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February 22, 2018

Shorties (Mario Vargas Llosa Profiled, New Speedy Ortiz Music, and more)

The New York Times profiled author Mario Vargas Llosa.


Stream a new Speedy Ortiz song.


February's best eBook deals.


NPR Music is streaming Haley Heynderickx's I Need To Start A Garden album.


Literary Hub shared an excerpt from Patrick Nathan's novel Some Hell.


Pitchfork recommended essential Ryuichi Sakamoto musical collaborations.


eBook on sale for $2.99 today:

Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter


Stream a new Screaming Females song.


The White Review shared a conversation between authors Eley Williams and Rowan Hisayo Buchanan.


Rostam visited The Current studio for an interview and live performance (which included a Nick Drake cover).


Rachel Lyon discussed her novel Self-Portrait with Boy with the Chicago Review of Books.


NPR Music is streaming Soccer Mommy's new album Clean.


Bookworm interviewed author Scott McClanahan.


Stream a new song by Heartless Bastards' Erika Wennerstrom.


The Bend Bulletin profiled author Willy Vlautin.


Stream a new Parquet Courts song.


The Weekly Standard examined the literary legacy of Carson McCullers.


NPR Music is streaming Camp Cope's new album How To Socialise & Make Friends.


Conversational Reading interviewed Christina MacSweeney about translating Julian Herbert's novel Tomb Song.


Stream a new Breeders song.


The Paris Review interviewed poet Nicole Sealey.


Stream a new Nicole Atkins song.


Signature recommended nonfiction books by black women.


Stream a new Lizzie Loveless song.


Author and illustrator Brian Selznick talked books and reading with the New York Times.


Car Seat Headrest covered Smash Mouth's "Fallen Horses."


The Rumpus Book Club interviewed author Terese Marie Mailhot .


Stream a new Zola Jesus song.


Jamie Quatro listed her favorite books on infidelity at the Guardian.


Stream a new Lissie song.


Hazlitt shared new short fiction by Michael Faber.


Stream a new song by Kitten.



also at Largehearted Boy:

Support Largehearted Boy

previous Shorties posts (daily news and links from the worlds of music, books, and pop culture)

Atomic Books Comics Preview (the week's best new comics and graphic novels)
Book Notes (authors create playlists for their book)
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)
weekly music release lists






February 21, 2018

Book Notes - Kelly Barnhill "Dreadful Young Ladies, and Other Stories"

Dreadful Young Ladies, and Other Stories

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 Jesmyn Ward, Bret Easton Ellis, Celeste Ng, Lauren Groff, T.C. Boyle, Dana Spiotta, Amy Bloom, Aimee Bender, Heidi Julavits, Hari Kunzru, and many others.

Kelly Barnhill's Dreadful Young Ladies, and Other Stories is an enchanting and lyrical collection.

Publishers Weekly wrote of the book:

"Each story is written in intensely poetic language that can exult or disturb, sometimes within the same sentence, and evokes a dreamlike, enchanted mood that lingers in the reader's mind. These tales are made to be reread and savored."


In her own words, here is Kelly Barnhill's Book Notes music playlist for her collection collection Dreadful Young Ladies, and Other Stories:


My Favorite Writing Music Isn't Music at All


I see them, too—writers at coffee shops or at the library, typing away to the internalized rhythms of whatever music is sliding out of their earbuds. I know writers who have play lists for their books, or specific songs that ground them in the space in their heads from which all writing grows. I know writers whose work drifts down rivers of melody and rhythm, and I have to say I'm envious.

I love music—always have. And I'm not bad at it. I have sung in choirs and quartets and used to sing in both churches and in bars to make under-the-table cash when I was a poor exchange student and was barred from working legally (don't tell the authorities). (Also? In case you were wondering: the bars paid better.) I play the piano and the guitar and once tried to learn the oboe, but it didn't go very well. I listen to music when I'm reading or cleaning or cooking dinner, but I absolutely, without question, cannot—cannot—listen to music while I'm writing.

And I never actually wondered why until now.

I was asked, dear readers, to tell you my playlist for my new book, Dreadful Young Ladies, and Other Stories. Alas. There is none. As a writer who lacks the neural networking for any kind of "visual thinking"—my brain operates almost entirely in language, sound, and other non-visual sensory information—I rely on my own internal voice as I write. I cannot see a story in my head; I can only hear it. So that means, every time, it has to sound right. It has to feel right in the ear and the mouth and the chest. It has to resonate. It has to vibrate in my bones. And because of the particularities of my attunement to the aural sensibilities of each sentence, any music at all when I write becomes a distraction.

Which isn't to say that I operate in utter silence. Of course not. There is no such thing as utter silence. The world is noisy. Even when it is quiet. And the noisiness of the quiet world becomes, for me, its own kind of music. Its own playlist. And this is what I write to.

I wrote these stories to the music of silence – and because these stories come from a wide range of my writing life (and therefore my actual life), the types of silence that fed these stories has changed over time as well. Here are the highlights of my playlist:

"The Wet Mouthed Breathing and Dreamy Sighs of the Baby That Has Finally Napped." Two of these stories were published originally in 2007, but were written two and a half years earlier, when my son was an infant. There is a sound that a sleep-averse baby makes when they have finally drifted into slumber deep enough to keep them still and content. It is a sound that feels like a soap bubble in the hand—so fragile as to make it ungraspable. A thing simply to be wondered at. It is a sound that means that the half-written story in the notebook can, miracle of miracles, get another sentence. And maybe it can live. It was, for a time in my life, my favorite sound in all the universe.

"The Quiet Gurgles and Creaks of an Only Somewhat Haunted House." I have been lucky, in my life, in the ghost department: my ghost, I think her name is Evelyn, did laundry. This is true. She lived in the basement and smelled like talcum powder and Aquanet and every once in a while gave a derisive snort. And she folded laundry. Maybe because she was bored? It's hard to say. All I know is that I would put clothes in the dryer and would come down later and find them folded in a stack and I was the only one home. I appreciated it, and told her so (she never responded), and I missed her when she finally took her leave of us. But there is nothing that pulls a story along like listening to the rheumy sigh and sidelong murmurs of the joists and lintels of one's elderly home, and knowing that maybe, just maybe, not all of those sounds are due to aging architecture, but rather occur because Evelyn, as per her nature, is feeling busy.

