September 6, 2018

Shorties (Maggie Nelson Interviewed, A Profile of Mitski, and more)

Bluets

The OTHERPPL podcast interviewed author Maggie Nelson.


Turning the Tables profiled singer-songwriter Mitski.


September's best eBook deals.


Stereogum profiled Spiritualized's Jason Pierce.


Vol. 1 Brooklyn interviewed author Matthew Specktor.


NPR Music is streaming Richard Thompson's new album 13 Rivers.


Kate Atkinson talked books and reading with the New York Times.


Ty Segall covered the Spencer Davis Group's "I'm a Man."


BuzzFeed recommended podcasts for book lovers.


NPR Music is streaming Low's new album, Double Negative.


Joshua Mattson discussed his novel A Short Film About Disappointment with Bookworm.


Stream a new Marissa Nadler song that features Sharon Van Etten.


The New Yorker shared a story by Rabih Alemeddine.


Noisey profiled the band Single Mothers.


Evan Fallenberg recommended epistolary novels at Literary Hub.


Death Cab for Cutie covered Frightened Rabbit's "My Backwards Walk."


Book Riot recommended books set in space.


Stream two new songs by the Hold Steady.


Literary Hub recommended August's novels you may have missed.


Petal covered Tom Petty's "You Got Lucky."


Rolling Stone profiled author Nico Walker.


Stream a new Yves Tumor song.


Literary Hub recommended September's best books.


Speedy Ortiz covered Liz Phair's "Blood Keeper."


Stream a new Swearin' song.


Literary Hub shared an excerpt from Abby Geni's novel, The Wildlands.



Stream a new Anna St. Louis song.


Book Riot recommended September's best British books.


Members of Saint Etienne shared their tour music with BrooklynVegan.



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





September 5, 2018

Leah Dieterich's Playlist for Her Memoir "Vanishing Twins"

Vanishing Twins

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

Leah Dieterich's stunning memoir Vanishing Twins is a poignant exploration of identity and open marriage, and one of the year's most thought-provoking books.

Kirkus wrote of the book:

"Dieterich fully embraces the art of introspection in this unique memoir. Her prose, dispatched in pagelong ruminations, establishes thought-provoking connections . . . In these poetically written episodes, the author ponders the nature of love, attraction, and identity through literature, pop culture, psychology, femininity, and the delicate nuances of being a 'beautiful and controlled' ballerina. Graceful snapshots of a life that lyrically coalesce into expressive declarations of identity and intimacy."


In her own words, here is Leah Dieterich's Book Notes music playlist for her memoir Vanishing Twins:



The White Stripes “There’s No Home For You Here”
This is undoubtedly a breakup song, but instead of one adult singing it to another, I imagine one twin embryo singing to its sibling. “I’d like to think that all this constant interaction / is just the kind to make you drive yourself away.” It’s the anthem for Vanishing Twin Syndrome. It also fits the experience I had when I was trying to maintain two long-distance relationships, one with my husband Eric and one with my lover Elena. Both of these relationships were mediated through technology—instant message and video chat. I find webcams really awkward. “It’s hard to look you in the face when we are talking / so it helps to have a mirror in the room / I’ve not been really looking forward to the performance / But there’s my cue and there’s a question on your face / Fortunately I have come across an answer / which is go away and do not leave a trace.”

Justice “Genesis”
Genesis is where we find the Adam and Eve story in the bible. It’s one of the foundational stories in the tradition of lovers being part of one another; of not being able to live without each other (quite literally in this case) although of course it was only Eve who couldn’t live without Adam, having been created from his rib. There is an anecdote in Vanishing Twins about a man having a pain in his ribs and finding out that he has a teratoma, a cyst composed of bits of teeth and hair that are remnants of a vanished twin he incorporated into his body. It’s kind of a reverse Adam and Eve thing, I guess. This song feels like a battle and I see it as the soundtrack to a kind of epic fight between the twins in utero after one has told the other she is leaving because their closeness has become unbearable. Justice was really popular during the time period in which Vanishing Twins takes place and I remember Ethan and I were shooting a commercial in Australia and every day these ominous clouds would roll in and threaten our shoot. I made a video of these weather patterns to show Eric and Elena and set it to “Genesis.” This track has since been used endlessly in advertising, film and TV so it pays homage to the advertising through-line of the book.

Stravinsky “Rite of Spring - Part One: Adoration of the Earth: Spring Rounds”
The Rite of Spring is the last ballet I performed before quitting dance, and this is the movement I liked best. The beginning of this section has the twinkling of rebirth I felt when I was dancing. I was rising from the dead—or channeling my dead twin and there she was, dancing with me. During this part of the ballet, seven men partnered seven women and since there were so many more women in the ballet, some of the women partnered women, too. I was one of these such women.

Elysian Fields “Black Acres”
There is something that feels very sylph-like in this song. “Virgins all elude the trees,” she sings like a whispered secret. I picture the Wilis (the spirits of virgin girls who died before they were married) in the ballet Giselle which was the name my best friend gave herself in our high school French class. It’s a very spooky sounding song. After I quit ballet, I definitely felt like a certain version of me had died. I had so much of my identity wrapped up in being a ballet dancer, but I didn’t have time to mourn her because I met Eric a month later.

Camp Lo “Luchini AKA This is It”
“This is it” is what I felt when I met Eric. This is the person I’ve been looking for my entire life. I felt complete again. “Luchini AKA This is It” was on the first CD mix Eric made me. Camp Lo were a hip hop duo influenced and involved with De La Soul and Disable Planets and some of the other positive hip-hop acts of the 90s. It has an absolutely irresistible hook that’s sampled from a 1980 song called "Adventures in the Land of Music" by Dynasty. I was totally smitten.

The Velvet Underground “I’ll Be Your Mirror”
If you don’t listen too closely to the lyrics, this song’s sunny guitar and childlike tambourine celebrate finding someone to love and protect you, and to see you. But listen more closely and it starts to get a bit darker…

Miles Davis “So What”
So What—that’s what I would have said to anyone who questioned my idea that merging with someone was not the ultimate form of love. Eric and I didn’t care. We’d been together for four years and were so in love and getting married. We listened to a lot of bebop at that time and this song and “In a Sentimental Mood” featured prominently at our wedding. It has a very steady, relaxed tempo, a little sleepy even—and that is what our relationship was like at that time.

Fugazi “The Argument”
This song feels like the way we argued back then–in a kind of shoe-gaze, muted, monotone way. That is to say: barely at all. Eric was a big Fugazi fan and this album came our right around the time we moved in together and this was my favorite track. “Here comes the argument,” Ian MacKaye sings at the end of the song, but the argument never seems to come. Or does it? It’s bubbling there, but the song ends before it really gets going.

