July 26, 2017

Shorties (An Excerpt from Tom Perrotta's New Novel, Max Richter's Favorite Albums, and more)

BuzzFeed shared an excerpt from Tom Perrotta's new novel Mrs. Fletcher.


Max Richter discussed his favorite albums at The Quietus.


Vol. 1 Brooklyn shared an essay from the anthology Rust Belt Chicago.


Max Easton discussed his book Life Makes Me Nervous; I Like the Butthole Surfers with Noisey.


BOMB shared an excerpt from Gunnhild Øyehaug's short fiction collection Knots.


Stream a new Blue Hawaii song.


Electric Literature interviewed author Jenny D. Williams.


Drowned in Sound interviewed members of Ride about the band's reunion.


Jeremiah Moss discussed his book Vanishing New York with Longreads.


Stream a new From the Mouth of the Sun song.


Literary Hub shared an excerpt from Jac Jamc's new novel The Grip of It.


Paste listed the best albums made by teenagers.


Stephen Burt examined the changing form of memoirs at the New Yorker.


Stream a new Julie Doiron song.


The New Republic examined the Trump presidency's effect on book sales.


Spoon frontman Britt Daniel discussed the influence on Prince on his music at the Washington Post.


Signature recommended books about the 1967 Detroit riots.


Stream a new Mister Heavenly song.


Brit Bennett discussed books that impacted her life and writing at Signature.


Feist visited World Cafe for an interview and live performance.


The Cut shared an excerpt from Carolyn Murnick's memoir The Hot One.


Stream a new Jessica Lea Mayfield song.


The New Republic profiled author Viet Thanh Nguyen.


Stereogum interviewed Ariel Pink.


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 25, 2017

Book Notes - Jay Baron Nicorvo "The Standard Grand"

The Standard Grand

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.

Jay Baron Nicorvo's The Standard Grand is an impressive debut, a literary page-turner both timely and moving.

Kirkus wrote of the book:

"...a seamless blend of road-trip saga, love story, and critique of military contractors...the novel is thematically a straightforward tale about finding a home…but Nicorvo smartly renders the legal, corporate, and military forces that can stand in the way of so simple a goal. An ambitious novel that effectively braids corporate greed, outdoorsy grit, and human connection."


In his own words, here is Jay Baron Nicorvo's Book Notes music playlist for his debut novel The Standard Grand:



Slews of writers out there listen to music while they write. For me, dead silence isn't a necessity but pretty damn near. Instrumentals, maybe. Anything with lyrics? Forget it. Singing, talking, or — worst of all — the mewling of our twenty-year-old cat, Fernie, drive me out of my mind, literally, while I'm writing or actively waiting for a word or two to arrive unannounced.

Once the daily writing's done, though, on goes the stereo. What comes out of it isn't as raucous as it was, say, twenty-five years ago. In my middle age, I've mellowed. Where my 1990s hardscrabble adolescence demanded heavy doses of Fishbone, Rage Against the Machine, and Gravediggaz, these days it's drams of Nina Simone, The Strumbellas, and, of late, when our son's in the car, the soundtrack for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. His favorite song? Fleetwood Mac's "The Chain." Thisbe and I must be crap parents, because we can't bring ourselves to curb his cussing, lesser though it is, when we've got a seven-ear-old on a booster in the backseat singing, "Running in the shadows, damn your love, damn your lies."

In between all the childrearing, while waiting for The Standard Grand to appear on shelves, I began fiddling with an adaptation for a TV pilot. I couldn't work in that format without hearing what songs might drift in to certain scenes. And, anyway, I'd been passively accumulating tracks for years. There are even a couple of minor characters that I plucked from songs and plugged straight into the novel, which centers round an Army trucker who goes AWOL before her third deployment. She falls in with a rowdy bunch of homeless vets squatting at a tumbledown Borscht Belt resort — the Standard of the title — in the Catskill Mountains.

Most of the songs that follow are war-related or flat-out anti-war, and the playlist is organized chronologically. It tracks the action of the novel, which opens with the main character, Specialist Antebellum Smith, leaving her life in the dust. She abandons her husband, her dog, and her post at Fort Leonard Wood, taking off in her pickup:

1. "War Horn" by Shakey Graves
Very slyly, you might even say disarmingly, Shakey Graves, aka Alejandro Rose-Garcia, cajoles us. I love the near-androgyny of his voice, and how in this song all our notions of American morality are upended. The horn is sounded and we sanction slaughter. When we do, everything can be called into question, especially after two or three deployments. Murder's our legal designation for killing with intent during peacetime. But come wartime, we relax our social norms. Love thy neighbor becomes neutralize the enemy. Mr. Graves takes digs at the civilized hypocrisy of waging war, often in the name of some higher power or other: "Never carried weapons till I heard the Lord / Blowin on his old war horn."

2. "Girl in the War" by Josh Ritter
If The Standard Grand has a theme song, this is it, and a few of Josh Ritter's lines make for half of the novel's epigraph. In addition to being one the best singer-songwriters of my generation, or any, Ritter's also an exceptional novelist, having published Bright's Passage a few years back. And here's another song that tells us: all those rules we wrote, well, they're the first go, come conflict of any kind. But this war's different from wars past. These days, we send our girls off to war alongside our boys. How's that for progress.

3. "Handsome Johnny" by Richie Havens
You buy a house a just downwind of Woodstock's constant contact high and, at your closing, you get a gratis copy of Woodstock, the 1970 concert documentary, even if Woodstock took place an hour from Woodstock. The performances can be hit or miss, but when they hit — Jesus. Joe Crocker belting out The Beatles' "With a Little Help from My Friends"? Sly and the Family Stone's epic "I Want to Take You Higher"? Jimmy Hendrix and his feedback "Star-Spangled Banner"? All for the ages. But the performance that moves me most is Richie Havens' set. The first musician to go on stage after hours of delay and hippy-dippy chaos, Havens is alone with his bassist. He's got a battered acoustic guitar. He's wearing a dashiki and sandals. He's got no top teeth. The first time I saw him, I felt sorry for him. Then he starts playing, and I felt sorry for my artless, sorry-ass self. "Motherless Son" never fails to buckle me. But it's timeless "Handsome Johnny" I include here, co-written with Academy Award-winner Louis Gossett Jr. The song sees our wars with the sage wisdom of those born into unending struggle, and it captures this truth partly by including the ongoing fight for Civil Rights right alongside America's canonical wars.

