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February 25, 2010

Book Notes - Amy Bloom ("Where the God of Love Hangs Out")

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

Amy Bloom's new short story collection, Where the God of Love Hangs Out, is one of the year's most anticipated books. Collecting two sets of connected short stories as well as four stand alone pieces, the book examines love in all its forms as well as the choices we make in its name (for better and worse).

I savored this collection, reading one story per night before bed, rationing Bloom's eloquent prose in hopes the book might last forever. Amy Bloom once again shares vivid characters as real as our friends and neighbors (and even ourselves), flawed and strong in their own ways, and these characters (even those not central to the story) bring these stories to life. Where the God of Love Hangs Out is another masterpiece from an author I greatly admire.

The New York Times wrote of the collection:

"There are a lot of losses in "Where the God of Love Hangs Out," and not just because some of its characters age dramatically. Ms. Bloom is as interested in the forces that rupture bonds as in the ones that, against all odds and sometimes at terrible risk, manage to create them. The subtle, stirring title story ably illustrates Ms. Bloom’s tremendous gift for imagining life as a series of choices, with the paths not taken as vivid as the ones that are."

In her own words, here is Amy Bloom's Book Notes music playlist for her short story collection, Where the God of Love Hangs Out:

William and Clare

Duke Ellington's "I'm Beginning to See the Light" is what they foxtrot to on their wedding day. Please note, NOT Velvet Underground's 1969 song of the same name.

Clare's secret song for William is Dinah Washington's "Fat Daddy", although she never tells him so.

It's hard to not think of Etta James' "At Last", but I keep that cliche to myself.

Lionel and Julia

Thelonius Monk's "'Round Midnight" because so much happens late at night in these stories and because they are a family of jazz-lovers. Jazz brought Lionel, Sr. and Julia together—it created and still embraces this family.

Late at night, Julia listens to Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes doing, "I Miss You" and cries for Lionel, Sr. and Peaches.

By and By

Bon Iver's "The Wolves (Acts I and II)"—because it is a beautiful song about loss and a bit of the "Tennessee Waltz", from our narrator's childhood—because the true soundtrack in my head is too painful.


I don't think Frances has ever let herself listen to St. Vincent's "Laughing with a Mouthful of Blood" but if she did, it'd be her song, solitary, peculiar, not without charm.

Between Here and Here

Martha Wainwright's "Bloody Mother Fucking Asshole" probably plays in Alison's head during every visit and has kept her calm at times. I also think we have to sample Beethoven's Fifth, because it is Alvin's favorite piece of music.


Macy's song is "Love Is No Big Truth" by the Kings of Convenience. Roy sings Sam Cooke's "Everybody Loves to ChaChaCha" to himself to cheer himself up. Lately, he's been drawn to country music (this does not mean some asshole with a personal trainer and a Confederate flag) and listens to "Think I'll Just Stay Here and Drink."

These songs play in my head—sometimes for my thoughts, sometimes for my characters' hearts and heads.

Amy Bloom and Where the God of Love Hangs Out links:

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

The A.V. Club review
The Barnes & Noble Review review
Booking Around review
Bookmarks review
BookPage review review
Boston Globe review
Boston Phoenix review
By the Book review
Chicago Tribune review
Columbus Dispatch review
Entertainment Weekly review
Ex Libris Fides review
The Jewish Chronicle review
Library Journal review
Los Angeles Times review
Miami Herald review
Minnesota Reads review
The Morning News review
New York Times review
Oprah review
The Oregonian review
People review
The Rumpus review
San Francisco Chronicle review
The Sassy Bibliophile review
Seattle Times review
Slate review
St. Louis Post-Dispatch review
Through a Glass, Darkly review
USA Today review
View from the Library Window review
Washington Post review

J Weekly profile of the author
Vogue interview with the author

also at Largehearted Boy:

other Book Notes playlists (authors create music playlists for their book)

52 Books, 52 Weeks (weekly book reviews)
Antiheroines (interviews with up and coming female comics artists)
Atomic Books Comics Preview (highlights of the week's comics & graphic novel releases)
Daily Downloads (free and legal daily mp3 downloads)
guest book reviews
Largehearted Word (highlights of the week's book releases)
musician/author interviews
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Soundtracked (composers and directors discuss their film's soundtracks)
Try It Before You Buy It (mp3s and full album streams from this week's CD releases)
weekly music & DVD release lists