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March 22, 2012

Book Notes - Tom Gauld - "Goliath"

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, Kevin Brockmeier, George Pelecanos, Dana Spiotta, Amy Bloom, David Peace, Myla Goldberg, and many others.

Tom Gauld's graphic novel Goliath is a spare, stripped-down telling of the classic Bible story from the giant's perspective. Gauld leverages the power of comics with many captionless panels to perfectly pace this story, one that turns from a heralding tale of victory to epic tragedy when told from another point of view.

Grovel wrote of the book:

"It’s a neat, simple, beautiful book. It's not a long read, not least of all because dialogue is sparse and to the point. However, it's a masterpiece of understated complexity. Below its simple appearance is a tidal wave of thought-provoking magic. This is one of those books that will touch you as you read it, then stay with you for a long time afterwards."

Stream a Spotify playlist of these tunes. If you don't have Spotify yet, sign up for the free service.

In his own words, here is Tom Gauld's Book Notes music playlist for his graphic novel, Goliath:

My graphic novel Goliath doesn't have any music in it, in fact it has quite a lot of silence. If it did have a soundtrack maybe it would have some wind noise with occasional odd guitar squawks and bonks by Neil Young or Tom Waits. But I did listen to a lot of music and radio while I was drawing it:

1. "How’s it Gonna End" by Tom Waits

Tom Waits has been an inspiration to me, I love that he sticks to his obsessions and themes but he doesn't repeat himself. He pushes his work forward without losing what's great about it. This song has so many great scenes described in it. It's like a notebook full of ideas for an amazing lost black and white film.

2. "Waste of Time" by Peter Blegvad

I first got to know Peter Blegvad through his brilliant comic-strip Leviathan. I liked that so much I hunted around for other things by him and found his music, which is funny (funny strange and funny haha), clever and lovely. I know quite a few cartoonists who are also musicians so maybe there's some connection. Although I haven't got a musical bone in my body.

3. BBC radio dramatisations of "Lord Peter Wimsey" stories by Dorothy L Sayers

My drawing style involves quite a lot of cross-hatching which takes a long time but doesn't require a great deal of brain-work so it's the perfect time to listen to stories. The Lord Peter stories are like a cross between Agatha Christie and P.G. Wodehouse and they kept me amused while I was drawing the opener to Goliath: a nine page night scene which seemed to take forever to shade.

4 and 5. "Horseleg Swastikas" and "The Farmer's Motel" by The Silver Jews

I love the Silver Jews' music so much that I am choosing two of their songs. What appeals to me most about them is probably David Berman's lyrics. I'm more comfortable making pictures than writing words so I tend to keep the words in my work very understated and simple. These lyrics are understated and simple but are also brilliantly clear, darkly funny, smart and sad.

6. "In Our Time" podcasts from the BBC

Another thing I listen to while I'm drawing, in this radio show Melvyn Bragg gets three experts on a subject in to the studio then corrals them into explaining it to the layman. Every week it's a different thing and I like the feeling that I'm learning something while I'm working. I wouldn't be surprised if my next idea for a book came from an episode of this.

7. "I'm Waiting For The Man" by The Velvet Underground

I not too impressed by virtuoso showing-off in art (long solos in music, flashy drawings in comics etc) and a perfect, simple song like this shows you don't need it.

8. "Jarvis Cocker’s Sunday Service" (Radio show, BBC 6music)

Most new music I've got into over that past couple of years has come through this show. Jarvis Cocker puts together a really eclectic selection of records but also includes interesting bits about all sorts of art. Listening to it makes me want to get on and create more things.

9. "Motion Pictures" by Neil Young

There's an atmosphere about this song that I love but can't quite put my finger on. There's a feeling of failure, but also acceptance and a slight possibility of things turning out ok on the end. I'm drawn (in my work and other people's), to failure and tragedy but I don't want it to be completely bleak, there has to be humour and hope in there too. Though having said that the ending of Goliath is quite sad.

10. "Give Paris One More Chance" by Jonathan Richman

In contrast to what I just said about sad art, this is what I put on if I want to be cheered up. His work is like the musical equivalent of an uplifting self help book (in a good way).

Tom Gauld and Goliath links:

the author's website
excerpt from the book

A.V. Club review
Alternative Magazine Online review
Bart's Bookshelf review
Comic Attack review
Creative Review review
The Eloquent Page review
Grovel review
Houston Chronicle review
Read React review
Slant Magazine review
Washington Square News review

also at Largehearted Boy:

other Book Notes playlists (authors create music playlists for their book)
my 11 favorite Book Notes playlists

List of Online "Best Books of 2011" Lists
List of 2011 Year-End Online Music Lists

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