Jenny Wilson “Summer Time the Roughest Time”
From the Rite of Spring’s “Adoration of Spring,” to Jenny Wilson’s hatred of summer. This song was the first single on her debut album and a friend from Sweden clued me into it when it came out in the US. This song to me is about trying to design an identity for oneself; of not knowing exactly who you are, of feeling like a fake. It also calls into question a lot of received ideas we get from the culture about how we’re supposed to feel about certain experiences—even seasons! In hindsight this song is a perfect track to describe the summer Eric went to the artist’s residency and I met Elena and our open relationship got more complicated.

Le Tigre “Keep on Livin'”
This song played over the end credits of Elena’s film and I see it as her musical entrance into the book. It was an animated film that collaged photos and video of herself alongside tangled line-drawings. As the credits rolled, I applauded alongside everyone else in the darkness, acutely aware of the chair I was sitting on, of my hands touching each other. There was heat in my face. I had a crush on a cartoon. How silly was that? But really, this wasn’t the first time I’d swooned for a two-dimensional heroine. As an eight-year-old, I’d watched Who Framed Roger Rabbit hundreds of times, just to see Jessica Rabbit slink around, pouting a Billie Holliday song. She’d turned me on.

Justin Timberlake - “Mirrors”
This song was one of the first pieces of pop culture I looked at when I started analyzing the messages we internalize about the ideals of love in my research for Vanishing Twins. “Mirrors” is an update of The Velvet Underground’s song. I’m looking right at the other half of me / the vacancy that sat in my heart / is a space that now you hold. When this song came out it was everywhere. On the radio, on the internet; live on the late-night talk shows. Girl, you're my reflection / all I see is you, Justin sings in his floating falsetto toward the end of the song. It’s a complicated phrase. If his lover is his reflection, then she is he, and if all he sees is her, then all he sees is himself. It doesn’t sound romantic, it sounds lonely. That said, I love this song because I pretty much love every Justin Timberlake song. And I’m not alone in this. He’s a person inspire crushes from people of all genders and musical persuasions. He has pan-appeal.

Gabo Brown and Orchestre Poly-Rhythmo “It’s a Vanity”
I got very into these reissues of West African psychedelic music that Numero Group put out in the mid 2000s while Eric and I were living apart in New York and LA. This song in particular was a favorite and its title feels fitting for the mirroring I was doing with Elena, Eric and Ethan.

Deep Time “Bermuda Triangle”
People disappear in the Bermuda Triangle and that’s what I felt like was happening to me as these concurrent relationships went on. I spent so much time thinking about Eric and Elena and their needs and desires, I couldn’t figure out who or where I was.

The Mars Volta “Take the Veil Cerpin Taxt” 2006
The Mars Volta is a band that rose from the ashes of a post-punk band called At the Drive In which Eric introduced me to when we met. He was really into punk and hardcore back then, and I could only tolerate hardcore music when it was live, when I could get into the performance of it. I never liked it coming out of speakers in the apartment or the car. We couldn’t agree on music a lot of the time, but The Mars Volta was a band we both fell in love with. I liked the wildness of it, the impassioned vocals. The odd time signatures reminded Eric of the prog rock/hardcore/metal he loved. It reminded me of Stravinsky and the Rite of Spring. There is a section of the book that takes place in London when the love triangle hits a breaking point and one person comes close to death. This song feels fitting for that chaos.

Sufjan Stevens “Seven Swans” 2004
This song feels like mourning. As with so many of Sufjan’s songs, there’s a lot of Christian imagery, but “Seven Swans” makes me think more about ballet; about mourning the death of that identity. When I danced it was with a kind of religious devotion. I’d sometimes complain or bemoan the unfairness of a particular thing in ballet—usually that I hadn’t gotten a role I felt I deserved—and my mother would say “You know you don’t have to do this, right? I want to make sure you don’t think I’m asking you to do this.” I always brushed her off. It had nothing to do with her. I felt compelled by something beyond myself to dance, both when it was painful and when it was joyful. I felt similarly about my relationships. “Seven Swans” also seems to call out from the lowest point in my open relationship. “I heard a voice in my mind,” Sufjan sings. “I will try / I will try / I will try…. I will try / I will try / I will try….” This was the incantation I was singing to myself. I was trying to make it all work.

Cat Power “The Moon”
I love Sufjan’s voice for its breathy vulnerability, and I love Cat Power’s for the same reason. His is high for a man, hers low for a woman—there’s a definite kinship. I listened to both of them a great deal during the time period in which Vanishing Twins takes place—the fraternal twins of my music library.

Joanna Newsom "Emily"
Late in the book, there is a scene where I make a video of my hand throwing three dice to see how long it takes to roll three ones. It is something I did at Elena’s urging. She had said she wanted she and Eric and I to all be equal entities in our relationship, three dice each rolling a one. It took nearly 14 minutes to achieve three ones and I searched my music folder for a song of the same length and Joanna Newsom’s “Emily” was spot on. Of course. “Emily.” Another E name! I laid the track onto my clip and it lined up eerily well. Its lyrics were perfect too, as they reminded me of Eric and Elena and Ethan. Of the love for a sibling. Of mothers’ bodies, celestial bodies, bodies of water.

Au Revoir Simone - "All or Nothing"
This song represents the ultimatum everyone gave me. It’s also so very Brooklyn 2010. It’s what I was listening to during the Vanishing Twins era.

Jeanette “Porque Te Vas”
“Porque Te Vas” was written by José Luis Perales and performed by the singer Jeanette in 1974, but it didn’t become a hit until it was used in Carlos Suara’s film Cría Cuervos (Raising Crows) which won a prize at the Cannes Film Festival in 1976. I love that while it’s sung in Spanish, Jeanette’s name and childlike delivery make me associate it with the French chanteuses of the 1960s. I like all the mixtures happening here. The song, like so many heartbreak songs, is about someone leaving—and the lover, the speaker, the author—remaining. A Lover’s Discourse by Roland Barthes is an important text in Vanishing Twins and I like to think that Barthes would have liked this song. My Spanish had gotten very good by the end of the book and I actually understood all the lyrics in this song which felt like a real victory.

Stravinsky “Agon - Pas de Deux”
It wasn’t until we started talking about Chantal Mouffe’s theory “Agonism,” that Eric and I made real breakthroughs in our relationship. Until we accepted that there was no such thing as true consensus, but that the struggle for it should be seen as positive. Agonism made me think of Agon, a ballet by George Balanchine. It is one of his many collaborations with Stravinsky, and written during the time when Stravinsky was shifting his musical compositions away from the diatonic scale he’d used previously, and toward a more complex, atonal twelve-tone one. The music in Agon is a struggle, too. The dancers don’t dance with it, per se, but around it, underneath it, through it.

Kate Bush “Moving” 1978
Moby Dick was another text that figured prominently into a certain kind of resolution for Eric and I, The Squeeze of the Hand section in particular which he encouraged me to read and which we both found erotic. The whale sounds at the beginning of Kate Bush’s “Moving” remind me of Moby Dick, and the album title from which “Moving” comes—The Kick Inside—has obvious pregnancy vibes, which makes it fitting for Vanishing Twins. This song makes me want to dance.

