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April 28, 2016

Book Notes - Colleen M. Story "Loreena's Gift"

Loreena's Gift

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

Colleen M. Story's debut novel Loreena's Gift is a compelling work of literary fantasy.

In her own words, here is Colleen M. Story's Book Notes music playlist for her debut novel Loreena's Gift:



For the heroine in Loreena's Gift, music is one of life's greatest comforts. Blind since the age of nine, she plays the organ, piano, and cello in her uncle's church, and finds deep joy in her instruments. They are like friends in what for her is a lonely world, but they're also her way to express the many emotions that come with being who she is—someone who can transport people from the world of the living to the other side.

Loreena is separated from her instruments early on in the story, but music continues to follow her on her journey, in the bars where's she's forced to use her gift as a weapon, in the house where she's kept captive, and in her memories of family and home. But as her challenges become more difficult to overcome, music fades from her landscape, abandoning her in a way, until she's left with nothing but that which is deep inside her—this gift that for so long has frightened her—to cling to.

In imagining a soundtrack for the novel, which takes place in 1967, I found many songs were already there, having played in the background of the scenes or in the imagined spaces between, though they remained unnamed in the text. The rest seemed to fit for other reasons, having inspired the story, or reflected the heart of it in some way.

"Prologue" — Loreena McKennitt

When drafting a story, I often have one song that speaks to me, that seems to encompass the spirit of the tale. For LLoreena's Gift, it was more an entire album: the Book of Secrets by Loreena McKennitt. No surprise the main character took the name, though I didn't make that decision consciously. I hadn't listened to the album for some time when I started the story, but the echoes were there in my head, and the music and the character came together in the name. I imagine the Prologue from the album, in particular, as potentially opening the story, because of its ethereal and meditative sounds, reminiscent of the other worlds Loreena is about to visit.

"Abide with Me" — Christian Hymn
Loreena spends most of her life from the age of nine on in a church, where her uncle is the reverend. Every Sunday and Wednesday she plays the piano and the organ for the services. The opening scene takes place after one such Sunday service, and it seems to me this hymn would be perfect in the background as Loreena makes her way from the church to her house. She questions what she is about to do, which is to go with her uncle to perform her second end-of-life "ritual," in which she will guide a terminally ill patient to the other side. Her uncle tells her that her "gift" is from God, but she doubts this. I think the lyrics, "The darkness deepens; Lord, with me abide," might echo in her heart as she prepares.

"Make the World Go Away" — Eddy Arnold
My mom had a lot of Eddy Arnold albums she played as I was growing up. I can imagine his sweet voice singing during the first ritual in the story, on a tinny radio in the corner of the room where a man lies dying of lung cancer. Loreena takes him on a gentle journey, one that helps him leave the world behind in peace.


"Break On Through (to the Other Side)" — The Doors
Loreena's brother, Saul, returns to town after being gone for three years. He's taken the wrong track in life, and gotten himself involved in a biker gang that's selling speed. Loreena is terribly fond of him, and tries to reconnect by going with him and his girlfriend to a bar outside of town one Friday night. He picks her up in a Mustang convertible, and when he turns on the music it blasts in Loreena's ears, the volume up much higher than she's used to. I imagine this song for that scene, and think The Doors would have been one of Saul's favorite groups.

"Once a Day" — Connie Smith
Loreena lives in a small town in Idaho, so when she and her brother and his girlfriend go to the bar, it's a country music band that's playing. Loreena is reminded of how lonely she's been without her brother—the one person who knew her best and used to be her "eyes" in the world—and worries they may soon be separated again. I imagine Connie Smith's crying voice echoing out over the clink of beer glasses and the laughter of the crowd, "the only time I wish you weren't gone is once a day, every day, all day long."

"Blessed Assurance" — Christian Hymn

Though she's loved playing in the church for years, after Saul returns to town and shakes things up, Loreena begins to question her life, and how she lives it. One Sunday morning, she plays a hymn at the close of the service. She's done it thousands of times before, but this time she has little patience for the congregation's tendency to slow the rhythm down. This hymn has a unique sort of triplet feel, which makes it even easier for an amateur choir to lose their tempo. On this particular day, Loreena gets fed up with it, and charges ahead in time, leaving the congregation behind, until she finishes the hymn, alone. The act foreshadows other decisions she will soon make that will isolate her completely from everything she knows and loves.

Cello Concerto in E minor, Opus 85 — Edward Elgar
Loreena finds joy in playing the piano and the organ, but it's the cello she turns to when she needs to think, or pour out her more troublesome feelings. As she plays, her emotions seem to flow down her arm and into the bow she pulls steadily over the strings. This melancholy, heart-breaking concerto might have echoed in the grand church sanctuary after all the members were gone, with only the figures in the stained glass windows to listen.

"Ribbon of Darkness" — Marty Robbins (written by Gordon Lightfoot)
Saul is a tragic character, drawn into the darkness by a pain he feels but can't understand or describe, while all through the story his wish is for things to go back as they were, before his mother was killed in the car accident that robbed Loreena of her sight. As he falls deeper into a crime world and unwittingly pulls his sister into it, too, I imagine Lightfoot's "Ribbon of Darkness" (in Marty's unequaled voice) swirling around them both, threatening to drown them. "Clouds are gatherin' over my head, That kill the day and hide the sun, That shroud the night when day is done, Ribbon of darkness over me…"

"Ring of Fire" — Johnny Cash
Loreena spends some time in a biker bar, run by the head of the gang to which Saul has pledged loyalty. There is always music playing on the jukeboxes in these places, and Johnny Cash would be a favorite at this time, especially with tough guys in black leather boots.

"Blue Hawaii" — Elvis
During Loreena's captivity, she sometimes loses herself in memories of her mother, back when she was alive and Loreena still had her sight. One such memory involves her mother humming this song while she tends to her roses, and Loreena wonders if she ever got to go to Hawaii. Her mother never spoke of it, so Loreena thinks she probably didn't, and to escape the conditions she's in, she imagines the two of them there, walking the beach, and finds some comfort in the daydream.

"Hey Jupiter" — Tori Amos
This song has a distressing, pulled-apart quality that mirrors Loreena's feelings at one particular point in the book. I can't say more than that or I would be revealing too much, but one can imagine Loreena gazing up at the stars and planets, trying to recover some sense of wholeness, and saying something like "Hey Jupiter, nothing's been the same….Thought we both could use a friend to run to."

Requiem, Dies Irae — Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Frank Hellmer, the leader of the biker gang and the antagonist, fancies himself an educated and sophisticated individual. Rather than the leathers usually worn by his kind, he dons a suit and dress shoes, wears musky cologne, and listens to classical music. In one scene, he comes up on Loreena as she's walking, the radio playing in his fancy car, and I imagine Mozart's bombastic Dies Irae heralding his entrance, and later, accompanying him on his dark and murderous pursuits.

"Nowhere Man" — The Beatles
Loreena gets to know a couple of Frank's men really well, and this song would be a suitable background to some of the scenes where they show their "true colors," so to speak—men who seem to have few thoughts of their own, but only blindly follow their leader, no matter how misguided.

"The Highwayman" — Loreena McKennitt

Another on the album, Book of Secrets, "The Highwayman" is a narrative poem by Alfred Noyes. The lyrics tell the story of a woman who sacrifices herself for the man she loves, and his tragic death in turn, and it has a ghostly, haunting quality to the ending. McKennitt puts the poem to music with a riding, hoofbeat rhythm and a lingering violin, but there is hope for reunion even in the afterlife—a hope that Loreena often clings to throughout the story.

"Monday Monday" — The Mamas and the Papas
There is a scene toward the end of the book that takes place after a Sunday morning service. Loreena overhears a couple of young girls singing this song, which was released in 1966. Though the lyrics are about heartbreak, the tune has a happy melody, and when Loreena hears the girls singing it, it affects her this way, as something optimistic, that Monday morning might be all she hopes it will be.


Colleen M. Story and Loreena's Gift links:

the author's website
excerpt from the book

The Grand Valley Daily Sentinel 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

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)


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April 28, 2016

Shorties (Don DeLillo on His New Novel, Grimes' Claire Boucher Interviewed, and more)

Don DeLillo talked to the Wall Street Journal about his new novel Zero K.


All Things Considered interviewed Claire Boucher of Grimes.


Cult MTL interviewed Chester brown about his graphic novel Mary Wept Over the Feet of Jesus.


Stream a new David Bazan song.


Book Riot recommended a 80 books for 80 countries.


Stream Grateful Dead covers by Bonnie "Prince " Billy, Jim James, Perfume Genius, and others.


Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck is starting an online book club.


Singer-songwriter Julien Baker discussed songs she wishes she had written at American Songwriter,


Publishing Perspectives interviewed New Directions publisher Barbara Epler about the state of literature in translation.


Aquarium Drunkard's Transmissions podcast interviewed singer-songwriter Will Oldham.


CarolineLeavittville interviewed author Bruce Bauman.


Stream a new song from the Gotobeds.


The Millions interviewed three poets (April Bernard, Idra Novey, and Jennifer Tseng ) who have also written novels.


