April 3, 2017

Book Notes - Carol Zoref "Barren Island"

Barren Island

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

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

Winner of the AWP Award for the Novel, Carol Zoref's Barren Island is a thought-provoking coming of age debut.

Paul Harding wrote of the book:

"Barren Island is a wonderful synthesis of character and history. From the moment Marta Eisenstein Lane begins to tell us about her remarkable family’s lives on the rank, forsaken sand bar of Barren Shoal, rendering animal carcasses into glue, the author immerses us in a world most readers would never otherwise have known existed. As squalid and hardscrabble as these lives may be, they are also suffused with strange beauty and love by Marta’s solicitude and honesty. Barren Island is big-hearted, generous, and fascinating."


In her own words, here is Carol Zoref's Book Notes music playlist for her debut novel Barren Island:



Music is everywhere and nowhere in Barren Island. The novel, which mostly takes place between the autumn of 1929 and Labor Day weekend in 1939, tells the story of people who live on an island in New York City that is isolated from the daily life of the city. The island is Barren Shoal, a spit of land adjacent to the historical Barren Island. Most of the residents, though not all, are recent immigrants. They struggle with poverty, bigotry, and dangerous work. The central characters challenge this isolation in order to wrestle with the cultural and political dramas of The Great Depression, including poverty, unions, fascism, refugees, and sexuality.

Radios provide the only real-time connection to the rest of the city. Because of radio, the characters can hear daily news reports, listen to ball games, and follow radio dramas. They also listen to live weekly broadcasts from The Metropolitan Opera House and to the popular music that, later in the 20th century, came to be known as The Great American Songbook. They had occasion, as well, to hear the protest and labor songs of the time that are still sung today. Though few songs are mentioned in the book by name, I imagine that these selections would have been among what they'd have heard. Some of this music wasn't recorded until long after it was written. I've chosen from among a spectrum of terrific performances.

"Brother Can You Spare A Dime" performed by Mandy Patinkin

Gut wrenching. Epitomizes the struggles of the decade. Written by E.Y. "Yip" Harburg and Jay Gorney. Yip Harburg also penned the lyrics for 1939's The Wizard of Oz. He was a beautifully subversive and often humorous lyricist who wrote about income inequality, racism, and hope.

"Strange Fruit" performed by Billie Holiday

Bigotry in the U.S. in the 1930s was as lethal as it was in Europe. This 1936 song by Abel Meerapol simultaneously frightens and seduces. The melody and lyrics are cooly inviting until it becomes clear that the strange fruits are the bodies of Black Americans who have been lynched. Then it becomes an angry lament about the unwillingness of the white world to put a stop to it. One would think that knowing these themes would make it impossible to hear the song multiple times. But its artistry achieves what art does best: makes it impossible to turn away.

"This Land Is Your Land" performed by Pete Seeger and Bruce Springsteen

Best. American. Folk song. A song of hope that also challenges the status quo of land ownership. Woody Guthrie wrote it in the 1930s, though he didn't record it until the 1940s. A great stanza is often omitted by censors:

There was a big high wall there, that tried to stop me.
The sign was painted, said 'Private Property.'
But on the backside, it didn't say nothing.
This land was made for you and me.

Seeger and Springsteen sang the entire song in the celebration performance for the first inauguration of Barack Obama inauguration in 2009.

"Which Side Are You On" performed by Florence Reese

The labor struggles that are a narrative thread through Barren Island were not unique. Workers had little defense against corporate interests in the face of wage reductions, layoffs, and neglected safety concerns. Florence Reese of Harlan County, Kentucky wrote new lyrics to a church hymn in 1931 after the local sheriff hired thugs to illegally search her home. They were searching for her husband, a coal miner and activist union organizer. Harlan County became synonymous with union busting violence and strikes. An accident at the Barren Shoal rendering plant surely raised this same question. Everything that ever happens raises this question.

"Solidarity Forever" performed by Tom Morello: The Nighwatchman

By the 1930s, this had become the anthem of the American labor movement. Morello's rendition is strong and true. Probably sung at the Union Square labor protest that takes place in Chapter 14 of BARREN ISLAND.

"Crossroads" performed by Robert Johnson

The African American men on Barren Shoal held the most dangerous jobs on the island, shoveling coal into the furnaces at the glue rendering plant. If they stepped down from a stoking job due to age or illness, they might have been given another job, like gate watcher, unlike the spot was taken away and given to a white worker. Like everyone on Barren Shoal, the Black workers had covert ways of giving voice to their frustrations, their yearnings, and the sacrifices they made in order to earn a day's pay. They had traditional spirituals as well as the newer music of Johnson, W.C. Handy, Ma Rainey, and the many other Black performers who created The Blues.

"You're the Top" performed by Ella Fitzgerald

Cole Porter penned it for the 1930s Broadway musical Anything Goes. It's an easy song to parody, which some of the characters in Barren Island do at a high school graduation. The lyrics to the eponymous "Anything Goes" could be the anthem for two other characters – a gay man and a lesbian from Manhattan who are married -- who introduce some of the characters to a more urbane life in Greenwich Village.

"Rhapsody In Blue" performed by Leonard Bernstein

George Gershwin married Jewish klezmer music to Black American blues in 1924 and gave us this. Bernstein echoed the amazing clarinet opening years later in the opening notes to West Side Story.

"Tumbalalaika" performed by Pete Seeger and Ruth Rubin

Each of the ethnic groups living on Barren Shoal brought with them traditional music as well as liturgical music. Marta Eisenstein, the novel's protagonist, no doubt knew Tumbalalaika, a traditional Yiddish folk tune. It is a riddle song and a love song, with a chorus that makes it a welcoming sing-along song. Like Marta, it poses serious questions about a life of meaningfulness and love.

What can grow without rain?
What can burn and never stop burning?
What can weep and never shed a tear?

"The Glory of Love" performed by Bette Midler

By Billy Hill. Because I love it. Because it's bitter sweet. And because there is lots of love on Barren Island, unrequited and otherwise.

"Vissi de artes" from Act II of Tosca performed by Maria Callas

Every Saturday, even now, the Metropolitan Opera is broadcast live via the radio. It is a constant throughout Marta's life as is Tosca, by Giuseppe Verde. Tosca is about love and art and betrayal. It is also a political opera. A perfect combination of Marta's interests.


Carol Zoref and Barren Island links:

the author's website


also at Largehearted Boy:

Support the Largehearted Boy website

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

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

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






April 3, 2017

Atomic Books Comics Preview - April 3, 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.


Audobon: On the Wings Of The World

Audobon: On the Wings Of The World
by Fabien Grolleau / Jeremie Royer

Back when the unsettled, unexplored wilds of an early America felt limitless, John James Audubon set out to explore them with a gun, an assistant, his art supplies and a passion for birds. This beautiful graphic novel adapts Audubon's own stories of his adventures into a gorgeously illustrated hardcover.