Kate Bush “The Saxophone Song” 1978
“Moving” continues right into the second track of the album, bookended by whale sounds. I didn’t have the heart to do surgery to this transition, to split these two songs apart.

Tchaikovsky “Swan Lake, Op. 20, Act 1: 5. Pas de deux”
The pas de deux between Odile (the Black Swan) and Prince Siegfried is perhaps the most famous section of the Swan Lake, as it contains the thirty-two fouetté turns Odile does on one leg. This is the grand finale of the book.


Leah Dieterich and Vanishing Twins links:

the author's website
excerpt from the book

Kirkus review
Publishers Weekly review

Bustle 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

Shorties (An Interview with Barbara Kingsolver, An Oral History of Hole's Celebrity Skin Album, and more)

Barbara Kingsolver

Barbara Kingsolver discussed her new novel Unsheltered with Publishers Weekly.


Noisey shared an oral history of Hole's Celebrity Skin album.


eBook on sale today for $1.99:

The Detour by Andromeda Romano-Lax


Stream a new song by Meg Baird and Mary Lattimore.


Vulture and Vol. 1 Brooklyn previewed September's best books.


The Creative Independent interviewed musician Melissa Auf der Mar.


Walter Mosley discussed the contents of his refrigerator with the Paris Review.


Stream a new song by Conduit.


PopMatters profiled cartoonist Jason Lutes.


Stream a new Thom Yorke song.


Signature recommended books by athletes who transcend sports.


Turning the Tables profiled Karin Dreijer of Fever Ray and The Knife.


The Paris Review interviewed poet Eileen Myles.


The Picture Show examined Afropunk's global growth.


The Millions recommended September's must-read poetry collections.


Stream a new Metric song.


Literary Hub recommended fall memoirs.


Stream a new song by Harmony Rockets (AKA Mercury Rev).


Lydia Keisling discussed her novel The Golden State with Literary Hub.


Stream a new Barrie song.


Signature recommended memoirs that deal with chronic illness.


Stream Snail Mail's KEXP session.


PUNCH interviewed author Gary Shteyngart.


Stream a new song by Frontperson (New Pornographers' Kathryn Calder and Woodpigeon's Mark Andrew).


CrimeReads listed crime fiction's mpst alluring families.


Sloan members shared their tour bus music with BrooklynVegan.


BookPage interviewed author Frances de Pontes Peebles.


Stream a new Empress Of song.


Stream a new Snow Roller song.


Stream Say Hi's new album Caterpillar Centipede.



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

September 4, 2018

Sharlene Teo's Playlist for Her Novel "Ponti"

Ponti

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

Sharlene Teo's novel Ponti is a stunning debut, a coming-of-age story that deftly explores the relationships of three women.

The Guardian wrote of the book:

"At once a subtle critique of the pressures of living in a modern Asian metropolis; a record of the swiftness and ruthlessness with which Southeast Asia has changed over the last three decades; a portrait of the old juxtaposed with the new (and an accompanying dialogue between nostalgia and cynicism); an exploration of the relationship between women against the backdrop of social change; and, occasionally, a love story—all wrapped up in the guise of a teenage coming-of-age novel."


In her own words, here is Sharlene Teo's Book Notes music playlist for her debut novel Ponti:



Ponti centres around three B-horror movies that never existed. Music plays as much of a part in the story’s development as its cinematic influences. I make writing soundtracks for myself based on the mood I’m trying to phrase. Most of the time, I write to electronic albums by artists like Nils Frahm, Jefre Cantu-Ledesma and Grouper. Steve Reich, Mica Levi and Dustin O’Halloran compose cinematic scores that shift sweepingly yet subtly between moments of longing, melancholia and intensity. William Basinski’s The Disintegration Loops sounds like being at the bottom of the sea. Shuffle Drones by Eluvium works very well too: it is designed to be played in random order, and it’s perfect to leave on repeat for hours. I think the best soundtrack to a film ever is Morvern Callar. It features great bands like Can and Stereolab and is queasily evocative without being too distracting (at least not after five hundred repetitions).

My novel Ponti takes place in Singapore and Malaysia, from the late sixties through to the year 2020. Szu and Circe, the two Singaporean schoolgirls who take turns narrating the first person sections of the novel, love listening to shoegaze as well as sixties rock bands like The Velvet Underground and The Kinks. The playlist below describes their companionship; it is dimmed lights, inside-voice music.

1. MOLLY & AQUAFINA by Dean Blunt
This track has always sounded like the gentle, dreamy prologue of a story to me. I think of Szu and Circe listening to it and forecasting their ideal selves.

2. Mimpi Sedih by Tetty Kadi
The first time I heard “Mimpi Sedih” it was the cover by Teresa Teng and it stopped me in my tracks. The original is by the Indonesian singer Tetty Kadi. Both versions are tempered with doomed, mournful nostalgia. Mimpi Sedih is Indonesian for “sad dreams” and I named the village where Szu’s mother Amisa grew up after it.

3. Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now by The Smiths
Teenage ennui suspended in humid Singaporean air and distilled into music.

4. Beautiful Hair by Broadcast
When the amateur actress Amisa puts on prosthetics and slowly and excruciatingly becomes Ponti, she begins to inhabit her campy monstrosity. “Beautiful Hair” is the theme tune of a fully realised giallo temptress: both alluring and creepy, like scarlet nails tapping on a counter or the flash of a smile from behind a mesh screen.

5. Deadheat by The Observatory
The Observatory is a veteran Singaporean avant rock band, with an extensive experimental discography. “Deadheat” evokes the CBD at rush hour; twisting traffic, hot trains, and a million dreary, irate faces glued to smart phone screens.

6. Sea of Sound by Pale Saints
Classic wispy shoegaze: shimmering chords and a voice announcing longing- already looking backward even though it’s still going on.

7. Island Song by US Girls
There’s something invigorating about “Island Song” despite its somewhat muted siren-grotto vocals. The evocatively gloomy synthesizer organ that fades in and out of focus forms the track’s anthemic, resolute heartbeat.

8. When The Sun Hits by Slowdive
When the sun hits in Singapore it is scorching, blinding, formidable. This track captures the overwhelming exhilaration and sensory overload of adolescence.

9. Class ‘A’ Love Affair by The Great Spy Experiment
The quintessential sound of mid-2000s Singaporean indie rock: “Class ‘A’ Love Affair invokes the hubbub and humidity of now-defunct nightlife along Boat Quay and the wavering sheen of skyscrapers and shop houses reflected on the Singapore River.

10. Landslide by Fleetwood Mac
“Landslide” plays a huge (and rather horrible) part in Ponti, and it would be remiss to leave it out. Whilst finishing Ponti I played it over and over, as well as the Smashing Pumpkins cover, and read various accounts of how Stevie Nicks wrote the song in Aspen in five minutes after an argument with her former lover and fellow band member Lindsey Buckingham; not necessarily relevant but an example of the kinds of anecdotal factoids one learns via extensive internet procrastination.