"The Silent Sound Snow Makes When it Gives Way to Water." I live in Minnesota, which means we live with the seasons. Each transition from this season to that season is written on our skin. Snow, while seemingly inert, is a treasure trove of sound. It squeaks when it is bitter cold. It muffles footsteps and quiets voices when it falls. It holds its breath. It shimmers in the ear. And then, when the weather warms and the crystalline structure begins to collapse, it yawns and sighs like a broken heart, before folding into a silent sob. This was the sound I heard, incidentally, this afternoon, as the temperatures climbed and the snow began to shake. It is, I have to say, the saddest sound I know.

"The Anticipatory Sound of a Household That Hasn't Yet Woken Up." This is my current favorite sound. When each bed is warm and mounded over and full of sleep. When the wood floor is cold and the tea is warm. When, even from where I sit downstairs, all I hear is breathing. And not just my family members. The floor breathes; the walls breathe; the windows breathe. Everything is present and calm and without needs. Everything in the house simply is.

"The Scritch Scritch Scritch of the Pen on the Page." There is nothing better than the sound of a story being written by hand. There is a musicality to handwriting—a phrasing and a rhythm and even a harmonic structure. The ink in the cartridge slurps. The knuckles creek. The paper squeaks. The pen attempts at fluid motion and fails. It scratches. With each word. It pulls bits of the paper off with it. It does not apologize.

The world we live in is loud. Our machines are loud. Our news is loud. Our government is loud. Writing, for me, is quiet. It is good that it is quiet.


Kelly Barnhill and Dreadful Young Ladies, and Other Stories links:

the author's website
excerpt from the book

Kirkus review
Minneapolis Star Tribune review
Publishers Weekly review

Minneapolis City Pages profile of the author
Minneapolis Public Radio interview with the author
Weekend Edition interview with the author


also at Largehearted Boy:

Support the Largehearted Boy website

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)
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


Book Notes - Andrea Gibson "Take Me With You"

Take Me With You

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 Jesmyn Ward, Bret Easton Ellis, Celeste Ng, Lauren Groff, T.C. Boyle, Dana Spiotta, Amy Bloom, Aimee Bender, Heidi Julavits, Hari Kunzru, and many others.

Andrea Gibson's poetry collection Take Me With You is visually arresting and compelling,

Clint Smith wrote of the book:

"Andrea Gibson's work is imbued with the unfettered honesty and beautifully rendered language that made them a pioneer in the spoken word community. Their work does not apologize for existing at the intersections. It holds complicated truths together and rejects the false choice of artist or activist. In many ways, my work is only possible because of theirs, and we are so fortunate that they continue to create art and put it out into the world."


In their own words, here is Andrea Gibson's Book Notes music playlist for their poetry collection Take Me With You:



Bon Iver, "Holocene"

There’s much in the book about reckoning with my own wholeness, and included in my wholeness are my shortcomings. “I was not magnificent” is a repeated lyric in Holocene and a few years ago I started pushing myself to start saying, “I was not magnificent” instead of “I hate myself” whenever I failed to show up to the kindest version of myself. It’s a gentle way of recognizing that I can do better, while still being kind to myself through the process.

Angel Haze, "Battle Cry"

I love Angel Haze’s work and this song in particular wakes me to my own power, light, and resilience. There is a section of the book titled Becoming, and Angel’s line “You the only person alive who holds the key to your healing” weaves itself through the pages while reminding me that vulnerability and strength go hand and hand.

Sia, "Alive"

"I’m still breathing, I’m still breathing, I’m alive." This song is an anthem to me, and as the book speaks a great deal to mental health, suicidality, and staying alive, I hear it in the background of so many pages. One of my biggest hopes in putting this book together was a hope that people would be able to open to any page and be immediately inspired to acknowledge the power and force of their own survival.

The National, "About Today"

Take Me With You is broken up into three sections and the section on love includes a number of pages on loss. This song is so hauntingly casual in its heartbreak, and so familiar, I feel as if I could have written each word myself. There is a line in the book that reads, “In the ghost town of our love there is a player piano trying to prove it can make music without being touched. My fingertips miss her so much.” That line feels like the sequel to this song.

Iron & Wine, "The Trapeze Swinger"

If I picked one song to sum up the book this would be it as it’s encompassing of many of the themes and spans a lifetime, as much of the poetry in the Take Me With You does. The song is at once about failure and success, about someone who loved and failed to love, someone who lived and failed to fully live, who was wise and unwise, but eternally growing and becoming through it all.

Lizzo, "Good As Hell"

It was really important to me with this project to create something that would lift people up. Something that would leave a person more awake. Something that would make loving ourselves a little bit easier. This is the song I sing when I give myself permission to celebrate who I am, where I’ve been, and where I’m headed. It’s like a shot of sunshine directly to my heavy heart every time I hear it, and that was also my dream for my book.

Chris Pureka, "Holy"

To me, this is one of the most beautiful songs ever written, and I specifically love the lyric, “The weight was a mountain of old pain, like I could have walked on the sea if you had just noticed me, hanging around. But we danced, to be whole, to be whole, to be holy.” So much of Take Me With You speaks to the light that is possible in spite of the darkness we have each lived through. And this song is holy in it’s repeated return to tenderness, the journey from heartache to freedom. That is my goal---to add to every hard moment of my life a lens that includes the words “But we danced…”

Gregory Alan Isakov, "Amsterdam"

In Amsterdam Greg writes, “Churches and trains—- they all look the same to me now, churches and planes, how we ache to come home somehow.” For me, all of art-making is a journey home. Each, poem, each book, a map. Throughout Take Me With You there is a longing for home that is persistent, a sense of pushing oneself to push forward, and there are so many ways to get there.

Nina Simone, "I’ve Got Life"

This song gives so much and is so stunningly heart-generous. I can’t name another piece of art that fills me with a clearer sense of gratitude for my precious life. This song pushes me towards grace and opens my chest like a parachute. In the book there is a line, “I want to break every promise I have made to my pain.” By that I mean, I do not want my pain to dictate the entirety of my life. I want to fuel my own joy by putting my attention on what I’m grateful for whenever possible.

Strays Don’t Sleep, "For Blue Skies"

There is a line in Take Me With You, “Do you ever get homesick? I can’t get used to it. I’ll never get used to it. I’ll never get used to it.” And that line is sung to a person who is no longer alive. Some of the lines in TAKE ME WITH YOU are written to people who are no longer with us, people who left this world on purpose and whose loss I will never acclimate to. I love this song because it recognizes that there are some wounds that will never not be wounds, and that’s a truth that I believe is loving to acknowledge.


