift from my folks. I’d read Naked Lunch by then, but I’d never heard Burroughs’s voice, that raspy singsong. I listened to this track over and over — it was, for better or worse, also my introduction to Sonic Youth — and tried to feel the deep implications of the line, "We’re here to go." I suppose the question is still open, but I came back to Dead City Radio for a different reason when I was writing The Night Ocean: William S. Burroughs is one of my characters, and, as you might expect, he does a lot of talking. I tried to pick up the rhythm of his storytelling from the album, the kind of crazed, jaded wonder in his voice.

The Holy Modal Rounders, "Euphoria" (1964)

The Night Ocean isn’t entirely about Lovecraft and Barlow and Burroughs; there’s also a present-day love story, about the psychiatrist Marina Willett (who narrates most of the book) and her husband Charlie, a freelance journalist. At one point early in the book, Charlie tries to explain the Holy Modal Rounders to Marina: they were a psychedelic folk-music duo in the 1960s and 70s, who teamed up briefly with the Fugs. Marina isn’t a fan. But Charlie is — he likes strange things, esoteric things.

I chose the Holy Modal Rounders for that moment in the novel because they’re as esoteric a group as you’re likely to find; but also because I met Peter Stampfel, who is half of the duo. He’s married to the science-fiction editor Betsy Wollheim, who is the daughter of the science-fiction editor Donald Wollheim, who is a character in The Night Ocean. Donald was friends with Lovecraft; they exchanged letters, and some of Lovecraft’s letters ended up in Betsy’s apartment in lower Manhattan. They’d never been published and I was eager to read them, so I nagged Betsy until she let me come over and take a look at them. I ended up spending a few hours in her apartment, transcribing the Lovecraft letters, and meanwhile Peter Stampfel was walking around in (as I remember the scene) a bathrobe. I had no idea who he was, except that he collected milk-bottle tops. But just as I was leaving the apartment, he gave me a Holy Modal Rounders CD, and I felt like an idiot for not having figured it out sooner.

Meghan Trainor, "No" (2016)

This song doesn’t appear in The Night Ocean. But I did play it at a dance party at Ledig House, a writers’ residency in upstate New York, where I did the final edits on the book. It turns out that there are a lot of dance parties, relatively speaking, at artists’ colonies. Probably people need to jump around after spending the whole day in their studios. Anyway, no one else wanted to be the DJ, so I volunteered, and I put this on because I’d been listening to it a lot, and I like it. And people danced. I’m also including it on this playlist because there should be at least one danceable song in the mix.


Paul La Farge and The Night Ocean links:

the author's website
the author's Wikipedia entry
video trailer for the book

BookPage review
Kirkus Reviews review
New York Times review
Publishers Weekly review
Washington Post review

Publishers Weekly profile of the author


also at Largehearted Boy:

Support the Largehearted Boy website

List of Online "Best Books of 2016" Lists

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

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

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

Shorties (An Interview with Sharon Olds, A Playlist for International Women's Day, and more)

Literary Hub interviewed poet Sharon Olds.


The Independent shared a playlist for International Women's Day.


eBooks on sale for $1.99 today:

An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser
Ball Four by Jim Bouton
Claudius the God by Robert Graves
Hocus Pocus by Kurt Vonnegut
I, Claudius by Robert Graves
L.A. Son by Roy Choi
The Man Who Fell to Earth by Walter Tevis
Maurice by E.M. Forster
A Passage to India by E.M. Forster
Shoeless Joe by W. P. Kinsella

eBooks on sale for $2.99 today:

The Breaks of the Game by David Halberstam
Bruce by Peter Ames Carlin
Sacred Hoops by Phil Jackson
White Line Fever by Lemmy
Woke Up Lonely by Fiona Maazel


Noisey reconsidered Joan of Arc's album A Portable Model of… album.


The Millions interviewed author Dan Chaon about his new novel Ill Will.


Stream a new High Sunn track.


The Rumpus interviewed author Viet Thanh Nguyen.


Stream a new song by Patterson Hood of the Drive-By Truckers.


Literary Hub recommended books to read during the women's strike.


Stereogum ranked Xiu Xiu albums.


Marisa J. Fuentes talked to Full Stop about her new book Dispossessed Lives: Enslaved Women, Violence, and the Archive.


Stream a new Perfume Genius song.


The Albany Times Union profiled author Robert Coover.


Stream a new Sui Zhen song.


