May 17, 2016

Book Notes - Angela Woodward "Natural Wonders"

Natural Wonders

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.

Winner of the FC2 Catherine Doctorow Innovative Fiction Prize, Angela Woodward's novel Natural Wonders is cleverly written, compelling, and thought-provoking.

Stacey Levine wrote of the book:

"Natural Wonders is an amazing work about sentience and biologic magic, its structure built and layered with beautiful rigor. It is full of delicious sentences that will pull readers into its meditation on story making and the awe that seems to be just outside our sight. Woodward’s novel contextualizes our shred of a civilization so vividly readers will see the world with new eyes."


In her own words, here is Angela Woodward's Book Notes music playlist for her debut novel Natural Wonders:



Natural Wonders concerns geologic time: the ice ages, the movements of the earth's crust, the formation of volcanoes, the interpretation of fossils. Set against a brief marriage in which passion flared and waned, the novel interrogates our belief in certainty against our unequivocal knowledge that everything changes. Music, especially pop music, is tightly tied to time. The music of your 17th year remains the music of that period in our culture and music scene, and of the person you were then. The song you listened to the last night you were with your lover before he told you he'd been cheating on you is forever after unbearable because it's implicated in that moment when you were a fool and still happy. These songs have nothing to do with what happened to you then or ever, but you experience them as having everything to do with who you were.

Natural Wonders is in some sense a deeply musical book. My training in classical music taught me more about writing than the one undergraduate writing course I took. I'm keenly aware of using words for their sounds as well as sense, though this is prose, not poetry. Jenny, the narrator, makes a novel out of her scientist husband's notes, meaning she shapes his material into something aesthetic and wondrous. The precision of her language is probably not what her late husband's department chair expected when he asked her to compile a memorial edition of Jonathan's course on the earth and its prehistory.

I divided the music that relates to the novel into three strands. One category is songs from the early to mid-80s. I set the present of the narrative then for several reasons. There needed to be typewriters, and much of the initial research I did came from a 1982 Time-Life book on the ice ages. I kept discovering new facts and updated theories as I read other sources, and finally decided to take as "true" what was considered true by scientists in the early 1980s. Jenny, as a woman of this era, might have been listening to some wild contemporary tunes while her husband was shut in his study. The second strand is powerful female vocalists. Natural Wonders is very much a woman's take on a man's world, as Jenny retells "stories of men and their adventures" in her own radical way. The third strand is music that embodies the grandeur of the whole earth and our insignificant place in the cosmos.


Theme one: Great 80s Music Jenny Might Have Listened to in Private

Wire's "Heartbeat"
The best band on earth? Clearly. Jenny seems like the uncoolest cool person. She tells us almost nothing about herself, and yet she orchestrates the novel's fantastic flares and erotic energy. Jenny would have loved this song, in its unpretentious pretentiousness, or its opposite, the droning, I-don't-care lethargy of the beat, the searing emotion that makes itself felt for all that it feigns not caring at all.

Jesus and Mary Chain's "Just Like Honey"
Jenny's coworkers in the typing pool would have found the name of the band baffling if not offensive, but she would have kept it to herself. The huge guitar sound contrasts with the slightly monotonous vocals, transmitting an erotic energy ostentatiously held in check. Jenny married a much older man. She doesn't seem to return his passion for her, and their relationship devolves into awkward civility. This song would appeal to Jenny's thwarted sensuality, which she may unleash only after her husband's passing.

The Social Climbers' "Domestic"
Rough, tinny, grinding, hilarious, and danceable, The Social Climbers had a narrow but passionate following in their brief heyday. Jenny's wide-ranging taste, her mixing of high and low, as in the mish-mash of erotica and geophysics in the chapter on continental drift, would have made her an ideal Social Climbers fan. This track speaks of dreams lost to domesticity, though with wittiness rather than pity.


Theme two: Amazing Female Vocalists and Storytellers

Sarah Jarosz's "Annabelle Lee"
This young singer exudes tremendous confidence as she covers songs by other masters and makes them her own. "The Shankhill Butchers" is probably everyone's favorite Decemberists song, but her cover takes it to another level. She's also known for doing Tom Waits, smoothing out all that gruffness into her own sweet sound. "Annabelle Lee" is her setting of the Edgar Allan Poe poem. She makes a moving tale out of a man's story of his lost love, so that she's somehow both male and female in the singer's persona. This is Jenny's magic too, as she projects herself through Jonathan's stories. The masculine and feminine mix into a divine integrity.

Aimee Mann's "The Scientist"
Mann has range and strength unspent, sitting in the middle of a powerful instrument. A song ostensibly about loss and regret communicates wisdom and endurance, as if she can make us sad and save us from grief simultaneously. I can't quite understand this song, with its chorus: "I'm going back to the stars." This gives it a science fiction zing that doesn't quite compute for me. I'm probably mishearing it drastically. That doesn't stop me from imputing a kind of grounded spirituality to "The Scientist." This is oddly enough a Coldplay cover.

Anna Domino's "In the Land of My Dreams"
Anna Domino is an 80s singer Jenny might have listened to, but I've categorized her here with women storytellers. Her voice and presence have a breathiness that might be read as frail if it weren't so potent. This song is an Aretha Franklin cover. The lyrics are hauntingly sad, as she imagines hearing her lover "telling all the other girls who love you too, you love me the most." It seems like a victim's position, but a victim is mute. The woman voicing this weakness is paradoxically strong. There's a fogginess of fantasy overlaying all Domino's work that continually allures me. She makes a whole world out of her voice.


Theme Three:Music of the Earth, Geologic in Scope

Zoe Keating's "Sun Will Set"
It's hard to pick a track from this gorgeous CD, Keating's first release, which I listened to over and over early in the composition of my novel. A single cello broods expansively, looped and intertwined on top of itself to become a multi-voiced composition. Keating's music makes me think of ribcages, an unseen structure rising and falling around the heart. What she communicates is deep and bony, piercingly solitary and at the same time cosmic.

Brahms's "Denn alles Fleisch, es ist wie Gras," from German Requiem
Natural Wonders is a meditation on mortality, on the scope of a human life when seen in geologic scale. A requiem mass is a similar enterprise, connecting the short span between birth and death to an enduring infinity. The German Requiem conveys the splendor and sadness of being alive like no other mass. The image of our flesh as grass, unindividuated, weak, thin, and recklessly mown, never fails to squeeze and startle me. A piece almost unbearable in its strength and beauty.

