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January 19, 2015

Daily Downloads (Three New Weird Australia Compilations, Chris Forsyth, and more)

Every day, Daily Downloads offers 10 free and legal mp3 downloads.


Today's free and legal mp3 downloads:

American Scarecrows: Keep Your Devils Around EP [mp3]

Band of Lovers: The Coast single [mp3]

The Freak Fandango Orchestra: Wild Goats and Useless Heroes album [mp3]

Justin Townes Earle: NoiseTrade Eastside Manor Session EP [mp3]

Static in Verona: Everything You Knew Before You Knew Everything album [mp3]

Various Artists: New Weird Australia: Passages, Volume One album [mp3]
Various Artists: New Weird Australia: Passages, Volume Two album [mp3]
Various Artists: New Weird Australia: Passages, Volume Three album [mp3]

Various Artists: Wood and Wire: Ears Have Ears Soundtracks album mp3]


Free and legal live performances at other websites:

Chris Forsyth: 2015-01-10, Brooklyn [mp3]


search for more free and legal music downloads at Largehearted Boy


also at Largehearted Boy:

other daily free and legal mp3 downloads

Essential and Interesting 2014 Year-End Music Lists

covers collections
100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads

Book Notes (authors create 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 music, books, and pop culture news and links)
Soundtracked (composers and directors discuss their film's soundtrack)
weekly new album lists

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January 18, 2015

Largehearted Boy Weekly Wrap-Up - January 18, 2015

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


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

Alex Green for his poetry collection Emergency Anthems
Monica McFawn for her short story collection Bright Shards of Someplace Else
Sarah Gerard for her novel Binary Star
Steve Himmer for his novel Fram
Stewart O'Nan for his novel West of Sunset


Lists

Online "Best Books of 2014" Lists
2014 Online Year-end Music Lists
Daily updates to the online "best books of 2014" lists
Largehearted Boy Favorite Comics of 2014
Largehearted Boy Favorite Food and Drink Books of 2014
Largehearted Boy Favorite Nonfiction of 2014
Largehearted Boy Favorite Novels of 2014
Largehearted Boy Favorite Short Story Collections of 2014


Weekly New Book Recommendations:

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


New Music Recommendations:

The Week's Interesting Music Releases


And of course, the daily music and news posts:

Daily Downloads (10 free and legal mp3 downloads every day, plus links to free live recordings online)
Shorties (news & links from the worlds of music, books, and pop culture)


also at Largehearted Boy:

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

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January 17, 2015

Daily Downloads (The Week's Best Free and Legal Music Including Matt Pond, Hey Rosetta!, Six Organs of Admittance, and more)

Every day, Daily Downloads offers 10 free and legal mp3 downloads.


Today's free and legal mp3 downloads:

Glass Oaks: Dim Light EP [mp3]

Hey Rosetta!: Introducing Hey Rosetta! album [mp3]

Matt Pond: Skeletons and Friends album [mp3]

Mia Doi Todd: Live on WFMU [mp3]

Mike Errico: NoiseTrade Sampler EP [mp3]

Samuel Vas-Y: Live on WFMU [mp3]

Sir Richard Bishop: "Frontier" [mp3] from The Tangier Sessions (out February 17th)

Six Organs of Admittance: "Wax Chance" [mp3] from Hexadic (out February 17th)

Steve Gunn: 2015-01-11, Brooklyn [mp3]

The Vespers: Sisters and Brothers Primer EP [mp3]


Free and legal live performances at other websites:

The Dictatortots: 2014-12-30, Athens [mp3]


search for more free and legal music downloads at Largehearted Boy


also at Largehearted Boy:

other daily free and legal mp3 downloads

Essential and Interesting 2014 Year-End Music Lists

covers collections
100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads

Book Notes (authors create 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 music, books, and pop culture news and links)
Soundtracked (composers and directors discuss their film's soundtrack)
weekly new album lists

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

January 16, 2015

Book Notes - Monica McFawn "Bright Shards of Someplace Else"

Bright Shards of Someplace Else

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

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

The stories in Monica McFawn's auspicious debut collection Bright Shards of Someplace Else are ambitious and diverse, and all written with a keen intelligence.

Booklist wrote of the collection:

"In 11 short stories, McFawn explores the contradictions of varied characters and their skewed perspectives toward one another and themselves. . . . McFawn's tales shine when characters, both resolute and misguided, brace for the flawed truths of their predicaments."

Stream a playlist of these songs at Spotify.


