August 2, 2017

Book Notes - Theodore Wheeler "Kings of Broken Things"

Kings of Broken Things

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.

Theodore Wheeler's debut novel Kings of Broken Things is a dark and mesmerizing account of Omaha's 1919 race riot.

Kirkus wrote of the book:

"Vivid and dynamic…[Kings of Broken Things] illuminates a savage moment in history and offers a timely comment on nationalism and racism. An unsettling and insightful piece of historical fiction."


In his own words, here is Theodore Wheeler's Book Notes music playlist for his debut novel Kings of Broken Things:



Kings of Broken Things is set in Omaha during the last days of World War I, bleeding into the Red Summer that followed, and addresses the biggest scar across the city's history—the courthouse lynching of Will Brown during the Omaha Race Riot of 1919. The story itself is told loosely from the perspective of the boys who grew up in an ethnic German neighborhood near where the riot occurred, so there's tension between an atmospheric historical view and the microscopic, lived-in experience of these boys, their families, and the people they lived near while growing up.

One of the most challenging parts in writing the novel was being able to hear what everyday life would have sounded like 100 years ago in their neighborhood—from traffic, arguments, and music, to things that went bump in the night, but especially the way people would have spoken to each other in a time and place that was both provincial and worldly at the same time, as Omaha was a city of immigrants situated in the middle of nowhere. As people who constantly have other voices at our fingertips, it's difficult to think how it would redirect a person's life to experience other voices at that time, especially since films were silent, there was no radio, and even music was still largely a performed medium rather than a recorded one at the end of the vaudeville and parlor music eras.

In recordings from the era (up through the Depression, really) that unrehearsed, raw, acoustic aspect of sound is very appealing to me, to the point that most of the contemporary bands I'm into reach for this sound of authenticity. More than anything, musically, this is probably the closest corollary with writing a novel that's set a century ago—that is, cultivating a voice that's both historical and modern, a sound that incorporates some of the machinery and phrasing of the day but is simultaneously new.

In this way, these songs contributed to fulfilling this tension of voice and are therefore part of Kings of Broken Things in different ways.


"Maple Leaf Rag" – Scott Joplin

I listened to this song a lot while writing the early parts of Kings of Broken Things, especially the saloon and barroom scenes, and life on downtown streets. The tempo of ragtime, how the notes race, rise, and fall over each other, "the chiming rises and descents of hothouse piano, the hectic jittering" as I describe it in the novel. I'd never connected with ragtime before, but it's interesting to hear the compositions now. At a local bar up the block from me, Dan McCarthy performs a weekly ragtime set on a dusty acoustic piano that's usually tucked away in a corner. It's such a cool experience to hear Joplin live, to be transported like that to a time, again, when most music, at least for the middle class, was experienced in printed form that was meant to be performed.

"In the Pines" – Lead Belly

Like many children of the '90s, my introduction to the music of Huddy Ledbetter came via the closing credits of Steve Martin's often-syndicated comedy classic The Jerk and then Nirvana's Unplugged album. Lead Belly's songs express the kind of hard-living sentiment that's embodied by many characters in Kings of Broken Things—transients, stockyard workers, folks who live in bottoms and backwaters. Before the Lomaxes and the Library of Congress brought attention to his work in the 1930s, Lead Belly himself served several prison sentences for weapon and manslaughter convictions—and he was, amazingly, twice pardoned after appealing via song to the governors of Texas and Louisiana. For my depiction of Will Brown (the victim of the lynching depicted in the novel) the connection was intruiging. Brown himself ran afoul of the law in Cairo, IL and reportedly came to Omaha to escape a judge's order that he marry a woman who was pregnant with his child. He worked in the stockyards and lived not far away, near the Missouri River. One of my favorite passages in Kings comes when the Germanic boy-narrators wonder who Brown was and what his life was like, looking back after the riot. It's the same kind of feeling for me listening to Lead Belly—a kind of speculation that comes when the intimacy of music is confronted by disparate experiences.

"Backwater Blues" — Bessie Smith

Along the same lines is this standard about a woman who has no place to go after her home is destroyed in a flood. A song about vulnerability with class overtones—"When it rains five days and the skies turn dark as night / Then trouble's taking place in the lowlands at night"—that is made even more poignant by the fact that Smith, one of the highest-earning entertainers of her day, was laid to rest in an unmarked grave after she died in a car accident in 1937. Her estranged husband pocketed money from multiple attempts to put up a marker, and it wasn't until 1970 that one paid in part by Janis Joplin was placed on her grave. Will Brown lay in an unmarked grave in a potter's field at Omaha's Forest Lawn cemetery for 90 years before a stone was purchased and placed there to note his presence.

"Black and Blue" — Louis Armstrong

Kings of Broken Things is peopled by many characters who come to Omaha for another chance while trying to hide who they are, from Evie Chambers passing as white, to Jake Strauss fleeing his family farm after brutally beating another young man, to the Miihlstein family finding their way to the Western Plains after being displaced from Central Europe, to Will Brown finding work in the stockyards. This was the beginning of the Great Migration, of course, when tens of thousands of African-Americans would come to Omaha looking for something better. As "Black and Blue" shows—"I can't hide what is on my face"—racial prejudice and violence was the great unequalizer among these exiles and refugees. Some of the characters in Kings are allowed to walk away after the riot and some are not.

Piano Concerto No. 3 in C Minor, Op. 18, I: Moderato – Sergei Rachmaninoff

A political exile himself—Rachmaninoff was Russian, of course, while the Miihlsteins are Austrian Jews who flee to America to escape the brutality of Russian Cossacks—this concerto, and opus in particular, speaks to the upheaval and dislocation, but also virtuosity and tradition, that evokes Central Europe in the 20th Century. These kinds of grand histrionics only really come off in classical music and opera, I think. Also, in the novel, Herr Miihlstein is a craftsman who builds and repairs stringed instruments. It's this that brings his family to Omaha, as he's recruited to fill a luthier position at the Omaha Musik Verein. Something about this piece and its history remind me of Herr Miihlstein, how Rachmaninoff held fast to overripe Romanticism in the face of all-erasing Modernism, as Miihlstein similarly holds to his fascinations and customs while his family is knocked around the globe. In addition to that, this concerto has long been one of my favorites. In college I bought a vinyl copy from a Salvation Army thrift store and have been hooked on it ever since—much to the chagrin of my then-girlfriend, now-wife.

"You Are What You Love" – Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins

I love how trite and true this song is. As with any love song, there's an element of loss and privilege necessary. The fight to maintain some amount of self-determination in the face of desire and circumstance is compelling. "You are what you love, not what loves you back." Maybe that's not self-determination. Anyway, it's an intoxicating song about self-delusion and the things we tell ourselves to get through tough times.