Black Hammer Volume 1: Secret Origins

Black Hammer Volume 1: Secret Origins
by Jeff Lemire / Dean Ormston

I really can't understand how writer/artist Jeff Lemire is capable of keeping so many excellent series going at the same time (Black Hammer, Descender, Royal City, A.D. After Death to name just a handful) and keeping them all interesting, but I'm glad he can. It's becoming clear that an argument can be made that he might very well be the greatest comic book writer of his generation. This volume, collecting the first story arc of his excellent Dark Horse Black Hammer series might be my most favorite of his current work. A group of quirky superheroes find themselves stranded on a farm outside a small town. How they got there and what prevents them from leaving is a mystery, but the team, over the years, very much forms into a dysfunctional family. Ormston's art is simply perfect and there's something in Lemire's story that echoes the Watchmen. I like to imagine that he pitched this story to DC (and maybe Marvel) and they said no, so he just created his own characters that reference so many others while still feeling new and unique - transcending their inspiration (much like Moore's characters in the Watchmen when DC stupidly and shortsightedly told him he couldn't use their acquired Charlton Comics characters).


Bookstores And Baseball: 9th Inning

Bookstores And Baseball: 9th Inning
by David LaBounty / Gabe LaBounty

Over the past five years, David LaBounty, with the help of his son Gabe, has turned an ongoing series of family vacations into a fun series of zines combining two of my favorite things - bookstores and baseball. Each Inning (or issue) focuses on a different region of the country where the LaBountys would visit baseball stadiums to see games and bookstores and book festivals. Part travel zine, part sports zine and part survey of America's greatest book places, Bookstores and Baseball has been, inning after inning, a remarkably satisfying read. I'm hoping this game goes into extra innings.


Weak Messages Create Bad Situations: A Manifesto

Weak Messages Create Bad Situations: A Manifesto
by David Shrigley

Artist David Shrigley has a completely-formed worldview. He has strong opinions on everything. And unlike those propagandists who use computer generated images and generic fonts, all of Shrigley's messages are hand-illustrated. And they are presented here to make you a better person. Oh, and they are also very funny.


What Parsifal Saw

What Parsifal Saw
by Ron Regé Jr.

Collecting his work from over the past five years, What Parsifal Saw is the gorgeous comics manifestation of psychedelic esoterica and alchemical spirituality.


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)

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

Shorties (An Excerpt from Ane Lamott's New Book, Stream the New Pornographers' New Album, and more)

Salon shared an excerpt from Anne Lamott's new books Hallelujah Anyway.


NPR Music is streaming the New Pornographers' new album Whiteout Conditions.


eBooks on sale for $1.50 today:

After Disasters by Viet Dinh
The Architecture of the Arkansas Ozarks by Donald Harington
We're All Damaged by Matthew Norman

eBooks on sale for $1.99 today:

Band of Brothers by Stephen E. Ambrose
The Course of Love by Alain de Botton
Georgia O'Keefe: A Life by Roxana Robinson
Henry and June by Anais Nin
I'm Just a Person by Tig Notaro

eBooks on sale for $2.99 today:

Familiar by J. Robert Lennon
Hitch-22 by Christopher Hitchens
The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
On Immunity by Eula Biss
Pieces for the Left Hand by J. Robert Lennon


Consequence of Sound is streaming Guided By Voices' new album August by Cake.


The Cut interviewed author Maggie Nelson.


Mixmag previewed April's best new albums.


Entropy interviewed author William Walsh.


Baeble Music listed Bob Dylan's best songs.


Literary Hub recommended poetry collections published this month.


Aquarium Drunkard interviewed Darin Gray and Glenn Kotche about their band On Fillmore.


The New York Times recommended new baseball books.


The Quietus interviewed Debbie Harry and Chris Stein of Blondie.


Lesley Nneka Arimah discussed her short story collection What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky with Weekend Edition.


Stream a new Minus the Bear song.


The Rumpus interviewed author Sequoia Nagamatsu.


Stream a new Strand of Oaks song.


Lauren Grodstein talked to Weekend Edition about her new novel Our Short History.


Singer-songwriter Craig Finn talked about being on the road with Clash.

The Daily Beast also interviewed Finn.


Paste interviewed Hannah Tinti about her novel The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley.


The A.V. Club previewed April's best new music.


Author Philipp Meyer talked books and reading with the New York Times.


A documentary about punk icon Poly Styrene is being crowdfunded.


0s & 1s Reads interviewed author Sigrid Nunez.


Paste profiled the Old 97's.


Slate interviewed Elif Batuman about her debut novel The Idiot.


Stream a new Mountain Goats song.


The Barnes & Noble Review interviewed author Melissa Febos.


Paste listed the best Modern Mouse songs.


Signature, Literary Hub, Men's Journal, Elle, and BuzzFeed previewed April's best new books.


Drowned in Sound profiled indie label K Records.


Sonya Chung discussed her novel The Loved Ones with Entropy.



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

March 31, 2017

Book Notes - David Ebenbach "The Guy We Didn't Invite to the Orgy"

The Guy We Didn't Invite to the Orgy

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

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

Winner of the Juniper Prize for Fiction, David Ebenbach's short fiction collection The Guy We Didn't Invite to the Orgy is filled with always compassionate and often funny stories.

Roy Kesey wrote of the collection:

"In this striking collection, David Ebenbach inhabits a series of minds that most of us would classify as unknowable; he does so with empathy and wisdom, and often with humor as well. The 'desperately wonderful' experience of life in a cult, a soul teetering on the line between grief and insanity, the high-voltage ambivalence of teenage obsession: Ebenbach is more at home in the minefield of ambiguity than most of us are in our houses."


In his own words, here is David Ebenbach's Book Notes music playlist for his short story collection The Guy We Didn't Invite to the Orgy:



The Guy We Didn’t Invite to the Orgy and other stories is a collection of short fiction all about the complete weirdness of the social world—people trying to fit into groups, people trying to avoid groups, groups trying to decide what they’re about and who’s in and who’s out. It can be kind of a madhouse out there.

The playlist is rooted in that madhouse and I have to say it’s pretty good; I listen to it over and over. Maybe you’ll like it, too.

Nine Inch Nails, “All the Love in the World”
The first story in the collection is the title story—“The Guy We Didn’t Invite to the Orgy.” I wrote it after someone told me a rumor about there being an orgy one year at this place (an artist colony) where I was staying and working at the time. And the more incredible part of the rumor was that apparently one guy wasn’t invited. Doesn’t that just kill you? Well, it just killed me, and then I wrote the story. Anyway, the line that Trent Reznor repeats again and again in this great song is “Why do you get all the love in the world?”

