August 9, 2017

Shorties (An Excerpt from Ellen Ullman's New Memoir, Stream a Live Waxahatchee Set, and more)

The New Republic shared an excerpt from Ellen Ulman’s memoir Life in Code.


Waxahatchee visited World Cafe for a live performance and interview.


Molly Patterson discussed her debut novel Rebellion with Vol. 1 Brooklyn.


Stream a recent Car Seat Headrest performance at The Current.


JD DeHart interviewed author Warren Ellis.


R.I.P., Glen Campbell.


Deb Olin Unferth talked reading with The Story Prize blog.


Drowned in Sound interviewed singer-songwriter Elise LeGrow.


The Paris Review interviewed author Ayobami Adebayo.


Stream Wilco's Newport Folk Festival set.


Rachel Khong talked to Bookforum about her novel Goodbye, Vitamin.


Pitchfork explained how the '70s dethroned the '60s as music's golden age.


Rion Amilcar Scott's short story collectionInsurrections has been awarded the 2017 PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction.


Stream a new song by the National.


Jonathan Dee talked to Signature about his new novel The Locals.


The Guardian listed 10 of the best Velvet Underground songs.


The Rumpus interviewed author Jenny Zhang.


Stream a new song by the Clientele.


Literary Hub profiled author Lindsay Hunter.


Frightened Rabbit covered Hector Nicol's "The Hearts Song."


Stream a new EMA song.


LIterary Hub shared an excerpt from Ryan Gattis's new novel Safe.


Stream a new song by FloristI think .


The New Yorker profiled author Ivan Vladislavic.


Stream a new song by Daughter.


eBooks on sale for $0.99 today:

Benazir Bhutto: Favored Daughter by Brooke Allen
J.D. Salinger: The Escape Artist by Thomas Beller
The Lost Tribe of Coney Island by Claire Prentice
Lucian Freud: Eyes Wide Open by Phoebe Hoban
Men, Women & Children by Chad Kultgen

eBooks on sale for $1.99 today:

The Blazing World by Siri Hustvedt
The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson
Girl Through Glass by Sari Wilson
The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells by Andrew Sean Greer
Island Beneath the Sea by Isabel Allende
Jailbird by Kurt Vonnegut
A Land More Kind Than Home by Wiley Cash
Life Among Giants by Bill Roorbach
Red Moon by Benjamin Percy
The Small Backs of Children by Lidia Yuknavitch
A Small Revolution by Jimin Han
This Is Your Life, Harriet Chance! by Jonathan Evison
You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine by Alexandra Kleeman

eBooks on sale for $2.99 today:

Broken Verses by Kamila Shamsie
The Child in Time by Ian McEwan
The Comfort of Strangers by Ian McEwan
The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers
Inferno by Eileen Myles
The Sunlit Room by Rebecca Dinerstein
Visible City by Tova Mirvis


eBooks on sale for $3.99 today:

The Beautiful Bureaucrat by Helen Phillips
Broken Glass by Alain Mabanckou
A Complicated Kindness by Miriam Toews
Lightning People by Christopher Bollen
The River Why by David James Duncan
The Theoretical Foot by M. F. K. Fisher


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
WORD Bookstores Books of the Week (recommended new books)
weekly music release lists

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





August 8, 2017

Book Notes - Jennifer Tseng "The Passion of Woo & Isolde"

The Passion of Woo & Isolde

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

Jennifer Tseng's The Passion of Woo & Isolde, winner of Rose Metal Press's Short Short Chapbook Contest, is a testament to the power that flash fiction can possess.

Amelia Gray wrote of the book:

"Often, flash fiction collections come to us like a box of light bulbs, meant to be sifted through and shuffled about, fit into various sockets. But The Passion of Woo & Isolde comes to us as a sparkling set, doing the rare business of working singularly and within each of the three parts and in the triptych as a whole. Together, they light the room.

The collection, therefore, does unique work that might seem natural to Jennifer Tseng but feels stunning to the rest of us; it presents a series of moments that aspire to illuminate life itself."


In her own words, here is Jennifer Tseng's Book Notes music playlist for her debut novel The Passion of Woo & Isolde:



More than once, I've been asked to write or talk about the experience of using autobiographical material to make The Passion of Woo & Isolde and each time I swiftly declined, explaining that the collection has little basis in reality, that it is, in fact, my least autobiographical book. And yet when I sat down to create a playlist for it, I found myself tumbling down a rabbit hole made of songs from my childhood, many of them favorites of my parents who were the original, albeit distant, inspirations for Woo and Isolde. My father in particular was a lover of music, often whistling or humming as he moved through the house. With the exception of the classical station, we were forbidden to listen to the radio and although we had a record player, it was missing its speakers so in order to hear the music we had to put our ears close to the record as it turned. As a result, the two primary sources of music in our house were the television (which we were allowed to watch in the presence of our parents) and the music we made ourselves — singing, playing piano, clarinet, flute, violin, harmonica, rubber band harps we made using the backs of chairs, cardboard oat cylinders we beat with chopsticks.

My father had a reputation for being cutthroat and pragmatic, practical to the point of being brutal. When I sat down to listen to his few favorite songs, I was struck by how very romantic they all are. Many are about star-crossed lovers or distance, many feature the sea, waiting for a loved one to return, many reference more than one language or culture. I was reminded of how, just after he died, I learned that he had gone to great lengths and spared no expense to ensure that he would be buried next to his wife, in a grave overlooking the sea. For a man who spent his life pinching pennies and dismissing nostalgia, it seemed to me a touching extravagance.

The handful of records in our house were our mother's. Due to the missing speakers she never listened to them, unless, while my sister and I were at school and our father was at work, she played the records by herself. In our absence, she may have placed her ears close to the records as they turned. The two album covers I remember most clearly are My Fair Lady and The Flying Nun. I never heard her sing around the house, though she sometimes hummed quietly while she ate. It pains me to think the only music she ever heard was that which her husband and children subjected her to and the hymns sung at Sunday Mass (though I suppose she could have turned on the radio if she dared).

Most of the songs I've included here correspond to section II of my book. The section sits at the book's heart and is devoted to Woo and Isolde who, as I've mentioned, bear some resemblance to my Chinese immigrant father and my German American mother. The songs meander back and forth between the four of them. Woo. Isolde. My father. My mother. Two exceptions are "I Remember You" and "Oh L'Amour" both of which resonate throughout the book but perhaps resonate more with pieces in sections I and III whose stories are less conventional and more fable like, sometimes surreal, often philosophical.