"An Der Weser" — Richard Tauber (Recordings 1922-1931)

There's a scene late in the book when two characters (a sickly girl, Anna Miihlstein, and her family's landlady, Maria Eigler) go to help an old immigrant woman who is dying. They arrive too late—but from across the hall there's staying an amateur touring choir from Bremen that's stranded in Omaha because of traveling restrictions placed on Germans. As a way of offering condolences, the group sings "An Der Weser," a nostalgic anthem of sorts. I'm not positive a liederkranz stuck in the US would have sung "An Der Weser" at that time, in that situation, but the song sounds right. In fact, one of the books that inspired the novel, The Underworld Sewer by Josie Washburn—who is fictionalized in the novel—inspired this scene and the music choice. In a section titled "One Night" Washburn depicts a brothel scene around 4am, when the madam locks the door and the girls have to somehow get the johns out. "We are all so tired, but we submit. One of the crowds has some trained singers in their party, and the singing they produce is worthy of a better place. And as we listen to the singing, we are carried AWAY OFF somewhere—where the surroundings are clean—and we hope that we will never return. Oh, what longings for home and friends of long ago it brings to us, and we only wish it would last forever!" It's a beautiful passage, with a lot of music of its own. I only wish Washburn had named the song the group was singing!

"Let's Not Shit Ourselves (To Love and to Be Loved)" - Bright Eyes

Coming of age as an artist in Nebraska at the turn of the millennium, Bright Eyes was sort of unavoidable. Not that I tried to avoid the band; I was and am a big fan. Fevers and Mirrors and Lifted were the most influential, I think, both because the band was really coming into its power in those albums and because, just as important as anything, they came out when I was at the perfect age to receive them. The mix of political and confessional subjects, the enfant terrible incarnation, it was all good. "Let's Not Shit Ourselves" was the pinnacle of that era for me. The tour kickoff show for Lifted was at the Rococo Theater in Lincoln and featured some 18 members in the band, including three drummers and a harmonica player. They closed with this song, probably to get the whole band on stage at once; it was indulgent, drunken, and perfect.

From the very beginning, writing Kings of Broken Things, I knew that the story would climax with the riot. It was very intimidating to dramatize such a massive event, one that threatened to swallow up all the characters and sort of blow the roof off the house I'd been building for the previous 200 pages. This was a problem of plot, of course, but also an issue of sound. "Let's Not Shit Ourselves" works so well as a set piece, and I hope the riot scenes in my book function in the same way. Many of the best Bright Eyes songs are fine performed by a trio, or Conor solo, but the ensemble cacophony of this one is such a nice complement to the sparer sounds on the album that I couldn't imagine them separated.

"Desolation Row" – Bob Dylan

Near the end of the book, the morning after the riot, one of the main characters, Evie Chambers, waits in her apartment for her lover Jake Strauss to come home, not knowing whether or not Jake took part in the riot and lynching. It's one of my favorite moments in the book because of its complexity (Jake is unaware that Evie is passing as white) but also because it's one step beyond the point of no return for the city and these people in particular.

"Desolation Row" has long been one of my favorite songs, the final track on my favorite album, Highway 61 Revisited, one I listened to quite often when writing the novel. For months, while I wrote these last pages, I'd listen to "Desolation Row" on repeat while I drove to the Douglas County Courthouse—the site of the riot and lynching, and where I went to work daily as a reporter. The lyrical tone of the song, the sense of resignation in its rhythm, its reverence of by-gone places, these were all things I wanted to emulate in the final pages of the book. That its first words are "They're selling postcards of the hanging," I'm sure, contributed to the connection in my mind.


Theodore Wheeler and Kings of Broken Things links:

the author's website

Kirkus review
Lincoln Journal Star review

Lincoln Journal Star interview with the author
Tethered By Letters interview with the author


also at Largehearted Boy:

Support the Largehearted Boy website

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

Largehearted Boy's 2017 Summer Reading Suggestions

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

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





August 2, 2017

Shorties (August's Best Nonfiction Books, An Introduction to the Music of Miles Davis, and more)

Bustle recommended August's best nonfiction books.


Noisey shared an introduction to the music of Miles Davis.


Vol. 1 Brooklyn, BBC Culture, and Entertainment Weekly recommended August's best new books.


Hamilton Leithauser covered Talking Heads' "Road to Nowhere."


The Rumpus interviewed author Taylor Larsen.


Diet Cig played a Tiny Desk Concert.


Vulture examined recently published dystopian fiction.


Paste listed July's best albums.


The new LIT video series kicked off with an interview of author Tracy O'Neill.


Japanese Breakfast played a live session for The A.V. Club.


Fresh Air interviewed Ariel Levy about her memoir The Rules Do Not Apply.


Patti Smith remembered Sam Shepard.


The New Yorker examined the poetry of Susan Howe.


Stream an Angelo De Augustine live session.


Publishers Weekly interviewed author Jeff VanderMeer.


Stream a new Weaves song.


Salon interviewed authors Alex Gilvarry, Bruce Handy, Carolyn Murnick, Tom Perrotta and Shawn Wen about their new books.


Stream a new Grooms song.


Deutsche Welle examined Edgar Allan Poe's connections to Philadelphia.


Stream new Zola Jesus songs.


Jenny Zhang talked to Signature about her story collection Sour Heart.


Stream a new Four Tet song.


Jac Jemc recommended books to warp your sense of reality at Literary Hub.


Musician Peter Broderick discussed his favorite albums at The Quietus.


CarolineLeavittville interviewed author Ann Hood.


eBooks on sale for $0.99 today:

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

eBooks on sale for $1.99 today:

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

eBooks on sale for $2.99 today:

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


eBooks on sale for $3.99 today:

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


also at Largehearted Boy:

Support Largehearted Boy

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

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

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

August 1, 2017

Book Notes - Kristen Iskandrian "Motherest"

Motherest

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.

Kristen Iskandrian's brilliant novel Motherest is one of the year's strongest (and most moving) debuts.

Publishers Weekly wrote of the book:

"[A] stellar first novel...sharp and honest...Agnes's voice charms with a subtle undercurrent of humor and sarcasm making this a delightful and satisfying reading experience. Iskandrian is a writer to watch."


In her own words, here is Kristen Iskandrian's Book Notes music playlist for her debut novel Motherest:



It's difficult for me to listen to music with lyrics while I'm writing. I need to be able to hear my sentences very plainly, with no interference. I'm happy to write in silence, or in the midst of coffee shop ambiance provided I'm not in direct earshot of individual conversations. I love listening to classical music, Mozart and Bach and Chopin, at deafening volumes, as well as the Renaissance polyphony of composers such as William Byrd and Gregorio Allegri. This kind of music opens me, empties me, and ultimately helps transport me to the realm of concentration where it becomes possible to transcribe a fictitious person's real story.

In many ways, Agnes is a typical brooding nineteen-year-old, though she has faced more loss than many of her peers. She plays piano—some of the pieces, in fact, that I love listening to—and as a teenager in the early 1990s, is a de facto delegate for that explosive moment in popular music history. She has angst, a lot of it, and is often at odds with her impulses. It's very hard for her, because of what she's been through, to enjoy anything without imagining a grim ending for it. She's not "too cool" for music—she just won't let herself be lied to in song. Motherest actually has its own Spotify playlist, and a few of the tracks below are on it, but I consider these the deep cuts: true fans only.

