July 22, 2015

Book Notes - Dale Marlowe "Digging Up The Bones"

Digging Up The Bones

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

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

Dale Marlowe's Digging Up The Bones is a dark and brilliant linked story collection that examines the harsh life of one southern family over several generations.

Josh Emmons wrote of the book:

"Marlowe has created a world at once strange and familiar, where love and violence move in lockstep, and where the sound of one family's barbaric yawp echoes over rooftops and reminds us of our own. This is a brave, brilliant book."

Stream a playlist of these songs at Spotify.


In his own words, here is Dale Marlowe's Book Notes music playlist for his short story collection Digging Up The Bones:


"Fortunate Son," Creedence Clearwater Revival, Willy and the Poor Boys: It would be a simple case of authorial malpractice to attempt exposition of the Vietnam's War's effects on a deeply wounded character like Digging Up The Bones' Junior Nash without first planting one's face in a speaker wired to a sound system capable of cranking this fucker to ee-leh-ven. Thank you.

"I'll Fly Away," Gillian Welch, Alison Krauss, O Brother, Where Art Thou? (Soundtrack): I have heard this song sung my whole life (usually a cappella, solo, and by women), but I've only heard it sung better than Welch's and Krauss' interpretation a few times; in fairness, the singers besting their effort were usually Holy Ghost “native speakers,” in a church, who'd never lived anywhere but Appalachia. Singers who believe their songs voice a presence of the soul that can be heard, but not always described. The Welch/Krauss version is the next best thing. It transports me in much the same way I imagine Opel, the Nash family's cursed matriarch In Digging Up The Bones, would rely on it as a dissociative trigger that dimmed and diminished the crimes committed in her presence.

"Wonderful (The Way I Feel)," My Morning Jacket, Circuital: Sometimes voice, instrument, time, and place converge, and at their nexus create something more complex and valuable than any of the four alone. My Morning Jacket, featuring Jim James' peerless talent and musicianship, informed by the tragedy, comedy and triumph of modern Kentucky, is a great example. Frankly, I used "Wonderful (The Way I Feel)" as a means of invocation on the cusp of editing jags for Digging Up The Bones. If MMJ doesn't change your mood, your head's the problem. It sure set mine, and rightly—I hope.

"I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry," Hank Williams, Sr., The Complete Hank Williams: Hear these words, this voice, and know the gashes bleeding a writer's soul. You can't fake verses like this, nor the notes accompanying them. Truth is, were it not for Hank Williams, Sr., The Carter Family, and Johnny Cash, I'd be without a vocabulary to explain my people to anyone, including myself. I aspire to that degree of sincerity. I have not met it, but Senior calls, and the call pulls me up, out, and forward.

"When Johnny Comes Marching Home," Ultima Thule, Vikingabalk: Indulge me here, if you will, as Google informs me Swedish stomp-rockers Ultima Thule may have a fraught, white-pridey past. Now, I added Ultima Thule's cover of the Civil War standard "When Johnny Comes Marching Home" to the playlist long before I thought to conduct a due-diligence arsepucker-sweep to roust any tatted idiots in Docs and suspenders who can't tell Oi! from Oy! Still, "When Johnny Comes Marching Home's" inclusion is apropos of an episode in Digging Up The Bones treating the twisted psyche of Junie Nash, a skinhead whose worldview implodes when he becomes a father and widower in a single afternoon. Junie as we find him would insist readers know he'd never cotton to milquetoast race-traitors like Ultima Thule, whose meh-xplanations in response to charges of Nazi-flirting wax between apology and apologia. Junie's playlists would host dozens of angrier, more explicit, more extreme, more hateful bands. They probably wouldn't even be playlists per se, unless cassette mix-tapes count, and they do not. The sickening research I endured to render Junie was task enough. I had no inclination to delve further into scenes that might interest him. Ultima Thule's "When Johnny Comes Marching Home" served well as bad-enough; its squelched fury hints at the vicious noise that cements identity in tortured minds.

"Sissyneck," Beck, Odelay: In which we find Mr. Hansen writing his will/on a $3 bill. in addition he explains, with abject impunity, that he's got a beard/that would disappear/if [he]/ dressed in/leather. I name-checked this tune to title an episode in Digging Up The Bones celebrating a taboo-shattering extravaganza of super-hot, socio-economically nuanced, racially-integrated, inter-generational, Bluegrass-tinged, man-on-man action. As with many of the rorschach blot memes dotting Beck's early pop-poems, the word "Sissyneck" hints and winks: it shows, it tells, it covers, it lies. It's a hook for hanging up whatever's on your mind, so it doesn't get wrinkly while you chase the boogie.