Mahler's "Das Lied von der Erde"
This piece, Mahler's crowning achievement, sets Chinese poems sung by tenor and contralto against a full orchestration. The human voices, with their precise words, duet at times with single instruments, and are in other places supported, eclipsed, or covered over by the whole orchestra. The humanity of the singers seems just one element in a seething whole that extends out to earth and sky, lotuses and apes. The final movement, the farewell, "Abschied," plunges into a depth of depression that almost stalls out. The basses and cellos seem to scrape the bottom of the earth, while the oboe takes up where the contralto has left off. Over its nearly thirty minutes, the "Abschied" develops from this low point into transcendental joy. Mahler's enormous palette and emotional range do justice to the grandeur of his project here, to sing the song of the earth.


Angela Woodward and Natural Wonders links:

the author's website

The Collagist interview with the author
Necessary Fiction essay by the author
Quarterly Conversation interview with the author


also at Largehearted Boy:

Largehearted Boy's 2016 Fundraiser

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

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

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May 17, 2016

Shorties (Han Kang Was Awarded The Man Booker Prize, The 50th Anniversary of Bob Dylan's Bonde on Blonde, and more)

Han Kang has been awarded the Man Booker Prize for her novel The Vegetarian.


Rolling Stone reconsidered Bob Dylan's Blonde on Blonde album 50 years after its release.


May is Largehearted Boy's first fundraising month. All donations will go toward creating new features, crafting a better user experience, and much-needed back end work on the site. Thank you for reading the site and supporting Largehearted Boy.


eBooks on sale for $1.99 today:

Harold and Maude by Colin Higgins
Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted: And all the Brilliant Minds Who Made The Mary Tyler Moore Show a Classic by Jennifer Keshin Armstrong
Prayers for the Living by Alan Cheuse


Aquarium Drunkard interviewed Chris Schlarb of Psychic Temple.


The book writer for the musical American Psycho discussed his process with BuzzFeed.


Stereogum looked back on '90s tribute albums.


Chris Kraus shared the genesis of her book I Like Dick at the Guardian.


Glenn Danzig and Jerry Only discussed the forthcoming Misfits shows with Rolling Stone.


Fresh Air and Shelfari interviewed Siddhartha Mukherjee about his book The Gene: An Intimate History.


VICE listed May's best music, films, and books.


Max Porter was awarded the Dylan Thomas Prize for his book Grief is the Thing with Feathers.


SPIN interviewed Ladyhawke's Pip Brown.


Jessa Crispin discussed the status of online literary culture at the Guardian.


The BBC listed pop songs that feature Shakespeare's characters.


The Masters Review interviewed author Kelly Link.


VICE profiled singer-songwriter Anohni.


Guernica interviewed author Mary Gaitskill.


Paste reconsidered Madonna's Truth or Dare film 25 years after its release.


Nerve shared an excerpt from Juliet Escoria's new poetry collection Witch Hunt.


Noisey interviewed composer Glenn Branca.


Electric Literature interviewed author Matthew Neill Null.


All Things Considered shared an oral history of the Beach Boys song "Good Vibrations."


All Things Considered interviewed Jill Lepore about her new book Joe Gould's Teeth.


The James Hunter Six visited The Current for a live performance and interview.



also at 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)

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

May 16, 2016

Book Notes - Laura Barnett "The Versions of Us"

The Versions of Us

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.

Laura Barnett's novel The Versions of Us is an innovatively told and moving debut.

The Guardian wrote of the book:

"Its very scope is a joy, the technical achievement seamlessly done, and the ending – all the endings – suitably affecting."


In her own words, here is Laura Barnett's Book Notes music playlist for her debut novel The Versions of Us:



Music, like literature, is central to my attempts to make sense of the world. The flat in south London where I grew up was always filled with music. My father was a composer and lyricist, and, when I was two or three, a TV crew filmed me sitting on top of our piano, plump-limbed, swinging my legs as my dad's hands moved over the keys.

Years later, as a teenager, I formed a punk band with five schoolfriends. We were dreadful (Brian Eno once left the room while we were on stage, though these facts may have been unconnected), but utterly committed. I remember once asking my mum, with absolute seriousness, whether she thought I should dedicate my life to becoming a writer or a rock star. I am eternally grateful to her for answering that writing was probably a safer bet.

Perhaps it's no surprise, then, that my debut novel The Versions of Us should be shot through with music. The novel traces three versions of the relationship between two characters, Eva and Jim, across 60 years - from their first meeting (or non-meeting) as students in Cambridge in 1958, to seventysomethings in 2015, trying to make sense of the paths life has drawn them down.

Since the novel's publication in the UK last year, many readers have asked how I went about researching the various eras. The answer lies, often, in music. I never listen to albums as I write - I find it far too distracting - but I often hear fragments of music in my mind while composing a scene. Much of the music I heard over while writing The Versions of Us found its way into the novel, evoking a particular period or a mood, or speaking to my own state of mind.

Here, then, is a selection of this music. I hope you enjoy listening to it as much as I do.

Mark Knopfler and Emmylou Harris - "This Is Us"

I first heard this song - the title track to Knopfler and Harris's 2006 album, All The Roadrunning - in a rented car on the east coast of Spain, driving up a hairpin mountain track. I was 23, and my mum and I were on holiday with my stepfather Peter. Mum had brought this CD with her, and we played it at full volume in the car throughout the holiday.

This song is a novel in miniature, telling the story of a couple's relationship from first meeting, through marriage and childbirth, to middle-age. As soon as I came up with the idea for The Versions of Us, it seemed exactly the right fit, and I quote from the lyric as an epigraph at the start of the book.

Editors - "The Weight"

My husband, Andy, is a musician, songwriter and actor, and I have him to thank for drawing me back to guitar bands, after a few years in my early twenties spent listening exclusively, for reasons that are now obscure, to Cuban salsa, Spanish flamenco/hip-hop, and the lyrical stylings of Jill Scott.

Andy's a big Editors fan, and we were both instantly obsessed with this track, which opens the album The Weight of Your Love, when it came out in 2013. I was just a few months into the first draft of The Versions of Us, and terrified about how I was going to make the novel work structurally. If nobody had ever woven three versions of the same story into one book, I worried, then why did I think I was going to be able to do it? I took to going for regular morning runs around my local park, with this song playing on repeat. Somehow, that helped me find the courage to keep going.

Northern Light Exposure - "Embers"

This is one of my favourite songs by Andy's band. Looking back, I can see how much I was inspired to write The Versions of Us by the fact that Andy and I had recently got married. I started writing the first draft about six months after our wedding, and though the idea seemed to arrive in my head from nowhere, it seems obvious now that I was pondering the fact that Andy and I might so easily never have met.

