May 7, 2018

Shorties (Rachel Kushner on Her New Novel, Margo Jefferson on Michael Jackson, and more)

Rachel Kushner

Rachel Kushner discussed her new novel The Mars Room with Electric Literature.


Margo Jefferson talked to the Guardian about her book On Michael Jackson.


May's best eBook deals.


The Creative Independent interviewed musician and author Claire L. Evans.


Poet Carl Phillips talked revision with Guernica.


The Current is streaming a recent Dr. Dog live performance.


Literary Hub recommended books you may have overlooked last month.


Stereogum reconsidered Spoon's A Series of Sneaks album on its 20th anniversary.


Vulture listed the best books of the year so far.


Stream Ryan Adams' live Rolling Stones covers.


Parade recommended summer's best books.


Dave Lory discussed his new book Jeff Buckley: From Hallelujah to Last Goodbye on World Cafe.


Hope Larson discussed her new graphic novel All Summer Long with Nerdist.


Stream two new Florence + the Machine songs.


The Godfather has been adapted into a children's rhyming book.


Liz Phair broke down her album Exile in Guyville track-by-track at Rolling Stone.


Rumaan Alam talked to Weekend Edition and Literary Hub about his new novel That Kind of Mother.


PopMatters interviewed singer-songwriter Damien Jurado.


The A.V. Club recommended books to read this month.


Aquarium Drunkard interviewed Ruban Nielson of Unknown Mortal Orchestra.


Sofija Stefanovic discussed her memoir Miss Ex-Yugoslavia with the New York Times.


The Guardian profiled author Lorrie Moore.


Benedict Cumberbatch read Kafka's "Metamorphosis."



also at Largehearted Boy:

Support Largehearted Boy

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

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

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May 4, 2018

William Boyle's Playlist for His Novel "The Lonely Witness"

The Lonely Witness

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

William Boyle's novel The Lonely Witness is a vivid character-driven work of crime fiction.

Publishers Weekly wrote of the book:

"Powered by brilliantly realized characters, a richly described and grittily realistic backdrop, and subtle yet powerful imagery, this is crime fiction at its best: immersive, intense, and darkly illuminating."

In his own words, here is William Boyle's Book Notes music playlist for his novel The Lonely Witness:



The Lonely Witness is a paranoid thriller. The songs that burned through my mind really set the tone for the action; I also can’t help but imagine how these songs would interact with certain scenes, float behind characters, deepen meaning. The book is set in and around the Gravesend and Bensonhurst sections of Brooklyn in February 2017, one month into the new reality of this country. I started writing it that same month. I grew up in those neighborhoods and am still back there often to visit my mom and grandma, but I’ve lived in the south for the past decade. I was back last February pretty often because my grandmother, eighty-nine at the time, wasn’t doing well; her dementia was getting worse. The book had been knocking at the door, so to speak, for a while; I knew I wanted to return to Amy Falconetti, a minor character from my first novel, Gravesend. Amy used to be a bartender and a record collector, a rockabilly girl. She loved Social Distortion, The Cramps, The Gun Club. Music stills plays a part in her life, though she’s sold all of her records and relies on some cassette tapes she dubbed back in high school that she listens to on a battered old Walkman as she walks the streets. We meet Amy here in the throes of a crisis: a crime witnessed, her alcoholic wreck of a father back in her life, her ex-girlfriend Alessandra returning from L.A., her past lives crashing into her quiet new life. One of many things I loved about Twin Peaks: The Return is the way the Roadhouse functioned essentially as David Lynch bringing his own playlist to life. Isn’t that what we all really want? Isn’t that the purpose of this? So, here’s what the Roadhouse of my dreams looks like:

1. Bernard Herrmann, “Prelude and Rooftop”Vertigo is one of my all-time favorite movies (I know I’m far from alone there) and a huge influence on the book. I love the way this track from Herrmann’s score jumps out at you and sets the pace for the whole thing. I wanted the same kind of tension in my opening: a city, a pursuit, a mystery.

2. Sharon Van Etten, “A Crime” – To me, no one sounds like Sharon Van Etten: that voice full of yearning and regret and pain, yet hope somehow bleeds through. This song, in particular, was one that really informed what I was doing. Feels a lot like it could be about Amy and Alessandra’s relationship, too.

3. Cat Power, “Lived in Bars” – Almost every night during the few months that I urgently worked on this book, I fell asleep listening to Cat Power. I wasn’t sleeping well at the time, and I’d drift in and out of sleep, bend in and out of Cat Power-driven dreams. This song reminds me so much of Amy, of one of her past lives as a bartender, as someone—in one incarnation—wholly alive after hours.

4. Elliott Smith, “I Don’t Think I’m Ever Gonna Figure It Out” – The book is really about identity and the pervading sense that nothing will ever really make sense. Elliott Smith reminds me of long subway rides with headphones on, staring out scratched glass at rooftops and windows, feeling lost and alone in the city.

5. Nina Simone, “Lonesome Cities” – At International Bar, Amy gets drunk for the first time in a long while and plays Nina Simone on the jukebox. This song feels so right for her and for her story. I think it’s one of the songs she punches in.

6. Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan, “Come Undone” – So much of what I’m picking here is about tone. This feels like a walking-in-the-city song, and there’s plenty of walking and wandering and following in this book.

7. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, “I Need You” – I was wrapped up in Skeleton Tree, maybe my favorite record by one of my biggest heroes, when I started working on The Lonely Witness. I saw One More Time with Feeling somewhere along the way, and it cast a big shadow over the book, especially in terms of understanding the way things can change so quickly, what it’s like to feel lost, what it’s like to have to perform an identity.

8. The Shangri-Las, “Out in the Streets” – A song about identity and loss and change. The Shangri-Las are Queens girls like Amy. In a lot of ways, I think I want this book to sound like a Shangri-Las record. That Shadow Morton production, you know? Goddamnit, you know.

9. Ramones, “Outsider” – Another one for Queens girl Amy, one that stresses her life on the margins.

10. Johnny Thunders, “In Cold Blood” – This feels like the perfect city song in some ways, and it’s sure perfect for Amy and Alessandra. “Well, no one here gets out alive / Living here, it’s suicide.” I also really love this live version.

11. Angel Olsen, “Free” – Angel Olsen is another patron saint of this book. I was listening to My Woman a lot while I was working on it, but this one, from Half Way Home, feels right for Amy. It could be her thinking about Alessandra or about God or her pathetic old man, yearning to believe in something but not really believing in anything.