John Freeman Gill, Jami Attenberg, Melissa Febos, Lauren Grodstein,and Joseph Scapellato discussed their new books with Salon.


Stream a new Mastodon song.


Jami Attenberg talked to the Chicago Tribune, Vogue, and Signature about her new novel All Grown Up.


Stream a new Woods song.


The Independent examined Will Eisner's influence on comics.


BrooklynVegan previewed spring and fall's indie rock releases.


SSENSE interviewed author Chris Kraus.


Riverfront Times recommended John Prine songs with incisive lyrics.


Neil Gaiman talked to Minnesota Public Radio about his new book Norse Mythology.


Stream a new Fleet Foxes song.


Mohsin Hamid talked to the New York Times and Paste about his novel Exit West.


Drowned in Sound interviewed James Mercer of the Shins.


The longlist for the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction has been announced.


Paste interviewed Nathan Stocker of the band Hippo Campus.


BARB interviewed author Sarah Bennett.


The Japanese House visited The Current studio for an interview and live performance.


The finalists for this year's PEN/Faulkner Awards have been named.

Congratulations to Largehearted Boy contributors Imbolo Mbue and Garth Greenwell.


Pitchfork and LA Weekly reconsidered Elliott Smith's Either/Or album 20 years after its release.


The Creative Independent interviewed musician and author Ian Svenonius.


Goodreads interviewed Patty Yumi Cottrell about her debut novel Sorry to Disrupt the Peace.



also at Largehearted Boy:

Support Largehearted Boy

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

List of Online "Best Books of 2016" Lists
Essential and Interesting Year-End 2016 Music Lists

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

March 7, 2017

Book Notes - Dan Chaon "Ill Will"

Ill Will

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.

Dan Chaon's novel is one of the most chilling books I have read in years, a finely put together literary thriller.

The Wall Street Journal wrote of the book:

"An unreliable narrator can often feel like a cheap trick in the novelist’s playbook, but Mr. Chaon employs it masterfully, integrating unreliability into the book’s very typography. Sentences end mid-thought. Words are redacted, leaving blank spaces in the text. Sometimes the pages split into parallel columns, representing the 'honeycombed parts' of a mind that somehow contains different memories of the same event. Mr. Chaon’s writing is cool and precise, but his story is thrillingly unstable."


In his own words, here is Dan Chaon's Book Notes music playlist for his novel Ill Will:



When I’m working on a large project, I often make playlists that I will use over and over—I suppose that they are triggers for a kind of self-hypnosis. At first, they are meant to help me get in the mood of the story, and they might have a few lines in their lyrics that can act as a sort of mantra. But these playlists aren’t truly useful to me until I’ve played them enough that I can’t actually “hear” them. Eventually, they become a kind of Pavlovian bell, a portal that will take me to the fictional headspace of the world I’m writing about.

“Strangers to Ourselves,” by Modest Mouse, which was the first song on my playlist, has actually become a trigger for me. The minute I hear those opening dirge drums, I feel the world of Ill Will rise up in my mind, and it seems to be a true classical conditioning response. I’ve literally trained myself to use the song as a neural stimulus.

But it’s appropriate, since the song calls out the themes of the novel--self-deception, dissociation and the unreliability of memory--in a soft, sinister voice. We're lucky that we're so capable to forget/ How lucky we are, that we are, so easy to forget… How often we are confused/How honestly we have tried/But will forget…
It’s a song to be hypnotized to.

“Swimming Pool” by Emmy the Great also has that hypnotized mood. It’s a stoned, floaty, quietly desperate song. “I don’t know how I even used to be alive,” Emmy tells us, ghostily, and there’s an underwater shimmer to the music that felt right to me, since this was an underwater book. The main plot centers around drownings—inspired, in part, by the “Smiley-Face Killer” urban legend—and there is also a sensory deprivation tank, and in one key scene, an actual swimming pool, the kind that Emmy the Great describes, around which plots are hatched.

In his song “1 Through 8,” Mac Miller reaches a state of high dissociation and it’s not clear if he’s alive or not. “Dear people on earth after I die: what’s the weather like?” Mac sings from out of a haze, and a sample that sounds like ice clinking in a glass echoes behind him. This became my go-to song when I wanted to evoke 19-year-old Aaron, a burgeoning heroin addict who is the heart of the novel for me. If you want to picture what Aaron looks like in the movie, Mac Miller is not a bad stand-in.