11. No Hope by The Vaselines
Charming, disconsolate and rather twee. “It all went wrong the day I was born/and I can’t give it up” might very well be Szu’s refrain.

12. Mysteries-1 by Beth Gibbons, Rustin Man
Having listened to Out of Season around the same age as when Szu and Circe would be, it seems apt to end on an enigmatic and tender song that I always found more befitting of the end of an album than the very beginning. “Mysteries of love/where war is no more/I’ll be there anytime”- a really bittersweet and optimistic note to close on.


Sharlene Teo and Ponti links:

Financial Times review
Guardian review

Guardian profile of the author
Publishers Weekly profile of the author
Refinery29 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

Alice Hatcher's Playlist for Her Novel "The Wonder That Was Ours"

The Wonder That Was Ours

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

Alice Hatcher's novel The Wonder That Was Ours is an inventive debut that examines the effects of colonialism through the eyes of cockroaches.

Kirkus wrote of the book:

"A Greek chorus of cockroaches amuses and admonishes in this admirable first novel about the human cost of colonialism."


In her own words, here is Alice Hatcher's Book Notes music playlist for her novel The Wonder That Was Ours:



Authors who write to music often need to choose between songs that enhance their own mood—that put them in a frame of mind to work—and songs that help them channel their characters’ and narrators’ moods. I generally opted for music that suited the needs of my narrator, a collective of cockroaches infesting my main character’s taxi. As most fictional creations, the cockroaches assumed a life of their own. They overran my psyche, asserted their tastes, and issued demands. The Wonder That Was Ours, I had to cater to the roaches, as if they existed entirely outside of my head. It was the only way to get anything done.

I discovered this while working on the first chapter. The cockroaches were lying deflated on the dashboard, oppressed by another “boring lecture” by Professor Cleave, an eccentric taxi driver who treats them as a captive audience for his commentary on history and politics. Writing was going badly when a friend called. After I complained that the roaches didn’t seem interested in working, she said, “they probably need some Prince.” Moments later, I put on Musicology and the roaches came to life. They “skittered around the radio with raised antennae, hoping to intercept DJ Xspec’s Heavy Vibes Hour on Kingston’s 103.5 Jams.” Before long, they were perched on rooftops, trailing their antennae in the breeze and picking up radio transmissions, “so transported by Miles Davis, the Ramones, and the Skatalites that they forgot [their] wings were vestigial, and that gravity held sway over their affairs.”

Playlist:

“Talking Loud and Saying Nothing” by James Brown

Music lovers, the cockroaches find it galling that Professor Cleave lectures them instead of listening to the radio. They grow especially resentful when Professor Cleave, a member of a newbie species, patronizes them with monologues about history and literature. They hiss during a reading of The Metamorphosis. (“What did Franz Kafka know about cockroaches?”) When Professor Cleave calls them “hopeless delinquents,” they make “lewd gestures with their antennae.” In their view, Professor Cleave is “talking loud and saying nothing,” and “like a dull knife, just ain’t cutting.”

“Fussing and Fighting” by Bob Marley

One afternoon, Professor Cleave reads Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto through to its concluding phrase, “Men of All Countries Unite.” The roaches can’t imagine Marx having written, “Roaches of All Countries, Unite!” Such a call, they muse, would have been redundant. Cohabitation comes naturally for roaches crowded together in sewers. It makes sense, they note, that Marx wrote his manifesto for humans, a nearly cannibalistic lot with complicated rationales for hating and hoarding, as if there weren’t enough garbage to go around. Observing humans, the roaches often throw up their antennae and ask “why’s all this fussing and fighting?”

“Top of the City” by Kate Bush

To escape Professor Cleave’s lectures, the roaches crawl to the rooftop of the Ambassador Hotel. There, they observe Tremor, a bellboy similarly avoiding Professor Cleave. When Tremor gets high, the roaches inhale wisps of second-hand smoke, and for a fleeting instant, connect via tingling antennae to every cockroach on every rooftop on Earth, trip through infinite space and meditate like six-legged bodhisattvas tasting Nirvana. They experience the long-lost sensation of flight without lifting a wing. The roaches and I often envisioned Kate Bush climbing a ladder to the top of the city, “where just a couple of pigeons are living, up on the angel’s shoulders.”

“Airegin” by The Miles Davis Quintet

My cosmopolitan cockroaches have, for centuries, made their way around the world, stowing away aboard ships, cars and trains. They have heard Verdi performed in Vienna, dabbled in jazz with bedbugs and beat poets in Greenwich Village, and slept with hobos on trains rattling into Detroit and Chicago, music capitals and mythical cities built upon mountains of coal. Every day, the roaches requested something by Miles Davis. To avoid debates about the relative talents of John Coltrane and Miles Davis, I generally opted for the quintet featuring both musicians.

“Taxi Licence” by Calypso Rose

On my fictional island, the roaches board a car for the first time to escape an unexpected fumigation of the Governor’s Mansion. Panicked, they scuttle down the porch steps and slip into the undercarriage of an idling Bentley. A clutch pops, an engine roars, and a love affair is born. Cursed with vestigial wings, the roaches transcend their physical limitations by clinging to struts and fenders and watching the world streak past. Later, they ride in a Hillman Avenger while the young Professor Cleave and his cousin James discuss their dreams for the future. James turns on the radio, and the voice of Calypso Rose floods the car. The road curves around a cliff, and the roaches “learn to fly with wheels instead of wings.” Wynston Cleave feels like Calypso Rose is singing directly to him, and that he is more intelligent than strange. He, too, feels like he’s flying.

“Sexy MF” by Prince

The roaches adore Prince, a guy who might have been 5’6” in purple platform boots and was still one of the sexiest MFs around. If a strut can be sexy, the roaches have six legs. The roaches insisted on Prince when I wrote about Crazy Mary, a character who never menaces the roaches with newspapers or aerosol cans. Mary speaks kindly and coos to the roaches. Lured by her voice, the roaches gather in her house and pine, their antennae tingling and aching in anticipation. When Mary strokes their wings and blows on their antennae, they lay in her palms in a state of unrivaled bliss. I like to think Mary was humming Prince when she communed with the roaches, and that the roaches felt like sexy MFs.

“Free Money” by Patti Smith

The roaches are often seduced against their better judgment by the smell of garbage, engaging in what Professor Cleave calls “fetid feasts for the less fastidious.” As the roaches acknowledge, they have become dependent on humans—those intent on killing them—and abandoned good sense for overflowing dumpsters. Patti Smith’s lyrics about “scooping pearls up from the sea” and cashing them in to buy a jet plane speak to the roaches. The roaches lament nature’s lost treasures, even as they enjoy the castoffs of wasteful humans. After reveling in the trash bins of a hotel kitchen, they sit on a rooftop, look over a ravaged landscape, and remember the world when it was young. Free money, they know, is never really free; everything comes at a cost.