4. "Really Rosie" by Carole King
In the novel, after Smith goes AWOL and is living on the lam, she drives east. Gets as far as the Tappan Zee Bridge before she runs out of money and gas. Ditches her truck and hoofs it into New York City. Up comes the military drumbeat that opens "Really Rosie," a kitschy feint that swaggers into a campy girl-power anthem. It's the title song of Carole King's collaboration with Maurice Sendak for the children's musical Really Rosie: "I can act ‘To be or not to be' / I can tap / Across the Tappan Zee / Hey can't you see / I'm terrific at everything." Like Smith (I hope) Rosie embodies brash youthful self-assurance, so marked in some girls before puberty hits, and before the world, particularly hard on women and womanhood, goes to work wearing them down.

5. "A Lamb on the Stone" by Nathaniel Rateliff
There's a critical character, Ray Tyro, who's a former Army Ranger turned freelance security contractor. A merc, he's been hired to gather information on the Standard and the man who owns it. With his job done, Tyro's roughing it in the Catskills, spending a season or two in the wild as a way to get centered. This hardscrabble Nathaniel Rateliff ballad captures the conundrum that is Tyro — tough to know if he's the lamb, the stone, or the butcher holding the cleaver that cuts to the bone.

6. "Causeway" by Love Over Gold
This band is, at present anyway, a one-off formed by a duo of solo artists: Pieta Brown and Lucie Thorne. All their songs are stunningly simple. Two women with nothing more to complicate matters than their words, their voices, and their guitars, and that's more than enough. It isn't pure. It isn't all emotion. It's earthy and heady and smart. Complex, heartrending, and thought-provoking music making the most of a few moving parts, and "Causeway" gets at the sentiment of leaving, of deserting with good cause, its chorus: "I'm not going back."

7. "Codeine" by Trampled by Turtles
The husband that Smith leaves is a pillhead, a wastrel, Travis. He's the embodiment of all the guys I grew up with who were — and still are — choked out by blue-collar poverty. You hear of the opiate epidemic. The truncating lifespans of white working-class men. Well, Travis is what happens when you lose some of your privilege. It's overdue but it ain't pretty, though the song is — both spirited and sedate in that signature way of Trampled by Turtles, a speedball of a band — and this anguished ditty of course owes a tragic debt to Townes Van Zandt's "Waiting Around to Die."

8. "Written on the Forehead" by PJ Harvey
Smith suffers from PTSD. One terrible hallmark of the disorder (which I know intimately) is how it drags the past kicking and screaming into the present. This PJ Harvey song bottles the lightning of one or two of Smith's wartime flashbacks, and I can't help but be enlivened by Harvey's outrage on Let England Shake. Harvey's taking stock from across the Atlantic, where the West is in decline and it's the West's own damn fault. Tony Blair is mostly to blame for abetting George W. Bush's catastrophic invasion of Iraq. If the EU and the USA are doomed, bound to meet a bad end in either a bang or a whimper, the McGuffin of WMD is where it all started to go terribly wrong. And PJ Harvey knows it. The tricky thing about Harvey is: even at her pessimistic worst, in her songs of wrenching decline, she can't help but sound uplifting. That — her encouraging rage, and the earned rage of women like her — gives me hope.

9. "Sovay" by Andrew Bird
There's a scene about 2/3 through the novel that's something of a sendup to the attack on Vin Drin Dop or Lop in Apocalypse Now, when Col. Kilgore stages his massive Air Cav assault, complete with loudspeakers and longboards, to take a Viet Cong-controlled point that offers a coveted six-foot left, because Charlie don't surf. My paltry version is to Francis Ford Coppola's epic scene what Elmer Fudd's "Kill the Wabbit" is to Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries." In it, the homeless vets squabbling on the grounds of the Standard are bombarded by a mass die-off of brown bats. I hear the serene "Sovey" wafting over the apocalyptic scene. The traditional English folk ballad, of the same title, that inspired Bird's version is about a young woman, Sovay, who disguises herself as an armed highwayman to test her suitor by robbing him. There's some of Sovay in Smith, but there's little Sovay in "Sovay," at least as Bird geopolitically reimagines it: "They're playing Ride of the Valkyries / With no semblance of grace or ease / And they're acting on vagaries/ With their violent proclivities / And they're playing Ride of the Valkyries."

10. "Hell Broke Luce" by Tom Waits
Here's one of the songs where I've cribbed the name, Jeff Luce, and a bit of Luce's backstory, for my own nefarious purposes. Tom Waits, in that hurdy-gurdy voice of his — like a hand-crank meat grinder struggling against a knucklebone — is here raging about a war vet, Luce, who had a good home that he left. The song is something of a catalogue of Luce's injuries and indignities suffered in Iraq and, more outrageously, back Stateside. It makes for hard listening, as it should. In my less forgiving moments, I imagine the song blasting at a seated detainee, naked but for a hood, in a karmic black site of the soul. Under the hood, I picture any number of heads of state, but most frequently it's damned Dick Cheney.

11. "Wish You Were Here" by Rasputina
This is one of the most lovelorn songs I've ever heard, and call me a nincompoop but I prefer the weird Rasputina cover to Pink Floyd's classic original. The quavering voice and cello of Melora Creager just gut me, and then there's that devastating line that begs the question: "Did you exchange / a walk on part in the war / for a leading role in a cage?"

12. "Walking Blues" by Big Mama Thornton
In my mind, the walking blues are more American than apple pie. This quirk of the blues was, reportedly, first laid down by Son House in the 1930s, and it's been picked up by every meaningful blues musician since. One of my favorites is by Big Mama Thornton, who you likely know from her smash-hit version of "Hound Dog" — which makes the Elvis cover sound clownish. There, Ms. Thornton is glorious indignation, but here her "Walking Blues" is plaintive without complaining. Distraught without being a drag. Because inherent in the walking blues is the notion that, no mater what, no mater how heavy the load or how hard the road, you keep on walking. Thornton was a smasher of stereotypes — a queer black woman in a straight white man's America — and I fancy that she and Smith would get along mightily.

13. "Song For Zula" by Phosphorescent
Without giving too much away, the final pages of the novel, like this here Phosphorescent song, take place in the desert — emotional, actual — and I love how the lyrics that follow allude to, and overturn, a few lines of an earlier chart-topper: "Some say love is a burning thing / That it makes a fiery ring / Oh but I know love as a fading thing / Just as fickle as a feather in a stream." As heartbreaking, as cynical even, as this sounds compared to Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire" (written by June Carter Cash), there's a hard-won strength to be gained in such a loss of love. In the end, Smith does find love, but it's not the kind of love she, or the reader, expects. It's not fairytale love, or the smoldering love, so dismayingly fake, of romance novels and country-western songs. What Smith finds is true love, which is to say love that's fraught and not easy in the least. And I'll be good goddamned if I was going to have a character like Smith saved by some man, or even redeemed by love for a man. Smith doesn't find love; she earns love, a love of the kind far harder to come by and that promises to be far more enduring, because it's got no guarantees — a love of self.


