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August 4, 2015

Book Notes - Jonathan Weisman "No. 4 Imperial Lane"

No. 4 Imperial Lane

In the Book Notes series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates in some way to their recently published book.

Previous contributors include Bret Easton Ellis, Kate Christensen, Kevin Brockmeier, T.C. Boyle, Dana Spiotta, Amy Bloom, Aimee Bender, Jesmyn Ward, Heidi Julavits, Hari Kunzru, and many others.

Jonathan Weisman's No. 4 Imperial Lane is an ambitious and dazzling debut novel, a coming of age story that brings to life late '80s England.

Kirkus wrote of the book:

"Weisman's prose is clear and evocative with plenty of detail but no unnecessary flourishes. A fresh, enlightening book, complex, emotionally resonant."

Stream a playlist of these songs at Spotify.


In his own words, here is Jonathan Weisman's Book Notes music playlist for his novel No. 4 Imperial Lane:


My debut novel, No. 4 Imperial Lane, is set in a time and place that for me was simply saturated with music. My girlfriend (yes, I'm nearly 50, yes, I have a girlfriend my age) calls it college bullshit, but to me, it is still something of a musical pinnacle.

The novel moves back and forth in time between a present that is Brighton, England, in the late 1980s, and a past, mainly Portuguese Africa, in the early 1970s. Music is a contrast. As the narrator describes his life in Thatcher's Britain, music is everywhere. But the story he tells in Africa is devoid of music, not because Africa is devoid of music -- far from it -- but because the European characters in Africa are so out of their element. They wouldn't know the music around them. It would be as strange as they were, in Portuguese Guine (now Guinea Bissau) and Angola.

When the narrator, David Heller, arrives in the U.K., he thinks he's pretty cool. An Atlantan, he listens to early R.E.M. -- "Radio Free Europe," "Perfect Circle," his favorite album, Reckoning -- "Pretty Persuasion," "7 Chinese Brothers," but he can do Britain too -- Psychedelic Furs' "The Ghost In You," "Love My Way."

At one point, his British girlfriend catches him crooning to U2's "Bad." In disgust, she asks how Bono can exert himself in public like that.

As Americans do abroad, and as boys do with girls, David sinks into Maggie's taste. The four pillars of her existence are Julian Cope, New Order, The Cure and the Cocteau Twins, and what she would call their progenitors and pretenders. For New Order, of course, that would be Joy Division -- "Love Will Tear Us Apart."

For Julian Cope, it would be The Teardrop Explodes -- "Passionate Friend."

The Cure emerged from Siouxie & The Banshees, Siouxie Sioux's version of "Dear Prudence" drifting out of the turntable.

The Cocteau Twins let loose Dead Can Dance, "Carnival of Light" from their first album, "Enigma of the Absolute" from their second, Spleen and Ideal. This Mortal Coil, the 4AD compilation band, moved Maggie to tears with "Song of the Siren."

But it was the four pillars that propped up David's life. The Cocteau Twins' Head Over Heels had an edge to it that Treasure lacked. "When Mama Was Moth," "In Our Angelhood," "Multifoiled," "Musette and Drums," those were the songs David and Maggie made love to. Not that Treasure was so frowned upon. "Donimo," the last song on the album, will live forever.

The Cure's Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me had just come out, but that was for wankers. "Head on The Door" gave some inkling of the pop that was coming, but "In Between Days," "Six Different Ways," "Push," "Close to Me," "A Night Like This" and "Sinking" had that mix of infectious melody and brooding goth.

New Order's "Blue Monday" and "Bizarre Love Triangle" still got the kids on the dance floor, but outside the clubs, Maggie never grew tired of "Ceremony," "Procession" and "Your Silent Face."

But Julian Cope was her true love -- and would have to be David's if he were to stave off the jealousy. They bopped down Bright's Grand Parade to "Sunspots" and "Holy Love," sang along to "The Greatness and Perfection of Love," air guitared to "Strasbourg," and grew morose to "Head Hang Low" and "Me Singing." "Kolly Kibber's Birthday" was a favorite of David's. Maggie loved "An Elegant Chaos."

On the side, he listened to The Jesus and Mary Chain, but mainly the melodic songs, "Just Like Honey" and "Sowing Seeds." His British friends said they only made one decent album, Psychocandy, but he liked Darklands well enough, "Happy When It Rains" and "April Skies" in particular. He was an American, after all.

He loved a few one offs, That Petrol Emotion's "Big Decision," for instance, or Age Of Chance's version of Prince's "Kiss."

When, in the book, he and Maggie split, much of that music washes away as well. He broods through the rest of the novel, and falls in love, not to music, but to poetry and Shakespeare. Still, as Julian Cope would jabber, the music lives on. "Hear it ringing in my ear, their secrets sacred as sequins, and weighing you down, down, down."


Jonathan Weisman and No. 4 Imperial Lane links:

Kirkus review
Minneapolis Star Tribune review
Publishers Weekly review
Washington Post 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)
Daily Downloads (free and legal daily mp3 downloads)
guest book reviews
Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week (recommended new books, magazines, and comics)
musician/author interviews
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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August 4, 2015

Shorties (August's Best Books, Stream the New Pavement Rarities Compilation, and more)

Vol. 1 Brooklyn and Amazon previewed August's best new books.


NPR Music is streaming the Pavement rarities collection, The Secret History, Vol. 1.

Stephen Malkmus and Bob Nastanovich discusses the compilation with Rolling Stone.


Lit Hub profiled literary Los Angeles.