1. "Who Needs Wings to Fly?" (The Flying Nun theme song) - Dominic Frontiere (composer)

If Isolde had been a maker of film & television she might have made the sitcom The Flying Nun. Had she been more outgoing and theatrical, she would have been the perfect woman to star in it. Even to someone who grew up with The Flying Nun as one of few records in the house, its premise is astonishing. The 86-episode series follows the adventures of a community of nuns, one of whom, Elsie Ethrington arrives from San Juan after being arrested in a protest. Inspired by her aunt's missionary work, Elsie abandons the family tradition of going to medical school, breaks up with her toy salesman boyfriend in order to become a nun, and renames herself Sister Bertrille. White American Sally Fields played Sister Bertrille, starring opposite Argentinian actor Alejandro Rey. Like my mother, Sister Bertrille was a Chicago native and had a passion for social justice. One of the many things that sets her apart from the other nuns is her ability to solve any problem using her power to fly. Like my mother, Sister Bertrille was a featherweight; she could always catch a breeze when necessary. According to Wikipedia, "her flying caused as many problems as it solved."

2. "Hallelujah" - Sheku Kanneh-Mason

Isolde would have zealously approved of Sheku Kanneh-Mason's rendition of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah." Performed by a BAME cellist alongside a multiracial ensemble, the piece's political and spiritual message is clear yet subtle, without words.

3. "Shall We Dance?" - Taeko Ohnuki

Once upon a time, our father was a ballroom dance teacher. Our parents met at a dance where he was on duty to help people with their steps. He was fond of bragging about his dancing ability. One of the great disappointments of their marriage was that he never took our mother dancing — she loved to dance — not even once. After he died, his second wife said he was a terrible dancer. I don't know who to believe.

4. "Love Theme - Invasion of the Body Snatchers" - Denny Zeitlin (composer)

Our mother says that the day she married our father, he turned into someone else. She often used the phrase "invasion of the body snatchers" to describe the phenomenon. As it turns out, she's not the only American white woman to use this phrase to describe her experience of marrying an Asian immigrant male. While it was rare in the 1960s (and in some places illegal), for a white American woman to marry an Asian man, among those who did so then and those who did so in later years, this was a fairly common experience, common enough for there to be support groups devoted to helping such women "recover." Sociologists theorize that each party is following their own cultural instructions. His: 1. Woo the woman you intend to marry. 2. Once married, dispense with courtship and focus on being a good provider. Hers: 1. Fall in love. 2. Live happily ever after. The women are disappointed (if not devastated) by the sudden disappearance of romance and the man is surprised by (or oblivious to) her disappointment. The woman feels betrayed and the man feels his hard work has been unappreciated. This is one of the tragedies of Woo and Isolde.

5. "My Funny Valentine" - Chet Baker

Part of what I can't help but love about Woo and Isolde is that either of them could easily be the funny valentine, depending on who's looking. Through Woo's eyes, Isolde is "funny" because she's Caucasian, among other things. She can't speak Chinese, she can't cook Chinese food, and her hair is the color of persimmons — a comical, fruity color for hair if ever he saw one. Through Isolde's eyes, Woo's "funny" because he's Chinese, among other things. His English is deeply flawed, heavily accented. He's shorter than most Caucasian men and old enough to be her father though he dyes his hair black to conceal this which is also funny to her, lady like even.

6. "The Odd Couple" - Neal Hefti (composer)

When I was a child, one of the TV shows I would watch un-ironically with my parents was The Odd Couple, a show about an ill-fitting pair of roommates, one tidy, one a complete slob. Our father always rooted for the neat freak Felix, something I did secretly, either because I was inclined to or because I wanted, even in secret, to please him. I honestly don't know which it was. My sister had a soft spot for the messy one, Oscar, and our mother never revealed her allegiance to one or the other, if in fact she felt such a thing.

7. "Madame Butterfly" - Maria Callas

The song our father hummed most often was Puccini's "Madame Butterfly." Though to say he hummed it is not entirely accurate. Imagine someone singing full blast but without using words. We laughed at him mercilessly behind his back for using something like "yah" for every syllable. We had no idea what song he was performing (for lack of a better word) with such frequency and gusto. We had no idea it was an opera about a Japanese woman jilted by a Caucasian American man who marries her out of convenience, a woman whose devotion and honor puts her American husband to shame. In the end, he realizes his mistake but it's too late. The Japanese wife martyrs herself by cutting her own throat with a knife. Of course, my father knew the story but with whom he identified and whether or not there was a connection between his life with our mother and his incessant wordless singing, I'll never know.

8. "Oh L'Amour" - Erasure

I would have liked to have seen David Henry Hwang's play M. Butterfly with my father. When I came out to him as bisexual, he said breezily, "Oh, that's normal. Everyone has a homosexual phase." I laughed at this. To me, it meant not only that he'd had an analogous experience but that he'd comfortably assumed that if he had, so did everyone else. While he offered hints here and there, he never told me the full story. Years before, in high school, before my friend Syma dropped me off, we would sit in the car listening to Erasure, deferring the moment I went into the house. It was Syma that told me the singer of one of our favorite songs "Oh L'Amour" was gay, that the "boy in love" was singing to another boy! She had suspected as much poring over the lyrics to "Hideaway" and then had seen it with her own eyes at a concert. I was thrilled by this information. We had, in our 1980s way, always assumed he was singing to a woman. It intrigued me that the singer could be himself while pretending, that language had helped him express who he was while at the same time protecting him. As a writer, I play with gender and language, in search of similar surprises.

9. "I Remember You" - Björk

Memory is one of the recurring themes in The Passion of Woo & Isolde. Problems with forgetting (as in "Past Lives"), questions about what to remember and what to forget (as in "Two Suitcases"), the impossibility of forgetting one's country of origin (as in "Country House") or a shameful memory (as in "The Passion of Isolde"). The story "The Locksmith" is the one piece in the collection that's really a micro essay, not a short short or prose poem. It's a portrait of someone my friendship with whom is inextricable from books — books she told me about, books she recommended, books we studied in class, books we read together silently or aloud. It's impossible for me to separate my love for her from my love of her books. In part because of this, I've come to believe that the relationships I remember best, the ones that are unforgettable to me are those that exist in connection with beloved books. Now that I've compiled this playlist, I tend to think those that exist in connection to beloved songs are equally unforgettable.

10. "Adios, Au Revoir, Auf Wiedersehen" - Lawrence Welk and his Champagne Music Makers

One of the few programs we were allowed to watch was The Lawrence Welk Show. A cabaret of sorts, it was more like a weekly concert than a "show" in the traditional sense. There was an orchestra. There were solos. A group of sisters sang in harmony. Nipsey Russell tap danced. Even in its heyday, its primary audience was senior citizens. My sister and I jumped at the chance to watch it. It was television! And, being musicians ourselves, we were easily excited by its performative elements. The show, like all the shows we watched, was our father's selection. I, for one, dreamed of one day appearing on it to impress him. It was the closing song — which they sang every week and which we four sang together — that I can't forget. We sang it countless times, in many languages, with our parents, just before bed. The sound of their voices singing adios, au revoir, auf wiedersehen, was a strangely fitting lullaby; unforgettable.


