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September 19, 2014

Book Notes - Ronna Wineberg "On Bittersweet Place"

Mercy 6

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, George Pelecanos, Dana Spiotta, Amy Bloom, Aimee Bender, Myla Goldberg, Heidi Julavits, Hari Kunzru, and many others.

Ronna Wineberg's debut novel On Bittersweet Place is an impressive and moving coming of age story.

Anne Korkeakivi wrote of the book:

"Youth is never all sweet, and On Bittersweet Place's Lena, a Russian-born Jewish teenager in 1920s Chicago, certainly has her share of troubles. The sweetness is there, though, in this heartfelt coming-of-age tale–– in the tenderness of Wineberg's beautiful prose and the pluck of its resilient young heroine. A story that stays with you."

Stream a playlist of these songs at Spotify.


In her own words, here is Ronna Wineberg's Book Notes music playlist for her debut novel On Bittersweet Place:


My first novel, On Bittersweet Place, is the coming-of-age story of Lena Czernitski, a young Russian Jew whose family flees their homeland in the Ukraine after the October Revolution. The story unfolds in Chicago during the Jazz Age of the 1920s, where Lena's impoverished family has settled and where she must traverse the early years of adolescence. Lena's new world is large and full of promise, but it is also cold and unwelcoming and laden with danger. Lena's playlist includes music from the old country and the new world.

"Ochi Chyornye" (Dark Eyes)
Lena listened to this song in Belilovka. The lyrics are based on an Ukrainian poem. Uncle William and Uncle Abie played the piece and classical music on the piano that stood near the kitchen in the house in Belilovka. Lena also listens to Ochi Chyornye in the apartment on Bittersweet Place. Uncle William sings, serenading the family. Lena's mother sings this, too. The brooding music and words are filled with longing and a warning. The song evokes Russia, a past Lena wants to forget. The lyrics seem to foretell William's fate.

Dark eyes, burning eyes
Passionate and splendid eyes
How I love you, how I fear you
Verily I saw you at a sinister hour…

If I hadn't met you, I wouldn't be suffering so
I would have lived my life smiling
You have ruined me, dark eyes
You have taken my happiness away forever…

Although we don't learn this in the book, William also sings some opera. "La Donna e Mobile" from Rigoletto, by Verdi. And a few American songs, such as "California, Here I Come," by Bud DeSylva and Joseph Meyer.

Yiddish Songs
Lena hears Yiddish songs at home. William sings "Rozhinkes mit Mandelen" (Raisins and Almonds) and others. Reesa hums this song.

Patriotic Songs and Christmas Carols
Part of Lena's playlist is imposed: music she must learn and sing at school assemblies. "America the Beautiful", "O'Columbia Gem of the Ocean", "My Country Tis of Thee", and also Scottish and French Ballads. Christmas carols, too, such as "Silent Night" and "O Holy Night". She likes the emotion and hope in the patriotic songs. Though she would never admit this, "Silent Night" speaks to her because of the peacefulness of the melody. Lena considers English words themselves to be like a song.

"Piano Sonata No. 11 in A Major", Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Max gives Lena the beginnings of a musical education. He plays Mozart on the piano for her.

"Rhapsody in Blue", George Gershwin
Max and Lena listen to this on Max's Victrola.

"Heebie Jeebies", Boyd Atkins
Max plays this and other Louis Armstrong recordings on the Victrola for Lena. These scenes aren't in the book. Lena loves the exuberance of the sounds, the energy. Also "Sweet Georgia Brown" by Ben Bernie, Maceo Pinkard, and Kenneth Casey. And "Blue Skies" by Irving Berlin. Max plays boogie woogie and jazz on the piano for her, too.

"A Kiss in the Laundry" and "Lena's Bravery on the Roof", Max Sloan
Max composes music and plays this on the piano for Lena. She loves to listen to his compositions. In one, he imagines what will come to pass when he and Lena meet at the laundry. He writes a marching tune about Lena's courage, a pleasing sweet triumphant melody. Some compositions have lyrics, others do not. Some don't have titles.