"Goodbye Earl," Dixie Chicks, Fly: The Dixie Chicks bring Dennis Linde's kill-the-abusive-bastard farce to full relief. I kept "Goodbye Earl" in rotation while writing and editing Digging Up The Bones to prevent the mood in my crypt from listing too far toward darkness. The cheeky tone and macabre concerns link the song to the struggles of Penny Mastropolous, a Nash girl done-good in "Chicagoland," whose abusive husband seems intent on denying her a happy ending. Penny's life changes track Wanda and Mary Ann's, but then her life changes forever upon her brother's unexpected visit. The topic, and the tale, are deadly serious. When took her bow, I hope Penny was wired into into the same satisfying righteous thrumming current that helped the Dixie Chicks crush it on "Goodbye Earl's" gloating refrain. Press play, set repeat.

"Ennie Meenie," Wally Wilette, Rockabilly Rampage: In another life I wore a lawyer's skin. It did not fit me well, and not much came of it, but it did result in my having the honor of tending some of Wally Wilette's affairs. At one time, Wilette toured with Hank, Sr., on bass. Between Williams' demise and Wilette's creatively proscriptive conversion to Pentecostalism, the French-Canadian Maine-Country Mountain-Madman wrote, played, and published a stack of Rockabilly keepers that remain popular among the continental European “greaser” set, especially in Germany. But Wilette's an obscure figure Stateside, and I threw Eenie Meenie on the platter because I knew him, and I loved him; he was a sage, and he was a star. I drew on memories of Wilette to detail the character of Doyle in "Simmer Till You Can't Stand It." Digging Up The Bones resurrects some of Wilette's better Nor'easter rants, but distills the creole accent and sets them in Doyle's mouth, e.g., Doyle's discourse on Appalachia's disparate peoples as a single People.

"Lit Up," Buckcherry, Buckcherry: There's a dreadful thanatoptic urge marking the men and women of Digging Up The Bones. It calls to mind the “Linkhorn gene” Hunter S. Thompson postulates in Hell's Angels. I carry this “passenger,” as do my kin, and I have seen it expressed in the lives of many others of a similar background. The transgressive urge serves me ill, by most measures, but with the right music striking a mood, a writer might channel this baser instincts into creativity, or for editing a book like Digging Up The Bones. One tool for the job was Lit Up. Because Buckcherry.

"Down South Jukin'," Lynyrd Skynyrd, Skynyrd's First…and Last: The abomination that appears on Fox & Friends and tours with Charlie Daniels is a fake. The real Lynyrd Skynyrd died in 1977 among among a downed plane's smoldering debris. That band's memory suffers the same affliction bedeviling Jesus of Nazareth and Ayn Rand—taken on their own terms, each deserves consideration, if not admiration and affection. Not Rand, though. Skynyrd, JC, and Rand suffer "devotee-drag,” which occurs when a notable figure's most devoted, vocal, and least-informed admirers' epic douchebaggery prevents sensible folks from treating the notable figure as worthy of reflection. Which Ayn Rand is not. Skynyrd's discography goes deeper than well-known arena-rock Zippo-lifters. The deep cuts are politically progressive and socially-conscious, e.g., "Things Goin' On" (checking white indifference to black suffering), "That Smell" (anti-drug), "The Ballad of Curtis Loew" (sincerity trumps differences of race and age), "Simple Man" (income inequality), and "Saturday Night Special" (pro gun-control). In the aftermath of the '77 crash, MCA Records hot-shopped Skynyrd's First…and Last, a hodgepodge of demos, B-sides, cast-offs, and one-takes. It's mostly forgettable, but "Down South Jukin'" is a gem. Unlike the fetid doorstop that is Atlas Shrugged. Digging Up The Bones explores difficult terrain; the music I enjoyed as I wrote aligned with those concerns. As with "Goodbye Earl," "Down South Jukin'" is light enough to help a listener keep perspective, but not so frivolous as to queer the vibe. Unlike Rand, who soured milk with her smile.

"Box of Rain," Grateful Dead, American Beauty: Ditto devotee-drag for the Grateful Dead, but there's no solvent strong enough to dissolve the band's bonds to strange, trips, or lengths. Protean comes packed alongside permanence. As often as not, it turns out the two don't compete, but complement. Charged by magick notions simple and clear as here, mine, for you, or in love, Robert Hunter's superb lyrics quote the great throbbing oversoul of poetic melancholy real creators have always channeled, regardless of medium, era, or style. For me, The Grateful Dead's haunting "Box of Rain" was the song of Liney Nash, a doomed young man from Digging Up The Bones whose ultimately illusory hope springs from brute resort to craft, artifice, will, beauty, impermanence, and excess.

