June 22, 2016

Shorties (A Fall Literary Fiction Preview, David Lynch's Music Festival, and more)

Publishers Weekly previewed fall's literary fiction.


Festival of Disruption, a music festival curated by David Lynch, will be held in Los Angeles in October.


Would you like to support Largehearted Boy? Here are a couple of ways you can help.


eBooks on sale for $1.99 today:

The Complete David Bowie by Nicholas Pegg
The Drop by Dennis Lehane
The Law of Dreams by Peter Behrens
Lost Memory of Skin by Russell Banks

eBooks on sale for $2.99 today:

The Long Ships by Frans G. Bengtsson
The Lower River by Paul Theroux
My Mistake by Daniel Menaker
Salmon Fishing in the Yemen by Paul Torday
Whisper Hollow by Chris Cander
The Whistling Season by Ivan Doig


PopMatters profiled singer-songwriter Robbie Fulks.


Texas Monthly listed Larry McMurtry's best books.


Paste interviewed singer-songwriter Steve Earle.


Hazlitt interviewed author Maile Meloy.


Stream a new Teenage Fanclub song.


Signature recommended books to understand ISIS.


The Literary Hub podcast interviewed Laurie Anderson.


Divedapper interviewed poet Diane Seuss.


Stream Deerhoof's cover of Def Leppard's "Pour Some Sugar on Me."


The Rumpus interviewed author Garrard Conley.


Rolling Stone listed the best pop albums of 2016 so far.


The New York Times profiled author Viet Thanh Nguyen.


Stream a new Drive-By Truckers song.


Tin House interviewed author Emma Cline.


The Quietus interviewed members of the band Mothers.


Literary Hub recommended books about eating disorders.


The A.V. Club listed the albums that defined '00s dance-punk.


Literary Hub shared an excerpt from Alexis M. Smith's novel Marrow Island.


MItski's Mitski Miyawaki talked to Weekend Edition about her new album Puberty 2.


Tobias Carroll examined the rise of the video game memoir at Signature.


The Guardian recommended the best books about the Beatles.


Book Riot recommended books about basketball.


Paste profiled the band Sonny and the Sunsets.


Author Emma Straub on Elliott Smith's Either/Or album at the Paris Review.


NPR Music shared a video of Watch Neko Case, k.d. lang And Laura Veirs performing their new album live.


Salon shared Justin Torres's introduction to the book anthology Emerge: Lambda Literary Fellows Anthology.


Seven previously unreleased Nirvana songs have leaked.



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)
weekly music release lists

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June 21, 2016

Book Notes - Flynn Berry "Under the Harrow"

Under the Harrow

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.

Flynn Berry's Under the Harrow is an impressive psychological thriller.

Kirkus wrote of the book:

"Berry accomplishes the rare feat of making the victim come alive on the page without ever sacrificing the deep, all-encompassing loss felt by those left behind."


In her own words, here is Flynn Berry's Book Notes music playlist for her debut novel Under the Harrow:


Under the Harrow is a novel about a woman, Nora, investigating her sister Rachel's murder.



"Golden Brown," The Stranglers

This song describes Nora's life in London. It's bright and splashy, like something from a sixties heist film. Never a frown with golden brown. It reminds me of moving to a new city and being completely taken with it.

"New in Town," Little Boots

Nora and Rachel are reckless, the way that most of my friends have been reckless. Going out is a big part of their relationship, as teenagers in a small town in northern England, and after they move to London. Both of them are very fond of nightlife, especially the before and after bits: the cheap minicab to a party, the kebab afterwards.

This is the last song they play before leaving to go out, and if it comes on at a bar they lose their minds.

"I Follow Rivers (The Magician Remix)," Lykke Li

See above.

"Champagne Coast," Blood Orange

A song for driving on the Westway through London late at night. One of the characters, Lewis, was a musician, and he wrote similar songs.

"Can't Nobody Love You," The Zombies

At the start of the novel, Rachel lives in an old house in the countryside outside Oxford. Nora often comes to visit her, and this is the sort of song they listen to at home.

"The Swimmer," Max Richter

I listened to this song about one million times while writing Under the Harrow. It's gorgeous, and seems to pool around you. My hope is that reading the book will be like listening to this song, which is sweeping and seductive.

"Sweetheart Come," Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds

Nora misses her sister, and this pleading song captures grief so well. Especially the chorus, when he sings sweetheart come again and again. It's completely stricken, but that level of devotion to someone else is also thrilling.

"Love is Blind," Eve

I did a lot of research for this book about violence against women, and it made me furious.

This is the best revenge song. I don't even know you and I hate you. See all I know is that my girlfriend used to date you. During her investigation, Nora becomes more and more dangerous, like Eve's avenger.


Flynn Berry and Under the Harrow links:

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

Kirkus review
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel review
Publishers Weekly review
Wall Street Journal review
Washington Post 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

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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Book Notes - Matthew Norman "We're All Damaged"

We're All Damaged

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.

Matthew Norman's novel We're All Damaged is engaging, funny, and moving.

Kirkus wrote of the book:

"A smart, funny, and surprisingly emotional tale about letting go and moving on."


In his own words, here is Matthew Norman's Book Notes music playlist for his novel We're All Damaged:


When I was in grad school, one of my professors told us that when you reference a song in your writing, there needs to be a good reason. You can't just drop it in there for background noise. "In fiction," she argued, "everything has to mean something."

You hear a lot of things like that in grad school, but that really stuck, which I hope is evident here. Each of the ten songs below either appears in or had a huge influence on my novel We're All Damaged. I recommend playing them in your car, loudly, especially "F*ck Tha Police."



1. "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" by Wham!
The book starts with a pretty horrendous breakup scene. Andy, my main character, and his wife are eating at Applebee's, when she tells him that she wants a divorce. This song is playing when it happens. I believe in being tough on characters. I think we can all agree, hearing Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go during the worst moment of your life would be…well, pretty tough.

2. "The Safety Dance" by Men Without Hats
Speaking of tough, there's an early scene in which Andy's brother tries to rebel against absurd authority. I wanted to have that rebelliousness undercut by the song that's playing. After an unreasonable amount of brainstorming, I landed on this…maybe the least tough song ever.

3. "When Will They Shoot" by Ice Cube
To escape his current unhappiness, Andy regresses into artifacts from his youth, including a collection of old hardcore rap albums. In an early draft, Andy sings along to this song in his bedroom. I wrote out the lyrics and everything. Then my editor pointed out that I could get sued for that. Consequently, I had to write some of my own rap lyrics for Andy to sing. I freely admit, Ice Cube is a better rap lyricist than I am.

