November 18, 2015

Book Notes - Chrissy Kolaya "Charmed Particles"

Charmed Particles

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

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

Chrissy Kolaya's novel Charmed Particles is a brilliant debut peopled with skillfully drawn and unforgettable characters.

Booklist wrote of the book:

"Writing with bright tenderness, piquant humor, and supple wisdom, Kolaya emulates, ever so subtly, the fleet dynamics of particle physics as she orchestrates a mesmerizing plot of revelation and adaptation."

Stream a playlist of these songs at Spotify.


In her own words, here is Chrissy Kolaya's Book Notes music playlist for her debut novel Charmed Particles:


As a writer, you're told to come up with an elevator pitch for your book—a concise, punchy way you'd describe it to a publisher should you find yourself in a confined space with such a highly sought-after captive audience and a spare 30 seconds on your hands. As the kind and thoughtful people who've asked me "Hey, what's your book about?" and have then watched me break out in a cold sweat and a stammering response can attest, this book is weird and difficult to explain concisely. So, when I tried to come up with an elevator pitch for it, here's how it came out:

"Charmed Particles is about high-energy particle physics, gentlemen explorers, gifted and talented teenage girls, Mary Kay ladies, and one South Asian woman's assimilation to 1980s suburban Chicago, with a special focus on her fascination with American novelty convenience foods."

I hope you'll keep reading on the off chance that's the sort of thing you've been hoping someone would write a book about.

Thankfully, my editor and publicity team are better at this than I am. Here's what they came up with:

"Rural Nicolet, Illinois, is a city anchored between two opposing forces, a living history museum devoted to the American frontier and a laboratory for experiments in high-energy particle physics. When the proposal to build the Superconducting Super Collider under the town sparks debate between the scientists and the locals, two families find themselves on opposite sides of controversy that fractures the community, exposing deep cultural rifts between longtime friends.

Abhijat, a scientist from India now working at the National Accelerator Research Laboratory, has a sole obsession: making a name for himself as one of history's great theoretical physicists. The search for recognition blinds him to the burgeoning distance between him and his wife, Sarala, who devotes herself to their daughter Meena and assimilating into suburban America. Across town, Rose Winchester strives to raise precocious Lily, stitching together an unconventional marriage from the brief visits and vibrant letters of her husband Randolph, who fancies himself the last great gentleman explorer.

With incisive prose and infinite humanity, Charmed Particles traces the collision of past and progress, science and tradition, and the unimagined elements that may arise in the aftermath."

Below is a playlist that conjures this book for me—its characters, its setting, its themes, and many of its quirks:

"Particle Man," They Might Be Giants
Meena and Lily are two young girls whose friendship is the reason the book's two families, the Mitals and the Winchesters, know each other. Both girls are baby geniuses—gifted and talented students, yet each responds to her classmates and to the world in very different ways. Meena and Lily would, of course, be huge TMBG fans (as all good nerds are), and this song in particular speaks also to Meena's father's work as a theoretical particle physicist at the National Accelerator Research Lab.

"Dr. Livingstone, I Presume," Spare Machine
My friend Mark Janka, the man behind Spare Machine, is an incredible songwriter—his lyrics are like the most beautiful poems. This is one of his—different and better, I think, than the Moody Blues song of the same title. Lily's father, Randolph, is a kind of man-out-of-his-time, a Victorian-era gentleman explorer type (not unlike Dr. Livingston) inhabiting the world of late 20th Century adventure travel and the American Midwest. His often-incongruous presence in 1980s suburban Chicago was for me, one of the most enjoyable and weird parts of writing this book.

"Pleasant Valley Sunday," The Monkees
This is a great song about life in the kind of suburb where the characters in Charmed Particles live. Sarala (Meena's mother) moves from Bombay to Nicolet in 1972 with her new husband, and settles into their life in the Chicago suburbs. Sarala's a tough cookie and a good sport who throws herself into learning about her new home. For Sarala, this takes the form of an enthusiasm for the convenience foods of her adopted country, self-improvement and motivational literature, and the local living history facility, Heritage Village.

"Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want," The Smiths
Abhijat (Meena's father) and Rose (Lily's mother) wouldn't know this song (though their daughters certainly would), but it's a great theme song for their individual struggles and ambitions: Rose wants to be elected mayor of Nicolet, and Abhijat hopes to be remembered as one of history's great theoretical particle physicists. The issue of the Superconducting Super Collider (a scientific tool Abhijat's lab hopes to construct beneath the town) becomes a powerful force acting upon both Abhijat's and Rose's aspirations. The Superconducting Super Collider (SSC) was a real project under consideration at a number of locations around the United States in the late 1980s. The story of the SSC is fascinating, and you can learn more about it here.

"Black and White World," Elvis Costello
In the midst of their town's conflict over the Superconducting Super Collider, Lily and Meena are in that unnerving position many of us experience as teenagers, in which we begin to see, often for the first time, that adults can be both fallible and selfish. Lily is frustrated at so often being told by adults that the way she sees the world is too black and white, that it doesn't leave room for grey areas. She feels like this is just "the thing adults tell kids when they don't want to admit that they're selling out."

Mini playlist, high school dance, suburban Chicago, circa 1989
"Heaven," Warrant
"Girl You Know It's True," Milli Vanilli
"Every Rose Has Its Thorn," Poison
"Right Here Waiting," Richard Marx
"Lost In Your Eyes," Debbie Gibson
"I'll Be Loving You (Forever)" New Kids on the Block
"When I See You Smile" Bad English

Although Lily and Meena's childhoods can best be described as unconventional (they spend most weekends in the Nicolet Public Library's reading room, and weekdays in the "Free Learning Zone," their school's gifted and talented program), once they hit high school, nudged along by Meena, the girls try their hands at some of the more conventional teenage activities—football games, dances in the cafeteria, etc. Meena takes to these events and enjoys them, but not Lily. Here's a mini playlist for the kind of high school dance the girls attend. Standing against the wall, arms crossed in front of her, Lily would have nothing good to say about this soundtrack. Her own musical tastes leaning more toward Siouxsie and the Banshees, The Pogues, and The Violent Femmes, Lily does not truck such musical nonsense. She would very much take the later revelations about Milli Vanilli to be evidence of the legitimacy of her repugnance for this sort of music.