"Cocaine Blues," Hank Williams III, Risin' Outlaw: Hank III's self-aware cow-punk braids his DNA to America's, toward an end best envisioned thusly: don your black ten-gallon Stetson. Strap a set of fringed rawhide chaps to your nekkid thighs, then ride an overchromed badass Indian Scout to the most dangerous dive in howling distance, strut up to the bar and box-out anyone fool enough to get between you and the hooch. Gulp down a few belts of raw corn liquor and a shot of raw Oaxacan pulque, back, before whipping somebody senseless with the sharp end of a snapped-in-half cue, for no damn reason at all. Finally pull a long, fat line of blow off the cracked glass of an ancient jukebox playing a Gregorian monks' reggae time medley of "Kaw-li-ga," "Country Boy Can Survive," and "Dick in Dixie." Or something thereabouts. "Cocaine Blues" is a great entry point to the Hank III oeuvre. It's his best take on Johnny Cash's manic "Folsom Prison" remix of T.J. Arnall's C&W big-band fable "Little Sadie." Hank III plays it straight, right down to Cash's classic “suet!” denouement; in forsaking caricature for homage, he carves out a space big enough to fit song, story, history, and all the considerable egos in the pantheon of badasses who've kept it vital for a century. "Cocaine Blues" bridges time, genre, and space, and extends the consolations of shared, cyclical time to succeeding generations: if they're brave enough, buckwild enough, hellbent enough, and hellbound enough to make the early-morning rounds with safeties off and their hearts on their sleeves.


Dale Marlowe and Digging Up The Bones links:

the author's website


also at Largehearted Boy:

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

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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July 22, 2015

WORD Bookstores Books of the Week - July 22, 2015

In the Largehearted Word series, the staff of Brooklyn's WORD bookstore highlights several new books released this week.

WORD Bookstores are independent neighborhood bookstores in Greenpoint, Brooklyn and Jersey City, New Jersey. Our primary goal is to be whatever our communities needs us to be, which currently means carrying everything from fiction to nonfiction to absurdly cute cards and stationery. In addition, we're fiends for a good event, from the classic author reading and Q&A to potlucks and a basketball league (and anything set in a bar). If a weekly dose of WORD here isn't enough for you, follow us on Twitter: @wordbookstores.


Not Funny Ha-Ha

Not Funny Ha-Ha
by Leah Hayes

A poignant illustrated story of two young women who go through two different abortions.


New American Stories

New American Stories
edited by Ben Marcus

Ben Marcus' roll call of some recent short-form highlights (which includes a few surprises!).


Beautiful You

Beautiful You
by Chuck Palahniuk

Palahniuk's tale of erotic deception gets the paperback treatment.


A B See

A B See
by Elizabeth Doyle

Revisit the alphabet with this colorful, alliterative board book


WORD Brooklyn links:

WORD website
WORD Facebook page
WORD on Instagram
WORD Tumblr
WORD Twitter


also at Largehearted Boy:

other Word Bookstores Books of the Week (weekly new book highlights)

Antiheroines (interviews with up and coming female comics artists)
Atomic Books Comics Preview (weekly comics & graphic novel highlights)
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)

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Shorties (The Literary Celebrity of Joan Didion, New Kurt Vile Music, and more)

The New Republic examined the literary celebrity of Joan Didion.


Stream a new Kurt Vile song.


Cleveland's Harvey Pekar Park to open Saturday.


Lou Barlow discussed the Kids soundtrack with Stereogum on the film's 10th anniversary.


The Guardian listed the top books about migrants.


SPIN profiled the band Protomartyr.


The San Francisco Chronicle interviewed Joshua Mohr about his new novel All This Life.


PopMatters interviewed musician Albert Hammond Jr.


Author Jami Attenberg discussed book tour meals at Saveur.


The Baltimore Sun and Paste profiled singer-songwriter Jason Isbell.


Flannery O'Connor and Catholic realism.


Dazed listed July's best albums.


Drowned in Sound reassessed the discography of Pere Ubu.


R.I.P., author E.L. Doctorow.


Paste interviewed Patterson Hood of the Drive-By Truckers.


Follow Largehearted Boy on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Tumblr, 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)

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 (Julie Rains, Andrew Jackson Jihad, and more)

Every day, Daily Downloads offers free and legal music and/or stream.


Today's free and legal mp3 downloads:

Adam Cleaver: "The Salt Mine" [mp3] from Man or Beast EP

Badfellows: The Happy Hunting Ground album [mp3]

Dawn Riding: Dawn Riding album [mp3]

EJ: Bienvenue, New Hampshire album [mp3]

Helen Love: You Can't Beat a Boy Who Loves the Ramones single [mp3]

Julie Rains: "You and Me" [mp3]

The Roseline: Townie album [mp3]

Son and Thief: Cardinal EP [mp3]

Teenender: Teenender EP [mp3]


Free and legal live performances at other websites:

Andrew Jackson Jihad: 2015-07-18, Brooklyn [mp3]


search for more free and legal music downloads at Largehearted Boy


also at Largehearted Boy:

other Daily Downloads

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

July 21, 2015

Book Notes - Jill Talbot "The Way We Weren't"

The Way We Weren't

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

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

Jill Talbot's The Way We Weren't is an impressive memoir-in-essays.