Jennifer Tseng and The Passion of Woo & Isolde links:

the author's website
video trailer for the book
excerpt from the book (PDF link)


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

Largehearted Boy's 2017 Summer Reading Suggestions

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)
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 (Hilton Als Remembered Sam Shepard, Tom Waits' Acting Career, and more)

Hilton Als on Sam Shepard at the New Yorker.


Oscilloscope examined the acting career of Tom Waits.


Jawbreaker played its first live show in 21 years.


Vox interviewed author Celeste Ng.


Stream a new Gogol Bordello song.


The Oxford American shared an excerpt from jesmyn Ward's forthcoming novel Sing, Unburied, Sing.


Drowned in Sound interviewed singer-songwriter Briana Marela.


The New York Review of Books reviewed several new books about Henry David Thoreau.


Charly Bliss covered Len's "Steal My Sunshine."


The shortlist for the 2017 Not the Booker Prize has been announced.


Paste interviewed singer-songwriter Billy Bragg.


Bustle listed upcoming book-to-television adaptations.


Stream a new Destroyer song.


The Creative Independent interviewed poet Matthew Zapruder.


Todd Haynes is making a new Velvet Underground documentary.


Literary Hub shared an excerpt from Benjamin Percy's novel The Dark Net.


Stream a new Small Circle song.


Book Riot recommended short books by literary giants.


Guitar World profiled Adam Granduciel of the War on Drugs.


The Rumpus shared an excerpt from Matthew Gallaway's novel #gods.


Stream a new Bodies of Water song.


Jonathan Hennessey explained why he writes graphic nonfiction at Signature.


SPIN profiled Japanese Breakfast's Michelle Zauner.


BookPage interviewed author Kamila Shamsie .


Stream a new Frankie Rose song.


Publishers Weekly profiled author Mike MacCormack.


Aquarium Drunkard interviewed musician Steve Wynn.


eBooks on sale for $0.99 today:

Benazir Bhutto: Favored Daughter by Brooke Allen
J.D. Salinger: The Escape Artist by Thomas Beller
The Lost Tribe of Coney Island by Claire Prentice
Lucian Freud: Eyes Wide Open by Phoebe Hoban
Men, Women & Children by Chad Kultgen

eBooks on sale for $1.99 today:

The Blazing World by Siri Hustvedt
The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson
Girl Through Glass by Sari Wilson
The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells by Andrew Sean Greer
Island Beneath the Sea by Isabel Allende
Jailbird by Kurt Vonnegut
A Land More Kind Than Home by Wiley Cash
Life Among Giants by Bill Roorbach
Red Moon by Benjamin Percy
The Small Backs of Children by Lidia Yuknavitch
A Small Revolution by Jimin Han
This Is Your Life, Harriet Chance! by Jonathan Evison
You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine by Alexandra Kleeman

eBooks on sale for $2.99 today:

Broken Verses by Kamila Shamsie
The Child in Time by Ian McEwan
The Comfort of Strangers by Ian McEwan
The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers
Inferno by Eileen Myles
The Sunlit Room by Rebecca Dinerstein
Visible City by Tova Mirvis


eBooks on sale for $3.99 today:

The Beautiful Bureaucrat by Helen Phillips
Broken Glass by Alain Mabanckou
A Complicated Kindness by Miriam Toews
Lightning People by Christopher Bollen
The River Why by David James Duncan
The Theoretical Foot by M. F. K. Fisher


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
WORD Bookstores Books of the Week (recommended new books)
weekly music release lists

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

August 7, 2017

Book Notes - Sarah Schmidt "See What I Have Done"

See What I Have Done

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

Sarah Schmidt's brilliant debut novel See What I Have Done is a haunting re-imagining of the Lizzie Borden murders.

Kirkus wrote of the book:

"A dazzling debut novel that is as unsettling as the summer heat that permeates the crime scene . . . an unusually intimate portrait. There are books about murder and there are books about imploding families; this is the rare novel that seamlessly weaves the two together, asking as many questions as it answers."


In her own words, here is Sarah Schmidt's Book Notes music playlist for her debut novel See What I Have Done:



I keep forgetting just how much music plays a huge part in my writing, especially for See What I Have Done. I'm pretty picky: I don't particularly like writing in silence but I can't stand noise in the background just for the sake of it. The music I write along to can't have lyrics, although I sometimes make exceptions. And the music I choose has to reflect a mood or feeling I'm trying to communicate in some way because that's essentially all I'll listen to until I'm done with the project.

Preparing this list was a joy. I could go on and on, but I'm going to try and stick to basics and talk about key songs that either influenced me or a character or played a specific and significant role in the writing and creation of See What I Have Done.


'Song of Joy' and 'Stagger Lee', Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds

The first time I heard Murder Ballads as a teenager I was terrified. It remains one of my favourite albums. It is uncomfortable listening but I am in awe of the way the songs are constructed, these perfect epic short stories that are at times strangely beautiful, maddening, very poetic and often comedic. And the music! Bloody hell. I find it all physically and mentally intense. There are two tracks in particular which influenced See What I Have Done in terms of tone and sensibility.

The first is "Song of Joy." It's like being dropped into the middle of a nightmare. The narration of this song, the way crime is depicted, is very bare boned, creepy, and matter of fact and that's what makes it so menacing and intense. I think sometimes when people write about gruesome crime or the discovery of bodies it can be very sensationalised to the point that it doesn't serve a purpose other than shock value. I don't like it.

The second is "Stagger Lee." This song is quite different from "Song of Joy": it's over the top and gruesome and has a sick comedic bent to it. But it is a wonderful character portrait. In both songs there is a particular kind of violence wherein the men involved wear it like a badge of honour. My character, Benjamin, is one of these men but he isn't a carbon copy of Stagger Lee. He is his own creation, his own person. To be honest, I'd sort of forgotten Stagger Lee existed until Benjamin came to me and started telling me his story, started humming a tune. The tune he hummed turned out to be the bass line of Stagger Lee. Every time he walked somewhere, made a decision, did anything, the bass line would kick in and for me I knew that meant his presence in the book was going to be generally unnerving. Musically the song became a short cut to a certain feeling, a certain understanding.

"I've Written A Letter To Daddy" – Bette Davis

I love Whatever Happened to Baby Jane and I love Bette Davis performance: it comes close to crossing so many lines but manages to stay the right side of over the top. Her performance of this song is gaudy, histrionic, and actually quite sad. It's absolutely amazing.

Over the years when I'd talk to people about the manuscript I was writing they would ask about the relationship between Lizzie and her sister, Emma, and to save time I'd tell them, 'They are kind of like Jane and Blanche but not as glamorous.'

Lizzie famously never spoke for herself during her trial but I'd like to think that if she had maybe she'd belt out "I've Written a Letter to Daddy" to demonstrate not only how she would endear herself to her father, Andrew, and get back in his good graces but show just how much of a good daughter she really could be.