Fresh Air interviewed Questlove about his new book Somethingtofoodabout: Exploring Creativity With Innovative Chefs.


R.I.P., author Jenny Diski.


The Chicago Tribune profiled Evan Weiss of Into It. Over It.


Hazlitt interviewed author Sarah Bakewell.


NPR Music is streaming the new Julianna Barwick album Will.


The City Paper Bogota profiled author Juan Gabriel Vásquez.


Vol. 1 Brooklyn interviewed Gustav Ejstes of the band Dungen.


Book Riot shared videos of actors reading Shakespeare's sonnets.


The A.V. Club reconsidered Badly Drawn Boy's The Hour of the Bewilderbeast album.


The New Republic examined the reboot of the Black Panther comics.


Book Riot listed the best books about Prince.

Paste listed Prince's best songs.


Tracing F. Scott Fitzgerald's Minnesota roots.


Frightened Rabbit visited The Current studio for an interview and live performance.


Vibe interviewed author Mitchell S. Jackson.


Motherboard examined why exclusive releases work for Netflix but not streaming music services like Tidal.


Would you like to support the Largehearted Boy website? Here are a couple of ways you can help.


eBooks on sale for $1.99 today:

Eight Hundred Grapes by Laura Dave
Expo 58 by Jonathan Coe
How to Live: Or A Life of Montaigne in One Question and Twenty Attempts at an Answer by Sarah Bakewell
J.D. Salinger: The Escape Artist by Thomas Beller
A Land More Kind Than Home by Wiley Cash
The Lost Tribe of Coney Island by Claire Prentiss
Shakespeare: The World as a Stage by Bill Bryson
South on Highland by Liana Maeby
The Time Is Noon by Pearl Buck



also at 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
WORD Bookstores Books of the Week (recommended new books)


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April 27, 2016

Book Notes - Brian Blanchfield "Proxies"

Proxies

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

Brian Blanchfield's essay collection Proxies is a stunning work of creative nonfiction.

Publishers Weekly wrote of the book:

"The 25 essays in this collection from poet Blanchfield (A Several World) are small, highly polished jewels that together form an intricate mosaic. Giving himself the project of following a thought to its uncomfortable edges, in each entry Blanchfield picks a subject—foot washing, authorship, owls—and examines it from several angles until the connection between metaphysical principle and lived experience suddenly crystallizes, often producing an analogy as surprising as it is lovely."

In his own words, here is Brian Blanchfield's Book Notes music playlist for his essay collection Proxies:



I've known Largehearted Boy since about 2006 when in my tiny studio sublet on a hillside in Los Angeles I downloaded I don't know how many songs that I discovered here and at Soul Sides and Captain's Crate and Cover Me and danced in my socks on the ballroom black linoleum flooring, peering out of the portal windows at the elegant families of skunks taking in the moonlight nightly; it was very much part of a feeling of new freedom, adjusting after a decade in New York to my west coast life. Because of that and because I myself have a radio show, Speedway and Swan, devoted to partnering music and literature (poetry), it's a complete pleasure to work up a playlist that would accompany or play beneath or between the essays in my new book. Proxies is a collection of twenty-four single-subject essays, part cultural studies and part dicey autobiography, and in subject matter it is a miscellany, ranging from Foot Washing (the sacrament) to Frottage to the Locus Amoenus (in the pastoral tradition) to the Leave (in billiards) to Confoundedness to Minutes (the clerical record) to Br'er Rabbit. Oddly these stations represent rather well the disparate coordinates of my own life. And the book's recurrent concerns are also mine, divisible more or less into quadrants: sex and sexuality; poetry and poetics; subject positions in American labor, not excluding academia; and my upbringing in working-class Primitive Baptist central-piedmont North Carolina. It's a go-for-broke experiment in candor.

The other thing to know about the project of this book is that it has an organizing constraint: a total suppression of recourse to outside authority; the essays draw entirely from what I know, estimate, remember or misremember about the subject at hand. In this kind of essaying I've kept the internet off, and I didn't review the books and films and other works that I consult in memory. On my own authority, then, I get a number of things wrong. It's for that reason the book concludes with a rolling endnote called Correction., twenty-one pages of facts that redress the errors I make.

"Both Sides Now" by Dolly Parton

So to begin the score for the book, playing under the prefatory note that lays out the method of this go-it-alone, improvisatory empiricism, I need a song that assesses the full sum of its own uncertainty and proceeds anyway, a song of experience. Timi Yuro's "I Apologize" is a contender ("if I told a lie, if I made you cry…") but it may be a bit more directly personal than necessary, and a lot more contrite. Dolly Parton's cover of Judy Collins's "Both Sides Now" is maybe the right note, earning in her very lived-in voice each plateau of the lyrics' ambivalence: "It's cloud's illusions I recall; / I really don't know clouds at all." Clouds become love becomes life in the formula of the chorus. The arrangement here with banjo and stand-up bass has sped up the meditation, and candied the high-concept sophistication. I can't think of a singer who has been part of my life longer than Dolly. I grew up country, and from Paris, Tennessee I wrote her a letter once when I was eight, in 1981 or 2. My mother was a secretary with a chauvinist boss then, just like Doralee Rhodes (I continue to think 9 to 5 is a great film, with an almost mathematical perfection) and I would have told you then I admired her more than anyone. On the telephone my mother was sometimes told she sounded just like Dolly. My favorite verse here, because at either end of the rhyme it includes both of Dolly's trademarks—a whispered Sprechstimme just this side of corny and a little shimmery whimsy at the top of her range, as if she's surprised herself to have climbed so high: "Tears and fears and feeling proud / To say I love you right out loud." Momentarily there you can hear her decades-earlier ragdoll melodrama "Eagle When She Flies" and her (lesbian?) anthem "Love Is Like a Butterfly."

"Courage," by Villagers

To choose this song is to project a bit onto the young Irish singer/songwriter Conor O'Brien, who was, at the time he and the rest of Villagers recorded it, about the same age, 20 or 21, as I am in the situation of my book's opening essay: on my first date, as such, with another boy. We went to the raptor center, outside my hometown, Charlotte, in 1995. "On Owls" is the title of the essay. To get to that raptor center with Greg from the circumstances in which we met a few weeks earlier—surreptitiously, at my stepfather's fiftieth birthday dinner (Greg had been the waiter)—meant a certain amount of daring and guile; though, instinct was way out ahead of tactic. The women who rehabilitated the birds understood quite what they had when they opened their doors to these two boys newly in love, though we were likely uncommon specimens there. We strolled very gingerly under the tracking gaze of the perched inhabitants of the cages. All that power. The quiet, pronounced way O'Brien sings "courage" and makes the word his own, bending it peculiarly, propelling the hesitant song forward with it each time it repeats, is deeply idiosyncratic but not self-conscious. It moves me, I suppose, that he is a full generation younger than me, openly gay, and surely a role model to many already. Really gifted. I should thank Joey Burns for turning me on to Villagers when he guest co-hosted my radio show a few weeks back.

"Ballad of the Spirits" by Tsegue-Maryam Guébrou

There is a fair amount of tragedy, I suppose, in the central family story of this book. And perhaps the first indicator of that dynamic is at the end of the short essay "On Foot Washing," where in a complicated intimacy within a cycle of abuse there is some foreboding of what is to come. I choose this song as something of a requiem. It feels careful and improvisatory at once, profoundly solitary, and also expansively mournful. Guébrou is an Ethiopian nun now in her nineties, a remarkable humanitarian, and a deeply expressive musician; and note by note this song, like all of the piano solos on this album on the Éthiopiques label, is captivatingly present and attentive to possibility, examining every phrase of the terrain to which it is confined.

"Take Me" by Karen Dalton

"Take me to your darkest room / close every window and lock every door; / The very first moment I heard your voice / I'd be in darkness no more."

An altogether different pianist sits down to this instrument, and likely much later at night, in dimmer lighting. It was at that dream hour, and in that lamplight, I remember first hearing this Karen Dalton song, in Los Angeles, when Semiotext(e) editor Hedi El Kholti dropped the needle on it on his record player. It was transporting. Imagine a honky tonk in Marfa, in Rotterdam. Dalton's voice falters so much that each phoneme, including the opening one, is drawn as an outline that backfills with the liquor-sour ink of her late-arriving warble. Take me is mostly ache me, for instance. I had just started dating someone who brought me to Hedi's, which is to say, took me to the den of his house, which the city's more nocturnal artists and writers and young men on the margins seemed to frequent and occupy in transitory encampments. In one room, mostly empty, on his own, Holy Shit singer Matt Fishbeck was lying on the carpet, coloring, as I recall. Could I lie down here and color a while? The mood very much suits the essay on Man Roulette, the streaming-video speed-dating site that was shut down a few years ago. There was a summer, when I was single and living in Missoula, when night after night I explored the rooms of this site, rooms all over the world—apartments in Milan, dorm rooms in Guayaquil, basements in Franklin, Massachusetts—in which young men muted their microphones and typed what they saw in me and saw what came back to them, how their coming across in the video feed was annotated or, sometimes, directed. The complex exchange between streaming image and text, between Partner and You—the players on a date practically defined by our variability with countless others—drives the thinking of this essay. As I write in the essay, if you cut and paste and read over the transcript of the date later, you could recreate sensation, recall a particular surrender or turn, a goodnight mouthed. The site is no longer operative, but it was a meaningful time in what I want to call the global social history of gay fantasy.