12. The Jim Carroll Band, “I Want the Angel” – Every time I make a playlist, it’s difficult to not just fill it up with Lou Reed, Sonic Youth, the Ramones, Jim Carroll, Johnny Thunders, the bands and artists that remind me the most of the New York I grew up in, those artists whose songs feel like the New York that lives in my imagination and that certainly shaped my view of the city. Catholic Boy could probably just be the soundtrack to everything I write. The last few lines here were one of the epigraphs during the early stages of the book: “I want the angel / that never chooses / and don’t come running back every time she loses / I want the angel that never loses.”

13. The Gun Club, “Mother of Earth” – A relic from Amy’s past life. When she sees a bartender in a Fire of Love T-shirt, I imagine that she thinks back to this one from Miami, no doubt a favorite of hers.

14. Jackie Shane, “Any Other Way” – Numero Group put out a box set of transgender soul singer Jackie Shane’s work in the fall of 2017. At the time, I was deep into revisions on The Lonely Witness. Jackie Shane was one of those discoveries I’m always hungry for. This, the title track, is a cover of a William Bell song. Well worth it to read this New York Times piece and then rush out and buy the collection. Jackie Shane is someone I think Amy would really admire. The book ends several months before the box set is released, and I sure hope Amy gets back to collecting records and finds her way to it.

15. Lucinda Williams, “Foolishness” – Lucinda’s right at the top of my all-time greats list, and I think this run of records in the last decade has been pretty phenomenal. They keep revealing themselves to me and getting better, as is so often the case with the best of the best. Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone is a masterpiece, and this is the greatest track from it, the kind of driving, incantatory anthem that Lucinda excels at. It feels triumphant. I’ve been obsessed with it lately, and it reminds me of Amy, of her resilience, of her rugged (and ragged) individualism. I worry about her, and I hope the world doesn’t beat her down too bad.

16. Screaming Trees, “More or Less” – Something about the very beginning of this song feels so spot on for the anxious raspiness of the story. And Mark Lanegan’s voice seems to be coming across a great distance or slipping out from a deep, dark hole. Amy would’ve loved these guys back when she was in high school; she’s got Screaming Trees tapes, no doubt.

17. Ronnie Spector, “You Can’t Put Your Arms Around a Memory” – There’s a scene near the end of the book—I won’t say what happens—where I picture a big swooping De Palma crane shot and this Ronnie Spector cover of Johnny Thunders kicking in as the camera pulls back. I’ve loved this song for a long time. I’m not ashamed to admit that the first time I heard it was the Guns N’ Roses cover on The Spaghetti Incident? I was in eighth grade. Guns N’ Roses was my favorite band. That album introduced me to The New York Dolls, The Stooges, The Dead Boys, Misfits, T. Rex, and—most importantly—Johnny Thunders’s best solo song. Thunders is buried right near where Amy is from in Queens. The more I think about it, the more I realize how much his ghost is present in the city that I write about. When I was in high school, my best friend Anthony and I went to visit his grave. It was the only time I’d ever gone to Queens for anything other than a Mets game.

18. L7, “One More Thing” – Amy puts L7’s Bricks are Heavy into the tape player in her car at the end, and this isn’t the first song she hears, but it’s coming soon. “One more thing that I can’t take / One more thing and I’m gonna break.” Freeze frame. Roll credits.


William Boyle and The Lonely Witness links:

the author's website

Booklist review
BookPage review
Publishers Weekly review

Largehearted Boy playlist by the author for Death Don't Have No Mercy
Largehearted Boy Book Notes essay by the author for Gravesend
Under the Radar interview with the author


also at Largehearted Boy:

Support the Largehearted Boy website

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

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

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This Week's Interesting Music Releases - April 4, 2018

Liz Phair

Liz Phair's Girly-Sound To Guyville box set celebrates the album's 25th anniversary.

Brian Eno also released a box set today, the 6-CD Music For Installations.

Belly's Dove, Damien Jurado's The Horizon Just Laughed, Eleanor Friedberger's Rebound, and especially Iceage's Beyondless are other albums I can recommend.


This week's interesting music releases:


Aquabats: The Fury Of The Aquabats (reissue & expanded) [vinyl]
Belly: Dove
Billy Joel: River of Dreams (25th Anniversary Edition) [vinyl]
Black Moth Super Rainbow: Panic Blooms
Brian Eno: Music For Installations (6-CD box set)
Cream: The Lost Tapes
Damien Jurado: The Horizon Just Laughed
DJ Koze: Knock Knock
D.O.A.: Fight Back
Dwarves: Must Die Redux (expanded reissue)
Eagles: Kings of Hollywood
Eleanor Friedberger: Rebound
Frank Sinatra: Standing Room Only (3-CD box set)
Frank Turner: Be More Kind
Gaz Coombes: World's Strongest Man
The Grateful Dead: Cornell 5/8/77
Horse Feathers: Appreciation
Iceage: Beyondless
John Williams: A Life In Music
John Williams: Star Wars: Attack Of the Clones (remastered)
John Williams: Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (remastered)
John Williams: Star Wars: A New Hope (remastered)
John Williams: Star Wars: The Phantom Menace (remastered)
John Williams: Star Wars: Return Of The Jedi (remastered)
Jon Hopkins: Singularity
Lake Street Dive: Free Yourself Up
Leon Bridges: Good Thing
Liz Phair: Girly-Sound To Guyville: The 25th Anniversary (3-CD box set)
Liz Phair: Girly-Sound To Guyville: The 25th Anniversary (7-disc vinyl box set)
Liz Phair: Exile In Guyville: 25th Anniversary (1-CD) (remastered)
Liz Phair: Exile In Guyville: 25th Anniversary (2-discs) (remastered) [vinyl]
Mat Kearney: CRAZYTALK
Matt & Kim: Almost Everyday
Melvins: Ozma (reissue)
Middle Kids: Lost Friends
Mika: Life in Cartoon Motion (reissue) [vinyl]
Parkway Drive: Reverence
Parker Millsap: Other Arrangements
Peace: Kindness Is The New Rock And Roll
Pink: Funhouse (yellow vinyl] (reissue) [vinyl]
Pink: I'm Not Dead (pink vinyl] (reissue) [vinyl]
Pink: The Truth About Love (green vinyl] (reissue) [vinyl]
Pinkshinyultrablast: Miserable Miracles
Rita Coolidge: Safe in the Arms of Time
Royce da 5'9: Book Of Ryan
Shakey Graves: Can't Wake Up
Shinedown: Attention Attention
Simon and Garfunkel: Greatest Hits (reissue) [vinyl]
Stars: Heart [vinyl]
Stevie Nicks: On Yasgur's Farm
Tom Verlaine: Cover (reissue and expanded)
Trampled by Turtles: Life Is Good On The Open Road
Various Artists: The Harder They Come (reissue) [vinyl]
Various Artists: Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild: Original Soundtrack
Various Artists: The Sound of Music (soundtrack) (reissue) [vinyl]
Venetian Snares x Daniel Lanois: Venetian Snares x Daniel Lanois
We Are Scientists: Megaplex [vinyl]


also at Largehearted Boy:

Support Largehearted Boy

weekly music release lists

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

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Shorties (A Guide to Free Comic Book Day, The 25th Anniversary of PJ Harvey's Rid of Me Album, and more)

Rid of Me

Book Riot shared a guide to Free Comic Book Day.