Radio
Lena sometimes listens to the one radio the family owns. The radio sits in the back of the Granville Laundry. She hears opera, hot jazz, ragtime. Hadie likes to listen, too, but she waits until someone in the family turns on the radio. Chaim likes to listen to opera broadcasts or broadcasts of classical music. He especially enjoys the music of Sergei Rachmaninov.

"Beautiful", "So Far Away", and "You've Got a Friend", Carole King
While revising the novel, I saw a preview of Beautiful: The Carole King Musical. Three songs resonated for me and reflected Lena's sense of displacement and her friendship with Max. "Beautiful": "You've got to get up every morning with a smile on your face…" Lena does this despite her challenges. "So Far Away": "Doesn't anyone stay in one place anymore?" People Lena loves move away in the book; life is in flux. "You've Got a Friend": "You just call out my name…and…I'll come running to see you again." The lyrics capture Lena's feelings for Max and the world he's opened up for her.

"Flowers in Your Hair", "Ho Hey", "Flapper Girl", The Lumineers; "I Would Bring You Ireland", "Roseville Fair", "Trouble In the Fields", Nancy Griffith; "From a Distance", Julie Gold
While writing the book, during breaks, I listened to contemporary music that dealt with love, hope, and hard times. I also listened to Garrison Keillor and The Prairie Home Companion because of the music and because I liked to be reminded of the importance of story.

Autumn, George Winston; Koln Concerts, Keith Jarrett; French Impressions, recorded by Jeremy Denk and Joshua Bell; music on KVOD
These albums and the radio broadcasts reminded me of the many moods music captures, the many moods in life.

"Sonata No.2, in G Major, Op.49," Ludwig van Beethoven
During breaks from writing, I sometimes sat at the piano and played my old music from when I took lessons long ago. This was relaxing. I imagined what it was like for Max to play the piano and Lena to sit and listen, the melody rising in the room. Playing piano reminded me of how music can communicate without words and transport both the person who listens and the person who plays the instrument.


Ronna Wineberg and On Bittersweet Place links:

the author's website
excerpt from the book

Harvard Crimson review
Kirkus review

The Millions interview with the author


also at Largehearted Boy:

Book Notes (2012 - ) (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
Largehearted Word (weekly new book highlights)
musician/author interviews
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Short Cuts (writers pair a song with their short story or essay)
Shorties (daily music, literature, and pop culture links)
Soundtracked (composers and directors discuss their film's soundtracks)
weekly music release lists


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September 19, 2014

Book Notes - David Bajo "Mercy 6"

Mercy 6

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, George Pelecanos, Dana Spiotta, Amy Bloom, Aimee Bender, Myla Goldberg, Heidi Julavits, Hari Kunzru, and many others.

David Bajo's novel Mercy 6 is an ambitiously told literary thriller.

Foreword Reviews wrote of the book:

"The complex, nuanced story will appeal to those interested in deciphering the events and attaching their own meaning rather than being provided straightforward answers. The events are a metaphor that can be interpreted in many ways, about containing information, and about the consequences of stifling and suppressing new ideas."

Stream a playlist of these songs at Spotify.


In his own words, here is David Bajo's Book Notes music playlist for his novel Mercy 6:


My Mercy 6 protagonist, Anna Mendenhall, has the most realistic view of Los Angeles anyone could possibly achieve. She's an ER doctor in one of the city's main hospitals. She pulls twelve hour shifts that usually stretch toward twenty-four. In the eleventh hour she can receive and treat an overdose, a bullet wound, a broken wrist, and a fishhook removal. There's very little backstory in Mercy 6 because there's no time for it. All of the world-building in the story forms in the tiny interludes during Mendenhall's quest to diagnose the contagion while battling protocol. In these little seeps, she thinks about music—at least I imagine she does. Once, she actually thinks of a song. Other times, I think of a song for her. Here is her playlist.

"I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight," by Richard and Linda Thompson
The song is wishful thinking, about our impossible to desire to toss aside responsibility, get wasted, fight, love. A couple of drunken nights rolling on the floor, is just the kind of mess I'm looking for. This sentiment passes through Mendenhall often. The only way to endure a job—whether we love it or hate it—is to imagine its end. This song is about the want rather than the bright lights. Linda Thompson's vocal perfectly evokes that.