4. "In The Air Tonight" by Phil Collins
This song appears in Muzak form during a scene in a men's clothing store. Andy is a beat-up man; he's been stripped of his mojo. So, it seemed right to take this moody, intense classic and strip it of its mojo, too.

5. "Your Heart is an Empty Room" by Death Cab for Cutie
There's a character in the book named Daisy who makes it her personal mission to help Andy feel better. This song is playing as they talk in a used record store. Daisy's advice to Andy is summed up nicely in the opening lyrics. Burn it down till the embers smoke on the ground, And start new when your heart is an empty room.

6. "I'm Trying To Break Your Heart" by Wilco
The band Wilco inspired so much of this book—to the point that I actually thank them in the acknowledgments. What I love about this song is how it speaks to intent. When someone hurts you, regardless of their motive, it so often feels like they've done it for no reason other than, simply, to break your heart.

7. "Bad Blood" by Taylor Swift
If you've ever been wronged by someone, you probably have a speech written in your head ready to deliver passionately if you ever run into that person. Andy's speech sounds a bit like this song. I blame my children for that. They make me play Taylor Swift on a loop when we're in the car. They're monsters.

8. "All I Want is You" by U2
This was Andy and his ex-wife's wedding song. Breakups are full of emotional landmines like this. I can imagine Andy in his apartment, talking to himself. "All I want is you, huh? Well, I guess not!" This book is about Andy healing. But, I promise you, he'll never heal enough to hear this song without wanting to gouge his own ears out.

9. "F*ck Tha Police" by NWA
Before I wrote a single word of We're All Damaged, I knew that this song would be front and center during the book's climax. It's irreverent, angry, and brilliant, and it's blaring from a pair of old speakers at the moment Andy lets go of a year's worth of pain. I'm done, he's saying. F@ck it. F@ck all of it.

10. "After Hours" by We Are Scientists
While I was writing the first draft of We're All Damaged, the book nearly fell apart. The tone was too melancholy. The plot lumbered. I couldn't figure out who any of the characters were. And then this song came up on Pandora. I'd heard it before, but I'd never really listened to it. In three minutes and fifty-two seconds, things crystallized, and I realized that I wanted the book to be like this song—fast, frantic, and desperate. No matter how badly you've been damaged…this door is always open.


Matthew Norman and We're All Damaged links:

the author's blog

Kirkus review
Publishers Weekly review
Washington Independent Review of Books review

Largehearted Boy Book Notes essay by the author for Domestic Violets
Writer's Bone 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

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 (An Interview with Helen Oyeyemi, The Best Books About the Smiths, and more)

Bookforum interviewed author Helen Oyeyemi.


Stereogum listed the best books about the Smiths.


Would you like to support Largehearted Boy? Here are a couple of ways you can help.


eBooks on sale for $1.99 today:

The Complete David Bowie by Nicholas Pegg
The Drop by Dennis Lehane
The Law of Dreams by Peter Behrens
Lost Memory of Skin by Russell Banks

eBooks on sale for $2.99 today:

The Long Ships by Frans G. Bengtsson
The Lower River by Paul Theroux
My Mistake by Daniel Menaker
Salmon Fishing in the Yemen by Paul Torday
Whisper Hollow by Chris Cander
The Whistling Season by Ivan Doig


Stream a new Dinosaur Jr song.


The Times of Israel interviewed author Rivka Galchen.


PopMatters profiled the band Mogwai.


The Guardian interviewed author Adam Haslett.


SPIN interviewed Natasha Khan of Bat for Lashes.

Stream the band's cover of the Carpenters' "We've Only Just Begun."


Electric Literature listed novels that take place over one summer.


Bookworm interviewed rapper, author, and playwright Kate Tempest.


Litro listed the best untranslated Spanish novels.


The Richmond Times-Dispatch profiled singer-songwriter Jason Isbell.


Salon interviewed author Kaitlyn Greenidge.


Marissa Nadler reviewed Mitski's new album Puberty 2 at The Talkhouse.


The Los Angeles Times interviewed author Drew Nellins Smith.


Writers shared their favorite bands at LitReactor.


The Boston Globe interviewed singer-songwriter and author Ben Watt.


Fresh Air interviewed Stephanie Danler about her debut novel Sweetbitter.


Bandcamp interviewed singer-songwriter Lisa Prank, a.k.a. Robin Edwards.


Emma Cline talked to All Things Considered and Salon about her novel The Girls.


Weekend Edition interviewed Neko Case, k.d. lang And Laura Veirs about their new album.


Ebook on sale for $1.99 today: Jean Stein's Edie Sedgwick biography Edie: American Girl.


NPR Music is streaming the new Deerhoof album The Magic.


Vol. 1 Brooklyn interviewed author Esmé Weijun Wang.


Bandcamp interviewed musicians who score videogames.


Bustle interviewed cartoonist Vera Brosgol.



Football365 listed the best soccer books.


Singer-songwriter Adia Victoria visited The Current studio for a live performance and interview.


The Takeaway interviewed author Don DeLillo.



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)
weekly music release lists

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

June 20, 2016

Book Notes - Anna Noyes "Goodnight, Beautiful Women"

Goodnight, Beautiful Women

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.

Anna Noyes' collection Goodnight, Beautiful Women is filled with nuanced, masterfully told stories.

The New York Times wrote of the book:

"Noyes’s knack for lucid prose includes providing her characters with simple language that nevertheless grasps an understanding of complex human dynamics."


In her own words, here is Anna Noyes' Book Notes music playlist for her short story collection Goodnight, Beautiful Women:


In my girlhood in Maine, I spent much of seventh and eighth grade loitering in the Wendy's parking lot, or fishing tiny stars from a jar of blueberry-scented gel and sticking them to my eyelids, or dialing the local radio station to request songs for my boyfriend just so I could hear the startling sound of my own recorded voice played back through the speakers. I called so often the DJ knew my special song ("Breathe" by Faith Hill) and my boyfriend's name by heart. I have spared you the playlist of my radio days, days that included a choreographed lip sync to Shania Twain's "Man! I Feel Like a Woman" performed at a talent show in front of my entire school (I lost, justly, to a two-girl Sonny and Cher rendition of "I Got You Babe"). Instead, here's a small selection of songs my mother passed down to me – as she passed down the books from her bookshelf that would save my life, plumb lines that sounded a depth in me I didn't know I had. Some of these songs, so interwoven with my childhood, made their way into my stories of girls and women finding their way and growing up in their tiny Maine towns. And some of these songs (including a few outliers to my mother's good taste) aren't mentioned in the stories, but I can imagine them playing quietly in the background.