"In Between Days," The Cure
What good feeling-like-they-don't-fit-in kid in the 1980s didn't love the Cure? For me, this song conjures suburban Chicago, the world of the fictional town of Nicolet, a place anchored between two opposing forces—on one side of the town, a living history museum devoted to the American frontier and on the other, a laboratory for experiments in high-energy particle physics. Eagle's Crest, the neighborhood where both the Mitals and the Winchesters live, sits right in the middle: "on one side, the Lab, where scientists crashed subatomic particles into each other hoping to reveal the tiniest building blocks of the universe; on the other, Heritage Village, where costumed reenactors bent low over kettles, settling day after day this new country—the neighborhood itself like a literal threshold in time, holding apart the past and the future."

The Dallas theme song
The Dynasty theme song

In addition to her love of convenience foods and motivational literature, Sarala also has a healthy appreciation for American television, especially shows her husband thinks of as always "about rich and impossibly good-looking American families." In the evenings, Sarala retires to her and Abhijat's bedroom to watch her favorite programs. Abhijat, working in his study downstairs, hears these as he works, and these shows color Sarala's experience of her new home.

"Do You Remember When (We Overthrew the Government)?" The Lesser Birds of Paradise
Evocative of Randolph and Rose's early years—that sense of taking off together for a grand adventure, I imagine this beautiful song as a kind of soundtrack to their elopement and, years later, as background music with which Rose, in her suburban home, revisits those memories and rereads her and Randolph's letters. If you like this, you might also check out The Lesser Birds' "I Envy the Photons," an ode to one of the elementary particles.

"The Great Atomic Power" The Louvin Brothers or Uncle Tupelo
This would resonate, I imagine, with the Nicolet residents who oppose the SSC. These folks are worried about having the SSC built under their homes, about things like groundwater contamination, radiation, and real estate values. The difficulty the opponents of the SSC and the scientists in favor of it have in communicating with one another is one of the things I wanted to explore in this book: how do we successfully communicate in a responsible and accurate way about complicated scientific ideas?

"Waiting Room," Fugazi
Released right at the time of the conflict over the SSC, this song channels that sense of aggression and frustration you experience while waiting for news of something—of both wanting the news and dreading its arrival. The whole town of Nicolet experiences this as they wait for the Department of Energy's decision on the SSC. Rose and Lily experience this as they wait for news of Randolph near the end of the book.

"Synchronicity 2," The Police
The book's National Accelerator Research Lab is loosely based on Fermilab, where I conducted research for the book. I didn't realize until after I finished writing that my friend Lauren had spent her childhood summers living in family housing on the Fermilab campus, while her father, a theoretical physicist, conducted research. Lauren remembers listening to this song during that time. The story of Fermilab's family housing facilities (many of which are homes that were once owned by residents of Weston, Illinois, a town that no longer exists) is intriguing. If you're interested, you can read more about it here, here, and here.

And finally, of course:

"Supercollider," Radiohead
Not my favorite Radiohead song, but I felt like I couldn't leave this one out.

Thanks so much for having me, David! I've been reading Largehearted Boy for years and always dreamed of someday getting to do this! Thanks so much for making that dream come true!


Chrissy Kolaya and Charmed Particles links:

the author's website
excerpt from the book

Book Riot review
Booklist review
Bustle review
Donna Trump review
Kirkus review

AndiLit.com interview with the author
Christine Sneed interview with the author
G.G. Andrew interview with the author
Late Night Library interview with the author
Morris Sun Tribune profile of the author
The Nervous Breakdown self-interview by the author
Wellness and Writing essay by the author


also at Largehearted Boy:

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

Online "Best of 2015" Book Lists
2015 Online Year-end Music Lists

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

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





November 18, 2015

Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week - November 18, 2015

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

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


Shigeru Mizuki's Hitler

Shigeru Mizuki's Hitler
translated by Zack Davisson

A manga biography of one of the most reviled figures in history by a Japanese artist who served in World War II and lost many friends and his arm in the process. As Frederik L. Schodt remarks in his introduction, "Who better...to deconstruct the monster Hitler, than a monster expert?" Schodt refers, of course, to Mizuki's famed re-imaginings of the Yokai, Japan's supernatural creatures. Mizuki gives us a detailed and disturbing portrait of Hitler, focussing on both the personal and political.


Lucky Peach: The Breakfast Issue

Lucky Peach: The Breakfast Issue

Famed food mag Lucky Peach does breakfast! Waking up might not seem so bad with this issue for company. They cover delicious breakfasts all over the world, including Istanbul, Kigali, Mumbai, Sydney, San Antonio, and even the South Pole. Rounded out with articles about coffee, Dim Sum, the Bloody Caesar, the price of eggs, and more!


Frontier #10: Sensitive Property

Frontier #10: Sensitive Property
by Michael Deforge

Youth in Decline chose to showcase Michael Deforge (Lose, Very Casual, Ant Colony, Dressing) in the latest issue of Frontier! With a bold colour palette and his signature blend of the surreal and the mundane, Deforge presents us with the story of a former radical activist who starts working as a sort of development mole for a real estate estate company. Much subterfuge ensues.


Art Comic #3

Art Comic #3
by Matthew Thurber

Art Comic #3 sees Thurber (1-800-MICE and Infomaniacs) continuing his satirical send-up of the overblown art world of 1990s-2000s New York. Keep your eyes out for the Art Comic graphic novel, which will be published by Drawn + Quarterly!


Tropisms

Tropisms
by Nathalie Sarraute, translated by Maria Jolas

New Directions brings us a new English translation of acclaimed French writer Nathalie Sarraute's Tropismes. Each tropism within seeks to describe "certain inner 'movements'" that Sarraute was fascinated by from childhood onward. These "movements", she writes, "constitute the secret source of our existence, in what might be called its nascient state."


Librairie Drawn & Quarterly links:

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


also at Largehearted Boy:

other Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week

Online "Best Books of 2015" Year-end Lists

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)

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

Online "Best of 2015" Book Lists Update - November 18th

For the eight straight year, I am aggregating every online year-end book list I find. As the lists appear online, I will add them to the master list.

Please feel free to leave a comment or e-mail me with a blog, magazine, newspaper, or other online media list I have missed.