Andrea Gibson and Take Me With You links:

the author's website
the author's Wikipedia entry
video trailer for the book

Queen Mob's Tea House review

Brit + Co interview with the author
Daily Camera profile of the author
Georgia Voice interview with the author
HuffPost profile of the author
Mountain Xpress profile of the author
Out interview with the author


also at Largehearted Boy:

Support the Largehearted Boy website

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)
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


Book Notes - Jonathan Blunk "James Wright: A Life in Poetry"

James Wright: A Life in Poetry

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 Jesmyn Ward, Bret Easton Ellis, Celeste Ng, Lauren Groff, T.C. Boyle, Dana Spiotta, Amy Bloom, Aimee Bender, Heidi Julavits, Hari Kunzru, and many others.

Jonathan Blunk's James Wright: A Life in Poetry is an engaging and thorough biography of the poet.

The New York Times wrote of the book:

"[An] engrossing biography . . . Wright comes through vividly on almost every page. Blunk began working on the book in 2002, and it's clearly the better for that long gestation . . . Blunk makes judicious use of Wright's papers, including important letters that only recently came to light . . . It's in the extensive endnotes that Blunk really shines, illuminating his sources and his resourcefulness . . . Literary biography at its fine-grained finest."


In his own words, here is Jonathan Blunk's Book Notes music playlist for his book James Wright: A Life in Poetry:



I've enjoyed putting this playlist together, combing through my biography of the American poet James Wright for his personal selections and obsessions. In the process I've realized how much music there is in the book and how central that connection was for Wright throughout his life.

"Shall We Gather at the River" – Anonymous 4
From early childhood, Wright was surrounded by country music, whether in the streets of his hometown of Martins Ferry in southern Ohio or on the radio, which broadcast the Jamboree from Wheeling, WV, across the Ohio River. Even as an adult, Wright could be found with his ear pressed against the speakers, no matter what music he was listening to. Wright chose the traditional Christian hymn "Shall We Gather at the River" as the title for his fourth collection—arguably his masterwork. My favorite recording is by Anonymous 4, from their collection American Angels. In their singing you can hear the Bible-belt earnestness and longing that sounds beneath much of Wright's poetry.

"Gretchen am Spinnrade" – Franz Schubert, performed by Kathleen Ferrier
In high school, at the height of the World War II, Wright fell under the spell of Classical music, with the encouragement of his English teacher. She took Wright to a performance of Tchaikovsky's Manfred Symphony (B minor, Op. 58), by the Wheeling Symphony Orchestra, and the teenage Wright was thrilled to realize it was inspired by the poetry of Lord Byron, one of his first poetic idols. Four years later, at Kenyon College, Wright became obsessed with German lieder and quickly became fluent in German. As with Tchaikovsky's programmatic symphony, the music was directly inspired by words; for Wright, the boundary between the two forms was fluid. When the great soprano Kathleen Ferrier died, the poet wrote an elegy for her that he included in his first book. Ferrier's recording of Schubert's "Gretchen am Spinnrade" was a favorite of Wright's, set to one of Goethe's lyrics for Faust. (Look for a Decca 2-disk set titled Kathleen Ferrier – A Tribute.) When Wright's first son was born in Vienna, the poet named him after Franz Schubert.

"The Great Speckled Bird" – Roy Acuff
While at Kenyon, Wright's knowledge of Classical music broadened exponentially. Each night, after he was done studying, he met with classmates to listen to and discuss the music of Copland, Milhaud, Bartok, Ravel, and countless other composers. At the same time, Wright hosted a program of satire and comedy on the campus radio station, taking as his theme song "The Great Speckled Bird" by Roy Acuff. E. L. Doctorow, a Kenyon classmate, believed that the tension Wright always felt—growing up in poverty but attending college surrounded by affluence and privilege—could be seen in the disparity between Wright's love for both German lieder and the country music of his childhood.

"Concerto Grosso for String Orchestra, with Piano Obbligato" – Ernest Bloch
As Wright completed his final year at Kenyon, classmates witnessed his obsession with the "Concerto Grosso for String Orchestra, with Piano Obbligato" by Ernest Bloch (in a recording by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Rafael Kubelik). Fascinated by the concluding "Fugue" movement, Wright wanted to understand how Bloch had solved the same problem Wright faced with his poetry, namely how to use a classical form within a modern setting.

"Alto Rhapsody" – Johannes Brahms
After graduating from Kenyon in 1952, Wright spent nine months in Vienna on a Fulbright grant, studying the work of Theodor Storm and the Austrian modernist Georg Trakl. Wright also discovered the operas of Mozart, Strauss, and Wagner in the concert halls of the still-partitioned city, music that accompanied him for the rest of his life. Years later, after a painful divorce and loss of his teaching job, Wright could be seen lying on the floor with the stereo at full volume, muttering to himself, "Wagner, you fascist!" Wright's landmark volume, The Branch Will Not Break, includes his translation of "Three Stanzas from Goethe," which Brahms had set to music in his "Alto Rhapsody" (Op. 53).

"Delia" – "Spider" John Koerner
Wright never lost his appreciation for folk and country music. In Minneapolis in the fall of 1959, he often invited his friend Harry Weber to come to his home to sing, and Weber brought "Spider" John Koerner and a young Bob Dylan along with him. As they tuned their guitars, Wright would ask them to begin with the ballad "Delia"—"so you'll have time to play it again later." Taken at a brighter tempo, Koerner performs the song with Dave Ray on the Red House label recording A Nod to Bob.

"Until It's Time for You to Go" – Buffy Sainte-Marie
Wright could listen to the same music over and over again, lifting the needle on his phonograph (or in others' homes) to play the same track compulsively—Sibelius's Fifth Symphony, for instance, or Variations on a Theme of Thomas Tallis by Vaughan Williams. Galway Kinnell recalled one such fixation, after Wright first settled in New York City and sought out Kinnell in Greenwich Village in the winter of 1966. Wright responded to a quality of emotional yearning in the voice of Buffy Sainte-Marie that he couldn't hear often enough or loud enough, no matter the time of night. Much to Kinnell's regret, the song that Wright's passion seized upon was "Until It's Time for You to Go" (from Sainte-Marie's second album, Many a Mile).