Jay Baron Nicorvo and The Standard Grand links:

the author's website

Booklist review
Kirkus review
LitStack review
Publishers Weekly review

Midwestern Gothic interview with the author
Ploughshares 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 (An Interview with Rachel Khong, The Legacy of Lilith Fair, and more)

Hazlitt interviewed author Rachel Khong.


Rolling Stone examined the legacy of Lilith Fair.


Literary Hub shared an excerpt from Jesús Carrasco’s novel Out in the Open.


Vol. 1 Brooklyn interviewed Andrew Becker of the music project Human Potential.


All Songs Considered previewed the 2017 Newport Folk Festival.


Signature interviewed author Kevin Kelly about the future of technology.


Stream a new song by Baby!.


CarolineLeavittville interviewed author Janet Capron.


Bandcamp recommended Southeast Asian psych-funk.


The Paris Review interviewed translator Megan McDowell.


Stream a new Alvvays track.


CarolineLeavittville interviewed author Jill Eisenstadt.


Acoustic Guitar interviewed singer-songwriter Jason Isbell.


Work in Progress features a new essay by Samantha Hunt.


Stream a new Pere Ubu song.


Literary Hub interviewed author Sarah Hall.


Baeble listed awesome fictional music artists from film and television.


Publishers Weekly profiled author Chiara Barzini.


Stream a new Deerhoof song.


NYCTaper shared a recent Brooklyn performance by Waxahatchee.


The Barnes and Noble Review interviewed author Christopher Bollen.


James Elkington shared three Kinks covers at Aquarium Drunkard.


Literary Hub shared an excerpt from Ninni Holmqvist's novel The Unit.


Stream a Beth Ditto acoustic performance at The Current.


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 24, 2017

Book Notes - Melissa Febos "Abandon Me"

Abandon Me

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.

Melissa Febos's memoir-in-essays Abandon Me is one of my favorite nonfiction books of the year, a lyrical and moving examination of love and loss.

BOMB Magazine wrote of the book:

"Abandon Me is an assemblage of lyric essays as intellectually sophisticated as they are emotionally stirring; a series of unflinching reflections and honest accounts of transformation that Febos refuses to let pass without scrutiny…Febos complicates the human desire for connection with explorations in philosophy, psychology, and accounts of historical repression that seduce readers into inhabiting her myths while resisting sentimentality by dismantling the fictions with deft intellectual probing reminiscent of the work of Maggie Nelson."


In her own words, here is Melissa Febos's Book Notes music playlist for her memoir Abandon Me:



Abandon Me: An Imago Mix


The imago theory posits that behind the mysterious "chemistry" of attraction is a simple drive for emotional redemption. That is, we are attracted to people who offer opportunities to reenact the primary wounds of our early caregivers. Our pursuit of the unavailable lover is not an expression of self-hatred, but of a wish for resolution, an urge to heal our historical wounds, to write a different ending to our oldest story.

When I'm being flip, I say that my second book is about "how my daddy issues became my girl trouble." Abandon Me is a book about romantic obsession. Maybe, it is about falling in love. But the sort of feverish, selfish trance that can only last a short time, that is a kind of madness. Whose choices you later survey from the other side like those of a person under a spell, Who did that? Me? Whose logic, while inside it, you learn to hide from your closest friends, because you don't need your madness pointed out. You are operating, for the duration of your "love" affair, by another kind of sense. You have set down the tools honed in years of therapy and 12-Step meetings, studied in books by Buddhist nuns and feminist psychologists and Brene Brown, absorbed from episodes of On Being, and replaced them with the hammer of your pulse, the thick-necked hunger that stretches all the way back to that unmet need of your childhood. Your compass is the pea under all the psychic mattresses of your adulthood: the absent father, the boundary-less mother, the parentified child self, the deep desire to earn the love of the person least fit to give it. You are working from an old script. You have gone stupid with it. You are living in a pop song. You are regressed in the way of all the classic love stories. The stakes are life or death. You are having the best sex ever, and maybe, maybe it is worth the years this "love" is shaving off of your life. Or maybe not.

"Wrecking Ball" – Miley Cyrus
So often the lyrics of imago anthems are about annihilation. Their primary metaphors are those of extreme violence and parent-child attachment. Which make sense. If what we are talking about when we are talking about this kind of "love" is the engagement of a childlike, or even infantile, sense of stakes, then love truly is life or death.

"I Can't Live Without Your Love," Teddy Pendergrass
There are actually so many songs with this title, I could have chosen from Janelle Monae, Billy Ray Cyrus, Nelson, and myriad others. But this is the best, and the gist of codependence is shared among them, is our most treasured version of love.

"Sweet Child O' Mine," Guns N'Roses
God save the "child" of Axel Rose, in this case Erin Everly, daughter of Everly Brothers' Don Everly, though the girlfriends of every band member were featured in the video. This song has a classic confusion of transference: Her hair reminds me of a warm safe place / Where as a child I'd hide, Axel croons. But is she his mother, or is she his sweet child? Therein lies the question that you don't want to linger on for too long, even if we all do like to take turns with our lovers at playing the mommy and the baby.

"Shot Down," Khalid
Khalid is a recent favorite of mine, and truth be told, I listened to this song on repeat while I was falling for my now girlfriend—a relationship that, while I'm sure will reveal its own imago aspects, doesn't fit the type I depict in Abandon Me—but in the beginning of the beginning, every relationship (that I've known) can relate on some level to the primary metaphor here. I would die for you, he says, as so many have said before, and even those of us with good sense sing along. I guess we all wish for someone to promise loyalty from the jump until forever, maybe whether our mothers succeeded or failed to love us as such.

"You Got What I Need," Freddie Scott
Let's see. He's got the love object of this song as a little girl, a baby, having everything [he] need[s], being medicine to [him], and his savior. It's one of my favorite songs of all time, and it's got absolutely nothing that a healthy relationship needs, but everything that makes a love song great. I don't think it's a coincidence that the general geist (not to mention the irresistible hook) are shared by Biz Markie's biggest hit, "Just a Friend," which I also love very much.