We'd been introduced by mutual friends four years before, in Edinburgh, at a party both of us only decided to attend at the last minute. As the idea for the novel began to take shape, I became intrigued by just how differently our lives would have turned out if we hadn't gone to that party. Would the person who is now so central to my life have become central to someone else's? And if we'd met twenty years later - or forty, or fifty - would we have felt differently about each other?

Stan Getz - "You Go To My Head"

I don't like to plan my writing too intricately - I carry a broad sense of structure in my mind from the first paragraph, but within that I prefer to allow my characters the freedom to make their own decisions (in many cases, these turn out to be unexpected).

With The Versions of Us, I decided early on that I would bring the three stories together at certain key moments, and then have those scenes elapse consecutively, allowing the reader to make a direct comparison. The first of these is a party at the Algonquin in New York in 1963. In each iteration, I describe the same setting, and the same jazz band. I don't name the tune they're playing, but this is the one I could hear as I wrote - understated, romantic, insistent; and, in its title, offering some indication of how deeply Eva and Jim feel for each other, whichever version they are living through.

The Rolling Stones - "Wild Horses"

Jim is a huge Stones fan in the novel - more than I am myself, actually. I was devoted to the Beatles as a teenager - I had the most enormous crush on Paul McCartney (as he'd been twenty years before I was born, anyway) - and have only really started listening to the Stones properly in the last few years. But Jim, like Eva, comes of age in the sixties and seventies, and the Rolling Stones is the band that he turns to in good times and bad.

This particular track is playing in version one, as Jim and Eva slow-dance in the garden at her brother Hans's thirtieth birthday party. Hans's party is another of the key moments that I explore consecutively, in each version, teasing out the similarities and differences. I have fun with the music, too - in each scene, a different Stones track is playing, each one pointing towards the characters' differing states of mind.

Bob Dylan - "Tangled Up In Blue"

After my parents separated, I spent a lot of time in the car with my dad, being driven to and from his various homes (we both joke, now, that he moved house so often, our time together gave me a crash-course in English geography).

We always listened to music on these journeys, and I was probably about fourteen when Dad produced a remastered CD copy of Dylan's 1975 album Blood on the Tracks. It accompanied us all the way up the M4 from London to Bristol, where Dad was living at the time (and still does), and it has remained my favourite Dylan record.

I imagine it's natural for a novelist to be drawn to songwriters who tell stories - and I love the tale Dylan weaves here, both specific and allusive, about a man's fate intertwining with that of a red-headed woman. In version two of the novel, Jim - now a painter - plays this song on cassette in a scene set in 1977, when he is working on a triptych called The Versions of Us . It's a painting made up of three panels, each one slightly different from the other - like the novel itself.

Talking Heads - "Burning Down The House"

The only Talking Heads track I knew well before I met Andy was "Road to Nowhere" - but he's a serious fan, so I've had to brush up on my knowledge of the band. One of our earliest dates was to see David Byrne play at the Royal Festival Hall in London (still one of the best, most dizzyingly energetic gigs either of us has ever seen). And I ended up walking down the aisle at our wedding to a Byrne and Eno track ("Everything That Happens," in case you're interested).

I'm not going to say too much about where this song appears in the novel, as it will give away a major plot point - but suffice it to say that it underpins the emergence of a new character whose appearance is going to prove explosive for both Jim and Eva. It's just a spiky, infectiously danceable, brilliant song.

Paul Simon - "Hearts and Bones"

I've loved Paul Simon since childhood, when both my parents played Graceland and The Rhythm of the Saints incessantly. To me, he's the best musical poet and storyteller there is, packing so much emotional resonance into every line.

This is my favourite of Simon's songs, about a couple – possibly Simon and his former partner, Carrie Fisher – driving to New Mexico, and confronting the fact that the reality of love can't live up to their high ideals. We hear it quite late in version one of the novel, when Eva is reflecting on her long marriage to Jim. More widely, too, this song reflects much of my motivation for writing The Versions of Us. We hear so much about the impossible, idealised forms of love. I am fascinated by love as it is actually lived, day to day, month by month, and year by year, in all its glorious beauty and banality.


Laura Barnett and The Versions of Us links:

the author's website
the book's website

Entertainment Weekly review
Guardian review
Independent review
Irish Times review
Kirkus review
Telegraph review


also at Largehearted Boy:

Largehearted Boy's 2016 Fundraiser

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

100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads
Antiheroines (interviews with up and coming female comics artists)
Atomic Books Comics Preview (weekly comics highlights)
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 - Paula Whyman "You May See a Stranger"

You May See a Stranger

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.

Paula Whyman's linked story collection You May See a Stranger masterfully follows the life of its protagonist, Miranda Weber.

Publishers Weekly wrote of the book:

"Whyman's debut is an honest and sharply observed linked story collection, spanning the life of Miranda Weber from her teens through her late 40s. ... Themes of love, sex, politics, and family run through the collection, and every detail has satisfying echoes later on. Together, these smart, artful stories capture a woman’s life and the moments that define her."


In her own words, here is Paula Whyman's Book Notes music playlist for her short story collection You May See a Stranger:



I rarely listen to music while I write, so I don't think I realized how important music was to my writing until I had to give it up completely, for what seemed like a long time. I was almost finished writing You May See a Stranger. I had maybe one story left to go, and then it would be time for revisions. One day, I was listening to music in my car as always, and, suddenly, the music just sounded wrong. The high notes were too loud and piercing, almost painful, and the low notes were muted or missing. I adjusted my stereo dial, but nothing changed. Within a few days, I developed a kind of tinnitus, an ocean sound, like when you put a shell over your ear. It turned out that I'd had a sudden hearing loss in one ear. Listening to music became a kind of torture. While that was going on, I was completely unable to write. Over a period of a few months, my hearing gradually returned to normal. As soon as music sounded "right" to me again, I drafted a new story. I was surprised to learn that music is so integral to my unconscious creative process that without it, I'm paralyzed.


Chopin Ballades, performed by Evgeny Kissin

As a rule, I can't write while listening to music, as I said, but for some reason the exception occurred during a residency a few years ago, when I wrote drafts of two stories that are included in YMSAS. While I wrote, I listened to Chopin's Ballades, performed by Evgeny Kissin.

I was supposed to attend Kissin's American premiere at Carnegie Hall back in the 1980s. My then-boyfriend had invited me, but our relationship ended before the concert took place. We lived in different cities, and we broke up over the phone. He was sautéing garlic, and when I told him I couldn't see him anymore, he told me he was so taken aback that he burned the garlic. (The fact that he considered this a compliment and an indication of his feelings for me might explain part of why we broke up.)