"Take me to your most barren desert / a thousand miles from the nearest sea; / The very first moment I saw your smile / it would be like heaven to me."

"Alex" by Girls

I love this song for capturing the wobbly logic of deep infatuation and the soreness of desire. Alex has blue eyes (so who cares…No I don't). Alex has a band (so who cares / about war….No you don't). Alex has black hair (and who cares…well I do). You've got a lovely smile (I could spend a while / with that smile). Alex has a boyfriend (oh well, I'm in hell). And so on. I find this song very sexy, tormenting itself into come-what-may abandon, already sort of recumbent in its mood. This one I choose to match the essay "On the Locus Amoenus," in which I unspool a bit about the ancient literary conventions of the pastoral, and particularly the enabling premise that a poem (an eclogue, an idyll) is sung or spoken by a shepherd. Whatever else the poems concern, the shepherd speaker in Theocritus or Virgil is always amative, competitive, fetching, curly-haired, torn up and plaintive about this or that absent girl or boy beloved, Amaryllis or Adonais, Phyllis or Alexis, in high rotation. It's Corydon, Cory, who can't get his mind off young Alex. Sometimes the shepherd himself appears as the beloved in another pastoral later in the series, and though the specificity of the beloved is always agonized, the cumulative effect suggests the fungibility of men as love partners. Which is kind of hot. If you like sleepy, pretty, dirty long-haired boys (No I don't).

"Wild Child," by Brett Dennen

This song is sort of unabashedly joyous and radio-ready, warm and comfortable in its expression of freedom, very barefoot in a yard. Usually I'm rather far from that mood (far from that yard), but I can access it pretty directly singing along. Something very simple in its twangy self-assertion. Over the jangly guitar the way Dennen sings I am, I am, I am, I am, he catches in the pulse of each glottal stop between the vowels, building and climbing to the song's signature. And I am a wild child, momma, is counterpart to the refrain's parallel line, (You can, You can, You can, You can) / You can hold me tight if you wanna. And though this is a song of adult independence, I can't help thinking foremost, this kid has been well parented. The sense I have is of an unusually healthy holding environment: a child testing in fort-da play that the bounds of his "wildest" reverie are fully acknowledged and validated. In the essay "On Containment" I speculate a bit on my fear of "losing it," the fear of being unable to contain fear, and think through what I know of psychologist Donald Winnicott's notion of holding environments and his special consideration (Adam Phillips suggests Winnicott is himself the perfect case study) of the child who grows up without a "good enough" holding environment and creates his own self-sanctity, often pathologically retentive of control later in life because of it. Is it Dennen's honey-voiced easy unconcern that makes me want to insert a flavor of disdain here? The song's downfall is its sort of cheer-squad conclusion, which twists the track to something more like a Drew-Carey-sitcom theme.

"One Man Guy" by Rufus Wainwright

To accompany the essay on house sitting, we're going to need another cover track. House sitting, like covering a well known song, is always (even always already) citational. Any activity the housesitter performs in the borrowed household—to "separate" the "twist ties," for instance, as part of garbage duty—feels like an activity wrapped in quotation marks (as Susan Sontag says of utterances and behaviors that are camp), appropriative however practical and ordinary. In this essay I propose that a rather comprehensive queer literary history could be told through the lens of house sitting, thinking through the experiences of Hart Crane, Jack Spicer, James Schuyler, Eileen Myles, and others, pressing hard on what it means when an LGBT person borrows the stance and position of cultural privilege when caretaking, "playing house," in a straight household. I like this cover song for the complexity of its queering the original, which was written and performed by Rufus's father, Loudon Wainwright. For the elder Wainwright it had been a kind of trademark, an anthem of independence, and an apologia for being a solo act, disinclined ever to perform with others (or to be centrally part of a family?): "People will know when they see this show / the kind of a guy I am /…One man guy, one man guy / only kind of guy to be / I'm a one man guy, I'm a one man guy / and the one man guy is me." As soon as Rufus's stirring, purple voice carries the opening line to its "am" the I is a gay man, a one man gay guy in the 21st century, and the lyrics have most to do with the consideration of monogamy, which is a theme and maybe even preoccupation, for Wainwright in later albums, in songs like "Out of the Game" and "Montauk," which conceives a fantasy of queer family. In "One Man Guy" it's a pleasure, a kind of vindicating pleasure, to hear the gay singer and the son of an absent father explore and expand and shape the song, elongating and trusting its lyrics more than his father did, finding room for his experience within it. Interestingly, the queerer Rufus cover is his duet with Sean Lennon of his father's song "This Boy" ("That boy took my love away / though he'll regret it one day / this boy wants you back again").

"I Was Young When I Left Home," by Bob Dylan

There's a point in the essay "On Confoundedness" when I get to account the primary components of the Primitive Baptist salvation narrative I grew up with: confoundedness and revelation, and waywardness and prodigal return. The first pair is for me "the poetry" of the faith—it's what my friend, the classicist Norman Austin, says makes Christianity a mystery religion. You cannot paraphrase what it is to "receive His Grace" or to be "washed in the blood of the lamb" or to "find your name written in the Book of Life" or to glimpse "the sunny margin of that distant shore." It is vexing to a child who wants to understand how to be saved but who remains in the dark. The other couple of components are much more accessible, narrative in nature: after the sermon every Sunday it was possible someone would approach the pulpit and give an account of wayward sinning and unworthiness ending with return to ask to be baptized, in the pond I knew well, in Monroe, NC. American folk traditionals are full of this homecoming narrative—usually the way home is heading South, destitute, often too late. And here I might choose either of my favorite versions of a song sometimes called Nine Hundred Miles or Train 45: Dylan's song, or else Ray Charles's "Goin' Down Slow" on his Country album Crying Time. Dylan's is recorded in a house in Minneapolis in 1961, when he was twenty. He sounds stoned at the start, picking out the tune and mumbling, "It must be good for somebody, this here song, I know it's good for somebody. If it ain't for me, it's good for somebody."

"That's Life" by Lou Rawls

Somehow I believe Lou Rawls more than Frank Sinatra when he sings the famous line: "I've been a puppet, a pauper, a pirate, a poet, a pawn and a king." And I'll confess it has been a karaoke go-to of mine, right about in my (narrow) range and suitable to my (humbled) attitude the last few years. The brass is a little slurry and the piano tinkly in a Las Vegas mood, and that hallmark anapestic line—"poet" right there in middle of it—is a sweet (bittersweet) little labor of a refrain, as if the variable subject positions are coming down the conveyor line to be stitched or stapled down in the beats of the rhythm. The essay "On Minutes" is partly about taking a job as a secretary in Tucson, after nine consecutive years as a professor, about "deleting the words Paris Review and The Nation and Harper's Magazine from my résumé and add[ing the words] PowerPoint and Excel" to be more attractive for support-level positions. A number of the essays in the book, including "On Tumbleweed" and "On Dossiers" and "On the Near Term," are rather candid about the slings and arrows and fortunes and comeuppances of a literary writer's life in academia and—when expelled by it—in office jobs catch as catch can. It is the case, after all, that I lost my piddling adjunct appointment three months after I was nominated for the National Book Award, in the summer before the school year started. What Would Lou Rawls Do? I hear in his decisions with the Sinatra material a funny interpretation unconvinced by capitalist imperatives. I mean, it's a shock to recall that the Sinatra version ends emphatically in uttered contemplation of suicide; but, Rawls won't lock in the rhyme at the end, won't say die, skittering away from that fatalism: "If there's nothing shaking come this here July / I'm gonna roll myself up in a great big ball and…I'm gonna disappear from here."

"It's All Gonna Break" by Broken Social Scene

I'm going to pretend that I didn't look up the actual lyrics to this song (to give you a sense of what I had mistaken, I thought the repeated intimate plaintive question at the end was "Why are you always fucking girls?" not "Why are you always fucking ghosts?" ahem); but it's really the emotional sweep of this long-play track that suits the mood of the essay "On Frottage." Over ten minutes the song cools to embers three times before the phoenix puffs up and revives its lusty adolescence and enflames again in a new incarnation; and each time it does you realize there are even more musicians playing: multiple drummers and guitars and a keyboardist and a brass section, thick with concerted effort but also whipping up a kind of dizzied confusion, all of which begins with the muzziest kind of solo protagonist at a walking pace, soon trotting along, in a kind of adrenaline-thrumming quandary: "Where was the kid that fucked me in the ass / then took my pencil and paper and our past. / You know I love this shit, this shit, it tastes so good, / I've got pastures waiting in the woods." (These are not the lyrics, but I'm not far off.) "On Frottage" is, like the other essays in this book, an uncensored structuralist analysis of its subject matter—what constitutes it, how it functions in the culture, how it has been historically constructed—and it's this latter point that sends the essay in a narrative direction, unpacking what it was like to arrive at age 22 in New York City in early 1996, before it was understood that AZT and the cocktail was a life-saving measure for some HIV+ people not yet too far fallen, before it was understood that the death rate had peaked in the city, and at a time when inter-generational queer tutelage (to borrow Eve Sedgwick's term) had broken down in the ongoing trauma of the epidemic. Queer people my age were not only psychosexually imprinted by AIDS, we were also spreading in the bodied logic of contagion a certain tenuous solidarity, wild and careful and new and determined all at once. There was a lot of love and a lot of exploration and we raised each other into something unforeseen, pairs and couples in private confidence at first and then—as you looked around—more and more people on stage sharing the feeling (still frequently accurate) that it was all gonna break.