Matthew Gavin Frank wrote of the book:

"Jill Talbot's memoir-in-essays gloriously and disarmingly proves that the ephemera of one's life—memories unearthed from top-shelf closet boxes labeled with magic marker, memories wedged into narrative wine lists, memories redacted with erasers, tongues, song, and the morning rose light bursting from so many of last night's sticky glasses— when carefully organized, is capable of yielding an intimacy that we can hardly bear, but that we would never give up. A bewitching meditation on love, loss, and motherhood."

Stream a playlist of these songs at Spotify.


In her own words, here is Jill Talbot's Book Notes music playlist for her memoir The Way We Weren't:


There's a moment in The Way We Weren't when I'm driving from Stillwater, Oklahoma to Oklahoma City listening to the seventies station thinking about my daughter, Indie. The year was 2010, the day before her ninth birthday. I write, "So many times, when she's singing along to Ambrosia or Bread, Jackson Browne, especially America, in the car, I ask her how she knows all the words to those long-ago songs, and she always has the same answer. 'You sing all the time.' Kenny used to tell me that, too." Kenny is Indie's father, the man I loved and lived with for years before he abandoned us when Indie was only four months old.

"Make it With You," Bread

Kenny and I met in Minturn, Colorado, where we shared a house with three other people. He and I stayed up talking on the couch hours after everyone else had gone to sleep, then we'd spill out onto the back porch to drink Shiner Bock from bottles and smoke Marlboro Lights, listening to the rush of the Eagle River. I loved him immediately, his large frame and flannel, the red flecks in his goatee, the overalls he'd wear to the construction site he left for on weekday mornings. After a month living in that cramped house, he started hinting at loving me through the stereo in the living room. I kept my Anthology of Bread in the six CD changer, and in the mornings, I'd often wake to hear him fumbling with the changer, and then I'd hear this song.

"Heard It In a Love Song," Marshall Tucker Band

Not long after we got together, Kenny and I were driving down the highway one afternoon, and I had a mix tape in my Jeep. I played him this song and told him it reminded me of him. He said the song was him: "I never had a damn thing, but what I had I had to leave it behind." I should have paid more attention.

"Put Your Dreams Away," Frank Sinatra

When Kenny and I lived in a basement apartment in Fort Collins, I read Tina Sinatra's My Father's Daughter. I had always been a fan of Sinatra's, and Kenny kept one of his CDs in his truck for me. One afternoon, he came home to find me sobbing in the reading chair moments after I finished Tina's memoir. I told him I couldn't explain it, how I felt her losses—Sinatra's leaving the family when Tina was only three and his death. There's an essay in The Way We Weren't that briefly includes examples of famous artists and writers who abandoned their children for one reason or another, and in it, I write, "Years after Frank Sinatra left his wife and three young children for Ava Gardner, he would tell his youngest, Tina, ‘I was selfish—my choices would affect you forever.'" That was a line from My Father's Daughter, and in that book, I learned that Sinatra ended every concert with this song. When Kenny left us, I recalled how I had been inexplicably effected by the Sinatra memoir, and I shuddered at the thought that perhaps we know, before we know, what's to come in our lives.

"The Old Apartment," Barenaked Ladies

This song has been misinterpreted to be about a man who breaks into his ex-girlfriend's apartment, but the writer of the song explains it's actually about a couple who breaks in to their old apartment to reminisce. I like the way that both interpretations make sense with the lyrics, and this idea of competing versions is prominent in The Way We Weren't. I always associate this song with the last apartment Kenny, Indie, and I lived in together, a third-floor two-bedroom in University of Colorado's family housing.

"Please Come to Boston," Dave Loggins

Kenny and I both had a history of moving place to place before we met, and when we were together, he worked in refineries around the country, and I always wanted him to come home. This was our song. Months after he left, he called me from a bar to tell me someone has played it. I could hear it in the background.

"If You Could Read My Mind," Gordon Lightfoot

For years, the draft of my manuscript included an essay with references to this song that included, "‘Stories always end,' another line from that Gordon Lightfoot song. How can they if we keep telling them?" I'm sorry I cut you, Lightfoot, but we'll always have Gord's Gold.

"Sister Golden Hair," America

One of the essays in the memoir ends, "At the intersection, I press the first button preset, the seventies station. America. 'Sister Golden Hair.' Indie really likes this one. I sing along."

"Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You)," Kelly Clarkson

Indie often surprises me with songs on my iPod that she thinks I'll like to run to, and one afternoon I was running along NY-310 in Canton, New York, and I heard this line for the first time: "You know the day you left was just my beginning." If you've ever wondered if it's possible to cry and run at the same time, I'm here to tell you I did that afternoon.