In her own words, here is Monica McFawn's Book Notes music playlist for her short story collection Bright Shards of Someplace Else:


"Thru' These Architect's Eyes" by David Bowie

This song, from Bowie's Outside album (which had some scary liner notes and images related to "art murder" whatever that is) is a favorite of mine. As far as I can tell, the song is about an aesthete (architect) simultaneously thrilled by his inner artistic visions and frustrated by the bland ugliness of the world he must move through. Bowie sounds alternately exhilarated, angry, and conniving. Many of the characters in Bright Shards of Someplace Else, particularly an arsonist minimalist in "Ornament and Crime" are uplifted and tormented by the demands of their own aesthetic standards. "Thru' These Architects Eyes" is like being in the head of an artist over the course of a walk through a city—the cycle of euphoria, alienation, and plotting that is the artist's lot.


"I Just Wasn't Made for These Times" by Beach Boys

Such a beautiful song, and the sentiment is both common and haunting. Who hasn't entertained the thought that they would fit in better in another time? I've always identified with the movie Midnight in Paris, which is about a writer who believes that he would have fit in better in another epoch, hobnobbing with Gertrude Stein and Salvador Dali rather than his own diminished generation. He's granted the ability to move through time, but finds that this feeling that the good times ended before one's birth is universal—even the past artists he meets dream of an earlier golden age. That feeling of being permanently, irrevocably displaced drives a lot of the characters in Bright Shards, an illusion though it may be.

"Cracklin' Rosie" by Neil Diamond

One evening, this song came on in a dark, struggling bar, close to last call. I noticed the taciturn regulars stirring, and the silence of the forsaken bar overtaken by a din of cheerful mumbling. The song grabs you wherever you are—either sunk in your private thoughts or blustering for all the room to hear—and moves you along its own addicting ride of lows and highs. The song is both smooth and sloppy, like a person on the edge of drunkenness, when their wits are sharpened before all reason shatters. The inebriated nanny from "Out of the Mouths of Babes," would probably love the song. Lore has it that "Cracklin' Rosie" is some kind of cheap sparking wine. She'd probably like that, too.

"Can't Keep it In" by Cat Stevens

Usually when people talk about outsiders, they talk about people who are too subversive, cynical or dark to fit in. Less commonly considered are people who are too exuberant. "Can't Keep it In" is a manic song, the voice of someone singing in the midst of a great high, a wild epiphany. Yet Steven's vocals, for all the uplifting lyrics, have an edge of impatience. It's as if those around him can't—or won't—keep pace with his joy. I've always thought that a joy that can't be shared can be as ruinous as a private sadness. The world doesn't really reward exuberance, and a few of the characters from Bright Shards suffer from too much life.

"Daniel" by Elton John

I've always been intrigued by the relationship between Elton John and his songwriting partner Bernie Taupin. Taupin writes all the lyrics, and John sings, yet John's vocal delivery is always so passionate, knowing, and invested that it is hard to imagine that he had no part in writing the words. I've always gotten the impression—perhaps from interviews or maybe it's just my own notion—that Elton John doesn't really understand the lyrics. He makes words that have no meaning for him sound meaningful. Even a song like "Daniel," which is basically nonsensical—Daniel is going to Spain on a plane, and for some reason this is sad. But who is Daniel? What's in Spain? These questions seem not to matter; John's performance of the song insists that you care.

I liked the idea of a lyricist working with a performer who is transported easily by art, but lacks intellectual understanding. There must be a kind of artistic or spiritual jealousy in this arrangement. A writer wishes for the intuitiveness of a performer, a performer wishes for the clarity of a writer. That's one of the premises of "The Chautauqua Sessions," the last story in Bright Shards. Danny (the lyricist) can't help but be baffled by his old partner (Levi), even after all these years.

Levi, for all his sophistication as a performer and musician, is a strangely guileless man, the kind of person whose brilliance comes from that ability to be seduced, to emotionally connect with anyone and anything....I've always seen him as a kind of idiot savant, a brilliant, complex performer unburdened by actually being brilliant or complex.

"Blowin' Smoke," Kacey Musgraves

Writers always hear the advice that a novel or short story should catch a character at a pivotal moment in his or her life. A character should change over the course of the story; the story should be some kind of reckoning or interruption.

I believed this until I read "The Nurse" by Ben Ames Williams. I stumbled on "The Nurse" in an old book titled A Treasury of Doctor Stories by The World's Greatest Authors. I didn't recognize half the "great authors," including Ben Ames Williams, but I was intrigued by this old anthology's oddly specific focus. But "The Nurse" is a good story, one that isn't at all about a pivotal, life-changing moment in the lead character's life. Instead, the story (which about a nanny who works only with infants) shows the main character in the midst of a cycle of behavior that has defined her life.

The story begins with nurse being hired to take care of a baby. She's an exemplary caretaker, and her employers, the parents, love her. Then, she slowly becomes overzealous about the baby's care, and starts acting unreasonably. The parents are finally forced to fire her. No one can be clearly faulted in the story—the nurse had irreproachable intentions, and the parents are fair. The tragedy is that a quirk in the nurse's temperament—her compulsion to make the baby's life perfect at all costs—is both what drives her to be a baby nurse and also what makes it impossible for her to remain one for long. At both the beginning and end of the story, she is waiting to meet a new baby.