The Cure, “Why Can’t I Be You?”
Envy is a big thing in the collection’s second story, “Everyone Around Me.” The story begins “Basically I wanted everyone around me to fail.” Haven’t you ever felt that way? I have. I’m not proud of it, but it’s true.

Depeche Mode, “Never Let Me Down Again”
Okay. I know this song is about drugs; it’s a metaphor where the “friend” is really drugs. But if you take it literally, you’ve got this song about a very intense relationship between two people where everything will crash if the other person doesn’t hold up their end of the bargain. My short story “Our Mothers Left Us” is about—well, it’s about what the title says it’s about.

Rachelle Garniez and the Fortunate Few, “Dream On”
This song is on the list because of my story “To Be Weightless,” which stars a main character who is deeply emotionally invested in a dream therapy group that she joined and that she absolutely does not believe is a cult—she needs it to not be a cult—but you know what? It’s a cult.

Anna Nalick, “Breathe (2 AM)”
“If She Doesn’t Answer” takes place in the middle of the night when a woman gets a phone call about her mother’s death and she refuses to pick up the phone—but it keeps on ringing anyway, and she can’t escape that, or any of the other impossible ways that the news tries to get into her house. It’s a surreal story, or a magic realist story (I’m not sure which), but it’s about something real. In the words of Anna Nalick, “And life's like an hourglass glued to the table./No one can find the rewind button, girl.”

FC Kahuna, “Hayling”
“Hayling” is almost seven minutes long, and the only lyrics are the lines (repeated many times) “Don’t think about all those things you fear./Just be glad to be here.” I love this song, though the advice it offers is pretty hard to follow. In “Fifty-Fifty,” the main character, wrestling as gamely as possible with depression, tries to live by this philosophy. And yet he thinks of all the things he fears, and all the things that make him glad to be here, and all the everything else he feels.

The Smiths, “How Soon Is Now?”
This song could be tied to a lot of the stories in the book, which is really about whether the characters are going to try to connect to other people or not—whether they’re going to dare to do that. “I am the son/and the heir/of a shyness that is criminally vulgar.” Also, it’s one of the greatest songs there is.

Nouvelle Vague, “Dancing with Myself”
This song is a cover of the Billy Idol classic, and I love the picture it creates—this person alone in a crowd—but the song isn’t dejected; it has energy and bounce. The Nouvelle Vague version brings out the bounce even more. My story “Servers” is about a man with a very strange job (he has to watch over the servers that run a pornographic website) and he’s a bit strange himself, though to him it’s the larger world that’s really off-kilter.

The Asteroids Galaxy Tour, “Fantasy Friend Forever”
Some of us try to force friendships in order to solve our social problems. In “The Four Seasons Club,” a woman named April is invited to join a club for women whose names all tie in one way or another to the annual seasons. Which of course may not be the best basis for a club.

Beck, “Go It Alone”
The main character in “Too Late at the Liberty Bell Restaurant” is a lone wanderer who stops for some diner food on a cold winter night. If the social world is fraught for a lot of people, one of the options is to, as Beck suggests, “go it alone.” I don’t know if it’s the best idea or not, but it’s a killer song for sure.

George Michael, “Star People”
My story “The Shy Birds of Hope” is about a naturalist who runs a local PBS TV nature show set in the city of Philadelphia. And he’s happy with his show, but he harbors a secret wish to be better known. Meanwhile, it might be possible that, as a writer who publishes with small presses, I have occasionally harbored this same wish. Just maybe. This underrated George Michael song is a very helpful corrective.

Sharon Goldman, “Opening”
Do you know Sharon Goldman, who on her first album was Sharon Edry? You should know Sharon, in all her iterations. “Opening” is one of my favorite songs. “When everything is so uncertain,/and nothing has a guarantee,/the next best thing/is understanding/that all you’ll ever get in this life/is an opening.” It may not sound like a lot, but that opening is such a wonderful thing. Meanwhile, the final story in the collection, “We’ll Finish When We’re Done,” is about a haircut. Really—a haircut. But the haircut goes to places you definitely wouldn’t expect. I think the story is about how every moment of your life has the potential to take you somewhere astounding.


David Ebenbach and The Guy We Didn't Invite to the Orgy links:

the author's website
the author's Wikipedia entry

Monkeybicycle essay by the author


also at Largehearted Boy:

Support the Largehearted Boy website

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

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

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

This Week's Interesting Music Releases - March 31, 2017

Aimee Mann

Aimee Mann's Mental Illness is my favorite new album this week.

Bob Dylan's covers album Triplicate, Julia Holter's live In the Same Room, and Lydia Ainsworth's Darling of the Afterglow are other new releases I can recommend.

Reissues include a 4-disc (3 CDs, 1 LP) remastered and expanded edition of the Doors' self-titled album.

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


This week's interesting music releases:

Aimee Mann: Mental Illness
Andy Summers: Triboluminescence
Blue Oyster Cult: Some Enchanted Evening
Bob Dylan: Triplicate (3 CDs)
Bob Dylan: Triplicate 3 LPs)
Body Count: Bloodlust
British Sea Power: Let The Dancers Inherit The Party
Chaz Bundick Meets The Mattson 2: Chaz Bundick Meets The Mattson 2
Danzig: From Beyond: Live At The Palace, Hollywood July 7th, 1989
The Doors: The Doors (3 CDs, 1 LP) (remastered and expanded)
Dave Davies and Russ Davies: Open Road
Drake: More Life
Erin McKeown: Mirrors Break Back
Fleetwood Mac: Tango in the Night (remastered and expanded)
A Flock of Seagulls: Remixes and Rarities
Freddie Gibbs: You Only Live 2wice
Goldfrapp: Silver Eye
Hauschka: What If
Jamiroquai: Automaton
Jarvis Cocker and Chilly Gonzales: Room 29
Johnny Cash: The Original Sun Albums 1957-1964 (8-CD box set)
Julia Holter: In the Same Room
Kelly Lee Owens: Kelly Lee Owens
Lydia Ainsworth: Darling of the Afterglow
Mastodon: Emperor Of Sand
The Mavericks: Brand New Day
Neil Diamond: 50th Anniversary Collection (3 CDs)
Nelly Furtado: The Ride
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds: One More Time With Feeling [dvd]
Orchestra Baobab: Tribute to Ndiouga Dieng
Pharmakon: Contact
Phish: St. Louis '93 (6-CD box set)
The Residents: The Ghost of Hope [vinyl]
Richard Buckner: Impasse (reissue)
Rodney Crowell: Close Ties
Said The Whale: As Long As Your Eyes Are Wide
Saltland: A Common Truth
Saturn: Beyond Spectra
Tei Shi: Crawl Space
Tim O'Brien: Where the River Meets the Road
Trace Adkins: Something's Going On
A Tribe Called Quest: We the People [vinyl]
Wire: Silver/Lead


also at Largehearted Boy:

Support Largehearted Boy

weekly music release lists

100 online sources for free and legal music downloads
Book Notes (authors create music playlists for their book)
musician/author interviews
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Short Cuts (writers pair a song with their short story or essay)
Soundtracked (composers and directors discuss their film's soundtracks)

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

Shorties (Spring's Best New Books, Poets on Their Favorite Song Lyrics, and more)

The Washington Post previewed spring's best new books.