SOAK played a Tiny Desk Concert.


The Vassar quarterly profiled author Amitava Kumar.


Why is there no great Arizona novel?


CarolineLeavittville interviewed Val Brelinski about her new novel The Girl Who Slept With God.


Philly Voice profiled Philadelphia's prominent independent publishers.


SPIN interviewed Destroyer frontman Dan Bejar.


A project to translate Thoreau's Walden into Farsi.


LA Music Blog shared a playlist of the best Chemical Brothers songs.


Fresh Air interviewed Buzz Bissinger about his novel Friday Night Lights, published 25 years ago.


PopMatters profiled The Isley Brothers.


The New Republic reviewed the new Jonathan Franzen novel Purity.


Django Django visited The Current studio for an interview and live performance.


The Guardian announced its its "Not the Booker" Prize shortlist.


Paste listed the best hip-hop cookbooks.


CNN listed the world's coolest bookstores.


Follow Largehearted Boy on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Tumblr, Google+, and Stumbleupon for links (updated throughout the day) that don't make the daily "Shorties" posts.


also at Largehearted Boy:

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

100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads
Atomic Books Comics Preview (the week's best new comics and graphic novels)
Book Notes (authors create playlists for their book)
daily mp3 downloads
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)


Posted by david | Permalink | Comments (View)

Daily Downloads (A Rendezvous Music Festival Mixtape, The Peach Kings, and more)

Every day, Daily Downloads offers free and legal music and/or stream.


Today's free and legal mp3 downloads:

Anna Stefanic: Warrior EP [mp3]

The Love Sprockets: "Cold Sun" [mp3]

Lux Raptor: Electra EP [mp3]

Mr. and Mrs. Smith: I used to think I was simple but I was wrong album [mp3]

The Peach Kings: Mojo Thunder EP [mp3]

Samantha Taggart: Swallow the Key EP [mp3]

Twin Brother: Live at Club Garibaldi album [mp3]

Various Artists: Rendezvous Music Festival Mixtape album [mp3]


Free and legal live performances at other websites:

Shuggie Otis: 2015-08-02, Athens [mp3]


search for more free and legal music downloads at Largehearted Boy


also at Largehearted Boy:

other Daily Downloads

covers collections
100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads

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


Posted by david | Permalink | Comments (View)

August 3, 2015

Book Notes - Vu Tran "Dragonfish"

Dragonfish

In the Book Notes series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates in some way to their recently published book.

Previous contributors include Bret Easton Ellis, Kate Christensen, Kevin Brockmeier, T.C. Boyle, Dana Spiotta, Amy Bloom, Aimee Bender, Jesmyn Ward, Heidi Julavits, Hari Kunzru, and many others.

Vu Tran's novel Dragonfish is an impressive debut, a haunting and evocative literary thriller.

Booklist wrote of the book:

"Nuanced and elegiac…. Vu Tran takes a strikingly poetic and profoundly evocative approach to the conventions of crime fiction in this supple, sensitive, wrenching, and suspenseful tale of exile, loss, risk, violence, and the failure of love."

Stream a playlist of these songs at Spotify.


In his own words, here is Vu Tran's Book Notes music playlist for his debut novel Dragonfish:


Dragonfish took me five years to write, and every night I stuck to a precise ritual: begin around midnight, stop at four in the morning, drink endless cups of jasmine tea in between, and give myself one smoke break outside, during which I'd listen to a song or two on my iPhone. They were always slow and sad songs, love songs inevitably, suffused with literal as well as emotional reverb. I call them my 2AM-cigarette-on-the-balcony songs, my favorite kind.

Unsurprisingly, Dragonfish is a nocturnal novel. A quiet and moody one. Even when scenes take place in the day or in the glitzy casinos of Las Vegas, its primary setting, a dark and pensive atmosphere pervades the narrative. Robert Ruen, the protagonist and narrator, is a police officer who's discovered that his ex-wife has disappeared. He's now being blackmailed by her new husband into tracking her down, and much of his progress through the novel is also a journey back to all the confusion and heartache in their failed marriage. The regret and bitterness too, which is present as well in the novel's secondary narrative, a series of letters that this ex-wife—Suzy—has written to someone she wronged decades ago.

All the songs on this list, even if you don't listen to the lyrics, evoke this feeling of loss and melancholy. Many are simply some of my favorite songs from the last five years. All I really had to do was go look at my most played tracks on iTunes. They make their own playlist for my state of mind during the writing of this novel.

1.) "Jungle Drums" by Xavier Cugat
Xavier Cugat is a favorite of mine because he's also a favorite of Wong Kar Wai, who uses his music often in his films. I first heard "Jungle Drums" in Days of Being Wild and have always found its stylized romanticism—a lovelorn person's fantasy of what it must be like to dance at night in the jungle—to be the perfect sound for a Wong Kar Wai movie. Exotic, playful and yet also very serious in its eroticism, and palpably romantic. In my writing over the last ten years, I've tried to emulate Wong Kar Wai's aesthetic approach. It's all about tone for me. If I can get the right tone in the language, in the voice of the narrative, everything else follows.

2.) "Lujon" by Henry Mancini
This unbearably sexy song—in all its sixties' Jazz/Latin exoticism—begins with a slow and percussive melody reminiscent of heartbeats, and then, twenty seconds in, lush violins swoon in and out, held at bay throughout the song by a trumpet, then a brooding saxophone, both of which sound as lonely as the violins sound overwrought. It's all wonderfully on the verge of being kitschy and yet so beautiful in its unabashed eroticism. Mancini is famous, of course, for the Pink Panther theme song, which because of the movie has attained a cheesiness that undervalues how elegantly and artfully composed it and so many of Mancini's songs are.