The master list.
Daily updates to the master list.

Revisit previous years' collections of year-end book lists: 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, and 2000-2009 (best of the decade).


Today's additions to the Online Year-end "best of 2015" Book Lists:

Associated Press (best coffee table books)
Associated Press (best food books)
Bainbridge Island Review (top gift books)
Barnes and Noble (best science fiction and fantasy books)
BookPage (favorite cookbooks)
Examiner (best books on singers, bands, and songwriters)
The First Book Blog (favorite books)
Forbes (best new career books)
Imagination Soup (best chapter books)
Imagination Soup (best children's board books)
Independent (best books for babies)
Independent (best fantasy novels)
Jonathan Crowe (map books)
Living Read Girl (best books)
Mary-Louise Parker (favorite books)
My Glorious Adventures (best books)
Nicholas Sparks (favorite books)
The Occult Museum (most haunting books)
Pages & Pages (books of the year)
The Rachael Way (favorite books)
Vancouver Sun (baking cookbooks)


also at Largehearted Boy:

daily updates to this list

Online "Best Books of 2015" Lists
Online "Best Books of 2014" Lists
Online "Best Books of 2013" Lists
Online "Best Books of 2012" Lists
Online "Best Books of 2011" Lists
Online "Best Books of 2010" Lists
Best of the Decade (2000-2009) Online Book Lists
Online "Best Books of 2009" Lists
Online "Best Books of 2008" Lists

2015 Online Year-end Music Lists
2014 Online Year-end Music Lists
2013 Online Year-end Music Lists
2012 Online Year-end Music Lists
2011 Online Year-end Music Lists
2010 Online Year-end Music Lists
Best of the Decade (2000-2009) Online Music Lists
2009 Online Year-end Music Lists
2008 Online Year-end Music Lists
2007 Online Year-end Music Lists
2006 Online Year-end Music Lists
other lists at Largehearted Boy

Antiheroines (interviews with up and coming female comics artists)
Atomic Books Comics Preview (comics recommendations)
Book Notes (authors create music 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)
WORD Bookstores Books of the Week (weekly new book highlights)

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

Shorties (A Shakespeare-Inspired Cocktail Book, A Grimes Mixtape, and more)

Shakespeare, Not Stirred: Cocktails for Your Everyday Dramas


Stream Grimes' mixtape she put together for Pandora.


15 year-end "best books of 2015" lists were added to the Largehearted Boy master aggregation Monday (bringing the total number of lists represented to 218), including Kirkus's best fiction lists and Fortune's books that changed CEO's minds.


Advent calendars for book lovers.


The Guardian on the surge in female music memoirs.


Electric Literature interviewed Kevin Barry about his new novel Beatlebone.


Mercury Rev visited World Cafe for an interview and performance.


The Spectacle interviewed poet Claudia Rankine.


Stream a new Rob Crow song.


Vol. 1 Brooklyn interviewed author Valeria Luiselli.


PopMatters interviewed Iain Cook of the band CHVRCHES.


Crave interviewed Paul Murray about his new novel The Mark and the Void.


Under the Radar interviewed Low frontman Alan Sparhawk.


The 2015 Costa Book Award shortlists have been named.


The Oxford American interviewed Peter Guralnick about his book Sam Phillips: The Man Who Invented Rock 'N' Roll.


Instagram's influence on book sales.


Paste profiled the band Beach Baby.


Karl Ove Knausgaard's acceptance speech for the Welt Literaturpreis.

The difference between engaging with a real neighbor and one in a novel is that the former occurs in the social sphere, within the boundaries of its rules and practical constraints, whereas the latter occurs outside of it, in the reader’s own most private, intimate sphere, where the rules that govern our social interaction do not apply and its practical constraints do not exist. Only there, in that encounter, are we able to see the concept of the social and see exactly what it is. And only there, in that encounter, are we able to see what a human being is outside of that concept, in itself and on its own terms. This space—that is, the novel’s—is idiosyncratic, particular, and singular: in other words, it represents the exact opposite of the media, which strives toward the universal and general.


Where are all the climate change songs?


Read excerpts from finalists for the 2015 Bad Sex in Fiction award.


Nathaniel Rateliff played a Tiny Desk Concert.


Don DeLillo's new novel Zero K will be published in May.


Paste listed the best Stars songs.


Fresh Air and Literary Hub interviewed David Mitchell about is new novel Slade House.


Members of TV on the Radio talked to Speed of Sound about the band's history.


eBooks on sale today:

A Brave Man Seven Storeys Tall by Will Chancellor ($1.99)
Burning Down George Orwell's House by Andrew Ervin ($1.99)
Dahlgren by Samuel R. Delaney ($1.99)
I'd Walk with My Friends If I Could Find Them by Jesse Goolsby ($3.99)
The Child in Time by Ian McEwan ($2.99)
Marya: A Life by Joyce Carol Oates ($1.99)
Please Don't Come Back from the Moon by Dean Bakopoulos ($2.99)
Portraits of a Few of the People I've Made Cry by Christine Sneed ($1.99)
Ship of Fools by Katherine Anne Porter ($1.99)
Stand Still Like the Hummingbird by Henry Miller ($1.99)
There Are Little Kingdoms by Kevin Barry ($2.99)
The Unthinkable Thoughts of Jacob Green by Joshua Braff ($1.99)
White Tiger on Snow Mountain by David Gordon ($1.99)
The Wonder Garden by Lauren Acampora ($2.99)
You Don't Have to Live Like This by Benjamin Markovitz ($1.99)



also at Largehearted Boy:

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

Online "Best of 2015" Book Lists
Essential and Interesting 2015 Year-End Music Lists

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

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

Daily Downloads (Alex Bleeker, Covenhoven, and more)

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


Today's free and legal mp3 downloads:

Bear With Hawk Fist: A Young Person's Guide to Bear With Hawk Fist album [mp3]

Brett Weller and the Congregation: "Christmas Time in New Orleans" [mp3]

The Cold Year: Live at KRCL EP [mp3]

Covenhoven: The Wild and Free Primer EP [mp3]

How to Throw a Christmas Party: V: Beaches of Bethlehem album [mp3]

Mallory: To the Hollow Night album [mp3]

Marathon Runner: "Grenadine" [mp3]

Zach Winters: Monarch Sketches album [mp3]


Free and legal live performances at other websites:

Alex Bleeker: 2015-11-12, Brooklyn [mp3]


search for more free and legal music downloads at Largehearted Boy


also at Largehearted Boy:

other Daily Downloads

covers collections
100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads

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

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

November 17, 2015

Book Notes - Margaret Malone "People Like You"

People Like You

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

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

Margaret Malone's short fiction collection People Like You is a mesmerizing debut, filled with characters whose hardscrabble lives will haunt you long after you finish their stories.