"Summer Breeze," Seals and Croft
God, what is this song? Some mediocre white male domestic fantasy, with bad mixed metaphors and horrible harmonies? Yes. But: it's also about coming home and seeing someone you love waiting there, which…fits. I imagine it playing during the scene, early in the book, where Agnes and her father are standing in the carpeted mall eating caramel apples, having a tough conversation. It is, at its essence, a carpeted mall song, evoking the kind of loneliness only a carpeted mall song can—not because of any artistry on the song's part, but simply because its popularity proves that most people are terrible and have bad taste (Agnes's thoughts, not mine).

"Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want," The Smiths
Who can't relate to this song? Agnes is nothing if not filled with perpetual longing. And her brother, whom she misses intensely, turned her onto The Smiths at a tender age. Morrissey, the King of Sad, is a great musical patron saint for Agnes.

"Come As You Are," Nirvana
After Cobain dies, Agnes's college campus feels rife with boys strumming the opening chords of this song, in tribute, something she's clearly disdainful about. But. There is no denying the sexiness of those chords, the snarling romance of the lyrics, the echo of "memoria," itself an echo of Agnes's own painful memories. Also, Tea Rose, Agnes's love interest, is Nirvana's Number One A-Plus Superfanboy, so we can imagine that they did a lot of anguished making out to Nevermind.

"Sweet Sir Galahad," Joan Baez
Before Agnes knew that the girl who worked at the music library, where she often went, was named Joan, she called her Joan in her mind, because she reminded her of Joan Baez on the cover of Diamonds & Rust, an album Agnes's parents argued about. Turns out, Joan was her actual name, which seasoned her relationship with Agnes with a tiny bit of magic, right from the outset. Based loosely on her own sister's courtship story, Baez has said that "Sweet Sir Galahad" was the first song she ever wrote. It is cloyingly folksy, but I like to imagine it as a kind of love song between two great friends, Agnes and Joan, with the chorus—"here's to the dawn of their days"—a fitting tribute to Agnes's bold decision at the end of the book.

"Gin and Juice," Snoop Dogg
It's hard not to imagine this one wafting out of dorm windows in the spring. Snoop's sleepy voice is what a bong would sound like if it could rap, and name-checking not one but two brands of gin is a pretty smart way to connect with young, enthusiastic drinkers. I'm going to guess that Agnes doesn't love the rampant misogyny inherent in a lot of hip hop but also would not miss an opportunity to bounce to this.

"Mother," Tori Amos
Almost too easy, but if you were a girl in the 1990s, chances are Tori Amos was your Spiritual Mother, and if we could record Agnes's inner turmoil, it'd probably sound a lot like Amos's breathy tremolo and manic piano. Pretty much any track off of Little Earthquakes could rightfully belong on this list, but it's tough to find lyrics that apply to Agnes's existential dilemma more than "I walked into your dream / And now I've forgotten how to dream my own dream."

"Long Division," Fugazi
If you ever want to feel like you're in the final throes of teenagedom, listen to Steady Diet of Nothing. When you're writing a book about a young woman at that particularly raw, confusing juncture, it's helpful to do some Method acting, like, to see yourself popping in this tape and turning it way up and flopping down on the bed all like, whatever, MOM.

"Hunger Strike," Temple of the Dog
Is Temple of the Dog Seals and Croft for the grunge set? I don't know. All I know is that this song was everywhere, and it takes itself way too seriously, and I promise that neither Agnes nor any of her friends know what on earth "the fire's cooking" any more than they know how a breeze can blow through the jasmine in somebody's mind. This was definitely queued up at least once at the ill-fated party in Phil's basement, and I have no doubt that all the flannel-clad boys felt super deep listening to it.

"End of the Road," Boyz II Men
I'm from the Philadelphia area, and we're pretty proud of our Boyz over there. This is one of those "can't let go" songs whose smooth genericism quickly made it THE placeholder for virtually every type of goodbye: breakups, graduations, going-away parties, etc. It seems like the perfect song for Agnes as she awkwardly reunites with her high school friends, Jenny and Sadie, after their first semesters at college, changed and strange to one another.

"Lacrimosa (Requiem in D Minor)," Mozart
I love listening to this on repeat, I love the sublime drama of it, those strings a kind of sacred antecedent to the theme from Psycho (and much creepier, in my opinion). I imagine it could play at so many intervals throughout the book: Agnes as she walks home from the train station, Agnes waiting on her pregnancy test, Agnes at the doctor. It's suspenseful, and sad—literally, the word for "weeping"—and evokes the Motherest of all Mothers, Mary, Our Lady of Sorrows.

"Losing My Religion," REM
Look, I don't care that it was overplayed to the point of being in an episode of 90210: this is the song J.Alfred Prufrock would have written if he'd stopped measuring his life out with coffee spoons for two seconds, the song Agnes would write if she could just cool it with the letters for a week or so. Losing our religion is how many of us find God. Losing everything is how Agnes finds—starts to find—herself.

"The World Has Turned And Left Me Here," Weezer
The release of The Blue Album would have coincided almost exactly with the end of Agnes's first year of college. It's the perfect driving-away-from-something song; in this case, a place, a love, the sweet memory of Tea Rose who was somehow a memory even while he was real and happening in Agnes's life. Some relationships are like that—too much for the present moment to handle, they get instantly converted into exquisitely painful snapshots that you might spend an entire lifetime glimpsing with one eye.

"Miss World," Hole
Every young woman needs a song to get the lead out to, and this is Agnes's. It's bleak and sad and angry, but Courtney Love knows, somehow, how to turn those things into triumph without eradicating them or offering any solace whatsoever. It's a difficult bed to lie in, Agnes's, but lie in it she does.


Kristen Iskandrian and Motherest links:

the author's website

Kirkus review
Publishers Weekly

also at Largehearted Boy:

Support the Largehearted Boy website

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

Largehearted Boy's 2017 Summer Reading Suggestions

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

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

Book Notes - Danya Kukafka "Girl in Snow"

Girl in Snow

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.

Danya Kukafka's debut novel Girl in Snow is a dark and lyrical literary thriller.

Booklist wrote of the book:

"This brooding and intense thriller will plunge readers into a dark world they may not want to enter—but they may be unable to tear themselves free…This unlikely trio of narrators gives readers a different look into the idyllic, small-town life, and how not everything is as it appears on the surface."


In her own words, here is Danya Kukafka's Book Notes music playlist for her debut novel Girl in Snow:



I listen to music when I write, and it helps me so much with tone and atmosphere. When I'm working on a project, I'll usually pick a few songs and listen to them on loop every time I sit down to work. That way, writing has a specific sound, separate from the outside world. My playlists aren't really about the content of the songs—more about how each character feels to me, and how music enhances that feeling. I wrote Girl in Snow in three distinct parts, following my three characters: Cameron came first, then Jade, then Russ. Each character had his/her own playlist. I'm not very cool, or in tune with a particular music scene, but here are some of my favorites.