"Danny Boy" – Sinead O'Connor

I have lost count the amount of times I've heard this song throughout my life. I've always thought it was overly sentimental and simply brushed it off as a pretty stock standard Irish ballad done to death about the pipes, the pipes and something something something.

I was writing Bridget, the Borden's Irish maid, when I was told my grandma, Rose, had only weeks to live and that I needed to go and say my final goodbyes.

While I was with my grandma I couldn't help but think of Bridget's final goodbyes with her family and friends, the uncertainty she might have felt leaving home at nineteen knowing full well she'd never see them again. I could empathise.

Rose died a few short weeks later. Three of her favourite songs were played at the funeral. The last was "Danny Boy." I had no idea she loved it so much and it was during the service that I finally listened to the lyrics. It's quite the piece of literature. That bloody stock standard Irish ballad made me weep. I also knew it was the type of song Bridget would love.

This is how "Danny Boy" came to live in See What I Have Done. My favourite version is by Sinead O'Connor, specifically the performance she gives on an early 90s TV show (I'm not sure the name of the show but the performance coincides with the release of the film In the Name of the Father). Sinead's voice is absolutely haunting and her vibrato feels like the end of a long walk through a dream, a nightmare, something unbelievable. While Danny Boy isn't mentioned once in the book, its DNA is in almost everything related to Bridget: her wake, her memories, her longing for home, her love, and it is Sinead's voice I hear whenever a tune is sung in my book.

Solo Piano – Philip Glass

While I've pointed to songs that have influenced me and this book in some way, it is this album that has most significance to me: I listened to Solo Piano on a loop every day I wrote and edited the book for eleven years. Some days it would only be two or three songs from the album. It was rare I'd listen to anything else during the writing process. I am a creature of habit. I love working with repetition and I think this is how I work best.

You'd think after eleven years I'd have something insightful to say about Solo Piano but I don't. I can only be obvious: it's beautiful. The thing I love most about it is the single mindedness of mood and tone. Like most of Glass' work it is minimalist and repetitive yet builds momentum and branches off into spaces that aren't expected (well not to me at least).

"Mad Rush" is my favourite. I listened to it a lot when I wrote from Emma's perspective (and sometimes Lizzie). At times it made me feel sad and isolated, like something was missing but I couldn't quite put my finger on it. But then that rush of piano kicks in and it's like the most beautiful thunder, that sense that something is both beginning and ending at the same time. That is something I tried to capture for parts of the novel.

I no longer listen to Solo Piano since finishing the novel. I'm not sure I ever will again.

"Laura Palmer's Theme" – Angelo Badalamenti

The only song I added to my Solo Piano loop was this corker from Badalamenti. I never tire of hearing it.

Twin Peaks has been a major influence in my life. When I was younger, I particularly loved the music. I tried to figure out exactly how it was able to make me feel scared or sad, happy or on edge. When I started work on See What I Have Done I knew I wanted it to be set in a claustrophobic house, knew I wanted people to feel uncomfortable and anxious. I naturally thought of Twin Peaks and its music. It's hard to imagine the show without Angelo Badalamenti's music. It's absolutely something else.

"Laura Palmer's Theme" is my favourite and a wonderful example of that buzzing, unsettling atmosphere clawing to the surface before hinting at something more peaceful, something like the sun. I chose to write along with this song because it was an instant reminder of what I wanted to achieve with my book and the more I listened to it, the more I began feeling differently toward it. It moved from its wonderful, full bodied soap opera-ish feeling to something that made me feel nervous, terrified and utterly sad. And it was perfect for Lizzie. When I was writing her character I'd think about her ability to keep things from herself and others, the way she lived within fantasy and reality, was both child and adult. When the ‘sun' phase of the song arrives I think of it as a moment of real horror.

Without giving too many book spoilers, for me the most obvious and purposeful use of this song can be found in the final paragraphs. The text and song almost align and when I read the ending now, particularly the paragraph that begins, 'Birdsong was loud in my ear,' all I hear is Badalamenti's sun opening up and can think of nothing but someone's relief and release that comes at the expense of someone's life.

"Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary" – Nursery Rhyme

I love nursery rhymes. They are weird, fucked up murder ballads for children. One of my favourites is "Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary" because it essentially details the way in which Bloody Queen Mary killed people wrapped up in a sugary-sweet ditty and I like that duality (again with the evil bubbling under the surface!). It's a tune my friends and I would sing in the playground and as an adult I still hum it to myself every now and then. It's very catchy.

In an early version of the book, Lizzie sang the rhyme to herself instead of the prayer she eventually mutters ad nauseam. In the end, I decided to get rid of "Mary, Mary" because it was a bit too on the nose and I liked the idea of the prayer more. But if it pleases you to do so, when you see the prayer just hum the rhyme and you'll get the same effect.


Sarah Schmidt and See What I Have Done links:

the author's website
video trailer for the book

The Australian review
Entertainment Weekly review
Kirkus review
Observer review
Publishers Weekly review
Sydney Morning Herald review
USA Today review

ABA 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

Largehearted Boy's 2017 Summer Reading Suggestions

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

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Shorties (Fall's Best Books, Stream the New David Rawlings Album, and more)

BOMB previewed fall's best new books.


NPR Music is streaming David Rawlings' new album Poor David's Almanack.


Bearded Book Boys interviewed author Jac Jemc.

Jemc also recommended "book to warp your sense of reality" at Literary Hub.


Stream a new Jenny O. song.


Danzy Senna discussed her novel New People with Weekend Edition.


Stereogum interviewed Peter Buck about his new band.


All Things Considered interviewed Sujatha Gidla about her memoir Ants Among Elephants.


Paste previewed August's best new music.


The Millions previewed August's poetry collections.


Circuit Des Yeux shared a new song.


Literary Hub profiled author Kamila Shamsie.


Will and Win Butler talked to All Things Considered about the new Arcade Fire album.


CarolineLeavittville interviewed author Anne Korkeakivi.


Stream a new Billy Bragg song.


BuzzFeed features a new poem by Jenny Zhang.


Morning Edition interviewed singer-songwriter Randy Newman.


Author Alissa Nutting talked food with Grub Street.


Lorde covered Martha Wainwright's "Bloody Motherfucking Asshole."


Laurie Penny discussed her new essay collection with Paste.


Salon interviewed singer-songwriter Steve Earle.


Poet Ishion Hutchinson remembered Derek Walcott at the New York Times.


Stream a new Widowspeak song.


Weekend Edition previewed forthcoming book-to-television adaptations.


PopMatters interviewed Thurston Moore.


Benjamin Percy recommended books that feed his techno-paranoia at Literary Hub.


Neil Young is launching an online music archive.


Anders Nilsen shared sketch commentary on his graphic novel Tongues at Paste.