Rolling Stone reconsidered PJ Harvey's Rid of Me album on its 25th anniversary.


May's best eBook deals.


Liz Phair talked to All Things Considered about her new box set, Girly-Sound To Guyville The 25th Anniversary.


Vol. 1 Brooklyn interviewed author Lynne Tillman.


Stream a new Nellie McKay song.


Tor.com shared an excerpt from Bethany C. Morrow's novel MEM.


Pinkshinyultrablast's broke down their new album Miserable Miracles track by track at Drowned in Sound.


The Brooklyn Rail interviewed author Brian Evenson.


Stream a new Dawn Landes song.


Dave Eggers discussed his new children's book The Lifters with All Things Considered.


Fresh Air interviewed singer-songwriter Tracey Thorn.


New York magazine recommended the best books about microdosing and psychedelics.


Stream a new song by Dizzy.


Vulture recommended May's best books.


Shakey Graves visited World Cafe for a live performance and interview.


Author Imogen Hermes Gowar talked books and reading with the Guardian.


Stream a new Florence + The Machine song.


Kirkus Reviews interviewed Chibundu Onuzo about her debut novel Welcome to Lagos.


The Quietus interviewed author and filmmaker Hanif Kureishi.


The Spectator previewed upcoming UK literary ballets.


Stream a new Future Islands song.


The OTHERPPL podcast interviewed author Lauren Grodstein.


Literary Hub recommended literary film adaptations to watch on Netflix.


CrimeReads recommended spring's best true crime books.


Stream a new Protomartyr song.


The Rumpus interviewed author Quintan Ana Wikswo.



also at Largehearted Boy:

Support Largehearted Boy

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

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

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

May 3, 2018

Lucas Mann's Playlist for His Book "Captive Audience"

Captive Audience

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

Lucas Mann's brilliant Captive Audience is a thoughtful and insightful exploration of both his marriage and reality television. This book cements his status as one of our most talented writers of creative nonfiction.

Kirkus wrote of the book:

"If Mann doesn't quite elevate reality TV to an art form—and that’s unlikely his intention—he makes a persuasive argument for readers to sit up and take notice. The cultural implications are perhaps more potent than we’d like to believe. An immensely captivating consideration of reality TV and a moving reflection on marriage."


In his own words, here is Lucas Mann's Book Notes music playlist for his book Captive Audience:



I hardly ever listen to music when I'm writing anymore — usually I'm out in a public place eavesdropping on people; for some reason I find that less distracting. But a huge part of my writing routine is walking to and from wherever it is that I'm trying to actually write. For Captive Audience, I got into the habit of walking to the Providence Athenaeum library, which is about two miles away from my house. This time felt crucial and always had a soundtrack, which shifted over the course of writing and editing. Captive Audience is about watching reality TV and it's also about my relationship with my wife, and the ways the bizarre, performed intimacies of the shows we love have been a backdrop to our lives. Often, it felt really daunting to write at this fault line of intimacy and sincerity and performance, to try to voice the trashy sentiment that is so intriguing to me about reality TV and then render myself at the same potentially embarrassing emotional pitch. Below are some of the songs that I listened to over and over again, walking to and from writing. I didn't realize it at the time, but I think they ended up functioning as a collective mantra to open up and get messy on the page, to not always hide behind performed intelligence and instead aspire to be big and raw and sometimes goofy and often messy, like a good pop song.


Julien Baker, "Rejoice"
I've been obsessed with Julien Baker while working on this book. I love the emotion that she wrings out of every lyric and chord — it's always right on the line of being solipsistic, but it's so sincere and smart, so quietly forceful. I think I listen to her to figure out how she does it, but I haven't yet. The songs seem almost structure-less, too, which appeals to me. She just swirls around these images and keeps building meaning and momentum. She seems fearless, which I am totally not as a writer, but it's nice to have something to aspire to.


Kanye West, "Highlights" and "FML"
Pretty much every song from The Life of Pablo could be on this playlist. I was listening to it constantly when working on early drafts of the book, and I think it's a truly transcendent album. From a literary perspective, the combination of rawness and bravado with which Kanye narrates his own life is amazing; I can't think of anyone else who pulls it off quite like him. You can hate him, pity him, laugh at him, and be dazzled by him in the span of thirty seconds. Plus, from the reality TV standpoint, I got really into the way Kanye locates himself in the Kardashian universe in this album: on the one hand pleading to get away from it, on the other hand stoking some of his songs with the kind of salacious details that have made his wife's career. There's this amazing riff in "Highlights," when he gets into Rob Kardashian's weight issues and then starts musing about what he wants from his own trainer. And I just think "FML" is stunning. Kanye talking about his Lexipro prescription — what could be better than that?


Lorde, "Supercut"
This album, Melodrama, came out when I was frantically working on edits and questioning every decision I made in Captive Audience. I liked it so much that it actually managed to cheer me up and de-stress me for a little while. "Supercut" is my favorite song on the album — it's a perfect summer pop song with these weird little hitches added in that complicate things at exactly the right moments. This album came out when she was twenty! What am I doing with my life?!


The National, "Sorrow"
I've loved this song for a long time, but it became particularly important for me after I saw an installation by the Icelandic artist Ragnar Kjartansson at a museum in Reykjavik. He filmed The National performing "Sorrow," over and over again, for six hours. I got sort of hypnotized by it — it's the simplest, quickest song, and it just kept looping, and the band got more and more tired, the voice started straining, hitting the same morose tonal note, but the performance deepened instead of getting boring. That was really helpful for me to think about because as a writer it's easy to assume that repetition of a tone or a mood on the page is always stagnant, or only suggests a limitation on the writer's part. I was hung up on that insecurity. It's freeing to embrace the potential beauty in making the audience return to the same note, live in that same emotional space, as the pressure mounts.


The Cure, "Pictures of You"
I might as well lean into the very obvious sad boy theme at this point. The Cure will always make me feel many melancholy things, which is a pleasurable experience in its own way. "Pictures of You" is my favorite Cure song, and I listened to it a lot when I was just starting to conceive of Captive Audience. I love the way the song lingers and thrums along, this idea of looking longingly at an image until if feels like you're living in it.