“Rehab” by Amy Winehouse

In their symbiotic and sometimes dysfunctional relationship with humans, the roaches have clung to the prows of Venetian gondolas littered with beer cans, suffocated in stretch limousines packed with stag parties trolling Manhattan, and disappeared in cocaine drifts in Ibizan dance clubs. At one point, they raid a resort’s dispensary, scour its floor for the contents of broken capsules, and sample every sort of existential analgesic, psychic expectorant, and nerve-numbing agent available. The roaches were sobered by the death of Amy Winehouse, who sang about the denial they experience when “screwed-up six ways from Sunday.”

“Sloop John B” by The Beach Boys

The roaches often stow away on cruise ships. They dunk their antennae in gin fizz, bathe in fondue fountains, and lose themselves in endless buffets, consuming empty calories in their ongoing search for something better coagulating in the next chafing dish. Disappointment invariably follows. In each kitchen drain, they find the same soggy tacos, iceberg lettuce and stale cake. The same tasteless entrées wear on their spirit until they feel helplessly adrift, plagued by a sense of moving without going anywhere. Exposing themselves to as much secondhand smoke as possible—anything to loosen their grip on the mortal coil—they empathize with the narrator of “Sloop John B,” who “feels so broke up” he wants to “hoist the sails” and go home.

“I Feel Love (Every Million Miles)” by The Dead Weather

Exile looms large in cockroaches’ collective memory. The roaches slept soundly in the New World until the Spaniards unleashed their pigs, scrofulous beasts that routed them from their nests with ghastly yellow teeth and filthy snouts. The English introduced their own disruptions and horrors, including bespectacled entomologists with pins and matting boards. Centuries later, American developers tore the ground apart with steel claws and scattered the roaches to make way for resorts. Repeatedly driven from their homes by interlopers and insecticides, the roaches can appreciate lyrics about crossing a desert where love comes about “every million miles.”

“Whitey on the Moon” by Gil Scott-Heron

The “alphas of the Anthropocene” transform each new niche to satisfy their ever-expanding appetites and then move on, leaving behind boarded-up shopping malls and toxic dumps. In flight, humans are remarkably adept, graced with wheels and aluminum wings—objects of envy for lurching cockroaches. Their willingness to scuttle what they have damaged knows no bounds. Humans, the roaches observe, now talk of colonizing outer space, as if they’ve already given up on Earth and packed their bags to leave a dying planet. Knowing their odds of sneaking onto a space shuttle are slim, the roaches love Gil Scott-Heron’s song about African-Americans facing public spending cuts while their tax dollars put Whitey on the Moon.

“Wicked As It Seems” by Keith Richards

The roaches have been around the proverbial block and can recognize wickedness at any distance. They see it in a mercenary on an “endless mission to pacify the planet, one privatized war at a time.” They have seen countless mercenaries using so many variants of Roach Out! They recognize, too, the wickedness of a resort manager who commands an army of groundskeepers armed with substances even deadlier than Roach Out! They often requested Keith Richards’ song about cruelty “just as wicked as it seems” and a “one-way” street with “no way out.” The roaches would happily spend their last days on Earth with the man predicted to outlive all other humans.

“San Quentin” by Johnny Cash

In a misguided moment, the roaches wander into St. Anne’s prison and panic in its maze of corridors. They lurch deeper and deeper into dark warrens with a misguided sense of direction and dim hopes of escape, only to find themselves, through repeated missteps, in suffocating stairwells and indistinguishable cells. They have nowhere to run but forward, into a future not of of their choosing, spared the bottoms of boots by sheer dint of their negligible size. As Johnny Cash, they fear prison can warp souls, and that stone walls can turn blood “a little cold.”

“Burning Down the House” by The Talking Heads

The roaches love Professor Cleave’s father Topsy, a man given to telling dramatic stories. Their favorite story concerns the evening Topsy and his friends set fire to an abandoned plantation manor “back when the British still ruled the roost.” With “fire at their heels and the law certain to follow,” Topsy pauses to watch flames crawl up the side of the house, knowing he has never felt more alive, and that he has just lived through a beautiful moment that will protect him forever against regret, whatever might happen on earth or in the hereafter. The roaches are rapt listening to Topsy, an “ordinary guy” burning down the house.

“San Jacinto” by Peter Gabriel

The roaches dread The Plantations, a resort built on the site of a sugar planation. Travel magazines describe the resort as a “celebration of Britain’s imperial aesthetic” and note that “golf enthusiasts will delight in tea trolleys and teak chests that provide glimpses into the island’s charmed past.” The roaches dismiss such reviews as rot unfit for compost. They witnessed the barbarity of slavery. They were present in the 1990s, when developers mulched disintegrating beams near an abandoned slave village and built swim-up bars where guests could sip cocktails called Clipper Ships. The roaches reflected on the distortion of history to lyrics about “Geronimo’s disco” and a “Sit ‘n’ Bull steakhouse” built when “white men dream.”

“Sunday” by David Bowie

The roaches long for transcendent flight, and for love. They rue their stubby wings, vestigial appendages suitable for neither flying nor fanning themselves. The roaches might never have missed their wings, had it not been for the development of modern pesticides, horrible compounds that inflamed their antennae and sent them scrambling. David Bowie captures the roaches’ dream that they might someday “rise together through th[e] clouds, as on wings,” and that humans consumed by irrational fears will someday “seek only peace, seek only love.”


Alice Hatcher and The Wonder That Was Ours links:

the author's website
excerpt from the book

Arizona Daily Star review
Kirkus review
Publishers Weekly review


also at Largehearted Boy:

Support the Largehearted Boy website

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

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 (Fall's Most Anticipated Books, An Interview with Dev Hynes, and more)

Blood Orange

Vogue and Book Riot previewed fall's best books.


The Talkhouse interviewed Blood Orange's Dev Hynes.


August's best eBook deals.


The A.V. Club and Paste previewed September's album releases.


Rain Taxi shared a conversation between authors Kurt Baumeister and Constance Squires.


The Atlanta Journal-Constitution profiled the Drive-By Truckers.


Steph Post interviewed poet Leah Umansky.


Paste reviewed August's notable vinyl releases.


Lisa Brennan-Jobs discussed her memoir Small Fry with Morning Edition.


Stream a new Kele Okereke song.


George Pelecanos listed his favorite prison books at Vulture.


Rolling Stone shared Molly Crabapple's sketches of newly released immigrant families.


The Creative Independent interviewed author Chelsea Hodson.


The Quietus reconsidered Hole's Celebrity Skin album on its 20th anniversary.


Saïd Sayrafiezadeh talked to the New Yorker about his story in this week's issue.


Consequence of Sound recapped August's best songs.


Gary Shteyngart talked books and reading with Literary Hub.