Another artist that casts a shadow over this book is Angel Olsen, whose “Sweet Dreams” was a song that I was obsessed with when I first started working steadily on this book in 2013. It’s not so much the actual content of the song that I wanted to imitate. It’s that high lonesome yodel she does—that feeling of your mouth open in an oval and your head thrown back and your eyes rolled up. Hands rigid, calling forth lightning. Yeah, I wanted to do that. So basically Ill Will is an attempt to approximate that kind of wail.

The novel takes place in two time periods—in 2012-14 or thereabouts, and in the early 1980s. For the 1980’s I give shout outs to a few songs, including “Let’s Dance” by David Bowie and “You Shook Me All Night Long” by AC/DC, but the songs that most evoked that time period for me were written long after it was over. The songs that most helped me get back to that time were “Car” by Built to Spill, which came out in 1994—which somehow helped me to get into the mindset of the druggie Midwestern teens that I was writing about—and “The Best Ever Death Metal Band out of Denton” by The Mountain Goats, which is a song that helped me find sympathy for the Satan-worshipping villain-victim of the novel, who was sent to prison, much like the West Memphis Three, based primarily on circumstantial evidence and his association with certain kinds of music.

The novel is a stew of these different flavors. In the present, there may be a serial killer who is drowning college boys; in the past, there was a mass murder that had elements of the Satanic Panic of the 1980s. Stirred up in this is a middle-aged widower who is in a highly susceptible mental state, and his son, who is muffling his sorrow with opiates.

In my mind, the soundtrack has two different poles: One is this terrifying Method Man song, "Release Yo Delf (Prodigy Remix)"; another is this Doris Day song, “I’ll See You In My Dreams”, which in its own way is just as scary. Listen to those lyrics, and that creepily swooning chorus. “Lips that once were mine/Tender eyes that shine/They will light my way tonight/I’ll see you, I’ll hold you, tonight, in my dreams.”

Maybe that’s the illest willest of all the songs on my playlist.


Dan Chaon and Ill Will links:

the author's website

Boston Globe review
Chicago Tribune review
Kirkus Reviews review
Wall Street Journal review
Washington Post review

Cleveland Scene interview with the author
Largehearted Boy Book Notes playlist by the author for Stay Awake


also at Largehearted Boy:

Support the Largehearted Boy website

List of Online "Best Books of 2016" Lists

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

100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads
Antiheroines (interviews with up and coming female comics artists)
Atomic Books Comics Preview (weekly comics highlights)
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 - Ryan Ruby "The Zero and the One"

The Zero and the One

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.

Ryan Ruby's novel The Zero and the One is a captivating, philosophically-informed coming of age novel.

Booklist wrote of the book:

"The Zero and the One is a fast-paced, philosophical meditation on what qualifies as the worst crime one can commit."


In his own words, here is Ryan Ruby's Book Notes music playlist for his debut novel The Zero and the One:



The Zero and the One may be set in southern England, Berlin, and New York, but it really takes place in the medium of writing. Like everyone living in such places in the twenty-first century, active and passive engagement with media and media technology represents a significant portion of my characters’ activities. In the world of the novel just as in the world of which it is a representation, media are vehicles for communication, identity-formation, self-understanding, social cohesion, and entertainment as well as features built into the private and public atmospheres in which they live, work, consume, learn, travel, and socialize.

In the so-called real world, media atmospheres have the character of white noise: randomly patterned and therefore thoroughly devoid of meaning or intention. However, in a novel nothing can be (or should be) random, meaningless, or unintended. So, in The Zero and the One, I designed a dense reference network whereby every active or passive engagement with media—not just various kinds of writing but also paintings, films, and especially music, both recorded and live—represents a node in a subjacent parallel narrative in which the characters could read their fates, if only they were to recognize in these media something more deliberate than white noise.

What follows is a sampling of what could be called the diagetic sound of the book: not what I listened to during the writing process, nor the soundtrack I would choose were it to be adapted to the film, but the real and fictionalized sound atmosphere the characters themselves occupy.