"This Must Be the Place (Naïve Melody)" - Talking Heads

In the first story of the collection, "Hibernation," the main character Joni is told by her sister that she needs to pray. She believes her husband has drown in the quarry beside their house – she saw him walk into the water – but a part of her is convinced he is still alive. She doesn't know who to pray to, if there's anyone to hear her prayer, and she doesn't know what to say. Her sister tells her to "Call it whatever you want. Just give the thing a name." So Joni comes up with a list of gods, including David Byrne of Talking Heads.

At the wedding where Joni first meets her husband Jack, they dance drunkenly in the kitchen. I think "This Must Be the Place" could be the song they danced to. It's my favorite love song - full of tenderness and wonder, recognition (of all those kinds of people/ you've got a face with a view) and relief (I'm just an animal looking for a home/ share the same space for a minute or two). In "Hibernation" two people who love each other grow into a place where they no longer recognize one another. The home they have created together turns toxic, and frightening. Ultimately, refuge - and a familiar, animal comfort - can no longer be found together. To me, losing someone I love, ending a relationship, has always felt like a kind of loss of home.

"Angel from Montgomery" – John Prine and Bonnie Raitt

I am an only child, but when I was in sixth grade, and also in eighth grade, two girl friends moved in with my family for a time. The poignancy and intensity of being girls together – sharing a bedroom, taking baths in our bathing suits, falling asleep side-by-side in twin beds – is unshakable. One of those friends - my earliest best friend – died recently. We used to sing "Angel from Montgomery" together. In my story "Treelaw" a girl moves in with her classmate's family, and in an early draft the girls sang "Angel From Montgomery" also. I cut this detail because the song seemed too neat a soundtrack for fiction. But for me, this song has always played beneath "Treelaw:"

Make me an angel
that flies from Montgomery
make me a poster
of an old rodeo
just give me one thing
that I can hold onto
to believe in this living
is just a hard way to go

"Wild Horses" - The Rolling Stones

In "Safe as Houses" Harold wakes his daughter Jenny with this song. I remember it was suggested when I workshopped this story that "Wild Horses" was too sexy a song for a father/daughter morning dance. "Yellow Submarine" was offered up as an appropriately playful alternative. But I liked how the slightly discomforting sexiness of "Wild Horses" fit within a story about a young girl's emerging sexuality, and the effect these changes might have on the fragile, sweet relationship she has with her Dad, altering the familiar comfort of their rituals. Also, the sentence "Jenny wakes to Wild Horses" had a certain agitated, electric ring that I wanted to keep.

"Anthems for a Seventeen Year Old Girl" – Broken Social Scene

"The Quarry" is about two sisters, one ten and one fifteen. The older sister is mysterious and a little dangerous, spends hours soaking in the bath, sneaks in late at night, wears a forbidden bikini. This song isn't mentioned in the story, but I wanted to include an unreachable-older-sister kind of song that encapsulated some of the feverish, moody, summertime teenage girlhood of "The Quarry" (which opens with the girls beside the quarry where they're forbidden to swim, pining for water). I also used to cry to this song, when I was feverish and fifteen.

"Helpless" – Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young

I've included this song as substitute for "Unknown Legend" by Neil Young, which is a linchpin to this playlist, but not available on Spotify. I considered a cover (sung by Shakey Graves, whose gravely voice weakens my knees) but ultimately that seemed a sacrilege. "Helpless," beloved to me, feels closely aligned, and gives me a similar feeling of fraught forward motion.

In "Glow Baby" Carla takes off in the middle of the night with her four-year-old daughter Milly, leaving Milly's dad behind. In the car, she plays "Unknown Legend:" somewhere on a desert highway/ she rides a Harley Davidson/ her long blonde hair flying in the wind. My mom and I went on a (very different) road trip when I was four. A tape of Neil Young's album Harvest Moon played over and over, alternating with Tuesday Night Music Club by Sheryl Crow. Listening to "Unknown Legend" still gives me a rush of momentum (and sadness, and nostalgia. Mostly, the songs I love make me feel this way). In "Glow Baby," Milly doesn't know what a Harley Davidson is, and she imagines it's a kind of horse. I confess, when I was little, a Harley Davidson was a mystery to me, too.

"Save Me" – Joan Armatrading

I find this song wrenching. Though it doesn't appear in any of the stories, I think it articulates a desperation many of the character's in Goodnight, Beautiful Women share, though their desperation is quieter, not expressed with such clarity and urgency. Often the women in my stories are isolated, searching for the connection and tenderness they need to survive, and finding this need met by unexpected sources.

"Run Baby Run" – Sheryl Crow

"Glow Baby" is followed by another story of mothers and daughters taking to the road, "Goodnight, Beautiful Women." For a collection about women chafing against their lives and sometimes fleeing them and the people they love, "Run Baby Run" seems a good anthem. If I didn't have a paralyzing fear of driving, this song would make me want to roll down my windows and speed away.

"Stand by Your Man" – Tammy Wynette

In the story "Changeling," the narrator says that her mother had a bright voice that won her blue colored shots at Karaoke. A Tammy Wynette voice. "Stand by Your Man"– husky, keening – is a song I can imagine playing in a distant room in the house where the narrator of "Changeling" unexpectedly spends the night. This song is discordant and slightly surreal within the context of "Changeling," which seems fitting for a story that feels to me like it takes place in a dream.

"Katie Cruel" – Karen Dalton

Karen Dalton's voice haunts me from the first note, like an incantation. In my stories, women and girls transition from belonging (in their communities, their relationships, their families) to potential exile. We meet them at an in-between place, where they no longer fit in comfortably but haven't truly been ostracized either. The woman in this song seems stuck; her good, sweet standing has shifted. She is no longer a jewel, and that is what captivates me.

When I first came to town
They called me the roving jewel
Now they've changed their tune
Call me Katie Cruel

"We Sing Thy Birth No. 3, Sing, Heavin Imperial, Most of Hicht!" – Stephen Paulus"

Bonus Track!

In "Homecoming" a young woman moves back to her hometown, where she feels aimless and fallen out of love and very lonely, and in an attempt to reorient herself she joins a local choral group that sings a song in Old English, with lyrics that sound to her like "Lay out your Levi's, lustily." Please take note, around minute 2:37.