The story, then, is not about a change at all. It's a window into a cycle. Like Ames, I believe a compelling story can be made by showcasing the patterns of thought and behavior that rule characters' lives. The drama in Bright Shards of Someplace Else is based as much on the characters' cyclical thoughts as it is on their epiphanies.

Kacey Musgraves' "Blowin' Smoke," is a witty song about people's patterns and ruts. The premise of the song is a group of waitresses chatting about how they'll soon quit smoking, live better, leave a bad boyfriend, etc etc. But, as Musgraves sings, they're all "blowin' smoke," i.e. full of shit. They won't change, and they all know it. I like the song's bleak sass, and its understanding that realizations and epiphanies are often reduced to cheap talk in the face of the greater power of habit.


Monica McFawn and Bright Shards of Someplace Else links:

the author's website
the author's Wikipedia entry

Kirkus review
Necessary Fiction review
NPR Books review
Open Letters Monthly review
Ploughshares review
Publishers Weekly review

American Short Fiction interview with the author
Christine Sneed interview with the author
Grand Rapids Press profile of the author
WMUK interview with the author


also at Largehearted Boy:

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

List of Online "Best of 2014" Book Lists
Essential and Interesting 2014 Year-End Music Lists

100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads
Antiheroines (interviews with up and coming female comics artists)
Atomic Books Comics Preview (weekly comics highlights)
Daily Downloads (free and legal daily mp3 downloads)
guest book reviews
Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week (recommended new books, magazines, and comics)
musician/author interviews
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Short Cuts (writers pair a song with their short story or essay)
Shorties (daily music, literature, and pop culture links)
Soundtracked (composers and directors discuss their film's soundtracks)
weekly music release lists
Word Bookstores Books of the Week (weekly new book highlights)

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Atomic Books Comics Preview - January 16, 2015

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

Benn Ray is the owner of Atomic Books, an independent bookstore in Baltimore. The Mobtown Shank is his blog, and his comic Said What? is syndicated weekly in the Baltimore Sun's B-Paper.

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


Boom Box 2014 Mix Tape #1

Boom Box 2014 Mix Tape #1
by Shannon Watters (editor)

Editor Shannon Watters has the right spirit for editing an anthology like this. In her intro, she says, "...the greatest thing about those anthologies wasn't just that feeling of being in the know... they also revealed to me a TON of incredible writers and illustrators, some of whom would soon become my all time faves." And that's exactly what she accomplishes here - the balance between filling in the familiar and turning on the unfamiliar.


Charlie Hebdo #1178

Charlie Hebdo #1178
by various

If you can find it, buy it. Je suis Charlie.


Star Wars #1

Star Wars #1
by Jason Aaron / John Cassaday

The only Star Wars event more anticipated than this comic is the J.J. Abrams film reboot coming later this year. Since Disney owns Marvel and Star Wars, it only makes sense that Star Wars comics return to Marvel (although former publisher Dark Horse is probably less than stoked about it.) This story takes place after the destruction of the first Death Star but before they Empire losses to the Rebellion. Writer Jason Aaron and artist John Cassaday deliver the goods, with all the expected ingredients here - a roguish Han? Check. An impressively evil Vader entrance? Check. Droid comedy from R2 and 3PO? Check. A focused Leia and an earnest Skywalker? Check, and check. Oh yeah and a surly Wookie. Check.


Treasury Of Mini Comics Volume 2

Treasury Of Mini Comics Volume 2
by Michael Dowers (editor)

This nugget, collecting a wide array of outrageous mini-comics is truly worthy of the title "Treasury."


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


Atomic Books & Benn Ray links:

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


also at Largehearted Boy:

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

List of Online "Best of 2014" Book Lists

52 Books, 52 Weeks
Antiheroines (interviews with up and coming female comics artists)
Book Notes (authors create music playlists for their book)
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)
WORD Bookstores Books of the Week (weekly new book highlights)

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Shorties (Things They Don't Tell You About Publishing, Sleater-Kinney on Their New Album, and more)

Author Curtis Sittenfeld listed things they don't tell you about the publishing industry.


Sleater-Kinney talked to Billboard about their reunion and new album, No Cities To Love.


38 online "best books of 2014" lists were added to the master aggregation at Largehearted Boy Wednesday.


The Largehearted Boy list of essential and interesting "best of 2014" music lists.


Bookworm interviewed author Colm Toibin.


First Aid Kit covered R.E.M.'s "Walk Unafraid" with Peter Buck.