"L.A.," by Neil Young
Mendenhall sees and treats the real Los Angeles. She has grown to despise the Hollywood version that dominates song, television, film, travelogue, and literature. She has even grown to despise cultural works about the delusion of the Hollywood version. This is the one song she briefly conjures as she hurries onto the sidewalks, an escapee from lockdown and quarantine. Young's song doesn't stop at the delusion. It taunts us with the delusion, tells us we still want it anyway. Don't you wish you could be here, too? Don't you wish you could be here, too?

"Cortez the Killer," by Neil Young
Mendenhall names her dog after this song. Cortez has to live with her aunt because Mendenhall's hardly ever home from the ER. He's a scruffy little terrier mix, no bigger than a loaf of bread, Cortez the Killer.

"Los Angeles," by X
Most of their music, tonally and lyrically, offers the real L.A. that nobody really knows, the city that Mendenhall sees everyday in the ER bay. I imagine she takes it with her during the escape and rescue part of the story. X is about as far away from Santa Monica as you can get without leaving Los Angeles.

"Desperados Under the Eaves," by Warren Zevon
This completes the Young-X-Zevon Los Angeles triad. As California slides into the ocean, like the mystics and statistics say it will.

"Speigel im Speigel," by Arvo Pärt
There are moments in this plot-driven novel where Mendenhall is suspended, once in water, a few more in dark passages within the Mercy General infrastructure. In these moments, she has used her expertise to its full extent while she must wait for and trust the expertise of others. What we all have to do, if we're doing it right.

"Basstrap," by Overseer
Mendenhall disdains metaphor. She believes people, especially doctors and scientists, use metaphor to cover gaps in their knowledge. I don't quite share her disdain, but I am suspicious of metaphor in my own writing. Mendenhall and I relate to this song, how it directly translates pressure into music and then quantifies it in words.


David Bajo and Mercy 6 links:

the author's website
excerpt from the book

Foreword Reviews review

Examiner.com interview with the author
Fiction Writers Review interview with the author
Free Times profile of the author
Largehearted Boy Book Notes entry by the author for Panopticon
The State profile of the author


also at Largehearted Boy:

Book Notes (2012 - ) (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
Largehearted Word (weekly new book highlights)
musician/author interviews
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Short Cuts (writers pair a song with their short story or essay)
Shorties (daily music, literature, and pop culture links)
Soundtracked (composers and directors discuss their film's soundtracks)
weekly music release lists


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Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week - September 18, 2014

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

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


Bumperhead

Bumperhead
by Gilbert Hernandez

A life in five acts, Bumperhead tells the story of Bobby, who grows from disaffected teenager to apathetic adult while trying different 1970s subcultures on for size. A master storyteller, Hernandez (Love and Rockets, Marble Season) weaves childhood crushes, crushing disappointments, and forgotten dreams through a landscape of glam rock, prog rock, and punk (not to mention the accompanying drug use). The story is scattered, almost stream-of-consciousness. It is very much how real memory works, and lends a startling immediacy to Bobby's everyday struggles.


Sugar Skull

Sugar Skull
by Charles Burns

Finishing off the Nitnit Trilogy that began with X'ed Out and The Hive, Charles Burns delivers Sugar Skull, a hauntingly surreal adventure undertaken by a man named Doug and his performance-art alter ego Nitnit (a reverse Tintin). Picking up where The Hive left off, Sugar Skull brings Doug closer to revealing his past trauma (and what happened between him and Sarah), and follows Nitnit as he attempts to escape the Hive and regain his freedom.


How to Build a Girl

How to Build a Girl
by Caitlin Moran

After her much-talked about debut How to Be a Woman, Caitlin Moran is back with How to Build a Girl, a novel that follows fourteen year old Johanna Morrigan's transformation into Dolly Wilde, hard-drinking gothic hero and Lady Sex Adventurer. Dolly is everything Johanna wants to be, but is that enough? What does it take to build a girl? Written in Moran's signature comic style, the novel touts itself as The Bell Jar, if The Bell Jar was written by Rizzo from Grease. High praise!