"Lovesick," Lindstrom & Christabelle
Do u gonna be there? Yes, girl. I am here for this song. Are u sure u gonna call back? If you mean by listening to this on repeat on and off for three years, yes, I'm going to call back. When I'm calling up and all that? Didn't you hear me? Oh, you're too sick with the projection you call "love" to hear me, that's cool. Did u know that I'm sick? I mean, if you were a girl I was dating, I'd likely be blocking you on all platforms of communication and making sure my friends knew where I was at all times, and I no longer find girls like that irresistible, unlike this song. Did u think I would quit? Did I mention I'm a former heroin addict? Did u think I'll go home? Only a fool would think that.

"Storms" – Fleetwood Mac
Though this is off of (arguably) my favorite Fleetwood album, I really think of it as a Stevie Nicks song. And probably the majority of her catalog could fit somewhere on this playlist. The lyric of this song are like a hologram: turn it this way, and it's an ode to a mother; turn it that; a lover.

"Archangel," Burial
Some of favorite love songs are this kind, an electronic pulse (womb reenactment, anyone?) with nearly unintelligible lyrics. Babble might be the most succinct expression of oxytocin and dopamine drunk infatuation, whose roots lead back to that pre-lingual state. Baby, baby, baby, we murmur in the early throws of love, mesmerizing the parts of each other that long to regress to that place.

"When Something is Wrong with My Baby," Sam & Dave
If I know she's worried / Then I would feel that same old misery / We've been through so much together / We spoke as one and that's what makes it better. I mean. Someone get Sam and Dave a copy of Melody Beattie's classic text.


Melissa Febos and Abandon Me links:

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

Kirkus review
New York Times review
New Yorker review
Publishers Weekly review

Aspen Public Radio interview with the author
Barnes and Noble Review interview with the author
Brooklyn Rail interview with the author
Guardian profile of the author
Largehearted Boy Book Notes playlist by the author for Whip Smart
WABE 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

Book Notes - David Williams "When the English Fall"

When the English Fall

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 Williams' post-apocalyptic novel When the English Fall is a fascinating and thought-provoking debut.

Kirkus wrote of the book:

"A standout among post-apocalyptic novels, as simply and perfectly crafted as an Amish quilt or table. Lyrical and weirdly believable."


In his own words, here is David Williams's Book Notes music playlist for his debut novel When the English Fall:



Much of what I listen to when I write is wordless. What I want is something that evokes tone and mood, without lyrics that fuddle and complicate the words that my muse is trying to whisper in my ear. When not writing, there are always musical influences that help fertilize those fallow times.

The Last of Us, Gustavo Santaollala.

When I was writing the first draft of When the English Fall, I was also playing through The Last of Us on my PS3. It’s a brilliant, brilliant game, an interactive post-apocalyptic tale that stands with the best that film and literature have to offer. Great writing, moving and authentic voice-acting, and one of the most simultaneously brutal and human stories ever to grace that form of media. With Portal 2, Homeworld, and Fallout 3, it’s gaming at its pinnacle as narrative art form.

The theme Gustavo Santaollala created for the game’s soundtrack, spare and haunting and anxious, was precisely the mind-feel I wanted for what I was writing.

Dead Man, Neil Young

I’ve been a fan of Jarmusch for a while, pretty much since I watched Dead Man back as a young ‘un. Heck of a movie, and I’d argue it stands with Only Lovers Left Alive as perhaps the best of his work. Well, after Down By Law, of course.

Neil Young’s gritty, evocative soundtrack for that film was a regular part of my writing-music rotation for the book.

It’s quiet, but with an underlying harshness that speaks to the presence of unmanifested violence. It’s the sound of dryness and subtle threat, which was, again, precisely the feel I was seeking in my writing.

Beethoven’s 7th Symphony, Second Movement

Oh my brothers and sisters, do I love me some Ludvig Van. And this movement of this symphony in particular, as the rising wave of the central motif gathers and builds. There’s a sadness and an inevitability to it, coupled with Beethoven’s fierce Teutonic nobility. I’d listen, and listen again, and then write.

"Down in the Willow Garden"

This song also makes an appearance in the book, as Jacob (the protagonist) and his daughter will hum a tune whose words they have forgotten. It’s an old classic Everly Brothers classic, a story in song, paradoxically brutal and sweetly harmonic, a song of death and violence and loss.

"Softly and Tenderly (Jesus is Calling)"

There’s this brilliant scene in the movie Junebug, where the erudite urban protagonist suddenly realizes that her new beau hails from a very different world, where faith is woven up into the life of a community with strange and compelling harmonies. Given the central role of faith in the book, and the tension between that faith and a world that was alien to it, this one would often play through my earbuds as I walked and struggled through where the story was going next. There’s the version from the film, of course, but also countless other renditions of a wonderful old gospel standard.

"Sorcerer’s Apprentice,"Dukas

As a meditation on the hubris of human technological dependence, there ain’t nothin’ to beat this admittedly familiar bit of classical music. It surfaces in the book, as the Amish narrator reflects on having watched that sequence of Disney’s Fantasia during his rumspringa. Cute hat-wearing cartoon mice notwithstanding, it’s a pretty intense piece, one that played well thematically with the book.

"Easy’s Gettin' Harder Every Day," Iris DeMent

Though I’m alone in my household on this, I absolutely love Iris DeMent. The sharpness of her twang. The deep sorrow of so much of her music. This particular song just hits me hard. It speaks to the strange hopelessness of so much of contemporary life, that rust-belt postindustrial era ennui that feeds our hunger for apocalyptic tales, as part of us wishes something big and inescapable would come along and sweep the patterns of our empty lives away.


David Williams and When the English Fall links:

the author's website

Kirkus review
Minneapolis Star Tribune review
Newsday 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

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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Atomic Books Comics Preview - July 25, 2017

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

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

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


Death Knight and the City in Stasis

Death Knight and the City in Stasis
by Jimmy Giegerich

Jimmy Giegerich of Fight Frogs and Executioner and Friend fame delivers a deliciously awesome mix of hack and slash fantasy and grosso-horror.


Field Guide to the Aliens of Star Trek: The Next Generation

Field Guide to the Aliens of Star Trek: The Next Generation
by Joshua Chapman

In 1990, Joshua Chapman was an 11 year old who decided to keep a guide to the aliens of Star Trek: The Next Generation. As he continued to keep the guide through his teenage years, a hilarious profile of an awkward school kid wrestling with adolescence and life begins to emerge.