3.) "Empty Garden" by Elton John
For better or worse, I grew up in the eighties with MTV as my cultural guidepost, my childhood soundtrack, and this was my first Elton John music video. I didn't care that much for him back then, not nearly as much as I do now, but I do remember loving this song, how incredibly sad and lonely it made me feel. I didn't know until last year that it was written as a tribute to John Lennon. It's the song that Robert Ruen listens to in his car in the first scene of the novel, as he ponders the life he's lived since his ex-wife left him. I originally quoted the lyric, He used to be a gardener that cared a lot, but permissions for it proved too costly, so I described the music video instead, which ended up working much better. It's just Elton John playing a white grand piano in an empty concrete garden as autumn leaves are tossed about by the wind. As literal and corny as any eighties' video, but nostalgia has always made the song especially meaningful to me.

4.) "As Long As You Follow" by Fleetwood Mac
There are few openings to a song I like better than this one, with Mick Fleetwood's drums ushering in Lindsey Buckingham's gorgeous, cascading guitar melody, which repeats achingly throughout the song. Fleetwood Mac is the only American band my mother has ever loved, and she especially likes Christine McVie, who always sang with a softness and restraint that made the longing in this particular song—the conditional hope in the title—all the more moving. In the novel, this song is playing in the lesbian dive bar while one character recounts the unsettling story of another character, while he himself privately pines for a third character, who is listening.

5.) "Some Velvet Morning" by Lee Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra
That lesbian dive bar—the walls of which are decorated with hundreds of female dolls—contains one of the longer and weirder scenes in the novel, and so I thought I'd animate it with one of the weirder songs I know. I first heard "Some Velvet Morning" in the very cool and bleak cult film, Morvern Callar, and the psychedelic queasiness of that song—its title as well as its sound—perfectly captures the film's depiction of a woman's uncommon grieving process. Lee Hazlewood croons the male part and describes a mysterious, powerful woman named Phaedra, who "gave [him] life… and… made it end," the song shifting back and forth between this and Nancy Sinatra chanting a peculiar nursery rhyme about nature's beauty in Phaedra's voice. Dragonfish operates in a similar way: the "crime novel narrative," where Robert grieves the loss of a woman ultimately too powerful and elusive for him, punctuated by the "epistolary narrative," where his Phaedra reveals herself to the reader.

6.) "Forest & Sands" by Camera Obscura
One of my favorite contemporary bands. This song has that dark country vibe that Lee Hazlewood luxuriated in, and the haunting guitar lines that howl behind Tracyanne Campbell's cinematically sincere singing has always made me imagine her, in silhouette, behind the lit-up screen of an abandoned drive-in theatre. The opening lyrics—I'm in a van/And you're holding my hand/And you were travelling with me through forest and sands—get at that strange fearful sensation that comes with loving someone new (or, in the case of my protagonist, someone you never truly know). You're not merely unsure if you trust them, you're also unsure if you trust yourself. Oh, it feels like none of this is real, she repeats throughout the song, singing the line in the way we all often feel it, with something between desperation and elation.

7). "Better Times" and "Take Care" by Beach House
Beach House is my favorite contemporary band, their sound evolving over the years from a kind of chamber music intimacy to a more expansive, extravagant intimacy. Holding it all together is Victoria Legrand's classically trained voice, husky and yet restrained, gothic and somehow tender at the same time. In fact, that gothic tone was crucial for how I imagined Dragonfish. The crime novel, after all, is a direct descendent of the gothic novel and shares with it a preoccupation with love, death, solitude, uncertainty, darkness. These two songs appear on Teen Dream, probably my favorite album from the last ten years. Without getting too sentimental about it, I'll just say that no lyric moves me more than Legrand's refrain: I'll take care of you if you ask me to/ In a year or two.

8.) "Motion" by Balam Acab
Balam Acab is Alec Koone, and when he first came on the scene, his music was labeled "witch house," a subgenre of electronic music that is suffused with an occult sensibility. I find this label useless really, because Balam Acab also has a warmth and sentimentality that constantly plays against its dark tendencies. After an entire minute of ambient voices and cascading harps washing over themselves, the song opens up into a gorgeous, twinkling melody, backed by a pounding, almost dreadful beat that eventually brings in what sounds like the voices of children whispering a song into your ear.

9.) "Avril 14th" & "Fingerbib" by Aphex Twin
I've been a devoted fan of Richard D. James for about twenty years now, and I can't think of any other musical artist that explores the gamut of emotions and sounds so severely. His oeuvre is filled with noise experimentation, dance-floor banger beats, and outright dissonance, but it also includes some of the most beautiful and gentle melodies I've ever listened to. "Avril 14th" is a very simple piano ballad, underlain by a dampened metronome, as classical and organic as Aphex Twin gets, and as close to a lullaby as he's ever produced. "Fingerbib" is beat-driven but equally sentimental, its various synth melodies swirling around themselves, giving birth to other equally beautiful melodies until everything at the end suddenly vanishes. Aphex Twin has always been super weird, with glimmers of horror and dark humor in his music, but what makes him a genius is how he melds all that with a disarming pulse of nostalgia and sentimentality that is as lovely as everything else is often harsh and outlandish.