Poets broke down their favorite song lyrics at the Paris Review.


Ryan Adams visited World Cafe for an interview and live performance.


Literary Hub examined the philosophical implications of shelving books.


Stream a new Bleachers song.


The Los Angeles Review of Books interviewed author Victor Lodato.


Stream a new Amber Coffman (formerly of the Dirty Projectors) song.


The Rumpus interviewed poet Vincent Toro.


Rolling Stone profiled the band Wire.


Manjula Martin discussed her anthology Scratch: Writers, Money, and the Art of Making a Living with The Millions.


Stream a new Broken Social Scene song.


Zoey Leigh Peterson discussed her novel Next Year For Sure with Vol. 1 Brooklyn.


Baeble profiled singer-songwriter Aldous Harding.

"Like a darker Laura Marling or a female Perfume Genius, she is crossing all of the lines with the combination of theatrics and alt-folk. Although her music may not seem entirely accessible on the surface, it can be interpreted by everyone."


Work in Progress interviewed author Édouard Louis.


Jay Farrar talked to the Chicago Tribune about the new Son Volt album Notes of Blue.


Caroline Leavitt interviewed Hannah Lillith Assadi about her debut novel Sonora.


PopMatters wrapped up its list of the best classic progressive rock songs.


The Los Angeles Review of Books interviewed Melissa Febos about her memoir Abandon Me.


Paste ranked Beck's albums.


Book Riot previewed April's best new books.


John Lydon talked to Morning Edition about his new book.


The Huffington Post interviewed author Mary Gaitskill.


Aimee Mann talked to Paste about her new album Mental Illness.


Publishers Weekly listed the noteworthy second novels of 2017.


The A.V. Club looked back on the 90's alt-rock explosion in Chicago.


Emil Ferris talked about her graphic novel My Favorite Thing Is Monsters with Fresh Air.


Paste profiled Tim Showalter of the band Strand of Oaks.


Meredith Alling discussed her short story collection Sing the Song with Hobart.


Weird Sister interviewed author Janice Lee.


Pitchfork listed the best Britpop albums.


eBooks on sale for $1.99 today:

An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser
Ball Four by Jim Bouton
Claudius the God by Robert Graves
Hocus Pocus by Kurt Vonnegut
I, Claudius by Robert Graves
L.A. Son by Roy Choi
The Man Who Fell to Earth by Walter Tevis
Maurice by E.M. Forster
A Passage to India by E.M. Forster
Shoeless Joe by W. P. Kinsella

eBooks on sale for $2.99 today:

The Breaks of the Game by David Halberstam
Bruce by Peter Ames Carlin
Sacred Hoops by Phil Jackson
White Line Fever by Lemmy
Woke Up Lonely by Fiona Maazel



also at Largehearted Boy:

Support Largehearted Boy

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

List of Online "Best Books of 2016" Lists
Essential and Interesting Year-End 2016 Music Lists

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

March 30, 2017

Book Notes - Jonathan Reiss "Getting Off"

Getting Off

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.

Jon Reiss's Getting Off is a dark and delicious whirlwind of a novel.

Paula Bomer wrote of the book:

"Getting Off is raunchy, sad, weird, smart, and riotously fun to read. Gross sex, drug shakes, LA, scary cults—what more can you ask for? Reiss has written a refreshingly dark book, with pretty much zero redemption for his characters but plenty of attention and love."


In his own words, here is Jonathan Reiss's Book Notes music playlist for his debut novel Getting Off:


I learned to write a novel as just a collection of scenes. It follows that each scene would have its own soundtrack. In fact, my sister is a casting agent and she and I have already "cast" this book a few times over. Although, we have yet to find the lead.

This book is about a kid putting himself out there in a revealing, vulnerable, and often deluded way for anyone that's willing to watch. He's looking for his dreams in all the wrong places but no matter how demoralized he gets or how arduous the pursuit becomes, he persists. In Getting Off, an aspiring actor makes his living and feeds his addiction by stripping naked on his webcam. He learns that if you put yourself out there online there's always someone willing to receive you.


Over the past few years I've gone on obsessive YouTube searches for acoustic covers. There are some performers who've developed substantial followings by playing covers in front of their own webcams: just them and their acoustic guitars. I find them mesmerizing and brave. Here's a song for each scene in the book and a corresponding acoustic cover.


Hey Kathleen, Are You Hungry by Defiance, Ohio (Performed by JD)


Defiance, Ohio have mastered the introspective punk anthem. Getting Off begins with a young man waking up to a world in which he doesn't quite fit. So each day he undergoes a pretty involved ritual in order to "present" as someone who does. This is especially difficult because his shower doesn't work, and today it's especially important that things work out because it's his mother's birthday. Here, Simon (the main character) is forced to take stock of his situation, much like this song which sort of yells at you to do the same. "Are you angry?" it asks. "Are you searching?" The song is difficult to cover well. JD gets it just right, capturing the raw frustration, anger, and passion of this song with his imperfect, unbridled performance.


Stop! by Erasure (Performed by Danny McEvoy)


Suited up (naked) and fueled up (high on heroin), Simon puts on his webcam show, hoping to earn enough cash to buy his mother a birthday present. He dances in his birthday suit to an unnamed ‘80s electro song. In my mind, "Stop" was always that song. Here, Danny McEvoy manages to turn this electropop classic into an almost full-on rockabilly jam.


Baby Britain by Elliot Smith (Performed by ghettobythesea)


Even Elliot Smith's happy songs are laden with melancholy. On the surface, Baby Britain is upbeat, but the misery is hidden under a crepe-thin layer of piano music. In the second chapter of Getting Off, Simon tries to convince his parents that their baby is alright. His dysfunction is barely obscured and he is made aware of this in the most uncomfortable possible way (at a urinal). The performer of this cover, who goes by ghettobythesea on YouTube, plays this piano-driven song beautifully, finger-picking out the melody and stripping away that layer of cheer entirely. Instead she brings out the gorgeous melancholy of the song, singing soulfully about a person who "fights problems with bigger problems."