Book Riot recommended LGBT retellings of classics.


The New Yorker features new poetry by Sharon Olds.


The New York Times profiled author Sally Rooney.



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

September 3, 2018

September's Best eBook Deals

eBooks on sale for $1.99 this month:


Anthony Bourdain Ursula K. Le Guin


An Appeal to the World by Dalai Lama
Baltimore Blues by Laura Lippman
By Myself by Lauren Bacall
Che: A Revolutionary Life by Jon Lee Anderson
Cinderella Man by Jeremy Schaap
A Cook's Tour by Anthony Bourdain
Founding Mothers by Cokie Roberts
God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater by Kurt Vonnegut
The House Girl by Tara Conklin
How Evan Broke His Head by Garth Stein
I Dreamed I Was a Very Clean Tramp by Richard Hell
Illuminations by Walter Benjamin
Inappropriation by Lexi Freeman
John Lennon by Philip Norman
Making History by Stephen Fry
Mules and Men by Zora Neale Hurston
Neruda by Mark Eisner
Playing for Keeps by David Halberstam
Queen of Bebop: The Musical Lives of Sarah Vaughan by Elaine M. Hayes
Quicksilver by Neal Stephenson
Sex and the City by Candace Bushnell
Three Plays: Our Town, The Matchmaker and The Skin of Our Teeth by Thornton Wilder
Too Bright to Hear Too Loud to See by Juliann Garey
True by Karl Taro Greenfels
The Wind's Twelve Quarters by Ursula K. Le Guin


eBooks on sale for $2.99 this month:


Laird Hunt Pablo Neruda


The Big House by George Howe Colt
Let the Right One in by John Ajvide Lindqvist
Love Poems by Pablo Neruda
My Fair Junky by Amy Dresner
Neverhome by Laird Hunt
Our Revolution by Bernie Sanders
Tinkers by Paul Harding
Violent Mind: The 1976 Psychological Assessment of Ted Bundy by Al Carlisle


eBooks on sale for $3.99 this month:


Banana Yoshimoto Miriam Toews


A Complicated Kindness by Miriam Toews
Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry
The Hunters by James Salter
Jesus Land by Julia Sheeres
Moshi Moshi by Banana Yoshimoto
Nathan Coulter by Wendell Berry
The North Water by Ian McGuire
The Selected Poems by Wendell Berry
Tijuana Book of the Dead by Luis Alberto Urrea
The Unsettling of America by Wendell Berry
What Are People For? by Wendell Berry


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

August 31, 2018

This Week's Interesting Music Releases - August 31, 2018

Anna Calvi

Anna Calvi's Hunter album is her most complex yet, one of the year's strongest releases.

Mogwai's KIN, Saintseneca's Pillar of Na, and Wild Nothing's Indigo are other new releases I can recommend.

Reissues include a vinyl edition of Sufjan Stevens' The Avalanche album.


This week's interesting music releases:


Aaron Lee Tasjan: Karma For Cheap
Alkaline Trio: Is This Thing Cursed?
Amos Lee: My New Moon
Anna Calvi: Hunter
The Band: Music From Big Pink - 50th Anniversary (remastered and expanded)
Beanpole: All My Kin
Big Red Machine: Big Red Machine
David Bazan: Care [vinyl]
Depeche Mode: Speak & Spell Singles Collection (3-disc box set) [vinyl]
Depeche Mode: Speak & Spell Singles Collection (4-disc box set) [vinyl]
The Highwaymen: Highwayman (reissue) [vinyl]
Idles: Joy As An Act Of Resistance
Iron & Wine: Weed Garden EP
Jake Shimabukuro: The Greatest Day
Jethro Tull: Jethro Tull [vinyl]
Junior Wells: Box of Blues (6-CD box set)
Kooks: Let's Go Sunshine
Madeline Peyroux: Anthem
Mass Gothic: I’ve Tortured You Long Enough
Meghan Trainor: Treat Myself
Menace Beach: Black Rainbow Sound
Mogwai: KIN
Morrissey: This Is Morrissey (reissue) [vinyl]
Muncie Girls: Fixed Ideals
Paul Simon: One Trick Pony (reissue) [vinyl]
Paul Simon: The Rhythm of the Saints (reissue) [vinyl]
Pet Shop Boys: Behaviour: Further Listening 1990-1991 (remastered and expanded)
Pet Shop Boys: Bilingual: Further Listening 1995-1997 (remastered and expanded)
Pet Shop Boys: Very: Further Listening 1992-1994 (remastered and expanded)
Saintseneca: Pillar of Na
Soundgarden: A-Sides [vinyl]
Sufjan Stevens: The Avalanche (reissue) [vinyl]
Swervedriver: Ejector Seat Reservation [vinyl]
Tash Sultana: Flow State
Troye Sivan: Bloom
Various Artists: Ayahuasca: Psychedelic Cumbias Vol. 1 [vinyl]
Various Artists: Even More Dazed and Confused (reissue) [vinyl]
Various Artists: Grease 40th Anniversary Original Soundtrack (reissue) [vinyl]
Various Artists: Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy: Primary Phase Original Soundtrack [vinyl]
Various Artists: King of the Road: Tribute to Roger Miller
Various Artists: Kompakt Total 18
Various Artists: Try A Little Sunshine: British Psychedelic Sounds Of 1969
Wild Nothing: Indigo


also at Largehearted Boy:

Support Largehearted Boy

weekly music release lists

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

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

Shorties (An Interview with Margaret Atwood, Aimee Mann on Writing, and more)

Aimee Mann

Mic interviewed Margaret Atwood.


The Los Angeles Review of Books interviewed singer-songwriter Aimee Mann about writing.


eBook on sale for $1.99 today:

Mona Lisa Overdrive by William Gibson

eBook on sale for $3.99 today:

People Who Eat Darkness by Richard Lloyd Parry

eBook on sale for $4.99 today:

The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe


October interviewed members of the band Girlpool.


BOMB interviewed poet Jos Charles.


Paste listed the best horror novels of all time.


Tune-Yards covered the Eurythmics' "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)."


Bustle recommended September's best fiction.


Stream a new song by Yowler.


Noisey interviewed Jack Tatum of the band Wild Nothing.


Mara Altman discussed her essay collection Gross Anatomy with All Things Considered.


Streeam a previously unreleased Blitzen Trapper song.


Bustle recommended nonfiction books about other books.


Rolling Stone profiled the band Dream Wife.


Literary Hub shared an excerpt from David Peace's new book, Patient X.


Stream a new Ava Luna song.


The Millions recommended Brazilian women to read who aren't Clarice Lispector.


Stream a new Marie Davidson song.


BBC Culture recommended September's best books.


Stream a new song by It Looks Sad.


Authors shared books that remind them of fall at The Lily.


The Quietus recapped August's best albums.