CAMERON

"The Blower's Daughter," Damien Rice
If there is one song that sums up Girl in Snow for me, it's "The Blower's Daughter" by Damien Rice, which is wildly, wildly sad. There is a story floating around about it— I'm not sure if it's true. But I've heard the song is about a young girl that the singer meets over the phone during his job as a telemarketer. They start a relationship over the phone, and he falls in love with her voice. One day, he sits outside her house, hoping to see her. She comes out wearing a school uniform, and he's horrified with himself. Another opinion argues that it's about his clarinet teacher's daughter. Either way, the song seems to be about a distant, forbidden love, possibly even a slightly perverted love. This worked as a perfect axis for Cameron's character.

"A Little Piece," the Jezabels
I love the beat of this song—it's urgent and beautiful and very intense. The lyrics also conjure the image of a couple separated by an ocean, and because I listened to it while writing, there are a couple of references to water when Cameron is thinking about Lucinda's death.

"Here Comes the Sun," The Beatles
Every dark book needs a little light, right? I wrote a few scenes where Cameron refers to this song when he thinks of Lucinda— she is bright, golden— though these scenes were all cut early in the revision process.

JADE

"Jesus of Suburbia," Green Day
When I was fourteen, I listened obsessively to Green Day's American Idiot album. I wore fishnet sleeves and begged my parents for a skateboard. A part of this young self made its way into Jade's character, and she loves the same music I did back then.

"Hands Down," Dashboard Confessional
The intoxication of young love—what it promises and what it refuses to give—is a huge part of Jade's character. When I was writing Jade, I got to indulge in some serious early 2000's nostalgia.

"Ribs," Lorde
This song feels like being a teenage girl at a party, where you're equal parts horrified by your own body and recklessly confident in it. These moments are rare, but precious for Jade.

RUSS

"I Need My Girl," The National
Russ's playlist is the quietest of the three. There is something subtly devastating about his character for me, and the sound of The National just feels right. When I sat down to write Russ's sections, I often started with this song to get myself in the right emotional state.

"Videogames," Lana del Rey covered by Ben Howard
I listened to this song when I was thinking about Russ's nostalgia for his lost love—his old partner on the police force, Lee. That context brought a real air of tragedy to the song for me, but if you haven't noticed, that's kind of my jam.

"Humiliation," The National
This is one of The National's more upbeat songs. Well, maybe not the lyrics. But it's faster, and has a bit of a bop to it. There was a point where Russ's storyline veered into hopelessness, and I used this song to pull him, and myself, into the light.


Danya Kukafka and Girl in Snow links:

the author's website
excerpt from the audiobook

Publishers Weekly review

Riverhead Books interview with the author
Shelf Awareness interview with the author


also at Largehearted Boy:

Support the Largehearted Boy website

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

Largehearted Boy's 2017 Summer Reading Suggestions

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

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

Shorties (August's Best New Books, Stream the New Guided By Voices Album, and more)

Literary Hub recommended August's best new books.


Stream the new Guided By Voices album How Do You Spell Heaven at Stereogum.


Vol. 1 Brooklyn shared an excerpt from Alison Moore's novel The Lighthouse.


Paste listed the best Arcade Fire songs.


Powell's and Parade interviewed Jenny Zhang about her story collection Sour Heart.


Stream Hurray for the Riff Raff's Newport Folk Festival performance.


Paste listed the best books of 2017 (so far).


The Old 97's covered T. Rex's "20th Century Boy."


Bustle recommended podcasts about writing.


Bandcamp explored the folk horror music genre.


The A.V. Club listed the best cookbooks of the year so far.


Stream Dead Cross's self-titled album at Stereogum.


Nature examined the legacy of Marx's Das Kapital 150 years after its publication.


Gorilla Vs. Bear shared a mix of July's best music.


Eye 94 interviewed author Mairead Case.


Stream a new Mirah song.


R.I.P., playwright and actor Sam Shepard.


Stream Amy O's new album Elastic at Stereogum.


NME recommended novels to read before entering college.


Stream a new Hand Habits song.


The Millions recommended novels about video games.


Aquarium Drunkard shared a stream of David Bowie oddities.


Book Riot recommended books for new witches.


Stream a new Antibalas song.


eBooks on sale for $0.99 today:

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

eBooks on sale for $1.99 today:

A Small Revolution by Jimin Han



also at Largehearted Boy:

Support Largehearted Boy

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

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

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July 31, 2017

Shorties (New Short Fiction by Don DeLillo, An Interview with Slowdive's Neil Halstead, and more)

The New Yorker features new short fiction by Don DeLillo.


The Creative Independent interviewed Slowdive's Neil Halstead.


Weekend Edition interviewed Tom Perrotta about his new novel Mrs. Fletcher.


Paste listed the best Delta blues songs.


Literary Hub profiled poet Ocean Vuong.


Stream a new Havah song.


Megan Stielstra discussed her essay collection The Wrong Way to Save Your Life with Newcity Lit.


The New Yorker examined the musical legacy of Merle Haggard.


Midwestern Gothic interviewed author Lance Olsen.


Carl Broemel covered Beck's "The Golden Age."


Literary Hub listed the most anthologized essays of the past 25 years.


Salon interviewed Afghan Whigs frontman Greg Dulli.


The Guardian examined the real buildings that inspired fictional houses.


Stream a new Ty Segall song.


Literary Hub interviewed author Christopher Bollen.


Rolling Stone interviewed singer-songwriter Jason Isbell.


The New Yorker profiled author Rachel Cusk.


A new Cat Power album is coming.


VICE interviewed author Eve Babitz.


The Quietus recapped July's best new music.


eBooks on sale for $1.13 today:

After Henry by Joan Didion

eBooks on sale for $1.99 today:

The Birthday of the World by Ursula K. Le Guin
Bluebeard by Kurt Vonnegut
Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut
Cloudsplitter by Russell Banks
The Coral Sea by Patti Smith
Galapagos by Kurt Vonnegut
Girl in the Woods by Aspen Matis
God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater by Kurt Vonnegut
Journey to the End of the Night by Celine
Labyrinths by Jorge Luis Borges
The Last Samurai by Helen DeWitt
Mother Night by Kurt Vonnegut
Notes of a Native Son by James Baldwin
Peony by Pearl S. Buck
Requiem for a Dream by Hubert Selby, Jr.
The Rings of Saturn by W.G. Sebald
Siddhartha by Herman Hesse
Slapstick by Kurt Vonnegut
The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
A Sport and a Pastime by James Salter
This Dark Road to Mercy by Wiley Cash
Timequake by Kurt Vonnegut
The Toughest Indian in the World by Sherman Alexie
Wampeters, Foma & Granfalloons by Kurt Vonnegut
Welcome to the Monkey House by Kurt Vonnegut
Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury

eBooks on sale for $2.99 today:

Blue Boy by Rakesh Satyal
The Geek Feminist Revolution by Kameron Hurley
A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain by Robert Olen Butler
John Crow's Devil by Marlon James
Spill Simmer Falter Wither by Sara Baume
The Wake by Paul Kingsnorth

eBooks on sale for $3.99 today:

Every Kind of Wanting by Gina Frangello
How the World Works by Noam Chomsky
The Hunters by James Salter
Sam Shepard: A Life by John Winters



also at Largehearted Boy:

Support Largehearted Boy

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

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

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July 28, 2017

Book Notes - David Gessner "Ultimate Glory"

Ultimate Glory

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.