This Changes Everything

This Changes Everything
by Naomi Klein

In This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate, Naomi Klein, previously known for her bestsellers No Logo and The Shock Doctrine, tackles the conflict between our current economic system and the fight to save the earth. Klein calls climate change a "civilizational wake-up call" and it's clear to see that despite the grim reality, she hasn't given up hope. Klein has a history of redefining how we think of global issues, and this environmental tour de force promises more of the same.


The Complete Cosmicomics

The Complete Cosmicomics
by Italo Calvino

Written between the 1960s and 80s, Calvino's fantastical stories of primordial beings frolicking in space finally find a home together in a new and beautiful hard cover edition. Seen through the eyes of Qfwfq, an ageless guide, the stories range from explaining mathematical concepts to recounting the origins of the universe. Calvino's legacy is sacrosanct, with even the great Ursula K. LeGuin calling The Cosmicomics "a landmark in fiction, the work of a master."


Librairie Drawn & Quarterly links:

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


also at Largehearted Boy:

other Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week

52 Books, 52 Weeks
Antiheroines (interviews with up and coming female comics artists)
Atomic Books Comics Preview (weekly new comics and graphic novel highlights)
Largehearted Word (weekly new book highlights)
Book Notes (authors create music playlists for their book)
guest book reviews
musician/author interviews
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Short Cuts (writers pair a song with their short story or essay)
WORD Bookstores Books of the Week (weekly new book highlights)


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Shorties (An Excerpt from Haruki Murakami's Forthcoming Illustrated Book, R.E.M.'s Best Cover Songs, and more)

The Guardian shared a preview of Haruki Murakami's illustrated The Strange Library.


Stereogum listed the best cover songs performed by R.E.M.


The Book Report is a new literary video series featuring Michael Schaub and Janet Potter.


Treble listed essential modern prog albums.


Ilan Stevens discussed Cuban science fiction at Boing Boing.


The New York Times noted Japan's aversion to digital music.


The Rumpus interviewed author Lev Grossman.


Speakeasy interviewed cartoonist Roz Chast about being nominated for the National Book Award for nonfiction.


Salon examined the backlash against iTues release of the new U2 album.


Drowned in Sound listed the best Scottish songs of all time.


New York Magazine listed the most feminist moments in sci-fi history.


Follow me on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest, 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 (Frazey Ford, Jess Morgan, and more)

Every day, Daily Downloads offers 10 free and legal mp3 downloads.


Today's free and legal mp3 downloads:

Andrew Duhon: The Moorings EP [mp3]

Color Theory: The Sound EP [mp3]

Elijah Ocean: "Ride It Out" [mp3] from Bring It All In (out October 7th)

Faun the Flame: "Burn" [mp3]

Frazey Ford: Frazey Ford Five EP [mp3]

Grammar: "New World" [mp3] from Grammar (out October 14th)

Jess Morgan: Animal EP [mp3]

Side Saddle: The Postcard EP [mp3]

Those Who Ride With Giants: Those Who Ride With Giants EP [mp3]


Free and legal live performances at other websites:

Black Kids: 2014-08-27, Athens [mp3]


search for more free and legal music downloads at Largehearted Boy


also at Largehearted Boy:

other daily free and legal mp3 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)

September 18, 2014

Book Notes - William Alexander "Flirting with French"

Flirting with French

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, George Pelecanos, Dana Spiotta, Amy Bloom, Aimee Bender, Myla Goldberg, Heidi Julavits, Hari Kunzru, and many others.

William Alexander's new book Flirting with French chronicles his attempt to master the French language as an adult with insight and humor.

The Wall Street Journal wrote of the book:

"His quixotic resolve to transcend his inherent competence recalls the participatory journalism of George Plimpton, the lanky patrician whose unlikely stints in football and boxing lent nobility to failure. Like Plimpton, Mr. Alexander presents himself as an apprentice, but the reader quickly discovers he is also a master teacher."

Stream a playlist of these songs at Spotify.