"How Much I Feel," Ambrosia

When we lived in Chicago, mornings began with me setting my Macbook on the kitchen counter and turning on the "Firefall" station on Pandora while I made Indie breakfast. She'd eat and get ready for school, and I'd sing through all the songs. For some reason, even though it's the "Firefall" station, an Ambrosia song was most often the first one played every morning. This is my favorite Ambrosia song, and after so many years of listening to it, I'll still stop everything I'm doing and every sound to listen closely to one stanza in particular.

"On and On," Stephen Bishop, "Go Your Own Way," Fleetwood Mac, and "Ventura Highway," America

These three songs are all mentioned in the final essay in the memoir, when Indie and I hear them on the radio as we're driving west on I-40.

"Right Down the Line," Gerry Rafferty

When Indie was nine, we moved from Oklahoma to New York. Once we got settled on I-44 East, I turned to the seventies station to hear Gerry Rafferty's "Right Down the Line." Indie looked out her window and said she loved the song. I told her I did, too, that it reminded me of the two of us. She agreed. This is our song.


Jill Talbot and The Way We Weren't links:

the author's website

Passages North review

The Billfold profile of the author
The Los Angeles Review of Books interview with the author
The Rumpus interview with the author
Santa Fe New Mexican 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

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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Book Notes - Polly Samson "The Kindness"

The Kindness

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

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

Polly Samson's second novel The Kindness is a gripping account of love and loss.

Financial Times wrote of the book:

"This is elegant, witty writing, informed throughout by generosity and wise perceptiveness. Dealing with many kinds of love, and with misunderstanding, betrayal, grief and forgiveness, the novel dares to posit, ultimately, the possibility of redemption."

Stream a playlist of these songs at Spotify.


In her own words, here is Polly Samson's Book Notes music playlist for her novel The Kindness:


My playlist opens with Billie Holiday. The star-crossed lovers of The Kindness are Julia and Julian and "I've Got My Love To Keep Me Warm" is their song. It's on the radio when Julian comforts Julia as they dance following her flight from her abusive husband. It represents the overcoat in a storm, the feeling of protection that she gets whenever she's in his arms. Towards the end of the book she reflects that Julian is the only man who has ever made her feel "safe".

Julian is eight years younger than Julia when they meet. He's a serious English student studying Yeats and Milton. The first time he sees Julia she is flying her husband's hawk on the Downs. I've taken liberties with Yeats' "Second Coming" in writing this scene because it would have been so much in Julian's head when confronted with the falcon and the falconer. Joni Mitchell's "Slouching Towards Bethlehem" is a great way to hear the poem.

After that first meeting there's a period when Julian thinks he'll never find Julia again. When he does, he sees her reflected in a mirror. I thought angels should be singing and for that reason chose Crosby, Stills and Nash to be playing from an upstairs window. "Helplessly Hoping" "they are one person, they are two alone," has a perfect lyric for the moment and CSN harmonise as sweetly as a celestial host.

"Kooks" from David Bowie's Hunky Dory comes next. Julia knows all the words to every song on the album and sings as she paints the walls of their first flat. Having a child is on her mind and she and Julian are very much a couple of kooks hang up on romancing at this point of the novel.

Julian often finds himself facing temptation. Madonna's "Crazy For You" thuds out as his friend William buys him a lap dance during an almost unendurable "boys night out" and on another occasion Air's "You Make It Easy" plays in the hotel bar when his ex-girlfriend tries to seduce him.

No playlist is complete without Leonard Cohen and his The Future album provides the backing track for Julian's mother. She sings along to "Closing Time", getting the words muddled but she is a very good cook.

Pachelbel's Canon is such a heart-rending piece of music and that's why I gave it to the busker who plays it on the saxophone as Julia and Julian cross the bridge in Paris with him so full of hope and her newly-burdened with the secret that will lead to their downfall.

Finally, I have shamelessly stolen a lyric from my husband David Gilmour's song "Sorrow" and used it at the start of Julian's section of the novel. "He wakes to a morning with no reason for waking." I couldn't think of a better way to express his feeling of utter despair following the loss of Julia and their child.


Polly Samson and The Kindness links:

the author's website
the author's Wikipedia entry

Financial Times review
Guardian review
Independent review
Sydney Morning Herald review
Telegraph review

Guardian profile of the author
Independent interview with the author
Irish Times 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

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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Shorties (An Interview with Daniel Clowes, Stream the New Titus Andronicus Album, and more)

The Comics Journal interviewed cartoonist Daniel Clowes.


NPR Music is streaming Titus Andronicus's new album, A Most Lamentable Tragedy.


Author Rebecca Dinerstein shared a book tour diary at Lit Hub.


Pitchfork interviewed Penelope Spheeris about her classic punk documentary The Decline of Western Civilization.


Electric Literature shared Ben Marcus's foreword to the new anthology New American Stories.


Lit Hub shared a primer of weird fiction.


Stream a new Foals song.


A 68-hour Spotify playlist of Shakespeare's plays.


