June 12, 2018

Lee Martin's Playlist for His Short Story Collection "The Mutual UFO Network"

The Mutual UFO Network

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

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

Lee Martin explores the connections that bind us to each other in his short story collection The Mutual UFO Network.

Publishers Weekly wrote of the book:

"Martin cleverly exposes the fractures between husbands and wives, family and friends, in these twelve excellent stories of people lying to themselves because the truth is too painful to admit...a vivid, emotionally precise collection."


In his own words, here is Lee Martin's Book Notes music playlist for his short story collection The Mutual UFO Network:



In 1996, I published my first book, a story collection called The Least You Need to Know. I was of a generation of writers who believed in the power of a well-told short story. What I discovered after publishing that first book, though, was that editors wanted to see a novel. I have to confess that I never meant to write one, nor did I think that I'd eventually begin writing creative nonfiction, but that's exactly what happened. Now, twenty-two years, five novels, three memoirs, and a craft book later, I'm pleased to say that Dzanc Books is publishing my second story collection, The Mutual UFO Network.

I never stopped writing short stories, you see, and finally the time was right to bring out this second collection. The oldest story in the collection was first published in 1997. The most recent story appeared in 2014. Putting the collection together provided an interesting trip through that seventeen-year time span. I'd like to introduce you to my new book with a playlist that highlights some of the stories and their connections to songs that were popular at the time of each story's publication. By so doing, I'm hoping to give you a sense of where we were socially, culturally, and perhaps even politically over the past seventeen years.


1997: "Candle in the Wind"/ "Something about the Way You Look Tonight" by Elton John

This song, originally written in memory of Marilyn Monroe, found a new audience in 1997 with the death of Princess Diana. Elton John performed a rewritten version at Diana's Westminster Abbey funeral service, and the song enjoyed a second popularity as part of a double A-sided single, along with "Something about the Way You Look Tonight." The simultaneous combination of loss and love that this song pairing evokes is the same feeling in my story, "Bad Family," a story about a Chinese woman who finds herself mailing threatening messages to her ex-husband and his new wife even while offering them a place to live when the fear becomes too great for them. At the end of the story, the woman, Lily, remembers cutting letters from newspapers, and she comes to a startling realization: "She sees the letters in her mind, scrambled, swirling, into words she hadn't thought to form: ‘LOVE,' ‘ME,' ‘NOW.'" This is a story about the homes we make when the ones we thought were ours disappear.


1998: "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing" by Aerosmith

In March of 1998, NASA announced that the Clementine probe had found enough water in polar craters to support a human colony and a rocket fueling station on the moon. Our vision was still skyward. On the silver screen, Armageddon, told the story of a group of deep-core drillers sent to stop a gigantic asteroid on a collision course with Earth. This Aerosmith song provided the power ballad for the love story in the film. Apparently we still believed in love even in the shadow of coming disaster. Sometimes we believe what we believe, as is the case in the title story from my collection. "The Mutual UFO Network" tells the story of a teenage boy whose family has come apart because of his father's business that markets fake videotapes meant to provide evidence of extraterrestrial life. "I began to wonder," the teenage narrator says at one point, "what would happen if someone you thought you knew slipped away into another world. How far would love carry you if you wanted to follow? What if that person turned out to be you?"


1999: "Livin' La Vida Loca" by Ricky Martin

Ricky Martin's song began the Latin pop explosion of 1999. "She'll make you take your clothes off and go dancing in the rain," so says one of the lyrics. Indeed, in 1999, we were living the crazy life. In January of that year, the impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton, who first claimed he "did not have sexual relations with that woman—Miss Lewinsky"—began. A cigar, a semen-stained blue dress. What may have been private in the philandering of past presidents was now on the evening news. The private meets the public in my story, "White Dwarfs," a story about a man whose wife has gone missing. At the end of the story, the man, after boxing up his wife's clothing to take to the Salvation Army Thrift Store, fantasizes about one day coming upon a woman wearing some of those clothes. "He liked to think that he and this woman might pass someday on the street, and he would stand there, amazed, unable to tell her how thankful he was that out of all the possible junctions in the universe they had ended up there, the two of them, moving for just that instant, at last, through the same space."


2000: "Breathe" by Faith Hill

Y2K. Remember the anxiety and dread? Power grids would shut off, planes would fall from the sky, computers would crash, banks would fail. It would be THE END OF THE WORLD. Only it wasn't. We entered the new year without a glitch, and finally, we could breathe a sigh of relief. Faith Hill's song captures the purity of breath, the purity of love. Belle, the elderly widow at the center of my story, "Love Field," encounters a feisty young girl who challenges her perception of love. This story of accommodation and sacrifice ends with Belle recalling when she and her husband lived near the Dallas airport, Love Field, and the racket the planes made. "What can we do?" her husband had said with a shrug of his shoulders. "So little us. So much Love." Sometimes, as with my character, Belle, a tick of the clock takes us, not to the disaster we've feared, but to a moment of goodness.


2003: "Forever and for Always" by Shania Twain

Our country, particularly my native rural Midwest was in the midst of a methamphetamine nightmare, and our post-9/11 world had challenged our connections to one another. My story, "Dummies, Shakers, Barkers, Wanderers," along with my 2005 story, "The Dead in Paradise," uses the meth epidemic as a way of looking at what persists when it comes to love in times of trial. In "The Dead in Paradise" a grieving father lets greed get the best of him only to realize that, when it comes to money, "there's never enough of it to stop all the heartache in the world and never enough of it to stop us from trying." In "Dummies, Shakers, Barkers, Wanderers," a mother refuses to turn away from her addicted son. "She told herself there were days and days ahead of them—days and weeks and months and years—time enough for anything to happen." Shania Twain's song speaks of a similar devotion.


2010: "Can't Be Tamed" by Miley Cyrus

A new generation had arrived, one that refused to be silenced, refused to, as Miley Cyrus made clear, be tamed. We'd also fully reached the era of social media which became—and continues to be, despite its problems and risks, an influential tool for those millennials no longer willing to tolerate injustice. My story, "Drunk Girl in Stilettos" came about one night in Nacogdoches, Texas, when my wife, after a drink at an outdoor jazz concert, stumbled in her high heels. "Guess I'm just a drunk girl in stilettos," she said. It was the first time I wrote a story to fit a title. The young girl in my story, assisted by a recovering alcoholic, refuses to be tamed. What's more, she refuses to be stereotyped. She shows up hung over on the day of her father's wake to be reunited with her mother who's threatened to disown her. The narrator says, "I just remember seeing her mama easing up beside her at the casket. She put her arms out and gathered her in, her little girl—the one she'd sworn she'd disown—and they held onto each other."