Prince, "The Beautiful Ones"
This song is so goddamn electric. It's like smelling salts for the creatively blocked.


The Magnetic Fields, "Papa Was A Rodeo"
If my wife and I have a band that feels like ours, it's The Magnetic Fields. "Papa Was a Rodeo" is my favorite song of theirs, probably my favorite love song ever. It's weird and sweet and epic, and I want to curl up in the lower register of Stephin Merritt's voice.


Leonard Cohen, "Chelsea Hotel"
I am always amazed at how frank — mean, really — this song is. It's like Cohen walks into the lovely, candle-lit room of nostalgic lost-love songs and turns on a fluorescent light. Every line in the song is intentional, crystalline and stripped of bullshit. It's that feeling of reading an essay that makes you love, envy, and fear the writer all at once.


Carly Rae Jepsen, "Favourite Color"
This is the polar opposite of "Chelsea Hotel." But Carly Rae Jepsen makes fantastic music. Walking around and listening to this song makes your day better; it's everything that a slow, buzzy, dreamy pop song should be, and particularly useful to ease the trip home after a frustrating writing session.


Counting Crows, "Anna Begins"
Trying to write honestly and earnestly about reality TV (and love, for that matter) ended up being an exercise in humility. There's a ton of vulnerability in talking about what moves you, all the naked particularities. Often, I ended up having to fight off freshman year feelings of taste insecurity, that sense that if you liked heady, heavy stuff it made you a smart, maybe unimpeachable, person. It's pretty easy to fall into that trap on the page — Look at me, I'm a cultural critic! As an explicit push against that, I started listening to the Counting Crows, a band that once meant a lot to me, that I pretended to think was a joke. And you know what? It was great! Fuck the haters: Adam Duritz forever!


Lucas Mann and Captive Audience links:

the author's website
excerpt from the book

Kirkus review

The Gazette profile of the author
Largehearted Boy playlist by the author for Lord Fear


also at Largehearted Boy:

Support the Largehearted Boy website

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

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

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Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week - May 3, 2018

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.


Carnet de Voyage

Carnet de Voyage by Craig Thompson

Fresh from the success of Blankets, Thompson kept a sketchbook diary of his travels through Europe and Morocco while promoting the European editions of his book. The pages are peopled with fellow travelers: cartoonists, friends, and lovers met along the way, who breathe life into a work not to be missed by lovers of travelogues.


Motherhood

Motherhood by Sheila Heti

A deep and reflective dive into the desires and pull to have children. Heti, from How Should a Person Be? and The Believer's interview series, wants the universe to tell her, straight, whether or not she should become a mother. The universe is unhelpful, but her piercing account is a compelling and relatable.


The Pisces

The Pisces by Melissa Broder

Pick this up for a fun sexy romp of a book. Lovelorn Lucy falls in love with a merman and begins to rethink everything she though she knew about love and desire. The perfect read to jump start your spring reading.


The Mars Room

The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner

The story of a woman serving two consecutive life sentences in a woman's correctional facility for killing her stalker. Tracking the daily routines and illogicality of institutional living, this book illuminates a harsh and distinct world. Turn off Orange is the New Black and read this for a true-feeling, soul-aching, down-pouring tale.


The Mushroom Fan Club

The Mushroom Fan Club by Elise Gravel

For kiddos, a new illustrated book by the prodigious Elise Gravel. Full of facts and silly drawings, readers - adults and kids alike - will come away charmed and armed with fungi facts to impress.


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:

Support the Largehearted Boy website

other Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week

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

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Shorties (Emil Ferris Awarded the Lynd Ward Prize for Graphic Novel of the Year, New Dirty Projectors Music, and more)

My Favorite Thing is Monsters

My Favorite Thing is Monsters by Emil Ferris has been awarded the 2018 Lynd Ward Prize for Graphic Novel of the Year.


Stream a new Dirty Projectors song.


May's best eBook deals.


Stream a new Wild Pink song.


Jennifer Natalya Fink discussed her novel Bhopal Dance with BOMB.


Shakey Graves discussed his new album Can't Wake Up with Austin360.


eBook on sale for $1.99 today:

Play It as It Lays by Joan Didion


Stream a new song by Youth Lagoon’s Trevor Powers.


Senator John McCain talked books and reading with the New York Times.


NYCTaper shared a recording of a recent Ryley Walker show.


Rachel Kushner discussed her new novel The Mars Room with Bookworm and Entertainment Weekly.


Stream a new Laura Jean song.


The A.V. Club shared an excerpt from Aline Kominsky-Crumb's comics collection Love That Bunch.


Noisey profiled the band Iceage.


Chuck Palahniuk discussed his new novel Adjustment Day with Nerdist.


Stream or download a sampler album of indie music from South Carolina.


The 2018 Locus Awards finalists have been announced.


Pitchfork interviewed Neko Case about her new album, Hell-on.


Jen Silverman on writing short stories at Signature.


Stream a new song by Lilith.


The Millions interviewed author Melissa Broder.


Literary Hub interviewed author Xi Xi.


Stream a new Lost Under Heaven song.


Stream two new songs by Braids.



also at Largehearted Boy:

Support Largehearted Boy

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

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

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

May 2, 2018

Abraham Smith's Playlist for His Book "Destruction of Man"

Destruction of Man

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

Abraham Smith's book-length poem Destruction of Man is as much an ode to the natural world as the unnatural, a lyrical explosion that informs and warns.

Tyehimba Jess wrote of the book:

"Abraham Smith's Destruction of Man is a compass setting toward musics caught between the hungry teeth of vole and buried bone of river. It nestles a bloodline of tonked and battered rhyme while conjuring a clabbered American Karma into silos of riveted storm. Spackled with image and strung out like a laundry line of ghost furious prayer, this book will carry you wild when you surrender to its eddies and breaks. Dive head in and leave caution to the shore."


In his own words, here is Abraham Smith's Book Notes music playlist for his book Destruction of Man:



In DESTRUCTION OF MAN, I sought to translate the stories of my native county—and thereby the fading echo of a dying agrarian lifeway. The result is a book-length poem about north Wisconsin small scale family farming in the midst of the get-big-or-get-out foghorn, and our rupturing and sometimes obliterating elisions with machines. It's folkloric and rabid in the sense that the book disjoints and foams at the mouth according to sound. In fact, I am a sound hound. I sacrifice linearity for the next whiff of sterling music. Teeth get lost in barfights and tractors croon all graveltongued like Tom Waits and hawks again and again crucify the skyway. The conclusions are clarion clear: rurality has its hectic musics and all we have is love. Gertrude Stein said the seed of DESTRUCTION OF MAN: "After all anybody is as their land and air is."