"Can't Think of Nothin'" by J. Hines & the Boys

Any number of songs could accompany an essay that works out what it is about repetition and seriality that produces a feeling of ecstasy, a feeling of writing, of compositional agency, for the reader moving through waves of self-sameness. "On Reset" emerges out of one such ecstatic experience when I watched, by accident, an audition tape for the soap opera One Life to Live. As many as eleven consecutive iterations of a simple scene, with eleven candidate actresses oblivious to one another, running the same lines with the cast member: this was, ridiculously, my transformative moment, cueing something in me that I recognized as the very power of poetry. Muriel Rukeyser says about this way of making meaning by repetition and variation, which establishes its own temporality of anticipation and payoff and surprise, that it "puts mortality in its proper place." J. Hines & the Boys' rare, mellow jazz/funk instrumental, which I know is one of the many I downloaded from Oliver Wang's Soul Sides, resets and cycles through its five phrasings a second time, with the smallest detectable mutations. The title, "Can't Think of Nothin'," seems to refer to the fact of its lyric-free instrumentation. A verse never comes. This is true, too, of the situation I lay out alone in my friend's apartment playing this tape he said was blank, this bit part audition tape where I found poetry, but wrote none. It was, as writers from Wordsworth to Woolf have said about such moments, as though poetry was writing me. It's possible to be its instrument, across time.

"Homecoming" by Tom T. Hall

The essay I wrote on the understory, the ecological term, necessitates the most corrective entries in my book's endnote, and one of the facts that sets the record straight is that it was Roger Miller and not Tom T. Hall who sang and spoke the part of the just-folks narrator in the 1973 Disney animated version of Robin Hood. It seems to me a natural mistake since Tom T. Hall is about as sure a raconteur as there was in Country music then—my grandpa had his eight-tracks. In the understory of a forested place like the central piedmont where I grew up, saplings for the most part don't survive as their parent trees have the light canopied out most of the year; it's instead the place for moss and vines and ferns and short wide-leaved trees that capitalize on light early and late in the season. These were the forests that establish the ground floor of my imagination—it's where I played at my grandparents' house in Stuart, Virginia—and the tactics of getting what you need from your givens and flourishing despite what was happening in the master narrative is how I feel about growing up in (under) the sullen Jim Crow retrenchments of the areas that resented what politicians and civil rights hopefuls called The New South. I'm not unusual as a descendant of this place in one respect: half of my birth family is all preachers and Baptist brethren and the other half is mostly highwaymen and outlaws. It's a place made up of the bucking urge to get on down the road and the claims made firm by staying put. This, Hall's best song, stages a homecoming, that tireless Southern Christian trope again, of a peripatetic musician who comes back to the farm too late for his mother's funeral, though you don't know that until after plenty of verses of son talking to father on the front walk: "I saw your cattle coming in, / boy, they're looking mighty fat and slick; / I saw Fred at the service station, / told me that his wife was awful sick" and "I got this ring in Mexico and no / it didn't cost me quite a bunch." It's only then that something perhaps unforgivable is admitted. "I'm sorry that I couldn't be here / with you all when momma passed away / I was on the road and when they / came and told me it was just too late." But the prospect of prodigality is refused in the final twists of the song. "I knew you's gonna ask me who / the lady is that's sleeping in the car, / that's just a girl who works for me / and, man, she plays a pretty mean guitar." The incompatibility of the chosen life and the original givens has a momentum, an ongoingness that has tour dates and everything. The open road calls and the screen door closes.

"Shine" by Joni Mitchell

I sometimes say that the book's rolling endnote, "Correction.," is like an afterlife of facts, after the reckoning. The wiki-knowledge passes over where I was wrong and flips each card, the jacks and queens and aces of best guesses. Night has passed and we're in a strange new morning. Everything is loosely strewn—the material here is disparate, the correctives suggesting how many orders of errors there have been. This is the song I choose for the first moments of that next phase, the foray into that next light. This is late Joni Mitchell, whose husky voice the fleet, sophisticated singer of Blue could not have anticipated, in the long, slow, provident, lightly stepping trancework of a song that asks for blessings, blessings undeserved and blessings too late and blessings nonetheless. "Shine on Vegas and Wall Street (place your bets); shine on all the fisherman with nothing in their nets." She is very nearly Whitmanic in this survey, witness instead of messiah alighting on one corner of the world after another, shining the light on "mass destruction" and "fresh plowed sod" with fine, selective detail that suggests comprehensiveness. "Shine on world-wide traffic jams, honking day and night, / shine on another asshole, passing on the right, / Shine on all the red light runners, busy talking on their cellphones, / shine on the Catholic church and the prisons that it owns / shine on all the churches, they all love less and less; / shine on a hopeful girl in a dreamy dress. / Oh, let your little light shine." It is a hymn, a value-neutral hymn. We could have done better. Got some of this wrong. An acceptance song.


Brian Blanchfield and Proxies links:

the author's website
the author's Wikipedia entry
excerpt from the book
excerpts from the book
excerpt from the book

Flavorwire review
Full Stop review
Kirkus review
Los Angeles Review of Books review
Vol. 1 Brooklyn review

Bookworm interview with the author
St. Louis Public Radio 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

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)


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Author Paula Bomer Interviews Musician Nick Zubeck

In the "Largehearted Boy Cross-Media Cultural Exchange Program" series (thanks to Jami Attenberg for the title), authors interview musicians (and vice versa).

Paula Bomer is an author, her most recent book is the short story collection Inside Madeleine.

Nick Zubeck is a singer-songwriter who also plays guitar in the band Sun Kil Moon. His most recent album is Skydiving.


Author Paula Bomer interviews musician Nick Zubeck:


Paula Bomer: In titling your album "Skydiving" you set the tone or the reading of the album. Titling is something that both fiction writers and musicians have to do, and the chosen title usually is embedded with meaning. I feel like the theme of feeling unanchored and needing love and people to anchor us, or catch us, permeates the entire collection of songs. But clearly there are other themes, too, which seem related- loneliness, trust and – well, love, to name a few.

Another theme, related metaphorically maybe, but also distinct, is the idea of being ‘Lost in Space", so to speak, which is a title of an Aimee Mann record. Have you heard it? Musically, it's very different, but it touches on that idea of not being grounded, the need to be grounded. How we need others to ground us.

Nick Zubeck: It took me a long time to settle on the title of the record. At one point I had a list of about 20 possibilities. It's really true that a title sets the tone and influences the initial perception of a book/album/film - it's the first impression. Once I settled on "Skydiving," it seemed like an obvious choice; it was one of the first songs I had written from this batch, and reflects some of the central themes of the album as a whole. Although I didn't explicitly set out to write a collection of songs tied together by these ideas, they all do, to lesser and greater degrees, reflect on allowing oneself to be vulnerable, to take risks, and yes, to trust in others to anchor and catch us in moments of fear and loneliness. I'm not familiar with that Aimee Mann album, but I'll check it out. I often do feel "Lost In Space", but mostly in a good way!

Paula Bomer: In many ways this album seems like an anti-break-up record. The break up album has long history, as do love albums. Which albums do you feel were your strongest influences regarding the content of your lyrics, or were those more organic, and the musical influences were larger?

Nick Zubeck: That's interesting that you describe it as an anti-break-up album. It wasn't meant to be, but without getting into details, some of the songs/lyrics did wind up having strange predictive qualities in my personal life. I don't think any particular album or artist was a direct influence on the lyrics, but in terms of love/break-up albums, Joni's Blue is always a touchstone. For a long time, lyrics were secondary to the music for me, and looking back I cringe at some of my early lyrics, full of cliches and overused metaphors. Then I went through a phase where I thought good lyrics should all be profoundly poetic, and mine starting coming out all forced and pretentious. I hope I'm getting better at editing myself and identifying when I've arrived at some decent prosody.

Paula Bomer: To further the discussion of musical influences, as the guitarist for Sun Kil Moon, you play a very different style of guitar, or so it seems to my ear. For your own work, you seem to choose something very distinct. I imagine then you have a broad involvement and interest and background in music. Is it ever difficult to traverse those different styles?

Nick Zubeck: I wasn't too familiar with Mark's music when I first joined Sun Kil Moon two years ago. It's been interesting to play the recent material from Benji onward and to get inside his literal, stream-of-consciousness songs - it's a very unique approach to songwriting. I feel if anything, I'm getting influenced by his narrative and lyric approach. Musically, I think there's some crossover - we both grew up on a steady diet of classic and prog rock, and gravitate to fingerstyle guitar in our playing. Otherwise, I do have a broad interest and involvement in a wide variety of musical genres. I always find it refreshing and inspiring to explore new styles and sounds, and when it's difficult to traverse, I think it always leads to growth and learning.