PopMatters interviewed cartoonist Miss Lasko-Gross.


The New Yorker interviewed cartoonist Adrian Tomine.


SPIN previewed 2015's music festivals.


Authors discussed their literary addictions and books they reread at the Observer.


R.I.P. legendary music producer and manager Kim Fowley.


Little free libraries.


Daniel Lanois played a Tiny Desk Concert.


The Christian Science Monitor previewed January's best new books.


Drowned in Sound interviewed Stevie Jackson and Sarah Martin of Belle and Sebastian.


Follow me on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest, Google+, and Stumbleupon for links (updated throughout the day) that don't make the daily "Shorties" posts.


also at Largehearted Boy:

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

Essential and Interesting 2014 Year-End Music Lists
List of Online "Best of 2014" Book Lists

100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads
Atomic Books Comics Preview (the week's best new comics and graphic novels)
Book Notes (authors create playlists for their book)
daily mp3 downloads
Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week (recommended new books, magazines, and comics)
musician/author interviews
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Short Cuts (writers pair a song with their short story or essay)
weekly music release lists
WORD Bookstores Books of the Week (recommended new books)

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Daily Downloads (Steve Gunn, Mia Doi Todd, and more)

Every day, Daily Downloads offers 10 free and legal mp3 downloads.


Today's free and legal mp3 downloads:

Chicano Batman: Live on WFMU [mp3]

Impossible Cities: EP [mp3]

Margot and the Pricetags: Rolling Stone Country Presents Margo and the Pricetags Live at Exit/InSunset Years EP [mp3]

Mia Doi Todd: Live on WFMU [mp3]

Mr. Airplane Man: Live on WFMU [mp3]

Old Wave: Old Wave album [mp3]

Ryan Pryor: "Stranger" [mp3]

Samuel Vas-Y: Live on WFMU [mp3]

A Silent Film: The Sycamore Tapes EP [mp3]


Free and legal live performances at other websites:

Steve Gunn: 2015-01-11, Brooklyn [mp3]


search for more free and legal music downloads at Largehearted Boy


also at Largehearted Boy:

other daily free and legal mp3 downloads

Essential and Interesting 2014 Year-End Music Lists

covers collections
100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads

Book Notes (authors create 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 music, books, and pop culture news and links)
Soundtracked (composers and directors discuss their film's soundtrack)
weekly new album lists

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

January 15, 2015

Book Notes - Alex Green "Emergency Anthems"

Emergency Anthems

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

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

Alex Green's Emergency Anthems: is an impressive debut poetry collection imbued with pop culture and satire.

Joshua Mohr wrote of the book:

"Green's short pieces read like secrets, someone sharing a passion, a bias, a humiliation, a love. They crash into your ears like the surf, and you flip the page, awaiting the next beauty, the next set of waves."

Stream a playlist of these songs at Spotify.


In his own words, here is Alex Green's Book Notes music playlist for his poetry collection Emergency Anthems:


I get asked a lot who the first poet was that blew my mind.

In order to preserve my carefully cultivated, but decidedly shaky illusion of sophistication, my first reaction is to lie and say Hopkins or Auden or Rilke, and though I love those guys, the fact of the matter is that by the time I got to them, my mind was already blown.

By Henry Rollins.

In 1986 my friend Steve Edwards handed me a battered red paperback by Rollins called Two Thirteen Sixty One and I sat in the back of my high school physics class and read every word. When the bell rang forty-five minutes later, nothing was the same. From that moment on, all I wanted to do was write.

If Hopkins was writing about taking a walk in the park, Rollins was running through that park lighting things on fire. The freedom, the darkness, and the humor in his work really spoke to me and excited me and made me feel that not only did I have something to say, now I had a way to say it.

The line I remember most is: "Madonna…she makes me want to drive fast or go bowling." But what I really remember is the liberating realization that I was in possession of my own artistic freedom. My parents had brought me to museums, shown me weird British movies on PBS and taken me to see Shakespeare in the park, and I liked it all, but none of it rang my bell in a way that made me think I could ring it right back.

And that's what Rollins' first book did---it encouraged me to give poetry a shot.

I think the prose poem style I use was probably lifted from Rollins. He also taught me to get things done, because people who talk about the things they're going to do seldom do them.

I only mention all this because I'm about to talk about the music I listened to while I was writing Emergency Anthems and before I do, I feel I should add that in addition to Rollins, I learned more from my Camper Van Beethoven, Replacements and Jazz Butcher Conspiracy albums than I ever did from my Norton Anthologies.

I told you my illusion of sophistication was shaky.

In the years it took me to write Emergency Anthems the following songs were instrumental in helping me actually get it done.