Lydia Yuknavitch wrote of the book:

"This is the book I am personally going to put into peoples' hands the moment it gets born. The stories in Margaret Malone's collection People Like You will blow your mind, steal your heart, and leave your DNA rearranged. Her writing is brilliantly urgent and alive. The biggest mouth-to-mouth resuscitation of storytelling I've seen in years."

Stream a playlist of these songs at Spotify.


In her own words, here is Margaret Malone's Book Notes music playlist for her short story collection People Like You:


The way music works in my brain has something to do with memory. I don’t quite understand it. Like a tea that is stronger the longer it steeps.

This is true too with writing. The characters in the stories of People Like You, I love them for what they are, and I love them for what they were over the course of twenty or thirty or forty rewrites, and I love all the ways I hated them when I couldn't figure them out.

And now here I am mixing memory and music and story and character in one big knotted up mess. It's pretty dreamy. You know, if you like dreams where you have peanut butter stuck all over your hands and the phone is ringing and you have to answer it because it's someone really important but for the life of you, you cannot find a paper towel.

Some of the song memories here are mine, the writer's; and some of the song memories here are the characters'; and some of the song memories here are both. Putting together this playlist, I stopped trying to figure it out. It’s all knotted together now in a way that can’t be undone.

And so this is how my playlist became born.

The nine stories in People Like You each get a song here. I'll list the story, and then the song that snugs up against it or fits inside the heart of it.

Here’s to hoping you find a memory that you like.

People Like You – The first Bert & Cheryl story. A party, bad directions, pregnant women and balloons.
Figurines – "The Wonder"
The song is like driving fast on the freeway and trying to keep eyes on the landmarks as you pass – ever watch someone’s eyeballs jumping around while they follow the landscape at seventy miles per hour? This song is that.

The Only One – The youngest narrator in the bunch, but also arguably the smartest. I wish I had been her when I was that age.
Fruit Bats – "When U Love Somebody"
This song has everything that love is when you are young and maybe haven’t been in love before, or think you might be in love but are afraid to tell anyone, or think you’d want to be in love but aren’t sure how to go find it. All that ache. So good.

Yes – This is what she says when asked.
Pavement – "Frontwards"
This song is that feeling that is especially powerful at the intersection of adulthood and adolescence – when most of us don't really know what we want yet, but we know for damn sure what we don't want, and at this age that not wanting is everything.

The Things We Know Nothing About – The loneliest narrator here marinating in a soup of comedic awfulness.
The Notwist – "Good Lies"
I could have picked almost any song by this German band from any of their albums starting with Shrink from 1998. Nobody does the full range of melancholy better, from the isolation all the way through to the burn of joy that comes with memory. But this song is particularly appropriate.

Saving The Animals –I wish this narrator knew how awesome she was: I have hope that someday she will understand.
Thao Nguyen & the Get Down Stay Down – "Swimming Pools"
All the ways that girls are tough and beautiful and better than they may know, that’s what this song is; and it's for those of us out there who need to be reminded that the parameters of our worth are grander than we’ve been told.

I’m Your Man – The second Bert & Cheryl story. It’s, um, a little uncomfortable in spots.
The Dodos – "Red and Purple"
I want to disappear inside the percussion of this song. And I love that I have no idea if the song is about war or love or neither. For my purposes it's about sustaining in the trenches; you know, when it doesn’t always look the way you thought it would.

Good Company – The longest story by far in the collection. It’s about a man and a woman but really it’s about the ways we find family in unexpected places, like the desert at Christmas over cake.
Dinah Washington sings Bessie Smith – "Send Me To The 'Lectric Chair"
All I can say is that the energy of this song is everything that the Mother in this story is (you know, except for the murdering part), and it's also everything the narrator wants to learn from her. Also it's Dinah Washington, just listening to her sing makes me feel wise and invulnerable.

Sure Footing – One of the first stories I ever wrote. I have a soft spot for this one.
The Lucky Stars – "The Tattooed Lady"
Sometimes having your body loved right by a man is enough.

Welcome To Samsara – The third and final Bert & Cheryl story. A zygote, a sexless Hawaii, and Ocean vs. Pool. The last story in the collection.
Tom Waits – "Little Trip To Heaven"
If you're a fan of Tom Waits, it's impossible not to hear the everything of everything in his voice on this one: the wonder and joy and pain and loss and sinking and floating and around and around we all go in this life, willing participants, because the beauty is so beautiful and the sad is so sad and, even still, it is worth every moment, isn't it? Wouldn’t most of us do it all again?


Margaret Malone and People Like You links:

the author's website
video trailer for the book

Oregonian review

Late Night Library interview with the author
The Quivering Pen essay by the author


also at Largehearted Boy:

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

Online "Best of 2015" Book Lists

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

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

Essential and Interesting 2015 Year-End Music Lists

The Largehearted Boy List of Essential and Interesting 2015 Year-End Music Lists

I will aggregate essential and most interesting "best of 2015" year-end music lists as I have in past years, and update this post regularly.

Revisit the lists for 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009, 2000-2009 (best of the decade lists), 2010, 2011, and 2012, 2013, and 2014.