In his own words, here is William Alexander's Book Notes music playlist for his book Flirting with French: How a Language Charmed Me, Seduced Me, and Nearly Broke My Heart:


About six months into my quest to learn French I read somewhere that listening carefully to the lyrics of foreign songs is supposed to be an effective tool in learning that language, the theory being that songs are sung more slowly than spoken language and with more diction (the author apparently didn't listen to Kurt Cobain and other mumble-rockers). Plus, the lyrics generally rhyme, and make sense (again, see disclaimer about Cobain et al), providing added cues. The cues are actually pretty important: Think about how often you've been able to predict the next few words of a song you're hearing for the first time -- let's face it, what else rhymes with "dove"?

I should've carried a touch of skepticism about this music-as-language-teacher business, because when I was about nine and confined to bed with the flu I'd sent my parents on a fruitless and embarrassing mission to procure the 45 single of what I insisted was "Mr. Spaceman," which was really Johnny Cymbol's "Mr. Baseman." (In my defense, I was feverish.) Regardless, the French experiment seemed like a no-lose proposition, because my love of French music -- especially, old-fashioned café chansons -- is one of reasons I wanted to learn French to begin with, and I already owned several CD's, mostly compilations from the Putumayo label. I'd been playing these songs in the car and the kitchen for months, but not really listening to them, so now I plugged in the headphones and tried to discern the lyrics of several of my favorites. As luck would have it, the very first song I chose was:

"Lettre à P" by Paris Combo
An enchanting hypnotic waltz with a lovely female vocalist and a muted trumpet, "Lettre à P" ("Letter to P') puts you a mere half-empty bottle of pastis away from a Parisian nightclub at midnight. But what on earth is this song about? Surely, the first line can't be J'ai mangé de l'autocar — I ate the bus. Leaving that for later, I move on to Ensuite, j'ai fumé une berline. "Then I smoked a" . . . a . . . what's a berline? I look it up: a sedan. Must have another meaning, perhaps a brand of cigarette. I play some more, I rewind and replay, again and again, trying to understand the French, looking up more words, which is proving unexpectedly difficult. These are not the words I've been learning from Rosetta Stone! Ha, here's something I recognize: Paris, j'aime ton gasoil. "Paris, I love your diesel." Huh? Something very odd (and automotive) is going on here.

Of all the songs to start with, I'd chosen a nonsensical one about a women with a strange addiction to Paris's polluted air, or its smells, or perhaps the whole thing is allegorical; I have no idea. Songs are poetry, and thus take poetic license, an obstacle I hadn't anticipated. Though I should have. Imagine a Frenchman trying to learn English from the Beatles's Abbey Road and coming across the opening lines from "Come Together":

Here come old flattop. He come grooving up slowly

He got ju-ju eyeballs. He's one holy roller.

Even I don't know what the hell Lennon is singing about, and English is my first language. But undaunted, I moved on to something more traditional, a love song that I'd already picked a few words up from while listening in the car:

"Un jour comme un autre" by Brigitte Bardot
"A Day Like Any Other" is a slow, sultry song, and I'm able to get the gist of it, partly because it uses simple language, and partly because the vocalization is so clear and well-paced. This is more like it! I want to hear some more songs from this artist, whomever she is. At home I pull out the liner notes and learn, to my great surprise, that my new favorite French singer is . . . Brigitte Bardot! Known to Americans as either a sixties French sex kitten or a wacky nineties animal rights activist, France's version of Marilyn Monroe was, to my surprise, also a successful recording artist, perhaps aided by the fact that her first album bore the suggestive title, Inside Brigitte Bardot. (A later album, bearing a photograph featuring her shapely derrière, was titled Behind Brigitte Bardot.) Another song that I can kind of grasp parts of also has a surprise in store for me.

"Quelqu'un m'a dit" by Carla Bruni
"Someone Told Me" is a breathy, catchy tune, with an even catchier album cover featuring a reclining, guitar-caressing brunette whose tight dress can barely restrain the nipple underneath. The surprise is that the nipple belongs to the breast of Carla Bruni, the wife of then-President of France Nicolas Sarkozy. Can you imagine if an American First Lady posed like that? Quel scandale! Quel Congressional hearings! But the album Quelqu'un m'a dit debuted at number one on the French charts and stayed in the top ten for thirty-four weeks, in addition to being an international hit in Europe.

