May 23, 2018
In the Book Notes series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates in some way to their recently published book.
Joe Fletcher's The Hatch is a remarkable collection of poetry, prose, and flash fiction.
Publishers Weekly wrote of the book:
"Fletcher conjures a dizzying array of fantastical and macabre imagery in his debut collection, which features lyric narratives and flash fictions that evoke the original versions of the Grimms' fairy tales, Pagan rituals, and horror films."
The poems in The Hatch share the same atmosphere as the music I was listening to during the time of their composition. I don’t know what to say about these songs that could add to the experience of listening to them. What follows is a fumbling attempt to conjure what they elicit in me.
Boards of Canada: “Roygbiv” (Geogaddi)
A tinted convoy winding along a chain of dunes in the predawn. A city cleansed of vandals brings the harvest to its windowed canyons on great conveyors caked with grease and soot. A cloud of pigeons swerves to avoid a twisting cylinder of static extending upward from a blinking antenna. A boy wakes up on a commercial flight in 1972 and finds his orange juice is still cold. But the half-eaten cookie he had left on his tray is gone.
Tommy Johnson: “Cool Drink of Water Blues”
The coppery, quavering tenor, rich and muddy, that leaps up into trembling falsetto, as if he were being surprised by ghosts he had to keep belching out, matched by the tremolo in both registers of the guitar creeping through the brackish cypress flats. Dry-mouthed and with nothing but a dented cup of gasoline as August wanes. Shadows stretching across the empty eastbound platform.
Meredith Monk & Katie Geissinger: “Lost Wind” (Volcano Songs)
Dying glaciers sucked through the synapses of prehistory. Basalt scraped into mute submission beneath the lance of sick starlight that is not lost, since it finds an echo or answer in the purple stalactite piercing a stag’s tongue. I found two baby owls trembling in the ivy by my dead aunt’s chimney. What reddens the blood? Her low staccato laughter at my fumbling toward speech was made of too many lips.
Austra: “Lose It” (Feel it Break)
Sheer animal panic skittering through the nebulous woodlands. Palpitating herds. The drum we found in the river exhorts a communal anguish sprawled under the aegis of no demon we know. Its hot acidic breath on our muddy breast. Past the salt mines, to the delta, lured by the inaugural fires made from splintered phone poles lit on abandoned barges. With that other we dragged through the dark by her thumbs, who compresses a testimony we distract you from by peeling sound from her spine.
Verdi: Rigoletto—Quartet, “Bella Figlia Dell’Amore” (Joan Sutherland, Hugette Tourangeau, Luciano Pavarotti, Sherrill Milnes)
An upturned bell brimming with whale blood in whose quadratic depths one glimpses the shadowy Mantuan spires quivering in the tavern clamor while the jester vomits port on the cobbles. Four assassins converge on a honeyed candleflame dressed in a rapist’s robes, cloaked as a man, coked up in the lust bowels. We listen through the chink in the wall, believing ourselves outside and above, but the joke is on us, heavy as a bloated ox beside the parched northern road to Verona, along which we send our daughters. Come with me now. It’s impossible. I’m afraid.
Wendy Rene: “After Laughter (Comes Tears)”
I rode a three-day drunk into Squid’s. Sorrow hid in the velvet curtains above the corner booth. The dead koi I lifted from the tepid tank with the care of a midwife. I held it till tomorrow, which lasted a year, made as I was from intersecting neutron cones spinning down from the low summer front. I slumped over a Negroni, a sunflower in a tomb. Some fat Pierrot meandering through the sun-blazed median, sweating against the rubber of his mask, shaking with each bass bubble welling up from the underworld. You in love, you happy, until this banshee bites the inside of your ear.
Tortoise: “Gigantes” (Beacons of Ancestorship)
It dropped from the skywomb in syncopated globules of sound that quivered in their separateness before fusing with a crack that tore rain from the air. It waves an unjointed phalange at the drones. It sucks through its snout the crabs that it dug from beneath the upturned hull of a trawler. Its many arms dump ecstatic gluts of rhythm spreading like sonic bacteria through the battered Levant. Let the empire be pulled across the obsidian face of the magnetic cliffs. It sleeps completely still on a bed of plundered corpse hair. Neon loons mate in the cane.
Henryk Górecki: Kleines Requiem Fur Eine Polka—“4. Adagio, Cantable” (Rudolf Werthen: I Fiamminghi)
Where is that woman going with her wheelbarrow loaded with moss? If you press an architrave in Katowice you can hear an angel scream in agony from behind an exoplanet. The scarred boy shares the day’s only meal with you, retrograde vagrant. Gray rain coats the tarmac. Under the cemetery a web of enzymes pulsing. Look: already the restharrows are dimming on the northern slopes of the Carpathians. What evil condensed to shatter the bus’s windshield? Why did the driver and all the passengers walk in a wordless processional away from the airport?
Joe Fletcher and The Hatch links:
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
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)
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