1) TVZ: Nothing

Sorrow and solitude; these are the precious things; and the only words worth rememberin.

Countrysides do lonely-nize you. Thusly the panged heart-like-a-lichen songs rashing up out from the shepherd's lips. As clotted and brackish and close in sound and misadventure as this book is, there is a pervading lonesomeness. A pure and turned-to-stone sort of hollowness. There is no finer lapidary than Townes. If I am on strings he is jerking the marionette.

2) Blaze Foley: Clay Pigeons

Try to hide my sorrow from the people I meet

Feeling a little overbaptized in vinegar already? Well oh well-frogged well. Seems like I have heard folks mis-sing that line as Tryin out my songs on the people I meet. Or maybe it's just my denim-blue Keats-ears performing mondegreen. Anyhow I hope there's a lot of body to this book. A lot of yearn. A lot of duende. Blaze's deep ode is built out of longing's canoe. And I hope my book is similarly birched.

3) Greg Brown: Summer Evening

Town used to have 12 stores; now it got 2...way may be goin, but the life ain't gone

Seems like I could've plunked almost any Greg Brown song in here. He's made appearances in pretty well all of my books. He's a principle muse. I love all of the light in the decay in this one. He'll tell you straight that things are absenting. But the glimmer glints on. There's the torch of my book as well. Surely there's a deep vein of nostalgia bolting it but the life ain't gone: the dog's still in the yard, rolling in once was.

4) Margo Price: All American Made

Tell me Mr Petty what do you think will happen next

This flower of rhetoric--this apostrophe--at the end of Price's indictment of the American way just slays me. Maybe in the same way that apostrophe at the end of Dylan's Desolation Row tears my head off in that mongrel way that Dickinson says poetry should. Anyhow the speaker of my book is pretty well apostrophizing the entire time. All of the bleating of it is headed for sky--airmailed for hawks or dear Doris or both. I feel a ton, a ton of consanguinity with Price: two upper midwesterner agrarians bringing the bucolic shellac!

5) Geeshie Wiley: Last Kind Word Blues

When you see me comin, look crost the rich man's fields...what you do to me baby, it never gets out of me

My book is about class and about love and about land. Class and love and land. So's this song. I am not saying that I achieve it--well, I hope I do, here and there--but my writing's aim is the incantatory. And this Wiley tune, to my elfin ears, is pure mesmerism. By its end I am wrapped a quarter mile deep in the cocoon of her avowals. If the cyclone of my words might mummify you a little, that'd be fine.

6) Courtney Marie Andrews: Table for One

This life it ain't free; always chained to when I leave

This song is so much more loose of foot and drifting than my book is. Farmers being anchorites of a sort. But there's a perfect rhinestone loneliness to it. In the same way that you can know 8 chickens are watching you and 4 crows but also feel no solider than a puff of wind upon last year's leaf. Andrews captures the creative process so very adroitly. That sense that to write is to be alone and to dance with strangers, coevally.

7) DBT: Heathens

If we get the van out of the ditch before mornin, ain't nobody gotta know about what I done

This book is, in great part, for Edward Meisegeier. Many of the adventures in it are his as much as mine. Heck, plenty of the sayings in it are pure dee plagiarism So, many a feedhat nod to Eddy--and please don't sue me! Back when we were a little suspicious of each other--maybe I was little protective of my youngest sister--we first bonded over this song. Now we are best of friends and family. And I am never home long before we are out on the porch with guitars cranked enough that you dear reader probably hear us while you sup with the window cracked in Maine.

8) Chris Whitley: Scrapyard Lullaby

Searchin the scrapyard for my dirty crown

Whitley is another saint in my life and a hobbyhorse. If you've been around me for 19 minutes then you've heard me trill of Chris Whitley. He's another one of those through whom in whom-ers in all of my writing. This book of mine is very scrappy--in the scrapmetal sense. And in the poke-you-in-the-eye sense. I'd call it a translation of coyote opera as much as a highly romantic stab at waterfalling light again and again down upon the miraculous in common things.

9) Robert Pete Williams: Scrap Iron Blues

I never thought of writing the scrap iron blues...that's the first time I played something like that

I can't tell you how many metal dump runs I have been on in our dearly vain endeavors to clean up the farm. I can't tell you of all of the beauty bowed there and left behind there in those half blown out old baling twines wrapped around half crapped fences in our dearly vain attempt to secure one paddock or gate or whatever. I love Williams' negative capability here. He's riding that ice-cube across the hot oven of his mind, to borrow Frost for a second. My book is similarly unmade--my writing is as improvised and as twine-tousled as this be-soul-ed lung breeze.

10) Star Room Boys: Both Our Towns

All your pretty little lies were like the sweat upon your thighs that just dried up while we slept without a sound

Everybody knows Jeff Tweedy and they should. But who knows Dave Marr? Surely he should be so much more thickly lauded, laureled. There were summers when the two Star Room Boys' records never left the face of the rigged up Ford farm truck CD player. In fact I think one of those Fords was sold with a burned SRB CD sort of gridlocked and tetanused in the player. We'd raise a PBR while jouncing out acros the pasture and get a little PBR baptized via truck via field. My poetry prayer always is to surprise the heaven out of you. I've listened to this song around 4,532 times and I still don't hear sweat or thighs coming. That's like an eel across a pasture. That's a raw glister none of us see hooping forward. That's poetry.

11) Lucinda Williams: Pineola

I just sat alone in a corner chair; I didn't say much of anything

Seems like we all need a net under our trapeze and solidly bouncy shoes to shod up in when we skydive. I can't tell you how much the kindness of my poetry friends has
meant to me--how many worshipful, eyes-closed listens to this song with the great poet John Pursley III, bourbon like a cat on the lap. We lost poet Craig Arnold to a volcano. Before he died he told me, after I'd sent him a possumfat Whitmany poem, he said: read Frank Stanford immediately but don't do what he did. Finding Stanford was like finding family. I found we used many of the same words and were in so many versed ways manic kin. That led me to email CD Wright whose emails in reply changed my poetry life: she bestowed a swaggery exoskeleton I wore for the rest of my school days.

12) RL Burnside: See My Jumper on the Line

Way down here; way you wanna do

Folks sometimes say, you read aloud rather angrily. Folks sometimes say, your poetry is dark as a tooth in a cave. I say, I smile brighter than a tooth ache while I write. And reading aloud is pure religion for me. And I don't write on a flipped five gallon bucket--a la RL here--but I might as well. That's the spring water well spirit of it. That's the shotgun wedding of thistle and nettle my writing and yodelings kindly mean to be. I am as happy in creation times as RL is herein.