Paula Bomer: Is the song "Devil's Tide" metaphorical in the use of words like "brother", and "fallen son", or is it a non-fictional way of working out some real grief? Generally your lyrics don't make me think of the autobiographical elements of Sun Kil Moon, but this song had me wondering.

Nick Zubeck: You're right, this is the most personal and autobiographical song on the record. It's about my brother, who died at the age of 52 in 2001. He was a chronic alcoholic, and died way too early in a tragic and shocking way. I've written a few songs over the years in attempts to process and understand the grief and confusion surrounding his life and death, and I feel that this song is the most poignant result.

Paula Bomer: The fun thing about this series of authors interviewing musicians -- similar to Bomb magazine, which has authors and visual artists in discussion - is how the two art forms share aspects and how they differ. What is, if any, your relationship to fiction? Does it have any impact on your writing of music? I imagine that writing a song can be a solitary experience, but it doesn't have to be and is generally more collaborative.

Nick Zubeck: I love fiction and used to read a lot more. I'm slowly getting back into the habit - frequent touring has helped! I'm not sure if there's a direct relationship between what I read and what I write, but I do enjoy good prose that illustrates complex characters and relationships. I never really write "story" songs; my tendency is to turn inward and reflect on my own experiences and how they might be relatable and meaningful to others. I'm curious about trying to write from other people's perspectives as well and experimenting with other approaches, but my default is personal ruminations. It is generally quite a solitary experience, as I imagine writing a novel might be, but for this album I had the pleasure of working with my friend Sandro Perri from the early stages of these songs. I played him a bunch of songs I was working on, and together, we edited lyrics, tweaked structures, recorded everything at my studio, and then he mixed it all. So in that sense, it was very much a collaborative endeavour.


Nick Zubeck links:

Nick Zubeck's website


Paula Bomer links:

Paula Bomer's website

Largehearted Boy Book Notes essay for Baby & Other Stories
Largehearted Boy Book Notes essay for Nine Months
Largehearted Boy interview with Jimmy LaValle


also at Largehearted Boy:

other musician/author interviews

Antiheroines (Jami Attenberg interviews comics artists)
Book Notes (authors create playlists for their book)
guest book reviews
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Soundtracked (directors and composers discuss their film's soundtracks)


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Shorties (A George Saunders Primer, Pairing Books and Albums, and more)

Signature shared a primer to the writing of George Saunders.


Exit Left paired books and albums.


Porochista Khakpour wrote about the inspiration of Prince's women at the Village Voice.

Rolling Stone went behind the scenes of Prince's first recording sessions.


The A.V. Club reconsidered Dave Eggers' debut book A Heartbreaking Work Of Staggering Genius.


Stream a new Julianna Barwick song.


Vol. 1 Brooklyn interviewed author J.R. Thornton about his debut novel Beautiful Country.


White Denim visited WNYC's Soundcheck for a live session and interview.


The Rumpus interviewed Mark Leyner about his new novel Gone with the Mind.


Billboard and the Wall Street Journal shared posthumous Prince live covers.


The Kind interviewed author Juliet Escoria.


John Darnielle of the Mountain Goats talked wrestling with Colt Cabana at Consequence of Sound.


Ursula K. Le Guin discussed the documentary about her life, Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin, with the San Francisco Chronicle.


The New York Times profiled singer-songwriter Julien Baker.


Of Mice and Men: the opera.


Stereogum listed the best Liz Phair songs.


David Means discussed his debut novel Hystopia with Bookworm.


Paste profiled singer-songwriter and actress Lera Lynn.


How Shakespeare repurposed words.


Songs inspired by William Shakespeare.


Eric Bogosian talked books with Jerry Stahl at the Los Angeles Review of Books.


Stream Portishead's cover of Abba's "SOS."


The Comics Journal interviewed Julie Doucet about her new book Carpet Sweeper Tales.


The band Bully visited The Current studio for an interview and live performance.


The 2016 Hugo Awards finalists have been announced.


Drowned in Sound interviewed Rhiannon “Ritzy” Bryan of the Joy Formidable.


Would you like to support the Largehearted Boy website? Here are a couple of ways you can help.


eBooks on sale for $1.99 today:

Eight Hundred Grapes by Laura Dave
Expo 58 by Jonathan Coe
How to Live: Or A Life of Montaigne in One Question and Twenty Attempts at an Answer by Sarah Bakewell
J.D. Salinger: The Escape Artist by Thomas Beller
A Land More Kind Than Home by Wiley Cash
The Lost Tribe of Coney Island by Claire Prentiss
Shakespeare: The World as a Stage by Bill Bryson
South on Highland by Liana Maeby
The Time Is Noon by Pearl Buck



also at 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
WORD Bookstores Books of the Week (recommended new books)


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April 26, 2016

Book Notes - Shawn Vestal "Daredevils"

Daredevils

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

Shawn Vestal's novel Daredevils is as vivid and heartfelt as the stories in his PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize-winning collection Godforsaken Idaho. This is one of the year's best debuts.

Kirkus wrote of the book:

"The 1970s, that most unjustly derided of decades, is evoked with intimate detail in this coming-of-age story set in an American West that is expansive with possibility yet constrained in imagination. Vestal, who established a reputation for depicting this physical and psychic terrain in his short-story collection, Godforsaken Idaho (2013), intersperses these incidents with funny, persuasively rendered monologues by Evel Knievel himself, speaking throughout as the wounded, embittered, and caustically eternal voice of anyone whose yearning to defy his or her own fate is thwarted as much by his or her own hubris as by fate itself. This debut novel captures the flailings and flights of hapless dreamers with prose that throbs like the strings of an electric bass playing its sad heart out in a near-desolate landscape."

In his own words, here is Shawn Vestal's Book Notes music playlist for his debut novel Daredevils:



In 1974 and '75 – the years in which my new novel, Daredevils, is set – pop music was entering my life with force for the first time. I was 8 and 9 years old, and I began to care about the songs that arrived unbidden through the air – the radio in the family station wagon, the radio my older sister listened to, the radio on the school bus.

In the novel, my teenage characters listen to the rock music of the era: Zeppelin, KISS, Bowie. But in my own younger childhood, it was the softer, gauzier '70s music that connected – fruit from the tree of Bread. Certain songs became very important. I began to feel them. I can still hear the voice of Casey Kasem, who brought us the Billboard Top 40 each week – the most popular and important 40 songs of the week. "Keep your feet on the ground, and keep reaching for the stars." There was something urgent and important in these songs, and it was made even more so by the fact that, since I had not yet begun to buy records, I could not predict when I would next be able to hear them. I had to wait for the radio to deliver them.

Many of the songs I loved back then were awful, but none of them sound awful to me, even today. Back then I was being transformed by them, a transformation that has been permanent. I have always felt, and still feel as a 50-year-old man, that pop music – whether it was the Bay City Rollers or Devo or The Clash or the Wu-Tang Clan or Sonic Youth or Vince Staples – was a crucial element of my life, and that I will always need the unexpected arrival of music that is new.

Here are a few songs that were important to 8-year-old me – plus a bonus track.

"The Night Chicago Died," Paper Lace – If my memory is correct, this was this song that I was caught lip-syncing in front of a mirror, with a hairbrush "microphone," by my teenage half-sister. I remember being: A) embarrassed, and B) curious whether she thought I had rock-star chops. I was feeling like I might. The tune seemed like such a rocker to me then; I remember the chia-haired band on a record cover, wearing black pin-striped suits with roses in the lapels and holding machine guns. Paper Lace was a British band, dubbed by Wikipedia "the most successful band Nottingham ever produced." Naturally, their big hit was about a fictional gun battle between gangsters – "When a man named Al Capone/Tried to make that town his own" – and cops in Chicago.

"Lady," Styx – I was a weird kid. This song became the soundtrack to my crush on the superhero Mary Marvel. Mary Marvel was twin sister of Captain Marvel, and the two of them were granted superpowers by the wizard Shazam!, and I thought she was very cute, plus a superhero, so who else would I fall in love with? I was a romantic boy. I remember riding in the back of the family station, a wood-paneled Ford, hearing this song on the radio while looking at images of Mary Marvel, short skirt and cape, flying through the sky. In addition to being the background music to my ill-fated love, "Lady" was an enormous worldwide hit. If you go to the web site of former Styx lead singer Dennis DeYoung, this is the song that plays immediately, whether you like it or not.

"Saturday Night," Bay City Rollers – Boy, did I love this song: the energetic spelling (S-A-T-U-R-D-A-Y Night!), the hand-clapping, the ay-yi-yi-ing, the adorable moppet-headed Scots in the band. This song made me believe that, as I grew up, Saturday nights would be a magical time, a weekly parallel universe of girlfriends and rock and roll and preposterous tartan outfits. You can still buy insane Bay City Rollers-style clothing online. Example: The Adult Tartan Teen Sensation 70s Retro Fancy Dress Costume, available on Amazon for 33 pounds.