Stream a new Grouper song.


eBooks on sale for $0.99 today:

Benazir Bhutto: Favored Daughter by Brooke Allen
J.D. Salinger: The Escape Artist by Thomas Beller
The Lost Tribe of Coney Island by Claire Prentice
Lucian Freud: Eyes Wide Open by Phoebe Hoban
Men, Women & Children by Chad Kultgen

eBooks on sale for $1.99 today:

The Blazing World by Siri Hustvedt
The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson
Girl Through Glass by Sari Wilson
The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells by Andrew Sean Greer
Island Beneath the Sea by Isabel Allende
Jailbird by Kurt Vonnegut
A Land More Kind Than Home by Wiley Cash
Life Among Giants by Bill Roorbach
Red Moon by Benjamin Percy
The Small Backs of Children by Lidia Yuknavitch
A Small Revolution by Jimin Han
This Is Your Life, Harriet Chance! by Jonathan Evison
You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine by Alexandra Kleeman

eBooks on sale for $2.99 today:

Broken Verses by Kamila Shamsie
The Child in Time by Ian McEwan
The Comfort of Strangers by Ian McEwan
The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers
Inferno by Eileen Myles
The Sunlit Room by Rebecca Dinerstein
Visible City by Tova Mirvis


eBooks on sale for $3.99 today:

The Beautiful Bureaucrat by Helen Phillips
Broken Glass by Alain Mabanckou
A Complicated Kindness by Miriam Toews
Lightning People by Christopher Bollen
The River Why by David James Duncan
The Theoretical Foot by M. F. K. Fisher


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
WORD Bookstores Books of the Week (recommended new books)
weekly music release lists

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August 6, 2017

Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week - August 6, 2017

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

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


The Customer is Always Wrong

The Customer is Always Wrong
by Mimi Pond

Oakland in the late 70’s is full of gregarious drunks, thieves, and sleazes, a crowd which frequents the restaurant at which our protagonist—naïve artist Madge—waitresses. Mimi Pond’s exceptional storytelling has only improved since her previous memoir Over Easy (2014), and is on full display in The Customer is Always Wrong.


Palookaville 23

Palookaville 23
by Seth

The inimitable Seth’s newest installment of his iconic comics digest is the culmination of over 20 years of serialization, in which he offers closure while simultaneously giving us a fresh whiff of what’s to come.


All the Odes

All the Odes
by Pablo Neruda, ed. Ilan Stavans

The legendary Chilean poet was in his late forties when he committed himself to writing an ode a week, producing 225 in total, all of which are collected in this comprehensive, bilingual edition.


Bitch Doctrine

Bitch Doctrine
by Laurie Penny

Subtitled “Essays for Dissenting Adults”, this razor-sharp and uncompromising collection of essays from Laurie Penny stares down the ugly mug of the issues plaguing our times.


Period Pain

Period Pain
by Kopano Matlwa

Period Pain is the latest novel from Kopano Matlwa, a book which encompasses the hurt shared by many South Africans, while offering a chance for all readers to dip into their humanity.


Librairie Drawn & Quarterly links:

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


also at Largehearted Boy:

Support the Largehearted Boy website

other Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week

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

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August 4, 2017

Book Notes - Scott Gould "Strangers to Temptation"

Strangers to Temptation

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

Scott Gould's short fiction collection Strangers to Temptation is filled with linked coming-of-age stories that are funny and poignant, often at the same time.

George Singleton wrote of the book:

"If you are a sane, intelligent reader needful of stories that involve the heartbreak and hilarity of childhood, then you will cherish Scott Gould's perfect collection of linked stories, Strangers to Temptation. In the tradition of Lewis Nordan, Gould's now-adult narrator looks back on negotiating his small southern landscape with both an unflinching and frightful eye, confronted by the the distorted, maimed, misunderstood, well-meaning, and good denizens of Kingstree. It's all about Love and the absence of Love; Truth and the absence of Truth; Exhilaration and Confusion. These stories are laugh out loud funny and wistful simultaneously."


In his own words, here is Scott Gould's Book Notes music playlist for his short fiction collection Strangers to Temptation:



There's a good chance you won't be impressed by this, because I'm not going all indie and alt and cryptic, trying to impress you with how cool I am. Because I'm not cool. I'm too old and I don't own the right clothes. I'm more comfortable going old school.

I wrote this collection called Strangers to Temptation. All of the stories are set in lowcountry, South Carolina in the early 1970s, which was a very weird and confusing time for many things in the South, music included. Motown was spilling down from Detroit. The post-Woodstock bands (the cool ones) were getting more airplay on the radio—bands like Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, The Band, Sly and the Family Stone, Creedence. Singer-songwriters were crawling (melodramatically) out of the proverbial woodwork. There was the ubiquitous brain-numbing pop music on the AM dials. You couldn't escape the television-fueled music, e.g. The Archies and The Monkees. And there was, of course, the last-gasps of The Beatles. (This was just before the wave of Southern rock broke hard. The Allman Brothers and Lynyrd Skynyrd hadn't really taken hold yet in Kingstree Elementary School in 1972. According to our parents, the guys in those bands weren't just hippies—they were redneck hippies.) Anyway, this music mélange could be wonderful at times, confounding at others. (Also, I just wanted to use the word mélange in an essay before I die.)

Music surfaces numerous times in Strangers to Temptation. It's a part of the setting, as important as the Black River or the tobacco barns or the train tracks. While I was writing the last of the stories, I'd dial up Spotify stations, things like Motown Radio, CSN&Y Radio and Creedence Clearwater Revival Radio. Or I'd put on some of my old vinyl that wasn't too warped to spin. The music would eventually worm its way into the stories, sometimes without me even realizing it. In this soundtrack for the collection, you'll find some of the music that's actually named in the stories. And there are a few tunes I wish I could have found a way to get in.

Anyway, nothing alt or indie here. There wasn't a damn thing alt or indie about the South in the early 70s. Thank god.

"Let It Be" The Beatles
When I was twelve, I broke a perfectly good piggy bank and bought a copy of this record to impress a girl. It didn't work. Not even a bit, and my heart broke. I think that might be the moment I learned that music and love are inextricably mixed, and you'd better pick the right music when you're chasing after love. In the story "What Gets Tossed," the narrator buys this tune for a girl. It doesn't go well.

"The Snake" Johnny Rivers
Bobby Harrell used to give me a ride home from baseball practice in his convertible. (He was one of the senior guys who took care of the squirt seventh-grade second baseman. There's some baseball in the collection, especially in "Bases.") Bobby had this 8-track player, and Johnny Rivers constantly blasted from the speakers. "The Snake" used to give me nightmares, but I wouldn't admit it to any of the senior guys.

"Joy to the World" Three Dog Night
One of the stories in the collection is named after this song. I really don't like the song—probably because of the cheesy first line—but I did like Three Dog Night. In fact, my first concert was Three Dog Night, and the opening act was Peter Frampton. This was right before Frampton Comes Alive erupted and smothered the world.

