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March 7, 2016

Book Notes - Nathan Larson "Stockholm Noir"

Stockholm Noir

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.

Edited by Nathan Larson and Carl-Michael Edenborg, Stockholm Noir is another impressive edition in Akashic Books' Noir series.

Publishers Weekly wrote of the book:

"Grouped under three headings, the 13 stories in this outstanding entry in Akashic's noir series capture the gloomy underside of Sweden's capital, portraying the hopelessness of those trapped in what Larson and Edenborg in their introduction call the city that devours your soul."

In his own words, here is Nathan Larson's Book Notes music playlist for his anthology Stockholm Noir:

Lee Hazelwood - "No Train to Stockholm"

Apocryphal but fun semi-facts! When it became clear to Frank Sinatra that cad-ish Lee Hazelwood was fucking his daughter Nancy, The Chairman suggested to Lee the he might get the fuck out of LA...lest his dirty hippy kneecaps be broken. Wisely, Hazelwood decamped to Sweden, where he recorded perhaps his finest album: Cowboy in Sweden. Originally attached to a TV series the album achieved cult status and within Sweden is very fondly looked upon. Recorded as it was in 1970 it's easy to imagine that indeed there was "no train to Stockholm"; but in reality the Swedish train system was complete in the mid nineteenth century. So while there was a train to Stockholm it very likely had practical and highly uncomfortable seats ( we're picturing lots of orange and beige plastic ).

"The Mob Rules" - Black Sabbath

Sabbath is name checked in the pages of Stockholm Noir, and so we include this Dio-era banger...not just because it's a rock juggernaut, but also because Sweden sports a very specific kind of hive mindset...the very polite and benign mob rules indeed

"Kom An, Kom An Pirater" - Jan Johansson / Astrid Lindgren

A Pippi jam. A lot of this 60s and 70s kids music is fantastic and was written by some of the best musicians in Sweden, including this anthem by the great jazzer Jan Johannson

"Iron Man" - The Cardigans

Once again Sabbath...this time as rendered by the band The Cardigans in '97 in dubby cocktail pop form

"The Demon's Name Is Surveillance" - Meshuggah

There is no way to overstate the importance of dark metal to the Swedish landscape....some of the finest crossover death metal has emerged from the country, as well as neighboring Norway. Meshuggah are one of the greats and the title of this track is certainly prescient

"Cult Logic" - Miike Snow

Sweden has no shortage of brilliantly executed electro pop and this track is a fine example. Once again....note the title. If one thinks of a society as an enclosed environment where there is an unquestioned consensus reality...North Korea, could easily be describing a cult writ large. (America is legion, a vast multitude of death and fetish cults, which is of course for other anthologies)

"Klapp Klapp" - Little Dragon

Cos Sweden also has soul and can be funky

"Thais: Meditation" (from Bergman's All These Women)

and we'll let a bit of music from Ingmar Bergman's special brand of perversity round off this list. Picture the icy archipelago, Liv Ullman alone on the black rocks....then forget that bullshit. These stories aren't about the fantasy Sweden. They're about the dirty suburbs.

Nathan Larson and Stockholm Noir links:

Kirkus review
Library Journal review
Publishers Weekly review

Largehearted Boy Book Notes essay by the editor for The Dewey Decimal System
Largehearted Boy Book Notes essay by the editor for The Nervous System

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

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)
guest book reviews
Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week (recommended new books, magazines, and comics)
musician/author interviews
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
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)