The Crowd by Operation Ivy (Performed by Jen Florentino)



After failing miserably to pass himself off to his parents as functional, Simon rushes home to turn it all off but his route home is obstructed by a protest. Here, a person gets lost in the mass and in the intentions of a crowd. This Op Ivy classic captures that feeling perfectly, and Jen Florentine's almost gospel voice turns this punk anthem into a folky spiritual.


Because You're Young by Cock Sparrer (Performed by Cunt Sparrer: Jennie, Sara Rowdy, and Evan Sinclair)


This song, by the greatest street-punk band of all time, captures the feeling of invincibility that one has in their twenties. This song is the soundtrack to a scene where Simon tries to pay his heroin tab by stealing from Barnes and Noble. It's long been my dream to buy this book—which has a scene of someone stealing from Barnes and Noble—from Barnes and Noble. Check out Cunt Sparrer's channel if you like Cock Sparrer. They cover all the great Cock Sparrer songs (and Billy Bragg) better than anyone else on YouTube. Here, the driving back beat of the song comes courtesy of their friend Evan playing two books and a shoebox.


It's Alright Ma, I'm Only Bleeding by Bob Dylan (Performed by Rachel Miele)


Sick and desperately in debt, Simon enters a shady, if not downright dangerous, situation. He breaks his own rule and meets one of his webcam clients at their apartment. The result is a bleak, chaotic fun house of drugged up twinks and rent boys. If you've never accidentally left a Dylan record on while sick with the flu—don't. Here, Dylan's chants haunt the already creepy space. In this video Rachel Miele manages to belt Dylan's quick-fire dystopian slam poem of a song with soul while keeping true to the terrifying vibe that lives within this song.


I'll be Your Mirror by The Velvet Underground and Nico (Cover by Kimber Annie)


Thanks to his terrible experience in the sex funhouse, Simon meets his new best friend. For a moment there's a glimmer of hope in Simon's life. This is a song and a chapter about basking in the light of a special someone. It's about finding someone with whom you can be your true self. In Getting Off, that person is named Fat. In this video Kimber Annie breathes new energy into this song, giving it a little speed and heft, making it feel almost like a Violent Femmes song. Kimber Annie is one of the most impressive musicians on YouTube and she looks like a character that you wish you had written.


Children Play With Matches by Mischief Brew (Performed by Mae Danger)


Sometimes watching a person use the internet for the first time, seeing the look in their eyes as they realize the possibilities, can be like watching a kid handling his first pack of matches. This song was written by the great and dearly departed singer of Mischief Brew, Erik Petersen. Mae Danger plays this cautionary tale with childlike glee on the ukulele.


Children of God by AJJ (Performed by Adam Volpin)


Sean Bonnette of AJJ is, in my eyes, the great literary voice of today's musical landscape which is why I asked him to blurb Getting Off (and why he's got two songs on this list.) Every song he writes has the resonance and universality of a truly well-written short story. There's more vivid imagery in a single AJJ song than in all the popular music you can shake a stick at. Take the opening of this song, "In came the being born police to take the newly un-decaeased. I was the softened gaze upon a child of god. And the sky was full of teeth. Anticipating that sweet relief. I was the little engine that could I was a courtroom bomb sniffing dog." In this song Bonnette sings about a number of very specific, different living entities that exist in some post-apocalyptic world where the children all have USB ports in their arms that bleed sometimes. Despite all the humanity, they're all children of god. Whether or not you believe in a higher power, it's comforting to believe that we're connected, as if we are all some type of family. In this scene, Simon meets another lost child off Craigslist who does not give a fuck about any of that. Here, Adam Volpin wails on this sucker with a really cool accent. He really brings a new element to this cover with his off-kilter voice, all while keeping everything that makes this amazing song work and all while looking like the younger brother from Freaks and Geeks.


Funnel Of Love by Wanda Jackson (Performed by morkwa)


This is a song and a chapter about the inevitable. Here two strangers from different generations attempt to find some common ground before hurtling into an intimate and fumbling exchange. Wanda Jackson's song captures the foreboding that both these characters feel.  Morkwa's cover heightens the ominousness: she remains locked in an icy stare down at the camera for the entire performance. Check out this chapter at Joyland while you listen: http://www.joylandmagazine.com/regions/new-york/cookie-dough


Dean's Dream by The Dead Milkmen (Performed by Mike Scandle)


Ever driven through a neighborhood that feels exactly like the one you grew up in, even though it's clearly not? It's nice at first. Comforting. Then you quickly find yourself racing out of there feeling like you're about to get stuck forever. After crossing yet another boundary that he promised he'd never cross, Simon finds himself driving through such a neighborhood, feeling like every teacher he's ever had, every girl he's ever liked, and every bully he's ever known has a front row seat to his failure. Mike Scandle's frenzied Dead Milkmen cover will make you feel like you're racing your way out of your own suburban hell, trapped in a never-ending cul-de-sac.


Actor of Work by St. Vincent (Performed by Ema Chiswell)


St Vincent's music feels like a contradiction that somehow finds harmony. She has this ultra-classical voice that rides this weird, crunchy electronic wave. In this video, Ema Chiswell does some really creative guitar work and slathers it with deep, bluesy vocals. In this chapter, an actor attempts to act and it goes horribly wrong.


White Face Black Eyes by AJJ (Cover by Leftover Cake)


In this song, Sean Bonnette sings "love what you can until it dies." Simon tries to save a dying friendship in this scene, but he can't quite manage. Instead he lets it tear him apart, and his slow unraveling begins. Leftover Cake's classical voice reinvents this already sad song. Fortunately, there's a cute dog in the frame to focus on in case you get weepy.


Sappy by Nirvana (Performed by Oyefish)


Ever put on music that you have intended to be your own personal self-destruction soundtrack? Was it Nirvana? Addicts call it "going on a run." This song is the soundtrack to a run you won't soon forget. Oyefish belts this song out, channelling Cobain's signature growl.


The Hunger by The Distillers (Performed by moderndaywarrior3)


Bloodied and broken, Simon runs into an old friend who is even worse off than he is, even though he doesn't look it. Sometimes a person needs a glimpse into where they might end up to really look at where they're at. Moderdaywarrior3 has one of the strongest voices I've heard on YouTube. She smooths out the rough edges of this song, turning it into a lullaby.


Dying With Decent Music by The Paper Chase (Performed by Stephanie Fyfe


Imagine you could turn off every sensation of pain that you might undergo for a span of three or four years. Now imagine this even meant psychic and emotional pain. Now, imagine your time is up, and the monkey's-paw-irony of this hypothetical is that you now have to experience that entire four years' worth of pain all at once over the course of an evening. This is the soundtrack to that evening.The sound isn't great, but Stephanie Fyfe manages to embody the agony and insanity this song evokes. John Congleton makes the most haunting music there is right now. Covering this song and making it sound austere is no small feat.