"Ben" Michael Jackson
In 1972, this was the slow dance anthem. At all the 8th grade dances, we would line the walls, girls on one side of the room, guys on the other. When this song came on, we left our respective walls and danced with each other. Slowly. (This sort of thing shows up in the story "What Gets Tossed.") I'm not sure I knew back then that the song was about a rat.

"ABC" Jackson Five
The schools desegregated, and there was suddenly music at recess. This new friend of mine would sneak his little transistor radio out to the playground, and a group of us would head to the back corner of the schoolyard and listen to songs, like this one. The guy with the transistor shows up in "May McIntosh Flies, John Wayne Runs."

"Long As I Can See the Light" Creedence Clearwater Revival
The same day I bought the album Cosmo's Factory, I bought a dozen Krispy Kreme doughnuts. I opened the album while I was eating a doughnut, and I left a partial thumbprint of doughnut glaze on the first track of side one. It never played right. I couldn't get the grooves clean. "Long As I Can See the Light" was the final track on side two. It remained glaze-free.

"Steamroller" James Taylor
The first album I bought with my own money was Sweet Baby James. (I saved up some paper route cash.) I always liked "Steamroller" because it sounded like James was having fun while he sang it, as opposed to something like "Fire and Rain," which sounded like it was composed in a gulag.

"Tears of a Clown" Smokey Robinson and the Miracles
This song was still a staple on soul radio in the early 70s, though it was released in the late 60s. I always wished I could sing like Smokey Robinson. Plus, the guy slant-rhymes "public" and "subject" in the first verse, which I thought was brazenly cool for some reason.

"I'm a Believer" The Monkees
Even though this song was recorded in the late 60s it wouldn't go away. Sort of like The Monkees. I mention The Monkees in the story "May McIntosh Flies, John Wayne Runs." I'm a little embarrassed that I listened to The Monkees and watched their television show. I just found out that Neil Diamond wrote "I'm a Believer." I am currently a little more embarrassed.

"4 + 20" Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
CSN&Y saved me from The Monkees. This cut is on side two of the album Déjà Vu, and it's probably one of the reasons I'm a Stephen Stills fan to this day. When I bought this album, I felt cool. And when you were in the 8th grade in 1972, cool was an important thing to be.


Scott Gould and Strangers to Temptation links:

the author's website

Booklist review
Foreword Reviews 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

Largehearted Boy's 2017 Summer Reading Suggestions

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

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This Week's Interesting Music Releases - August 4, 2017

Briana Marela

Singer-songwriter Briana Marela's Call It Love is the lone new album I have heard and can unconditionaly recommend this week.

Reissues include remastered vinyl editions of four Brian Eno albums (Another Green World, Before And After Science, Here Come The Warm Jets, and Taking Tiger Mountain By Strategy).

What new music are you looking forward to or enjoying this week?


This week's interesting music releases:

Bob Dylan & Neil Young: Live On Air 1988
Brian Eno: Another Green World (remastered) [vinyl]
Brian Eno: Before And After Science (remastered) [vinyl]
Brian Eno: Here Come The Warm Jets (remastered) [vinyl]
Brian Eno: Taking Tiger Mountain By Strategy (remastered) [vinyl]
Briana Marela: Call It Love
Bronski Beat: The Age of Reason
Bruce Springsteen: Max's Kansas City 1973
Bruce Springsteen: Unplugged 1992
Coldplay: Kaleidoscope EP
Crosby, Stills, and Nash: On the Way Home
Dan Wilson: Re-Covered
Dead Cross: Dead Cross
Def Leppard: Hysteria (5-CD & 2-DVD box set)
Eagles of Death Metal: I Love You All The Time: Live At The Olympia In Paris
The Fall: New Facts Emerge
Grateful Dead: Live at Tivoli 1972 [dvd]
Grateful Dead: Long Strange Trip Highlights From The Motion Picture Soundtrack [vinyl]
Grateful Dead: Long Strange Trip Motion Picture Soundtrack (6-LP box set) [vinyl]
Ice Cube: Death Certificate (remastered and expanded) [vinyl]
Jane's Addiction - Alive At Twenty-Five [dvd]
Jeff Buckley: Last Goodbye
Jethro Tull: Songs from the Wood (reissue) [vinyl]
Mystery Skulls: One Of Us
Randy Newman: Dark Matter
Sonic Youth: Riot in Melbourne
Super Furry Animals: Radiator (remastered and expanded)
Third Day: Revival
Tom Tom Club: Tom Tom Club (Limited Blue & Yellow Starburst Edition) (reissue) [vinyl]
Tyler Childers: Purgatory
Variosu Artists: Girls With Guitars Take Over! [vinyl]
Various Artists: Manchester: North of England (7-CD box set)
Various Artists: The Matrix: Music from the Motion Picture (Limited Red & Blue Pill Edition) (reissue) [vinyl]
Various Artists: Walt Disney Records The Legacy Collection: Robin Hood


also at Largehearted Boy:

Support Largehearted Boy

weekly music release lists

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

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Atomic Books Comics Preview - August 4, 2017

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

Benn Ray is the owner of Atomic Books, an independent bookstore in Baltimore. He also runs the Mutant Funnies Tumblr.

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


All Time Comics: Blind Justice #1

All Time Comics: Blind Justice #1
by Josh Bayer / Rick Buckler Jr. / Al Milgrom

The newest issue in Josh Bayer's oddball super hero universe features a hero leaves the trauma center where he resides to walk through bullets, mete out justice, and fight crime. Colorful, strange and fun.


Cinegeek

Cinegeek
by Pluttark

This is a catchy hardcover book of popular cinema tidbits and lists as compiled and illustrated by Pluttark. Don't browse this while watching a movie at home, you'll lose track of the movie.


End Of The Fucking World

End Of The Fucking World
by Charles Forsman

This new hardcover edition of Forsman's excellent juvenile delinquent tale is a modern Badlands in graphic novel form. Read the book before the the Netflix series!


Fetch: How A Bad Dog Brought Me Home

Fetch: How A Bad Dog Brought Me Home
by Nicole J. Georges

A heartwarming, insightful and honest autobiographical study of a codependent relationship between a young woman struggling to find her way set amid Portland's punk scene and the ill-tempered dog that remained the one constant in her life for over fifteen years.


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


Atomic Books & Benn Ray links:

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


also at Largehearted Boy:

Support the Largehearted Boy website

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

Online "Best of 2015" Book Lists

Antiheroines (interviews with up and coming female comics artists)
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)

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Shorties (Dystopian Novels from Around the World, A Fugazi-Inspired Opera, and more)

Signature recommended dystopian novels from around the world.


A Fugazi-inspired opera.


Danzy Senna talked to Paste about her novel New People.


The Paris Review interviewed Billy Bragg.


The Atlantic staff shared their summer reading.


Stream a new Bonnie "Prince" Billy song.