1. The Cortinas, Defiant Pose (Peel Sessions)

…I watched three punks collide like quarks in a particle accelerator until the sound of distortion and feedback flattened into a high-pitched and hollow ringing. Just like not-so-old times…

The novel’s narrator, Owen Whiting, grows up in a working class district of a southwestern English city that is loosely based on Bristol. While the Bristol sound is most commonly associated with 90s trip hop acts like Portishead, Owen is instead a patron of the local punk and hardcore clubs that were founded there in the late 70s. Though never quite as popular as their Manchester or London counterparts, Bristol bands like Disorder, Vice Squad, and The Cortinas first came to national attention thanks to their recording sessions on John Peel’s BBC radio show. With Ramones-influenced singles like “Fascist Dictator,” “Television Families,” and “Defiant Pose,” The Cortinas established their place in pop history as “Bristol’s first punk band.” Owen doesn’t know it yet, but the opening negations of “Defiant Pose” (Ain’t gonna take no for an answer / Ain’t gonna take no anymore) will be precisely the stance taken by Zachary Foedern, the novel’s protagonist, whenever Owen expresses discomfort with his increasingly questionable and dangerous plans.

2. Kode9, music to Motion Capture by 0(rphan)d(rift>)

…but where one would have expected a band or a DJ, there was instead a man in a black tunic wearing two prosthetic gauntlets, somehow conducting, through the wires that were attached to them, a raving symphony of sampled beats…

On a trip to London, Zach, Owen, and their respective girlfriends attend the launch party of the cutting-edge continental philosophy journal Theory. A heavily fictionalized version of the “conferences” put on in the 90s by the Warwick-based research collective Ccru (Cybernetic Cultures Research United), the scene at the Theory launch is equal parts occult séance, rave, happening, hackathon, academic seminar, and cocktail party. An affiliate of Ccru with a PhD in philosophy, the electronic musician Steve Goodman performed at many of their conferences as Kode9. In the mid-00s, Goodman would go on to be a driving force behind the emergence of dubstep, both as a musician (with his collaborator Stephen Gordon, a.k.a. The Spaceape) and as the founder of the record label Hyperdub. Though Kode9 obviously did not use the made up gear with which I’ve tricked out the cyborg performer in this scene, the disintegrated patchwork of his beats and the punctured equilibriums in the ambient dread of his samples sounds to me like the kind of music that will be composed by machines in a posthuman future. To provide an example that would be contemporaneous with the book, here is an excerpt of a composition Kode9 wrote for a video by the collaborative artist and fellow Ccru affiliate 0[rphan]d[rift>] (Mer Maggie Roberts and Ranu Mukherjee).

3. Masada, Lilin (Live at Tonic 2001)

...The old countercultural flavour that has been gentrified out of Alphabet City can still be tasted here, below Houston Street, where hipsters occupy former tenements and where art collectives and experimental music clubs rub shoulders with working mazoh factories and turn-of-the-century synagogues…

So says Owen’s guidebook of the Lower East Side where Zach’s twin sister Vera lives. The experimental music club is Tonic, on Norfolk Street, just around the corner from her apartment, which has itself subsequently been gentrified out of the neighborhood. For many years Tonic was the home club of the protean saxophonist, avant-garde composer, and bandleader John Zorn, who has made hundreds of recordings in dozens of genres during an almost forty-year career as a musician. Named for the mountain fortress in Israel on which nearly a thousand Jewish rebels committed mass suicide rather than be captured by Roman forces in 73 A.D., Masada is what Ornette Coleman’s or Albert Ayler’s free jazz would have sounded like if it took klezmer rather than R&B and gospel as its basis. Recorded on the day Owen reports Zach’s suicide to the police, Live at Tonic 2001 is generally regarded as Masada’s finest two and a half hours. Though Masada’s lineups and instrumentation are in a perpetual state of flux, the quartet comprising Zorn on sax, Dave Douglas on trumpet, Greg Cohen on bass, and Joey Baron on drums lays down the definitive version of the band’s set-list staple “Lilin”: on no other recording are the song’s titular demons more fully incarnated as they are here by Zorn and Douglas’ horns, which slither and lumber around the cool flame of Cohen’s infectious bass line.

4. The Strokes, New York City Cops (Is This It)

…A garage rock track, its singer disparaging the intelligence of the New York Police Department, is playing on the portable stereo someone has placed on the brick ledge…

Period Music. Hearing The Strokes’ debut album for the first time I immediately knew that these would be the songs through which I would remember what it was like to be an eighteen-year-old college freshman in New York in 2001. Owen also encounters Julian Casablancas’ louche, sardonic voice on his first visit to the city. As he climbs up the fire escape of Vera’s apartment to investigate the party that is taking place on the roof, he finds himself once again Rising to the bottom of the meaning of life. “New York City Cops”—the best track, in my opinion, on Is This It—was pulled from the American release after the September 11th attacks, the event that casts a retrospective shadow on the summer during which the book is set. Owen spends the better part of it playing a cat-and-mouse game with two officers of the Thames Valley Police; by the end, he will be in a position to judge for himself how true Casablancas’ assessment of their New York counterparts actually is.