I guess in a way they're Emergency Anthems' anthems…

You Am I—"Soldiers"

I love everything this Australian band has ever done, but this is probably my favorite song of theirs. It's got the fire of the Jam's early work and the narrative wizardry of Ray Davies. I remember one night I was trying to finish a poem as this was playing. As a result, it had a big impact. In the song there's a guy standing in the rain watching a road getting dug up somewhere in the suburbs. This explains why in my poem "South Marine Highway Love Song" you can find a guy standing in the rain watching a road getting dug up somewhere in the suburbs. How to explain the global apocalypse that the little girl is drawing at the end of the poem? Watching Road Warrior 128 times, I think. I guess that keeps the Australian vibe going strong…

Matthew Ryan—"Heartache Weather"

Matthew Ryan is a proud son of Chester, Pennsylvania and in my opinion one of the greatest American songwriters of the last thirty years. This song is taken from his blisteringly beautiful East Autumn Grin album. I love the record but "Heartache Weather" is the one I always go to first. It's a locomotive of loathing and I love it. As a nod to Mr. Ryan in my poem "Shark Nocturne" there's a guy watering his lawn, which is a cheap knockoff of the cover of Matthew Ryan's first album. The poem even clumsily mentions the title of this record. Shameless. Anyway, this is a glorious blaze of a song that I still need to hear once every few hours…

INXS—"Don't Change"

One of the best rock and roll songs ever recorded. Michael Hutchence out Jaggers Jagger on this one, slinking through the song with serpentine muscle. "Things have been dark for too long," he admits at one point and you can tell he's had enough of it. This brand of refusal is a sentiment I've always found particularly rousing. People get banged up a lot in my work but they do so with this spirit in mind. The emergency is not the end, it's the thing that's either happened or is about to happen and now it's up to them to find the signal in the rubble. ("Signal In The Rubble" sounds like the title of an episode of Homeland…)

The Thrills—"This Year"

The Thrills were a bunch of Irish guys who were obsessed with California and I'm a California guy obsessed with bands from Ireland. A perfect match. This one is from their third and final record and it's filled with a ringing promise that things are finally going to
go right. I also like the fact that the singer doesn't sound for a second like he actually believes this.

The Vaccines—"Wolf Pack"

I love this band. They made two quick records and they're both brilliant. This is a great song because it sounds like something has been loosened from the valley and is about to wreak havoc on the lowlands. It's a clarion call, a signal from the darkness. It's also the reason why a blue wolf keeps floating through my poems. Everyone thinks they've seen it, but they've only felt it. And they don't know how to explain that to anyone.

Augie March—"Pennywhistle"

Although this sunny number has weary narrator who has wrestled with the terrors of 3am and later confesses, "It's been another long year/But you know I'm not counting…" it's a blast of optimism, a sonic celebration, an affirmation that hope not only exists, it's got just as much muscle as the dark stuff. But it's also a reminder that happiness is not a place you get to land, it's only a place you get to visit. "A good feeling," the song reminds us, "only happens now and then…"

The Rave-Ups—"These Wishes"

I've been carrying this song around with me for almost thirty years. It never leaves my head. It's utterly perfect. The narrative is a killer, but this part always gets me:

Well, I fed the cat
And I took out the trash
Put the big can in the back
Of the apartment we shared
Next to the neighbors who cared
A little too much for us
Well you worked at the bakery
While I sat home in bed
wishing all the wishes I could wish…"

I love that. I love this band. Jimmer Podrasky is as vital as Prine, Dylan, Simon and Cohen. An American treasure whose writing has been a massive influence on me. As a way of paying him back—not that I ever could—I named a poem after his band and I even namecheck Jimmer in the first line of the poem. I also mention two Australian bands (again with the Australian bands…) and an indie rock label from the ‘80s who put out some of the best albums I've ever heard. I'll leave the finding of all of that up to you.

The Drones—"Shark Fin Blues"

Graham Foust turned me on to this brilliant band and I'm glad he did. This is pure feral menace. It makes me feel like there's nowhere safe to stand. You'll see what I mean. Hint: a shark the size of a submarine.

Garageland—"Superstars"

Garageland's Jeremy Eade is one of the sharpest lyricists ever. He's smart and funny and sad in all the right ways. This New Zealand band's swansong Scorpio Righting was my soundtrack for five straight months. It's one of the best albums ever recorded. I promise you. This number reminds me of Black Francis and Paul Kelly and a late night weariness that I've been trying to capture for years. I love this bit:

"A slow sad builder,
Heart of a bricklayer,
Send me a rosella.
Send it whenever"

He also gets a mention in one of the poems, but he appears as the name of a beach where a guy goes to surf and escape his failing marriage. I think he'd be cool with that.