The Chicago Review of Books interviewed author Jac Jemc.


Paste profiled singer-songwriter Randy Newman.


Vulture interviewed author Jenny Zhang.


NPR Music is streaming the Districts' new album, Popular Manipulations.


The Boston Globe listed the best graphic novels of the year so far.


Stream two new Liars song.


Vulture listed 100 notable dystopian novels.


NPR Music is streaming Downtown Boys' new album Cost of Living.


The Creative Independent interviewed poet Precious Okoyomon.


Tone Deaf profiled singer-songwriter Jen Cloher.


The Boston Globe interviewed author Paul Yoon.


Stream a new Deerhoof song.


The Rumpus interviewed author Gabe Habash.


Time Out New York interviewed singer-songwriter Katie Von Schleicher.


Stream a new song by the War on Drugs.


Literary Hub shared an excerpt from Kristen Iskandrian's novel Motherest.


Stream a new Tallest Man on Earth song.


eBooks on sale for $0.99 today:

Benazir Bhutto: Favored Daughter by Brooke Allen
J.D. Salinger: The Escape Artist by Thomas Beller
The Lost Tribe of Coney Island by Claire Prentice
Lucian Freud: Eyes Wide Open by Phoebe Hoban
Men, Women & Children by Chad Kultgen

eBooks on sale for $1.99 today:

The Blazing World by Siri Hustvedt
The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson
Girl Through Glass by Sari Wilson
The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells by Andrew Sean Greer
Island Beneath the Sea by Isabel Allende
Jailbird by Kurt Vonnegut
A Land More Kind Than Home by Wiley Cash
Life Among Giants by Bill Roorbach
Red Moon by Benjamin Percy
The Small Backs of Children by Lidia Yuknavitch
A Small Revolution by Jimin Han
This Is Your Life, Harriet Chance! by Jonathan Evison
You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine by Alexandra Kleeman

eBooks on sale for $2.99 today:

Broken Verses by Kamila Shamsie
The Child in Time by Ian McEwan
The Comfort of Strangers by Ian McEwan
The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers
Inferno by Eileen Myles
The Sunlit Room by Rebecca Dinerstein
Visible City by Tova Mirvis


eBooks on sale for $3.99 today:

The Beautiful Bureaucrat by Helen Phillips
Broken Glass by Alain Mabanckou
A Complicated Kindness by Miriam Toews
Lightning People by Christopher Bollen
The River Why by David James Duncan
The Theoretical Foot by M. F. K. Fisher


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
WORD Bookstores Books of the Week (recommended new books)
weekly music release lists

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August 3, 2017

Book Notes - Augustus Rose "The Readymade Thief"

The Readymade Thief

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

Augustus Rose's debut novel The Readymade Thief is an ambitious and cleverly plotted literary thriller.

Kirkus wrote of the book:

"Complex on many intellectual levels, drawing heavily on theories of art history and physics, and the mystery is deep and satisfying in both its unpredictability and its culmination. The sheer scope is impressive, as are Rose's evocative descriptions of underground and abandoned places, reminiscent of David Lynch's films."


In his own words, here is Augustus Rose's Book Notes music playlist for his debut novel The Readymade Thief:



The Readymade Thief follows 18-year-old Lee Cuddy, alone on the streets of Philadelphia after having escaped a juvenile detention facility and trying to unravel a mystery she finds herself enmeshed in. She's felt invisible her whole life, but slowly realizes that she's being tracked by a mysterious group of men and is very much at the center of their spotlight. At the center of the mystery is the work of early 20th Century Artist Marcel Duchamp, and the key to solving is tied in with decoding Duchamp's very cryptic, possibly encoded oeuvre.

Lee gets assistance from Tomi, a young urban explorer who helps her go underground and who teaches her to navigate the abandoned buildings and off-limits areas of Philly, how to break into and squat the homes of vacationing families. Tomi is in love with Lee, but Lee is done trusting people for a while and keeps her walls up.

This playlist is what I think of as an accompanying soundtrack. Some of it is what I listened to while writing the book, some of it is songs I connect to the story in various ways. Much of the novel takes place in empty, gutted buildings and Lee feels lost and desperate through a lot of the book, yearning for something else. I wanted a soundtrack that reflected this.


"Transgender" and "Air War" — Crystal Castles

I discovered Crystal Castles after giving my students a writing assignment: "Describe a live music show that you've been to. You have one goal: make me wish that I'd been there." The student who described a Crystal Castles show was the only one who succeeded in that respect. I watched some of their videos and immediately bought all of their albums. Alice Glass is, to me, the truest expression of punk rock I've seen since the early 1980s. And they're a techno band! Lee's quiet and shy, self-conscious and insular, but she's a badass inside and strong as fuck. Alice Glass is Lee's spirit animal. If there was an anthem to the book, it would be "Transgender"—it's hallucinatory, hopeful, full of rage and loss and frustration, all at the same time. "Air War" is, simply put, the closest I think a song has ever gotten to approximating the feeling of being on hallucinogens.

"Heroes" — David Bowie

There's a scene in the 1981 German film Christian F. where the protagonist, a teenage girl who's soon to be a junkie, runs through an empty mall after-hours with a group of other kids as "Heroes" plays on the soundtrack (Bowie scored the whole movie). The scene is a perfect expression of the song, and of what it's like to be young and careless and feeling free. I re-watched the movie as I was writing the book, and afterward cut out a scene with Lee and Tomi creeping the rooftop of a corporate skyscraper together after-hours. It had already been done perfectly in this film, so why would I fuck with that?

"Shayla" — Blondie

Lee, alone and invisible, yearns for something else, she doesn't know what. Maybe just to get away. This song is so beautiful, so ethereal and full of that same yearning, of being on the edge of disappearing.

"Throw it Away" — African Head Charge

African Head Charge was a favorite band from college. I started listening to them again as I was writing the book, because I needed music without recognizable lyrics. There's a character in the novel known as The Undertaker. He's one of the founders of Société Anonyme, the group stalking Lee. One of the things the S.A. does is to throw re-enactments of early 20th Century art events, and The Undertaker takes his role very seriously: his room is full of vintage paraphernalia, its walls adorned with African tribal objects, fetishized in the same way as did his heroes, the Surrealists. Any vestiges of technology have been wiped clean. And yet his room is in a defunct Atlas IV missile silo, where he manufactures designer hallucinogens and throws underground raves for teenagers. African Head Charge shows a similar push-pull between new technologies and pre-tech aesthetics, with a haze of psychedelia thrown in for good measure. Plus, I can't help but bob my head when I listen to them.

"Tanz mit Laibach" — Laibach

I think of Société Anonyme as being kind of like Neue Slowenishe Kunst (the art collective behind the Slovenian Industrial band Laibach), but without the sense of humor. Both are obsessed with uniforms and imagery of a certain era, both appreciate a good bit of theater, but one sees the joke behind it, the other does not. I know they're winking, but when Laibach commands me to dance with them, I fucking dance.

