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December 2, 2015

Book Notes - Molly Crabapple "Drawing Blood"

Drawing Blood

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, T.C. Boyle, Dana Spiotta, Amy Bloom, Aimee Bender, Jesmyn Ward, Heidi Julavits, Hari Kunzru, and many others.

Molly Crabapple's work as both artist and journalist has always impressed me. Her new memoir Drawing Blood is a compelling story of self-discovery through art.

Booklist wrote of the book:

"Jaw dropping, awe inspiring, and not afraid to shock, Crabapple is a punk Joan Didion, a young Patti Smith with paint on her hands, a twenty-first century Sylvia Plath. There's no one else like her; prepare to be blown away by both the words and pictures."

Stream a playlist of these songs at Spotify.

In her own words, here is Molly Crabapple's Book Notes music playlist for her memoir Drawing Blood:

"Chelsea Hotel Number Two": Leonard Cohen

Leonard Cohen's tribute to his one night stand with a rock and roll goddess is the most feminist love song ever written. Its the only song I know where the woman is plain, famous, divinely talented, and does the choosing. In every other love song the woman might be beautiful, cold, kind, passionate, indifferent, but she is never an individual the way Janice is, while the limousines (HER limousines) wait on the street.

Worker in song is a sweeter phrase, maybe, than beloved.

"Hathahi Dunya Shara3": don't know the artist

I don't think this song is on English language Itunes. My copy of it is ripped from the internet. Its the favorite song of a very dear collaborator, about the wild variations of life. The sound is half defiant, half mournful. The first line translates to something like : This world is a sail, sometimes riding a wave to joy, sometimes to despair.

"The Wall": Johnny Cash

I like old music, okay? This was the song I listened to again and again while I was writing my essays on Guantanamo. One of Cash's classic prison songs, it tells the story of a guy locked up for robbery who dies trying to climb the wall to freedom. My first Gitmo story was written at the height of the hunger strike, when around 100 indefinitely detained, largely innocent men were starving themselves to death in hope of freedom. Incidentally, Gitmo has a karaoke bar -- not for the prisoners, of course. If I could sing, I would have sung Johnny Cash.

"Impossible Girl #4": Kim Boekbinder

One chapter of Drawing Blood is a bit of a mash note to my own rockstar, a pink haired girl who sings this very song with such raw sweet pain. Its all about the longing someone might feel for her, because she is always leaving. I'm just lucky she keeps coming back.

"Ride": Lana del Rey

Lana's Americana is as deeply felt, as meticulously constructed, as dorky and as false as hand painted D&D figurines. But I'm a nerd too.

"Lily Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts": Bob Dylan

Because it's a story with so many hypnotic combinations of words that I would dearly love to chuck everything and illustrate it. How many times have I played this song in hotel rooms around the world, wondering what happens to Jack and if he lives or dies and if Lily runs off with him? I love songs that are stories. Fuck, old songs, old old old songs were stories. I mean the oldest: Odyssey, Gilgamesh. Poetry meant to be sung. There's something primordially appealing about the song that's a story. I imagine Jack having a smirk and black curls falling across his forehead. He's probably really good at talking his way past police checkpoints.

"Çapulcular- Gaz Marşı- Sık Bakalım

"Bring on the teargas". Unspeakably catchy anthem of Turkey's Gezi park protests, used as the backing track of countless youtube videos of leftist soccer hooligans flipping off the cops.

"Jolene": White Stripes

Jolene deserved your man.

Molly Crabapple and Drawing Blood links:

the author's website
excerpt from the book
excerpt from the book
excerpt from the book
video trailer for the book

Kirkus review
Publishers Weekly review

Brooklyn Magazine interview with the author
digboston interview with the author
Fusion interview with the author
The Great Discontent interview with the author
Guardian interview with the author
Lit Up Show interview with the author

also at Largehearted Boy:

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

Online "Best of 2015" Book Lists

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)
Daily Downloads (free and legal daily mp3 downloads)
guest book reviews
Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week (recommended new books, magazines, and comics)
musician/author interviews
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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
Word Bookstores Books of the Week (weekly new book highlights)