2014: "Say Something" by A Great Big World and Christina Aguilera

In 2014, the GOP took control of the Senate in the midterm elections. Also that year, a police officer shot an unarmed black teen named Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, one of many such unfortunate stories to come. We were on the doorstep of where we are now as far as human rights. We were about to witness the Black Lives Matter movement, the Me Too movement, the Time's Up movement, and the March for Our Lives. We stand now in a polarized and chaotic world. "Say Something," a song that expresses a desperate plea for love seems particularly timely, so much so that it seems the perfect song for my story "A Man Looking for Trouble," even though that story is set in 1972. A boy and girl find love in the shadow of the illicit affair between his mother and her father. A set of tragic circumstances makes it impossible for that love to continue. The ugliness of the adult world intrudes and ruins everything. At the end of the story, the girls' grandparents have arrived to take her away from this little Illinois town. The boy and girl are embracing for the last time. "And we had that instant longer," the boy says. "That instant alone at the end of a story that was never meant to be ours."

The characters in The Mutual UFO Network may seem alien to one another, but always the desire for connection beats in their hearts. These stories share what I hope we as a people share, the persistence to find love even in times of trouble.


Lee Martin and The Mutual UFO Network links:

the author's website
the author's Wikipedia page

Kirkus review
PopMatters review
Publishers Weekly review

Largehearted Boy Book Notes playlist by the author for Break the Skin
Largehearted Boy Book Notes playlist by the author for The Bright Forever


also at Largehearted Boy:

Support the Largehearted Boy website

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

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

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June 12, 2018

Shorties (The Best Novels of 2018 So Far, Recommended Music Books for Summer Reading, and more)

Asymmetry

TIME listed the best novels and nonfiction of the year (so far).


Pitchfork recommended new music books to read this summer.


eBook on sale for $2.99 today:

The Wangs vs. the World by Jade Chang


Longreads interviewed singer-songwriter Neko Case.


Politico examined the history of fiction written by presidents.


Stream two new Spiritualized songs.


3:AM Magazine interviewed Russian author Alisa Ganieva.


Okkervil River visited The Current studio for an interview and live performance.


McSweeney's features a new essay by Sarah Gerard.


Stream a new LVL UP song.


The New York Times profiled author Sayaka Murata.


Popmatters interviewed Brian DeGraw of Gang Gang Dance.


Bon Appetit recommended non-cookbook food books to read this summer.


Stream a new Essex Green song.


Salon interviewed author A. M. Homes.


Eels covered Prince's "Raspberry Beret."


The Guardian interviewed author Garrard Conley.


Stream new music from Japanese Breakfast.


Joseph O'Neill shared tips on reading like a writer at Signature.


Hazlitt interviewed author Melissa Broder.


Granta recommended novels written by poets.


VQR features a new short story by Carmen Maria Machado.



also at Largehearted Boy:

Support Largehearted Boy

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

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

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

June 11, 2018

Adrienne Sharp's Playlist for Her Novel "The Magnificent Esme Wells"

The Magnificent Esme Wells

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

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

Adrienne Sharp's novel The Magnificent Esme Wells is an entertaining and poignant coming of age story.

Booklist wrote of the book:

"Esme's dramatic and irresistible story sparkles with psychological nuance, sumptuous detail, and vivid historical perceptions as Sharp tracks the high wattage success and violence of tough Jews building movie and casino empires while Hitler bloodied Europe. With real-life figures, mushroom clouds rising from desert test sites, and arresting insights into the power and vulnerability of a daring woman performer, Sharp’s novel, like Jennifer Egan’s Manhattan Beach (2017), is propulsive and profound."


In her own words, here is Adrienne Sharp's Book Notes music playlist for her novel The Magnificent Esme Wells:



In my recently published novel, The Magnificent Esme Wells, I write about the gorgeous young daughter of two gorgeous reckless parents who care more about their own ambitions than anything or anyone else, including Esme. When the novel opens, Esme’s mother is a Busby Berkeley dancer at MGM, strutting the glossy soundstages in her sequins and satin bows, and her father is a low-level bookie who haunts the racetracks of 1939 Los Angeles. Esme is a six-year-old soundstage rat (a school truant with her snarled hair and her arms strung with twenty of her mother’s bracelets and bangles), and wherever she follows her mother on the lot there is music.

“The Shadow Waltz,” sung by Ruby Keeler and Dick Powell in the film Gold Diggers of 1933, finds itself the occasion for one of Busby Berkeley’s most famous and elaborate dance numbers, and Esme’s mother was one of his dancers, all of whom are attired in platinum blonde wigs and white chiffon bell-shaped dresses and who pretend to play illuminated violins as they assume various shapes and patterns, filmed from twenty-feet above, camera then sweeping alongside them and up a twisted staircase, rattled during one afternoon of filming by an earthquake that plunged the soundstage into darkness. The song possesses an oddly melancholy set of lyrics, but the choreography and the gimmicks Buzz loved to use don’t really seem to reflect that. In my novel, though, the mournful lines from the song speak of “Shadows on the wall/I can see them fall,” and Esme keeps a photograph of her mother costumed for that number taped to her dressing room wall, her mother more siren than protector and certainly a shadow. By this point in the novel, her mother has been dead a dozen years. “Here I am/Where are you?” Her mother died in 1939, while sitting next to the six-year-old Esme in a movie theater, quietly hemorrhaging to death after undergoing an illegal abortion at one of MOBSTER Ben Siegel’s Los Angeles abortion parlors. Esme, who realizes her mother has quietly passed away, arranges her mother’s arm around her and sits there close to her through the second part of the double feature. “Take me in your arms and let me cling to you.” Which is exactly what Esme does.

“Hotel California” is not a song mentioned in my book, but the Eagle’s haunting Spanish-inflected guitar music and the mention of the mission bell powerfully calls up early Los Angeles and the Spanish colonial structures that fleck every pocket of the city and its outskirts, even the Camarillo State Mental hospital, where Esme’s mother is briefly institutionalized. It has the ubiquitous bell tower, the white washed walls, the black iron work, and the tiled courtyards of every mission that once lured hungry natives to its kitchens and to its theology. The hospital is nestled between strawberry fields in Ventura County, where you can smell but not see the Pacific. The site, where men and women once bunked in locked wards and where therapies like farming, livestock raising, insulin shock and electric shock and hydrotherapy baths were once prescribed, is now Cal State Channel Islands, but not much about the physical plant has changed. It’s to this hospital Esme’s mother is sent following her breakdown after her father’s death and where she babbles about swaddled babies tucked high up in the treetops, after which Esme is plagued by dreams of her mother climbing the bell tower and trying to fly, trying to rescue those abandoned babies. Only when she is older does Esme understand her mother was worrying about the daughter she left stranded, Esme herself.

After her mother’s death, Esme and her father move to Las Vegas, a nascent city soaked in light and music, to help Ben Siegel launch his Flamingo Club.