Photos of Nirvana's first concert.


Quill and Quire previewed fall's new literary fiction.


Paste profiled Alison Mosshart of the Kills.


Den of Geek recommended underappreciated graphic novels.


Stream a new song from Drinks (Cate Le Bon and Tim Presley of White Fence).


Morning Edition and Biographile interviewed William Finnegan about his new memoir Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life.

Read an excerpt from the book.


Follow Largehearted Boy on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Tumblr, 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)

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 (Tracy Bonham, Marissa Nadler, and more)

Every day, Daily Downloads offers free and legal music and/or stream.


Today's free and legal mp3 downloads:

Coo Coo Birds: Mexican Cowboys album [mp3]

Field Vision: "Lorelai (Fleet Foxes cover)" [mp3]

The Harmaleighs: Pretty Picture, Dirty Brush album [mp3]

Kubaterra: Kubaterra album [mp3]

Marissa Nadler: "Solitude (Black Sabbath cover)" [mp3]

Pressbox: With album [mp3]

The Sea Atlas: Towers EP [mp3]

Tracy Bonham: Making Heads & Tails of Wax & Gold EP [mp3]

Wild Ones: "Dim the Lights" [mp3]
Wild Ones: Keep It Safe album [mp3]


Free and legal live performances at other websites:

Dead Stars: 2015-07-10, Brooklyn [mp3]


search for more free and legal music downloads at Largehearted Boy


also at Largehearted Boy:

other Daily Downloads

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

July 20, 2015

Book Notes - Louisa Hall "Speak"

Speak

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

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

Louisa Hall's Speak is a brilliant novel that explores the nature of memory, relationships, and identity over hundred of years through an impressive cast of narrators.

Library Journal wrote of the book:

"Hall capably weaves the stories to form a beautiful rumination on the nature of memory and the frailty of human relationships."

Stream a playlist of these songs at Spotify.


In her own words, here is Louisa Hall's Book Notes music playlist for her novel Speak:


Speak is about five characters who are involved with creating an artificially intelligent doll. The characters range from a pilgrim crossing the Atlantic in the seventeenth-century to a traumatized girl in the near future, but they're linked by an acute loneliness that causes them to dream of technologies that will somehow understand them better than people.

I don't listen to music while I'm writing—I like to write in quiet places so that I can hear the voices of the characters I'm writing about. But after I finished writing Speak, I found that all kinds of music I loved and often listened to connected somehow to the book I'd just written. This is a list of music that speaks to lonely and frightening future worlds, robots coming to life, and the desire to escape from a reality that somehow feels false. Since the book covers so many time periods, there should probably be some baroque music from England in the seventeenth-century and some music from the 1920s that Alan Turing might have listened to while prophesying artificial intelligence. There should also be some classical music composed by algorithm to explore the differences between human and computer musical genius. But I know even less about those genres than I do about more contemporary music, so here's my best shot:

"First Breath After Coma" by Explosions in the Sky

This is a song about coming to life. In Speak, the artificially intelligent dolls—babybots—describe the process of coming into sentience. The song starts with a heartbeat and opens out into all kinds of exciting sounds. It makes me imagine the feeling of existing as a living creature for the very first time.

"All is Full of Love" by Bjork

Somehow this song makes me feel for the babybots, who come into being as creatures meant to be loved by their children. Their fate, alone in the desert, seems even sadder given that original promise. Plus, that amazing robot music video!

"Spaceman" by Harry Nilsson

For me, this song captures the hubris of the babybots' inventor, who dedicates himself to creating new life and forgets about the real lives he's involved in.

"Fake Plastic Trees" by Radiohead

The future in Speak involves suburban developments where people live out their whole lives, surrounded by plastic trees, fake ponds, artificial grass. This song evokes some of the disturbing alienation from the natural world that I imagine would exist in those developments.

"Lost in the World" by Kanye West and Bon Iver

This song describes the urge to escape from a fake world, something my characters write about—as if you could just cross some boundary somewhere and enter a reality where things feel more authentic and less constrained, where the people you'd lost could come back to existence, where you'd be understood as you've always wanted to be understood.

"It's Summertime" by The Flaming Lips

One of the characters in Speak feels that his wife has lost touch with the real world, entranced as she is by a computer. This song, from Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots (which could in itself sort of be a soundtrack to the book), insists that we should pay attention to the real world of passing seasons.

"Everyone's Gone to the Moon" by Nina Simone

And this is another demand that we should live on this planet, now. The feeling that we're all somehow elsewhere—stuck in the future or on another planet, waiting for our real lives to start—is part of why I like writing about the future. I like to practice going elsewhere, then coming back.

"Don't Forget Me" by Harry Nilsson

All of the characters in Speak are writing first person accounts, imagining future audiences or audiences of their loved ones, hoping they'll be understood and remembered after they're gone. This song is one of the sweetest demands to be remembered that I can think of.