Anna Noyes and Goodnight, Beautiful Women links:

the author's website

Electric Literature interview with the author
Kirkus review
New York Times review
Portland Press Herald review
Publishers Weekly review
Washington Post review

Portland Press Herald profile of the author


also at Largehearted Boy:

Support the Largehearted Boy website

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

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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June 18, 2016

Largehearted Boy Weekly Wrap-Up - June 18, 2016

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


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

Dave Fromm for his novel The Duration
Dave Hill for his essay collection Dave Hill Doesn't Live Here Anymore
Ellen Wayland-Smith for her book Oneida: From Free Love Utopia to the Well-Set Table
Frederick Reuss for his novel Maisie at 8000 Feet
Karl Jacoby for his book The Strange Career of William Ellis
Lisa Moore for her novel Flannery
Mark Binelli for his novel Screamin' Jay Hawkins' All-Time Greatest Hits


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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June 17, 2016

Book Notes - Ellen Wayland-Smith "Oneida: From Free Love Utopia to the Well-Set Table"

Oneida: From Free Love Utopia to the Well-Set Table

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.

Ellen Wayland-Smith's Oneida: From Free Love Utopia to the Well-Set Table is an engaging and thought-provoking history of the New York community's evolution.

Booklist wrote of the book:

"Drawing from letters, diaries, newsletters, and family stories, the author, an original-family descendant, adds inside information to this retelling of a radical movement's transformation in the shifting current of American ideals. The narrative is engaging and detailed. This is a must-read for those interested in American social history, and should have broad appeal."


In her own words, here is Ellen Wayland-Smith's Book Notes music playlist for her book Oneida: From Free Love Utopia to the Well-Set Table:


Music was central to life in the Oneida Community. Over the course of their thirty-two year history, they maintained two orchestras (one with twenty-two instruments); a brass band; several string quartets; a children's choir; a co-ed adult choir, and a women's glee club. They enjoyed all types of music, from popular folk songs and dances, to religious hymns, to classical music and musical theater.

They played and sang for themselves, of course, both in informal settings (such as during Evening Meetings, when the entire family assembled in the "Big Hall") and in more formally staged concerts. But they also played for tourists, who came in flocks to tour the lush Mansion House grounds and sneak a peek at the scandalously clad Oneida women in their knee-length skirts and bloomers. In the 1870s, the Midland Railroad Company, eager to boost its weekend traffic, plastered the Oneida village train station with posters inviting "Excursionists and Pleasure-Seekers" to stop off for fresh strawberry shortcake and "fine Musical Entertainment" at the Oneida Community.

A small blurb in the May 6th 1872 edition of The Circular recounted the previous week's in-house entertainment (family only), dubbed by its author a "musical sociable;" the program offers a good sample of the range of music the Community enjoyed.

"[The entertainment] was opened by the orchestra with a German overture. Then followed a beautiful song by the children–– ‘Moonlight on the Lake.' Next came some old familiar dance music by the orchestra, and so witching that it nearly succeeded in bringing some of the young people on to their feet for a schottish [polka dance]. Then followed the ‘Carnival of Venice,' violin and piano. After this the orchestra gave us part of ‘Opera without Words' by De Beriot and his son… In conclusion the Club, with orchestral accompaniment, sang, ‘Jerusalem, my Glorious Home.'"



1. "German overture." Instrumental overtures from operas were concert hall favorites in the nineteenth century. One Community member, who attended Boston's World Peace Jubilee Concert celebrating the end of the Franco-Prussian War in 1872, remarked that, "the overture to [Richard Wagner's] Tannhauser was splendid–– beyond my previous conceptions."

2. "Moonlight on the Lake." A song arranged in four-part harmony that often figured in nineteenth-century minstrel shows.

3. "Schottish" dance music. The Oneidans were mad for dancing: the quadrille, contra-dance, schottische, polka and waltz were all in their repertoire. A note in the January 6th edition of the Circular reports on a recent evening "family dance":

"In the evening we had a dance instead of the usual stage-entertainment. A Community, family-dance: the Hall is cleared a little after six; the tables and chairs are carried into the passage-ways and piled up on the stage, leaving just room enough on the latter for the musicians, the violins, the double-bass viol, and the horns…. We have quadrilles, contra-dances, waltzes, polkas, schottisches, on or two of each. The waltzes and cotillions, however, are the most popular."

Stephen Foster (1826-1864), often considered the "father of American music" (he penned such popular favorites as "Camptown Races" and "I Dream of Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair"), composed an instrumental "Soiree Polka" that is typical of the period dance music.

Johann Strauss, Jr. (1825-1899), a Viennese composer, was known as "the Waltz King" and is widely credited with establishing the popularity of the dance in Europe in the last half of the century. His music (such as his "Voices of Spring") was popular on this side of the Atlantic, as well.

4. Niccolò Paganini (1782-1840) "The Carnival of Venice" and Charles Auguste de Bériot (1802-1870) "Violin Concerto No. 5 in D Major." Paganini was a violinist and composer from Genoa who gained European renown for his virtuoso concerts, where he combined flamboyant showmanship with innovative technique. He was a great favorite with the Romantics, who saw in him an archetype of the solitary, star-crossed artistic "genius." Among his disciples was de Bériot, whose Romantic-style concertos have today all but fallen into oblivion.

5. Ole Bornemann Bull (1810-1880) was a Norwegian-born virtuoso violinist. On one of his tours in the U.S., he was slated to give a concert in the village of Oneida. My great-great-grandfather Francis Wayland-Smith–– himself the principal violinist in the Community orchestra–– travelled to Syracuse to meet Old Bull and prevail him to visit the Mansion House. Bull agreed, and upon being given a tour of the Community and its grounds, apparently "expressed himself enthusiastically… and styled our home a ‘Second Eden,'" according to the Circular report. The "Nocturne for Violin and Orchestra" and "La Mélancolie: In Moments of Solitude" are typical of his work.

6. "Jerusalem, my Glorious Home" (17th century English hymn)
Although they didn't practice any organized religious rituals (such as a mass or formal service), the Oneidans enjoyed singing the same Christian hymns that were integral to mainstream Protestant church services. They were also drawn to African-American spirituals. In an 1872 edition of the Circular, a community member reported back on a concert of the Fisk Jubilee Singers he attended in Connecticut. The "wild, uncultivated" hymns of the group were "touching and pathetic in the extreme," expressing a "simple-hearted faith in God" that moved the audience to tears. "Roll, Jordan, Roll"; "Amazing Grace"; and "Wade in the Water" by the Fisk Jubilee singers are representative of the genre.

7. H.M.S. Pinafore (1878). In the winter of 1879-80, the Community was rife with tensions both internal and external. An "anti-Noyes" party had sprung up with hopes of replacing the aging patriarch; they were met with fierce resistance by Noyes's family and inner power circle. The Community was feeling pressure from without, as well: the national mood was decisively swinging toward conservative "family values," marked by the Supreme Court's 1878 decision in Reynolds v. United States outlawing Mormon polygamy as not protected under the First Amendment. The Oneidans feared they might be next.