"Six Variations, Op. 34" – Ludwig von Beethoven, performed by Sviatoslav Richter
Following his divorce, Wright kept only his clothes, books, and records; visiting his family in Ohio at Christmas, the only things he carried "in his raggedy old suitcase were all those symphony records." As his good friend, Eugene Pugatch, recalled, "I think whatever deeply felt religious experiences he had clearly came through music." After Wright remarried and began traveling in Europe in the last decade of his life, music often influenced the travel plans he made with Annie. In the summer of 1970, they visited the homes where Beethoven had lived in Vienna and went out of their way to hear a recital by Sviatoslav Richter in Arles, a performance that included Beethoven's Six Variations, Op. 34, and Schumann's Fantasiestucke, Op. 12. (Vol. 9 of a series of recordings by Richter on the Olympia label features contemporaneous performances of these compositions.)

"Trois Gymnopédies" – Erik Satie, performed by Aldo Ciccolini
After eight months of travel and prodigious work in his journal (which would yield his excellent posthumous volume, This Journey), Wright felt exhausted when he and Annie settled into a top-floor apartment in Paris for the month of August 1979. It would take doctors four more months to diagnose the cancer that was killing him. The couple walked all over the city, but often returned to their apartment in the late afternoon, making a ritual of tea and the music of Erik Satie. Wright always began with "Trois Gymnopédies." Mostly he and Annie didn't speak, looking out across the mansard roofs and terracotta chimney pots that stretched toward the dome of Sacre Coeur lit by sunset. (The album Wright chose was The Piano Music of Erik Satie, Vol. 1, a recording by Aldo Ciccolini on Angel Records, released in 1968.)

One of Wright's clearest statements about his ambition as a writer is yet another example of how the poet's thought and imagination relied upon music. In a letter to John Logan he wrote, "I am trying to balance language itself with my experience of the intractable world and, in that balance, ring a kind of chime."


Jonathan Blunk and James Wright: A Life in Poetry links:

the author's website

Kirkus review
Minneapolis Star Tribune review
New York Times review
Publishers Weekly review
Wall Street Journal review


also at Largehearted Boy:

Support the Largehearted Boy website

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)
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


Shorties (David Mamet on Writing His First Crime Novel, Stream Two New Mark Kozelek Songs, and more)

Vulture interviewed David Mamet about writing his first crime novel, Chicago.


Stream two new Mark Kozelek songs.


February's best eBook deals.


The Quietus reconsidered Madona's Ray of Light album on its 20th anniversary.


The Paris Review interviewed author Hermione Hoby.


Stream a new Mount Eerie song.


Guernica interviewed author Carmen Maria Machado.


S. Carey visited The Current studio for an interview and live performance.


Talking Book shared an excerpt from Janice Lee's forthcoming novel Imagine a Death.


Stream a new Caroline Says song.


Kelly Barnhill discussed her new collection Dreadful Young Ladies and Other Stories with Weekend Edition.

Tor.com shared an excerpt from the book.


Entries are open for NPR Music's 2018 Tiny Desk Concert Contest.


Walter Mosley discussed his new novel Down The River Unto The Sea with All Things Considered.


Stream a new song by Jack.


Between the Covers interviewed author Terese Marie Mailhot.


Meg Remy discussed her band U.S. Girls with The Ringer.


Paste recommended the fiction of Nnedi Okorafor if you loved Black Panther.


Stream a new song by Caroline No.


Brittney Cooper talked to Ms. Magazine and Shondaland about her book Eloquent Rage.


Members of Jets to Brazil discussed the band's Orange Rhyming Dictionary album (which turns 20 this year) at Punk Rock Theory.


Signature reconsidered Betty Friedan's The Feminine Mystique, which was first published 55 years ago.


Stream a new song by Paul de Jong (of the Books).


The Guardian interviewed author Elizabeth Strout.


The A.V. Club recommended 21 live albums from the 21st century.


Akwaeke Emezi discussed her novel Freshwater with Weekend Edition and The Rumpus.


The Brooklyn Review features new fiction by Taylor Larsen.


Pitchfork reviewed the reissued Sonny Rollins album Way Out West.


Full Stop shared an excerpt from Genevieve Hudson's A Little in Love with Everyone.


Stream new Melvins music.


The OTHERPPL podcast interviewed author Willy Vlautin.


St. Vincent covered Pearl Jam's "Tremor Christ."


The Millions interviewed author Andre Aciman.


Stream a new Avi Jacobs song.



also at Largehearted Boy:

Support Largehearted Boy

previous Shorties posts (daily news and links from the worlds of music, books, and pop culture)

Atomic Books Comics Preview (the week's best new comics and graphic novels)
Book Notes (authors create playlists for their book)
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)
weekly music release lists


February 19, 2018

Book Notes - Cheston Knapp "Up Up, Down Down"

Up Up, Down Down

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 Jesmyn Ward, Bret Easton Ellis, Celeste Ng, Lauren Groff, T.C. Boyle, Dana Spiotta, Amy Bloom, Aimee Bender, Heidi Julavits, Hari Kunzru, and many others.

The essays in Cheston Knapp's collection Up Up, Down Down are funny, sharp, and smart explorations of identity.

Publishers Weekly wrote of the book:

"Takes a firmly tongue-in-cheek approach to the existential crises of male maturity for the millennial generation… Knapp's philosophizing is kept lively by exuberant and sometimes acerbically funny descriptions… This intelligent take on coming-of-age deserves to be widely read, if only for its effortless-seeming form and its expression of how style and content are irrevocably intertwined."


In his own words, here is Cheston Knapp's Book Notes music playlist for his essay collection Up Up, Down Down:



I'm on this fine site today to promote a book of my word noodlings by the title of Up Up, Down Down. For lack of a better term these noodlings have been called "essays." And in a sick taxonomical joke, so too is this jazzy listicle called an "essay." Anyhoo, I rarely listened to music when I was writing this book—it's hard enough for me to hear through the rampant static in my head—but when I did, it was often wordless ditties, like stuff by Max Richter and John Fahey and Bill Evans. But for this thingamabob here I'll go ahead and give you a little précis of each piece and then a song or two that might capture its spirit. I've also given myself the extra challenge of creating the least listener-friendly playlist in the history of playlists.

Faces of Pain
This piece is made up of two parallel tracks. It's half a profile of an independent professional wrestling promotion in Portland and half a wimpy-ish, Sad Boi excavation of my past hurts, my pain. In emoji you'd spell this thing [flexed biceps] [sad-so-sad-cryface-waaaa-sniffles-waaaa]. So for the first half, let's go with Action Bronson's "Barry Horowitz," which so perfectly captures the kabuki-like aggression and swagger of the wrestlers I hung out with. Just a bunch of juiced-up fun. And for the weepy-whiny half, I'd probably say Kirk Van Houten's 'Can I Borrow a Feeling?," which contains the timeless phrase "glove of love." But that's not a real song, so I'll say 'Feelings," by Morris Albert.