Gaslight Anthem—"Bring It On"

One summer I listened to the Gaslight Anthem's" American Slang and nothing else. It saved me in the same ways records like Distressed Gentlefolk and Out Of The Grey did when I was a teenager. From June until early September it was the only thing on my iPod. My book takes place in the summer and I think this record does, too. Its got boxers and fevers and lions and it's as heartbreaking as it is inspiring. It's a record about tough guys with tender hearts who aren't as cool as they pretend to be. This song has a huge chorus and I wanted to write a poem that did the same thing. I won't tell you which one it is because I'm pretty sure I didn't come close to pulling it off.

Squeeze—"Up The Junction"

One of the best sad sack narratives of all time. It starts with a romantic victory and it ends in utter defeat on every possible level one can lose on. It's sung in such an upbeat way which makes its devastation unexpected and stinging. It's a song where things just keep unraveling for the narrator until he's lost literally everything. I've loved this song forever and I wanted to write a poem about it. I did, but I had to throw 99% of it away because it was an utterly shameless rip-off. But I did, however, keep that 1%.And it's in the book.

Dept. Of Energy—"Stereo Embers"

Okay, I'm cheating on this one because this song uses my poem as its lyrics. But here's the thing: I've been sending my poems to this band's singer Robb Benson for almost 20 years now and he'll turn them into killer pop songs that are thousands of times better than the poems themselves. But this has been an integral and vital part of my writing process—I send Robb a mess of a poem and he galvanizes it into something amazing and sends it back. The way he sings my work back to me makes me realize the moments in the pieces that are really working. And I don't know how he does it, but he always finds a chorus in there somewhere.

The Crush—"Mission Viejo"

This is a cover of a Lifter+Puller number and it reminds me of the thunder of those early
Soul Asylum records. It's a furious and highly charged reinterpretation of the downtrodden original and in many ways it's the better version. It's a song about a house of cards heart that's on fire in all the right ways for wrong person. How many summers in a row did I do exactly the same thing? All of them. This song sounds like a sunset. It sounds like a broken heart in reverse. It sounds like the end of a gloriously terrible summer. It sounds like what I want all my poems to sound like.

Crowded House—"Kare Kare"

Neil Finn has one of my favorite voices in music. He's got the pop chops of McCartney
but the range and depth of writers like Fitzgerald or Tim Winton. There's something really sad behind a lot of his work and even though there's always an undeniable pop buoyancy, there's acres of swollen hearts in his stuff. "Kare Kare" captures that more so than anything he's done. A sweeping mini-epic that summons the surf and the mysteries of love that ebb and flow, this song in many ways is where my book began. "I was floating on a wave, then I made the drop/I was climbing up the walls, waiting for the band to start…" made me think a lot about Gene Clark of The Byrds. Not that it sounded like him, but those lines sounded like I imagine he felt sometimes. So I wrote "Gene Clark." And even though the poem is set in southern California, it really takes place on Karekare Beach in New Zealand. And even though it's not supposed to be her, the girl in the poem sure seems a lot like Nico…

The Jazz Butcher—"Shame About You"

I was finishing the initial writing of Emergency Anthems when the Jazz Butcher put out Last of the Gentlemen Adventurers. It's a brilliant album that's so effortlessly played, it made me to write one more poem before I turned the book in to my publisher. "Shame About You" made me think a lot about my friend Terry who was very ill at the time and it inspired me to write "Let The West Coast Be Settled." It has nothing to do with the song, but without it, the poem never would have existed. "Who feels stupid? Who feels blue?" the Jazz Butcher's Pat Fish asks. And I always think, I do, I do…


Alex Green and Emergency Anthems links:

the author's website

Largehearted Boy Book Notes essay by the author for The Stone Roses


also at Largehearted Boy:

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

List of Online "Best of 2014" Book Lists
Essential and Interesting 2014 Year-End Music Lists

100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads
Antiheroines (interviews with up and coming female comics artists)
Atomic Books Comics Preview (weekly comics highlights)
Daily Downloads (free and legal daily mp3 downloads)
guest book reviews
Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week (recommended new books, magazines, and comics)
musician/author interviews
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Short Cuts (writers pair a song with their short story or essay)
Shorties (daily music, literature, and pop culture links)
Soundtracked (composers and directors discuss their film's soundtracks)
weekly music release lists
Word Bookstores Books of the Week (weekly new book highlights)

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Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week - January 15, 2015

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

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


The First Bad Man

The First Bad Man
by Miranda July

July's anxiously anticipated debut novel is finally here, telling the story of eccentric Cheryl Glickman, who's idiosyncratically ordered world is upended when twenty-year-old Clee moves in with her. Brutally honest while still endearing, Dave Eggers calls it confirmation of "July as a novelist of the first order."