5. Richard Wagner, Overture to Die Walküre

…The conductor takes his place in the pit and lifts his baton to ready the orchestra. When he brings it down again, it’s as if he’s maliciously swiped a hornet’s nest…

When I tell people I like opera, what I really mean is that I like Wagner. His synthesis of media into a Gesamtkunstwerk; his use of the leitmotif as a compositional technique; his use of art as political allegory; his interest in the legitimacy of sexual taboos; the way his librettos are unapologetically melodramatic and his music flirts with hysteria and courts nervous breakdown: these were all things I attempted to transpose into The Zero and the One. (I would even go so far as to say that the Zach-Owen relationship owes something to the dynamics of the Wagner-Nietzsche relationship.) So, when Vera’s parents give her and Owen their tickets to a performance of Die Walküre at the Met, what they are really doing is sending them to an opera within an opera. The Overture to the second part of the Ring Cycle is a programmatic representation of a thunderstorm; like nearly all of Wagner’s best music it is beautiful to the point of being intolerable. Vera, at any rate, finds it so. She and Owen do not stick around to hear the famous “Flight of the Valkyries” that opens the second act.


Ryan Ruby and The Zero and the One links:

the author's website

Kirkus Reviews review
Publishers Weekly review


also at Largehearted Boy:

Support the Largehearted Boy website

List of Online "Best Books of 2016" Lists

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

100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads
Antiheroines (interviews with up and coming female comics artists)
Atomic Books Comics Preview (weekly comics highlights)
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 (Jennifer Egan's New Novel, Stream New Magnetic Fields Songs, and more)

Jennifer Egan's new novel Manhattan Beach will be published on October 3rd.


Stream the first 10 songs from Magnetic Fields' new album 50 Song Memoir.


eBooks on sale for $1.99 today:

An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser
Ball Four by Jim Bouton
Claudius the God by Robert Graves
Hocus Pocus by Kurt Vonnegut
I, Claudius by Robert Graves
L.A. Son by Roy Choi
The Man Who Fell to Earth by Walter Tevis
Maurice by E.M. Forster
A Passage to India by E.M. Forster
Shoeless Joe by W. P. Kinsella

eBooks on sale for $2.99 today:

The Breaks of the Game by David Halberstam
Bruce by Peter Ames Carlin
Sacred Hoops by Phil Jackson
White Line Fever by Lemmy
Woke Up Lonely by Fiona Maazel


The A.V. Club profiled James Mercer of the Shins.


KIrkus Reviews interviewed Mohsin Hamid about his new novel Exit West.


Stream a new Julia Lucille song.


Publishers Weekly profiled author Dan Chaon.


Hype Machine is streaming the new Hater album You Tried.


Literary Hub shard an excerpt from Annie Hartnett's debut novel Rabbit Cake.


Stream a new Girlpool song.


Omnivoracious recommended spring's best new science fiction and fantasy books.


Stereogum reconsidered the Arcade Fire's Neon Bible album on its 10th anniversary.


George Saunders talked to The A.V. Club about the audiobook of his debut novel Lincoln in the Bardo.


Stream a new Coathangers song.


Author Cara Hoffman on Giorgio de Chirico’s painting Mystery and Melancholy of a Street.


Stream a new Mikal Cronin song (that also features Kim Gordon).


Entropy recommended books about UFOs.


Stream a new Mark Lanegan song.


The Lifted Brow features a new poem by Eileen Myles.


Ryan Adams talked to Rolling Stone about his new album Prisoner.


Literary Hub features three new Layli Long Soldier poems.


Stereogum interviewed singer-songwriter Aimee Mann.


Literary Hub gathered praise for Paula Fox, who passed away recently.


Jain visited World Cafe for an interview and live performance.


Signature and Literary Hub interviewed Jami Attenberg about her new novel All Grown Up.


American Songwriter is streaming Pieta Brown's new album Postcards.


Tin House interviewed author Claire Fuller.


All Songs Considered streamed February' best dance tracks.


WGN Radio interviewed singer-songwriter/author John Darnielle.