Every opportunity to see Kissin since then has been thwarted, somehow or other. Maybe I will never see Kissin in concert, and now that he's all grown up, perhaps it wouldn't be quite as exciting.

Why, exactly, this music and that memory led me to write a story about a doomed family vacation in Mexico, I can't fully explain, but therein lies the mystery of the creative process.


"Here Comes Your Man," The Pixies

This song was originally playing during a sex scene in the title story, but I changed it because it became an anachronism when I revised the story for inclusion in the book. The song was an ironic suggestion born of oddly timed inspiration. I was on my way to a suburban strip-mall parking lot where I would meet my son's day camp bus. A few days earlier, while waiting for the bus, I'd decided that two of my characters would have sex in a car in that parking lot. Doesn't everyone think of such things while waiting for the summer camp bus? Then, days later, I was driving there again, listening to the radio, when the Pixies song came on. I immediately associated the song with the sex scene I'd started writing earlier that week, and I knew it had to be part of that scene. Because that is my goofy sense of humor, for better or worse. Even though I replaced it with another song that works in a different, perhaps deeper way for the scene and for the book, that Pixies song and that scene are now forever linked in my mind.


"Transfigured Night"/Verklarte Nacht, Arnold Schoenberg

I've been going to National Symphony performances for more than 20 years, and I should know more about classical music than I do. While I sit and listen, I always read the program notes. I want to know the story behind the music. For a long time, I wanted to write a story collection revolving around the symphony, to include pieces about the musicians, the audience, the composers' works, etc. I didn't do that, but for this book, I wrote a story involving the Schoenberg piece, Transfigured Night. By chance, I was at the symphony listening to that piece and reading the notes when it occurred to me that it would be exactly right for the situation I was currently exploring in a story about Miranda in the early years of her marriage. Transfigured Night became the center of the story of the same title. And now, in a circular turn of events, that story is being made into a music theatre piece by composer Scott Wheeler. We're collaborating on the project, adapting the story for the stage, which is terrific fun so far.


"Ring of Fire," Social Distortion

One day my kids were arguing over who would ride shotgun in my car. In the midst of the tussle, the eject button was somehow pushed on my car's CD player, and one of the kids accidentally sat on and broke in half the CD that was sticking out of the player. This turned out to be Social Distortion, Live at the Roxy. You can imagine my distress. I spent many rush hour commutes listening to their live cover of Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire." I was never able to remove the other half of the broken CD from the machine. I recently replaced the CD, so I now have one-and-a-half Live at the Roxy's. I'm glad to have it back.


"Back to Black," Amy Winehouse

This is the other CD I always keep in my car. The title track is brilliant. The whole album, really. Her voice kills me. What is there to say about Amy Winehouse that hasn't been said?


"Flashdance/What a Feeling," from the Flashdance film soundtrack

There are a lot of songs mentioned in my book, and not all of them are songs I actually like. Some were simply appropriate for whatever was going on at that moment in the story. This song appears in the second story in the book, "Drosophila," in which Miranda is a senior in high school, and she takes her sister to a dance. While I was writing that scene, I remembered immediately what I was doing when that song was popular, when the movie Flashdance came out, and girls were cutting ragged neck holes and lopping off the sleeves of their t-shirts, and wearing leg warmers. (If leg warmers ever come back in style, I cannot wear them again; I wore them the first time.) My memory of this song involves being an utterly bored teenager on a family beach vacation at an isolated condo by a lake, where there were no other teens for miles, it seemed. I sat on the beach with a cheap boombox, listening to the Flashdance soundtrack on cassette over and over and over. On the rare occasions when I hear the song now, I'm instantly brought back to that beach, burned by the sun, bored out of my skull. The only exciting thing that happened was flirting with the game room security guard, who was probably forty years older than me. The good news is, he taught me how to play pool.


"Dead Flowers," Rolling Stones

I like most Stones songs, but this is my favorite. It's not the best one, for sure, but I like the tongue-in-cheek country-style twang and the sense of humor. It's not hard to play, and I used to be able to strum it, which made me feel like I was competent on the guitar. Which I was not.


"Paranoid Android," by Radiohead

I was late to appreciate Radiohead. I was introduced to them by a German photographer at an artist colony back in 2008. I think I walked into his studio and said, What is that sound? As in, What is that horrifying sound?  What I heard was the ending to "Karma Police," with the high-pitched crickety sound effect that gets louder and louder until it's the only sound left. Anyway, I grew to like that song and many others, in fact, I occasionally do yoga to a Radiohead playlist I created. "Paranoid Android" is my favorite, because of the range of emotion and the variation in tone and style. I could listen to it over and over, and I do.


"Some Enchanted Evening," from the soundtrack of South Pacific

This song gives the book its title; I like its over-the-topness. It's now a cliché, but in the context of the original musical, it's incredibly romantic, sung with intense beauty and not a little eroticism by Ezio Pinza. You can feel his bass in your gut. Also, his name is a good trivia question: I've been at more than one party where, on hearing my book's title, someone immediately tries to recall the name of the singer and ends up googling it.

In the title story, I wanted the music playing in the country club where they're having dinner to be as moth-eaten as the rest of the setting. I intended this song with obvious irony—there is nothing enchanting about the characters or what's happening with them, unless by enchantment we're talking about a poisoned apple. In the course of the story, one of the characters misidentifies the singer. They're meant to be hearing a cover version sung by Perry Como, a pale rendering, compared with the original.


"Son of a Preacher Man," Aretha Franklin and Dusty Springfield
"I Fought the Law," The Clash and Bobby Fuller

Not long ago, I obsessively watched every film version of Jane Eyre I could find. I don't remember why I did that. But maybe it's similar to my interest in song covers. Besides the Social Distortion I mentioåçn above, I like the Bauhaus version of "Ziggy Stardust," and the Orgy cover of "Blue Monday." I have a playlist that includes all the covers of "Heard It Through the Grapevine." Next to "Ring of Fire," my favorite cover/original pair is probably a tie between "Son of a Preacher Man" and "I Fought the Law." Covers are, to me, a lesson in point-of-view. The lyrics may be the same, but I can't help feeling that the preacher's son described by Dusty Springfield is a very different person than the one described by Aretha Franklin, and I want to know both their stories.