"Organ Donor" — DJ Shadow

I listened to a lot of electronic music when I wrote the novel. In part because it was what many of my characters were listening to, and in part because it's writing-friendly for me in that it's generally repetitive and there are no lyrics to distract. Anyway, "Organ Donor" has long been one of my favorite electronic songs, and I just discovered the video, which is pretty cool and very Société Anonyme.

"Waltz #2 (X/O)" — Elliott Smith

Lee's father abandons her and her mother when Lee is young. He's a heel, a liar, and lives in bad faith, but like Lee he's a lost soul. He's mostly just a ghost in the book, but when Lee was young he was in a band and everyone thought he "could have been another Elliott Smith, if only his life had gone a little differently." In one of those standard injustices of life, Lee aches for him after he's gone, forgiving him while resenting her hollowed-out mother.

"Fuck Motel" — Fuck

Late in the book Tomi and Lee hide out in a shitty little motel. The novel takes place in Philadelphia, but there's a motel in my neighborhood that I modeled the one in the book after, with a wonderful old neon sign that probably casts a sordid red glow over all the rooms, and I always think of this song whenever I pass it. "Fuck Motel" is just great, hard-driving rock & roll by an under-recognized 90s band from Oakland, California.

"Hospital" — The Modern Lovers

There's a point late in the book where Lee is shut up in an abandoned hospital, wandering the halls night after night, driven crazy by, but also badly needing, a voice in her head that keeps haunting her. I imagine that voice is a little like Jonathan Richman's in "Hospital." This song always breaks my heart.

"Girl U Want" — Devo

Marcel Duchamp is at the center of The Readymade Thief, and central to his work (and to the book) is his mixed-media sculpture The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even. It's a complex work, capturing a frozen moment in time in an unrequited courtship between the Bride (at the top of the work) and a group of nine Bachelors, at the bottom. The Bride (described by Duchamp as a kind of "engine"), aroused by the overtures of the Bachelors, rains down on them a mist of her "love gasoline," which gets them all hot and bothered and clamoring for her attentions. They are beside themselves, hopped up desire for her, but the Bride remains always unreachable. Here are the lyrics to "Girl U Want":


She sings from somewhere you can't see

She sits in the top of the greenest tree

She sends out an aroma of undefined love

It drips on down in a mist from above

She's just the girl, she's just the girl

The girl you want

She's just the girl, she's just the girl

The girl you want

I doubt Devo had The Bride Stripped Bare in mind when they wrote the song, but that's what I love about Duchamp's work—there are so many dots to connect if you just look hard enough.

"Love Love Love" — Of Monsters and Men

There are probably as many songs about unrequited love as there are songs about sex. But they are almost always from the perspective of the lovelorn, not so many are from the perspective of the, um, un-requiter. I wouldn't expect this perspective to contain such yearning, such regret, such resigned hopelessness, but here it does. I ache like a teenager whenever I hear it. Plus, this video, fuck. This is Lee and Tomi's song.

"Flugufrelsarinn" — Sigur Rós

After Lee first meets Tomi, he takes her to his apartment and puts Sigur Rós on and they drink beers and get high. I listened to their albums on repeat as I wrote the book (Sigur Rós contains lyrics, but they are a combination of Icelandic and some made-up language imagined by boggy wetland faeries, so they don't distract). If I was 24 and brought a girl back to my apartment and wanted to impress her with what a deep and thoughtful guy I was, kind of removed and sad but with a vivid inner life worth getting to know, I'd probably put Sigur Rós on, too.

"Deceptacon" — Le Tigre

Kathleen Hannah is just plain rad, and, like Alice Glass, another model for Lee's inner badass. Though I prefer bouncy, poppy Le Tigre over punk rock Bikini Kill.

"She's Lost Control" — Joy Division

I thought about this song a lot when Lee is locked up in solitary in a juvenile detention facility, tunneling deeper and deeper into herself. It's a song about total helplessness, both on the part of the singer and the subject.

"Drivin' on 9" — The Breeders

This song is so sweet and dreamy and hopeful, and all stories and playlists, no matter how dark, need a bit of sweetness and light. Throughout the novel Lee fantasizes about escape, leaving the city and going somewhere she's never been, where she isn't known, where she can start again. It's a fantasy, and at closer inspection so is the song. Beneath all the honey of Kim Deal singing about driving across open highways, she's actually just sitting there, staring out her window sill, alone and dreaming.


Augustus Rose and The Readymade Thief links:

the author's website

BookPage review
Publishers Weekly review
Seattle Times review

ABA interview with the author
Speaking of Mysteries 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

Largehearted Boy's 2017 Summer Reading Suggestions

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)
guest book reviews
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Shorties (An Interview with Jenny Zhang, Steve Albini on Shellac, and more)

Literary Hub interviewed author Jenny Zhang.


Steve Albini discussed Shellac recordings with The Quietus.


BOMB interviewed author David Burr Gerrard.


Pitchfork reconsidered the Silver Jews' 1998 album American Water.


Alexander Chee has been awarded the Paul Engle Prize.


Stream a new METZ song.


Barnes and Noble shared an excerpt from Jac Jemc's novel The Grip of It.


Drowned in Sound interviewed Avey Tare of Animal Collective.


Fanzine interviewed author Lindsay Hunter.


Stream a new Linda Perhacs song.


BuzzFeed features new short fiction by Alexandra Kleeman.


PopMatters profiled Afghan Whigs frontman Greg Dulli.


Paste interviewed cartoonist Nicole Georges.


Stream a new Faith Healer song.


GQ previewed August's best new books.


TV on the Radio's Tunde Adebimpe talked to Vulture about his acting career.


CBC News paired books and beers for your summer enjoyment.


Stream a new song by The Weather Station.


The Christian Science Monitor profiled Haruki Murakami's Polish translator.


Stream a new Alex Cameron song (a duet with Angel Olsen).


Hazlitt features new nonfiction by Sarah Gerard.


The members of the band Phoenix listed their favorite books at Vulture.


The New Yorker shared an excerpt from Cory Taylor's memoir Dying.


Stream a new Trailer Trash Tracys song.


eBooks on sale for $0.99 today:

Benazir Bhutto: Favored Daughter by Brooke Allen
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Men, Women & Children by Chad Kultgen

eBooks on sale for $1.99 today:

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A Land More Kind Than Home by Wiley Cash
Life Among Giants by Bill Roorbach
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You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine by Alexandra Kleeman

eBooks on sale for $2.99 today:

Broken Verses by Kamila Shamsie
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Visible City by Tova Mirvis


eBooks on sale for $3.99 today:

The Beautiful Bureaucrat by Helen Phillips
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A Complicated Kindness by Miriam Toews
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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
WORD Bookstores Books of the Week (recommended new books)
weekly music release lists

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