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

August 30, 2018

S. K. Perry's Playlist for Her Novel "Let Me Be Like Water"

Let Me Be Like Water

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

S. K. Perry's debut novel Let Me Be Like Water is a remarkable depiction of loss and grief.

The Guardian wrote of the book:

"A wonderful debut novel about how we find our feet again after a bereavement. It's one of the best evocations of the grieving process I've read and is written in a fluid engaging style that draws you in to the protagonist Holly's world."


In her own words, here is S. K. Perry's Book Notes music playlist for her debut novel Let Me Be Like Water:



This was such a great challenge! Music is a huge part of how I write; for example, my characters all have favourite songs in my research files on them. Film also plays a big role in my writing process; often I feel like I’m trying to capture what the reader is watching (rather than reading) and so there’s often music playing in the background of a scene in my head. In this playlist I’ve tried to soundtrack Let Me Be Like Water, which is about a young woman (Holly) whose partner (Sam) dies suddenly. The book is set in the first year of her grief. She runs away to Brighton and starts life over again, slowly trying to come to terms with life without Sam.

Tempo Giusto - Chopin, played by Yuja Wang
Often, I write with piano music on in the background. I had piano lessons very briefly as a child and was absolutely terrible at it. My piano teacher would sharpen pencils and put them under my palms to jab me with if I made a mistake. I think it put me off learning an instrument for life, but it didn’t put me off the way a piano sounds, which to my untrained ears, is almost tidal: the sweep and flow of the notes building into song. Frank - a retired magician who takes Holly under his wing - loves piano music; Chopin is what he listens to if he needs reviving in some way. This piece, played by the magical Yuja Wang, is my favourite. I can imagine him sat in his chair, rock buns in the oven, letting it wash over him.

Really Love - D’Angelo
Although Let Me Be Like Water is a book about grieving, it’s also a love story. My city - London - is hot for just a handful of weeks each year. When the sun’s out, we spill outside with it, listening to music, eating and drinking long into the night. For me, this song captures what it is to meet and fall for someone in a hot summer. It’s in this sultry haze I imagine Holly and Sam first falling in love. Whilst Gina Figueroa’s whispered monologue voices some initial reservation, when the strings start to flicker, the song’s funk-influenced groove pulls you in deep. All you want to do is dance by the canal-side as the sun sets, hip-to-hip with your love.

Seaside - The Kooks
I really wanted this book to feel very specifically located in Brighton; it’s a seaside town on the south coast of England (very different to New York’s Brighton beach, where I went for the first time this year to ride the Cyclone and stroll the boardwalk). Our version has a funfair too, but the beach is rocky and wilder. Brighton is a queer epicentre, a hub for environmental activists, and a tourist trap in the summer. It’s a town I’ve loved deeply from a very young age, on a bit of coast that seems to wrap you up and make you feel better. The Kooks are a Brighton band, and this little song is an invitation to the go to the sea.

Mountain - Genevieve Dawson
One of the things I tried to capture in the book is the sheer monotony of grief. It’s like a migraine you can’t get rid of: the pain sharp and dull at once, lasting and hurting. The unusual 11/8 time signature in this knotty song churns around and around, feeling both surprising and repetitive. The lyrics strain at themselves, with Genevieve’s voice layering meanings into the refrain. It’s a circular, lingering song full of longing and memory that catches the continuous build and recede of grief, perfectly.

Daniel - Bat for Lashes
Bat for Lashes has been very much claimed by Brighton’s live music scene, where Natasha Khan studied music and then wrote and gigged her early songs, as Holly starts to do in the book. It’s another of those nostalgic love songs, that feels so apt for the late teens/early twenties first great love that Sam was for Holly.

Graceland - Paul Simon
We often feel such shame around other people seeing our pain; being witnessed in it can become caught up in what hurts about it. There’s a lyric in this song - ‘losing love is like a window in your heart; everybody sees you’re blown apart’ - that took my breath away when I first heard it. Holly tries so hard to be fine, to seem fine, to keep on going. But her grief is burnt all through her; everyone can see it. There’s a kind of acceptance in this song that works against the shame of deep emotion, and that was something I wanted to try and weave through this book, too.

White Ferrari - Frank Ocean
Frank Ocean is one of my favourite vocalists. On this album the vocals are often very exposed, with hardly any instrumental. Instead he seems to use layers of sung melody to echo or breakdown the words; sometimes you can’t make out what is being repeated, and this amplifies the sense of loss and longing that infuses his vocals. But there are moments of total musical clarity, and in this song it happens halfway; ‘I care for you still and I will forever, that was my part of the deal’ cuts straight through, and to me - at the core of this sad, beautiful song - it’s an affirmation that what lives in the heart remains even after a relationship is over. This is Holly’s experience with grief; she wants it to stop hurting but she also doesn’t want to let her love for Sam be gone. I imagine this song playing as she hurls stones into the sea, or sits on the beach at night while gulls soar and everyone else sleeps.

Every Weekday - Camera Obscura
This Camera Obscura album is lyrically full of the sort of sad and exciting chaos that encapsulates what a lot of my friends experienced living in a city in their early twenties. Drinking too much; working a bunch of jobs; whirlwind flatshares with loads of people crammed in, coming and going all the time; not eating or sleeping properly; and tons of amazing womxn friends to pull you on and indulge you in your introspection. Let Me Be Like Water is as much about friendship as anything else, and this song - about the amazing friends who won’t let you down - is for Ellie and Mira for seeing Holly through.

Killing Me Softly - Fugees
This is maybe the best cover version of any song ever. Lauryn Hill’s voice is so distinctive and powerful; it feels like she’s talking straight to you during the verses, and singing for her life in the chorus. Holly spends a lot of her time in Brighton running. I never run - not even for the bus; there’ll be another one - but I did walk all her running routes while I was writing the book. 90s hip hop made up the soundtrack for lots of these trips, and it’s what Holly and the group play for their long cycle trip to the Balcombe viaduct. When I’m by the sea I want to listen to hip hop. Being by myself, shut into my headphones and watching the waves crash; it’s my perfect afternoon.

Adorn - Miguel, and Diamonds - Rihanna
Holly loves clubbing. The book is set in 2012/2013 and these songs were everywhere! This is definitely what she’s dancing to with Duane, Danny, Sean, Ellie, and Mira.

Cold Sweat - Tinashe
There’s quite a lot of sex in this book. After Sam dies, sex becomes complicated for Holly as she tries to rediscover her body, and explore what it’s like to be intimate and vulnerable both on her own and with somebody new. This song - gloriously sensual with its clear, slightly breathy lyrics and slow, insistent, high hats - is both sexy, and lyrically complicated. It encapsulates both the great sex Holly has with Sam, and the way her sexuality hurts and twists about, without him.

Someone Great - LCD Soundsystem
Repetitive, with its driving, peppy beat, this is another song that encapsulates the ongoing, never-ending feeling of grief. It’s a track you can get lost in; turn it up really high and it carries you with it. All the self-destructive behaviours Holly engages in - exercising too much, getting high, pushing at all her boundaries - I imagine her being driven through them all while this song bounces on. And there it is, still, the loss, as the two refrains pulse over and over: ‘and it keeps coming’ / ‘when someone great is gone.’