The Guardian profiled Prefab Sprout and shared a new track by the band.


BuzzFeed previewed March's best new books.


Jay Farrar talked to the Jackson Clarion-Ledger about the new Son Volt album Notes of Blue.


Forbes profiled comics legend Will Eisner on his centenary.

Neil Gaiman remembered Eisner at the Guardian.


Stream a new song by Joan Shelley.


Lenny interviewed author Michelle Tea.


Paste listed the best covers of Tom Waits songs.


Catapult interviewed author Shelly Oria.


Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears visited The Current studio for an interview and live performance.


Fusion features new fiction by Ben Loory.



also at Largehearted Boy:

Support Largehearted Boy

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

List of Online "Best Books of 2016" Lists
Essential and Interesting Year-End 2016 Music Lists

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

March 6, 2017

Book Notes - Rahul Mehta "No Other World"

No Other World

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.

Rahul Mehta's compassionate debut novel No Other World is a poignant debut.

Booklist wrote of the book:

"Mehta uses vivid, memorable imagery to present likable, complex characters…and shimmering descriptions of emotionally resonant moments."


In his own words, here is Rahul Mehta's Book Notes music playlist for his debut novel No Other World:



A reviewer, in an otherwise very positive review of my short story collection Quarantine, criticized me for often dropping songs into scenes, suggesting it was a lazy shortcut for creating mood. I can't help it. When writing, I do tend to think cinematically: If this were a movie, what song would be playing in this scene? Looking over my new novel, No Other World, and noticing how many songs are referenced, I realize I perhaps have not learned my lesson. Briefly, the novel—part gay coming-of-age story, part family saga— focuses on an Indian immigrant family during the '80s and '90s and moves back and forth between rural America and small-town India.

"Choli Ke Peeche (remix)," Bally Sagoo
This song plays an important role in one of No Other World's pivotal scenes. In fact, I had originally included lyrics as an epigraph for the novel, but then I removed it because I worried that it distracted from the other epigraph, the stunning poem "Within This Tree" by Jane Hirshfield. The song comes from a Bollywood movie. In the movie, a beautiful woman, played by Madhuri Dixit, is being taunted by some other women in her village. The village women call to her, "What's beneath your blouse? What's underneath your veil?" and the woman responds, to their surprise, "My heart." The song resonated with me. For Pooja, a teenage member of India's transgender hijra community, clothing is a big part of how she is able to construct her female public identity, but, like many hijras, she is subject to constant harassment and taunts about what is under her skirt. For Pooja, it is powerful to be able to say that what is under her blouse, her veil, her skirt, is her heart.

"Aap Jaisa Koi," Nazia Hassan
In the novel, it is Preeti, older sister of the main protagonist Kiran, who brings a cassette tape of a Bollywood disco song to her third-grade class when she is asked to give a presentation on India, and it is she who shrinks upon hearing the giggles and snickers of her classmates who don't know how else to respond to this "strange" music. In real life, I was the one who played "Aap Jaisa Koi" for my class in my public school in West Virginia. In retrospect, I should have known I'd be laughed at. I had not yet mastered the art of code switching. Later, I'd learn how to leave my brown at home. Later, I'd learn how to butch it up in public, as a matter of survival. I didn't know any of this yet. At this time all I knew is that this was my favorite disco song, my personal soundtrack for dancing around my bedroom and pretending I was Zeenat Aman, and I didn't see any reason to hide that.

"Tom Sawyer," Rush
An eight-year-old Kiran is pulled into the orbit of a dangerous older boy, Shawn, who has a Rush poster on his wall. Ah, dangerous boys. As a kid growing up in West Virginia, I loved this song. Or did I love the dangerous boys who loved the song? Probably a little of both.

"The Kiss," The Cure
A teenage Kiran has a Cure poster on his wall. Many misfits of my generation—queer and otherwise—felt drawn to the androgynous Robert Smith. The Cure had some big hits, but it's the dark, dissonant, brooding work I always loved most.

"I Wanna Be Loved By You," Marilyn Monroe
The other poster on teenage Kiran's bedroom wall is the iconic billowing-skirt still of Marilyn Monroe from The Seven Year Itch. "I Wanna Be Loved By You" is from Some Like It Hot but it feels appropriate. Monroe plays the song light and playful, but there is a real longing at its core. It is scary to be vulnerable; it is easier to cover one's desire in a little shtick and camp. A few years later in the novel, it is Marilyn Monroe's face on the postage stamp that is affixed to the coming out letter Kiran sends his parents to tell them he is gay.