"Kung Fu Fighting," Carl Douglas – This song made me want to do a little kung-fu fighting. More importantly, this song made me feel like I would totally be able to do a little kung-fu fighting. Sadly, I never have.

"Fox on the Run," Sweet – My older sister was, in many ways, my introduction to rock music, and my guide from the worst of soft rock toward the harder stuff. I can still recall looking through her records: Bowie's Diamond Dogs, The Doobie Brothers' Toulouse Street – the one where they're naked, with strategically placed hats, inside the foldout. She had an 8-track tape of Sweet's Desolation Boulevard, and this was my favorite song. It's about groupies. Wikipedia notes that "'fox' at the time was a slang term for an attractive woman."


"Only Women Bleed," Alice Cooper – What in the ever-loving hell is this song about? Surely not that. It is not, actually, a song about menstruation, but everyone I knew at the time – the intelligentsia of the elementary school – was certain that it was. Because I didn't really understand the way any of that worked then, this song was fascinating and unsettling. There were things out there in the world – many things, strange and wondrous and baffling – that were waiting for me to learn about them.

"Someone Saved My Life Tonight," Elton John – This song makes a brief appearance in the novel, playing on a casino sound system. Elton John was one of my early favorites. Don't Shoot Me, I'm Only the Piano Player was the first record I bought. I liked his records as much as the songs, loved to look at the artwork on Goodbye Yellow Brick Road and Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy (which had a little pooping record player on it, among other wonders in a painting of Bosch-like excess.) This song had a little jolt of naughtiness in it, which seems incredibly quaint now: the little jolt of a "damn it!" Some radio stations wouldn't play it, as a result. I thought it was daring.

Bonus track:

"Sorry for Party Rocking," LMAO – My 8-year-old son loves this song. He found it on YouTube, and then figured out how to get YouTube on our TV, and he puts it on and dances along, and pantomimes singing it. If I laugh – I mean, it is a song of surpassing ridiculousness – or if he gets any hint that I am not taking the song seriously, he gets mad at me. This song, he has made sure that I understand, is important.


Shawn Vestal and Daredevils links:

the author's website

Christian Science Monitor review
Kirkus review
Los Angeles Review of Books review
Publishers Weekly review
San Francisco Chronicle review
Seattle Times review
St. Louis Post-Dispatch review
Washington Post review

Largehearted Boy Book Notes essay by the author for Godforsaken Idaho
Omnivoracious interview with the author
Salt Lake Tribune 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

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)


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Book Notes - Nick Soulsby "Cobain on Cobain: Interviews and Encounters"

Cobain on Cobain: Interviews and Encounters

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

Cobain on Cobain's collection of interviews forms a fascinating oral history of the life of Kurt Cobain and career of Nirvana.

Gillian G. Gaar wrote of the book:

"This fascinating collection offers you a front-row seat to Nirvana's stunning rise and tragic fall. Before the biographies, before the revisionism, before the mythologies, Nirvana's story is revealed by Cobain and his bandmates as it unfolds, without the benefit of hindsight. Cobain on Cobain is the closest you can get to a Kurt Cobain autobiography."


In his own words, here is Nick Soulsby's Book Notes music playlist for his book Cobain on Cobain: Interviews and Encounters:



An individual's significance breeds words. Soon those words become so numerous it's hard to see the real person at their root. Either sooner or later that person departs the world at which point the words take over. This isn't a claim that words are useless; it's simply that any writer choosing to engage with a historical personality must struggle diligently to tether their words as close as possible to the human reality.

The preparation of Cobain on Cobain overlapped with another work of mine, I Found My Friends: the Oral History of Nirvana. The motivations and crucial moments, for me, were similar. Losing my grandfather, my father, my godfather in quick succession across 2013-2014 made me deeply aware of loss, of the messiness and inadequacy of any human encounter with death. To be in a state of grief was, perhaps, for the best when these two works brought me into direct contact with friends of Kurt Cobain's who still feel shocked, saddened, disappointed by his fate. My desire became to use oral history to tell the tale in such a way that one shared the sense of being an observer at shows during the long pre-fame years then the short flash of fame; then to create a volume of interviews that allowed a reader to see Cobain and his comrades, caught as close to the critical events as possible, responding in the moment without reflection.

An entire generation has grown to adulthood in the two decades since Cobain's death – I can understand people being tired of reading articles stripped wholly from "Kurt Cobain 101", the morass of hackneyed tributes, canned applause lines and tedious 'voice of a generation' clichés that have swallowed the man whole. As far as the music…I've lived inside it 23 years – it's Ground Zero for my tastes – I can hear the notes in my head whenever I choose. My choices below can't replace anyone's personal path through sound, but maybe they'll bring a different light to songs long since grown familiar.

Sleeper Cell 'Sky Blue Eye'
In September 2013 I sat in the basement with John, Bob and Pat – Sleeper Cell – as they cranked out vocal harmonies, raw rock and meditational grooves in a sound-proofed basement. I felt privileged, lucky, that people would be willing to share their creativity and talent with me. There's a late 1988 video of Nirvana rehearsing in a box-room and it's no different to this; the superstars could be up the road from you right now – go see. Making something that had become untouchable seem tangible once more, as real as three guys playing together for fun, what more could I want to achieve when writing of Nirvana?

Kurt Cobain 'Burn the Rain'
It was amazing watching the fury provoked in some quarters by the Montage of Heck: the Home Recordings archive release in 2015. At times it was as if people only had room in their minds for one version of Cobain; the pop-punk singer-songwriter of Nevermind. Instead the record placed Cobain in the company of lo-fi audio-pranksters and sonic collagists like Calvin Johnson, the Feederz (originators of Cobain's famous 'Graffitti: Beautiful as a Rock in a Cop's Face' sticker), Butthole Surfers, or Lou Barlow. It showed his goofy humour, his desire to toy with sound, it even showed off his literary poetic pretensions – I was thrilled. This more expansive and nuanced Cobain was a true artist - a richer figure than rock labels ever let him be. That's all I could hope for, to add complexity to what had become a card-cut-out icon.

Soundgarden 'Hunted Down'
Many veterans like to say that the Seattle scene was over by 1986 before Sub Pop (let alone Nirvana) even arrived. Soundgarden are a perfect representative of Seattle's first wave; they started the Sub Pop phenomenon, welded punk texture to, wailing hard rock vibes then hopped onto a major label as part of a wave of oddball rock/metal including Red Hot Chili Peppers and Faith No More – alongside Seattle bands like the Posies, Mother Love Bone and Alice in Chains. All of this has been forgotten, it's like the deification of Nirvana erased memories of major labels signing underground bands pre-Nirvana, Seattle ones to boot. The tidy vision of Eighties hard rock (bad) being replaced by Nineties grunge (good) is far too simplistic. I like life messy, noisy, jumbled – real. It's hard sometimes to remember that in 1992 almost nobody had heard anything Nirvana did pre-Nevermind. It was Soundgarden who looked like the Seattle band most likely to make it big.

Nirvana 'Love Buzz'
In Cobain on Cobain, Nirvana have to comment on this song for most of 1989-1990 – Cobain boldly points out "We made a mistake with 'Love Buzz' because it's our best song as far as I'm concerned." Turning a Sixties pop song into a driving heavy punk tune was a brilliant move – Nirvana's first single, the song they had to play at every show for years. It's also a foreshadowing of much of what Nirvana would come to do; the earworm intro riff, the (relatively) quiet verses allowing the vocals to stand out, the crashing chorus – this song was tailor-made for sing-along crowds. Just by reflecting on their own work here Nirvana could find a formula that would give them fame in 1991.

Dinosaur Jr 'Freak Scene'
Across the course of the Eighties, Punk had given ground to hardcore then to a proliferation of weird takes on the template. Cobain absorbed them all whether Butthole Surfers' screwball psychedelia, Black Flag's expansive take on hardcore, Big Black's tinnitus-inducing clatter, Sonic Youth's textured washes of sound. The groundwork for Nirvana's success, however, was being set as certain bands began to ally underground values to hard rock amp-worship. Dinosaur Jr's 'Freak Scene' was the first true rock anthem of the Eighties U.S. underground. By 1991 Nirvana would be one of a dozen underground bands embedded at major labels, they'd support Dinosaur Jr for a few shows that year when being Dinosaur Jr, or being Sonic Youth, was the highest status any underground band could dream of. In their interviews Nirvana spent more time namechecking and evangelising for favourite bands than any other single topic.

Nirvana 'Smells Like Teen Spirit'
In an interview taking place as late as August 24, 1991 with James Sherry of the U.K.'s Metal Hammer magazine, Dave Grohl only goes as far as to say that the song that would become one of the rock music's most beloved "seems like — it's got that heat." They're talking about how ironic and funny it would be to tour with Guns 'n Roses, while saying it'll never happen – but within months Axl Rose would be wearing a Nirvana cap on a Guns 'n Roses video and asking the band to perform at his birthday. That's what I adored about going back to the band members' original words; the utter innocence on display. They're ready to have a song in the charts, they're happy to see their music achieve a degree of commercial success so they can at least stop living hand-to-mouth…It's enthralling seeing how clueless they are regarding what was to come. Through long overexposure and relentless praise too, people have become a bit numb to this song – in the same way that they've forgotten at times what a surprise it was in 1991 when the underground finally cracked the mainstream wide open.

