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September 13, 2012

Book Notes - Amy Leach "Things That Are"

Things That Are

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, Heidi Julavits, Hari Kunzru, and many others.

Amy Leach's Things That Are is an enchanting book, an essay collection that lyrically covers the natural world from the terrestrial to the celestial.

Yiyun Li wrote of the book:

"Like a descendant of Lewis Carroll and Emily Dickinson, Amy Leach brings new meaning to the world without us, and within. A reader entering this book to learn more about the universe will exit knowing much more about her own self. At once large and intimate, these essays introduce one of the most exciting and original writers in America."

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

In her own words, here is Amy Leach's Book Notes music playlist for her essay collection, Things That Are:

"Every Woman in the World" by Air Supply

I didn't actually listen to this song while I was writing my book but I did experience the sentiment. Just as one woman is every woman in the world to Air Supply, one animal is every animal in the world to me. His ears are foxy, the way he moves his head is like a chickadee, and he screams like a monkey. By turns badgerlike, pigletlike, and toadlike, he is a mutable muse.

"Pilgrim" by Steve Earle & The Del McCoury Band

At first one person sings all alone - "I'm just a pilgrim on this road, boys." Then someone else joins in; I think Emmylou is the second pilgrim, and by the end it sounds like hundreds are singing. Everybody is a pilgrim on this road.

"Buckets of Rain" by Redbird

This song makes me cry, so it is a good counter-influence when I get giddy. Tears plus giddiness equals an electric equilibrium, good for writing.

"Hard Times" and "Annabelle," by Gillian Welch, as well as all her other music

I believe every word she sings, every note she plays.

"Pictures of You" by The Cure

Sometimes when the weather and traffic conditions were just right, my commute in Chicago was four hours long. Normally this was the least romantic part of my day, but I remember how once, "Pictures of You" came on the radio and transfigured a grim interminable rainy drive into something luminous. Music is the opposite of an anesthetic – it is an extra-esthetic, enabling one to feel more, instead of less.

"Society" by Eddie Vedder

Society does seem crazy sometimes.

Two-Part Inventions by Bach

I play these pieces every morning, in an effort to deserve my piano. They are helping my left hand become more intelligent and I look forward to the day when one of them turns into music.

"Cold Water" by Tom Waits

Tom Waits epitomizes Emerson's statement "Your goodness must have some edge to it, else it is none." Mr. Waits's goodness has edge—no wonder the old dog likes him.

"How I Got Over" by Mahalia Jackson

From the lyrics: I've been falling and rising all these years—but you know my soul look back and wonder—how did I make it over—

Goldberg Variations by J.S. Bach

This music always makes me think of the red and orange autumn trees swaying beside a little road in Virginia, before I was born. I have seen them in home-movies from 1967, when I did not exist. Not existing was easy but treeless; there were no Goldberg Variations nor any variations at all.

Amy Leach and Things That Are links:

the author's Wikipedia entry
video trailer for the book

The Book Catapault review
Kirkus Reviews review
MInneapolis Star Tribune review

Bullett interview with the author
Milkweed Blog interview with the author
Minnesota Reads interview with the author
MinnPost interview with the author
A Public Space interview with the author

also at Largehearted Boy:

Book Notes (2012 - ) (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

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