Beirut
Not the city, but the drinking game. I was briefly part of a fraternity and we played this game, which sometimes goes by beer pong. There's an anecdote from my experience in the house that didn't make the cut. We had this tradition, which must've started back in the eighties, where at every party we threw, there would come a time when Blondie's "The Tide is High" started to play over the speakers. At this the brothers would gather in two rows on the dance floor and grasp their arms together, creating what I'll call an arm-hammock. Then, one by one, brothers would summit a four-foot platform by the wall, drop their pants to their ankles, and leap into the arm-hammock. They'd then replace a brother in line so he could do the same. And in case you're curious, this didn't make it into the piece because it wasn't fratty enough…

Learning Curves
This one's about Jules Renard's journal and about keeping a journal myself, and falling in love. So, hmm, let's go with pretty much anything by Serge Gainsbourg, who surely ranks among the most improbably sexy humans of all time. But forced to pick just one, I'd say "Je Taime,…Moi Non Plus."

Far from Me
Here we have a little number about Roger Federer, David Foster Wallace, and the anxiety of influence. I'm thinking of two songs for this one. The first is a recording of Chicago's "Hard to Say I'm Sorry" that Roger did with Tommy Haas, Novak Djokovic, and Grigor Dimitrov. I don't think that's on Spotify, though, so I'm picking a song by the band Tennis, "Origins." And then for the influence side it'd have to be Queen's "Under Pressure." RIP Bowie. RIP Freddie Mercury.

Mysteries We Live With
UFOs! The paranormal! So it's gotta be Blink 182's "Aliens Exist." I think I'm late to the knowledge that Tom DeLonge has devoted himself to proving that, yes, aliens exist. Oh, but it's also about having grown up in the church, so for that let's say Jars of Clay's "Flood." Have these two songs ever been played together?

Neighborhood Watch
This one's about my neighbor Peter, who was murdered in his house by a man he was letting stay with him. He was, without a doubt, the life of the neighborhood. He'd always ride around on his bike with a boom box in his handlebar basket. Typically he'd be playing The Beatles or The Grateful Dead, but sometimes classical stuff, too. I'm including Aaron Copland's "Appalachian Spring" here because it was one of his favorites.

Something's Gotta Stick
Skateboarding and nostalgia, an adult portion of both. I skated growing up, but I was also a Sad Boi then, too, the saddest of all Sad Bois, so this has to be some emo from the late 90s. The options are endless! I'll go with "Holiday," by The Get Up Kids, mostly for the line "Remembering's not helping you yet."


Cheston Knapp and Up Up, Down Down links:

the author's website

Kirkus review
Publishers Weekly review

Creative Nonfiction interview with the author


also at Largehearted Boy:

Support the Largehearted Boy website

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)
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


February 16, 2018

Book Notes - Ryan McIlvain "The Radicals"

The Radicals

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 Jesmyn Ward, Bret Easton Ellis, Celeste Ng, Lauren Groff, T.C. Boyle, Dana Spiotta, Amy Bloom, Aimee Bender, Heidi Julavits, Hari Kunzru, and many others.

Ryan McIlvain's second novel The Radicals is both timely and fascinating.

Kirkus wrote of the book:

"The author of Elders (2013) serves up another story of true belief and its discontents, this time set in the time of failing banks, rising inequality, and the Occupy movement…Memorable…A welcome return that will leave readers looking forward to future work from McIlvain."


In his own words, here is Ryan McIlvain's Book Notes music playlist for his novel The Radicals:



Two Scenes from The Radicals, with musical accompaniment!


Who was it that said writing about music is like dancing about architecture? (I've investigated the oft-quoted line, and it turns out its provenance is murky.) I've always admired the quote, its cleverness anyway, and resented it at the same time—its scoffing agnosticism, how it puts up fences and NO TRESPASSING signs in the backyards of the various media.

I'm content to be a trespasser myself, thinking this morning about the music that coursed through my head and my L.A. apartment as I wrote my latest novel, The Radicals. And not just the pieces and songs that inspired the prose but the music that made its way deep into the rhythms and images of the prose, since music matters very deeply to several characters in this book, and since I reject the idea that writing about music, or architecture for that matter, or dancing, or any other artistic medium, is some sort of travesty. A translation? Sure. Changed, bent, refracted through the changing lens of text? Of course—but what's wrong with that?

This territoriality isn't limited to musicians, I should point out—"The meaning of a poem is another poem," said the critic Harold Bloom, in a gorgeous line. Perhaps the most apt, fluent language to speak to art in is the language of that art: music to music, dancing to dancing, poetry to poetry. Yet who would suggest—certainly not Bloom—that writing about poetry in prose is a waste of time?

Climbing down from my little soapbox, and quickly moving to—


Scene One: Aimee Bender's office at the University of Southern California

Books and papers everywhere, art on the walls, rugs overlaying the industrial blue carpet and lending a certain softness to the room. It's the kind of shabby-chic decor that shows how vibrant and loose, how dynamic and un-desiccated an artist-professor's life can be. I'm talking to Aimee, blathering on, my natural state, when somehow Mahler comes up.

"I've been listening to his Kindertotenlieder," I say. "Songs on the Death of Children."

"Jesus," Aimee says—or something like that, some honest oath at the startling heaviness of the subject.

Or maybe she's taken aback by the weird smile on my face—"All one word," I add, "because, you know, German."

It's part of Mahler's courage, I'll later decide, that he managed to experiment and play without ever taking off the mantle of his seriousness. Not everything reduced to a quippy one-liner for the man, or for Aimee either, as it too often did for me. This was late 2013, early 2014 or thereabouts—and Mahler became a kind of ballast against my own light tendencies, my squeamishness with frank emotion in the post-Gawker moment. When one of the characters in my novel, Professor Karen Hahn, mentions a student recital to her TA and sometimes protégé, Eli Lentz, it's no accident that she recommends the Mahler in particular. I see now that some of the calm openness of Aimee's demeanor—and more than that: her writing, her teaching—found its way into my book.

Later that night Eli turns up at the recital venue, an underused church in Greenwich Village with a smattering of the performer's friends and family in the pews, a few gray-haired locals—it's music as secular sacrament. The Mahler pieces on the program are from another set of his lieder or songs, and the showstopper is "Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen"—"I Am Lost to the World."