13) Washington Phillips: Lift Him Up That's All

O lift him up, that's all

Phillips is a prophet. Kids throwing stones at weird Washington while he lilted and belted tunes from his porch in his dotage. That's one story you'll surely hear when you dig in. Listening to him is like crawling into a velvet whale and the ribby fires there'll keep you cool, yes they will.It's a pastoral elegy after all, Destruction of Man is. So there is a contractual obligation there to apotheosize. So ends my book. With a lift. And a bareness. Unshielded. And shining. Helped up and along. No need for a ladder where there is a hand.


Abraham Smith and Destruction of Man links:

video trailer for the book
excerpt from the book
excerpt from the book
excerpt from the book

Entropy interview with the author
Midwestern Gothic interview with the author


also at Largehearted Boy:

Support the Largehearted Boy website

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

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

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

Shorties (Michael Ondaatje on His New Novel, A Lou Reed Poetry Collection, and more)

Lou Reed

Michael Ondaatje discussed his new novel Warlight with Publishers Weekly.


Rolling Stone reviewed the new collection of Lou Reed's poetry, Do Angels Need Haircuts?.


May's best eBook deals.


Stream a new Innocence Mission song.


A docuseries based on Michelle McNamara's I'll Be Gone in the Dark, which searched for the Golden State Killer, is in production.


Gomez's Tom Gray discussed the band's album Bring It On, which just turned 20 years old, with Drowned in Sound.


eBook on sale for $1.99 today:

The Refugees by Viet Thanh Nguyen

eBook on sale for $2.99 today:

The Keepers of the House by Shirley Ann Grau


Django Django visited KCRW for a live performance and interview.


BuzzFeed recommended dystopian novels.


Black-Eyed Snakes visited The Current studio for an interview and live performance.


The Good Men Project shared an excerpt from Chuck Palahniuk's new novel Adjustment Day.

VICE interviewed Palahniuk.


Members of Iceage discussed music with SPIN.


The Week UK recommended autobiographies.


The A.V. Club and Paste previewed May's music releases.


The Rumpus shared an excerpt from Tessa Fontaine's memoir The Electric Woman.


Stream a new Frog Eyes song.


The Millions recommended May's best poetry collections.


Questlove talked to All Things Considered about his new book Creative Quest.


The Guardian recommended books about North Korea.


Stream Laura Veirs' cover of the Grateful Dead's "Mountains of the Moon."


Literary Hub profiled cartoonist Aline Kominsky-Crumb.


All Songs Considered profiled the Smithsonian Folkways record label.


Authors shared their favorite short stories at American Short Fiction.


Stream a new Beach House song.


Melissa Broder talked to Vogue about her novel The Pisces.


The San Francisco Examiner profiled singer-songwriter Lissie.


Vol. 1 Brooklyn previewed May's best books.


BrooklynVegan shared a playlist of April's best songs.


BookPage interviewed author Rachel Kushner.


Stream a new Wussy song.


Electric Literature shared a story from Eduardo Halfon's collection Mourning.


Rolling Stone recommended musicians' podcasts.


Stream GEMS' cover of John Lennon's "Crippled Inside."


Stream a new Jenn Champion song.


Electric Literature interviewed author Rahul Mehta.


Tanya Donnelly discussed her favorite albums at The Quietus.


Publishers Weekly profiled cartoonist Aline Kominsky-Crumb.


Stream a new Natalie Prass song.



also at Largehearted Boy:

Support Largehearted Boy

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

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

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

May 1, 2018

Emmanuelle de Villepin's Playlist for Her Novel "The Devil's Reward"

The Devil's Reward

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

Emmanuelle de Villepin's The Devil's Reward is her first novel to be translated into English.

Booklist wrote of the book:

"De Villepin’s intimate family portrait…gracefully highlights the ways people of widely varying temperaments learn to coexist…[and] features gratifyingly in-depth character studies and a strong sense of place.”"


In her own words, here is Emmanuelle de Villepin's Book Notes music playlist for her novel The Devil's Reward:



The playlist I use when I write is called “writing list” because the music I choose to accompany me in the meanderings of writing is a real support. Sometimes it can be quite tricky when I read out loud what I just put on paper, and it seems rich with the music and totally flat when I switch it off. I don’t differentiate between classic and contemporary music, as long as it’s inspiring and helps me to stay inside my imagination’s world.

David Bowie, "Rebel, Rebel": This is not the kind of music I appreciate when I write because too much energy doesn’t induce to reflexion, but my main protagonist, Christiane, who is an anti-conformist, intelligent and creative old woman, would appreciate this song. It may sound anachronistic but it perfectly illustrates her witty and free character.

Johan Schubert, "Die Winterreise": Schubert is my best friend. Die Wintereise puts me in the mood I need to write. It’s like a delicate and caring presence. I like the version sung by Thomas Quasthoff and played by Daniel Barenboim. Writing is a solitary exercise and I like to feel them behind my shoulders like two supportive angels.

Johan Christian Bach, “Requiem": Requiem are always very inspiring, and they have the capability to give me a new perspective to look at the events I describe. They were composed for death and maybe this is the reason why they give a certain distance from what you feel and the meaning of all this messy and chaotic adventure we call life. I have a predilection for the requiems of Bach and Mozart.

Leonard Cohen, everything: I was a young girl when my father introduced me to Leonard Cohen’s music. I still remember my emotions listening to ‘Suzanne’ or to ‘Marianne.’ Since then, I’ve always been faithful and devoted to everything he composed. His texts are beautiful and even when I don’t really listen, they take me away, exactly where I need to be.

Brahms, “Hungarian Dances”: The story I tell occurs in the last century, and between France, Germany, and Switzerland. It has nothing to do with Hungary but nevertheless “The Hungarian dances” would perfectly suit Aunt Bette: refined, sophisticated and nostalgic. I imagine her riding horses or dancing on the notes of this music.

Dire Straits, “Where Do You Think You’re Going”: I was 20 years old when “communiqué” came out. We listened to it all day and all night long. I never get fed up with this music. Mark Knopfler’s final guitar solo is amazing even after the billion time I have listened to it. It seems to me that it helps the words come out, and run and run like a flowing river.

Johan Sebastian Bach, “The Goldberg Variations”: The 1955 Goldberg variations by Glenn Gould is an incredible support when you write. You can listen without listening. It’s gives fluidity and grace to your ideas but it never really interferes with your work.

Ezio Bosso “Following a Bird”: A friend of mine introduced me to the music of this Italian composer when I started to write “The Devil’s Reward”. The very title can explain my enthusiasm: following a bird or following a story is the same: You have to stay focused and careful. The magic of the flight and the precision of the trajectory is exactly what you would like to get writing a book.