“Ragtime Cowboy Joe,” a 1912 tune with lyrics by Grant Clarke, is the song Esme performs when she and her father and Bugsy Siegel drive out to see the future site of the Flamingo hotel on what would eventually become the Las Vegas Strip but is then just a two-lane highway through the desert, and the Flamingo is nowhere, nothing, just a sandy few acres with an old crumbling motel, abandoned long ago. But Siegel and Esme’s dad are full of plans, and eventually Siegel invites the red-faced, overheated, bored out of her mind and miserable Esme to sing right on the spot where the Flamingo Club’s stage will eventually be built. To please him, she dances to and sings the “Cowboy Joe” song she’s been practicing back in Hollywood at Daddy Mack’s studio, a song about a cowman who sings his sheep and cattle to sleep and dances a mean ragtime while packing a 44. “He’s a high falutin’, rootin’, shootin’/Son of a gun from Arizona, Ragtime Cowboy Joe.” Esme’s rendition is complete with hee haws and simulated ropings of cows. It’s a hootenanny. Because old Las Vegas was full of cowboys in their pointy-toed boots and red bandanas hitting the Glitter Gulch and the whore houses on Block 16, she thought the song would please Benny. But Siegel isn’t pleased—his vision of Vegas is a gleaming piece of Hollywood, a shining anomaly in the sandy desert, his new Vegas, and Esme was singing about the enemy, the old ranching Vegas, which will soon confront and be subsumed by this new Vegas very much against its will.

In the late forties and early 1950s, the Strip musicians would gather at the parking lot of Chuck’s House of Spirits to unwind after playing two shows and an extra late night gig. They’d sit on the hoods of their cars and drink the liquor they’d bought and talk music until dawn. In the showrooms, the singers and comics—Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Joey Bishop, Rose Marie—would mingle with the showgirls who shared their stages and the band members who accompanied them. Some of that music made its way into my novel.

“Near You” is an Andrews Sisters hit of 1947 and in the novel the sisters perform the song for a small audience of mobsters at a dress rehearsal just before the Flamingo reopens in early spring. Siegel’s casino opened just after Christmas in 1946, and it lost so much money that night and over the next few months that Meyer Lansky (who hated Las Vegas and thought it a burning Hell, which didn’t stop him from investing in it) shut the place down and flew to town to inspect every nook and cranny of the hotel and its books before the place reopened—and one of the nooks and crannies he inspects is the showroom and its show. To the rendition of “Near You,” my character Esme, who has by now been promoted by Siegel against her father’s wishes from cigarette girl to Flamingo dancer, begins dancing some sinuous precursor of the type of burlesque work she will soon enough be performing on the Desert Inn stage. She’s bored by the old school sounds of the Andrews Sisters and by their cheerful presentation. Vegas, she thinks, should be about something different. So she twists languorously to “There’s just one place for me/Near you,” and the man near her in the empty nightclub, watching her, is Nate Stein, a mobster from Detroit. And once he takes her, he will always keep her near, never let her go and Vegas becomes “a special kind of heaven,” for her, “but only when I’m near you.” When she eventually tries to leave Nate, her find her good fortune and her father’s good fortune are stolen from them. But she doesn’t know that yet. For now she’s dressed like a piece of candy in a candy-colored costume, her face orange with Pan-Cake and her lashes an elongated black, her hair as long as a child’s. She’s fifteen, half girl, half woman, and in that moment she makes the transition from one thing to the other, from girlhood to womanhood, from powerlessness to a certain kind of power, adulthood with all its treacherous pleasures.

And finally, “This Town,” recorded by Frank Sinatra in 1967, his voice dark and bitter, seems to be the anthem for the Las Vegas Esme and her father find in my novel. “This town is a use-you-town/An abuse-you-town until you’re-down town.” The history of Las Vegas is a history of the murders of men who have seen their usefulness expire, and Esme watches a seemingly endless parade of men shot, car bombed, ice-picked, blow torched, or poisoned for their crimes of thievery and greed by men even greedier and more thieving than they are. And she observes, as well, the expiration date of a parade of women, some of whom walk away from their men once they fully apprehend their demonic dimensions, others of whom find themselves exchanged for a younger model. In Vegas, youth and beauty are a woman’s only source of power, and sooner or later, therefore, they are stripped of their feathers and sequins, plied with support hose, and pushed off the showroom stage and into the hotel coffee shop. From showgirl to waitress. Everybody is used, everybody is expendable, the desire for money and control is valued above human life itself. Esme could sing the lyrics “It’s a miserable town/And I am leaving this town,” at the end of the novel, where, following her father’s murder, she turns her car away from the Strip and the glare of one of those above ground nuclear tests whose luminosity rivals the morning sun, heading east, fleeing the dirty radiant light.


Adrienne Sharp and The Magnificent Esme Wells links:

Booklist review
Kirkus review
Publishers Weekly review

CarolineLeavittville interview with the author
Publishers Weekly profile of the author


also at Largehearted Boy:

Support the Largehearted Boy website

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

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

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

Shorties (Édouard Louis Interviewed, The Literary Influences Behind David Bowie's Space Oddity Album, and more)

History of Violence

Édouard Louis discussed his novel History of Violence with the Guardian.


Signature explored the literary influences behind David Bowie's Space Oddity album.


Vol. 1 Brooklyn features new short fiction by Kurt Baumeister.


Stream and/or download Priests’ Katie Alice Greer Dixie Chicks covers album.


The New Republic examined the surge in poetry's popularity and social media's influence.


Caroline Rose visited The Current studio for an interview and live performance.


The Millions has a new Lynn Steger Strong essay.


Drowned in Sound interviewed members of the band Wand.


Lesley Nneka Arimah has been awarded the NYPL Young Lions Award for her novel What It Means What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky.


St. Vincent covered Tool's "Forty Six & 2."


Elizabeth Rush discussed her book Rising: Dispatches from the New American Shore with Longreads.


Read Anthony Bourdain's essay on NYC's 1997 music scene at SPIN.


The White Review interviewed poet Danez Smith.


Snail Mail covered Coldplay's "Speed of Sound."


Electric Literature shared a new short story by Ben Loory.


Weekend Edition interviewed singer-songwriter Neko Case.


Curtis Sittenfeld discussed her favorite novels at Vulture.


Weekend Edition profiled the inventor of the Maestro Fuzz-Tone FZ-1 guitar pedal.

Rock and roll music isn't supposed to be pretty. It has grit and grime; fuzz and feedback. It's dirty and imperfect. Much of that characteristic sound came from the accidental invention of the Maestro Fuzz-Tone FZ-1. The fuzzy tone, immortalized in The Rolling Stones' "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction," came from a guitar effects box invented by Nashville studio engineer Glenn Snoddy, who died May 21.


Tara Isabella Burton recommended books with toxic relationships at Electric Literature.


The New York Times recommended books by Anthony Bourdain.


Abdi Nor Iftin discussed his memoir Call Me American with Weekend Edition.


WAMU interviewed author Andrew Sean Greer.


Literary Hub listed books you may have overlooked in May.


Literary Hub listed the best villains in literature.


The New Yorker interviewed Weike Wang about her story in this week's issue.



also at Largehearted Boy:

Support Largehearted Boy

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

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

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

June 8, 2018

Debra Jo Immergut's Playlist for Her Novel "The Captives"

The Captives

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

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

Debra Jo Immergut's debut novel The Captives is an impressive literary psychological thriller.