David Gessner's memoir Ultimate Glory is a compelling coming-of age story and fascinating exploration of competitive Ultimate Frisbee.

The Washington Post wrote of the book:

"[A] lively and honest coming-of-age story. . . . An exploration of the questing desires of the young heart, Ultimate Glory should be recommended reading for every college student. A 20-something, unsure whether to listen to the yearnings of the soul, might find answers in Gessner's chase of a flying plastic disc."


In his own words, here is David Gessner's Book Notes music playlist for his book Ultimate Glory:



Ultimate Glory is the true story of my obsession with winning the National Championship in the sport of Ultimate Frisbee and with the wild tribe of Ultimate players who made up my community during that quest. Those years were 1979 through 1996 and that is reflected in my playlist. So many songs seemed so important back then that putting together this list has been more about pruning than creating. This was also the time when I was first trying to become a writer, which meant I had two ridiculous obsessions I was throwing myself into, and writing for me was inseparable from listening to music, often loud music to get me going and out of my brain.

I looked at the Book Notes of other authors before I sat down to write this and I was impressed by the overall level of obsession. I thought I was alone in listening to one album over and over for the course of entire books, but not so. For me the undisputed king, the album I have listened to thousands of times over many thousands of hours writing and more than a dozen books (not all published), is the concert album, Stop Making Sense, by Talking Heads. (I was just scolded by a friend for calling them The Talking Heads in the book; is he right?) My musical taste apparently petrified around the time I stopped playing Ultimate and the only relatively contemporary artist who I've locked onto for obsessive listening is Beck, first with Sea Change and more recently Morning Phase. (Of listening repeatedly to those less-than-upbeat albums my wife has said: “I'm amazed you didn't kill yourself.”)

Anyway, I am deeply thankful for the opportunity to mull on this and to be reminded how intrinsically intertwined music has been for me with the making of books.


SIDE ONE:


“Girlfriend is Better” Talking Heads

There is nowhere else to start. Instead of explaining why, I could just quote the whole song right here. For starters: “I…Who took the money? Who took the money away? I…It's always showtime here at the edge of the stage?” Though I started playing in college, it was after college and after the money and support was taken away, that I was really up there on the edge of the stage. The lyrics “stop making sense” might well have been the anthem of my twenties, both as an Ultimate player and a writer, as I tried to break out of my overheated head and into….what? Something primal maybe, something unthinking certainly. Moments were my gold. (“Takes over slowly/but doesn't last very long”) This song helped. So did mushrooms but that's another story.

Oh, and the girlfriend part. Whether she was better was debatable, but that she was a large part of those years is undeniable.

“Gonna Fly Now” by Bill Conti, Ayn Robbins and Carol Connors

Would I have even got the idea that I could be great in Ultimate without watching Rocky three years before I started playing? Possibly, since I had a strong streak of megalomania. But what I wanted from Ultimate—the work, the training, the persistence and finally the exhilaration and flight—was all laid out like a template back in that movie, even down to the gray baggy sweats and pre-gym muscles.

“I'm a Rocker” Bruce Springsteen

If picking “Born to Run” weren't like picking “Stairway to Heaven” then that might have been my choice. My freshman roommates and I would crank up Bruce on the stereo on Friday after a week of class and, as corny as it sounds, would use brooms and tennis rackets for guitars as we celebrated the beginning of the weekend. It wasn't until sophomore year that The River came out and if I didn't instinctively love it the way I did Darkness, or the way I later loved Nebraska, it did mark the occasion of the only two times I saw Bruce live, courtesy of my roommate Dan. This was two nights in a row, Providence and Boston. On the second night, he opened with “Point Blank,” to commemorate the shooting of John Lennon, which, if memory serves, happened earlier that day. Later in the concert the Garden was strangely quiet and I yelled at the top of my lungs “What are you Bruce?” I swear he launched into “I'm a Rocker” in response. Probably just a coincidence, but…

“Is This Love?” Bob Marley

Then came mushrooms. And reggae. It was my good fortune to have a red-headed Harvard physics genius who lived over a reggae club as my spirit guide during those early trips. There won't be many slow songs on this list since it isn't a slow song book, but Marley and Tosh will always bring back memories of rain beating on the roof of the van down in D.C. and of seeing the psychedelic tail of a disc as it flew through the air, carrying with it the possibility of a counter life.

“Rudie Can't Fail” The Clash

In the early 80s the two great Boston ultimate teams, the teams I watched after my team was eliminated from tournaments, were The Rude Boys and The Hostages. I ended up playing in more than a few of those battles, but it was the ones I watched that might have affected me even more. “Rudie Can't Fail” was the Rude Boy anthem, but the first year, 1981, they did fail, spectacularly, to the underdog Hostages. The next year, however, they proved the anthem true, winning both the National and first World Championships.

“No More Heroes” The Stranglers

In the end I chose The Hostages, the grubby underdogs, which meant living in Boston with fifteen new friends and also meant a whole new world of music that included the Jam, the Minutemen, the Sex Pistols, Camper Van Beethoven, the Violent Femmes, and dozens of more new bands or bands new to me. I picked this song to represent that time because it is fun—“No more Shakespearos”—but I also picked it ironically. As I flailed away at life and career, heroes were everything to me, both those of the literary and Frisbee-playing sort, with the end goal, seemingly impossible, of achieving the heroic myself.

“I am Superman” REM

Before the crash came the rise. “The one thing they don't tell you about hubris is how good it feels.” The first fall with the Hostages was, in memory at least, a golden age and I was full of myself. I thought of choosing “You're so Vain” for this spot, but that's not it exactly. I'm not saying I'm not vain, just that it is something else, something more particular, that I'm trying to get at here. Some feeling of being, however briefly, indomitable, unbeatable. Of course we all know what comes after that…


SIDE TWO


“Whatever's For Us” Joan Armatrading

Memory is untrustworthy but I will let this song and singer stand in for the relationship that would span most of my twenties. There were some unpleasant moments in that relationship, that I have chronicled in the book, but there were delightful moments too.

“My Way” Sid Vicious

I'll take Sid's version over Frank's.

It's starting to occur to me that this is one weird album I'm putting together. Armatrading followed by Vicious. Well those were weird times. As I say in the book, I wanted to be a renaissance man, a writer, an intellectual, but very clearly I also wanted to be something else. That something else kept winning out.

Two by the Clash:
“Death or Glory” and “Train in Vain (Stand by Me)"

Both driving, sing-along songs that I sang along to many times. “Death or Glory” later became the team name of the dominant Boston team that won many championships. “Train in Vain” with its “didn't stand by me” chorus is one of the greatest angry at soon-to-be-ex-girlfriend songs of all time.