Asleep by The Smith (Performed by Jo Wilde)


All terrible things must come to an end. Sleep, in this scene, is death's twin brother. Jo Wilde makes this song even more delicate and dreamy than it already is.


Boat Dreams from the Hill by Jawbreaker (Performed by Patrick Miller)


One day you wake up and everything seems possible. They say you're always a few bad choices away from living out your worst nightmare. The inverse is also true. One good choice can turn things around. This is a song about dreaming because it feels good to dream, even if your dream is impossible.


Generator by Bad Religion (Performed by Emily Davis)


Emily Davis is my personal Justin Bieber. From watching her on YouTube, I've become a super fan. She's got amazing Bad Religion covers as well as some songs by Against Me! Her voice is stunning. It reaches right through your computer screen and grabs you. The end of this book is a race, both in the narrative and as far as pacing is concerned. The chapters get shorter and more packed.


Pink + White by Frank Ocean (Performed by Mallory Cain)


The world starts to present itself to the main character in new ways as the ending approaches. For people who work hard to shut the world out, a moment of natural beauty can be all-encompassing and heartbreaking. For Simon, the birds are singing into Peavey amps with distortion pedals and the sky is like an Oculus strapped to his face. Frank Ocean is like a gift to the millennial generation. He's the best thing we got. Mallory Cain's performance here is so mesmerizingly beautiful, I feel like I'm going throw up every time I hear it.


Heroinsomnia by Closet Fiends


Sam Sadowski aka Closet Fiends was living on the street in San Francisco when her mother reached out to Fat Mike of NOFX and Sturgeon of Choking Victim and played them videos like this one. They were so moved by Sam's music that they searched for her so they could put out her music. This song is on Sam's debut EP on Fat. This is the only song that's not a cover on this list, but this video captures the raw vulnerability that only the best of these YouTube videos has. This song is like a modernized Woody Guthrie song. Only instead of the factory floor, or unemployment, or the dust storms, Sam sings about heroin detox. This struggle has become just as universal now as those things were to people back then. This song is neutral. It's open ended. Things just might work out for Sam, and for Simon, and for Fat, and maybe even you, too.


Jonathan Reiss and Getting Off links:

the author's website


also at Largehearted Boy:

Support the Largehearted Boy website

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

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

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

Shorties (Books To Read If You Enjoy Watching The Americans, Stream the New San Fermin Album, and more)

Paste recommended books to read if you enjoy watching The Americans.


NPR Music is streaming San Fermin's new album Belong.


Words Without Borders recommended tribal literature from India.


NPR Music is streaming a recent live performance by Andrew Bird.


Guernica interviewed author Blair Braverman.


Stream a new Alt-J song.


Entropy interviewed poet Joanna C. Valente.


NPR Music is streaming Annie Hardy's new album Rules.


Literary Hub shared an excerpt from Deb Olin Unferth's new short story collection Wait Till You See Me Dance.


Stream a new Dream Wife song.


Elan Mastai talked to the Guardian about his novel All Our Wrong Todays.


Aquarium Drunkard interviewed members of the band Miracle Legion.


Esquire listed the sexiest erotic novels of all time.


Stereogum interviewed singer-songwriter Tei Shi.


The Windsor Star profiled author Andre Alexis.


NPR Music is streaming Timber Timbre's new album Sincerely, Future Pollution.


The Washington Post recommended poetry collections that inspire.


Stream three new Nightlands songs.


Bookworm wrapped up its interview with author George Saunders.


Sylvan Esso visited World Cafe for an interview and live performance.


Signature recommended books about impeachment.


Morning Edition interviewed singer-songwriter Laura Marling.


Flavorwire previewed April's must-read books.


A biographical Grateful Dead television series is coming to Amazon.


Dzanc Books shared an excerpt from Lance Olsen’s novel Dreamlives of Debris.


eBooks on sale for $1.99 today:

An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser
Ball Four by Jim Bouton
Claudius the God by Robert Graves
Hocus Pocus by Kurt Vonnegut
I, Claudius by Robert Graves
L.A. Son by Roy Choi
The Man Who Fell to Earth by Walter Tevis
Maurice by E.M. Forster
A Passage to India by E.M. Forster
Shoeless Joe by W. P. Kinsella

eBooks on sale for $2.99 today:

The Breaks of the Game by David Halberstam
Bruce by Peter Ames Carlin
Sacred Hoops by Phil Jackson
White Line Fever by Lemmy
Woke Up Lonely by Fiona Maazel



also at Largehearted Boy:

Support Largehearted Boy

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

List of Online "Best Books of 2016" Lists
Essential and Interesting Year-End 2016 Music Lists

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

March 29, 2017

Book Notes - Deb Olin Unferth "Wait Till You See Me Dance"

Wait Till You See Me Dance

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.

Deb Olin Unferth's collection Wait Till You See Me Dance is filled with sharp, masterfully told stories that perfectly balance darkness and hope.

Kirkus reviews wrote of the collection:

"A stunning debut collection. . . . 39 poignant, sharp-edged stories that cut right to the bone of the human psyche with precision and grace. . . . Prickly dilemmas, physical and existential, abound in these allegorical stories, each terrifically mundane and told with an exquisite restraint that drolly captures the inherent hope of humanity. . . . Chock-full of emotional insight and comic verve, Unferth’s beguiling stories are not to be missed."


In her own words, here is Deb Olin Unferth's Book Notes music playlist for her short story collection Wait Till You See Me Dance:



The Day That Lassie Went to the Moon, Camper Van Beethoven

I fucking love the absurdity of this song: the story of this guy's dog going to the moon. The guy says, "My little dog Lassie packed her bags and went out onto the porch…" while a chorus of his pals shout behind him, "yeah yeah yeah yeah." The song's story and manner strike me as having the same note of grandiosity, silliness, impossibility that opera does, if you've ever held off listening to the music and thought about the delightfully ridiculous plotlines (and I am an opera lover). Even the name of the album: Popular Songs of Great Enduring Strength and Beauty, a painting of Lassie the astronaut standing proud, is funny and dramatic and operatic. I sung this song to myself while writing the story "Opera" in the collection.

"Kimberly," Patti Smith

The sky will split
The planets will shift
Balls of jade will drop
Existence will stop

Patti named this song for and sings it to her little sister. She is commemorating a night long ago when Kimberly was tiny and Patti held her in her arms and stood before a barn going up in flames.

I've always suspected that Patti knows how to love better than she knows how to do anything.

My story "The First Full Thought of Her Life" is about a shooter watching a little girl go up a sand dune, her young mother trailing behind her. The question of the story is: will he shoot the little girl when she gets to the top?

The story grew out of a day my little sister and I took her tiny daughter up a sand dune. She let her daughter walk just a few feet out of reach to explore the sand world in front of her. I could see my sister's wild, vulnerable, protective face. I looked at it with my own wild, vulnerable, protective face, protective of her, my sister.