"Go or Go Ahead," Rufus Wainwright
This is the only song in the playlist that doesn't come from the novel's content. I always listen to music when I'm writing. Rufus Wainwright's greatest hits compilation, Vibrate, was on repeat when I was doing a big rewrite the summer of 2015 when I was living in Moab, Utah. I can't listen to that album now without thinking about the characters and the world of the novel.

"Maria (Pablo Flores Spanglish Radio Edit)," Ricky Martin
Ricky Martin performed this song at the Miss World Pageant in 1997 when Miss India, Diana Hayden, took the crown. Transgender Pooja looks to Diana Hayden as the model of feminine beauty to which she aspires. The crowning of Diana Hayden was a big deal in India and ushered in an era of Indian success in the world pageant circuit; the pageant played over and over on Indian television. In the novel, Pooja obsessively watches every rebroadcast, looking for clues about how to be.

"Turn, Turn, Turn / To Everything There Is a Season," Judy Collins
In the novel, this is sung by the Greek goddess Diana of the Hunt. To avoid spoilers, I won't say more. But this song is also appropriate because the cyclical nature of life is a recurring theme in the novel.

"Dil Kya Kare," Kishore Kumar
To me, this classic Bollywood song from the 1970s is a straightforwardly sentimental love song. Nishit, Kiran's father and the somewhat inert patriarch of this Indian immigrant family, is whistling this song in the novel's final scene. A lot has happened and the fate of the characters and their relationships with each other is unclear. But Nishit's faith in the love he has for his family is pure. He has hope.


Rahul Mehta and No Other World links:

the author's website

Book View Now interview with the author


also at Largehearted Boy:

Support the Largehearted Boy website

List of Online "Best Books of 2016" Lists

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

100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads
Antiheroines (interviews with up and coming female comics artists)
Atomic Books Comics Preview (weekly comics highlights)
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 - Joseph Scapellato "Big Lonesome"

Big Lonesome

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.

Joseph Scapellato's story collection Big Lonesome is an inventive and surprising debut.

Publishers Weekly wrote of the book:

"Scapellato's refreshing stories engage at every point and are capped off with perfect endings. Scapellato is an exceptional surrealist, and he seems to have a firm handle on his own exuberance and quirkiness, his characters reminiscent of familiar archetypes but served with a twist. His subjects never wander far from cowboys, cowgirls, and the myths of the cinematic West. His short stories have a lean trajectory and economy. ..This debut collection is bracing and delightful."


In his own words, here is Joseph Scapellato's Book Notes music playlist for his short story collection Big Lonesome:



When I was a teenager, I wished a daily wish: that the way my favorite songs made me feel—an every-limbed euphoric blast—could be transmuted into a concrete material substance that I could physically touch, hold, and take.

I'd jump up and down, wanting to feel my feeling.

"Big Lonesome Beginnings," the first story in Big Lonesome, is about this wish.

Every song on this playlist is a song that hits something that I tried to hit in my story collection. This "something" might be the strange unfolding of a myth, or the investigation of a big feeling, or the evocation of a mysterious atmosphere. In any case: here are songs, albums, and artists that have made me want to make.

1. "Heart Cooks Brain," Modest Mouse, Lonesome Crowded West

I've listened to this album straight through I don't know how many times, on trips from the Southwest to the Midwest to the East Coast. It's the most perfect set of road songs I know. This track, early in the album, announces themes that other tracks explore, themes that Modest Mouse returns to in later work.

On the way to God don't know
My brain's the burger, and my heart's the coal

and

In this place that I call home
My brain's the cliff and my heart's the bitter buffalo

The tug-of-war between the head and the heart. How we try to think our way out of the troubles of the heart—how we try to heart our way out of the troubles of the head.

2. "Feeling Yourself Disintegrate," The Flaming Lips, The Soft Bulletin

I saw The Flaming Lips for the first time at Summerfest 2016 in Milwaukee. I could belt out every word of every song they played except for one. This is not an uncommon experience for a fan, I realize, but because I don't make it to too many concerts, it was wondrously new to me. I felt like I was made out of magic.

This song is beautiful and haunting and powerful. The lyrics say: It's sad that we're all going to die, and the music says: Yes, but it's mysterious, and: Mystery is beautiful, and: Mystery is beautiful?