“Brandy” Looking Glass

I write in the book: “I don't know why 'Brandy' affected, and still affects, me so, I only know that it had become the closest thing I had to a personal theme song. I sang it sarcastically for years but now it seemed suffused with real emotion. That night I told people it was the song I wanted played at my funeral (and please note, friends who are reading this, I still do).”

This was the song that I sang with the women's team the wild night I first stole the microphone, the song I sang on my birthday a week after my operation for cancer. And it was the song that I paid almost 800 bucks out of pocket for so I could include the lyrics in the book.

Sadly, my relationship with the song has changed. Never underestimate the power of pop culture to cheapen those things we hold dear, even when those things are fruits of pop culture. “Brandy” was usurped by the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise, which came out a month before my book did. I'm not sure I want it played at my funeral anymore.

“Rocky Mountain High” John Denver

Speaking of pop culture, I can't neglect this one. The move west at thirty was a move toward health, a move to a new place and a new self. “I was born in the summer of my 27th year,” John warbled. For me it was my 30th. The arc of the book's narrative did not allow me to spend as much time as I would have liked on my Colorado teammates. Maybe there will be a sequel…..

“Every Day I Write the Book” Elvis Costello

It's all there in the title. Steve Mooney, one of the greatest Ultimate players of all time, takes some hits early in the book. But he emerges as the book's hero, I think, because of his consistency, persistence and effort. “For us there is only the trying,” wrote T.S. Eliot. I may not have ever achieved those things in Ultimate but as I left the sport behind I tried to, every day, as a writer.

“Glory Days” Bruce Springsteen

No need to explain. We were great, we really were. Come have a beer with us and we will tell you all about it.

***Bonus track: “Old Man” Neil Young****

Because I just had to get Neil in there. And because I'm old now.


David Gessner and Ultimate Glory links:

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

Kirkus review
Publishers Weekly review
Washington Post review

Here and Now interview with the author
Men's Journal interview with the author
Wisconsin Public Radio interview with the author
WUNC interview with the author


also at Largehearted Boy:

Support the Largehearted Boy website

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

Largehearted Boy's 2017 Summer Reading Suggestions

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

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This Week's Interesting Music Releases - July 28, 2017

Arcade Fire

Arcade Fire's Everything Now and The Fall's New Facts Emerge are my most anticipated albums this week.

Kurt Vonnegut's God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater Premiere Cast Recording is at the top of my music queue today.

Remastered and expanded editions of two Cars albums (Candy-O and Panorama) are available to buy and stream.

Vinyl reissues include two Elton John albums (Caribou and )Don't Shoot Me I'm Only The Piano Player along with two of my favorite albums, Gillian Welch's The Harrow and the Harvest and The La's self-titled LP.

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


This week's interesting music releases:


Alice Cooper: Paranormal
Arcade Fire: Everything Now
Cage the Elephant: Unpeeled
The Cars: Candy-O (remastered and expanded)
The Cars: Panorama (remastered and expanded)
Chemical Brothers: Dig Your Own Hole (reissue) [vinyl]
Daphni: Fabriclive 93
Doors: Light My Fire (reissue) [vinyl]
Elton John: Caribou (reissue) [vinyl]
Elton John: Don't Shoot Me I'm Only The Piano Player (reissue) [vinyl]
Elvis Presley: A Boy from Tupelo: The Complete 1953-1955 Recordings (3-CD box set)
Elvis Presley: A Boy from Tupelo: The Sun Masters [vinyl]
Emerson, Lake and Palmer: Black Moon (remastered and expanded)
Emerson, Lake and Palmer: In the Hot Seat (remastered and expanded)
Fairport Convention: Come All Ye - The First Ten Years 1968 To 1978 (7-CD box set)
The Fall: New Facts Emerge
Garren Sean: GARREN, LP
Gillian Welch: The Harrow and the Harvest (reissue) [vinyl]
Howard Jones: Best: 1983-2017
Iron Maiden: Death on the Road (reissue) [vinyl]
Iron Maiden: En Vivo! (reissue) [vinyl]
Iron Maiden: The Final Frontier (reissue) [vinyl]
Iron Maiden: Flight 666 (reissue) [vinyl]
The Isley Brothers & Santana: Power of Peace
James Taylor: Flag (reissue) [vinyl]
James Vincent McMorrrow: True Care [vinyl]
Jerry Garcia & Merl Saunders: Garcia Live Volume Nine: August 11th, 1974 Keystone Berkeley
John Dennis: Second Wind
Joywave: Content
Kate Nash: Made of Bricks (reissue) [vinyl]
Kinks: One for the Road (reissue) [vinyl]
The La's: The La's (reissue) [vinyl]
Link Wray: Link Wray (reissue) [vinyl]
Madchild: The Darkest Hour
Manchester Orchestra: A Black Mile To The Surface
Mick Jagger: Gotta Get A Grip / England Lost (Reimagined) EP
Passion Pit: Tremendous Sea Of Love
Pet Shop Boys: Fundamental (remastered) [vinyl]
Pet Shop Boys: Fundamental: Further Listening 2005-2007 (2-CDs)
Pet Shop Boys: Nightlife: Further Listening 1996-2000 (3-CD box set)
Pet Shop Boys: Release: Further Listening 2001-2004 (3-CD box set)
Portugal.The Man: Waiter You Vultures (reissue) [vinyl]
Prong: Zero Days
Squeeze: Argybargy (reissue) [vinyl]
Sweet Apple: Sing The Night In Sorrow
Umphrey's McGee: Hall of Fame: Class of 2016 [vinyl]
Various Artists: Atomic Blonde - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Various Artists: Big Little Lies: Music From The HBO Limited Series [vinyl]
Various Artists: Broken Hearts & Dirty Windows: Songs of John Prine (reissue) [vinyl]
Various Artists: Kurt Vonnegut's God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater Premiere Cast Recording
Vic Mensa: The Autobiography
Widespread Panic: Light Fuse Get Away (reissue)
Wood Brothers: Live at the Barn [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 (Essential Michiko Kakutani Reading, An Interview with Gillian Welch, and more)

The New York Times shared a collection of reviews and essays by Michiko Kakutani, who is stepping down for her post as a book reviewer.


Stereogum interviewed singer-songwriter Gillian Welch.


The JDO Show podcast interviewed author Elle Nash.


Aldous Harding played a Tiny Desk Concert.


Colson Whitehead's novel The Underground Railroad has won the Arthur C Clarke Award for Science Fiction Literature.


Stream a new Tori Amos song.


Book Riot listed 2017's best books about female friendships.


Margo Price broke down her new Weakness EP track-by-track at All Songs Considered.


Signature previewed August's best new books.


NPR Music is streaming performances from the Newport Folk Festival this weekend.


Brandon Harris discussed his book Making Rent in Bed-Stuy with Hazlitt.