Booklist wrote of the book:

"With its see-saw of quixotic emotions, Immergut’s stunning debut is a taut psychological drama that explores [her characters’] nuanced contemplation of an unimaginable future and an unspeakable past."


In her own words, here is Debra Jo Immergut's Book Notes music playlist for her debut novel The Captives:



In the first few pages of my new novel, The Captives, Frank, a prison psychologist, reveals a memory of Miranda, an inmate and his long-ago high-school crush, that plays like "a sticky school-era radio hook," on eternal rotation in some deep crevice of his mind. It's no coincidence that the story begins with the notion that a person can linger in your brain like an unforgettable pop song. I am a chronic earworm sufferer myself, always spinning music in my head, and it often spills into my writing.

The Captives is a literary thriller that traces a twisty path over a dark terrain of gender power struggles, criminal justice and injustice, corrupt politicians, and everlasting young love. When Frank and Miranda, the story's star-crossed classmates, reunite in their 30s in the highly charged setting of prison, both are haunted by their pasts--and by the music of their youth. Frank soothes his frazzled nerves with large doses of classic-rock radio, while Miranda hears old songs echoing through her memories during long lonely nights in lock-up. Their shared adolescence leads them to a dangerous fate as adults; their soundtrack, as represented by the playlist here, combines equal parts teenage sentimentality and very grown-up lust and foreboding.

The list starts with four slices of quintessential 1970s cheese. These songs, plus the Stevie Wonder track, are quoted in the novel's pages-- pop hits simply so sticky that they brazenly imposed themselves, as such tunes will do, while I was typing along. The other songs are the ones I replayed most often as I wrote and revised. I drew from their deep wells of emotion for my tale of two hungry-for-love humans struggling to free themselves from real and imagined bonds.


Playground In My Mind - Clint Holmes
Earworm number 1. Listen with caution. The Captives mostly takes place in a New York State prison, where Miranda is incarcerated and also a prisoner to the constant din of other people in close quarters. She overhears someone singing the refrain--"My name is Michael, I've got a nickel." With its faint undertone of creepiness, this utterly insane tune has been tattooed on my brain since I first heard it in elementary school.

If You Leave Me Now - Chicago
Chicago's radio fodder was inescapable during my growing up years--and I disdained it. But when I was writing about Miranda's tween years and the tragic death of her 16-year-old sister Amy, this wistful, gorgeously saccharine melody flooded my mind, and so it floods Miranda's mind too, when she thinks of Amy. I have to admit, I've become a bit obsessed with this song now--as redolent of my girlhood as a roll-on tube of Dr. Pepper-flavored lip gloss.

Take It Easy - The Eagles
I prefer the Jackson Browne original, but this cover version is definitely the one playing on oldies radio in the basement of the Nove Skopje restaurant in Queens, owned by Jimmy, the main heavy of my story. I think his henchman, a Macedonian cook who doubles as a forger of counterfeit passports, would definitely be a fan of classic California album-oriented rock.

Love the One You're With - Isley Brothers
The original version by Stephen Stills was the big radio hit, but wow, this cover by the Isleys is so much better, so let's go with it. This anthem of the sexual revolution is playing in Frank's car as he and his junkie little brother Clyde are zooming through a rainy December night on an urgent mission that cannot here be revealed.

I Was Made to Love Her - Stevie Wonder
If my novels were songs, I'd want them to be exactly like Stevie Wonder tunes--simple on the surface but deeply evocative, precise but lush, idiosyncratic but universal. Again, this one is playing in Frank's car radio--and this eternally fresh ode to young romance would make him think of his then-and-now object of adoration, Miranda.

Shotgun Down the Avalanche - Shawn Colvin
The Captives is set in the 1990s, and I first dreamed up the idea for the novel then. I listened to this 1989 song constantly during the time I was writing the first drafts--the idea of "riding shotgun down the avalanche" is a neat encapsulation of a dangerous love, two people on a perilous ride together.

Barely Breathing - Duncan Sheik
Here's another 1990s song that I dove into again and again--a genius take on obsessive, not-really-requited love. Thank you, Duncan Sheik, wherever you are, for writing the this one line that sums ups my two main characters--and pretty much all the fiction I've ever written and ever will write: "I don't suppose it's worth the price that I would pay...but I'm thinking it over anyway."

Sullen Girl - Fiona Apple
I was blown away by Tidal, the album of Apple's adolescence, when it came out, and I still marvel at the shocking honesty of the lyrics and the ravishing, bold music. This track--an oceanic epic of loneliness and passion--is such a pure distillation of the unsettling experience of being a young woman--and it could be Miranda's theme song.

Ship to Wreck - Florence and the Machine
I have a weakness for watery metaphors, and like "Sullen Girl," this powerful song instantly summons Miranda for me---first, the mention of sleeping pills, which play a key role in her narrative, but even more the regrets and the voyaging toward self-determination, even if it means leaving a trail of wreckage in her wake.

The River - Son Little
Yet another water-soaked song. It's urgent, sexy, dark. What's not to love? I saw the charismatic Son Little play in a tiny place in my hometown of Northampton, and when I heard this, I could picture it in the film version of my story--the perfect soundtrack to Frank's longing for Miranda, Miranda's enthrallment with the elusive Duncan. It's a song about the kind of desire that make consequences seem inconsequential.

Deep Dark Truthful Mirror - Elvis Costello
Like so many writers, I'm a huge fan of the man, one of the great wordsmiths of our time. In his vast catalogue, there's a tune to fit any story or mood. I'll choose this one to include for its all-purpose inspiration--because what is fiction but a deep, dark truthful mirror?


Debra Jo Immergut and The Captives links:

the author's website
excerpt from the book

Criminal Element review
Kirkus review
Publishers Weekly review


also at Largehearted Boy:

Support the Largehearted Boy website

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

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

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Curtis Smith's Playlist for His Novel "Lovepain"

Lovepain

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

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

Curtis Smith's novel Lovepain is rich in language and storytelling.

Amber Sparks wrote of the book:

"Curtis Smith writes like Hemingway and Denis Johnson’s love child—that is to say, he writes men in need, strong and yet wanting, and with a compassion for the broken people that serve not as the margins but the centers of their stories. And all in lean, elegant prose that kills with kinetic energy and beauty."


In his own words, here is Curtis Smith's Book Notes music playlist for his novel Lovepain:



"Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall" Bob Dylan
The novel begins with a storm. Across town, limbs fall from trees and shingles are blown from roofs. Rivers and streams inch toward their crest. Poor Eli and his son Mark survive the night only to wake into a day where the foundation of their lives has been washed away.

"Love Will Tear Us Apart" Joy Division
Eli's marriage disintegrates in the storm. He's blindsided. Numb. He swallows back his hurt in the struggle to keep his life together—if not for himself then for his son. But beneath, Eli is ripped in two, exiled from the life he'd taken for granted. His bedroom so cold. His timing flawed.

"The Blue Mask" Lou Reed
Beneath Eli's workaday calm and the love he shows his son waits the blue mask. Anger. Jealousy. He can't hide the mask forever. There are eruptions—fistfights, blood, episodes of rage that leave Eli shaken by spent adrenaline and by the knowledge of the man he's capable of being.