American Songwriter (top albums)
Anti-Gravity Bunny (top collaborative drone records)
Bleep (albums)
Blog to Bollywood (top Bollywood songs)
Crave (best albums)
Dallas Observer (best Dallas rap and hip-hop acts)
Dazed (artists to listen to in 2016)
Decibel (top albums)
Denver Post (best albums)
Design Week (best record sleeves)
DJ Magazine (best albums)
Hey Reverb (best songs)
Jazzwize (albums)
KEXP DJs (best albums)
MOJO (best albums)
Norman Records (top albums)
The Observer (top cover songs)
Pandora (top thumbed up songs)
Paste (best and worst holiday albums)
Picadilly Records (top albums)
Picadilly Records (top compilations)
Pigeons and Planes (best independent record labels)
Resident Music (albums of the year)
Rough Trade (albums)
Stereogum (best new bands)
Telegraph (best classical albums)
Telegraph (best folk music albums)
Telegraph (best country albums)
Telegraph (best jazz albums)
Textura (top albums)
Tom Hull (best jazz albums)
Uncut - John Mulvey (best albums)
The Week UK (top albums)
Wikipedia (albums)


also at Largehearted Boy:

2014 Year-End Online Music Lists
2013 Year-End Online Music Lists
2012 Year-End Online Music Lists
2011 Year-End Online Music Lists
2010 Year-End Online Music Lists
2009 Year-End Online Music Lists
2008 Year-End Online Music Lists
2007 Year-End Online Music Lists
2006 Year-End Online Music Lists
Best of the Decade (2000-2009) Music Lists

Online "Best Books of 2015" Lists
Online "Best Books of 2014" Lists
Online "Best Books of 2013" Lists
Online "Best Books of 2012" Lists
Online "Best Books of 2011" Lists
Online "Best Books of 2010" Lists
Online "Best Books of 2009" Lists
Online "Best Books of 2008" Lists
Best of the Decade (2000-2009) Online Book Lists

other lists at Largehearted Boy
100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads
Daily Downloads (free & legal mp3 downloads)
Book Notes (authors create playlists for their book)
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
musician/author interviews

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

Shorties (New Ann Beattie Short Fiction, A Robert Pollard Holiday Song, and more)

The New Yorker features a new short story by Ann Beattie.


Stream a new holiday song from Guided By Voices frontman Robert Pollard.


15 year-end "best books of 2015" lists were added to the Largehearted Boy master aggregation yesterday (bringing the total number of lists represented to 218), including Kirkus's best fiction lists and Fortune's books that changed CEO's minds.


Tin House interviewed author Elizabeth Tallent.


Rough Trade listed its albums of the year.


Literary Hub interviewed author Lauren Groff.


PopMatters profiled Empress Of's Lorely Rodriguez.

Coming from the artist whose colourful, experimental stylings seized the interest of a large online fanbase from the very beginning, it would be easy to consider Rodriguez as another of what might be referred to as the neo-Dadaist school of pop artists, characterized by an approach to pop music that’s heavy on experimental and artistic concept work. But Rodriguez resists characterizing her pop music in that way. Although her music conveys an experimental and musical complexity, her aim, she says, is not to create layers of complex meaning but rather to strip her pop songs down to a more honest core.


Literary Bennington interviewed writer Chelsea Hodson.


Blitzen Trapper's Eric Earley talked songwriting with American Songwriter.


Design Sponge interviewed author Tanwi Nandini Islam.


VICE interviewed Oneohtrix Point Never's Daniel Lopatin.


Vol. 1 Brooklyn interviewed author Rupert Thompson.


PopMatters listed the best classic progressive rock albums.


Flavorwire listed books that will make you a better writer.


Ween is reuniting for a series of 2016 shows.


BuzzFeed interviewed Neil Gaiman about storytelling in the age of the internet.


The duo Shovels and Rope discussed their new covers album Busted Jukebox Vol. I track-by-track with All Songs Considered.


eBooks on sale today:

A Brave Man Seven Storeys Tall by Will Chancellor ($1.99)
Burning Down George Orwell's House by Andrew Ervin ($1.99)
Dahlgren by Samuel R. Delaney ($1.99)
I'd Walk with My Friends If I Could Find Them by Jesse Goolsby ($3.99)
The Child in Time by Ian McEwan ($2.99)
Marya: A Life by Joyce Carol Oates ($1.99)
Please Don't Come Back from the Moon by Dean Bakopoulos ($2.99)
Portraits of a Few of the People I've Made Cry by Christine Sneed ($1.99)
Ship of Fools by Katherine Anne Porter ($1.99)
Stand Still Like the Hummingbird by Henry Miller ($1.99)
There Are Little Kingdoms by Kevin Barry ($2.99)
The Unthinkable Thoughts of Jacob Green by Joshua Braff ($1.99)
White Tiger on Snow Mountain by David Gordon ($1.99)
The Wonder Garden by Lauren Acampora ($2.99)
You Don't Have to Live Like This by Benjamin Markovitz ($1.99)



also at Largehearted Boy:

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

Online "Best of 2015" Book Lists

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

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

Daily Downloads (A Pilgrimage Music Festival EP, Lee Ranaldo, and more)

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


Today's free and legal mp3 downloads:

Atomicana: "Four Horsemen" [mp3]

Brandy Zdan: Brandy Zdan EP [mp3]

By Night We Loom: The Ignition EP [mp3]

Champion Electric: "Want" [mp3]

Luray: Sandcastle Man EP [mp3]

Mink's Miracle Medicine: Countrypolitan EP [mp3]

Various Artists: Pilgrimage Music and Cultural Festival Sessions 2015 EP [mp3]

Various Artists: XO for the Holidays Volume VIII album [mp3]


Free and legal live performances at other websites:

Lee Ranaldo: 2015-11-13, Queens [mp3]


search for more free and legal music downloads at Largehearted Boy


also at Largehearted Boy:

other Daily Downloads

covers collections
100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads

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

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

November 16, 2015

Book Notes - Matthew Gavin Frank "The Mad Feast"

The Mad Feast

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

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

Matthew Gavin Frank once again proves himself one of our finest nonfiction writers with his new collection The Mad Feast, which examines the cultural and historical significance of a signature dish from each U.S. state, each complete with recipe.

Entertainment Weekly wrote of the book:

"Never has a country-spanning food romp felt this subversive. Frank's essays―which dissect signature dishes from all 50 states―are nothing short of brilliant…. [A]n exploration of humanity, life, and tastes, the book is delicious."

Stream a playlist of these songs at Spotify.