Goodbye, Porkpie Hat - Charles Mingus
Written as an elegy for Lester Young, ‘Goodbye Pork Pie Hat’ was later given words when Charles Mingus collaborated with Joni Mitchell, as well as in an earlier version by Rahsaan Roland Kirk. But the original, with just the instrumentation, is in turn celebratory - telling of a life jubilantly lived with its bursts of saxophone - and gently mournful: softer, melancholy sounds tinging it with sadness. This is Gabriella’s song, another of Holly’s friends and rescuers, who carries her own, older, grief, integrated into a life she’s living well. I see her chopping onions and dancing to this tune with Holly in her kitchen.

Ain't No Sunshine - Bill Withers
This song is so loving and lonely. It’s the end of my playlist because it’s what the book is about. Loving deeply, and then a great, heaving loss, as if all the sunshine has gone.


S. K. Perry and Let Me Be Like Water links:

the author's website
video trailer for the book

BookPage review
Kirkus review
Publishers Weekly review

KMUW interview with the author
Spread the Word 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 (Svetlana Alexievich Interviewed, New Music from Mirah, and more)

Mirah

The Nation interviewed author Svetlana Alexievich.


Stream a new Mirah song.


eBook on sale for $1.99 today:

The High Mountains of Portugal by Yann Martel

eBook on sale for $2.99 today:

The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark by Carl Sagan


All Songs Considered shared a summer playlist.


Lenny features a new Laura van den Berg short story.


NPR Music is streaming St. Paul & The Broken Bones' new album, Young Sick Camellia.


NYLON and Newsday recommended fall's best books.


Stream a new Night Shop song.


Literary Hub recommended novels that embody the lived experience of womanhood.


NPR Music is streaming the new Spiritualized album, And Nothing Hurt.


Book Riot recommended tragicomic memoirs.


Daniel Kessler discussed the new Interpol album, Marauder, with SPIN.


Literary Hub shared an excerpt from Javier Marias's new book Between Eternities.


Stream a new song by Liars.


VQR interviewed author Mitchell S. Jackson.


Stream a new Babygirl song.


AAWW shared a conversation between poets Aimee Nezhukumatathil and Ross Gay.


Stream a new Mountain Man song.


The Literary Hub podcast interviewed author Deborah Eisenberg.


Stream a new Anemone song.


The OTHERPPL podcast interviewed author Victoria Patterson.



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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August 29, 2018

Joshua Cohen's Playlist for His Novel "Moving Kings"

Moving Kings

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

Joshua Cohen's brilliant novel Moving Kings is a masterpuece that solidifies his place as one of our finest young writers.

The New Yorker wrote of the book:

"A Jewish Sopranos . . . utterly engrossing, full of passionate sympathy . . . Joshua Cohen is an extraordinary prose stylist, surely one of the most prodigious at work in American fiction today."


In his own words, here is Joshua Cohen' Book Notes music playlist for his novel Moving Kings:



"The year is 2015, and twenty-one-year-olds Yoav and Uri, veterans of the last Gaza War, have just completed their compulsory military service in the Israel Defense Forces. In keeping with national tradition, they take a year off for rest, recovery, and travel. They come to New York City and begin working for Yoav’s distant cousin David King—a proud American patriot, Republican, and Jew, and the recently divorced proprietor of King’s Moving Inc., a heavyweight in the tri-state area’s moving and storage industries. Yoav and Uri now must struggle to become reacquainted with civilian life, but it’s not easy to move beyond their traumatic pasts when their days are spent kicking down doors as eviction-movers in the ungentrified corners of the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Queens, throwing out delinquent tenants and seizing their possessions. And what starts off as a profitable if eerily familiar job—an 'Occupation'—quickly turns violent when they encounter one homeowner seeking revenge."

That's what my publisher wrote about my novel, Moving Kings, and it's pretty much as correct and complete as cover-copy gets. If there's anything missing, actually, it's exactly what's missing from all marketing jargon and promo-ese: "the music."

A few phrases about this phrase: "The music" of prose can be a prosaic drag to define, but typically it's taken to indicate a certain purposeful lyricism, which—the more and more purposeful it gets—becomes whatever's the opposite of lyricism: mere-icism? It's the use of the devices that we're taught to identify in school in the writing of others and are urged to employ in our own school "themes" and "compositions," and that once we're graduated we gradually learn never to use, because what job—what boss—would tolerate an emailed meeting agenda ample with assonance and consonance and aureate alliteration and the rhythmic periodicities of prosodic feet from Greek and Latin?

Another way to put all this is: Because of the way we're educated (with verse first, and with sentences and paragraphs second and third and fourth and for the rest of our lives), most of us grow up convinced that "the music" of prose is poetry that's somehow out of place and out of time; illegal, denaturalized poetry that has lost its documents and so must evade enjambment by crossing state-lines, into a hostile foreign territory into which it can't assimilate—it's too "poetic"—and yet from which it can't be expelled without tempting incoherence. Incomprehension. Senselessness.

That, at least, is how I see it: "the music" of prose as prose's native alien.

That is how I hear it, in my own writing: "My music," such as it is, is just the sound of all the other languages that I've lived in, and that my family has lived in, claiming through this language their right to a home.

###

I never listen to music while writing: how can anyone listen and, at the same time, expect to make music of their own? (It's like trying to talk while—drinking? eating? "performing" oral sex?)

So what's below are just a few of the songs that were on whenever I wasn't writing between 2015 and 2017:

Shmulik Kraus, Shishi Ham (trans. "Hot Friday"): The Hebrew title is also an anagram, and an anaphone, of "hashish."

Nechi Nech, Melech HaRap Shel HaMizrach HaTichon (trans. "King of Mediterranean Rap"): A nonserious attempt to wage a rap war as a substitute for serious and endless war-war.

Bas Sheva, Lust: Mid-twentieth-century American Jewry didn't let Bernice Kanefsky become a cantor, so she changed her name to Bas Sheva and became a goddess.

Elmo Hope, Elmo's Blues: The truth-telling here only begins with the title.

Smiley Lewis, I Hear You Knocking (But You Can't Come In): Lewis should've sung this when Fats Domino stopped by and robbed him blind.

Dabke, Dabke 1 and Dabke 2: Dabke is a traditional Arabic group-dance and the name of a music collective that I know nothing about, except: these two albums they made are boss.


Joshua Cohen and Moving Kings links:

the author's website
the author's Wikipedia entry

Los Angeles Times review
New York Times review
New Yorker review

Largehearted Boy playlist by the author for Four New Messages
Los Angeles Review of Books interview with the author
Oxonian Review interview with the author


also at Largehearted Boy:

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

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weekly music release lists

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