10.) "Libet's Delay" by The Caretaker
I wanted Dragonfish to evoke a sense of solitude, even when characters are not alone, and of all the musicians on this list, The Caretaker is most extreme in his evocation of that loneliness and emptiness. "Libet's Delay" is a track from his album, An Empty Bliss Beyond This World. See what I mean? James Kirby built the songs from layers of sampled 78s and albums, and the result is what sounds like a collection of edits of prewar ballroom music. "Libet's Delay" makes you imagine one of these ballrooms, stripped of all its former finery, with the lamenting ghosts of the band playing in the center of the room as phantom dancers waltz around and through them. It also makes me think of that ballroom scene in The Shining, a movie as much about solitude as it is about madness.

11.) "Last Night at the Jetty" by Panda Bear
On Pulau Bidong, the refugee island in Malaysia where much of the action in the "epistolary narrative" takes place, there's a jetty on the beach. There's also a scene at night on the beach, close to this jetty, where Suzy encounters what she believes to be a ghost in the water. I have no firm idea what this song is about, but its title and motif of dreams just happen to coincide with all the elements in this particular scene from Dragonfish. It's also a wonderful, brilliantly arranged song, brimming with that Beach Boys harmony that Panda Bear has so expertly cultivated for his own psychedelic brew of electronic music. His first and his third album are so much better than anything Animal Collective—his day job—has produced, with maybe the exception of Merriweather Post Pavilion.

12.) "White Winter Hymnal" by Fleet Foxes
For various reasons, I've never liked folk music, and so I've always been pleasantly surprised by how much I love Fleet Foxes. It's probably the Beach Boys influence, as well as the fact that they're all exceptional musicians. I might have taken the title too literally, but I listened to "White Winter Hymnal" a lot during the winters when I was working on Dragonfish. After all, even though it's the desert, the novel does take place in December. The song's nursery rhyme lyrics and their evocation of blood and death fit very nicely with the plot and setting of the novel. I've always been struck by how Vegas—adult as it is advertised—seems driven by childish fantasies, and like in Grimms' fairy tales there's always something very dark and unsettling in such fantasies.

13.) "Do You Mind?" by The xx
It's incredible when a very young band arrives fully formed, with a sound and aesthetic all their own. The xx are like the musicians still playing late into the night at a house party, once everyone has passed out, are no longer talking, or on the verge of making love. They're full of quiet sex appeal that they're not really asking for, only because they're too shy, or too busy pining for someone, or too distracted by their own pain. "Do You Mind?" is an unreleased track that was produced around the same time as their incomparable debut album, xx. Its lyrics are familiar, a cliché come-on to a potential lover, but the song is awash in cavernous reverb and Romy Croft's glimmering guitar, and it's driven by pounding drums that make the plea for lovemaking so much more intense and emotional than anyone would be willing to bear—before accepting. I wouldn't say that Dragonfish contains the kind of sex that would appeal to most people, but I'd like to think there's a sexiness in the narrative, at least in the emotional language of the story, its nocturnal mysteries that have as much to do with the heart as they do with the body.

14.) "House of Cards" by Radiohead
I might have to look through their catalogue, but "House of Cards" is surely one of only a handful of straightforward love songs that Radiohead has ever produced. Of course, it's straightforward only in what its narrator desires, but there is still a lot of the usual Thom Yorkian anxiety and cynicism. I imagined my protagonist, Robert Ruen, in a similar light. He's someone driven by a desperate need for love and for access into the people he loves, but he's always been too pessimistic and cautious a person to ask for it in the right way. In "House of Cards," there's something so plaintive, despairing even, about Yorke's singing of denial. Waves of reverbed feedback sound like horror music in the background and it makes the lovely guitar strains seem all the more fragile. I can't help thinking that this is a love song sung by someone who has no idea what he truly wants, even as he tries to convince the object of his love to be more vulnerable and hazard everything for him.


Vu Tran and Dragonfish links:

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

Chicago Tribune review
Kirkus review
Library Journal review
Publishers Weekly review

LinkedIn interview with the author
Publishing interview with the author
Weekend Edition 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)
Daily Downloads (free and legal daily mp3 downloads)
guest book reviews
Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week (recommended new books, magazines, and comics)
musician/author interviews
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)


Posted by david | Permalink | Comments (View)

Book Notes - Chad Kultgen "Strange Animals"

Strange Animals

In the Book Notes series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates in some way to their recently published book.

Previous contributors include Bret Easton Ellis, Kate Christensen, Kevin Brockmeier, T.C. Boyle, Dana Spiotta, Amy Bloom, Aimee Bender, Jesmyn Ward, Heidi Julavits, Hari Kunzru, and many others.

Chad Kultgen's Strange Animals is a smart and thought-provoking novel.

Stream a playlist of these songs at Spotify.


In his own words, here is Chad Kultgen's Book Notes music playlist for his novel Strange Animals:


Strange Animals is about an anti-theist named Karen Holloway who gets pregnant and decides to do something controversial on the internet with regard to her pregnancy to prove a philosophical point. It's also about a Christian zealot named James Dobbs who thinks God has spoken to him and asked him to carry out a plan.

In addition to writing a book that's essentially a prediction of what I think could happen if a person were to do what the main character did in real life, I created a website that mimics her actions. The website, prolifeantiwoman.com was meant to take a fictional idea and present it to the world in a realistic context in order to see what the reaction might actually be. I was curious to know if my predictions in the book were accurate and it turns out that many of them were. To me, the site, the book and all reactions to both are part of the same piece of art.