Emmanuelle de Villepin and The Devil's Reward links:

the author's Wikipedia page

Kirkus review

Publishers Weekly profile of the author


also at Largehearted Boy:

Support the Largehearted Boy website

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

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

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

Lisa Romeo's Playlist for Her Memoir "Starting with Goodbye"

Starting with Goodbye

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

Lisa Romeo's Starting with Goodbye is a thoughtful and moving memoir.

Story Circle Book Reviews wrote of the book:

"Our connections with those we love don’t always end with death. Any woman who has ever lost a father, any child who has ever lost a parent, anyone with a hole in her life that she keeps grieving should read this book. Romeo’s narrative and analysis illuminate some tough issues and her ideas will spark insights into your own relationships."


In her own words, here is Lisa Romeo's Book Notes music playlist for her memoir Starting with Goodbye:



Perhaps it was inevitable, writing memoir that pivots on Dad (and includes Mom)—people born in the 1920’s, married in the 40’s, raising children until the late 70’s—that the soundtrack was yesteryear. A childhood spent scorning Dad’s “old fogey” music, which he loved to whistle along with; a young adulthood trying persuading him to give rock a chance. Also inevitable: my coming full circle, developing a profound affection for Dad’s favorites, for the tenderness of some bygone ballads, the hope and wistfulness I heard in others.

One frigid day in February 2007, four months after my father’s death, I spent hours fastened to a dining room chair, my computer tuned to YouTube, watching and listening to Frank Sinatra. I was not normally riveted to YouTube—using it then mostly to prove to my husband I was right about some contested lyrics to 1980’s rock tunes. That day I could not look away.

But why? Sure, I liked Sinatra. But I thought it was more likely triggered by having had lunch with my friend Chuck—or as the music world knows him, Charles L. Granata, author, producer, radio host, and highly respected Sinatra expert. I had told Chuck that my father once said one of Sinatra’s greatest assets was the way he moved his hands while performing.

Suddenly it came clear: I was procrastinating that day over completing a long essay about my father’s hands. Over the intervening years, which I spent writing a memoir about getting to know my father again after he passed, I would return again and again to his hands. The narrator I am in the book can scarcely bear to look at those hands—and she also cannot look away. To her, they are always moving in time to music.


“What a Wonderful World” – Louis Armstrong 1967 version

Everything about this recording reminds me of my father, who was sentimental about babies, deeply admired nature, and loved people watching. “The colors of the rainbow so pretty in the sky / Are also on the faces of people going by / I see friends shaking hands saying how do you do / They're really saying I love you.” Dad also often alluded to how life circled around—how his generation’s children would go on to take their rightful place: “I hear babies crying, I watch them grow. / They'll learn much more than I'll never know.”

Early in the book, when the family is still gathered at my mother’s house following Dad’s wake, I report that I’d heard this on the radio, calling it “Dad’s favorite song.” But Mom informs me I’m mistaken. There was so much dissonance that week, a tug of war among family members to see who remembered the most significant things about Dad. I didn’t argue with her. I do recall dancing to this song with my father near the end of my wedding. When I listen carefully, I can hear him softly singing into my ear, “What a wonderful world.”

Vienna - Billy Joel

My husband, two sons, and I love Billy Joel, and enjoyed going to his concerts together. Much of my experience of trying to get to know my father better after his death grew out of a sense of having been too in a hurry before—racing to prove something to him, to myself, to get away, to be different. This song reminds me how patiently my father waited, all those years, for me to slow down and talk to him. Also (and I know this has nothing to do with the probable intended meaning of the city in the song), we’d been to Vienna when I was a child, and I remember being a bit bored with the city’s slow place. Now, I’d love to go back. “Slow down, you crazy child / You're so ambitious for a juvenile...Slow down, you're doing fine / You can't be everything you want to be / Before your time / When will you realize / Vienna waits for you?”

Spanish Eyes – Al Martino

At several places in Starting with Goodbye, I write about how much we traveled when I was a kid. Although he was of Italian descent, my father also loved Spanish music, food, culture, art—yet for reasons I never understood, we never traveled to Spain, nor in retirement did he go there during several European trips. It was one of many things I wished I’d asked him about, which is an underlying theme of the book—everything left unsaid, unexplored between us. Dad and I often had similar thematic taste: we liked bittersweet stories, illustrations of life’s inherent sadness. I liked that my father finally liked a current (at the time) pop song, and I recall watching Martino perform on TV, looking dapper in a tuxedo, the way my handsome father looked when stepping out with Mom to a Vegas show—something that comes up in the book.

Always – Irving Berlin / Frank Sinatra

Perhaps it hasn’t endured as one of Sinatra’s most well-known recordings, but this is the one that stayed with me after that day on YouTube. That voice, that message, those hands. Doesn’t every girl, no matter the age, cherish the way her father promised to be there for her, always? If there’s any message in my memoir, it’s that he’s still there, with me, always. “Days may not be fair, always / That's when I'll be there, always / Not for just an hour, not for just a day / Not for just a year, but always.”

I Love You a Bushel and a Peck – Frank Loesser/Doris Day

To write my book, I had to think a lot about being a little girl and how, like all girls lucky enough to have a caring father, he was the first male I fell in love with, the first to shape my expectations about men, set my standards to (and, in some small ways, against). One thing that shone through memory was how playful my father could be, his natural inclination to lighten the mood for others, often by making up words to imaginary songs, or singing songs with silly words. This one kept popping up, spurred by a film and an actor – Stanley Tucci, as Julia Child’s husband, in Julie and Julia, an exceedingly tender and loving man, who also appreciated some silliness. The instrumentation and overall sonic effect call up the late 1940s, when I imagine my father a young man. “I love you a bushel and a peck / You bet your purdy neck I do / A doodle oodle oh / A doodle oodle oh doo.”

Send in the Clowns – Stephen Sondheim / Barbra Streisand

Long before I knew there was a Stephen Sondheim (who composed this for A Little Night Music), I knew and loved this song for two reasons: my father also seemed to love it, and it presented a word puzzle. I did not understand it, and I also didn’t ask Dad to explain (if he even could). I like that it was somewhat unknowable. It was in songs like this—lyrics that leave out something important—that nurtured my early love of prose, and of the spell a story casts when the listener/reader has to work a bit. It was the Barbra Streisand version I heard around the house, and that was unusual too, to hear Dad singing along with her.

In many ways, my parents were mismatched opposites: him longing to be at home on the couch reading, her always wanting to go out, see a show, but they each bent. “Don't you love farce? / My fault, I fear / I thought that you'd want what I want / Sorry, my dear!”