But life
Without death
Is just impossible
Oh, to realize
Something is ending
Within us

3. "Funeral Singers," Califone, All My Friends Are Funeral Singers

I started listening to Califone around the time I started writing Big Lonesome. (Thank you again to David McLendon for turning me on to these dudes.) Their songs are stunning sonic vistas, landscapes stacked in studied close-ups and careful long-shots. They make a place and then they put you in it. You can feel the cracked concrete back-alleys of Chicago in their music—it's where they're from—but also the sun-blasted spread of the West—it's where they go.

Any one of their songs could've taken this spot on the list. But "Funeral Singers" makes for a good first trailhead.

The book is aching for the tree
Return, return, return to me
All my friends, all my friends
All my friends are weeds and rain

4. "I Wish I Was the Moon," Neko Case, Blacklisted

If I could sing with any skill, I'd want to sing like Neko Case. I don't care that I'm a man. There's a certain existential awfulness that only this album can carry me out of, and this song is the one that always does it. Everything about it knocks me over—Neko Case's voice is aglow with longing, making longing okay, making longing beautiful.

Who hasn't wished that they weren't who they were? That they could be somebody else—something else—anything other than a sorry-ass heartbroken heartbreaker?

Why not the moon?

How will you know if you found me at last
‘Cause I'll be the one, be the one, be the one
With my heart in my lap

5. "You Can't Lose What You Ain't Never Had," Muddy Waters, Fathers and Sons

I'm not qualified to speak knowledgeably about the timeless genius of Chicago blues giant Muddy Waters—his mastery of guitar, voice, and songwriting, his groundbreaking and lasting influence on the blues. All that I can say is that I love listening to him. And that the songs of his that I love the most are the ones that work like "You Can't Lose What You Ain't Never Had"—songs with the shape, speed, and wit of folktales, that meet life's assembly line of sorrow with warm humor.

I got a sweet little home
It got burned down, boys, ain't that bad?
Oh, you know, was my own fault
People they just said
Well, you know, you can't spend what you ain't got
You can't lose what you ain't never had

6. "Shotgun Blues," Abigail Washburn

Lately I've been learning to play old time banjo in the two finger thumb-lead style. Although I avoid listening to music when I write, I'm now in the habit of picking up my banjo on breaks. It's a way to rest from writing while still staying in an art-making space.

Because of this, I've been wandering the world of banjo music. This has led me to the land of the brilliant Abigail Washburn. In "Shotgun Blues," a dark and playful tune, she challenges the conventions of the murder ballad: instead of a man going after a woman, it's a woman going after a man. And this woman, unlike her male predecessors, doesn't do any actual killing.

Also: good God, does Abigail Washburn shred it on that banjo.

So get me a shotgun
And don't you run now
Cause if you run now
You know what I have to do

7. "Black Wings," Tom Waits, Bone Machine

This is a song loaded up with all of the offerings of my favorite works of fiction: dark wonder, humor and hurt, mystery and play and myth. In this song you feel a world. Every element of it is its own character, from Tom Waits' monster-voice to the legend-making lyrics to the haunted moonlight of the instrumentation.

Some say he once killed a man with a guitar string
He's been seen at the table with kings
Well, he once saved a baby from drowning
There are those who say beneath his coat there are wings

8. "First Song," Andrew Bird, Weather Systems

I'd like to end on a song about a beginning. When Weather Systems came out in 2003, I was amazed. In it, Andrew Bird had broken from the style of his previous work with Bowl of Fire—on this new album, he seemed to have found a new sound. It was exciting and thrilling and inspiring. This album would turn out to be the first entry in a sequence in which Andrew Bird would explore the many textures of this sound—his sound—turning it this way, turning it that way, honoring the wanting of the head and the heart at once.

In "First Song," I hear an artist's origin story.

It was now fine music, the frogs and the boys did
In the towering Illinois twilight
Make and into dark in spite of a shoulder's ache
A boy's hunched body loved out of a stalk
The first song of his happiness and the song woke his heart
To the darkness and sadness of joy


Joseph Scapellato and Big Lonesome links:

the author's website

Heavy Feather Review review
Kirkus Reviews review
PopMatters review
Publishers Weekly review

Necessary Fiction interview with the author


also at Largehearted Boy:

Support the Largehearted Boy website

List of Online "Best Books of 2016" Lists

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

100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads
Antiheroines (interviews with up and coming female comics artists)
Atomic Books Comics Preview (weekly comics highlights)
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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