The songs listed here are both songs I think the characters in this book might listen to or have some reaction to as well as songs that I listened to while writing it.

Tim Minchin – "Thank You God"
I feel like this song would definitely be on the playlist of the book's main character, Karen Holloway. Tim Minchin is an outspoken atheist who writes songs which expose the absurdity of the notion of God and the stupidity of people who devote any time or effort to the worship of such a malicious entity. This song sarcastically thanks God for healing the cataracts of a random woman, "Sam's Mom," while simultaneously noting that the same God murders children, starves huge swathes of the human population, and arbitrarily spreads lethal diseases across the world.

Don Moen – "God Will Make A Way"
This would likely be a song that the other main character of the book, James Dobbs, would listen to. It's a Christian devotional song that blindly praises God without giving any thought to criticism of the same God for all the ills it creates. "God will make a way where there seems to be no way" is the chorus that rationalizes away the fact this same God had to create a scenario in which "there seems to be no way," simply to prove how loving it is by then "making a way" that would have been unnecessary in the first place had this God just left everyone alone.


Joan Osborne – "What If God Was One Of Us"
Even more than "Macarena" and "Who Let the Dogs Out?" I feel like the main character of the book, Karen Holloway, would list this song as her most hated 90's song. It's a song that even as a kid in high school I remember thinking was terrible in its simplistic view of a possible God and it's assumption that any person could be God no matter how destitute they may seem. The chorus drowsily states, "Yeah, Yeah, God is great. Yeah, Yeah, God is good," and it never elaborates on this premise, remaining vague in its praise, which is very likely what allowed this song to achieve some mainstream success.

George Michael – "I Want Your Sex"
I think this song is probably James Dobbs's least favorite song of all time. James is a steadfast devout Christian. He's a virgin who believes sex should only occur in the context of marriage and marriage is very clearly defined in the Bible as only being between a man and woman. So an extremely gay man singing about casual sex, literally asking "Don't you think it's time you had sex with me?" is very likely enough to make James think the apocalypse is right around the corner, which he's looking forward to because he's a Christian.

Rick Ross featuring Lil Wayne – "Thug Cry"
This song has nothing to do with the book at all. It's just something that I've listened to with a high degree of frequency in the past year or so while I was working on this project. I like Rick Ross and Lil Wayne and I think this may be, at least for me, the best version of a collaboration between them. Lil Wayne delivers one of my personal favorite lyrics from his entire repertoire - "But to make a long story short I need a shoulder, ‘cause the Devil on one, the other one I'm lookin' over." And, of course, Rick Ross takes the opportunity to let us know that he likes "lemon pepper on his motherfuckin' wangs." All in all a perfectly crafted song.

Smashmouth – "Allstar"
My favorite character in the book is Pastor Preston, the Pastor at James's church. He's the exact mix of arrogance and false humility that I think describes most American Christian leaders. I feel like this is the song that he puts on every morning while he brushes his teeth, maybe singing it to himself and then ultimately looking up into the heavens and exclaiming "You're the real all-star" to a God he believes to be listening. It's the perfect blend of non-threatening, upbeat melody and inert but generally positive lyrics that have made this song a staple in the soundtracks of Christian summer camps, church lock-ins and weekend retreat videos. I can easily see it being Pastor Preston's unofficial theme song.


The XX – "Angels"
I will probably always think that The XX should do every soundtrack to every movie, TV show, book or any other piece of media that uses music. They have 2 albums that play continuously, 24 hours a day in my bedroom and even beyond that I find that I listen to them when I'm not in my bedroom at least a few times a day. So in some way their sound must be shaping everything I work on whether I'm conscious of it or not. This song specifically I think would go very well with a breakup scene in this book. It's slow and sad just like the breakup, just like most of their music, just like life.


Chad Kultgen and Strange Animals links:

the author's website
the book's website

Largehearted Boy Book Notes by the author for Men, Women, and Children


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


Posted by david | Permalink | Comments (View)

Shorties (China Mieville's Favorite Books, A New Wavves Song, and more)

Author China Mieville discussed his favorite books at The Week.


Stream a new Wavves song.


R.I.P., author and critic Alan Cheuse.


The Quietus shared an excerpt from Sylvie Simmons' biography, Serge Gainsbourg: A Fistful Of Gitanes.


Powell's listed 25 women authors to read before you die.


Morrissey covered "(I Never Promised You a) Rose Garden" in honor of Lynn Anderson, who passed away last week.


Entropy recapped small press books published in July.


MTV interviewed members of the band Tacocat.


The Guardian profiled author Etgar Keret.


NYC's Music Row is dead.


The Rumpus interviewed author Mark Haskell Smith.


Composer Dustin O’Halloran shared the albums that have influenced him at Music OMH.


The last days of Kathy Acker.


The New Yorker profiled singer-songwriter Jason Isbell.


10 books Ta-Nehisi Coates couldn't live without.


All Songs Considered shared its favorite dance tracks from July.


NK Jemisin talked racism and sexism in fantasy literature with the Guardian.


David Byrne called for transparency by streaming music services at the New York Times.


Joanna Scott reviewed four recently published books on reading at the Nation.


Stream a 1983 Cabaret Voltaire live performance.


Charles Johnson discussed his National Book Award-winning novel Middle Passage with All Things Considered 20 years after its publication.