In my memoir, I trace my father’s disillusionment when—after a four-decade string of lucrative business ventures in NJ—he tried to launch new projects in Las Vegas, without success. Yet, he always was optimistic. The final lines bring that to mind: “Isn't it rich? / Isn't it queer? / Losing my timing this late in my career / But where are the clowns? / There ought to be clowns / Well, maybe next year.”

At Last – Glenn Miller / Etta James

This was my parents’ song—the Glenn Miller original version from the1942 film Orchestra Wives, performed as a duet by a swooning George Montgomery and Ann Rutherford. I learned it on the piano as a teenager, at which point Etta James had already made it legendary. I was lured by the soft swingy brass but confused because my parents were together since age 15, and the lyrics suggest a long, lonely search for love. I never asked why they chose the song. In my book, I write about how lost and lonely my mother was after losing her love of 64 years, and these words stirred such longing: “At last my love has come along / My lonely days are over / And life is like a song.”

Soundtrack from the BBC series Call the Midwife, seasons 1-5

Collectively, this music represents the world I picture my father inhabiting before I was born. Each episode of this hopeful, bittersweet story closes with a full-throated classic from the 1950’s that seems to spread across a sometimes harsh, sometimes wonderful world, cradling it in tenderness. There’s a smooth, silky, deeply sonorous quality to the music, and the lyrics that conjure a kind of communal caring that’s been long lost. A few that stand out are “Que Sera Sera” (something Dad often said by way of advice); “Embraceable You”; and one of my favorites of all time, “Someone to Watch Over Me.”

God Only Knows What I’d Be Without You – Beach Boys

The Beach Boys were really my older siblings’ generation, but I always knew this song in a peripheral way. It wasn’t until I heard it play over the final minutes of the film Love, Actually that I took it in. I didn’t see watch that film until around 2012, when I was writing Starting with Goodbye. That final montage—of loved ones from all places, cultures, and backgrounds coming together (or not) at an airport—is so beautifully affirming, yet melancholy. Dad loved watching people, and while he liked a happy ending, he acknowledged an intrinsic unfairness to life. I once found a letter he’d written to my mother early in their marriage, something like who knows what might have become of me without you. “God only knows what I'd be without you / If you should ever leave me / Though life would still go on, believe me / The world could show nothing to me.”

Time of My Life – Bill Medley / Jennifer Warnes

My attachment to this song is purely tied to the film Dirty Dancing. It plays during the final scenes, including one where Baby reconciles with her father, portrayed by consummate actor Jerry Orbach. There’s a section in Starting with Goodbye where I write about (grieve, really) how Orbach—in so many roles, but especially as Dr. Jake Houseman in this film—reminds me of my father, from mannerisms to morals, humility, love and respect for his daughter (whom he often expected too much from, like my own father). There’s a scene earlier in the film when father and daughter are sitting on a balcony, gazing out, and she has to tell him something painful, something he has to incorporate into his now-outgrown image of her as an innocent girl. The air palpably thrums with the need to tend the unbreakable but fragile cord connecting father and daughter, which forms the backbone of my book. I suppose the final line of lyrics does after all speak to me, or rather it’s me speaking to Dad: “And I owe it all to you.”


Lisa Romeo and Starting with Goodbye links:

the author's website
the author's blog
video trailer for the book

Story Circle review

Cleaver interview with the author
The Creative Nonfiction Podcast interview with the author
diyMFA interview with the author
NorthJersey.com profile of the author
Proximity interview with the author


also at Largehearted Boy:

Support the Largehearted Boy website

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

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

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May's Best eBook Deals

eBooks on sale for 99 cents this month:


Process: The Writing Lives of Great Authors Van Gogh: A Power Seething


Process: The Writing Lives of Great Authors by Sarah Stodola
Van Gogh: A Power Seething by Julian Bell


eBooks on sale for $1.99 this month:


Girl in a Band An Unnecessary Woman


33 Revolutions per Minute: A History of Protest Songs, from Billie Holiday to Green Day by Dorian Lynskey
Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho by Stephen Rebello
The Beer Bible by Jeff Alworth
Ben & Jerry's Homemade Ice Cream & Dessert Book
Can I Say by Travis Barker
The Country of Ice Cream Star by Sandra Newman
Disappearance at Devil's Rock by Paul Tremblay
Emotional Rescue by Ben Greenman
Every Little Step by Bobby Brown
Face the Music by Paul Stanley
Fear by Thich Nhat Hanh
A General Theory of Oblivion by Jose Eduardo Agualusa
Girl in a Band by Kim Gordon
Girls on Fire by Robin Wasserman
Hannah Arendt: A Life in Dark Times by Anne C. Heller
Heart Spring Mountain by Robin MacArthur
I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream by Harlan Ellison
I'm Your Man: The Life of Leonard Cohen by Sylvie Simmons
Island Beneath the Sea by Isabel Allende
The Law of Dreams by Peter Behrens
A Mind at Peace by Ahmet Hamdi Tanpinar
My Cross To Bear by Gregg Allman
The Radleys by Matt Haig
Rumours of Glory by Bruce Cockburn
Small Lives by Pierre Michon
The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
The Spinning Heart by Donal Ryan
Under the Sea Wind by Rachel Carson
An Unnecessary Woman by Rabih Alameddine


eBooks on sale for $2.99 this month:


Arcadia Are You My Mother?


18 and Life on Skid Row by Sebastian Bach
Arcadia by Lauren Groff
Are You My Mother? by Alison Bechdel
Every Day Is Mother's Day by Hilary Mantel
Big Sur and the Oranges of Hieronymus Bosch by Henry Miller
The Chandelier by Clarice Lispector
The Colossus of Maroussi by Henry Miller
Happy Accidents by Jane Lynch
The Hour of the Star by Clarice Lispector
Karate Chop by Dorthe Nors
Lightning Rods by Helen DeWitt
Listen to Me by Hannah Pittard
Mother Land by Paul Theroux
Near to the Wild Heart by Clarice Lispector
The Secret Rescue by Cate Lineberry
So Much for That Winter by Dorthe Nors
Stand Still Like the Hummingbird by Henry Miller


eBooks on sale for $3.99 this month:


John Adams The Trip to Echo Spring


Children of the New World by Alexander Weinstein
Jane Austen Cover to Cover by Margaret C. Sullivan
John Adams by David McCullough
Mythology by Edith Hamilton
No Ordinary Time: Franklin & Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War II by Doris Kearns Godwin
Transit by Rachel Cusk
The Trip to Echo Spring by Olivia Laing


also at Largehearted Boy:

Support Largehearted Boy

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

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

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