I first heard this piece in a scaled-down piano interpretation, with the unparalleled, sinuous-voiced Lorraine Hunt Lieberson bringing the song to life. I don't think I'd ever heard Hunt Lieberson sing before, but in 2009—


Scene Two: Sharon Gould's apartment living room in Millburn, New Jersey

—my new girlfriend puts her on the CD player and an almost shockingly beautiful voice rises out of the depths of the piano's bass notes, the notes muddled and a little muddy at first, with the mezzo soprano's voice like something flowering, something pushing up through the earth. I should mention it's dark in the room and the mood romantic—music as a very different kind of sacrament. A few years later Sharon and I will marry, and along the way we'll trot out old favorites for each other like Fiona Apple's "I Know," Led Zeppelin's "Going to California," Sam Cooke's "A Change Is Gonna Come"—and of course it's no accident that these songs made it into the novel too.

Tonight it's about the Mahler, though, and that quietly shocking sincerity in the notes, and in Lorraine Hunt Lieberson's breath of life. It's the perfect soundtrack to fall in love to.

I did, and Eli will as well, with the gifted musician whose recital he's turned up to on a kind of whim, or maybe on one of the universe's earnest errands.


Ryan McIlvain and The Radicals links:

the author's website

Kirkus review
Publishers Weekly review

Largehearted Boy Book Notes playlist by the author for Elders
Signature essay by the author
Tampa Bay Times interview with the author
Vanity Fair profile of the author


also at Largehearted Boy:

Support the Largehearted Boy website

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)
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


This Week's Interesting Music Releases - February 16, 2018

U.S. Girls

This week I can recommend Brandi Carlile's By The Way, I Forgive You, Jim White's Waffles, Triangles & Jesus, Laurie Anderson & Kronos Quartet's Landfall, Ought's Room Inside The World, and U.S. Girls' In A Poem Unlimited.

Vinyl reissues include Nina Simone's At Town Hall, Songs: Ohia's Travels In Constants, and Sun Kil Moon's Ghosts of the Great Highway.


This week's interesting music releases:


Alva Noto & Ryuichi Sakamoto: Glass
American Nightmare: American Nightmare
Bardo Pond: Volume 8 [vinyl]
Beach Boys: Surfin' Safari (reissue) [vinyl]
Belle & Sebastian: How To Solve Our Human Problems
Belle & Sebastian: How To Solve Our Human Problems 3 EP
Bjork: Gling Glo (reissue)
Born Ruffians: Uncle, Duke & The Chief
Brandi Carlile: By The Way, I Forgive You
Car Seat Headrest: Twin Fantasy
Charles Mingus: Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus (reissue) [vinyl]
The Cranberries: No Need To Argue (reissue) [vinyl]
Dashboard Confessional: Crooked Shadows [vinyl]
The Dears: No Cities Left (reissue) [vinyl]
Everything Is Recorded: Everything Is Recorded by Richard Russell
Fischerspooner: Sir
Great Lake Swimmers: Bodies and Minds (reissue) [vinyl]
I'm With Her: See You Around
Jim White: Waffles, Triangles & Jesus
John Coltrane: Chasing Trane (soundtrack) [vinyl]
John Coltrane: My Favorite Things[vinyl]
Kendrick Lamar: DAMN. (Collectors Edition) (2-LP) [vinyl]
Laurie Anderson & Kronos Quartet: Landfall
Loma: Loma
Marlon Williams: Make Way For Love
Molly Hatchett: 5 in 1 (5-CD box set)
Neal Morse: Life & Times
Nina Simone: At Town Hall (reissue) [vinyl]
Nipsey Hussle: Victory Lap
Ought: Room Inside The World
Pianos Become the Teeth: Wait For Love
The Plot In You: Dispose
Poliça and s t a r g a z e: Music for the Long Emergency
Pop Evil: Pop Evil
Ride: Tomorrow's Shore EP
Ryuichi Sakamoto: Async Remodels
Senses Fail: If There Is Light, It Will Find You
Shannon and the Clams: Onion
Songs: Ohia: Travels In Constants EP (reissue) [vinyl]
Sonny Rollins: Way Out West (reissue)

Sun Kil Moon: Ghosts of the Great Highway (reissue) [vinyl]
Superchunk: What A Time To Be Alive
Teenage Fanclub: Grand Prix (reissue) [vinyl]
U.S. Girls: In A Poem Unlimited
Various Artists: Call Me By Your Name (soundtrack) [vinyl]
Walter Martin: Reminisce Bar & Grill
Wild Beasts: Last Night All My Dreams Came True


also at Largehearted Boy:

Support Largehearted Boy

weekly music release lists

Book Notes (authors create music playlists for their book)
musician/author interviews
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Short Cuts (writers pair a song with their short story or essay)
Shorties (daily book and music news and links)
Soundtracked (composers and directors discuss their film's soundtracks)


Shorties (Joyce Carol Oates Interviewed, Courtney Barnett on Her New Album, and more)

The Guardian and Literary Hub podcast interviewed author Joyce Carol Oates.


Pitchfork interviewed singer-songwriter Courtney Barnett.


February's best eBook deals.


Stream Fanny's first new song in 44 years.


Terese Marie Mailhot on Maggie Nelson’s Bluets.


Members of the band Son Lux answered questions from the Reddit community.


Electric Literature features new fiction by Lydia Davis and Ali Shapiro.


Stream a new of Montreal song.


The Oxford American features a new essay by Leesa Cross-Smith.


The A.V. Club went behind the scenes with a Led Zeppelin cover band.


The Washington Post recommended the best recently published crime novels.


Smash Mouth covered Car Seat Headrest's "Something Soon."


Paste interviewed Tee Franklin & Gail Simone about their graphic novel Bingo Love.


Brandi Carlile discussed her new album By The Way, I Forgive You with Rolling Stone.


Signature recommended books that celebrate how words shape our lives.


Stream a new Brazilian Girls song.


Poet Tom Sleigh interviewed himself at The Nervous Breakdown.


Stream a new Kitten song.


Eileen Myles discussed their memoir Afterglow with the Guardian.


Best Coast covered Sheryl Crow's "If It Makes You Happy."


Literary Hub shared a new essay by Michael Nye.


Stream a new Lifted Bells song.


ERica Garza discussed her memoir Getting Off with The Rumpus.


Stream a new Albert Hammond Jr. song.


Stream a new Helena Deland song.


To Kill a Mockingbird is coming to Broadway.


Low covered Al Green's "Let's Stay Together."


Crime novelists on their favorite crime novels at GQ.