In his own words, here is Matthew Gavin Frank's Book Notes music playlist for his book The Mad Feast:


SOUTH:
"Eat That Chicken" by Charles Mingus
As the book meanders along the back-roads of the American South, the readerly windshield spattered with salmonfly viscera and shards of cicada wing, the region, and its checkered history becomes indistinct, gut-blurry. We can hardly see the road ahead of us through all of that yellow carnage, and time seems to compress, one era overlapping with so many others. Everything, here at once. Through this dirty window, Key Lime Pie confuses itself for Perloo, for Hummingbird Cake, Beaver Tail Stew, for Mud Pie, Peach Pie, Crawfish Étouffée. Somehow, Mingus' tune—both celebration and indictment—is the one that binds these seemingly disparate ingredients together, keeps us from driving off the road into bayou and bog.

NEW ENGLAND:
"Ripened Peach" by Ethyl Meatplow
Here, in winter, out the window, the roan cows in the dead lucerne fields huddle against each other for warmth, holding their milk. Off shore, the gull with the short attention span dive-bombs the littleneck clam, considers the cherrystone. The temperature falls one degree. There's little sustenance in consideration, it finds. Its beak touches down on ice. Our breath defrosts the windshield. Through the little wet peephole, the entire region appears to be containing its fertility, which swells inside of it, beneath it, lusty for the thaw and its own hatching, leakage. Fish-tailing along the road, this repression is a little creepy, even as it titillates. We hope, once again, that innate sexuality isn't punishable by noose or by pyre, ponder the difference between ripened and ripe. If something has been ripened, we think, that means something else acts on it, does the ripening—with hands, with teeth, with water, with blades. We play in our heads every deliciously sexy/creepy song we can muster as an incantation against all violent backlash that ever followed the uncrossing of the legs of New England.

MID-ATLANTIC:
"Something on Your Mind" by Karen Dalton
We drive over pipes, networks, systems. Rumor has it that there's a subterranean aqueduct that stretches all the way from Manhattan's MacDougal Street to Enid, Oklahoma. New York City's water supply alone, in its long and storied history, has been contaminated by rodents, sewage, industrial waste, petroleum, Diet Mountain Dew bottles, Cheeto bags, Cheerio boxes, Genesee beer cans, rat shit, cat shit, dog shit, our shit, rotting fish, steaks, pork chops, cellophane, guns, fertilizer, pesticides, glue, human bodies, and, according to reports, an "underground oil leak bigger than the Exxon Valdez spill," all coupling into a sludge that environmental scientists have dubbed "black mayonnaise." We depend on this water to boil our bagels and hot dogs and blue crabs, to moisten our cake and chase the saltiness of our cheesesteaks. In Greenwich Village, the club where Karen Dalton used to sing is now NYC INK, a tattoo parlor with a wad of frozen phlegm on the front window. Miraculously, we navigate the traffic. Still, in order to make it to Delaware, our hearts need some kind of calming.

MIDWEST:
"Put That Skillet Away" by Andre Williams
Carl Sandburg should have warned us: the word Illinois bears the migratory weight of rivers Mississippi, Illinois, Des Plaines, and Chicago, Lake Michigan and the railroads, blues and jazz, John Deere's steel plow and dirty inland creeks carrying green foam, poisonous trout, and cans of Old Milwaukee. Overwhelmed, we are compelled to stomp the gas pedal hard, sigh and soar through stockyards to cornfields. We speed through this place of domesticated wildness, in the middle of the fields, the tassels way above the roofs of our cars, our bearings lost, the crows of Champaign and Chicago, Minneapolis and St. Paul, Detroit, Marquette, Cincinnati and Troy, still alive and feasting together on the kernels. We eat two slices of cold sausage and pepperoni deep-dish while we drive, turn up the volume on the radio and shimmy our shoulders a little against all of this flatness, decay. We think of all the potential lovers we tried to woo in slaughterhouses and Lutheran Church basements, pizza joints, quarry bottoms, chili parlors and auto plants. Hey, hey, we sing along, though we know there are some things we can never shake off—a family, a childhood, a first kiss—no matter how vigorously our shoulder-shimmies; no matter the distance we put between ourselves and old homes, and the terrible things we once did there.

PACIFIC WEST:
"Dinner For Two" by Deerhoof
So many split apples, the fat tongues of geoduck clams, yellowed land contracts and destiny made manifest speckle this cockeyed Eden of a region, span oceans even, like messages suffocating in a bottle. When we uncork them, they smell briny and the smells get into our hair and clothes as if smoke, and the voices pour from inside, plaintive, entreating, but illegible. We are filled with such longing that we chase these voices to the appendages of our country, to its electrons and crumbs. On the way, we see long-dead runners perfectly preserved in glacial ice, and we see fires that will never be put out. We stain our mouths with ice flavored with cherry syrup and condensed milk, and eat halibut sandwiches; the fish between the bread was once so big the fisherman had to empty his shotgun into it, then reload, then empty it again in order to stop the flapping. Here, we close our eyes and affect a gentling of history, of falling in love over the flickering of a candle on the white linen draped over a street corner table. Fumbling with our forks, we make inadequate stabs at apology, reconciliation. The wind is too weak to snuff the candle, but still, it blows. The distance between us is oceanic, though we never stop puckering our lips, and reaching. The dragonflies are coupling, or warring beneath the orange gas lamps. The ocean, puppet of the cosmos, roars against its will. Affectation, everywhere.

GREAT PLAINS:
"Oh, Deadly Nightshade!" by New Bloods
We drive through regions known as the Cimarron Strip and No Man's Land, as the radio, at first, drones on about oil dropping to ten bucks a barrel, skyrocketing unemployment, and all manners of starvation. We ate breakfast at a place called The Rodeo, their 4x4x4x4 Special—4 eggs, 4 pancakes, 4 strips of bacon, and 4 slices of barbecued bologna, served, of course, with hash browns and choice of toast (we chose the house-made raisin frybread in spite of the 25-cent upcharge). We spread on our thick layers of chokecherry jam, knowing full well that the early white colonists here incorrectly believed the fruit to be deadly. In 1634, William Wood wrote of chokecherries, "They so furre the mouth that the tongue will cleave to the roof." We imagine pelts in our mouths, so much history clogging our throats, blocking language. Our hearts are heavy with old dust storms, blizzards, tornados. We change the station. That's better. We drive beneath the blood moon and try to stop thinking, and scratch at our scalps. We're getting hungry again. We haven't washed our hair for days.