Kill All Monsters Omnibus Volume 1

Kill All Monsters Omnibus Volume 1
by Michael May / Jason Copland

You either enjoy giant robots fighting giant monsters or you don't. If you do, May and Copland's comics collection is the greatest thing to come along since Pacific Rim. If you don't, well, no one can help you.


Matinee Junkie #4

Matinee Junkie #4
by Jordan Jeffries

Jordan's Matinee Junkie is a movie-based diary comic. Structured around him seeing 50 movies in 2016, there are also real life events like him getting married, the disastrous 2016 American presidential election and more. A new Matinee Junkie is one of those events I really look forward to every year as it just keeps getting better and better. I'm not sure why a publication hasn't snatched Jordan up yet for its film section.


Songy Of Paradise

Songy Of Paradise
by Gary Paradise

This ridiculously beautiful book by comics genius Gary Panter retells the temptation of Christ in the desert by Satan but replaces Jesus with a hillbilly. I could read a whole New Testatment's-worth of this work.


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


Atomic Books & Benn Ray links:

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


also at Largehearted Boy:

Support the Largehearted Boy website

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

Online "Best of 2015" Book Lists

Antiheroines (interviews with up and coming female comics artists)
Book Notes (authors create music playlists for their book)
Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week (recommended new books, magazines, and comics)
musician/author interviews
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Short Cuts (writers pair a song with their short story or essay)
WORD Bookstores Books of the Week (weekly new book highlights)

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Shorties (Svetlana Alexievich Interviewed, Stream a Fela Kuti Documentary, and more)

The Guardian profiled author Svetlana Alexievich.


Stream the Fela Kuti documentary Music Is The Weapon.


Granta shared an excerpt from Lucy Ives' new novel Impossible Views of the World.


Pitchfork interviewed Zola Jesus about her new album.


Book Riot interviewed author Imbolo Mbue.


The opera The (R)evolution Of Steve Jobs opened this week.


Paste profiled singer-songwriter Nicole Atkins.


Entropy interviewed poet Catherine Theis.


Stream a new LCD Soundsystem song.


Publishers Weekly previewed fall's best debut fiction.


The Creative Independent interviewed Alice Cooper.


Sally Rooney shared the genesis of her novel Conversations with Friends with BookPage.


Justin Vernon covered Prince's "Erotic City" with the Revolution.


Literary Hub shared an excerpt from the book "Do You Have a Band?": Poetry and Punk Rock in New York City.


The Shins played a Tiny Desk Concert.


Stream the trailer for the J.D. Salinger biopic, Rebel in the Rye.


Stream a new Purity Ring song.


Book Riot recommended zombie novels.


Jason Isbell visited World Cafe for an interview and live performance.


The Observer interviewed author Jenny Zhang.


Stream a new song by Susanne Sundfør.


Great Jones Street features new short fiction by Amber Sparks.


All Songs Considered profiled the duo Sylvan Esso.


The Millions recommended July's best poetry books.


Stream a 1980 DEVO concert.


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


Drowned in Sound interviewed Gothic Tropic's Cecelia Della Perutti.


Book Riot recommended July's best poetry and fiction in translation.


NPR Music listed the greatest albums made by women (since 1964).


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 21, 2017

Book Notes - David Burr Gerrard "The Epiphany Machine"

The Epiphany Machine

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 Burr Gerrard's ambitious alternate history The Epiphany Machine is one of the year's finest books.

Publishers Weekly wrote of the book:

"This is a wildly charming, morally serious bildungsroman with the rare potential to change the way readers think."


In his own words, here is David Burr Gerrard's Book Notes music playlist for his novel The Epiphany Machine:



"My Body Is a Cage," Arcade Fire
Characters use the epiphany machine—a device that tattoos epiphanies on the forearms of its users—because they feel trapped inside themselves. No song I know evokes that feeling better than this one. Except maybe the next one on this list.

"Every Single Night," Fiona Apple
The obvious Fiona Apple song here is "Extraordinary Machine," and I listened to that song many times while writing The Epiphany Machine. But the chorus of "Every Single Night"—a brilliantly elongated, twisted, and recursive enunciation of "Every single night's a fight with my brain/I just want to feel everything"—is closer to my book's heart, and tattooed on mine.

"I've Got You Under My Skin," Frank Sinatra
I can't hear this fun, obscurely mischievous song without thinking of the epiphany machine's ink working its way into a user's arm. Nothing would delight me more than if you think of the machine the next time you hear this song.

"Think for Yourself," The Beatles
In my novel's universe, John Lennon uses the epiphany machine and falls under the spell of the machine's proprietor, Adam Lyons, shortly before the composition and recording of Rubber Soul, inspiring songs such as "The Word" and "Nowhere Man." George Harrison is sufficiently annoyed with Adam Lyons's influence that he writes "Think for Yourself." Some Beatles scholars believe that, in the world drably called the "real" one, the song was written as an attack on discarded Beatles drummer Pete Best. I like my version better.

"Watching the Wheels," John Lennon
Another person who uses the machine according to my novel is Mark David Chapman, who gets a tattoo identical to Lennon's. This song, released shortly before Chapman murdered Lennon, suggests a contentment that the characters in my novel (like most people I see in the world) desperately seek but mostly find elusive.

"Superstition," Stevie Wonder
I love this song, a joyful, lighthearted rejection of superstition. I didn't make reference to it in The Epiphany Machine—I didn't, for instance, suggest Stevie Wonder wrote it to critique Adam Lyons—but now that I'm making this playlist I wish I had.

"Climbing Up the Walls," Radiohead
For much of the novel, my protagonist, Venter Lowood, is a lost, moody, grandiose high school student. When I was a lost, moody, grandiose high school student, I listened to Ok Computer a lot. I couldn't write a playlist for a novel with "machine" in the title without including at least one song from the album, and "Climbing Up the Ways" narrowly seems most appropriate. "Open up your skull/I'll be there"

"Frontier Psychiatrist," The Avalanches
A crucial section of The Epiphany Machine takes place at Columbia University in the weeks after 9/11, as Venter stews in his dorm room and makes a momentous, terrible decision. Though thankfully I didn't make any decision as terrible as Venter's, I too stewed in my Columbia dorm in the weeks after 9/11, for much of that time listening to this strange collage of a song on repeat. "Frontier Psychiatrist" has an oddball humor, an oddball menace, and an oddball beauty, and I hope The Epiphany Machine has all three of those things.