"Sway" The Rolling Stones
Eli's wife Kate disappears, lost again to her addictions. Sober for years, she crumbles, crying in a supermarket aisle, losing her temper at a children's soccer game. She wants to fold into herself and fade away. She wants to negate her present and her past. She gives up all that she once loved to the demon life that's got her in its sway.

"Air" from Bach's Orchestral Suite No. 3 in D Major
With his son, Eli's patience is nearly infinite. He protects the boy's heart, answering every question except the one that matters most. They breathe, the moments delicate, a balancing as ethereal and beautiful as any Johann Sebastian could ever imagine. The boy longs to take to the air with the birds he loves. His father simply wants to maintain the balance he knows will soon crumble all around them.

"The Baby Tree" Paul Kanter and Jefferson Starship
Eli is a social worker, and as his family falls apart, he reaches out to a special client. He's seen Zoe through addiction and recovery and relapse. He throws her ropes, and finally, she begins to pull herself ashore, and when she arrives, she has special news. Her life is going to change. She knows it. She feels it.

"Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" Judy Garland
Eli can't keep the truth from his son forever. The boy's mother is gone, and no, he can't say when she'll return. The boy's heart is ever-hopeful. Sure, they're not all together this year, but perhaps next year all their troubles will be far away. There's always hope, dad.

"I'll Fly Away" Johnny Cash
Mark is not your typical boy. He's kind. Curious. A bit obsessive. His current fascination—birds. His grandmother makes him a pair of boy-sized wings for Halloween. The boy yearns to fly. His father, at times, also desires to spread his wings and leave his troubles behind.

"Good Night" The Beatles
Eli puts Mark to bed. Each night, the boy's old life fades. Each morning he wakes into a reality ever-more distant from the mother he longs for. All Eli can do is kiss his boy goodnight and wish him sweet dreams. All he can do is promise he'll be there when the morning comes.

"At the Zoo" Simon and Garfunkel
Father and son walk through the zoo on a quiet, snowy day. Both are bandaged and bruised. Both understand the pain of love. All of us in our cages, together and alone. I do believe it. I do believe it's true.


Curtis Smith and Lovepain links:

Evilcyclist review
Small Press Reviews review

Change Seven interview with the author
Largehearted Boy playlist by the author for his book Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five


also at Largehearted Boy:

Support the Largehearted Boy website

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

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

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This Week's Interesting Music Releases - June 8, 2018

Snail Mail

Snail Mail's debut album Lush is a lo-fi gem.

Hilary Woods' inventive Colt is the other new album I can recommend.

Vinyl reissues include three Liz Phair albums (Liz Phair, Whip-Smart, Whitechocolatespaceegg) and a remastered edition of Tom Waits' Small Change.


This week's interesting music releases:


AC/DC: The Bon Scott Years
Ali Shaheed Muhammed and Adrian Younge: The Midnight Hour
Beach Boys: With The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Black Sabbath: Supersonic Years: The Seventies Singles (10-7" singles box set) [vinyl]
Boy Azooga: 1, 2 Kung Fu!
Colin Stetson: Hereditary (soundtrack)
Dave Matthews Band: Come Tomorrow
Dierks Bentley: The Mountain
DJ Radical: Kids See Ghost
Dwarves: Born Again (reissue) [vinyl]
Eric Clapton: Life in 12 Bars
Erin Rae: Putting on Airs
The Fall: Levitate (expanded) [vinyl]
Flasher: Constant Image
The Get Up Kids: Kicker
Ghost: Opus Eponymous
Gruff Rhys: Babelsberg
Hilary Woods: Colt
Jorja Smith: Lost & Found
Kadhja Bonet: Childqueen
Leonard Cohen: Austin City Limits
Lily Allen: No Shame
Liz Phair: Liz Phair (reissue) [vinyl]
Liz Phair: Whip-Smart (reissue) [vinyl]
Liz Phair: Whitechocolatespaceegg (reissue) [vinyl]
Lykke Li: So Sad So Sexy
Madonna: The Immaculate Collection (reissue) [vinyl]
Megadeth: Killing Is My Business...And Business Is Good - The Final Kill
Moonchild: Voyager [vinyl]
The Mother Hips: Chorus
Paul Simon: Hearts and Bones (reissue) [vinyl]
Paul Simon: The Paul Simon Songbook (reissue) [vinyl]
Pllush: Stranger to the Pain
Roger Daltrey: As Long As I Have You [vinyl]
Snail Mail: Lush
Sugarland: Bigger
Sun Ra: The Early Albums Collection 1957-1963
Tiger! Tiger!: Backing the Wrong Horse
Tom Waits: Small Change (remastered) [vinyl]
Various Artists: Banana Split For My Baby: 33 Rockin' Tracks From The Good Old Summertime
Various Artists: Beside Bowie: The Mick Ronson Story: The Soundtrack
Various Artists: On the Soul Side
Various Artists: Paris in the Spring
Various Artists: She's Selling What She Used To Give Away
Violent Femmes: Violent Femmes (reissue) [vinyl]


also at Largehearted Boy:

Support Largehearted Boy

weekly music release lists

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

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

Shorties (The Best Comics of the Year So Far, The Musical Legacy of Dead Can Dance, and more)

Why Art

Vulture listed the best comics of the year (so far).


The Quietus considered the musical legacy of Dead Can Dance.


June's issue of Words Without Borders offers perspectives on contemporary queer life.


Alice in Chains' Jerry Cantrell reconsidered the band's five albums at Noisey.


R.I.P., Anthony Bourdain.


Gorilla Vs. Bear listed its favorite albums and songs of the year (so far).


Michelle Tea recommended essential books about contemporary queer life in America at Publishers Weekly.


Hilary Woods broke down her debut album Colt track-by-track at Drowned in Sound.


Zinzi Clemmons discussed her novel What We Lose with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.


Stream a new Interpol song.


OkayAfrica recommended books by African writers for summer reading.


The Current shared a playlist of essential Prince songs.


Marwan Hisham and Molly Crabapple discussed their book Brothers of the Gun with BOMB.


Stream a new song by Julie Byrne and Eric Littmann.


A musical featuring the songs of Bob Dylan will make its American debut in September.


The Baltimore Sun profiled Snail Mail's Lindsey Jordan.


Signature listed the best books from the 1970s.


Stereogum profiled the band Deafheaven.


The OTHERPPL podcast interviewed author Aja Gabel.


PopMatters interviewed Eliades Ochoa and Nick Gold of Buena Vista Social Club.


Debra Jo Immergut talked to The Rumpus about er debut novel The Captives.



also at Largehearted Boy:

Support Largehearted Boy

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

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

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

June 7, 2018

Karen Finley's Playlist for Her Book "Grabbing Pussy"

Grabbing Pussy

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

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

Karen Finley's book Grabbing Pussy is as thought-provoking as her performance art. Based on her performance piece Unicorn Gratitude Mystery, this collection of prose and poetry is timely, funny, and poignant.