MOUNTAIN WEST:
"Crema Dulce," by Juan Cirerol
We lean forward toward the windshield, then back. Our theory has been confirmed. That smear used to be a mantis. The roads here are so open and straight, and the speeds so high, we sometimes risk the closing of our eyes and the lifting of our hands from the steering wheel. Somehow, we think this openness is to be trusted. We imagine ourselves atop a really fast horse and, as if in meditation, as if staving off an awful crash, we silently recite the names of saddle parts— pommel, swell, gullet, skirt, hobble strap, seat jockey, cantle, front rigging dee. We open our eyes. We call this landscape big, so we don't have to call it barren. We think nothing of our mothers, all of the beautiful food she fed to us when we were young. We remember it all out here as some mixture of sad, sweet cream. Overhead, something that sounds like a plane writes letters in the sky. Overhead, the sky is so big we can't make out the words. This confusion will carry us through another day.

SOUTHWEST:
"Si Me Vez," by Davila 666
The chili ristras at the porch posts sway, keep time. The saguaro cacti at the roadside are wilting and housing woodpeckers. Their fruit has rotted and their arms are braised to punish or praise— hands on their hips, hands in the air. Amid them, we remember our first jobs. We remember washing dishes in a fast food chicken shack at age eleven for a megalomaniacal and dyspeptic boss who actually spanked us with wooden spoons if the dishes weren't clean enough. Because we were the youngest members of the crew, we were shunned, invisible, ghosts who scrubbed burnt-on bird fat from silver trays. As the other boys in the kitchen chased each other with knives, predicting the accident that would, by the end of that summer, see the orange linoleum covered in the fry-cook's blood, we stared, sweating, into the gray sinkwater and listened to the music blasting from the turquoise transistor. More than likely, the song was Whitesnake's "Here I Go Again," which seemed ubiquitous that summer, but, oh, if only it had been this song (If you see me, if you see me…) things, we think, could have been so different.

MID-SOUTH:
"Everyday People," by Shilpa Ray (with Steven Bernstein's Millennial Territory Orchestra)
Bone-white in the waxing gibbous moon: Collapsed coal mines, shuttered asylums, rats overtaking the peanut fields, locusts in the tobacco. A pyramid of pigs' heads. A skinny monument to a dead racehorse. Shadows, all. Not a human soul in sight. That's it. Enough. We're turning around. Going back a different way than we came.


Matthew Gavin Frank and The Mad Feast links:

the author's website
excerpt from the book

Booktrib review
Entertainment Weekly review
Kirkus review

Largehearted Boy Book Notes essay by the author for Pot Farm
Largehearted Boy Book Notes essay by the author for Preparing the Ghost
Omnivoracious interview with the author
River to River interview with the author
Saveur profile of the author


also at Largehearted Boy:

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

Online "Best of 2015" Book Lists

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

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

Book Notes - Summer Brennan "The Oyster War"

The Oyster War

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

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

Summer Brennan's The Oyster War is an exhaustively researched and fascinating book that explores modern environmentalism's intersection with the law.

The Los Angeles Review of Books wrote of the book:

"Every story is freighted with backstory, with multiple and intersecting histories. The great value of Brennan's book, even if it gets, as she writes, only 'as close to the truth as I could reasonably be expected to come,' is her deeply probing effort to understand and craft as full and complex an account as possible."

Stream a playlist of these songs at Spotify.


In her own words, here is Summer Brennan's Book Notes music playlist for her debut book The Oyster War:


The Oyster War was born to Top 40 radio, driving the world's ugliest car on winding country roads between oyster farms and shipwreck-marked beaches and the one room newspaper office where I worked. It was the summer of 2012. The book started as a long series of questions I asked to myself out loud and recorded on my iPhone 3's Voice Notes app. I drove with the device resting in my lap but it sometimes went flying onto the floor if I took too sharp a turn. With almost non-existent shocks, the car bounced like the baddest lowrider but was, in fact, a tan 1991 Pontiac minivan with a cracked windshield and Canadian plates. A friend nicknamed it "the Man-Repeller."

Because I had music on, the recordings of these questions to myself—about oyster farmers and fraud and a possible government conspiracy—were half shouted over songs like Carly Rae Jepson's "Call Me Maybe," Katy Perry's "Wide Awake" and Nicki Minaj's "Starships." If there wasn't music on in the background of my recorded notes, there was the rushing wind of the beaches where I walked during stolen hours, describing waves and seaweed to myself. I never listened to music when I was out in nature, and I never felt like I could relax fully unless I was right at the water's edge. Then, I didn't need the distraction of music to carry my thoughts along. I didn't need anything.

[After dark, when the chill of the coastal fog swept inland and through everything, I did need it; I needed the upbeat radio again to shield me from the wet and empty night, which stretched all the way out past the Farallon Islands and the black Pacific to the farthest reaches of the universe, once the protective bubble of the daylight was gone.]

Autumn came, and I went back to the city. Those Voice Notes became notes in a Mead composition book, then some rambling Word documents, and eventually a few stabs at the outline of a book. I returned to California the following summer (this time driving a different, better car). I had interest from a publisher but nothing set in stone. The radio songs of note were "Radioactive" by Imagine Dragons, Ellie Goulding's "Burn," and Miley Cyrus's "Wrecking Ball." I noted a semi-apocalyptic theme. The work still involved a lot of driving.

I finished my book proposal in December 2013, in a snowed-in coffee shop near Brooklyn's Prospect Park. Mostly I was listening to HAIM's "The Wire" (I guess because I felt I was down to the wire?) and open-source film score music by Dexter Britain, especially different versions of the track "Time To Run." I liked this because it helped me to image the book as a movie, which somehow helped me to more fully realize my idea as a book.

While my agent was pitching the proposal to editors, I listened to Vashti Bunyan's "Window Over The Bay" and "Come Wind Come Rain," trying to remain calm as the flattering rejection emails came in and winter thawed into a soggy early spring. We sold the manuscript in March.

Back in California once again in May of 2014, I asked people on Twitter to recommend music that "sounded like fog." This is how I discovered Stars of the Lid, particularly the album And The Refinement of Their Decline. I listened to it over and over and over again, but only while writing, and would continue to do so whenever I needed to work on a passage that took place in nature. It was like dropping into a trance.