"Things Have Changed," Bob Dylan
I fell in love with this melancholy yet bouncy song while simultaneously falling in love with the film version of Michael Chabon's Wonder Boys, which uses it to great effect. That film, which I saw in college, epitomized for me the glamor I expected to find in a literary life. (It would also certainly do the same for Venter.) I was very naïve, but things have changed. Or have they? That "things have changed" is a phrase that should always be regarded with suspicion is a major theme of this song, and of The Epiphany Machine.

"Needle in the Hay," Elliott Smith
Another dark and lovely song that I fell in love with in college. No playlist for a novel about a tattoo machine would be complete without a song with "needle" in the title, and this is my favorite.

"Epiphany," Stephen Sondheim
In this song from Stephen Sondheim's classic musical Sweeney Todd, Sweeney Todd's epiphany is that "We all deserve to die," and, further, that he can hasten those deserved deaths by slaughtering customers unlucky enough to take a seat in his barber's chair. The fates of those who sit for an epiphany tattoo are not quite so grisly, at least not immediately, nor are the epiphanies for the most part quite so bleak, but the image of Sweeney and his chair was much on my mind when I was writing this novel.

"You Want It Darker," Leonard Cohen
I finished reviewing final copyedits for The Epiphany Machine on the morning of November 8th, fresh from voting for Hillary Clinton. The atmosphere at my polling place in Queens had been cheery and upbeat, and I thought that perhaps The Epiphany Machine was too dark, that America wasn't quite as bleak as I had portrayed it. By the end of the night I was much more confident in my novel and much less confident in the future. Leonard Cohen died that week, and I've barely stopped listening to this deeply terrifying, perversely hopeful song since.

"Cut to the Feeling," Carly Rae Jepsen
Here's another, rather different song I've been listening to recently. I conclude with it because, the world being darker than anyone could possibly want it, I want to end with an unambiguously upbeat note, and also because the title doubles as the best writing advice I can think of. Cut to the feeling.


David Burr Gerrard and The Epiphany Machine links:

the author's website
excerpt from the book

The Brooklyn Rail review
Kirkus review
Open Letters Monthly review
Publishers Weekly review

Paste 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

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 21, 2017

Nicole Atkins

Cornelius's Mellow Waves and Nicole Atkins' Goodnight Rhonda Lee are the two albums I can wholeheartedly recommend this week.

Reissues include a 40th anniversary expanded 3-CD/1-LP edition of the Ramones' Leave Home and Roxy Music's Avalon on vinyl.

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


This week's interesting music releases:

Avey Tare: Eucalyptus
Beach Boys: Wild Honey (reissue) [vinyl]
Childhood: Universal High
The Chris Robinson Brotherhood: Barefoot in the Head
Clint Mansell: Black Mirror: San Junipero (Original Score) (Purple Vinyl) [vinyl]
Cornelius: Mellow Waves
Damian Marley: Stony Hill
Dan Croll: Emerging Adulthood
Declan McKenna: What Do You Think About The Car?
Eagles: Their Greatest Hits Volumes 1 & 2 [vinyl]
Foster the People: Sacred Hearts Club
Goldfinger: The Knife
Hans Zimmer: Dunkirk: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Imagine Dragons: Evolve [vinyl]
In This Moment: Ritual
Jed Kurzel: Alien: Covenant (Original Soundtrack Album)
Lana Del Rey: Lust For Life
The Mamas & The Papas: Collected [vinyl]
Meek Mill: Wins & Losses
Nick Cave and Warren Ellis: War Machine
Nicole Atkins: Goodnight Rhonda Lee
Nine Inch Nails: Add Violence EP
Oh Wonder: Ultralife [vinyl]
Paul Simon: Concert In Hyde Park
Radiohead: OK COMPUTER OKNOTOK 1997 2017 (Deluxe Box Set) [vinyl]
Ramones: Leave Home 40th Anniversary Deluxe Edition (3CD/1LP)
Roxy Music: Avalon (reissue) [vinyl]
Style Council: Cafe Bleu (reissue) [vinyl]
The Temper Trap: Conditions (reissue) [vinyl]
Tragically Hip: Phantom Power [vinyl]
Tyga: Bitch I'm the Shit 2
Tyler, The Creator: Flower Boy
Various Artists: Disco Anthems [vinyl]
Violent Femmes: Two Mics & The Truth: Unplugged & Unhinged In America


also at Largehearted Boy:

Support Largehearted Boy

weekly music release lists

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

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Shorties (An Interview with Alissa Nutting, An Interview with Mitski, and more)

Jezebel interviewed author Alissa Nutting.


Stereogum interviewed singer-songwriter Mitski Miyawaki.


Literary Hub shared the history of children's board books.


Wonderland interviewed Ben Romans-Hopcraft, frontman of the band Childhood.


The Guardian listed the best books about bicycling.


Stream Eddie Berman's cover Of Kurt Vile's "Pretty Pimpin."


The longlists for the 2017 Brooklyn Public Library Literary Prize have been announced.


Jennifer Herrema Ranked Royal Trux’s albums at Noisey.


Rolling Stone interviewed Gabe Hudson about his debut novel Gork, the Teenage Dragon.


Stream a new Florist song.


Financial Times interviewed author Olivia Sudjic.


Stream a new Grizzly Bear song.


The Rumpus interviewed author Barbara Browning.


Stream a new Jaws of Love song.


The New Yorker profiled author Tamara Shopsin.


Julien Baker covered Joan Osborne’s “(What if God Was} One Of Us."


Literary Hub paired classic country songs with books.


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 20, 2017

Book Notes - Anthony Tambakis "Swimming with Bridgeport Girls"

Swimming with Bridgeport Girls

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.

Anthony Tambakis's novel Swimming with Bridgeport Girls is a moving, funny, and entertaining debut.

Library Journal wrote of the book:

"Tambakis's outstanding debut is entertaining and sometimes sad, a superb portrait of a troubled but wisecracking gambler. Think Carl Hiaasen meets Fyodor Dostoevsky's The Gambler."