Sebadoh 'Beauty of the Ride'
The impact of music is all about the moment in one's personal history; when fans contact me it's amazing how often they turn out to be roughly my age, to have had a comparable moment of enlightenment when first encountering Nirvana. I started writing about Nirvana simply because I'm a fan – who happens to enjoy writing. It's been a privilege to share some small part of the life and times of fans, journalists, musicians the world over who – like me – feel something for Nirvana. This song is here simply as an example of what Nirvana did to my tastes. Nirvana in 1993, led to Rage Against the Machine, Sonic Youth, Soundgarden in 1994. By 1996 I'd started to leave the mainstream and one discovery that sticks in mind was picking up this single, with its innocent 'boy and horse' image on the front cover, in the Leicester branch of HMV while visiting my father in hospital after his first heart attack. I still sing this song when times are hard because the bad moments in life are as precious as the good, "it's just the beauty of the ride…"

Nirvana 'Heart Shaped Box'
In 1993 I watched an MTV Wayne's World special in which Mike Myers and Dana Carvey - in their guises as perennial stoner youths Wayne and Garth - poked irreverent humour at a selection of rock videos of the moment. Nirvana didn't have a halo over their output – it didn't feel so serious. "Hey, is he saying 'hey Wayne'…?" they asked of the chorus ("Hey! Wait! I've got a new complaint,") before suggesting Cobain just give them a call if he had a problem to raise. In early 1994 I bought a copy of MAD magazine on a family trip to Florida which suggested "teach more singers to mumble like Kurt Cobain so there are fewer ridiculous lyrics to memorize." There was still a joke to be had back then – something posthumous tributes never quite capture because they're always written in light of Cobain's death and the band's demise. How can one restore that humour? The closest I felt one could come was to re-read the band's interviews from the era and see the mutual amusement interviewers and band took from one another.

Nirvana 'Endless Nameless' (on MTV Live and Loud)
A 15 minute-long noise thrash and a firmly held middle-digit to the mainstream product urges of MTV. While working on Cobain on Cobain, the longest negotiation I took part in was to try to persuade MTV to permit the inclusion of one of their interviews with Cobain. I could understand their discomfort. After fame hit, Cobain dropped most media engagements but felt he had to take MTV. He refused to do any additional takes on Nirvana's first appearance; barely spoke during his first interview with the channel; refused their wish that he play more hits on MTV Unplugged (as well as insisting on bringing underground band, the Meat Puppets); then cut 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' from the Live and Loud performance. This finale was Cobain at his most anarchic, harassing cameras, knocking over equipment, feedback uber alles, all rounded off with sarcastic applause to the audience. He was famous but it didn't mean he had to play nice.

Adam Harding (feat. Dane Certificate) 'Do Re Mi'
In my view, this is one of tantalisingly few covers of Kurt Cobain's music to rise beyond tribute. 'Do Re Mi' was, as far as is known, the last full song Cobain readied prior to his death – even its name is conjectural. With death comes uncertainty, a door wedged permanently open to possibility – we'll never know Cobain's true intentions for this song or whether the known demos come even close to what he might have made of it. Adam Harding wrenches the song into the pop realm, draws these beautiful melodies into stark relief, turns up the joyfulness previously buried under static, a cracking voice and mournful falsetto. As I worked this song reminded me that it was possible to sidestep predictability and to create something fresh, new, different from something one has heard many times before.


Nick Soulsby and Cobain on Cobain: Interviews and Encounters links:

excerpt from the book
excerpt from the book

Seattle Times review


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)


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Shorties (A Profile of Angela Flournoy, Stream Britta Phillips' New Album, and more)

BuzzFeed profiled author Angela Flournoy.


Stereogum is streaming Britta Phillips' new album Luck or Magic.


Would you like to support the Largehearted Boy website? Here are a couple of ways you can help.


Read a new short story by Amelia Gray.


Mensah Demary examined the literary legitimacy of hip-hop (and specifically Nas's lyrics) at Electric Literature.


Words Without Borders interviewed poet Rowan Ricardo Phillips.


Questlove on Prince.


Signature previewed summer movies adapted from books.


JFK, the opera.


Literary Hub shared an excerpt from Miroslav Penkov's novel Stork Mountain.


Stream "Theme with Noise" from Sonic Youth's forthcoming Spinhead Sessions: 1986 album.


Chernobyl's literary legacy.


The Guardian interviewed Mike Mills of R.E.M. about his love for Big Star.


Guernica interviewed author Dolan Morgan.


Bruce Springsteen has made his live "Purple Rain" cover a free download.


Harper Lee biographer Charles J. Shields has found a 1960 FBI Magazine article about the In Cold Blood murders written by the author.


Stream a new Band of Horses song.


Guernica interviewed author Paul Lisicky.


Stream a new Lonelyhearts song.


Entertainment Weekly interviewed cartoonist Gene Luen Yang.


The Guardian and LA Music Blog shared collections of Prince covers.


Suzanne O'Sullivan's It's All in Your Head: True Stories of Imaginary Illness has been awarded the 2016 Wellcome Book Prize, which celebrates a book that best engages with "an aspect of medicine, health or illness."


Iggy Pop will chronicle the history of the Stooges in a forthcoming book.


The Oxford Eagle profiled author Kiese Laymon.


Pitchfork examined how Prince changed Minneapolis.



The A.V. Club reconsidered the White Stripes' De Stijl album.


VICE interviewed Chester Brown about his new graphic novel Mary Wept Over the Feet of Jesus.


The Guardian shared an excerpt from the book My Ramones, written by the band's former manager.


Morning Edition about her new memoir Her Again.


eBooks on sale for $1.99 today:

Eight Hundred Grapes by Laura Dave
Expo 58 by Jonathan Coe
How to Live: Or A Life of Montaigne in One Question and Twenty Attempts at an Answer by Sarah Bakewell
J.D. Salinger: The Escape Artist by Thomas Beller
A Land More Kind Than Home by Wiley Cash
The Lost Tribe of Coney Island by Claire Prentiss
Shakespeare: The World as a Stage by Bill Bryson
South on Highland by Liana Maeby
The Time Is Noon by Pearl Buck



also at 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
WORD Bookstores Books of the Week (recommended new books)


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April 25, 2016

Book Notes - Justin Tussing "Vexation Lullaby"

Vexation Lullaby

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

Justin Tussing's Vexation Lullaby is a beautifully written rock novel, filled with poignancy and wit.

Publishers Weekly wrote of the book:

"Justin Tussing's second novel is a clever, satisfying story about the struggle to find meaning in the lives we've made for ourselves. . . . Tussing uses startling and memorable details to punctuate scenes with a cinematic flourish, and he is particularly adept at using dialogue to reveal how much we actually aren't saying to each other. And the ending is dazzling."


In his own words, here is Justin Tussing's Book Notes music playlist for his novel Vexation Lullaby:



"Visions of Johanna"—Bob Dylan
I have no music talent, no musical intelligence. Some blame has to be placed on my parents, who brought me up listening to the Eagles and, well, the Eagles. You might expect that a person with my musical shortcomings would disqualify himself from writing a novel that revolves around a singer. Following a similar argument, some critics have argued that Bob Dylan has no business singing. Fuck those people in the eye.

"No Money Down" (1955)—Chuck Berry
Vexation Lullaby is a road novel, following a musician as he makes tour stops between Rochester, New York and Louisville, Kentucky. "No Money Down" is a song about the American Dream of hitting the road…and staying on the road. Berry sings, "I want a full Murphy Bed in my backseat"—my protagonist, Arthur Pennymen, has been known to inflate an air mattress in his Corolla Wagon.

"Between Two Trees"—Lady Lamb the Beekeeper
My book is set in the fall of 2010. By that time Aly Spaltro (Lady Lamb the Beekeeper) had been playing shows in Portland for a few years. People kept telling me I had to see her before she moved to Brooklyn. Everyone knew she was leaving town. I never saw her play.

"Feet Up, Pat-Em on the Po-Po"—Peter Pan Records
When I was five or six someone gave me a Fischer-Price turntable and a copy of Monster. I don't remember "Feet Up…" but I must have listened to it hundreds of times. It's a song about redemption, about a gambler, drinker, and womanizer, who is reformed by love and fatherhood. And what use is redemption without a little dissipation?

"It's All About the Pentiums"—"Weird Al" Yankovic
My book is composed of alternating chapters. Half of the chapters belong to Pennyman and the others belong to a young doctor. Peter Silver is a homebody. He's analytical and, like me, music sometimes slips past him, but he can intellectualize parody songs—and appreciates a well-placed allusion: "Hey fella, I bet you're still living in your parents' cellar/ downloading pictures of Sarah Michelle Gellar/ I should do the world a favor and cap you like Old Yeller."