Paula Whyman and You May See a Stranger links:

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

Publishers Weekly review

Bloom interview with the author
Fiction Writers Review interview with the author


also at Largehearted Boy:

Largehearted Boy's 2016 Fundraiser

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

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

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Shorties (New Jonathan Franzen Nonfiction, Stream Mark Kozelek's Covers Album, and more)

The New Yorker features new nonfiction by Jonathan Franzen.


Stream Mark Kozelek's new covers album Sings Favorites at his website.


May is Largehearted Boy's first fundraising month. All donations will go toward creating new features, crafting a better user experience, and much-needed back end work on the site. Thank you for reading the site and supporting Largehearted Boy.


eBooks on sale for $1.99 today:

Harold and Maude by Colin Higgins
Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted: And all the Brilliant Minds Who Made The Mary Tyler Moore Show a Classic by Jennifer Keshin Armstrong
Prayers for the Living by Alan Cheuse


Erik Larson discussed writing history with Signature.


Diamanda Galas discussed the music that impressed her over the years with Pitchfork.


Lauren Groff discussed her new short story "The Midnight Zone" with the New Yorker.


Stream Braids' Companion EP at Stereogum.


The Hazlitt podcast interviewed author Cheryl Strayed.


Inside Prince's final days.


Poet Gregory Pardlo talked to Weekend Edition about how winning the Pulitzer Prize affected his writing.


Salon shared an excerpt from Rich Cohen's new book The Sun & the Moon & the Rolling Stones.


Author Marlon James listed is favorite books at the New York Times.


PopMatters reconsidered the Beach Boys' Pet Sounds album, released 50 years ago this week.


Weekend Edition interviewed Carlo Rovelli's about his new book Seven Brief Lessons on Physics.


Singer-songwriter Jaye Bartell discussed the books that inspire his music.


Chef Eric Ripert discussed his favorite books at The Week.


Drowned in Sound interviewed Anand Wilder of the band Yeasayer.


Fictionaut interviewed author Amber Sparks about craft.


Nada Surf visited The Current studio for an interview and live performance.


Molly Crabapple discussed the influence of Katherine Dunn's book Geek Love at Vice.

Counterpunch shared a 1978 interview with Dunn.



also at 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)

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

May 15, 2016

Largehearted Boy Weekly Wrap-Up - May 15, 2016

A list of the past week's Largehearted Boy features:


Largehearted Boy 2016 Fundraiser:

May is Largehearted Boy's first fundraising month


Book Notes: (authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates to their book)

Benjamin Wood for his novel The Ecliptic
Camille Perri for her novel The Assistants
Contributors to the anthology Watchlist
Linda Kass for her novel Tasa's Song
Lynn Steger Strong for her novel Hold Still
M. Thomas Gammarino for his novel King of the Worlds
Matthew Neill Null for his short story collection Allegheny Front
Michelle Latiolais for her short story collection She


Weekly New Book Recommendations:

Atomic Books Comics Preview (recommended new comics and graphic novels)
Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week (recommended new books, magazines, and comics)
WORD Bookstores Books of the Week (recommended new books)


New Music Recommendations:

The Week's Interesting Music Releases


And of course, the daily literature and music news and link posts:

Shorties (news & links from the worlds of music, books, and pop culture)


also at Largehearted Boy:

Antiheroines
Atomic Books Comics Preview
Book Notes
Cover Song Collections
Lists
weekly music release lists
musician/author Interviews
Note Books
Soundtracked
WORD Bookstores Books of the Week

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May 13, 2016

Book Notes - M. Thomas Gammarino "King of the Worlds"

King of the Worlds

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.

M. Thomas Gammarino's novel King of the Worlds is as clever as it is fun.

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser wrote of the book:

"If Kurt Vonnegut and Douglas Adams had a baby, it would look a lot like 'King of the Worlds.' With its tongue-in-cheek humor and intelligent allusions, this is the kind of fiction that playfully reassembles tropes and rejects all labels. It's a dark riot."


In his own words, here is M. Thomas Gammarino's Book Notes music playlist for his novel King of the Worlds:



Though King of the Worlds is in part an alternate history of the 1990s, it's also something of a tribute to that non-alternate, paradigm-shifting decade I did most of my growing up in. If I'm nostalgic for a time, it's that one, what with its grunge music, profitable mega-bookstores, and all-around pre-Internet quaintness. It didn't hurt that I was younger then and as far as I knew immortal. The protagonist of King of the Worlds, fallen-from-grace actor Dylan Greenyears, isn't a thinly-veiled version of me exactly, but he too is looking back on those halcyon days from a couple of decades hence (not to mention, in his case, 2001 light years away), and like some latter-day Gatsby, he's determined to recapture their glory. So in imagining a soundtrack for this inherently filmic novel, it's no wonder that I should have initially come up with a long list of nineties tunes. Then I remembered that there's actually a good bit of non-nineties music in the novel already, so I took a second crack at it. Here's what I came up with:

1. Vangelis, "Heaven and Hell"

In the alternate universe of King of the Worlds, Carl Sagan's television series Cosmos, which aired in 1980, so moved the American public that NASA immediately began getting sixty percent of the federal budget (in our actual universe NASA gets less than half a percent). This spacey synth-gasm, you may remember, was that show's theme.

2. Radiohead "Black Star"

Owing to NASA's new, steroidal budget, Americans were settling exoplanets by the middle-nineties and giving them names drawn from pop culture, such as Tarantino, Alanis, Infinite Jest, Trainspotting, and, naturally enough, Radiohead. 1997's OK Computer is, to my mind, the band's masterpiece, but this song from 1995's The Bends is an uncanny fit for the entropic love story at the center of the novel.

3. Pearl Jam, "Black"

Dylan Greenyears' path to superstardom begins with him belting out this song in the shower. He especially likes to let loose toward the end: "I know someday you'll have a beautiful life / I know you'll be a star / in somebody else's sky / But why, why, why can't it be, can't it be mine?"

4. Jesus Christ Superstar, "Gethsemane"

Dylan's dad encourages him to try out for the school musical, which happens to be Jesus Christ Superstar that year. Next thing Dylan knows he's playing God, a motif that may or may not recur in various ways throughout the novel. And the line "Show me just a little of your omnipresent brain" may or may not foreshadow the main subplot.

5. Astor Piazzolla, "Libertango"

Dylan's first appearance in a film is as an extra in Terry Gilliam's 12 Monkeys, which (IMHO) ranks among the best time-travel films ever made. Composer Paul Buckmaster's demented tango gets its hooks in you right from the opening credits, and I'm pretty sure it was inspired by this Piazzolla classic.