In his own words, here is Anthony Tambakis's Book Notes music playlist for his novel Swimming with Bridgeport Girls:



My editor Jofie wants Swimming with Bridgeport Girls made into a movie just so he can buy the soundtrack. The narrator, Ray Parisi, relates every part of his life, and love with his ex-wife, to one song or another, and even his dog is named after Springsteen (I’m the very same way, though my dog is named after Joni Mitchell, and I do not have an ex-wife, nor a current one, though it now occurs to me I didn’t need to mention that last part, and that this now could seem like an OK Cupid ad—I really should erase this entire parenthetical, but I’m in Austin right now, and it’s 102 degrees, and I don’t have the energy to hit the back space bar that many times). Anyway, here’s some of the music that inspired the novel and is embedded in it:


ROMEO & JULIET (Dire Straits)

On the Ray’s first road trip with the girl who would become the great love (and regret) of his life, they drive down to D.C. from the Jersey shore in the middle of the night, listening to Dire Straits’ Making Movies (side one of which features TUNNEL OF LOVE, ROMEO & JULIET, and SKATEAWAY, making it one of the most perfect sides of pop music ever recorded). During ROMEO & JULIET, she scrawls “You n’ me babe—how ‘bout it?” on the dash in lipstick, mimicking Mark Knopfler’s closing refrain and capturing that soaring, slipping, scary feeling when you’re standing on the precipice of big love, a canyon opening in your heart, with no net below. This would become their wedding song, and has long been one of my favorite tracks. An exquisite piece of music. I have never met a single person who did not respond to this song when I played it for them. I’m not going to say there’s something wrong with a person who doesn’t like ROMEO & JULIET. I don’t know everyone’s story or situation. It wouldn’t definitively mean there’s something very off with them. But it certainly implies they’re troubled, and in deep need of some kind of assistance, and I hope they get it, pull their lives together, and then go download “Making Movies."


JERSEY GIRL (Bruce Springsteen)

The first song Ray and his ex ever danced to, out on the deck of Martell’s Tiki Bar, down the shore. Tom Waits wrote it, but it belongs to Bruce in the same way his BECAUSE THE NIGHT belongs to Patti Smith. During the summer of ’85, we saw the Boss 10 times at the Meadowlands. We lived in the parking lot during the day, blasting the epic Winterland ’78 bootleg, drinking Schaefer bar bottles, and learning how to be cool by following everything Bruce did. This song was our “Under the Boardwalk,” and this is how Ray describes it (I’ll spare everyone the agony of quoting myself again after this, I promise):

"I can tell you that there are few things in life that compare with being nineteen years old, holding the tiny waist of the most beautiful girl you’ve ever seen, and slow-dancing on an outdoor deck while a summer breeze eases in off the Atlantic and pinwheel lights from a distant Ferris wheel bleed across the water. Can you even imagine that? Can you imagine everyone in the place singing “’Cause down the shore everything’s all right, you and your baby on a Saturday night, nothing matters in this whole wide world, when you’re in love with a Jersey girl” and, during the “Sha-la-la-la-la-la-la-las,” closing your eyes and burying your face in her hair and hoping the band would never, ever stop playing? And then, right when you think there’s no way the moment can be topped, she looks up at you with those eyes that are neither gray nor green nor blue but something unto themselves, some color you’ve never seen, and you stare at that mesmerizing blue speck and whisper, “I think you have something on your lip,” and she stares straight into your eyes with those little moons of hers and says, 'Maybe you could get it for me.' And then your life begins."


LATE FOR THE SKY (Jackson Browne)

In the novel, this is the song (and album) that the Ray’s ex listens to repeatedly following their break up. Ray later calls it the saddest song ever written, and this is a position I hold, as well. There are some wrenching, emotionally devastating songs out there (the Band’s IT MAKES NO DIFFERENCE leaps to mind, as does Sinead O’Connor’s LAST DAY OF OUR ACQUAINTANCE), but no one ever captured the spent, washed-out feeling of dawn breaking--with too much having been broken, unable to repair or let go until light breaks—like the great Jackson Browne. It is a shattering song, lifted to the highest place on the list of Things That Break My Heart by David Lindley’s mournful slide guitar. I march with Bruce, but I cry with Jackson, and his three-album run in the mid 70s (Late For the Sky, The Pretender, and Running on Empty) is equal to any three consecutive records anyone ever made.


DESPERADOS UNDER THE EAVES & THE FRENCH INHALER (Warren Zevon)

At the opening of the book, Ray has stolen his ex-wife’s journal, and each chapter begins with a snippet from her diary. In Chapter One, she remarks that she has no idea what’s happened to Ray, that he’s somehow turned into a character in a Warren Zevon song. This is leveled as a severe criticism, but Ray doesn’t see why it’s a negative, as Zevon’s songs are filled with raconteurs and outlaws and earnest if troubled people working the margins. Ray Carver’s characters set lose in southern California. I think Warren Zevon wrote some of the greatest and most unique songs of the 1970s (YouTube him and Jackson doing MOHAMMED’S RADIO on the Old Grey Whistle Test in 1976 for a real treat), but to me his two finest hours are these: DESPERADOS UNDER THE EAVES and THE FRENCH INHALER. In the novel, THE FRENCH INHALER is played by a pianist at Lafitte’s in New Orleans who refuses to heed any requests for Billy Joel’s PIANO MAN, reasoning that PIANO MAN is the phony, mainstream version of THE FRENCH INHALER, which captures the lonely crawl toward last call in LA in the most lacerating fashion. Written about his ex-wife, Zevon is the only guy who could rival Bob Dylan in the halls of bitterness. It’s not quite IDIOT WIND (which took POSITIVELY 4TH STREET’s corrosive lyrics and somehow added even more acid), but THE FRENCH INHALER comes close when Zevon lobs this grenade at the close: “When the lights came up at two, I got a good look at you, and your face looked like something death brought with him in his suitcase”).

DESPERADOS UNDER THE EAVES, on the other hand, is, in my estimation, one of if not the greatest song ever written about southern California, and lord knows there have been many. Zevon understood the violence lurking beneath the sunshine like no one else did. He saw the menace of the Golden State (“Don’t the trees look like crucified thieves”?) and understood what was rotten at the core of the American Dream, the corrupt drive of Manifest Destiny. With its gorgeous strings and Bukowski-esque narrator, this is Zevon’s masterpiece.