Hyperallergic wrote of the book:

"With irreverent humor and searing insight, Finley tackles our current political miasma."


In her own words, here is Karen Finley's Book Notes music playlist for her book Grabbing Pussy:



Grabbing Pussy is a poetic political text of humor, resistance and rage exposing the language and symbols reflecting on the indecent course of events for leadership, a genital election display, corruption that shadows US policy. The text weaves sarcasm and emotional transgressive relations of body, soul, memory and Freudian euphemism. The abuse of power, narcissism, borders, espionage, neoliberalism and family dynamics with the Clintons, Trumps and supporting players with Comey and Scaramucci and side contributors. The search for meaning, the interpreting of recent US politics with an overall craziness, with psychodrama, abusive accusations, sexual undoing and wit. The book travels through the heated exchanges, triggers, symbols and words and the deeper embodiment behind the bombardment of language cruelty. Grabbing Pussy is about taking language back, speaking up and out with agency, protest and resistance.

How do we listen for the words for us to write, yet allow the sounds that inspire and move us with our craft? I listened to music while writing the book but I also refer to sound that relates to the themes or environment of the text. This double or triple application of sound as companion for the book suits the complexity of the focus. Music as retreat, music as environment, music as embodiment., music as subtext.

Silence – listening and selective playing. There is so much sound and noise that at times I would alternate between listening to trees, birds, trains and traffic and going through my vinyl collection. I wouldn't select but just go in order in sequence.


Pussy Power

Throughout the book I reference Pussy – as a space of protection, shaming, containment, divinity and com/passion. While writing the section Pussy Power I listened to both music that speaks about Pussy but also Pussy as a space of speaking out. The text addresses hypermasculinity – the fear to sublimate male to male desire. In Grabbing Pussy, I list the many euphemisms that are both derogatory and endearing while taking back our body, our selves.


Two Cats by Linsey Alexander



It was a joy and privilege of seeing Linsey Alexander live in Chicago at the Kingston Mines while I was editing the book. I just love his double entendre, humor, life and musical force of his composition. In this song Two Cats – Alexander playfully refers to the two Cats- as Pussy in the front room and Pussy in the back. His pussy poetics celebrate the c word. The audience was electric and went wild for Linsey Alexander who playfully articulated the unsaid while saying it. Don't miss the opportunity to hear this artist live!

Pussy Riot




The music and guerilla art performance collective Pussy Riot has been an inspiration for their courage, standing up and paying the ultimate price of incarceration for their art activism .In 2011, 5 members of Pussy Riot performed inside Moscow's Cathedral of Christ the Savior protesting the relationship to Putin and the church. I have participated in some activities related to the group. In particular I was in conversation with Masha Alekhina ( a member) for an event at Hallwalls in Buffalo, NY. Masha made a point in saying that it isn't enough to just laugh at the power– to mock Trump, that citizens in Russia would laugh at Putin, and that it is dangerous to turn a corruption into a laughing matter.

Tales of Taboo by Karen Finley

I created and sang the words to this dance techno beat song in the mid eighties with producer Mark Kamins. At that time pussy or strong language wasn't directly said in music. This song is played when I perform in Unicorn Gratitude Mystery.

Further Pussy Listening:

The Power of Pussy by Bongwater'



This 1990 album with a companion music video of the album title hilariously and poignantly parodies the over the top emphasis of sexual lyrics. Created during the AIDS crisis the cry for pussy and all its (W)hole meaning becomes a political and social marker of the staying power of pussy.

Blue Dress

In the section Blue Dress where I review the psyche and symbolism of the blue dress worn by Monica Lewinsky ( the 21 year old intern who had an affair with Bill Clinton in the White House) while she was literally engaged sexual encounter with Clinton. Lewinsky kept the blue dress with his semen and it was used as evidence during the trial. The writing takes blueness as a feeling, a human condition, a blue landscape to ejaculate upon. And to consider deeply the meaning of our fascination and hubris of coming on blueness and keeping, treasuring semen on blueness. To consider the symbolism of the blue in terms of depression, truth, sky, the blues.

Blue by Joni Mitchell

The entire album is iconic, a space of yearning, memory and solitude. But the singular song Blue is a haunting. A singular silhouette frozen and melting anguish and desire. At times slowing down the song, playing backwards. This is the anthem.

Kind of Blue by Miles Davis

This was the album I listened to before, leading up to and throughout the writing of the book. The music brought space and reflection for inspiration for the writing. In particular

Blue in Green written with Bill Evans brought me the rhythmic portrayal of repeat, patience and craft in particular for the sections on gender, blueness

Little Girl Blue by Nina Simone

For the section The Blue Dress, She/He, When Hillary Took Too Long To Pee.

Moved by the urgency of Simone's vocals and the piano percussion holding the emotion. The words of Simone explains the training of the girl child and the little girl blue of the acceptance and no way out.

Blue Hotel by Chris Isaak

The soundscape here is other worldly – but the lyrics speak to aloneness. And refers to the aloneness of the female Hillary and the aloneness in her position.

Blue Hotel, on a lonely highway,


Blue Hotel, life don't work out my way.


Blue Hotel, on a lonely highway,

Blue Hotel, life don't work out my way.

I wait alone each lonely night.

Blue Hotel...
Blue Hotel...

In the piece Anchor Baby

Trump as Chaos Kid

No More Drama by Mary J Blige

In this section I write about the chaos, the drama, the tantrums surrounding Trump. This song by Mary J. Blige takes on the drama and insists on no more drama – as resistance – rather than having to accept the traumatics in nation unbuilding.

In the section Gratitude, over used thankfulness is explored as a female behavior standard and gendered manner expectations of submission with infidelity and validation.

Hold Up by Beyonce



In the song we hear Beyonce struggles with finding her value, her looks, her self worth, with her man cheating on her. In the video Beyonce takes a bat and breaks a car window – snaps the fire extinguisher – so she fights back. And gets out of her heels and into her sneakers with other childen and folks on the street. This feminist position of vulnerability and taking control speaks to some of the issues in Gratitude.

The Yoga Mat

Yoga by Janelle Monae

In a section in Gratitude I address the neoliberal sacred spaces such as the yoga mat. In my writing the yoga mat still becomes a space of attack or defensiveness in a satirical voice. I select Jane Monae's song for it is irreverent and appropriates yoga for her own embodiment and the gaze.

Rebel Girl by Bikini Kill from the album Pussy Whipped, 1993

In the poem Pussy Speaks Out – addresses fighting back against sexual harassment. The text is to be defiant rather than as victim. I just love the words within this rebellious lyric of Rebel Girl

When she talks, I hear the revolution

In her hips, there's revolutions

When she walks, the revolution's coming

In her kiss, I taste the revolution!

Political atmosphere, experimental

Respect and mood

DJ spooky also was touring Rebirth of a Nation during the writing of the book.

I also listened to

That Subliminal Kid Versus the Last Mohican by DJ Spooky

This album is experimental, a soundscape and not easily tagged or located. It was important to me to still have a space of abstraction and dislocation as a cultural movement. I am inspired by DJ Spooky's choices of content and innovation while being political.