2014 It's Nice That Annual

2014 It's Nice That Annual

A beautiful hardcover volume (complete with signed artist postcard), the 2014 annual compiles the best that art and design website It's Nice That had to offer in the past year. Spanning from October 2013 to September 2014, the annual features profiles of rising creative stars, collections of the most beautiful magazine covers, and run-downs of the year's most interesting exhibitions.


McSweeney's No. 48

McSweeney's No. 48

A two-book bundle that includes sixteen new stories and a full-length screenplay, McSweeney's new offering features the work of Kelly Link, Etgar Keret, and Téa Obreht, among others, skipping from street protest romance to dead tourists to haunted nudist colonies and back again.


Captives

Captives
by Norman Manea

Post-war Romania is the setting for Manea's first novel, in which a defeated country struggles with communism and anti-semitism in turns. Translated by Jean Harris, the book plays with tone and perspective to give an extraordinary account of life in a totalitarian state.


Sam Zabel and the Magic Pen

Sam Zabel and the Magic Pen
by Dylan Horrocks

Sam Zabel and the Magic Pen, Dylan Horrocks

Sam Zabel is a cartoonist suffering from writer's block and stuck in a superhero comic job he hates. It will take a mysterious old comic book set on Mars to drag him out of his rut and into a fantastical adventure spanning centuries of comics, in this graphic novel by the acclaimed author of Hicksville.


Librairie Drawn & Quarterly links:

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


also at Largehearted Boy:

other Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week

List of Online "Best of 2014" Book Lists

52 Books, 52 Weeks
Antiheroines (interviews with up and coming female comics artists)
Atomic Books Comics Preview (weekly new comics and graphic novel highlights)
Largehearted Word (weekly new book highlights)
Book Notes (authors create music playlists for their book)
guest book reviews
musician/author interviews
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Short Cuts (writers pair a song with their short story or essay)
WORD Bookstores Books of the Week (weekly new book highlights)

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Shorties (David Mitchell's Next Novel, Panda Bear's Favorite Albums, and more)

David Mitchell's new novel, Slade House, will be published in October.


Noah Lennox, aka Panda Bear, listed his favorite albums at The Quietus.


38 online "best books of 2014" lists were added to the master aggregation at Largehearted Boy yesterday.


The Largehearted Boy list of essential and interesting "best of 2014" music lists.


Juliet Escoria interviewed author Sarah Gerard at Fanzine.


Red Bull Music Academy listed the best music journalism of 2014.


Author Deji Olukotun interviewed himself at The Nervous Breakdown.


Stream video of a 1980 Talking Heads concert.


Tin House interviewed author Steven Church.


FACT listed record labels to watch in 2015.


The Paris Review examined John Updike's early fascination with comics.


All Things Considered previewed 2015 in jazz.


Flavorwire shared an excerpt from the book Process: The Writing Lives of Great Authors.


Belle and Sebastian shared a track-by-track breakdown of their new album Girls In Peacetime Want To Dance at Drowned in Sound.


The Week UK previewed the six-part BBC adaptation of Hillary Mantel's novels Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies.


Follow me on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest, Google+, and Stumbleupon for links (updated throughout the day) that don't make the daily "Shorties" posts.


also at Largehearted Boy:

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

Essential and Interesting 2014 Year-End Music Lists
List of Online "Best of 2014" Book Lists

100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads
Atomic Books Comics Preview (the week's best new comics and graphic novels)
Book Notes (authors create playlists for their book)
daily mp3 downloads
Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week (recommended new books, magazines, and comics)
musician/author interviews
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Short Cuts (writers pair a song with their short story or essay)
weekly music release lists
WORD Bookstores Books of the Week (recommended new books)

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Daily Downloads (Hey Rosetta!, Kristin Diable, and more)

Every day, Daily Downloads offers 10 free and legal mp3 downloads.


Today's free and legal mp3 downloads:

American Scarecrows: Yesteryear EP [mp3]

Anna Averitt: "Strangers" [mp3] from From There to Here EP (out January 23rd)

Betty Who: The Remixes EP [mp3]

Chadwick Stokes: "Our Lives Our Time" [mp3]

Hey Rosetta!: Introducing Hey Rosetta! album [mp3]

Kansas Bible Company: Dads Day Free Download EP [mp3]

Kristin Diable: "Time Will Wait" [mp3] from Create Your Own Mythology

The Pluto Moons: E$pooky EP [mp3]

Pneumonia: The Cave album [mp3]


Free and legal live performances at other websites:

The Skipperdees: 2015-01-10, Athens [mp3]


search for more free and legal music downloads at Largehearted Boy


also at Largehearted Boy:

other daily free and legal mp3 downloads

Essential and Interesting 2014 Year-End Music Lists

covers collections
100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads

Book Notes (authors create 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 music, books, and pop culture news and links)
Soundtracked (composers and directors discuss their film's soundtrack)
weekly new album lists

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January 14, 2015

Book Notes - Stewart O'Nan "West of Sunset"

West of Sunset

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

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

Stewart O'Nan's novel West of Sunset is an insightful and pitch perfect accounting of the last days of F. Scott Fitzgerald's life.