Follow Largehearted Boy on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Tumblr, Google+, and Stumbleupon for links (updated throughout the day) that don't make the daily "Shorties" posts.


also at Largehearted Boy:

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

100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads
Atomic Books Comics Preview (the week's best new comics and graphic novels)
Book Notes (authors create playlists for their book)
daily mp3 downloads
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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Daily Downloads (Mountain Goats, Susan Howe and David Grubbs, and more)

Every day, Daily Downloads offers free and legal music and/or stream.


Today's free and legal mp3 downloads:

Dream Suicides: Soft Feelings album [mp3]

Emily Jones: Translate EP [mp3]

Giants and Pilgrims: Frailty album [mp3]

M. Roosevelt: Summerlands EP [mp3]

Mary Ellen Kirk: "Lovers and Liars" [mp3]

Natural Information Society and Bitchin Bajas: "Anemometer" [mp3] from Automaginary

Souvenir Driver: Living Water EP [mp3]

Susan Howe and David Grubbs: an excerpt from WOODSLIPPERCOUNTERCLATTER [mp3]


Free and legal live performances at other websites:

Mountain Goats: 2015-05-31, San Francisco [mp3]


search for more free and legal music downloads at Largehearted Boy


also at Largehearted Boy:

other Daily Downloads

covers collections
100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads

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


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August 2, 2015

Largehearted Boy Weekly Wrap-Up - August 2, 2015

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


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

Christy Wampole for her essay collection The Other Serious
Deborah Reed for her novel Olivay
Emily Mitchell for her short story collection Viral
Jordan Harper for his short story collection Love and Other Wounds
Kent Wascom for his novel Secessia
Sophie McManus for her novel The Unfortunates


Interviews: (authors interview musicians and vice versa)

Author Kate Christensen interviewed musician/author Nathaniel Bellows


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 music and news posts:

Daily Downloads (10 free and legal mp3 downloads every day, plus links to free live recordings online)
Shorties (news & links from the worlds of music, books, and pop culture)


also at Largehearted Boy:

100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads
Antiheroines
Atomic Books Comics Preview
Book Notes
Contests / Giveaways
Cover Song Collections
Daily Downloads
Lists
weekly music release lists
musician/author Interviews
Note Books
Soundtracked
WORD Bookstores Books of the Week


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Daily Downloads (The Week's Best Free and Legal Music Including Blitzen Trapper, Lauryn Peacock, Her Name Is Calla, and more)

Every day, Daily Downloads offers free and legal music and/or stream.


Today's free and legal mp3 downloads:

Bad Braids: Folkadelphia session [mp3]

Ben Rogers: The Bloodred Yonder EP [mp3]

Blitzen Trapper: "Lonesome Angel" [mp3] from All Across This Land (out October 2nd)

The Brightest Hour: "By the Sea (demo)" [mp3]

Her Name Is Calla: I Never Planned To Stay This Long EP [mp3]

Lauryn Peacock: "All My Mind" [mp3] from Euphonia

Mekons: 2015-07-21, New York [mp3]

My Morning Jacket: 2015-07-26, Brooklyn [mp3]

Various Artists: SideOneDummy: Summer Mix album [mp3]

Various Artists: Tee Pee 2015 Summer Sampler album [mp3]


Free and legal live performances at other websites:

My Morning Jacket: 2015-07-26, Brooklyn [mp3]


search for more free and legal music downloads at Largehearted Boy


also at Largehearted Boy:

other Daily Downloads

covers collections
100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads

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


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July 31, 2015

Book Notes - Deborah Reed "Olivay"

Olivay

In the Book Notes series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates in some way to their recently published book.

Previous contributors include Bret Easton Ellis, Kate Christensen, Kevin Brockmeier, T.C. Boyle, Dana Spiotta, Amy Bloom, Aimee Bender, Jesmyn Ward, Heidi Julavits, Hari Kunzru, and many others.

Deborah Reed's Olivay is an unsettling and compelling literary thriller.

Stream a playlist of these songs at Spotify.


In her own words, here is Deborah Reed's Book Notes music playlist for her novel Olivay:


The idea for my novel, Olivay, began during the Boston Marathon bombing when a man who thought he was having a one night stand with a woman wound up being stuck in her apartment while the city went on lockdown. He started live-tweeting this situation from the woman’s apartment, and I believe these tweets were picked up by the Huffington Post, which is where I first read about it. Long after the lockdown was over, I couldn’t stop imagining two strangers, meant to be lovers for only one night, forced to remain in each other’s company while a terrorist was on the loose and the city under siege. I thought about who they were, what kind of pasts they were bringing into that closed space. In an already precarious situation, I knew they would have to be fractured and frail souls, each in their own way, and beautiful too, given the chance. So I tried to give the people who became Olivay and Henry, a chance—each deserving of the other, each with terrible secrets they didn’t want to reveal. Like the line from the poem by Juan Felipe Herrera, “I want to write about love in the face of disaster,” I began thinking about terror and terrorism in all its forms—World Wars, the Holocaust, terrorist attacks, homicide, the endless ways human beings inflict pain on one another, all the way down to the 24 hour news cycle accosting the senses with its constant pin pricks of bad news, and finally to the tiny terrors two people in a relationship inflict on one another. I wondered about the place where we find one another in harmony, how we ever manage to get there, what a miracle it seems to be, given all the terror, to offer another person grace and peace. I wondered what would happen if Olivay began to fall in love with Henry at the same rate she suspected he had something to do with the terrorist attack. I wondered if he were actually capable of doing that kind of harm, and if so, what had brought him to that point? It took me less than a year to write the manuscript.