Louisa Hall and Speak links:

the author's website
the author's Wikipedia entry

Elle review
NPR Books review
Paste review
Tampa Bay Times review
Washington Post review

All Things Considered interview with the author
Kirkus 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

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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Book Notes - Lisa Unger "Crazy Love You"

Crazy Love You

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

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

Lisa Unger's latest novel Crazy Love You is a taut and riveting psychological thriller.

Booklist wrote of the book:

"This is a complex, intricate story, yet the pages fly by as Ian, the most unreliable narrator since Nick Dunne in Gone Girl, leads us on a wild ride in this superb psychological thriller."

Stream a playlist of these songs at Spotify.


In her own words, here is Lisa Unger's Book Notes music playlist for her novel Crazy Love You:


There is often just a fine and nebulous line that lies between the seemingly disparate. The woman in love veers into obsession, and suddenly her behavior looks a lot like hatred. The boy who stands up to a bully on a playground likes the feeling of power and becomes a bully himself. Passion between a man and a woman so intense that it clings and starts to look like violence. That moment, that delicate shift between two poles, is a space that interests me. I like to dwell there, asking questions. Music often helps me find my way there. I listen to a wide variety, from Bauhaus to Gregorian Chants, from Madonna to Chopin, Jeff Buckley, Regina Spektor, Duran Duran, K+FKA twigs – usually music that is atmospheric, pulsing or lyrical.

I don't always listen to music when I'm writing. But I'm always listening, especially during my daily workouts -- which is where I do my best thinking, hammer out narrative issues, and find the way forward in my novel. To return to the headspace I was in for Crazy Love You, I went back to the playlist I was listening to most often during that time – not while I was writing, but when I was "not writing." And, surprise, surprise, it's practically a soundtrack for the book. Songs that explore some of those dichotomous places that fascinate me – beauty and ugliness, love and hate, pleasure and pain, hero and villain, youth and adulthood.


Lady Gaga, "Bad Romance"

Lady Gaga sings about wanting her lover's "ugly" and his "disease." She wants his "horror", his "psycho." She wants all of him, even the parts of him that are frightening and dark. This is a big theme in the book: Can you love all of a person, even the shadow they seek to hide? Is that ugliness more attractive than beauty depending upon your appetites or needs?

Ian Paine, the graphic novelist at the center of the novel, knows there's a terrible dark side to his lifelong friend Priss. She draws out the worst in him by enabling his addictions and satisfying his basest desires. And he can't stop wanting her, even as he tries to get away. Likewise, Megan, Ian's new girlfriend, is drawn to him even though it's clear from the beginning that he has some real issues. (Or is it the shadow that attracts her?) Megan, who by all outward appearances is the perfect good girl, has a few scars of her own. Ian sees this from the very beginning, as well. Far from driving him away, it intrigues him.

We are all a shifting of light and shadow, a mosaic of good and bad motivations, right and wrong choices. Love accepts all of us, even the darkness.


Eminem (featuring Rhianna), "Love the Way You Lie"

I have written about the power and the pulse of Eminem's lyrics before, how they move with the beauty of their poetry, and the throb of anger. He can take me to an angry, desperate place, which is someplace I needed to go often for this book. If Priss and Ian have a theme song, this is it. When they were children together, Priss was everything Ian wasn't: strong where he was weak; brave where he was cowardly; decisive when he wavers. She's a hero to him, a defender. But as they grow older and he gets stronger, the balance of power in their relationship changes. Once a hero in Ian's life, she's starts to look a lot like a villain.

A thread of violence runs through their years together, and the love they have for each other takes them both to some horrible places. When Eminem sings: High off her love/ drunk off her hate/ It's like I'm huffing paint and I love her the more I suffer, I suffocate … it brings Ian to mind. Ian is addicted to Priss; he's drunk from the highs of their relationship, even though she's poison. And the lows are crushing, bringing out the worst in him.


Lily Allen, "Everyone's At It"

Addiction is another theme in Crazy Love You, and another facet of Priss and Ian's love story. British singer-songwriter Lily Allen claims in this song, that everyone's doing drugs, medicating in one way or another. That it's a dirty little secret lots of people keep. And it's certainly true of Ian.

Ian has been drowning his demons in alcohol, quieting them with pills, and partaking in almost any prescription he can find – anything to keep him from being himself. He also disappears into his fiction, his other portal away from the reality of life. This makes him a completely unreliable narrator, and I was constantly off balance with him, never quite sure whether what he was experiencing was the result of his imagination, trauma, fiction or addiction. The year I spent with Ian Paine was a wild ride, kind of like dating an addict – you never know what's real.


The VLA, "When I am Through with You"

When I am through with you/ There won't be anything left. The song, which I first heard as the theme for the television show "Damages," has a gripping and compulsive beat that captures the energy of the book, exploring the line between desire and destruction. I've come to pluck you/ I'm gonna pluck you right in half.