In the midst of this turmoil, the Community members nonetheless managed to come together to stage a production of Gilbert and Sullivan's recently débuted comic opera, H.M.S. Pinafore. They found this story of inter-class romance (the captain's high-bred daughter falls in love with a humble sailor) a "good medium for Communism." Here I've included the orchestral Overture and Josephine's lament, "Sorry Her Lot Who Loves Too Well."


Ellen Wayland-Smith and Oneida: From Free Love Utopia to the Well-Set Table links:

Boston Globe review
Gawker profile of the author
Guardian review
Kirkus review
Publishers Weekly review
Shelf Awareness review

Here & Now interview with the author
USC News profile of the author


also at Largehearted Boy:

Support the Largehearted Boy website

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

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 - June 17, 2016

case/lang/veirs

case/lang/veirs (from Neko Case, k.d. lang, and Laura Veirs) and Mitski's Puberty 2 are the week's two standout releases.

Radiohead's latest album A Moon Shaped Pool is available on vinyl and CD.

Archival releases include a David Bowie performance (Live Santa Monica '72) and a clear vinyl edition of Moondog's self-titled album.

What new music can you recommend this week?


This week's interesting music releases:

Alt-J: Live at Red Rocks (5-disc box set)
Billy Joel: Storm Front (reissue) [vinyl]
Bruce Hornsby: Rehab Reunion
case/lang/veirs: case/lang/veirs
Caveman: Otero War
David Bowie: Live Santa Monica '72
David Bowie: Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars (The Motion Picture Soundtrack) (reissue) [vinyl]
Electric Light Orchestra: All Over the World: The Very Best of (reissue) [vinyl]
Electric Light Orchestra: Studio Albums 1973-1977 (5-CD box set)
Elizabeth Cook: Exodus of Venus
Gojira: Magma
Heart: Heart (reissue) [vinyl]
Hum: You'd Prefer an Astronaut (reissue) [vinyl]
Jay Arner: Jay II
John Williams: Star Wars: The Force Awakens [2 LP Hologram Vinyl] (reissue) [vinyl]
k.d. lang: Absolute Torch and Twang
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard: Nonagon Infinity [vinyl]
Kris Kristofferson: The Cedar Creek Sessions
Let's Eat Grandma: I, Gemini
The Low Anthem: Eyeland
Madonna: Like a Virgin (reissue) [vinyl]
Madonna: Madonna (reissue) [vinyl]
Margaret Glaspy: Emotions and Math
MF Doom: Special Blends Vol. 1 & 2 (reissue) [vinyl]
The Misfits: Friday the 13th
Mitski: Puberty 2
Mogwai: Atomic
Moondog: Moondog (Limited Edition Clear Vinyl) (reissue) [vinyl]
Mumford and Sons: Johannesburg
Nails: You Will Never Be One of Us
PAWS: No Grace
Radiohead: A Moon Shaped Pool [vinyl]
Red Hot Chili Peppers: The Getaway
Red Sleeping Beauty: Kristina
Reel Big Fish: Where Is My Mind? A Tribute To The Pixies (reissue) [vinyl]
Saosin: Along the Shadow
Sarah Jarosz: Undercurrent
Seasick Steve: Sonic Soul Surfer
Sonic Youth: Spinhead Sessions [vinyl]
Søren Juul: This Moment
Starflyer 59: Slow
Still Parade: Concrete Vision
Stone Roses: The Very Best of (reissue) [vinyl]
Sun Ra: To Saturn and Back (reissue)
Swans: The Glowing Man
Sweet: Hits (reissue) [vinyl]
Thelonious Monk: Big Band & Quartet In Concert (reissue) [vinyl]
The Tragically Hip: Man Machine Poem
Trash Boat: Nothing I Write Can Change What You've Been Through
Ultravox: The Island Years (4-CD box set)
Various Artists: AthFest 20th Anniversary 2-CD Set
Various Artists: C87: Deluxe Boxset (3-CD box set)
Various Artists: Classic Pop: 12 Inch
Various Artists: Classic Pop: Synthpop
Various Artists: Punk.: 40 Years of Subversive Culture
Unlocking The Truth: Chaos
Weaves: Weaves
The Who: The Polydor Singles 1975-2015 (15-disc box set) [vinyl]
Will Butler: Friday Night
With Confidence: Better Weather
YG: Still Brazy


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 - June 17, 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.


Dark Knight Returns: The Last Crusade

Dark Knight Returns: The Last Crusade
by Frank Miller / Brian Azzarello / John Romita / Bill Sienkiewicz

Frank Miller continues his surprisingly readable streak of revisiting his Dark Knight classic story with this prequel to his legendary Dark Knight Returns. The fate of Robin (Jason Todd) is right here.


Fight Club 2

Fight Club 2
by Chuck Palahniuk / Cameron Stewart

If you've missed Tyler Durden, this comic sequel finds him ten years after the events in the first book. He's living the life mundane with the help of modern medicine. But that doesn't last long. Oh yeah, Tyler's a dad now, so this is kinda the perfect Father's Day gift.


How To Talk To Girls At Parties

How To Talk To Girls At Parties
by by Neil Gaiman / Gabriel Ba / Fábio Moon

Ba and Moon adapt this utterly charming Neil Gaiman story. Boys crash a party where the girls are way out of their league. Like WAY out of their league.


Ringside Volume 1: Kayfabe

Ringside Volume 1: Kayfabe
by Joe Keatinge / Nick Barber

Prefect for the wrestling enthusiast. A look inside the world of the squared-circle and the characters who are drawn to it.


Sex Criminals Volume 3: Three the Hard Way

Sex Criminals Volume 3: Three the Hard Way
by Matt Fraction / Chip Zdarsky

The new volume of the hit series Sex Criminals. If you're on the fence about this series, let me just say there's a "semen-demon."


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

June 16, 2016

Book Notes - Lisa Moore "Flannery"

Flannery

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.

Lisa Moore's YA debut Flannery is both resonant and readable.

Quill and Quire wrote of the book:

". . . perfectly planted in the sweet spot of YA writing. It's good for the smart literary teen and the teen who plows through salacious bestsellers. It's also for the adult who wants to remember how hard and how beautiful it was to be a teenager. This one is highly recommended."


In her own words, here is Lisa Moore's Book Notes music playlist for her novel Flannery:



1) "The Swimming Song" Loudon Wainwright III

"This summer I swam in a public place and a reservoir to boot
At the latter I was informal
At the former I wore my suit,
I wore my swimming suit, yeah!"