6. Air, Le Voyage Dans La Lune

Speaking of science fiction films, George Melies' 1902 Le Voyage Dans La Lune (A Trip to the Moon) was the undisputed first. For over a century the film was a silent one. Then in 2012 the French duo Air released their sublime soundtrack, which I'm unabashedly stealing since the film, based in part on HG Wells' The First Men In the Moon, was one of my inspirations (along with Joanna Russ' feminist utopia, Whileaway, and Samuel Taylor Coleridge's "Kubla Khan") in creating "the Grotto," a patriarchal pleasure dome inside of Earth's moon.

7. "Flying Theme" from ET, John Williams (Death-Metal Remix)

John Williams' theme still brings me pretty close to tears. I hate to rob it of its virginity like this, but if you read the novel, you'll understand why I really do have to.

8. Celine Dion, "My Heart Will Go On" (Nausea Remix)

Being as Dylan has spent two decades licking his wounds after losing the lead in Titanic, I like to imagine the first vocal line repeated—"Every night in my dreams, I see you, I feel you"—over and over, with a flanger and added emphasis on the lower notes (i.e. "my" and "see") to give the phrase a lurching, nauseating quality. I feel sick just thinking about it.

9. "I've Been High," REM

Dylan, too, has been literally and figuratively high: "I've been high / I've climbed so high / The light, sometimes it washes over me." Lovely song.

10. Chase Holfeder, "Every Breath You Take"

Chris Holfeder transposes major-key songs to minor keys. In this case, the medium finally suits the message since, in the words of Wendy, Dylan's Mormon-fundamentalist superfan, "Lots of people think it's a love song—they play it at weddings and such—and then they're shocked when they learn it's about a stalker. But I've always found that to be a false dichotomy, don't you think? If you really love somebody, why wouldn't you obsess over them?"

11. Type O Negative, "Be My Druidess" and/or "My Girlfriend's Girlfriend"

In the interest of avoiding spoilers, I'll just let these two speak for themselves.

12. Frank Sinatra, "Last Night When We Were Young"

Cabs on Dylan's adopted homeworld of New Taiwan are driven by "androcabbies," who can shapeshift into anyone on command. Frank Sinatra makes an appearance this way, and he sings more than one standard, though it's this particular torch song that best captures the elegiac tonalities of the novel: "Where is that star that shone so bright / Ages ago last night?" Those last four words were my working title for a time.

13. Nine Inch Nails, "Starfuckers, Inc." and/or "Closer"

Starfucker was my working title for a while too. I ended up retaining it as the name for part III. It has an obvious meaning in the context of the novel, but it works on multiple levels. And anyone who reads the novel will see that "Closer" makes a nice fit for some of the more animalistic scenes in Ascension Forest, a.k.a. Alobaz'ñashahilmukdan'nabai (“the garden that rapes you").

14. John Coltrane, "A Love Supreme"

Speaking of Ascension, John Coltrane pushed music so far in his too-short life that one could be forgiven for thinking that the subsequent history of jazz consists mostly of footnotes to his work. Many consider A Love Supreme to be his masterpiece. I'm not ready to throw in with any single album, but this is the one that appears in the novel, and it's true I find his "musical narration" on "Psalm" particularly haunting. Listen to it sometime while reading his prayer from the liner notes alongside; the man's speaking English through a universal translator.

15. Dido, "White Flag"

I think this may be the song that plays during the closing credits. The refrain—"I will go down with this ship"—is just irresistible since it articulates with the main storyline in ways both ironic and on-the-nose.

16. The Bad Plus, "Pound for Pound"

This trio may well be my favorite musical discovery of the last few years, and "Pound for Pound" is a testament to how much power and dynamism these guys can wring out of three instruments and a bare-bones arrangement. In fact I'm quite sure The Bad Plus could work wonders on every tune in this list (see, for instance, what they've done with "Smells Like Teen Spirit," "Everybody Wants to Rule the World," and "Karma Police"). Whaddaya say, guys?


M. Thomas Gammarino and King of the Worlds links:

Entropy review

Largehearted Boy Book Notes essay by the author for Big in Japan


also at Largehearted Boy:

Largehearted Boy's 2016 Fundraiser

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

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

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This Week's Interesting Music Releases - May 13, 2016

Islands

David Bazan's Blanco, Eagulls' Ullages, Islands' Should I Remain Here at Sea? &
Taste, and Young Magic: Still Life are all new albums I can recommend this week.

Archival releases include a remastered and expanded 3-LP edition of Wolf Parade's Apologies to the Queen Mary, remastered and expanded editions of five Cure albums (Faith, The Head on the Door, Pornography, Seventeen Seconds, The Top) a vinyl reissue of The Cure's Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me, and an 11-LP Miles Davis box set, The Complete Prestige 10-Inch LP Collection.

What new releases can you recommend this week?


This week's interesting music releases:

3OH!3: Night Sports
Allen Toussaint: The Complete Warner Recordings
Arbor Labor Union: I Hear You
Astronautilus: Cut the Body Loose
Clint Mansell: High-Rise
Colleen Green: Colleen Green
Corinne Bailey Rae: The Heart Speaks In Whispers
The Cure: Faith (remastered and expanded)
The Cure: The Head on the Door (remastered and expanded)
The Cure: Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me (reissue) [vinyl]
The Cure: Pornography (remastered and expanded)
The Cure: Seventeen Seconds (remastered and expanded)
The Cure: The Top (remastered and expanded)
Dance Gavin Dance: Tree City Sessions
David Banner: The God Box
David Bazan: Blanco
David Grubbs: Primrose
Don McLean: American Pie (reissue) [vinyl]
Eagulls: Ullages
Foy Vance: The Wild Swan
Fruit Bats: Absolute Loser
Gordi: Clever Disguise
Grateful Dead: Red Rocks Amphitheatre, Morrison, CO (7/8/78) (3-CDs)
Head Wound City: A New Wave Of Violence
Hooded Fang: Venus On Edge
Islands: Should I Remain Here at Sea?
Islands: Taste
Jennifer Nettles: Playing With Fire
Jessy Lanza: Oh No
Jezabels: Man Is Dead (reissue) [vinyl]
Jezabels: She's So Hard (reissue) [vinyl]
Joasihno: Meshes
John Prine: Fair & Square (reissue)
John Prine: In Person & On Stage (reissue)
John Prine: In Spite of Ourselves (reissue)
John Prine: John Prine Live (reissue)
John Prine: Lost Dogs and Mixed Blessings (reissue)
John Prine: The Missing Years (reissue) [vinyl]
John Prine: The Singing Mailman Delivers (reissue)
John Prine and Mac Wiseman: Standard Songs for Average People (reissue)
Karl Blau: Introducing Karl Blau
Kvelertak: Nattesferd
Linda Ronstadt: Frenesi (remastered)
Madlib: Beat Konducta in India Volume 3 [vinyl]
Mark Knopfler and Evelyn Glennie: Altamira
Mark Pritchard: Under The Sun
Meghan Trainor: Thank You
Miles Davis: The Complete Prestige 10-Inch LP Collection (11-LP box set)
Moby: Play (reissue) [vinyl]
Modern Baseball: Holy Ghost
Mother Feather: Mother Feather
New Order: Complete Music (with bonus tracks)
Nothing: Tired of Tomorrow
Oscar: Cut And Paste
Peter Wolf: A Cure for Loneliness [vinyl]
Pierce the Veil: Misadventures
Red Krayola with Art & Language: Baby and Child Care
Rogue Wave: Delusions Of Grand Fur [vinyl]
So So Glos: Kamikaze
The Struts: Everybody Wants (reissue) [vinyl]
Those Pretty Wrongs: Those Pretty Wrongs
Todd Snider: Happy To Be Here (reissue)
Todd Snider: Live (reissue)
Todd Snider: New Connection (reissue)
Todd Snider: Peace, Love and Anarchy (reissue)
Torn Hawk: Union and Return
Trashcan Sinatras: Wild Pendulum
Twin Peaks: Down In Heaven
Various Artists: BBC Radio 2's Sounds of the 80s 2: Unique Covers
Various Artists: Lucky 13 (reissue)
Various Artists: The Nice Guys (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Wallflowers: Bringing Down the Horse (reissue) [vinyl]
Wolf Parade: Apologies to the Queen Mary (remastered and expanded 3-LP edition) [vinyl]
Yak: Alas Salvation
Yes: Fragile (reissue) [vinyl]
Young Magic: Still Life


also at Largehearted Boy:

Largehearted Boy's 2016 Fundraiser

weekly music release lists

Essential and Interesting 2015 Year-End Music Lists

100 online sources for free and legal music downloads
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)
Soundtracked (composers and directors discuss their film's soundtracks)

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Atomic Books Comics Preview - May 13, 2016

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.


Boy's Club

Boy's Club
by Matt Furie

Matt Furie's Boy's Club mini comics were easily some of the best selling mini-comics in the history of Atomic Books. Now out of print and highly collectible, Fantagraphics provides us with an alternative - this book, loaded with Furie's infamous stoner humor in the family of Simon Hanselmann’s Megg and Mogg and Joán Cornella’s Mox Nox.


Funeral Parlor

Funeral Parlor
by Robert Young

Back in 1991, a televised wrestling incident involving The Ultimate Warrior and The Undertaker would have a hugely profound effect on the artist, then a young child. This is the story of that incident, in the form of a fully and beautifully risographed comic.


Heavy Metal Magazine #280

Heavy Metal Magazine #280
by Grant Morrison / various

This issue marks the beginning of Grant Morrison taking the wheel of the legendary illustrated fantasy magazine as it's editor-in-chief.


Lou

Lou
by Melissa Mendes

An utterly charming tale of a young tomboy named Lou, growing up in New England in the 1990s.


Spooky Show

Spooky Show
by Jordan Jeffries

31 horror movies in 31 days. This zine is the result, with reviews and drawings. Can you do 31 horror movies in as many days?


Twilight Children

Twilight Children
by Gilbert Hernandez / Darwyn Cooke

This book is an excellent collaboration from two excellent cartoonists involving a possible alien conspiracy. Beautiful (if not a tad tame) art by Darwyn Cooke accompanies Gilbert Hernandez's magical story.


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:

Largehearted Boy's 2016 Fundraiser

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)

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

Shorties (Lydia Davis on Translation, Stream Bob Dylan's New Album, and more)

Lydia Davis talked translation with the Los Angeles Review of Books.


NPR Music is streaming Bob Dylan's new covers album Fallen Angels.


May is Largehearted Boy's first fundraising month. All donations will go toward creating new features, crafting a better user experience, and much-needed back end work on the site. Thank you for reading the site and supporting Largehearted Boy.


eBooks on sale for $1.99 today:

Harold and Maude by Colin Higgins
Prayers for the Living by Alan Cheuse


Fresh Air interviewed Daniel Clowes about his graphic novel Patience.


Matador Records is recalling Car Seat Headrest's Teens Of Denial album due to an unlicensed sample.


Tin House interviewed Pamela Erens about her new novel Eleven Hours.


Stream a new Super Furry Animals song.


Tahmima Anam discussed her novel The Bones of Grace with the Guardian.


Stream a new David Bazan song.


Signature interviewed Garrard Conley about his memoir Boy Erased.


Sam Beam and Jesca Hoop visited World Cafe for an interview and live performance.


Dead End Follies interviewed author Blake Butler.


Stream the new Stone Roses song.


Huffington Post recommended compelling graphic memoirs.


The Macon Telegraph interviewed singer-songwriter Jason Isbell.


Blastr recommended books that teach you about comics.


Stream a new CHVRCHES song.


R.I.P., author Katherine Dunn.


Moby discussed books with the Boston Globe.


All Things Considered interviewed the composer and librettist of the opera adapted from Stephen King's novel The Shining.


Glenn Danzig is reuniting with the Misfits for two festival shows this summer.


Junot Diaz played DJ and discussed his favorite songs at Alt.Latino.


The Current listed the 893 most essential albums.



also at 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)

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

May 12, 2016

Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week - May 12, 2016

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.


Club Life in Moomin Valley

Club Life in Moomin Valley
by Tove Jansson

Drawn and Quarterly has once again breathed new life back into a classic Moomin tale. Officially on sale starting May 17th, Tove Jansson’s Club Life in Moomin Valley explores complex notions of one’s quest for identity and need for community—all seen through the lens of the magical Moomin world. After being told that only “rebel fathers” can be admitted to Moominpappa’s new club—the Knights of the Catapult—Moominmamma defiantly decides to join a club of her own. Eventually things take a turn for the worse, as her wish to be admitted as a club member turns into a difficult juggling act of loyalty between conflicting organizations. A beautifully illustrated tale about love and internal conflict, Club Life is a delightful must-read for children and adults alike.