Carla sings in a whispery style that is not to everyone's liking, but, like Bardot, she has more than just sex appeal. Speaking of sex, the second track on the album, "Raphaël," is named after Bruni's former lover. Vive la différence!

Rounding out my French-language playlist:

"Notre devois" by Intik
A reggae song from a young Algerian hip-hop and reggae group, you might mistake the first few lines of "Our Duty" for Bob Marley. The strong beat and beautiful voices make for delightful listening even if you don't understand a word. And you won't.

"Marilous sous le neige" by Serge Gainsbourg
No French playlist is complete with a song from Serge Gainsbourg, France's beloved singer and songwriter. Known for the wordplay of his lyrics and his eccentricity onstage (and off), he wrote over 500 songs through the ever-present haze of half-smoked Gitanes. My Serge selection is "Marilou Under the Snow."

Elaeudanta Téïtéïa by Jane Birkin
Jane Birkin, who was Serge Gainsbourg's lover following his torrid and highly publicized romance with . . . wait for it . . . Brigitte Bardot (the French music scene seems to have been quite incestuous), was a blue-blooded Englishwoman, but became a French singing star and actress, although the French delighted in mocking her accent. (I know how that feels.) I love this song (originally recorded by Gainsbourg) for Birkin's beguiling staccato voicing of the name Lætitia ( él - a - e dans l'a - té - i - té - i – ahh) as she types it "sur ma Remington portative" — on her portable Remington (as in "typewriter," for you kids). The title is the phonetic spelling (in French, of course) of "Lætitia." The French actress and singer Charlotte Gainsbourg (her latest film: "Nymphomanic") is the product of Serge and Jane's turbulent 13-year relationship.

"Comme des enfants" by Cœur de Pirate
For more contemporary French music, I like the "Le Pop" series, compilations of the best of French-language music. On "Le Pop 5" I discovered the young Québécois who calls herself Cœur de Pirate (Pirate Heart). Known to her parents as Béatrice Martin, she burst onto the francophone music scene in 2009 with the hit single "Commes des enfants." Cœur accompanies herself on the piano and has been praised for bringing elements of classic French chanson française to Canadian youth. The album Cœur de Pirate won the Canadian Broadcasting Company's Bucky award for "Best Reason to Learn French." I couldn't disagree.

So much great French music, so little time! À bientôt!


William Alexander and Flirting with French links:

the author's website
the author's French blog
excerpt from the book

Kirkus review
PopMatters review
Slate review
Wall Street Journal review

Largehearted Boy Book Notes essay by the author for his book 52 Loaves


also at Largehearted Boy:

Book Notes (2012 - ) (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
Largehearted Word (weekly new book highlights)
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


Posted by david | Permalink | Comments (View)

Shorties (Recommended Books for Feminist Readers, The Top Scottish Bands of All Time, and more)

Jen Doll recommended books for the feminist reader at Elle.


Amoeba Music listed the top 50 Scottish bands of all time.


Author Tod Goldberg interviewed himself at The Nervous Breakdown.


PopMatters interviewed musician Mike Watt.


The Los Angeles Review of Books podcast interviewed author Sean Wilsey.


Guernica interviewed author Scott Cheshire.


The shortlist for the 2014 BBC Short Story Award has been named.


BOMB interviewed author Valeria Luiselli.


Word and Film interviewed Jonathan Tropper about the film adaptation of his novel This Is Where I Leave You.


Fresh Air interviewed John Darnielle of the Mountain Goats about his new novel Wolf in White Van.


The New York Times profiled author Donald Antrim.


Follow me on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest, 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 (The Hush Now, Oceanography, and more)

Every day, Daily Downloads offers 10 free and legal mp3 downloads.