The lesson: Love, even if there might be a shooter nearby.

"Ripple," the Grateful Dead

Jerry Garcia: "If you go, no one may follow. That path is for you steps alone."

In my story "Stay Where You Are," my two characters are sitting on an empty road. One is ready to go one way and the other the other. One can't be anyone but who he is. He didn't ask to be that but he is saddled with it. The other just can't go along with it anymore.

A call to originality, creativity, a peaceful moment on a lonely road. In the next moment a man with a gun comes breaking out of the forest behind them.

"Hallelujah," Leonard Cohen

Leonard's lyric: "Even though it all went wrong, I'll stand before the lord of song with nothing on my tongue but hallelujah."

I listened to this song while writing my story "Voltaire Night," that moment in parenthood when you are at the brink of disaster, cursing fate and your own existence, raging at any God who happens to be up there, and yet in the same moment you are filled with gratitude for having the problem at all.

"Almost Home," Moby

The search for authenticity. I grew up on Grease, became an adult to the thunking sounds of frogs dropping to the earth in Magnolia (oh, Aimee Mann!). Any hunt for the real, any proof it was there all along. And I love to dance.

Begin again. Yes, the ceiling is caving in, and you're facing the wrong direction. Turn. Turn again, and again, and again, and again.

"Ice Cream Truck," Casiotone for the Painfully Alone

This song is in Laurel Nakadate's movie Stay the Same Never Change. We are talking hardcore mumblecore. There's a moment where all the characters stop and look at a sky full of fireworks, and this song incongruously plays. Formally simple, wickedly playful, funny, absurd, whimsical, overwhelming, sad. It's a sensation I'm chasing in many of my shorts: "To the Ocean," "Fear of Trees," "Husband," "Interview."


Deb Olin Unferth and Wait Till You See Me Dance links:

the author's Wikipedia entry
excerpt from the book

Kirkus Reviews review
NPR Books review
Publishers Weekly review

Largehearted Boy Book Notes playlist by the author for Revolution
Largehearted Boy Book Notes essay by the author for her novel Vacation


also at Largehearted Boy:

Support the Largehearted Boy website

List of Online "Best Books of 2016" Lists

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

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

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

Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week - March 29, 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.


Fire!! The Zora Neale Hurston Story

Fire!! The Zora Neale Hurston Story
by Peter Bagge

New D+Q! Veteran cartoonist Peter Bagge has become quite a refined biographer, following his acclaimed Woman Rebel: The Margaret Sanger Story with this portrait of Zora Neale Hurston. Hurston, renowned novelist, short story writer, folklorist, and key member of the Harlem Renaissance, hardly needs an introduction. Her second novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937), is not only an enduring classic of Black American literature, it is a seminal work for literature as a whole. Bagge’s comic biography, like its subject, is vibrant and humorous, drawing from a number of primary and secondary sources to pay homage to an intellectual, an artist, a heroine.


The Mother of All Questions

The Mother of All Questions
by Rebecca Solnit

Rebecca Solnit is renowned for her glistening wit and infra-insights on feminism, social change, hope, etc. Her newest release, The Mother of All Questions, offers invaluable commentary on the gender binary, violence, rape jokes, and women who refuse to be silenced. For socio-political bellyaches, Solnit’s clear and calm essays are exactly what the M.D. recommends.


Olga and the Smelly Thing From Nowhere

Olga and the Smelly Thing From Nowhere
by Elise Gravel

A store favourite, Montreal author and illustrator Elise Gravel has written many excellent books for children, including The Cranky Ballerina and the Disgusting Critter series. Her newest book is the “observation notebook” of Olga, a grumpy kid “so small [she] can see inside everyone else’s nostrils.” With characteristic kookiness and heart, Gravel brings us into her world of pure fun.


Taduno’s Song

Taduno’s Song
by Odafe Atogun

Taduno’s Song is the debut novel from Odafe Atogun, an exciting, new literary voice. Indirectly based on the life of Nigerian musical sensation Fela Kuti, Taduno’s Song catches its titular character returning from exile only to find that his girlfriend has been abducted by government agents. Taduno is soon torn between standing up to the oppressive or saving his love; to sing for the heart or for his people.


š! #27 'BFF'

š! #27 'BFF'
edited by David Schilter, Sanita Muižniece

Kuš! is a comics/art anthology out of Latvia, collecting comics from both Latvian and international artists on a certain theme. This installments theme? Best Friends Forever! Featuring an adorable cover from Hironori Kikuchi, š! #27 is thematically consistent yet stylistically—wonderfully—varied, hopscotching from the moody to the zany, with art from Lukas Weidinger and Tor Brandt to deadtheduck and Derrengueta, amongst others


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 (Pulitzer Prize for Fiction Odds, Stream Vic Chesnutt's Cover of R.E.M.'s "Everybody Hurts," and more)

The Chicago Tribune shared odds for this year's Pulitzer Prize for fiction.


Stream Vic Chesnutt's cover of R.E.M.'s "Everybody Hurts."


Stream two new Big Walnuts Yonder (the band features Nels Cline, Mike, Watt, and Greg Saunier) songs.


Rare Bird Radio featured a conversation between authors Tobias Carroll and duncan barlow.


Jarvis Cocker discussed the music that has influenced his life with Pitchfork.

Cocker also talked to The Quietus with Chilly Gonzales about their new collaboration.


The Atlantic looked back on Julio Cortázar’s Berkeley lectures.


The Flaming Lips visited World Cafe for an interview and live performance.


The Paris Review interviewed Pénélope Bagieu about her graphic biography California Dreamin': Cass Elliot Before The Mamas & the Papas.


Stream a new Joan Shelley song.


Signature recommended books on the craft of comedy.


Stereogum interviewed singer-songwriter Mac Demarco.


The Millions interviewed author Brit Bennett.


Connect Savannah interviewed singer-songwriter Justin Townes Earle.


Full Stop interviewed author Samanta Schweblin.


Encore profiled MC Taylor of His Golden Messenger.


Signature recommended books to understand the Muslim experience.


MTV interviewed Phil Elverum of Mount Eerie.


Jeff Buckley: His Own Voice will collect the singer-songwriter's handwritten journals.


Paste profiled the band the Jesus and Mary Chain.


Claudia Rankine’s Citizen: An American Lyric has been awarded the 2016 Bobbitt National Prize for Poetry.


A huge Bob Dylan archive has opened in Tulsa, Oklahoma.


Esquire recommended recently published art books.


Regina Spektor visited The Current studio for an interview and live performance.


The Black Warrior Review interviewed author T Kira Madden.


The Moonlandingz broke down their album Interplanetary Class Classics track by track at Drowned in Sound.