Musicians discussed the music that helps them get through the Trump administration at SPIN.


The Rumpus interviewed author Lesley Nneka Arimah.


Stream a new Humming House song.


The Los Angeles Review of Books interviewed author and editor jayy dodd.


Stream a new David Rawlings song.


The Rumpus interviewed author David Burr Gerrard.


Stream Sylvan Esso's visual EP Echo Mountain Sessions.


Vulture interviewed author Danzy Senna.


Stereogum interviewed Ben Gibbard about his cover of Teenage Fanclub's Bandwagonesque album.


Lenny shared an excerpt from Jenny Zhang’s story collection, Sour Heart.


Stream a new Stars song.


Stream a new song by the War on Drugs.


eBooks on sale for $1.13 today:

After Henry by Joan Didion

eBooks on sale for $1.99 today:

The Birthday of the World by Ursula K. Le Guin
Bluebeard by Kurt Vonnegut
Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut
Cloudsplitter by Russell Banks
The Coral Sea by Patti Smith
Galapagos by Kurt Vonnegut
Girl in the Woods by Aspen Matis
God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater by Kurt Vonnegut
Journey to the End of the Night by Celine
Labyrinths by Jorge Luis Borges
The Last Samurai by Helen DeWitt
Mother Night by Kurt Vonnegut
Notes of a Native Son by James Baldwin
Peony by Pearl S. Buck
Requiem for a Dream by Hubert Selby, Jr.
The Rings of Saturn by W.G. Sebald
Siddhartha by Herman Hesse
Slapstick by Kurt Vonnegut
The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
A Sport and a Pastime by James Salter
This Dark Road to Mercy by Wiley Cash
Timequake by Kurt Vonnegut
The Toughest Indian in the World by Sherman Alexie
Wampeters, Foma & Granfalloons by Kurt Vonnegut
Welcome to the Monkey House by Kurt Vonnegut
Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury

eBooks on sale for $2.99 today:

Blue Boy by Rakesh Satyal
The Geek Feminist Revolution by Kameron Hurley
A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain by Robert Olen Butler
John Crow's Devil by Marlon James
Spill Simmer Falter Wither by Sara Baume
The Wake by Paul Kingsnorth

eBooks on sale for $3.99 today:

Every Kind of Wanting by Gina Frangello
How the World Works by Noam Chomsky
The Hunters by James Salter
Sam Shepard: A Life by John Winters



also at Largehearted Boy:

Support Largehearted Boy

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

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

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

July 27, 2017

Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week - July 27, 2017

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

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


These Possible Lives

These Possible Lives
by Fleur Jaeggy

Very much like a rose and its thorns, Fleur Jaeggy’s hypnotic new essay collection is equal parts ethereal and macabre. The Swiss writer made waves for her excellent translations of Marcel Schwob and Thomas de Quincey into Italian, both of whom are strung-up in the puppetry-prose of These Possible Lives.


Goodbye, Vitamin

Goodbye, Vitamin
by Rachel Khong

Rachel Khong, executive editor of the brilliant and now sadly defunct Lucky Peach Magazine, plunks the heroine of Goodbye, Vitamin square in a quarter-life crisis, yet has the deep insight and good humour to help her find her footing.


Black Panther: World of Wakanda

Black Panther: World of Wakanda
by Ta-Nehisi Coates & Roxane Gay

The incomparable Roxane Gay makes her comics debut with Black Panther: World of Wakanda, which dives into the back-story of the Midnight Angels, popular characters from Ta-Nehisi Coates’ excellent graphic series.


The Book of Miracles

The Book of Miracles
by Till-Holger Borchert

Full-page 16th-century depictions of the apocalypse… what more could you want? This trilingual (Fr., Eng., Ger.) edition was heralded as “one of the most spectacular discoveries in the field of Renaissance art” when it first surfaced several years ago.


Sex and Rage

Sex and Rage
by Eve Babitz

The triumphant rediscovery of artist and author Eve Babitz continues with this reissue of Sex and Rage, originally published in 1979, a novel which follows a starry-eyed girl navigating the dichotomy of America’s coasts.


Librairie Drawn & Quarterly links:

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


also at Largehearted Boy:

Support the Largehearted Boy website

other Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week

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

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

Shorties (2017 Man Booker Prize Longlist, Music That Influenced Jonathan Lethem, and more)

The 2017 Man Booker Prize longlist has been announced:

4 3 2 1 by Paul Auster
Autumn by Ali Smith
Days Without End by Sebastian Barry
Elmet by Fiona Mozley
Exit West by Mohsin Hamid
History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund
Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie
Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders
The Ministry Of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy
Reservoir 13 by Jon McGregor
Solar Bones by Mike McCormack
Swing Time by Zadie Smith
The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead


Jonathan Lethem discussed the songs that have influenced him over the years with Pitchfork.


The Millions interviewed author Julia Fierro.


Stream a new Chelsea Wolfe song.


Boss Fight Books is crowdfunding its next selection of titles.


The Phoenix New Times listed essential Pharaoh Sanders collaborations.


On She Goes interviewed Carolyn Finney about her book Black Faces, White Spaces.


Stream a new Tera Melos song.


Newsday recommended the best science fiction books to read this summer.


NPR Music is streaming Tyler Childers' new Purgatory album.


Harper's Bazaar previewed August's best new books.


Stream a new Cloakroom song.


Bookworm interviewed author Arundhati Roy.


NPR Music is streaming Randy Newman's new Dark Matter album.


The Creative Independent interviewed author Sarah Gerard.


Stream a new Lomelda song.


Signature listed the best books within books.


Midland visited World Cafe for an interview and live performance.


Literary Hub profiled poet Ocean Vuong.


Stream a new Peach Pyramid song.


The Rumpus interviewed author Achy Obejas.


Stream a new Sweet Apple song.


Literary Hub interviewed Michael Chabon and Ayelet Waldman about their anthology Kingdom of Olives and Ash.


The Afghan Whigs covered Pleasure Club's "You Want Love."


Electric Literature shared a history of dystopian fiction.


Hamilton Leithauser covered Shane MacGowan's "The Song With No Name."


Literary Hub shared an excerpt from Svetlana Alexievich's book The Unwomanly Face of War.


eBooks on sale for $1.13 today:

After Henry by Joan Didion

eBooks on sale for $1.99 today:

The Birthday of the World by Ursula K. Le Guin
Bluebeard by Kurt Vonnegut
Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut
Cloudsplitter by Russell Banks
The Coral Sea by Patti Smith
Galapagos by Kurt Vonnegut
Girl in the Woods by Aspen Matis
God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater by Kurt Vonnegut
Journey to the End of the Night by Celine
Labyrinths by Jorge Luis Borges
The Last Samurai by Helen DeWitt
Mother Night by Kurt Vonnegut
Notes of a Native Son by James Baldwin
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A Sport and a Pastime by James Salter
This Dark Road to Mercy by Wiley Cash
Timequake by Kurt Vonnegut
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Wampeters, Foma & Granfalloons by Kurt Vonnegut
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eBooks on sale for $2.99 today:

Blue Boy by Rakesh Satyal
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eBooks on sale for $3.99 today:

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also at Largehearted Boy:

Support Largehearted Boy

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

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

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July 26, 2017

Book Notes - Elaine M. Hayes "Queen of Bebop: The Musical Lives of Sarah Vaughan"

Queen of Bebop: The Musical Lives of Sarah Vaughan

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.