Today's free and legal mp3 downloads:

Einar Stray Orchestra: "Politricks" [mp3] from Politricks (out September 23rd)

The Hush Now: Trapeze Falls Without Regret album [mp3]

Lady and West: Bright Soul album [mp3]

Lillie Lemon: Covers EP [mp3]

Nite Fields: "Vacation" [mp3]

Oceanography: Parachutes of Plenty EP [mp3]
Oceanography: EP 1 EP [mp3]

Soledad Velez: "How to Disappear" [mp3] from Run with Wolves

Tonstartssbandht: Overseas album [mp3]


Free and legal live performances at other websites:

Tonstartssbandht: 2014-07-30, Brooklyn [mp3]


search for more free and legal music downloads at Largehearted Boy


also at Largehearted Boy:

other daily free and legal mp3 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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September 17, 2014

Book Notes - Sarah Yaw "You Are Free to Go"

You Are Free to Go

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, George Pelecanos, Dana Spiotta, Amy Bloom, Aimee Bender, Myla Goldberg, Heidi Julavits, Hari Kunzru, and many others.

Winner of the 2013 Engine Books Novel Prize, Sarah Yaw's debut You Are Free to Go is a poignant account of both prison life and those bound to the incarcerated.

Stream a playlist of these songs at Spotify.


In her own words, here is Sarah Yaw's Book Notes music playlist for her debut novel You Are Free to Go:


Writing and music are intertwined for me. Anticipating the publication of my first novel, You Are Free to Go, in which the death of an imprisoned father reverberates both within and outside the prison walls, I have started listening to my father's music a lot. When I was a girl, he played bass with Lou Reed, Don Cherry, The Everyman Band, and others. I spent my young life falling asleep near bass drums and amplifiers, listening to music on the edges of punk, rock and roll, and jazz.

Revisiting my father's music this spring, I discovered something about myself as a writer: I draw heavily on music for lessons in craft. The music I grew up on, full of dissonance and chaos, adventure and improvisation, made me a writer who thrives on dynamic— that irresistible tension and release—and seeks to create narratives that, like improvisational music, ask the reader to surrender and go with it. The music that influenced me the most was instrumental, but when I listen to it, I hear story. An emotive melody, like a strong narrative voice, tells its own tale and fills in the gaps that words just can't fill. So, here's a list of music, some cuts influential to my writing style, some directly related to my novel's characters, but all full of the push and pull, hold and release, build and let go that I long for in a book and a piece of music.

"Daily Jump" (only a sample, sadly), Count Basie

At the beginning of drafting this novel, I listened to this Count Basie album on a drive to, of all places, Red Bank, NJ. I remember driving south on Rt. 81 gripped by the tight jump of this composition and thinking, "I want to write like that." Nothing unnecessary, everything tight. When I felt astray in the writing of the book, I'd often return to it as a reminder to stay tight, but not so tight that the work didn't swing.

"Song for My Father", Horace Silver

You Are Free to Go starts with the death of a beloved father who, due to his incarceration, has never lived with his daughter. Losing a father is devastating, but losing one that a daughter has never had easy access to is among the saddest things I can imagine. This cut is for fathers like Jorge, good men who did bad things, who suffered lifetimes away from their children.

"Folsom Prison Blues" Live at San Quentin, Johnny Cash

A friend of mine recently organized the first musical performance in decades in Auburn Correctional Facility. At the end, a prisoner thanked the performer and said, "I haven't heard live music in twenty-eight years." My friend, who had just read Man's Search for Meaning, in which the Nazis bring the prisoners their instruments so they can perform for each other each day, said, "I think we can do a little better than the Nazis." I have always loved this Johnny Cash album. You can hear the energy of a room full of people starved of live music crackling through the audience and through his performance.

"Too Young", Phoenix

"I got a very good friend who says he can't believe the love I give
Is not enough to end your fears."

Those lines cut me open. No matter how good she is, Ellen, a character in my book, can never win back her mother's love and affection after a tragic loss. This quest for approval is a prison of its own. But this song is full of redemption and liberation, as is (I hope) You Are Free to Go.

"Heavy Metal Drummer", Wilco

When I listen to this song, I see three innocent girls looking for love wherever they may find it, believing—because what else do they know?—that love and life are not dangerous. My characters learn differently, but the time they spend together as young teens marks and saves each of them in a crucial way.