Kirkus wrote of the book:

"A sympathetic portrayal of a troubled genius. . .O'Nan has masterfully re-created the feel and ambience of the Hollywood studio system in the late 1930s. . .he has crafted an insightful glimpse into a sad period in Fitzgerald's life."

Stream a playlist of these songs at Spotify.


In his own words, here is Stewart O'Nan's Book Notes music playlist for his novel West of Sunset:


Scott Fitzgerald loved to dance. As a boy in Buffalo, he attended classes at a charm-school-like studio where he learned warhorses like the two-step and the waltz, which in his teen years he had opportunity to use at cotillions and proms along with his prep school pals. His first romances--really, all his romances--started on the dance floor. He memorialized these unforgettable nights by saving his dance cards so that even now we can see who his favorite partners were. When the racy foxtrot and the Continental came along, he and Zelda were courting under the disapproving eyes of Montgomery's country club set. When they finally married and moved to New York, they danced the nights away at the Jungle Club and the Morocco, in friends' kitchens and on starry rooftops.

There's dance music throughout Fitzgerald's writing. The twenties represents the first flowering of the American songbook, as popular music broke through not only on the Broadway stage but nationwide on the radio. No matter when or where his work was set, Fitzgerald was careful to get the soundtrack right. In his notebooks he kept lists of the songs that were everywhere that season. In his books, nothing signals loss and the passage of time more than some band in a mediocre summer hotel playing last year's tunes.

Going into West of Sunset, I knew Scott had first danced with his new love Sheilah Graham at the Cocoanut Grove, where a decade before he and Zelda had shared happier times, swaying beneath Valentino's fake palm trees from The Sheik. To get in the mood, I planned on listening to dance bands from the era, and by chance, while I was researching the Cocoanut Grove on-line, I stumbled across two ten-CD collections of '30s radio broadcasts from the club itself (available at RadioArchives.com). The songs are sentimental and clever, and while most are lighthearted, among the celebrations of love are pleas and confessions. There's an innocence and vulnerability to them that fits Fitzgerald's characters in a way that doesn't fit, say, Hemingway's.

Springsteen has a famous line about listening to side one of Roy Orbison's Greatest Hits, which opens with "Pretty Woman" and closes with "Cryin'," encapsulating a whole romance--only to have the needle return to "Pretty Woman" so that Roy falls hard again. In the same spirit, here's a playlist of just some of the songs from the Cocoanut Grove I listened to while writing West of Sunset:

“Love's Just Around the Corner”
“Someday I'll Find You”
“The Day You Came Along”
“There Goes My Heart”
“I’m Just a Fool in Love With You”
“When the Night is Young”
“Music in the Moonlight”
“Your Head on My Shoulder”
“Stardust”
“Say It”
“Penthouse Serenade (When We're Alone)”
“Wait Til I Get You in My Dreams"
“Love is a Dream” (yes, the one Phil Hartman and Jan Hooks dance to on SNL)
“Til Tomorrow”
“When the Morning Rolls Around”
“Was It a Dream?”
“Were You Foolin'?”
“Lies”
“I'm Sorry, Dear”
“You Knew You'd Hurt Somebody, Why Did It Have to Be Me?”
“Too Many Tears”
“I Still Bring Roses to You”
“Baby, Won't You Please Come Home?”
“You're Nobody's Sweetheart Now”
"I'm All Dressed Up With a Broken Heart"
"Love Goes On Just the Same"

which brings us back to "Love's Just Around the Corner."


Stewart O'Nan and West of Sunset links:

the author's website
the author's Wikipedia entry

BookPage review
Buffalo News review
Entertainment Weekly review
Kirkus review
LA Daily News review
Newsday review
Paste review
Philadelphia Inquirer review
Wall Street Journal review
Washington Post review

Independent Weekly interview with the author
Largehearted Boy Book Notes essay by the author for The Odds
Publishers Weekly profile of the author


also at Largehearted Boy:

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

List of Online "Best of 2014" Book Lists
Essential and Interesting 2014 Year-End Music Lists

100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads
Antiheroines (interviews with up and coming female comics artists)
Atomic Books Comics Preview (weekly comics highlights)
Daily Downloads (free and legal daily mp3 downloads)
guest book reviews
Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week (recommended new books, magazines, and comics)
musician/author interviews
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Short Cuts (writers pair a song with their short story or essay)
Shorties (daily music, literature, and pop culture links)
Soundtracked (composers and directors discuss their film's soundtracks)
weekly music release lists
Word Bookstores Books of the Week (weekly new book highlights)

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