Priss's brand of love is ferocious. She loves Ian, protects him, avenges him, hurts people who hurt him. When they were children, he needed her. Now that he's a grown man, he doesn't need her in that way anymore. But their lives, their histories, their appetites are so entwined that he can't be rid of her without destroying parts of himself. Priss is not willing to let Ian go, even if on some level she realizes that he'd be better off without her. She would rather see him destroyed than free of her.


The Killers, "When We Were Young"

They say the Devil's water -- it ain't so sweet/ You don't have to drink right now/ But you can dip your feet/ Every once in a little while.

This song brought me into Megan, the good girl for whom Ian is trying to change his life. In many ways, she's Priss's opposite, representing all the positive choices Ian could make for himself. But she has a lot of pain and trauma in her past. Like Priss (in a way), she's looking for someone to save. And Ian is a good candidate, badly in need of saving. For me, this song is about how the things we want when we're younger inform our adult choices. But those childish desires can lead us to dark places. Megan is willing to follow Ian all the way to the dark side in order to pull him back. But can she succeed in doing that without hurting herself?


Rihanna, "S&M"

Sticks and stones may break my bones/ But chains and whips excite me.

Priss has been formed by pain – the pain of her past and that which she inflicts on others. It seems like a part of her has come to enjoy it– her role in Ian's life, how she taunts and teases him into bad behavior, pushing all his buttons, hurting the people who hurt him. There's a danger element and a roughness to the sexual component of their relationship. There's also an element of abandon and fun to the times they've shared. This song brought that energy alive for me, the space between pleasure and pain how what's exciting can also be perilous.

Crazy Love You was reviewed in an article about romance novels, which surprised and amused me a little. One of my early readers also characterized it as a love story, a bizarre triangle between Ian, Megan, and Priss. Acknowledging, of course, that it is a dark and twisted love story, the book is ultimately about love – and addiction, obsession, the muddling of fiction and reality, and fear. If it's a romance novel, it's a disturbing one dwelling in one of those shadowy spaces between things. All of the songs on my list helped me shimmy through those spaces, emerging on the other side with a better understanding of both light and dark.


Lisa Unger and Crazy Love You links:

the author's website
the author's Wikipedia entry

Associated Press review
Booklist review
Kirkus review
Minneapolis Star Tribune review
Tampa Bay Times review
Washington Post review

Largehearted Boy Book Notes essay by the author for Black Out
Orlando Sentinel 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

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)

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

Shorties (A List of Mind-Expanding Drug Novels, A Live Desaparecidos Performance, and more)

Flavorwire listed mind-expanding drug novels.


NPR Music is streaming a recent Desaparecidos live performance.


Noisey interviewed musician Sally Timms.


Connotation Press interviewed author Wendy Ortiz.


Stream Marissa Nadler's cover of Black Sabbath's "Solitude."


The Quietus reconsidered Funkadelic's Let's Take It To The Stage album 40 years after its release.


Future Islands and Madlib are collaborating on a hip hop album.


Alan Moore on the "cultural catastrophe" of adults' fascination with superheroes.

"It looks to me very much like a significant section of the public, having given up on attempting to understand the reality they are actually living in, have instead reasoned that they might at least be able to comprehend the sprawling, meaningless, but at-least-still-finite 'universes' presented by DC or Marvel Comics."


SPIN profiled the band Sylvan Esso.


The Rumpus interviewed author Jill Talbot.


Iron and Wine's Sam Beam talked about his new covers album Sing Into My Mouth (with Ben Bridwell of Band of Horses) with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.


All Things Considered interviewed author Juan Gabriel Vasquez.


The Toronto Sun listed the best albums of 2015 so far.


Publishers Weekly profiled indie publisher Two Dollar Radio.


Follow Largehearted Boy on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Tumblr, 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)

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)

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

Daily Downloads (My Morning Jacket, Jesse Harris, and more)

Every day, Daily Downloads offers free and legal music and/or stream.


Today's free and legal mp3 downloads:

Ancient Mariner: Ancient Mariner EP [mp3]

The Cigarettes: The Waste Land album [mp3]

The Go Rounds: Some Other Time EP [mp3]

Holy Fiction: Late Night Wilderness album [mp3]

Jesse Harris: The Secret Son Sampler EP [mp3]

Lobo Marino: We Hear the Ocean album [mp3]

Trans Charger Metropolis: "Witchy Chicks" [mp3]

Various Artists: Moosetape #9 Moosetape Records compilation album [mp3]

Zeta Wave: "Change (Banks cover)" [mp3]


Free and legal live performances at other websites:

My Morning Jacket: 2015-06-20, Milwaukee [mp3]


search for more free and legal music downloads at Largehearted Boy


also at Largehearted Boy:

other Daily Downloads

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

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