Wainwright sings about doing "swan dives and jackknives for you all," and tells us that once when we weren't looking, he "did a cannonball." He sings that he almost drowned but, "I held my breath and I kicked my feet and I moved my arms around."

Flannery is my first young adult novel. And this song seems a perfect metaphor for adolescence. The adventure of swimming through the unfamiliar medium of a sprouting body, new tallness, gangly limbs, love and disorienting desires.

There's a lot of nostalgia in Wainwright's song. It's nostalgia for the freedom before adulthood, before responsibility, before heartbreak. It's an homage to that sharp-edged cusp, the comingling of innocence and experience. That time when everything requires such bravery – jackknives, cannonballs – and naked emotion. As if every conversation with a potential crush is akin to taking off all your clothes on the poolside in front of the whole world and diving in.

There's lots of humor in this song, but it's also dead serious. Sometimes the sting from a belly flop can last a long time.

The protagonist in Flannery is a girl of sixteen. She feels that kind of joyous belly-flop crush for a boy; she falls in love. There's nothing puppy about this love. It's über-potent, as everything is in adolescence.

Maybe it's that undiluted potency of emotion that makes Wainwright's song nostalgic. It seems to me that nothing in life is ever as vivid or saturated with emotion as first love. Sometimes this love makes my character Flannery a little dopey. She does silly things, even dangerous things. But there's nothing silly about love, ever, and especially when one is a teenager and it's all new. Then love can be so beautiful it hurts. Or it can lead to haunting humiliation. It can take your breath away. And when it does, hopefully you will remember to kick your feet and move your arms around.

2) "We're Going to Be Friends" The White Stripes

"Climb the fence, books and pens
I can tell that we are going to be friends"

The elegant simplicity of this song about going back to school in the autumn captures the intensity of childhood friendships. Jack White's voice is assured and mellow. Almost a lullaby. Full of promise.

Flannery grows up in St. John's, Newfoundland, and most of the children she went to day care with also went to elementary school with her, and junior high and then high school. Same kids. They knew each other at birthday parties with cans of silly string, when they wore sneakers with soles that flashed red lights with each step, through "Itsy Bitsy Spider" and The Paper Bag Princess. They knew each other when they wore eyeglasses made out of plastic drinking straws.

Take a deep sip and the lime crush zooms up the transparent plastic straw, curls around one ear, circles an eye, zips over the nose to the other eye, (go cross-eyed watching this), around the second ear and into the mouth. Wait? How did it get to the mouth? Do it again! Take another sip! Laugh until it comes out your nose.

This is the time of water balloons hitting between the shoulder blades, no matter how hard you run through the sunlight dappling the lane arched over with trees in Bannerman Park. The smell of chlorine in your hair after the swimming pool, skateboards.

Zoom ahead a few months – same kids – but they've sprouted all over, twice as tall, gangly, breasts, hips, awkward changelings. They are the same/alien, sensitive/loud, scared/brazen, saucy/sweet. They are slathered in cologne, wearing belly tops and blazing with smarts.

At Halloween near the school lockers a boy might slam his locker door and turn to look deep in your eyes, I mean really look. And I mean deep. All the seriousness of one person truly seeing another, seeing someone they have known since car seats, but seeing her new, recognizing her. And then that boy might smile. And he might have, in his mouth, a pair of plastic Dracula teeth, the pointy tips stuck in there when his shoulder was hunched in his locker. Now drooling saliva.

I can tell that we are going to be friends.

3) "On the Radio" Regina Spektor

"This is how it works, you're young until you're not…"

Regina Spektor is the absurdist that makes perfect sense. And I love anything that explains how things work!

4) "The Littlest Birds" The Be Good Tanyas

"Well, it's times like these I feel so small and wild,
like the rambling footsteps of a wandering child"

The harmonies of The Be Good Tanyas are so perfect they seem a holy mystery. How can separate voices come together as one like that? The banjos are playful and melancholy at the same time. There's a featherlight tune full of longing and wanderlust.

"The littlest birds sing the prettiest songs" makes me think of children, of course, though the song is not about children.

It's about singing, even if you are sad. Flannery has never met her father. She is a child of a one-night stand, a liaison that occurs at a retro-disco party where everyone wears long blue tinsel wigs because they were on sale at the Dollarama the day of the party.

I myself attended such a party when I was falling in love. I wore a wig of long blue tinsel and danced to the Bee Gees singing "Stayin' Alive," a song that I have since learned is the perfect beat for counting out the thumps you must administer to the chest of someone in cardiac arrest if you are giving them CPR. Thread your fingers together, one hand on top of the other, and use the heel of the lower hand to thrust life back into said victim while singing under your breath, "Stayin' alive, stayin' alive, ah, ah, ah, ah, stayin' alive."

In a recent CPR course that I attended in order to work on a cruise ship, each of the students were given a white plastic baby doll with a disposable plastic mouth guard so that we could practice mouth-to-mouth without catching the germs of the class that came before us. The mouth guards were red cellophane with the crumpled edges sticking up like little roses out of the lips of the ghostly babies. How frightening to be a parent. What a job! I breathed and counted and sang and pressed the sternum of that plastic baby, using only two fingers, because too much pressure will break the ribs and other bones. I pressed gently, I pressed for all I was worth.

5) "Both Sides, Now" Measha Breuggergosman

"The dizzy-dancing way we feel"

Google right this instant! Do not delay for a second longer listening to this profound rendition of Joni Mitchell's iconic ballad about innocence lost.

Measha is a Canadian opera singer. I met her at a speaking event in New Brunswick, where she is from, and admired her instantly. She is funny, generous, super smart and more alive than pretty much anyone I've ever met.

When I got home I googled; I wept. Such power. Such immediate beauty. What a boiled down, essential art singing is. The only instrument necessary: the human body. Lungs and heart. The skill, the control, the ability to make that kind of sound! After only a few minutes of watching this music video my whole face was wet with tears. It is humbling to listen to Measha sing. It's inspiring to know that human beings are capable of creating that kind of beauty.

6) "You're My Best Friend" The Once

Flannery has a best friend, Amber, and things go awry between them, as the friendships between girls of sixteen sometimes do. Things go horribly awry. Of course there's a romantic love for Flannery, and there's the relationship with her mother and the relationship with her little brother. But a friendship between girls in their teens is like fizz candy on the tongue – full of fireworks and bright new sensation, effervescent and of the moment. Hold fast, because these friendships are fragile – and when they burst and fizzle out, the hurt is dazzling.

7) "Not Today, Not Tomorrow" Kat McLevey

"I'm not coming home today, I've got too much I want to say"

There's a rumor that a cluster of boulders on Signal Hill, at the mouth of the St. John's harbor, turns into an Aeolian harp when a wind from the southwest blows through the cracks. It is a choir of voices, the voices of the fishermen lost at sea.