For the poem This Land is not your Land

This Land is Your Land by Woody Guthrie

This Land is not Your Land is in discourse to Guthrie's classic work. In Guthrie's song he includes and describes America for all. I first wrote as a text for a film I collaborated on with Bruce Yonemoto Far East of Eden about immigration Asian exclusion Act legislation by Senator Phelan in the early part of the last century and the eventual incarceration of Japanese Americans.

In Trump Said – which speaks to the wall and immigration policy.

I prefer These Walls by Kendrick Lamar. And in his walls he speaks to sexuality, masculinity, incarceration, desire and police authority.

These Walls by Kendrick Lamar

If these walls could talk, they'd tell me to go deep

Yelling at me continuously, I can see

Your defense mechanism is my decision

Knock these walls down, that's my religion

Walls feeling like they ready to close in

I suffocate, then catch my second wind

I resonate in these walls

I don't know how long I can wait in these walls

In Unicorn Gratitude – speaking as a unicorn as mythical white beast and the trappings of spiritual attainment – what the hell.

The Unicorn by Irish Rovers

The Lady and the Unicorn by John Renbourn

Art as Activism - inspiration

Resistance, The artist as historical recorder and power of imagination.

Allen Ginsberg's Howl inspired me to consider poetic text as a form, the text written during the McCarthy era is a classic milestone for artistic response.



In writing Take These Statues Down which speak to taking down Confederate and racist statues I referred to this song.

Fight the Power by Public Enemy

And while I was in my final edit I listened and viewed the film

This is America by Childish Gambino

This is what I listened to in my head for positive vibes to feel human potential and joy as take away.

Love and Affection by Joan Armatrading

Imagine by John Lennon


Karen Finley and Grabbing Pussy links:

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

Amos Lassen review


also at Largehearted Boy:

Support the Largehearted Boy website

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

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

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

Shorties (Kamila Shamsie Wins the Women's Prize for Fiction, The Best Albums of 2018 (So Far), and more)

Home Fire

Kamila Shamsie has been awarded the Women's prize for fiction for her novel Home Fire.


Stereogum listed the best album of 2018 (so far).


NPR Music is streaming Joseph Arthur and Peter Buck's album Arthur Buck.


eBook on sale for $2.99:

All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders


SPIN interviewed singer-songwriter Neko Case.


Lawrence Ferlinghetti has a new novel coming next spring.


Courtney Barnett visited World Cafe for an interview and live performance.


Tommy Orange discussed his novel There There with Morning Edition.


Stereogum examined the "perfectly corny" music of sex and the city.


Hyperallergic reviewed the new graphic novel biography Weegee: Serial Photographer.


Stream two previously unreleased Jason Isbell songs.


Bookworm interviewed author Mary Gaitskill.


Stream a new song by Juniore.


Lydia Millet discussed books and reading with the New York Times.


Stream a new Late Bloomer song.


James Tate Hill shared the influence of Prince's music on his life.


I'm With Her covered Vampire Weekend's "Hannah Hunt."


The Rumpus shared new poetry by Morgan Parker.


Stream a new song by Fleabite.


Book Riot recommended books for Black Music Month.


Stream a new song by Belte.


Electric Literature shared an excerpt from Helen deWitt's collection Some Trick.


Stream a new Stars song.


Poet Victoria Chang talked revision at Guernica.


Stream a new Anna Calvi song.


Stream a new Gang Gang Dance song.



also at Largehearted Boy:

Support Largehearted Boy

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

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

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

June 6, 2018

Chelsea Hodson's Playlist for Her Essay Collection "Tonight I'm Someone Else"

Tonight I'm Someone Else

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

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

On a line level, Chelsea Hodson's collection Tonight I'm Someone Else might be the book of the year. These essays are lyrically precise and impeccably formed.

Booklist wrote of the book:

"A unique collection about being an artist and a woman in a world that doesn't always value either."


In her own words, here is Chelsea Hodson's Book Notes music playlist for her essay collection Tonight I'm Someone Else:



I sometimes reference books and films in my essays, but music was also an integral part of writing my book, Tonight I'm Someone Else. Music has always been in the background of my life, whether I was going to shows in high school and falling in love with the untouchable lead singers, playing guitar alone in my room, being so inspired by songs that I wanted to write essays that felt like the songs, or writing my book’s own theme song for the book trailer. Here are a few songs in particular that have had a lasting impact on me over the years.


DM Stith — “Pigs”

I love the eerie, lush atmosphere of this song, and I’d like to think that this is what my book would sound like if it could sing. And, just now, as I’m writing this, I’ve noticed an echo between this song and my book. DM Stith: “I’m leaving out the parts I don’t believe in,” and Tonight I’m Someone Else: “I disposed of memories until everything served me.”


Lykke Li — “Sadness Is A Blessing”

This is the perfect song to play on repeat when you’re walking through Manhattan thinking, “I’m so sad I don’t even remember how to walk.” This picks your pace up a bit, and it has such a triumphant ring to it that you’ll end up pumping yourself up, like “Yeah! Sadness IS a blessing!” In my book, there’s a part where I write about not wanting the intensity of an emotion (even a negative one) to dissipate, and I think this is the musical accompaniment of that: “Oh sadness, I’m your girl.”


Bob Lind — “You Should Have Seen It”

The “Cody” character in my book used to always play this song for me. It was his way of reminding me that he never claimed to be perfect, and that my expectation of him to be perfect was unfair. The problem was that I often did perceive him as perfect. But he was always very open about disappointing me someday, and he did. There was a comfort in experiencing the ending he’d told me so much about.


The Stooges — “I Wanna Be Your Dog”

This song reminds me of certain parts of the book in which submission becomes an act of love. I like this song because it’s not sentimental or romantic—to me it speaks to the animalistic, sloppy elements of lust that can be simultaneously memorable and disposable. On a Howard Stern interview from 1990, Iggy Pop explained the song by saying: “I wanna unite with your body, I don’t wanna talk about literature.”


Pissed Jeans — “Secret Admirer”

I could have put a lot of Pissed Jeans songs on this list—“I Broke My Own Heart” was a runner-up, but ultimately I think “Secret Admirer” is the one that directly speaks to some of the more voyeuristic aspects of the book (like the essay partially about my stalker). There’s so much humor in Pissed Jeans songs, but this song has a kind of danger and wildness that I really like. At the end of the song, the speaker threatens to one day show up in the beloved’s driveway singing “la, la, la,” which is maybe one of the creepiest things I’ve ever heard.


Germs — “Manimal”

This song has some of my favorite lyrics ever: “Evolution is a process too slow / To save my soul / But I've got this creature on my back / And it just won't let go.” This reminds me of my own inquiry into the differences between human and animal (spoiler alert: I don’t think they’re that different), and I also grapple with the evolution of the self in another part of the book. When I don’t understand my behavior, I’m tempted to wonder if it’s a “leftover instinct” from a wilder time.


