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January 3, 2008

Book Notes - Zachary Lazar ("Sway")

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

The three storylines of Zachary Lazar's novel Sway are fascinating in their own right. Lazar brings together the Rolling Stones (particularly Brian Jones), avant garde filmmaker Kenneth Anger, and Manson family member Bobby Beausoliel in a novel that brings back the life and times of the 1960s. I am usually not a fan of historical fiction, often finding it forced and unbelievable. Sway's assured prose and captivating story give it the ring of truth.

In his own words, here is Zachary Lazar's Book Notes essay for his novel, Sway

Nothing too obscure here, just a matching of songs and chapters:

“Revolution Blues,” Neil Young
His snapshot of the Manson family, from when he knew them (all too well) in L.A.

“Out of Time,” Rolling Stones
One of my favorite of their early songs.

“Two Headed Boy, parts 1 and 2,” Neutral Milk Hotel
For the book’s depiction of Kenneth Anger’s early life.

“Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” Rolling Stones
Their first devil song. I like the live version on “Get Your Ya-Yas Out”.

Elvis Presley, “(You’re The) Devil in Disguise”
For the way, humorous but also not, that Anger uses it in his biker film “Scorpio Rising”.

“No Expectations,” Rolling Stones
A beautiful song, and the last of their songs on which Brian Jones plays.

“Leaving My Old Life Behind/I Am a Hermit,” Jonathan Halper
Used in Anger’s “Puce Moment,” a beautiful psychedelic folk rock song.

“Sympathy For the Devil,” Rolling Stones
Watching them make this song in Godard’s film “One Plus One” was the basis for the first scene in Part 3 of my book.

“Sway,” Rolling Stones
For Keith’s guitar.

“You Got the Silver,” Rolling Stones
For Keith’s voice.

“Death Valley ’69,” Sonic Youth with Lydia Lunch
Like certain drawings by Raymond Pettibon, conjures the precise shade of psychosis embodied by the Manson family and Altamont.

“Moonlight Mile,” the Rolling Stones.
How else to end?

Zachary Lazar and Sway links:

the book's page at the publisher
the author's page at the publisher

BuddyHollywood review
Reader Views review

author essay at the publisher

also at Largehearted Boy:

Previous Book Notes submissions (authors create playlists for their book)
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
guest book reviews
musician/author interviews
directors discuss their film's soundtracks
52 Books, 52 Weeks (2007 Edition)
52 Books, 52 Weeks (2006 Edition)
52 Books, 52 Weeks (2005 Edition)
52 Books, 52 Weeks (2004 Edition)