"Fortunate Son"—Creedence Clearwater Revival
Say I were driving across town to get in a fistfight, and say I only had two-minutes and twenty-one seconds to feel righteous, indignant, and angry, then I'd probably have this cranked. The irony, I suppose, is that it's an anti-war song.

"Rabbit Fur Coat"—Jenny Lewis with the Watson Twins
I thought about including Lewis's "Run, Devil, Run" because her voice does this harmonic thing in that song that makes me think I'm about to cry. What is it about the word "run"? It triggers something like an emotional onomatopoeia. But if you're only going to listen to one song, listen to the twisted beauty of "Rabbit Fur Coat."

"Broken Arrow"—Neil Young
One of Neil's fans taunts Pennyman throughout my book. "Broken Arrow" is operatic, an over-stuffed madeleine. It's a shame if you never listened to this when you were seventeen and a little bit buzzed.

"Twist Barbie"—Shonen Knife
The road, my friends, is long and lonely. Occasionally you need to listen to a Japanese trio rock a punk song about Barbie.


Justin Tussing and Vexation Lullaby links:

the author's website
the author's Wikipedia entry
excerpt from the book

Kirkus review
Portland Press Herald review
Publishers Weekly review


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)


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Book Notes - Christine Reilly "Sunday's on the Phone to Monday"

Sunday's on the Phone to Monday

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

Christine Reilly's novel Sunday's on the Phone to Monday is a lyrical debut debut with themes of family, love, and loss.

Kirkus wrote of the book:

"A lyrical, and lyric-filled, portrait of a family in love and sorrow. This whimsical, bittersweet debut novel recalls the work of filmmaker Wes Anderson... the focus is on three Salinger-esque siblings... there is something iridescent about this novel."


In her own words, here is Christine Reilly's Book Notes music playlist for her debut novel Sunday's on the Phone to Monday:



Sunday's on the Phone to Monday follows Claudio and Mathilde Simone, once romantic bohemians hopelessly enamored with each other, find themselves nestled in domesticity in New York, running a struggling vinyl record store and parenting three daughters as best they can: Natasha, an overachieving prodigy; sensitive Lucy, with her debilitating heart condition; and Carly, adopted from China and quietly fixated on her true origins.

I can't write (or do most things) in my home without some musical accompaniment.  I adored having the chance to sneak some of my favorite songs into this piece, and coming up with ways to see them fit best into the narrative.  It was a new, odd kind of nepotism.  Here's a quick glance of some songs and the role they have played in my life, and in the book:

"It's Only A Paper Moon"

A "Muzak" version of this song plays during Claudio and Mathilde's first date at a restaurant.  Everyone's heard this eponymous song, written originally for an unsuccessful Broadway play called The Great Magoo but which has endured from recordings by popular artists during the last years of World War II.  My favorite rendition is Ella Fitzgerald's.  This might be my favorite song, and I felt sorry reducing it so in the scene, but I wanted it to show its face in a small, lasting way.  Some authors have tiny cameos as extras in movies whose screenplays are based on their books.  I wanted the song to have a similar secret effect on Sunday's on the Phone to Monday.

"There is A Light That Never Goes Out" – The Smiths

I grew up in the 90's and early "noughties", but I have always loved The Smiths.  (One summer I encouraged my best friend in high school to cut her own hair, Morrissey-style.) As a kid I developed a party trick of forcing myself to cry on cue.  It worked for me during school play tryouts, but then I did it to such a degree often the hysterical crying would turn into hysterical laughing.  Thank you, the Smiths, who taught me how much fun self-pity can occasionally be.

Abbey Road Medley – Songs on the B-Side of Abbey Road, from "You Never Give Me Your Money" until "Her Majesty"

Abbey Road was the last album the Beatles recorded, and they once divulged that they created this to "use up" a bunch of incomplete songs, resulting in my favorite consecutive nine music tracks of all time.  I saw Paul McCartney twice in concert, who concluded both sets with "Golden Slumbers" into "The End," and both times, I cried.  I'd argue that "Her Majesty" is the perfect ending, for its entropy in the scope of the album.  "Her Majesty" gives the Beatles arbitrary immortality.

I've had fun telling people the title of my book, figuring out who's a Beatles fan.  It's my favorite litmus test!

"Fast Car" by Tracy Chapman

This is my favorite love song.  I thought about playing this song at my future wedding, but I didn't want to sadden people.  I understand that many people view this song as miserable even though I see it as hopeful.  Maybe you could say the same thing about my novel.

"Juicy" by Biggie Smalls

If I'm ever asked to DJ a party (which I am sometimes, for some reason), I always start with this song.  I love this entire album.  Biggie is an epic lyricist, but had a difficult tightrope to walk: if he mentioned his wealth, he was accused of denying his past, but if he rapped about poverty, he was denying his present.  I deem his lyrics to be mostly about how he's been the same person in both stages of life.

"Sixteen Going on Seventeen" from The Sound of Music

I will always have a small, soft spot in my heart for old Broadway musicals.  I remember downloading this song from Limewire (was it Morpheus or Kazaa?) on the morning of my sixteenth birthday.  Please don't think I'm as literal as I've made myself out to be.

"Who'll Stop the Rain" by Creedence Clearwater Revival

There's a line in my book about how depressing it may be when bands tour after so many years but need to rechristen themselves because original members have died, or left.  Creedence Clearwater Revival is an example of this, whom I actually saw in 2007 as "Creedence Clearwater Revisited."  I'm still happy I saw them.  They were awesome, and made me feel very melancholic indeed for the passage of time. 


Christine Reilly and Sunday's on the Phone to Monday links:

the author's website

Kirkus review
Publishers Weekly review

Dear English Major interview with the author
Five Towns Herald profile of the author
The Wilton Bulletin profile of 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

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)


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Shorties (An Interview with Alexandra Kleeman, Eleanor Friedberger's Favorite Books, and more)

The New Yorker interviewed Alexandra Kleeman about her story in this week's issue.


Singer-songwriter Eleanor Friedberger discussed her favorite books at the New York Times.


Interview interviewed Rob Spillman about his memoir All Tomorrow's Parties.


Stream a new song by the Hotelier.


The Lifted Brow profiled author Valeria Luiselli.


The Weeklings interviewed Toni Tenille about her self-titled memoir.


io9 interviewed Paul Tremblay about his novel A Head Full of Ghosts.


Rolling Stone is streaming John Doe's new album The Westerner.


JSTOR Daily interviewed author Alexander Chee.


Stream a new Bonnie "Prince" Billy song.


The Guardian profiled cartoonist Robert Crumb.


NYCTaper shared last Tuesday's Mountain Goats' NYC performance.


Julia Holter played a Tiny Desk Concert.


Forward interviewed author Michael Chabon about his recent tour of the West bank.


The A.V. Club listed songs sung by orbiting astronauts.


Weekend Edition interviewed Peter Balakian, whose collection Ozone Journal was awarded the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry.


All Things Considered interviewed Uchenna Ikonne about his book Wake Up You!: The Rise and Fall of Nigerian Rock 1972-1977 - Volume 1.


The Charleston Gazette recommended books about baseball.


Prince and the 1980s "paisley underground" music scene of Los Angeles.


Bob Costas talked to Weekend Edition about the reissue of George Plimpton's sports books.


Napalm Death's Barney Greenway talked non-musical influences with the A.V. Club.


All Things Considered interviewed poet Ocean Vuong.


eBooks on sale for $1.99 today:

Eight Hundred Grapes by Laura Dave
Expo 58 by Jonathan Coe
How to Live: Or A Life of Montaigne in One Question and Twenty Attempts at an Answer by Sarah Bakewell
J.D. Salinger: The Escape Artist by Thomas Beller
A Land More Kind Than Home by Wiley Cash
The Lost Tribe of Coney Island by Claire Prentiss
Shakespeare: The World as a Stage by Bill Bryson
South on Highland by Liana Maeby
The Time Is Noon by Pearl Buck



also at 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
WORD Bookstores Books of the Week (recommended new books)


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April 24, 2016

Largehearted Boy Weekly Wrap-Up - April 24, 2016

A list of the past week's Largehearted Boy features:


Book Notes: (authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates to their book)

Alex Segura for his novel Down the Darkest Street
Curtis Smith for his book Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five: Bookmarked
Dominic Smith for his novel The Last Painting of Sara de Vos
Domnica Radulescu for her novel Country of Red Azaleas
Jeff Zentner for his novel The Serpent King
John Smelcer for his novels Savage Mountain and Stealing Indians
Jonathan Levi for his novel Septimania
Michelle de Kretser for her novella Springtime


Weekly New Book Recommendations:

Atomic Books Comics Preview (recommended new comics and graphic novels)
Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week (recommended new books, magazines, and comics)
WORD Bookstores Books of the Week (recommended new books)


New Music Recommendations:

The Week's Interesting Music Releases


And of course, the daily literature and music news and link posts:

Shorties (news & links from the worlds of music, books, and pop culture)


also at Largehearted Boy:

Antiheroines
Atomic Books Comics Preview
Book Notes
Cover Song Collections
Lists
weekly music release lists
musician/author Interviews
Note Books
Soundtracked
WORD Bookstores Books of the Week


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