Okay, I started the rumor! Maybe there's no such rock formation on Signal Hill. Maybe there's no Aeolian harp. But Marconi sent the first wireless message ever from that hilltop, across the Atlantic, all the way to Europe, and it's kind of the same magic!

Flannery's mother, Miranda, believes there's an Aeolian harp, is the main thing, and one night when she is very drunk (she doesn't normally drink and she's been introduced to martinis on a disastrous date) she is picked up by the cops who believe she has been trying to conduct traffic at the Rawlins Cross intersection. The truth is she's been conducting the Aeolian harp. It's that kind of night.

Kat McLevey has a haunting voice, as clear and pure and rare as an Aeolian harp.

And leaving home because you've got too much to say – well this is the song of all young adults, if "home" is the cocoon of the self we bat our wings out of every single day.


8) "Little Fires" Aley Waterman

"Took your hands in my hands, held them soft as cotton blends"

Aley Waterman is a tremendous talent from Corner Brook, Newfoundland. A singer/composer/writer, Aley's lyrics are whimsical and woebegone-wry, too full of sensuality and arch awareness for real sadness to take hold for long. But there is also no shying away from the tough stuff. Honest, modern emotions here. Songs and stories full of the kind of awakenings that stretch us. The kind of awakenings that start when we are young, coming of age, and after that, never let us alone, thank heavens.

9) "I Put a Spell On You" She & Him

There are spells in Flannery. They're not supposed to work. They are gimmicks; they are like canned fog and pet rocks and mood rings. They accompany little bottles of love potions, also fake. But the power of suggestion takes hold. Flannery's friend, Amber, has a controlling boyfriend. He cuts Amber's friends out of her life; slaps her phone out her hand, ultimately humiliates her.

It's the slow, unfeeling, cold and precise destruction of a girl. In this rendition of that powerful song, Zooey Deschanel's voice is clear and controlled. But that same crystal voice comes close to shattering, close to screams – because of a poisonous, jealous desire to possess.

10) "Love Potion No. 9" The Clovers

"Smelled like turpentine, it looked like India ink"

But sometimes the love potions Flannery concocts bring just the right people together, love at first sight – no matter that it's just coloured water. Most people just need a good excuse.


Lisa Moore and Flannery links:

the author's Wikipedia entry

Kirkus review
Montreal Gazette review
National Post review
Publishers Weekly review
School Library Journal review

CBC News interview with the author
Labradorian profile of the author
Largehearted Boy Book Notes essay by the author for Caught
Toronto Star 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

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

Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week - June 16, 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.


Hot Dog Taste Test

Hot Dog Taste Test
by Lisa Hanawalt

From the James Beard award-winning cartoonist and design/producer of Netflix's Bojack Horseman comes Hot Dog Taste Test; a delicious - and necessary - venture into the world of food, anthropomorphized animals, and the brilliant mind of artist Lisa Hanawalt. Tackling subjects ranging from the pomposity of foodie subculture, to the horrors of using public restrooms, Hanawalt's second book with Drawn and Quarterly is a hilarious assortment of cartoons, doodles, and fully-realized stories that illustrate life in all its beautiful, embarrassing, and at times exaggerated glory.


Last Sext

Last Sext
by Melissa Broder

With her fourth poetry collection, Melissa Broder demonstrates just how powerful her existential musings can be. Known primarily for the extremely popular collection of personal essays So Sad Today (and its subsequent Twitter feed), Broder launches into Last Sext with the lines “Can you feel it?/ You are art and you are not art/ Yesterday I thought it was good to be dead,” setting the tone of the book. And while So Sad Today’s popularity rides on the funny universality of her daily experiences, Last Sext is carried by longing, fear, and the mystery of mortality - in an absolutely stunning way.


The Girls

The Girls
by Emma Cline

For her much-lauded debut novel, Emma Cline presents a story of a young girl (Evie) pulled into a life of freedom and abandon during the height of 60s hippiedom. When she becomes part of a cult mirroring that of the infamous Mansons, Evie’s story is told through tight prose that allows for the girlish nature of The Girls to blossom beyond the stereotypical coming-of-age format. And while the book has received its fair share of mixed reviews due to its hype, Cline’s debut is nonetheless something to behold.


I’m Just a Person

I’m Just a Person
by Tig Notaro

Few people have managed to turn tragedy into success quite like Tig Notaro. In the span of four months, she was hospitalized for an intestinal disease, her mother unexpectedly died, she went through a breakup, and then she was diagnosed with bilateral breast cancer. Through this trauma she has managed to establish herself as one of the most respected - and hilarious - stand-up comics today; her comedy pushing the boundaries of the taboo. In I’m Just a Person, Tig digs even deeper, allowing for new layers of her experiences to be unveiled. In short, it’s a wonderful - and ultimately cathartic - read.


Sex Criminal Volume 3

Sex Criminal Volume 3
by Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky

The third volume of the popular, bestselling bi-monthly comic Sex Criminals is - dare I say - sexier than ever. Continuing the storyline of two people who literally stop time during orgasm, writer Matt Fraction and artist Chip Zdarsky have expanded their universe to include even more time-stoppers. As expected, Volume Three carries their trademark hilarity into a new realm - allowing for the Sex Criminals to take us down the sinewy sci-fi path we’ve come to know and love.


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

June 15, 2016

Book Notes - Karl Jacoby "The Strange Career of William Ellis"

The Strange Career of William Ellis

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.

Karl Jacoby's book The Strange Career of William Ellis is a masterfully told and exhaustively researched story of William Ellis, an African American man who masqueraded as Mexican in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Booklist wrote of the book:

"[A] welcome and nuanced perspective to the racial history of the U.S. as well as a textured examination of the legacy of distrust between the United States and Mexico. …Ellis’ life is also a cracking good story, illustrated with intriguing photos and helpful maps topped off by an emotionally satisfying epilogue."

In his own words, here is Karl Jacoby's Book Notes music playlist for his book The Strange Career of William Ellis:



The Strange Career of William Ellis excavates the real-life adventures of one of the Gilded Age’s great border crossers. Born into slavery on a cotton plantation in south Texas, William Ellis reinvented himself after the Civil War as the fabulously wealthy Mexican banker Guillermo Eliseo. Yet even as moved among increasingly elite circles on both sides of the border, including New York’s Wall Street, he managed to keep his African American ancestry secret hidden from all but his closest confidants.