Pitchfork examined the lasting power of Neutral Milk Hotel's In the Aeroplane Over the Sea album.



also at Largehearted Boy:

Support Largehearted Boy

previous Shorties posts (daily news and links from the worlds of music, books, and pop culture)

Atomic Books Comics Preview (the week's best new comics and graphic novels)
Book Notes (authors create playlists for their book)
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)
weekly music release lists


February 15, 2018

Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week - February 15, 2018

In the weekly Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week, the Montreal bookstore recommends several new works of fiction, art books, periodicals, and comics.

Librairie Drawn & Quarterly is one of Montreal's premiere independent bookstores.


Freshwater

Freshwater
by Akwaeke Emezi

A debut novel by a queer writer that is surreal as it is intimate. It tells a mythic story of trying to mend the gap between bodies and selves. This is a book that feels bright and necessary.


Asymmetry

Asymmetry
by Lisa Halliday

Another debut novel! Three stories intersect in ways that are initially unclear. This is a mystery novel in the most unusual ways. Part of the mystery comes in untying the knot of connections and peering into an exploded world.


The Escapist

Michael Chabon's The Escapist

It's always fun to see novels inspire comics, and vice versa. This book is a unique project, with author Michael Chabon compiling 30 comic artists who have illustrated over two dozen stories of The Escapist - the so-called "great lost superhero of the Golden Age" that inspired his novel The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay.


Cabinet 64, The Nose

Cabinet 64, The Nose

Cabinet is a perennial gem. I love it in part for its imaginative dive into obscure themes, and in part because the writing published is so uniquely and rigorously researched. Check out their latest issue on the often overloooked Nose.


Lagom

Lagom
by Steffi Knowles-Dellner

Let's all learn from the Scandinavians. Following hygge, the Danish way to live cozily, and döstädning, the Swedish art of death cleaning, comes, LAGOM, the Swedish art of eating harmoniously. This is an attractive recipe book that shares wisdom on how to eat according to seasons, occasions, times of day, and appetite.


Librairie Drawn & Quarterly links:

Librairie Drawn & Quarterly's blog
Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Facebook page
Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Tumblr
Librairie Drawn & Quarterly on Twitter


also at Largehearted Boy:

Support the Largehearted Boy website

other Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week

Antiheroines (interviews with up and coming female comics artists)
Atomic Books Comics Preview (weekly new comics and graphic novel highlights)
Book Notes (authors create music playlists for their book)
guest book reviews
musician/author interviews
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Short Cuts (writers pair a song with their short story or essay)
WORD Bookstores Books of the Week (weekly new book highlights)


Shorties (Recommended New and Forthcoming Debut Novels, New Music from Beach House, and more)

Signature recommended new and forthcoming debut novels.


Stream a new Beach House song.


February's best eBook deals.


Stream a new Tracey Thorn song.


Full Stop shared an excerpt from Jonathan Russell Clark's book An Oasis of Horror in a Desert of Boredom: Roberto Bolano's 2666.


FACT remembered composer Johann Johansson.


Tobias Carroll on fiction that deals with illness and injury at Vol. 1 Brooklyn.


NPR Music is streaming Darlingside's new album Extralife.


BuzzFeed shared an excerpt from Tee Franklin's graphic novel Bingo Love.


Craig Wedren discussed Shudder To Think's major label debut Pony Express Record with Treble.


Author Kristin Hannah talked books and reading with the New York Times.


Stream a new song by Drowze.


BBC News profiled publisher And Other Stories, which is only publishing woman authors in 2018.


Drowned in Sound profiled South Korean indie rock band Say Sue Me.

It’s a rarity to find surf-inspired, indie rock that feels so utterly unaffected; a record that is absolutely present, and yet perfectly summons youthful concerns, feelings, and attitudes (even if you’re at the point where that seems a distant, hazy memory). From the impish irreverence of the title track to the summit climbing guitar line of ‘Crying Episode’, Say Sue Me’s music has an irrepressible magnetism.


Tayari Jones talked to Morning Edition about her new novel An American Marriage.


Stream a new Courtney Barnett song.


Happy 70th birthday, Art Spiegelman!


Paste recommended new British bands you need to know.


The Mary Sue interviewed Jen Wang about her graphic novel The Prince and the Dressmaker.


Bustle profiled Carrie Brownstein.


Paste interviewed Belle and Sebastian's Stuart Murdoch.


Entropy interviewed author Elena Georgiou .


Frank Ocean covered "Moon River."


Dani Shapiro on balancing writing and social media at Literary Hub.


NPR Music is streaming Caroline Rose's new album Loner.


Literary Hub shared an excerpt from Lisa Halliday's debut novel Asymmetry.


Stream new music from Wye Oak.


The Los Angeles Review of Books interviewed poet Vievee Francis.


Living Hour covered Francoise Hardy's "Tous Les Garçons Et Les Filles."


Guernica features new short fiction by Jac Jemc.


Stream a new Ryan Adams song.


Karl Ove Knausgaard on his literary road trip through Russia.


Stream a new S. Carey song.


Literary Hub recommended the week's essential book reviews.


Stream a new song by Femi Kuti.


Electric Literature examined the Bronx's burgeoning literary scene.


Stream new music from Oneida.


Independent publicists discussed their craft with Poets & Writers.


Stream a new Julianne Barwick song.


Literary Hub shared Jenny Erpenbeck's introduction to the new edition of Walter Kempowski's All for Nothing.


Stream a new song by The Drums.



also at Largehearted Boy:

Support Largehearted Boy

previous Shorties posts (daily news and links from the worlds of music, books, and pop culture)

Atomic Books Comics Preview (the week's best new comics and graphic novels)
Book Notes (authors create playlists for their book)
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)
weekly music release lists


February 14, 2018

Book Notes - Tim Wirkus "The Infinite Future"

The Infinite Future

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 Jesmyn Ward, Bret Easton Ellis, Celeste Ng, Lauren Groff, T.C. Boyle, Dana Spiotta, Amy Bloom, Aimee Bender, Heidi Julavits, Hari Kunzru, and many others.

Tim Wirkus's novel The Infinite Future is brilliant and inventive, one of the year's best books.

Booklist wrote of the book:

"Stupendously inventive and rewarding…The second half of Wirkus' tale is…a sci-fi epic which echoes Battlestar Galactica and the fiction of Ursula K. Le Guin in equal measure…Especially well suited for fans of Jonathan Lethem and Ron Currie, this work announces Wirkus as one of the most exciting novelists of his generation."