Puce Mary — “Night Is A Trap II”

This is my favorite song from the record that I listened to constantly while writing my book. It’s so brutal and powerful—certain moments of the record are spare and beautiful, but other songs like this one sound like the soundtrack to the world’s end. I think my writing is often “quiet,” but I like to think about how I can write quietly while also injecting a kind of unexpected chaos and energy, and I think listening to music like this has helped me experiment with that balance.


Mica Levi — “Lips to Void”

This is from the Under the Skin soundtrack, which is my number one most played album. I listened to it so relentlessly while writing the book that now, when I hear it, I feel like I should be writing. It became Pavlovian—I could immediately enter the dream of my essay by just listening to the soundtrack again. There’s such a palpable tension in this song—I think listening to it helped my prose adopt a different kind of atmosphere than it would otherwise have.


Yeah Yeah Yeahs — ”Maps”

I love the simplicity of this song, but I’m also including it here because Karen O and her ex-boyfriend lived in this apartment before my boyfriend moved into it, and now I live here, too. What I’m getting at is: years ago, when things were particularly rough and I felt like I’d never be a “real writer,” I used to listen to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and think about Karen O writing in the room I write in, washing dishes in the sink I wash the dishes in, and sleeping in the same room I sleep in. I have no proof that she did any of these things in the same rooms I do them in, but it’s the idea that counts. “I bet Karen O thought she’d live forever in this crappy apartment, too,” I’d think to myself, hoping for some of her luck to rub off. Maybe it did, but I still live here, and I still like this song.


Rihanna — “Same Ol’ Mistakes”

This is one of the best songs that articulates the high of meeting someone new that you think understands you. It’s so intoxicating that you become blinded to everyone, even yourself, because you perceive yourself as new. From the song: “Feel like a brand new person / (But you make the same old mistakes) / I don’t care I’m in love.” This of course speaks to my title, Tonight I’m Someone Else, which is a nod to the sensation of feeling like a new person in taking on a new role, and also the sadness that we are stuck with ourselves no matter what.


Lana Del Rey — “Blue Velvet”

I’ve written about Lana Del Rey before, and I love pretty much all of her songs, but I’ve included this song because of the reference in my book to David Lynch’s film, Blue Velvet. There’s a line in the book that goes: “I long and long—my acting is an attempt to cancel something out. ‘There,’ I say, putting lipstick on a face. Now I know what that’s like.” This is of course a reference to Dennis Hopper’s unhinged performance in the film, saying, “You know what a love letter is? It’s a bullet from a fucking gun, fucker. You receive a love letter from me, you’re fucked forever!” I used to have this line appearing in the essay itself, but I took it out and left the lipstick reference, since I thought that was enough.


Mirah — “Mt. St. Helens”

This was one of the first songs I learned on my guitar when I was in high school, so I’ve sung the lyrics hundreds of times as I practiced, and therefore I feel as if the lyrics have been tattooed into me, in a way. “You have a pressure in you / To destroy the one who loved you” — brutal.


Kevin Morby — “Come to Me Now”

This is one of my favorite songs of the last year, so I thought I would end the playlist with it, which feels to me like the sound of nostalgia. “Come to me now as you did then” is such a lovely, simple request that reminds me of writing from one’s life. I play out these memories like films, rewinding and pausing, as if they belong to me.


Chelsea Hodson and Tonight I'm Someone Else links:

the author's website
video trailer for the book

Kirkus review

The Negatives interview with the author
NYLON interview with the author
Vol. 1 Brooklyn interview with the author


also at Largehearted Boy:

Support the Largehearted Boy website

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

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

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

Gaël Faye's Playlist for His Novel "Small Country"

Small Country

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

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

Gaël Faye's novel Small Country is a powerful debut, and its 10 year-old protagonist who comes of age in a war zone is unforgettable.

Le Figaro wrote of the book:

"This beautiful coming-of-age novel expresses a harrowing yearning for kindness and harmony. The result is a vision of the world—not political, but poetic—that attempts a balancing act between both horror and wonder."


In his own words, here is Gaël Faye's Book Notes music playlist for his debut debut novel Small Country:



This playlist represents some songs that appear in the novel Small Country. I associate my childhood in Burundi with a permanent music background because people used to have small radios and listen to them very loud. When I was writing the book, I listened to some of these songs to help me to regain lost sensations and to captivate my memories of this period.

Makambo, Geoffrey Oryema

At some point, when I was writing my novel, I was stuck with my story. Some days I didn't know how to continue with my characters. So I decided to listen to plenty of African songs from the nineties and "Makambo" of Geoffrey Oryema appeared randomly on my playlist. I had forgotten this song, but instantly the melody and the voice put me in a particular mood and gave me the way to finish my novel. It was almost magical!

Crépuscule des Dieux, Wagner

There is a very strange tradition in Burundi and in some other African countries. When there is a coup, the radio plays classical music. I don't really know why, but probably because it sounds neutral. I remember how the atmosphere was scary during those days when we were confined in our homes, cut from the world, with this music playing outside on all those small radios.

Sambolera, Kadja Nin

Khadja Nin is the most famous Burundian artist. Sambolera was a huge hit, definitely the song of this period because when she released this song during the nineties we heard it all day long on the radio.

The drummers of Burundi

The drummers of Burundi are the permanent soundtrack of Burundi. Every day you can hear the vibrant and stunning sound of their percussion. In this country of hills, the drums reverberate miles around and this very specific rhythm is a part of the daily life.

Maria Valencia, Papa Wemba

Papa Wemba, Koffi Olomide, Franco and the OK Jazz, Tabu Ley Rochereau… were the African popstars during the nineties, famous across the entire continent. Rumba, ndombolo, soukous or sebene were very festive music. In 1994, in Rwanda, the RTLM (also known as the Hate Radio) called their auditors to murder Tutsi between two songs of Congolese music. This young and commercial radio was an important tool in the organization of the genocide. In an episode of my novel, I recount this situation, this mix of fun and horror.

Ancien Combattant, Zao

"Ancien combattant" is more than a song; it's a masterpiece of intellect, a manifesto against war. It's the story of a veteran who sings about the horror of war, but with humor. Ironically, I remember that the radio played this song during the war in Burundi in 1995. In my novel, the character of Pacifique sings it during his brother's burial.

Petit Marie, Francis Cabrel

Burundi is a former Belgian colony, and during the nineties we used to listen to a lot of music with French lyrics. Many of those songs were quite cheesy, talking naively of love and sadness. Francis Cabrel, Joe Dassin, Dalida, Mike Brant… were very popular and we all knew those songs by heart.

Petit Pays, Gaël Faye

Petit Pays means Small Country. This is one of my songs, which I recorded in Bujumbura few years before I wrote my novel.  All the topics I address in my novel… Burundi, Rwanda, exile, war, childhood, nostalgia… were already in this song like a premonition.


Gaël Faye and Small Country links:

BookPage review
Kirkus review

New York Times profile of the author


also at Largehearted Boy:

Support the Largehearted Boy website

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

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

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

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