Elaine M. Hayes' book Queen of Bebop: The Musical Lives of Sarah Vaughan is a well-researched biography that vividly explores the singer's life and musical legacy.

Booklist wrote of the book:

"Hayes' interviews with musicians, meticulous jazz history, incisive coverage of the ridiculous publicity campaigns the performer endured, and frank coverage of Vaughan's emotionally and financially disastrous marriages and her repeated rising from the ashes cohere in a deeply illuminating and unforgettable biography of a true American master."


In her own words, here is Elaine M. Hayes' Book Notes music playlist for her book Queen of Bebop: The Musical Lives of Sarah Vaughan:



I'm a music historian, and, by definition, music is the driving force behind everything I do. It's both a source of inspiration and the foundation for the stories that I tell and how I tell them. So, here's a list of six songs that shaped my work on Queen of Bebop: The Musical Lives of Sarah Vaughan. It's not a best-of list, an essential listening guide, or even a list of Sarah's songs that I love best (that list is ever changing and would be much longer). Rather, it is a list of songs that sparked my imagination and fueled my decades-long journey toward Sarah Vaughan. These are songs that helped me fall in love with her voice, and then the woman behind the voice. I hope you enjoy.

"How High the Moon" from Sarah Vaughan At Mr. Kelly's (Mercury, 1958)
At Mr. Kelly's was the first Sarah Vaughan album that I heard, and it blew me away. Her voice was magnificent, her musicianship superb, and her command of the room impressive. When faced with the clinking of glasses, a knocked over speaker, and forgotten lyrics, she kept on singing. Nowhere was this more clear than on "How High the Moon." Seconds after she began singing, she announced "I don't know the words to this song but I'm going to sing it anyway." Then she scatted her way through a brilliant tribute to Ella Fitzgerald. I later learned that this was how she always sang "How High the Moon" in the late 1950s. But in that moment, I thought, "Wow, that's cool."

"My Favorite Things" from After Hours (Roulette, 1961)
When I was a kid, The Sound of Music was one of my favorite movies, and I loved the enthusiasm, joy, and sheer exuberance that Julie Andrews brought to the music. So when I heard Sarah sing "My Favorite Things," I was struck by the contrasts. Sarah sang slowly. She was backed by the pared-down duo of Mundell Lowe on guitar and George Duvivier on bass, and there was no place for her to hide. Her voice was exposed, almost vulnerable, as she transformed the show tune into a soulful, very intimate lullaby. A month before recording the song, Sarah adopted her daughter and became a mother. And while I have absolutely no evidence to support this, I've often imagined Sarah singing "My Favorite Things" to her baby girl.

"Don't Blame Me" from One Night Stand: The Town Hall Concert (Blue Note, 1997)
I love this song, and everything else from One Night Stand: The Town Hall Concert, recorded in November 1947, five years after Sarah's break through appearance at the Apollo Theater but just before she emerged onto the national stage. We don't have that many live recordings from early in Sarah's career, so this album provides fascinating insights into this musical moment. We can hear how Sarah stretched out and explored in her live performances, more so than in her studio recordings; how she interacted with her band; and most importantly, how the audience responded to her. They clapped, whistled, and shouted out their approval. They were captivated by her voice. Today, seventy years later, it's easy to forget how new, exciting, and truly innovative Sarah Vaughan's singing was when she started out. This album reminded me and became the inspiration for the opening scene in Queen of Bebop.

"Please Mr. Brown" (Mercury, 1957)
This is not a pop masterpiece. (For that, I recommend her still hip and very seductive "Whatever Lola Wants" from 1955.) Her record label, Mercury, didn't even release this take of "Please Mr. Brown." It's an outtake, probably her first read through, and Sarah really hams it up. She portrays an embattled dance instructor whose students (and wannabe suitors) think that "as long as music is playing, anything goes." She adopts a campy accent, giggles, bursts into a hearty laugh, ad libs new dialogue, and finally concedes, "We should re-record this." It's laugh-out-loud funny and a wonderful example of Sarah's humor, wit, and the ease with which she could wing it, even while sight reading.

"I'm Glad There Is You" from Sarah Vaughan (EmArcy, 1954)
While songs like "Please Mr. Brown" show us the light-hearted, fun or "Sassy" side of Sarah Vaughan, the now-classic album Sarah Vaughan, epitomizes her more serious, jazz side. She uses her voice as an instrument, often humming and scatting along, and she completely immerses herself in the sonic landscape of each tune. She seems at one with her band, made up of her regular trio of Jimmy Jones on piano, Joe Benjamin on bass, and Roy Haynes on drums, plus Clifford Brown on trumpet, Herbie Mann on flute, and Paul Quinichette on saxophone. Each time I listen to Sarah Vaughan, I have a new favorite track. Right now it's "I'm Glad There Is You." Her voice sounds phenomenal. The interplay between her and the musicians is so subtle, her harmonic choices are exquisite, and there is a wonderful intimacy between her and the musicians and, I feel, also between her and the listener. Then in the final tag, the entire ensemble comes together and seamlessly blends on the final chord. So great!

"Send in the Clowns" from Sarah Vaughan: In the City of Lights, live in Paris 1985 (Justin Time, 1999)
No Sarah Vaughan playlist would be complete without "Send in the Clowns" from Stephen Sondheim's 1973 musical A Little Night Music. But I have to confess, it took me awhile to embrace this tune. I'd played it on the piano as a kid. Meh. And what's the deal with all of those clowns? Then I started to listen more closely, and I started to understand how this tune fit into the trajectory of Sarah's career. She first recorded it in 1973 for Mainstream and simply hated the disco-infused arrangement. The experience was yet another example of her conflicts with record executives and her ongoing battle for artistic agency. But she thought "Send in the Clowns" had potential and began incorporating it into her live acts. Here she sang "Send in the Clowns" her own way. She transformed the three-minute show tune into a seven-minute operatic tour de force that illustrated everything she could with her voice. It became her jazz aria. Not all critics approved of her virtuosic, sometimes over-the-top interpretation, but audiences loved it, and it soon became her most requested song, the reason they came to her shows. For me, "Send in the Clowns" symbolized Sarah's strength, resilience, and empowerment, her determination to sing how she wanted, regardless of what anybody said.


Elaine M. Hayes and Queen of Bebop: The Musical Lives of Sarah Vaughan links:

the author's website

New York Journal of Books review
New York Times review
NPR Books review
Publishers Weekly review
Washington Post review

KUOW interview with the author
WBUR interview with the author


also at Largehearted Boy:

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

Largehearted Boy's 2017 Summer Reading Suggestions

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

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