Revealing the story of someone who wanted to keep so many basic facts about his life hidden was, to put it mildly, a challenging undertaking. It involved archives in Mexico, the U.S., and Great Britain, as well as interviews with far-flung members of Ellis’s extended family. Little surprise that The Strange Career of William Ellis took me the better part of a decade to complete, during which time music helped me to imagine the many missing pieces of Ellis’s life.

1. Corey Harris, “Going to Brownsville.” My book opens with the horrors the “Second Middle Passage”: the forced migration of hundreds of thousands of enslaved African Americans from the upper South to deep South states like Texas, all because of King Cotton’s ceaseless demand for labor. What slave owners did not realize, however, is that by relocating to Texas, they were in fact facilitating the escape of their human property. Mexico had outlawed slavery long before the U.S., and so all an enslaved African American now had to do was make their way across the border to freedom in Mexico. Every time I listen to “Going to Brownsville,” I think about how Brownsville and other border towns beckoned to African Americans as portals to liberty.

Corey Harris (who went to college with my brother, Dean) is an astounding reinterpretator of country blues. Hearing him play without all the sonic distortions that early recording technology imposed on the founding figures of the blues is a revelation, one that underscores the abiding beauty and power of this music.


2. Neville Brothers, “Mystery Train.” Trains serve as a central motif in The Strange Career of William Ellis. As the pre-eminent technology of the late nineteenth century, the train transcended time and space in a way previously unimaginable, especially for African Americans just emerging from the stifling confines of slavery. The train is what made William Ellis’s life of reinvention possible, enabling him to leave his birthplace of Victoria, Texas, and move to a new locale, where no one knew him and he was free to reinvent himself as the Mexican Guillermo Eliseo. “Mystery Train” captures the sense of wonder that the train once possessed for Americans—the sense that one could go anywhere and, perhaps, be anyone.

There are lots of other versions of this song by everyone from Little Junior Parker to, of course, Elvis Presley. The Neville Brothers’ rendition is my favorite for its super-syncopated New Orleans funk.


3. Vicente Fernandez, “El Rey.” This song revels in the irony that, despite the fact that the singer is poor and alone, he still considers himself “El Rey” (the king). The young William Ellis possessed a similar attitude. Despite being born a slave, he saw himself as destined for something far grander than what the white world had planned for him. That this song is sung in Spanish makes it all the more appropriate, since Ellis spoke Spanish fluently and got his start by working as a translator for a white storeowner in Victoria.


4. Eric Bibb, “Boll Weevil.” Although most Americans think of the U.S. and Mexico in isolation from one another, there exist, as my book tries to illuminate, multiple powerful linkages between the two. One telling illustration of this reality can be found in the realm of ecology: the seemingly insignificant boll weevil. The boll weevil was a small black beetle native to Mexico. With the rise of U.S.-Mexico trade in the late nineteenth century, however, it rapidly expanded out of its homeland, crossing the border with Texas around 1892. A ravenous devourer of cotton plants, it devastated the southern plantations. Yet even as they watched cotton fields wither around them amid the bug’s onslaught, African Americans admitted to a certain grudging respect for this tiny bug that could bring low some of the South’s most powerful white planters—a perspective that comes out in “Boll Weevil.”

Many artists have recorded songs about the boll weevil, from Blind Willie McTell to Bobby Bare. Eric Bibb’s version, however, is one of my favorites—it feels at once classic yet modern.


5. Lin Manuel Miranda and Cast of Hamilton, “Alexander Hamilton.” I am, alas, probably the only person left in New York who has yet to see this show. Nonetheless, even I can recognize that the opening song from the musical’s soundtrack encapsulates the quintessential experience of moving to a new place and becoming a new person. It was in New York City where Ellis lived most of his life and most fully inhabited his alternative persona of Guillermo Eliseo, the fabulously wealthy Mexican banker. As the chorus to Hamilton puts it, “In New York, you can be a new man.”


6. Bert Williams / Johnny Cash, “Nobody.” William Ellis may have fooled white New York into believing that he was a Mexican named Guillermo Eliseo, but black New Yorkers knew better (although most were discreet about it while Ellis was alive). In Manhattan’s thriving black musical theater, however, there were several shows that made sly, veiled references to William Ellis. One of these was the 1906 production, “Abyssinia,” which featured Bert Williams, one of the era’s pre-eminent Vaudeville stars. His singing of “Nobody,” with its inimitable blend of humor and pathos, was one of the highlights of the show, and it went on to become Williams’s signature song.

I have included two versions here, Williams’s original and a recent reboot by one of my favorite artists, Johnny Cash.


7. Bruce Springsteen, “Brilliant Disguise.” Unlike most white guys my age, I am not a huge Bruce Springsteen fan. It is not really Bruce’s fault—I was a teenager when “Born in the USA” came out, and George Will’s, Ronald Reagan’s, and the loud frat brothers’ at my college shameless embrace of this song rubbed me the wrong way. It wasn’t until later that I realized how subversive Springsteen’s lyrics really were. “Brilliant Disguise” features similarly clever songwriting. At root, the song is about the social masks we all wear and the difficulty of discerning the real person beneath. Bruce was thinking of a romantic relationship gone wrong, but it applies equally well to William Ellis, who spent much of his life passing for someone else.

8. John Hiatt and Flaco Jimenez, “Across the Borderline.” This song, written by Ry Cooder, John Hiatt, and Jim Dickinson, originated as part of the soundtrack of the 1980 movie “The Border,” starring Jack Nicholson as a Border Patrol agent. It is the perfect song for someone like William Ellis, conveying as it does the bittersweet sense of hope and loss that border crossing involves. The song succeeds on so many levels—not only lyrically, but musically, too. Appropriately enough, the tune features a mix of country and Mexican musica norteña, topped off with the accordion stylings of the Tejano superstar, Flaco Jimenez.


9. Los Tigres del Norte, “América.” Los Tigres, with their songs about heartache, drug smugglers, and hard working immigrants, are the bards of the borderlands. I listened to lots and lots of their corridos over the decade that it took me to write The Strange Career of William Ellis. It was hard for me to select a favorite, but I eventually settled on “América.” One of its lines—“América es todo el continente” (“America is an entire continent”)—served as my inspiration for the blending together of Mexican and U.S. history that fills the pages of The Strange Career of William Ellis.


10. Sones de Mexico, “Esta Tierra es Tuya.” This spirited reinterpretation of Woody Guthrie’s classic shows how many of the questions that Guthrie raised about national belonging in 1940 remain with us even today.


Karl Jacoby and The Strange Career of William Ellis links:

the author's website

Kirkus review
Publishers Weekly review
Shelf Awareness review

Columbia Daily Spectator profile of the author
Deborah Kalb interview with the author
KSTX interview with the author
mySA profile of the author


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