As for the act of writing itself, I always listen to music when I work, which many writers find insane. But I’m comforted and inspired by the storied songs and rhythms rather than distracted, and I always end up including music in my novels in one way or another. In Olivay, several songs are mentioned, and there is even a crucial line her mother tells her about the whole of life being contained in a song: “listen to the rise and fall of it, the violence and forgiveness, the suspense in tension, not knowing how it could end, and therein lies the beauty.”

"Warm Love" by Van Morrison

Van Morrison was a favorite of Olivay’s and her late husband, Will. I listened to this song a lot while writing her character, sitting with her and her grief, which had hit her so unexpectedly and devastatingly hard, not least of which was due to the media hounding her after Will’s death, which was captured on cell phones and turned into viral videos. My hope for Olivay all along was that she would come to find love in the midst of so much madness—warm love. And, as Van Morrison sings, that it would be “everpresent everywhere.”

"Ooh Child" by Richie Havens

Another song favored by Olivay and Will, and when it appears in the novel she is listening to it for the first time since his death, finding inspiration instead of pain. “She [Olivay] had forgotten that music hadn’t always stirred a gloomy, forlorn ache in her chest.” This is the morning after she has slept with Henry and she begins to wake up to the possibility of a new life. She’s an architect who hasn’t worked in a year, but it is while this song is playing that she begins to sketch again, imagining a room spilling with light—“Someday when the world is much brighter,” Richie Havens sings.

"Broken Fingers" by Sam Baker

Singer/songwriter Sam Baker was himself a victim of a terrorist attack in Peru in 1986. The song, "Broken Fingers," is so achingly beautiful; a tribute to the young boy who was sitting across from him when the bomb went off on the luggage rack above their heads. The boy and his parents died in the blast. Sam Baker survived but his recovery was long and painful and the fingers on his right hand are permanently twisted. He plays guitar nonetheless, with his left. Like Olivay in my novel, Sam Baker was forever changed by violence and cruelty, and yet hope is never too far away, hovering right there along the edges.

"Just Breathe (Live from Austin City Limits)" by Pearl Jam

I didn’t realize until after I had finished the novel that I was listening to several different songs on repeat that included something about breathing. It can’t be a coincidence since a good part of the novel plays out in the smoky haze of a bomb explosion on the west side of Los Angeles, and fires set in the dry canyons on the east. Of course there is also Olivay trying to catch her breath, as well, from the rush of so many feelings overcoming her during the three-day lockdown with Henry. The claustrophobic feel of breathlessness runs throughout Olivay.

"Breathe Me" by Sia

A haunting melody I could listen to on repeat for all of eternity. It so perfectly contains the nuance and pain of Olivay. The first word in the song is “help”, followed by, “be my friend, hold me, wrap me up, unfold me, I am small, and needy, warm me up, and breathe me. Ouch. I have lost myself again.” I mean it hurts me just to lay those lines down here. Olivay confesses to Henry within minutes of meeting him that she never “wants to feel helpless again.” Of course, for the better part of the novel she will be rendered nearly powerless. It was excruciating to write those scenes.

"Avant Gardner" by Courtney Barnett

This song is about having a life-threatening asthma attack while gardening. The woman’s breath is lost and an ambulance is called, and in the midst of keeping the life in her, she is keenly aware of the person saving her, which is also what is happening to Olivay as Henry makes sure she is all right after the bomb explosion blows her windows out and her body is full of glass shards and debris, her knee deeply in need of stitches.

And then the lyric, “Should’ve stayed in bed today, I much prefer the mundane.” There is a line in Olivay about people leading mundane lives, and to top it off Olivay has spent the better part of six months in her bed after Will’s death. “My hands are shaky. My knees are weak. I can’t seem to stand. On my own two feet,” Courtney Barnett sings, and this is exactly what happens to Olivay in the blast, literally and figuratively. Her leg is injured so badly that she can barely stand, hands shaking from the shock. She begins to lose her emotional grip over time as well, making it harder to stand on her metaphorical two feet, too.

"Something So Strong" by Crowded House

Another example of the subconscious at work? Has to be. Both the title of the song and the name of the band. Olivay and Henry are thrown together for three days in her small apartment with no real escape, which makes for a crowded house, while the tensions, both sexual and life-threatening, grow stronger and stronger.

"My Silver Lining" by First Aid Kit

Well, now it just sounds like I’m making this up. First Aid Kit? True, though. I listened to this song constantly while writing Olivay.

“… my worries as big as the moon, having no idea who or what or where I am. Something good comes with the bad. A song's never just sad. There's hope, there's a silver lining. Show me my silver lining.”

I think those lyrics speak for themselves.

"This Is The Last Time" by The National

These opening lines so define what happens as Olivay and Henry’s pasts slowly unfold. “Oh, when I lift you up you feel like a hundred times yourself. I wish everybody knew what's so great about you.”

Olivay and Henry recognize one another’s worth in spite of what they see outwardly and obviously in one another, but it is especially Olivay who is taking a chance here as it looks more and more like Henry had something to do with the terrorist attack. It is she who must look past a crime beyond comprehension and into the core of Henry’s soul toward something of forgiveness. These chapters were the most difficult to write, posing the question of whether redemption in the face of atrocity is ever a true possibility. And when Olivay begins to take matters into her own hands Henry must also decide who Olivay truly is beyond her actions as the novel takes an even darker turn.

"Give Me Love" by George Harrison

By the novel’s end the ultimate question becomes who is worthy of love? Who is worthy of grace and absolution? All of us? None of us? Only a chosen few?