The Oyster War required many, many hours of research. Searching through archives for information on nineteenth century sailors and oyster pirates, I often (incongruously) listened to "Gloria" as sung by Laura Branigan, and "867-5309/Jenny" by Tommy Tutone—accidentally blasting the latter for three horrible seconds in the reading room of the New York Historical Society when I opened up my laptop without first plugging in my headphones.

When writing about the roots of environmental direct action, I listened to "For What It's Worth" by Buffalo Springfield and "Instant Karma" by John Lennon. Turning to the political maneuverings of the 1970s, I fell for the version of "White Rabbit" sung in Arabic by Mayssa Karaa. I also listened to Jefferson Airplane's "Somebody To Love" and Queen and David Bowie's "Under Pressure" in the same short playlist. When writing about forest activists of the 1990s like Julia Butterfly Hill, I listened to the operatic "Song of Captivity" and "Freedom" by Murray Gold (which is so lovely, you'd never guess it was written as the theme music for a tentacle-faced alien race on Doctor Who). To get into the head of the extremely debauched and relentlessly ambitious Congressman Phillip Burton, I landed on Hot Chocolate's "Every 1's A Winner." When going through research and organizing my notes at that time, I listened to Sweet's "Fox On The Run" and David Bowie's "Rebel Rebel."

Sometimes the music I listened to related to what I was writing about in mood or subject, but oftentimes not. Often the songs were just something I injected myself with in order to keep going; mainlining over-the-top glam rock or saccharine pop in order to overcome my exhaustion.

The low-point of the entire book-writing process was certainly October of 2014. I'd had writer's block for months at that point and had to battle for every sentence. Then I had a breakthrough. Well, actually a few things were breaking: my self-doubt, my publisher's patience … other things. Possibly my sanity. I broke up with the guy I had been seeing (or perhaps he broke up with me). I started scribbling ideas and rearranging the book's structure on my office chalkboard wall, with great energy. I joked to someone that I was like Joseph Gordon-Levitt in that scene from 500 Days of Summer, which is how I ended up listening to "Vagabond" by Wolfmother approximately 1,000,000 times.

I'm not sure I even really like that song very much, but it was playing in that scene of the movie, which naturally I chose to watch in one last effort at procrastination. I don't especially like (or dislike) Joseph Gordon-Levitt and I did not really like 500 Days of Summer. I actually might hate "Vagabond" by Wolfmother, but for whatever reason it got the job done. For the next month, when I was working I listened to that song and only that song. I hardly noticed. It was background noise, the sound of my engine as whirred along through chapter after chapter. The days flew by and the weekends were a blip. I was working a 50-hour-a-week day job as well but still needed to put in at least five or six hours of daily writing in order to meet my thrice-extended deadline. I got up at three in the morning every day and listened to "Vagabond" and wrote until it was time to throw clothes on and go to the office. After work I stayed at the office and wrote there, knowing that as soon as I got home I would pass out from exhaustion.

On my commute from Brooklyn to Manhattan and then back again every day during that terrible month of "Vagabond," I listened to Beyonce's "Halo," also on repeat. I imagined that Bey was singing about a literal guardian angel and visualized that strings were attached to my clothing and the top of my head, holding me upright.

During this trying period of "Vagabond" and "Halo," one of my coworkers remarked that my eyes looked like that painting of Joan of Arc by Jules Bastien-Lepage that hangs in The Met, haunted and religiously determined. I never want to hear either of those two songs ever again.

When it came time to write the book's last chapter, I remembered once hearing a song with the refrain "all things go, all things go," but couldn't recall anything else about it or who it was by. A Google search revealed it to be "Chicago" by Sufjan Stevens, so I put it on repeat until the book was done.


Summer Brennan and The Oyster War links:

the author's website
the book's website
excerpt from the book
excerpt from the book

Kirkus review
Los Angeles Review of Books review
Publishers Weekly review
San Francisco Chronicle review

EconTalk interview with the author
Grist profile of the author
Guardian profile of the author
KQED interview with the author
Modern Farmer interview with the author
Munchies interview with the author
National Geographic interview with the author
Salon interview with the author
Tomboy Style interview with the author


also at Largehearted Boy:

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

Online "Best of 2015" Book Lists

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

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

Online "Best of 2015" Book Lists Update - November 16th

For the eight straight year, I am aggregating every online year-end book list I find. As the lists appear online, I will add them to the master list.

Please feel free to leave a comment or e-mail me with a blog, magazine, newspaper, or other online media list I have missed.

Daily updates to the master list.

Revisit previous years' collections of year-end book lists: 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, and 2000-2009 (best of the decade).


Today's additions to the Online Year-end "best of 2015" Book Lists:

800-CEO-READ (business books)
Bang Bang Books (underrated YA books)
Fortune (books that changed CEOs' minds)
Fortune (books that changed minds)
Kirkus (best book club fiction)
Kirkus (best debut fiction)
Kirkus (best fiction)
Kirkus (best fiction in translation)
Kirkus (best historical fiction)
Kirkus (best literary fiction)
Kirkus (best mysteries and thrillers)
Kirkus (best popular fiction)
Kirkus (best romance novels)
Kirkus (best science fiction and fantasy)
Kirkus (best story collections)


also at Largehearted Boy:

daily updates to this list

Online "Best Books of 2015" Lists
Online "Best Books of 2014" Lists
Online "Best Books of 2013" Lists
Online "Best Books of 2012" Lists
Online "Best Books of 2011" Lists
Online "Best Books of 2010" Lists
Best of the Decade (2000-2009) Online Book Lists
Online "Best Books of 2009" Lists
Online "Best Books of 2008" Lists

2014 Online Year-end Music Lists
2013 Online Year-end Music Lists
2012 Online Year-end Music Lists
2011 Online Year-end Music Lists
2010 Online Year-end Music Lists
Best of the Decade (2000-2009) Online Music Lists
2009 Online Year-end Music Lists
2008 Online Year-end Music Lists
2007 Online Year-end Music Lists
2006 Online Year-end Music Lists
other lists at Largehearted Boy

Antiheroines (interviews with up and coming female comics artists)
Atomic Books Comics Preview (comics recommendations)
Book Notes (authors create music 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)
WORD Bookstores Books of the Week (weekly new book highlights)

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

Google
  Web largeheartedboy.com