The Noise of Time

The Noise of Time
by Julian Barnes

Following the story of composer Dmitri Shostakovich through the arid lands of Soviet Russia, Julian Barnes’ tale of fear, redemption, and survival is being hailed as a compact masterpiece—the Man Booker Prize awarding it for its quiet genius. Separated into three different sections, Barnes’ takes a subtle, fictionalized approach to history, allowing for for the story to breathe even when suffocated by the threat of Stalin’s Great Purge. While Shostakovich undoubtedly struggles with political repression, deeper questions regarding the meaning of art and life itself arise from the narrative—allowing The Noise of Time to shine in the bleakest of hours.


Boy Erased: A Memoir

Boy Erased: A Memoir
by Garrard Conley

Bracing and beautifully written, Garrard Conley’s memoir of his time in the ex-gay therapy system is a book that explores the deepest, most disturbing parts of American’s anxiety towards the “gay problem”. Dedicated to his parents, the book chronicles his time in Love in Action, a Christian ministry devoted to “curing” those filled with “sin.” What unfolds is a deeply personal tale of triumph, and coming to terms with the person you are amidst mountains of adversity. In short, it’s a wonderful read.


Everything is Teeth

Everything is Teeth
by Evie Wyld (illustrated by Joe Sumner)

Known for writing ‘traditional’ forms of fiction, acclaimed author Evie Wyld has emerged with her first graphic novel: a stunning, quiet tale of childhood anxiety, taking place in Wyld’s native Australia. Alongside illustrator Joe Sumner, Wyld takes us on a poetic journey through her memories—a shark haunting most of them, embodying fear in its purest form. In shades of black, white, some yellow, and the occasional shocking red, Wyld and Sumner’s creation is a wonderful example of how powerful a graphic novel can be.


The Kitchen Shelf

The Kitchen Shelf
by Rosie Reynolds & Eve O’Sullivan

Written by two acclaimed London-based food stylists and recipe writers, The Kitchen Shelf is part of a new wave of cookbooks (emerging from Phaidon, specifically) that are redefining the way we look at food, and subsequently how we cook it. Designed to look almost utilitarian, Reynolds and O’Sullivan’s cookbook manages to crack the seemingly impenetrable mold of the ‘cookbook’ genre. There are no celebrity chef photos, no shots of families eating around a large table, no frills at all really: just good food and instructions on how to make it. While there are, of course, plenty of beautiful photos through the book, their delicious recipes are accompanied by tiny photos of the ingredients needed for each recipe—small cartons of milk, bags of flour, a pepper shaker, all in a clipart type form that add to their straightforward yet sensational recipes.


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:

Largehearted Boy's 2016 Fundraiser

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

Book Notes - Camille Perri "The Assistants"

The Assistants

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.

Camille Perri's novel The Assistants is an entertaining and deeply funny debut that I devoured in one sitting.

Publishers Weekly wrote of the book:

"If the characters of HBO’s Girls were capable of larceny and blackmail, they could be the main characters of Perri’s sharp first novel….Perri has a gift for the glib one-liner, and reserved Tina and glamorous Emily make for a great pairing, resulting in a smart and fresh novel."


In her own words, here is Camille Perri's Book Notes music playlist for her debut novel The Assistants:



My novel The Assistants is about a group of young female assistants who use their billionaire boss's expense account to pay off their student loan debt. It's part revenge fantasy, part social satire, and—hopefully—a whole lot of fun to read. The playlist I've created here is my attempt at capturing some of that fun, as well as the income-inequality angst that motivates a group of smart, underpaid young women to try their hands at an embezzlement scheme intended to get them their piece of the pie.


"9 to 5" by Dolly Parton
I had to kick this playlist off with this song, because the moment it occurred to me that the manuscript I was working on should be a modern-day 9 to 5—in terms of tone and politics—it all came together. I literally had a moment where I was like, Oh wait. This is going to be funny! From that moment on, I listened to this song for inspiration at least once a week.


"Royals" by Lorde
Royals was the other song, along with 9 to 5, that I played on heavy rotation while working on The Assistants. It suited my subject matter for obvious reasons. Whenever I'd get stuck, I'd put this on and belt out ‘We don't care, we're driving Cadillacs in our dreams!'


"Celebrity Skin" by Hole
This is an all-time favorite and I think Tina Fontana would feel the same as I do about this song. I could see her air-guitaring around her college dorm room to this. And the angst of this song is alive and well in Tina, I think, even though in adulthood she tends to behave a bit more subdued.


"Rich Girls (EP Version)" by The Virgins
I had to include this song mostly for the opening lyrics, which are so perfectly delivered: “We'll walk around pretending we're all grown up. Hey rich girl. Well can you tell me why you're so stuck up?” I also think the strange paranoia to this song gels quite well with novel.


"Karma Police" by Radiohead
I debated about including this one because it's so damn long and epic, and I'm dating myself with these 90s hits. But I couldn't leave it out because it is just too perfect. I mean, come on. “This is what you'll get when you mess with us,” could very well be the subtitle to The Assistants.


"Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You)" by Kelly Clarkson
I know this is a post-breakup anthem. But for my purposes, this song is about getting knocked down and getting back up. It's about coming into one's own strength and that's a major theme of the book.


"Worth It (feat. Kid Ink)" by Fifth Harmony
Has there ever been a more Emily Johnson song than this one? In chapter 12, there's a scene where Emily and Ginger are cutting out pictures for a dream board—all the riches they plan to acquire thanks to their newfangled misguided scheme to steal from their boss. This would totally be the song playing in the background of that scene.


"We Can't Stop" by Miley Cyrus
This playlist would not be complete without a little Miley. This song is very Assistants to me—all cheap champagne, and girl power, and doing whatever we want. This is our house! This is our rules! It also works in an extremely literal way because at a certain point in the novel, Tina's involvement in “the scheme” gets to where she literally can't stop.


"Confident" by Demi Lovato
The explicit sexual implications of this song are probably more appropriate to the novel I'm working on now, so if I ever make another playlist perhaps this song will get double duty. I'm okay with that because if I'm destined to have a long career of novel writing ahead of me, I wouldn't mind them all pairing well with a song that basically states: There's nothing wrong with being confident. For The Assistants, though, I'm all about how this song hits on this notion of, Underestimate me at your own risk.


"Run the World (Girls)" by Beyoncé
This song is absolutely the closer of The Assistants playlist. Because (spoiler alert) by the end of this book, who run the world? Girls.


Camille Perri and The Assistants links:

Associated Press review
Booklist review
Kirkus review
New York Times review

Bedford + Bowery interview with the author
Bustle profile of the author
Publishers Weekly essay by the author
Refinery29 interview with the author
Weekend Edition interview with the author
WH Smith interview with the author


also at Largehearted Boy:

Largehearted Boy's 2016 Fundraiser

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

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

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