The story circles back to all the ways human beings terrorize each other, and questions if or how one can ever truly find the sweet spot of love and light with another human being before it’s too late.

“Please take hold of my hand, that I might understand you,” George Harrison sings. “Help me cope, with this heavy load. Trying to touch and reach you, with heart and soul.”


Deborah Reed and Olivay links:

the author's website

Detroit Free-Press profile of the author
Pacific Magazine 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)
Daily Downloads (free and legal daily mp3 downloads)
guest book reviews
Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week (recommended new books, magazines, and comics)
musician/author interviews
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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This Week's Interesting Music Releases - July 31, 2015

Titus Andronicus

Titus Andronicus's The Most Lamentable Tragedy is yet another epic release from the indie rockers.

I can also recommend Lianne La Havas's album Blood.

Reissues include three remastered and expanded Led Zeppelin albums, Coda, In Through the Out Door, and Presence.


This week's interesting music releases:

Alessandro Cortini: Risveglio
Alice Cooper: The Studio Albums 1969-1983 (15-CD box set)
CFCF: Radiance and Submission
Fatboy Slim: You've Come a Long Way Baby (reissue) [vinyl]
Insane Clown Posse: Marvelous Missing Link
Joss Stone: Water for Your Soul
Led Zeppelin: Coda (remastered with bonus disc)
Led Zeppelin: In Through the Out Door (remastered with bonus disc)
Led Zeppelin: Presence (remastered with bonus disc)
Lianne La Havas: Blood
The Maccabees: Marks To Prove It
Melissa Ferrick: Melissa Ferrick
Migos: Yung Rich Nation
Ratatat: Magnifique [vinyl]
Sturgill Simpson: High Top Mountain [vinyl]
Teenage Time Killers: Greatest Hits Vol. 1
Titus Andronicus: The Most Lamentable Tragedy
Warren Haynes: Ashes & Dust


also at Largehearted Boy:

weekly music release lists

100 online sources for free and legal music downloads
Book Notes (authors create music playlists for their book)
Daily Downloads (free and legal daily mp3 downloads)
musician/author interviews
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Short Cuts (writers pair a song with their short story or essay)
Soundtracked (composers and directors discuss their film's soundtracks)


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Atomic Books Comics Preview - July 31, 2015

In the weekly Atomic Books Comics Preview, Benn Ray highlights notable new comics and graphic novels.

Benn Ray is the owner of Atomic Books, an independent bookstore in Baltimore. The Mobtown Shank is his blog, and his comic Said What? is syndicated weekly in the Baltimore Sun's B-Paper.

Atomic Books has been named one of BuzzFeed's Great American Bookstores, as well as one of Flavorwire's 10 greatest comic and graphic novel stores in America.


7 And 7 Is #1

7 And 7 Is #1
by Hidden Volume Records

Depending on how you look at it, this is a flexi-disc 7-inch with a zine or a zine with a 7-inch. Either way, it's total garage rock fun. The hot, red record features tracks by Jake Starr & The Delicious Fullness. The exquisitely designed zine, loaded with gorgeous vintage ads, also features pieces on Starr, Quitty & The Dont's and The Insomniacs. All in the size/format of your average record single (so it fits in your singles case!).


The Bell Tolls For No One

The Bell Tolls For No One
by Charles Bukowski

Despite the defiant title of this book, the bell tolled for beloved American low-life chronicler Charles Bukowski in 1994. Regardless, this week saw the release of 2 new books by the writer, this one and On Writing. Not bad for a someone who's been dead for 22 years. This book collects a long and wide range of Bukowski's previously uncollected short stories - from his pulp genre writing to his post-modern writing. This City Lights book really captures the spirit of a great writer.


Conditions On The Ground

Conditions On The Ground
by Kevin Hooyman

Whoa... I did not see this book coming. I mean I did, but I didn't realize it would be this... Ugh. What I mean to say is, I love it when I pick something up that looks cool and it turns out to be even cooler than it looks. Kevin Hooyman has a lot of crazy-awesome line work mixed with a lot of stream-of-consciousness storytelling that is relatable, fun, engaging and interesting. Conditions collects over 350 pages of stories, and instead of having a numbing effect, you'll find yourself tearing through one story to get to the next in excitement.


Not Ha Ha Funny

Not Ha Ha Funny
by Leah Hayes

Leah Hayes' book is simply astounding! This abortion handbook should be a staple in every sex ed class throughout the country. But what's most remarkable is Hayes' non-political, commonsense, and compassionate approach to abortion. By removing the politics from her book, some will most certainly interpret this book as political (yeah, go figure). Regardless, it's human, humane, and full of information that every person should have and many try to deny people from having. This is the rare book that is bigger than the sum of its parts.


Questions, concerns, comments or gripes – e-mail benn@atomicbooks.com. If there’s a comic I should know about, send it my way at Atomic, c/o Atomic Books 3620 Falls Rd., Baltimore, MD 21211.


Atomic Books & Benn Ray links:

Atomic Books website
Atomic Books on Twitter
Atomic Books on Facebook
Benn Ray's blog (The Mobtown Shank)
Benn Ray's comic, Mutant Funnies


also at Largehearted Boy:

other Atomic Books Comics Preview lists (weekly new comics & graphic novel highlights)

Antiheroines (interviews with up and coming female comics artists)
Book Notes (authors create music 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)
WORD Bookstores Books of the Week (weekly new book highlights)


Posted by david | Permalink | Comments (View)

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