AGAINST THE WIND (Bob Seger)

This track is not featured in the book, but a song I returned to again and again while editing, the points of views of both Ray and his ex-wife somehow speaking to me in this perfect track about what it feels like to no longer be young. This is one of my favorite categories of songs, the melancholy realizations and late wisdoms of time slipping away. Almost everyone ends up doing their best work when they dip into this subject matter. Even Mellencamp, who never did much for me, wrote his best song (CHECK IT OUT) about this topic. Nina Simone’s haunting cover of WHO KNOWS WHERE THE TIME GOES is the most devastating of these, but all of them get me, from the Cowboy Junkies’ HORSE IN THE COUNTRY (“The hours, well, I don’t mind, how they slip on by like an old love of mine, but it’s the years that simply disappear that are doing me in”) to Mr. Zevon’s ACCIDENTALLY LIKE A MARTYR (“The days slide by, should've done, should've done, we all sigh”). But I love AGAINST THE WIND the most. It’s Seger’s most mature song and finest hour. And after listening to the following lyric repeatedly (“The years rolled slowly past and I found myself alone, surrounded by strangers I thought were my friends, I found myself further and further from my home…”), along with a healthy dose of DESPERADOES UNDER THE EAVES on repeat, I decided to leave Los Angeles for Austin.


EVERYBODY PAYS (Mark Knopfler)

There have been 74 million amazing songs written about California, but almost none about Las Vegas, where much of the book is set. Oddly, the best one comes from a solo Mark Knopfler, who captures the world not of tourists but of locals, those who hang around the two-dollar tables downtown, know where all the cheap buffets are, and watch time tick away day after day, year after year, waiting for a fortune train they know is not merely late, but never coming. I'll play this song before I walk out for readings. There’s a world weariness to this track, but also a languidness that keeps it from slipping into the darkness. When he sings “Everybody has to leave some blood here on the floor, everybody pays to play” it rings with the resignation of living and losing and getting up and doing it again, because what other choice is there?


THE PRETENDER (Jackson Browne)

Speaking of getting up and doing it again, here’s the song the narrator’s ex ultimately decides is the one that reminds her of Ray, not LATE FOR THE SKY. Another song about the passage of time and the disillusionment that comes with it, THE PRETENDER is probably Jackson’s most accomplished track, catching more in his net than just confession. This song captures the anomie settling into mid '70s America, the death of the counter culture ideal, and uses Los Angeles as an Everycity, where people live in the shadows of the freeways, are inundated with advertising, and follow the American Dream to the point of exhaustion and confusion (“To believe in whatever may lie, in the things that money can buy, thought true love could have been a contender, are you there, say a prayer, for the Pretender, who started out so young and strong, only to surrender”). THE PRETENDER is not as melancholy as it might have been because there’s a thin undercurrent of disgust underneath it, still challenging its ideas.


THE RIVER INTRO (Bruce Springsteen)

After breaking wide open with Born in the USA, Bruce put out a box set of live recordings called Live ’75-’85. In it, he included a version of THE RIVER from a 1980 LA show that features a long, spoken introduction by Bruce concerning his relationship with his father. This story was well known to Boss diehards. As kids, we had it on a bootleg and listened to it repeatedly before the box set ever came out, the story he told perfectly capturing the uneasy and often fractured relationships some of my friends had with their fathers, and that I most certainly had with mine. In the story, Bruce’s working class Dad, booze and disappointment coursing through his veins, sits in the darkness of the kitchen every night, waiting up for his long-haired son to come home. He demands to know what Bruce is doing with his life. Misunderstood and scared, the young Springsteen stays out as late as he can, talking to his girlfriend from freezing cold phone booths, hoping his father won’t be awake when he comes in (I would do this exact thing many nights growing up). There’s a turn at the end of the story that manages to capture the complexity of fathers and sons in a way that not even his INDEPENDENCE DAY (also from The River) can. In the book, Ray and his ex listen to the story in the car on the way to D.C., and he has a moment where he can share something about himself, something he has hidden, but he chooses not to, and that missed opportunity will come back to haunt him. If you close your eyes and listen to the story and don’t cry, your heart is way too hard and you should do something about that.


STRANGER IN MY OWN HOMETOWN (Elvis Presley)

The book features a very, very misguided attempt to break into Graceland, and while visiting Memphis I was introduced to what has to be the darkest song Elvis Presley ever recorded. It came in between Colonel Tom putting him in all of those ridiculous and frivolous movies and the final, grim descent in Vegas. Right around the ’68 comeback special I believe. If anyone is interested in lamenting the lost promise of Elvis Aron Presley, just listen to STRANGER IN MY OWN HOMETOWN, which rolls like a black river and seems to have come from another person and another set of session musicians entirely. This song is a loaded gun. A dark alley. The pace is relentless (Springsteen would later capture its speed and mood in a brilliant song called ROULETTE, which he wrote after the Three Mile Island disaster) and the mood is unforgiving and violent (to hear Elvis Presley bark “Blow your brains out!” at the end of a song is beyond startling). All the encroaching violence of the late 60s is captured here. If he had held on to this fury, stayed in the leather jumpsuit instead of one with rhinestones, who knows what might have been.


MACHINE GUN (The Commodores)

When I turned in my last draft, I put on MACHINE GUN (coolest instrumental ever with the coolest title), shook my white ass for 2 minutes and 39 seconds, and then started writing something new. I encourage you to do exactly the same thing right now!


Anthony Tambakis and Swimming with Bridgeport Girls links:

Kirkus review

The Day interview with the author
Shelf Awareness review
WABE 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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Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week - July 20, 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.


Women in Sports: 50 Fearless Athletes Who Played to Win

Women in Sports: 50 Fearless Athletes Who Played to Win
by Rachel Ignotofsky

Writer and artist Rachel Ignotofsky has turned her attention from those of the brain—Women in Science (2016)—to those of brawn with Women in Sports, featuring illustrated biographies of inspiring athletes, from Keiko Fukuda to Serena Williams.


Women Who Kill

Women Who Kill
by Sarah Tanat-Jones

“Femmes fatales”, indeed. Women Who Kill profiles some of history’s infamous self-defenders, avengers, and psychopaths, accompanied by visceral and beautiful illustrations.


The Ministry of Utmost Happiness

The Ministry of Utmost Happiness
by Arundhati Roy

The long-awaited new novel from the internationally-celebrated author of The God of Small Things (1997) is a deeply humane romp spanning many years across the Indian subcontinent, displaying Arundhati Roy’s storytelling finesse.


Fourth Walk

Fourth Walk
by Jessica Bebenek

Prominent Montreal/Toronto based poet Jessica Bebenek has followed up 2014’s Kettle Song with Fourth Walk, an intimate poetry chapbook brimming with guttural lyricism.


The Dark-Dark

The Dark-Dark
by Samantha Hunt

Samantha Hunt spins her thread of horror through the loom of banality in this collection of ten wonderful, gothic stories.


Librairie Drawn & Quarterly links:

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


also at Largehearted Boy:

Support the Largehearted Boy website

other Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week

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

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