In his own words, here is Tim Wirkus's Book Notes music playlist for his novel The Infinite Future:



"There She Goes (Live at the BBC)" by the La's

As his life spirals out of control, one of The Infinite Future's narrators becomes briefly obsessed with this song:

"Every failure deserves a soundtrack and on that sorry day at the Biblioteca Anita Garibaldi, mine was "There She Goes," by the La's. I know you've heard this song before. The album version is a rom-com staple, a jangly, Steve-Lillywhite-produced pop confection. But the band also recorded a live version for BBC Radio that's not as warm or polished. The vocals are rougher, the guitars more jagged, the production more spare, and it totally skews the feel of the song. The album version has a sweet, wistful vibe to it, but the BBC version, even though it's not that different, sounds like the aural instantiation of pure anxiety, especially once the song hits the 1:40 mark and the backup vocals come in, pleading and echo-y."

There's also, I think, something obsessive about this version of the song, and obsession runs throughout The Infinite Future.

"(Nothing but) Flowers" by Caetano Veloso

This Talking Heads song is my favorite dystopian narrative of all time, in which a horrified speaker is trapped in a verdant, pastoral nightmare-scape devoid of Seven-Elevens, billboards, highways, and candy bars. You should just listen to Caetano Veloso's terrific cover of the song, but to boil it down into an aphoristic, less interesting version of itself, "(Nothing but) Flowers" is about how one person's idea of paradise can become another person's hell.

That's not a groundbreaking sentiment by any means, but it came in handy as I was working on my novel. One intimidating thing about writing a narrative that takes place in the future (as the second half of The Infinite Future does) is deciding how things might be going a few hundred years from now. Dystopia? Utopia? A more complex mix of the terrible and the okay? Along the way, I realized that you can't answer that question without thinking about how things are going in relation to specific people. For the narrator of the novel's second half, then (a nun trapped on a space station about to be destroyed by an elite army unit with orders to kill), things are not going great.

"Survival Car" by Fountains of Wayne

Power pop is happy music for sad people, and no album embodies this principle better than Fountains of Wayne's infectious and melancholy debut. Fountains of Wayne shows up on a top five list created by one of my novel's narrators who's in the midst of an increasingly dire financial crisis. "Survival Car," one of my favorites from the record, is an ooh-la-la-la-backing-vocal-interlaced track about trying to give a sad person a ride (I think?).

"Starman" by David Bowie

Has any major songwriter composed more songs about space stuff than David Bowie? I doubt it. In conceiving the futuristic portions of my novel, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars served as a useful inspiration point of twentieth-century sci-fi panache and going-for-it-ness. "Starman" especially fits that bill, with the godlike title character dispensing such gems to his mortal worshippers as, "Let all the children boogie."

"Lady Stardust" by Seu Jorge

I'm also a huge fan of Seu Jorge's album of Bowie covers, although covers is not quite the right description, since Seu Jorge also wrote Portuguese lyrics for all of the songs on the album. I almost wrote, Translated all the songs into Portuguese, but that also is not quite right, as his lyrics have little to do with Bowie's. That kind of artistic transmutation features heavily in The Infinite Future, as a sad-sack young writer reads and translates the works of a mysterious Brazilian sci-fi author.

Anyway, Seu Jorge's take on "Lady Stardust" is as spooky as it is re-listenable.

"Holocaust" by Big Star

Power pop may be happy music for sad people, but in this instance, it's just very sad music for very sad people. The song is still weirdly catchy, though, which makes for a pretty dangerous combination: a huge downer of a song that you can't get out of your head. Fittingly, my power-pop-loving narrator listens to "Holocaust" at an especially low point in the novel.

"Number of the Beast" by Iron Maiden

When I was living in São Paulo in the early 2000s, everyone in the city owned an Iron Maiden t-shirt except for me. (That's something I should have remedied by this point in my life, but somehow I haven't). One of the Brazilian characters in my novel is a serious music enthusiast, and so of course, Iron Maiden had to come into the picture. They only get a brief shout-out in the novel, but there's something about them that resonates with the concerns of The Infinite Future.

I think a big part of it is that no one could ever accuse Iron Maiden of not committing to a song. "Number of the Beast," for instance, is so over the top (the spoken word intro! the gleeful Satanism! the general bombast!) and so much fun. Tonally, I initially wanted to go for something similar with the novel-within-a-novel in The Infinite Future, but ultimately ended up taking a more restrained route. In the first half of the book, though, the characters discover a book proposal for the fictional Infinite Future written in a maximalist style that I hope could be labelled Iron Maiden-esque.

"Três Letrinhas" by Marisa Monte

A lovely song about longing, a mood that runs throughout The Infinite Future. If you've never listened to Marisa Monte before, check out Universo Au Meu Redor, the album that features this song. It's a great contemporary take on midcentury Brazilian bossa nova, a pleasure to listen to from start to finish.

"Messing with My Head" by Tinted Windows

Another great power pop number, this one about an obsessive and unhealthy relationship. "Messing with My Head" crops up at a cheerier moment in The Infinite Future. (Also, when are these guys going to make another album? Was this thing just a one-off? If Bun E. Carlos, Taylor Hanson, James Iha, or Adam Schlesinger are reading right now, consider this your Bat-Signal. We need you!)

"Diz Que Fui Por Aí" by Nara Leão

Nara Leão, Brazilian music pioneer, makes a cameo in The Infinite Future, mentoring one of the characters in the art of bossa nova guitar. "Diz Que Fui Por Aí" showcases the qualities that made Leão such an unstoppable force. The jaunty guitar perfectly counterbalances the world-weary vocals, creating that quintessential bossa nova mood of danceable melancholy.

"Metamoforse Ambulante" by Raul Seixas

There was a huge Raul Seixas mural across from my first apartment in São Paulo. At the time, I'd never heard of the guy, so I asked my neighbors—a kind pair of aging hippies who sold homemade cleaning products from their house—who he was. They played me this song, an anthem beloved by Brazilian counterculture-ites of a certain generation.

It is a pretty great song, from its psychedelic opener, to Seixas's strategically deployed falsetto. And the cover of the album on which the song features (Krig-ha, Bandolo!) embodies a type of late-sixties, early-seventies pseudo-mysticism that heavily guided The Infinite Future's novel-within-a-novel.


Tim Wirkus and The Infinite Future links:

the author's website

Booklist review
Kirkus review
Locus review
Publishers Weekly review

Dawning of a Brighter Day interview with the author
OTHERPPL interview with the author


also at Largehearted Boy:

Support the Largehearted Boy website

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)
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


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