Stream a new Alison Moyet song.


eBooks on sale for $1.99 today:

An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser
Ball Four by Jim Bouton
Claudius the God by Robert Graves
Hocus Pocus by Kurt Vonnegut
I, Claudius by Robert Graves
L.A. Son by Roy Choi
The Man Who Fell to Earth by Walter Tevis
Maurice by E.M. Forster
A Passage to India by E.M. Forster
Shoeless Joe by W. P. Kinsella

eBooks on sale for $2.99 today:

The Breaks of the Game by David Halberstam
Bruce by Peter Ames Carlin
Sacred Hoops by Phil Jackson
White Line Fever by Lemmy
Woke Up Lonely by Fiona Maazel



also at Largehearted Boy:

Support Largehearted Boy

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

List of Online "Best Books of 2016" Lists
Essential and Interesting Year-End 2016 Music Lists

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

March 28, 2017

Book Notes - Hannah Lillith Assadi "Sonora"

Sonora

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.

Hannah Lillith Assadi's moving and lyrical novel Sonora is an impressive debut.

Kirkus Reviews wrote of the book:

"A lyrical meditation on the confusion and awe of growing up that is made beautifully strange by the desert's haunting presence . . . both typical and painfully, relatably fresh . . . Lyrical, raw, and moving."


In her own words, here is Hannah Lillith Assadi's Book Notes music playlist for her debut novel Sonora:



Often when writing the first draft of something, I listen to classical music or contemporary classical, sometimes the same piece over and over, as if I'm trying to emulate the melody of something absolutely transcendent inside prose. This was the case with writing Sonora and what follows is definitely not an exhaustive list of all that I listened to in the years it took me to write and edit it and edit it again. The protagonist Ahlam is a dancer and her best friend Laura is a musician and some of the songs contained here are mentioned in the pages of the novel and some of these songs inspired scenes and some are so beautiful that I owe them a fair share of gratitude for their company over the years.

"Broken Bell"—Friends of Dean Martinez

A song I listened to often and on repeat in the first thrusts of Sonora when it was just a lot of word vomit on the page. The band is from Arizona, so maybe that has something to do with it.


"Once upon a Dream"—Mary Costa, Bill Shirley

This of all the Disney tunes I heard in my childhood still haunts me. In the book Laura hums this song from the early more innocent days of the girls' friendship to the very end when things have become rather gloomy. It's a song about loving someone in a dream before knowing them in life, and hoping that in life the dream love will burn as brightly, a premise that manifests itself rather darkly in the book.

"Blue American"—Placebo

This is another song Laura sings in the backseat of a car as the girls make their way into a night that will have disastrous consequences. In my own teenage years, I remember the dawn coming up in Arizona, listening to someone sing this song as he drove us home. The lyrics crawled inside me that morning fifteen years ago and never went away: "I wrote this novel just for you, that's why it's vulgar, that's why its blue, and I say thank you…"

"Gloomy Sunday"—Rezso Seress

An urban legend surrounds this song claiming it caused dozens of suicides in the thirties in Hungary. Its composer committed suicide decades later (he survived defenestration, only to choke himself with a wire in the hospital). It has been covered broadly but the original is the one I love most. There is a chapter in Sonora I've morbidly deemed "the suicide chapter", which ends with Laura mentioning this song.

"Pictures of You"—The Cure

I could list a few Cure songs (especially from the album Disintegration) here that inspired parts of Sonora. My father introduced me to The Cure at age five and told me I would love them one day. He was right. This sequence of lyricism and anguish from Robert Smith is still so beautiful to me: Remembering/ you fallen into my arms/crying for the death of your heart/you were stone white/So delicate/ Lost in the cold/ You were always so lost in the dark/ Remembering/ You how you used to be/Slow drowned/You were angels/So much more than everything/Hold for the last time then slip away quietly/ Open my eyes/But I never see anything

Ba Ba Ti Ki Di Do—Sigur Ros

This 20 minute instrumental album will forever be associated with the black Honda Civic I drove as a teenager (I still have the keys though the car is gone), my sun roof down, the windows open, the smell of the desert in my car. I used to say it reminded me of what the stars would sound like if they had a soundtrack. There is a scene in Sonora where the two girls drive into the mountains by night and an album Laura has recorded is playing which I imagined to be like this one.

"La Llorona"—Chavela Vargas

Laura sings this song throughout the book and I tried my best to write her voice something like Vargas' wild, supernatural resolution to her version when she screams (in translation): "If I have already given you life, Llorona, what else do you want? You want more?"

"Venus in Furs"—Velvet Underground

On my wildest nights that lasted far into morning, this was the song that despite feeling "tired, weary" like "I could "sleep a thousand years" still made me feel a little too sexy. I liked to imagine the girls in Sonora on their darkest nights swinging their hips to this far past when the party should have ended.

"House of the Rising Sun"—Jesse Glendon Tillers

My dear friend Jesse and I would sing her version of this song together, very, very drunk for whoever would listen on some of those nights mentioned above. We went through some shit together, some of which just may have made its way into the book, and hers is the voice that still brings back those times and can still make me cry. You may not know who she is now but one day you will.

"Kol Nidre"—Max Bruch

Laura plays this song on her cello for the narrator and it is playing in the end at their last meeting which I will not further embellish here. I am not religious but used to go to High Holiday services on Yom Kippur just to hear this performed.

"Windows"—Angel Olsen

I first heard Angel Olsen play live at Le Poisson Rouge in February 2014. I was floored by her voice as many had been before me. I listened to her album Burn Your Fire For No Witness nonstop for the next several months. Then in April that same year, a dear friend and one of the most influential people in my young life passed away suddenly. This was the song that in the few moments it lasted softened my grief because it was hard to be so sad inside something to beautiful. I had written a draft of Sonora which after that April changed to be almost unrecognizable from what it was and became more or less what it is now.

Piano Concerto No. 2, op. 18 (all three movements)—Sergei Rachmaninoff

My favorite piece of music in this universe and the next one. If anyone were to ask me what song, dance, book, film would I wish I could have made, it would be this. I've listened to this concerto while running, figuring out beginnings, endings, while writing and smoking furiously because there is nothing I could ever do that would be as good as this. I will never make something so fucking beautiful. Thankfully Rachmaninoff did. Also he died on March 28th, the birthday of Sonora, so in that minor way we are forever connected.

Piano Concerto No. 23 in A Major, K 488, Adagio—Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart 

The hesitation and longing in the duet between the piano and the strings reminds me of the feeling I have when I never want a book to end, a night to end, a love affair to end, or even this list which too must end.


Hannah Lillith Assadi and Sonora links:

the author's website

Kirkus Reviews 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

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

Google
  Web largeheartedboy.com