Without Warning (again, only samples), The Everyman Band

Here's the album of my father's that I can't stop listening to as I anticipate reading reviews and sharing my very private work with the world. What I hear when I listen to this (and so much of the amazing music of my childhood) is how much story is told without words. This is voice, and, for me, it matters most.


Sarah Yaw and You Are Free to Go links:

the author's website

Kirkus review


also at Largehearted Boy:

Book Notes (2012 - ) (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
Largehearted Word (weekly new book highlights)
musician/author interviews
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Short Cuts (writers pair a song with their short story or essay)
Shorties (daily music, literature, and pop culture links)
Soundtracked (composers and directors discuss their film's soundtracks)
weekly music release lists


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Note Books - Dave Doughman (Swearing at Motorists)

The Note Books series features musicians discussing their literary side. Previous contributors have included John Darnielle, John Vanderslice, Mark Olson, Mac McCaughan, and others.

Dave Doughman is the frontman of the band Swearing at Motorists. Pick up the band's music at Bandcamp.

The band's forthcoming album, While Laughing, The Joker Tells the Truth, will be released on October 21st. Listen to two of the new songs.

In his own words, here is the Note Books entry from Swearing at Motorists' Dave Doughman:


I don't read as much as I would like, but here are some thoughts on 4 books that I was reading while working on the new album...

On The Suffering Of The World - Arthur Schopenhauer

This book ruined my life. It also saved it. I'm a big fan of Penguin Books, so when this was published as part of their Great Ideas series, I snapped it up immediately, as the title grabbed my attention, and having recently moved to Berlin, it seemed appropriate for both my location and state of mind. This was the first time that all of my fears and anxieties concerning the human condition were confirmed as realistic. Reading this made me feel depressed yet hopeful, because here was a highly regarded scholar eloquently addressing and examining many of the feelings and beliefs I had about my own life and humanity in general. My crazy thoughts were shared by a renowned philosopher, I WAS NOT ALONE! I read and reread this book so much, that the working title of the new album was originally On The Vanity Of Existence, the title of the second essay in this collection.

The Art Of War - Sun-Tzu

Like any normal person, I detest war, but this book is full of wisdom that can be applied to everyday life. There is so much common sense within these pages, so many practical observations. I often feel like life itself is a battle, and am happy to be able to apply these tactics daily.

Waging Heavy Peace - Neil Young

I am a sucker for biographies of musicians. So when one of my earliest and biggest influences finally wrote his autobiography, I was very happy to have an intimate look into his world. It is so inspiring to learn that he is ruled by his muse. He needs to make the music he creates, it's not his choice. Neil long ago made the decision to honor that muse, no matter what consequences it would have on his personal and business relationships. Respect.

Lost Joy - Camden Joy

The last 12 years, this is the one book that I always take on tour. This book seems more like an ongoing conversation than a collection of stories. Camden can not be defined simply as a music critic or a novelist. He is a friend who, in the context of a great story, is always turning you on to good music. I don't know why, but like Swearing At Motorists, he kind of disappeared in the mid '00s. So when the new album was finally in the can, I reached out to him, in hopes that maybe he would connect with my music in the same way that I had with his writing. Much to my amazement, he not only responded, but wrote this:

"Like Iggy Pop’s great lost Nashville record or the legendary demos for the Strokes masterpiece that never was, this recording is full of catchy courage, significant low notes, bedroom rhythms, hooks, and so on, all of which make for an impossible amount of pleasure. This Swearing At effort towers heads and squirrels above whatever that was you were just listening to. I see why Rolling Stone gave it five stars." --Camden Joy


Swearing at Motorists links

the band's Wikipedia entry
the band on Facebook
Dave Doughman on Twitter


also at Largehearted Boy:

Previous Note Books submissions (musicians discuss literature)

Antiheroines (interviews with up and coming female comics artists)
Atomic Books Comics Preview (highlights of the week's comics & graphic novel releases)
Book Notes (authors create playlists for their book)
daily mp3 downloads
guest book reviews
WORD Bookstores Books of the Week (highlights of the week's book releases)
musician/author interviews
Soundtracked (directors discuss their film's soundtracks)
weekly music release lists


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WORD Bookstores Books of the Week - September 17, 2014

In the Largehearted Word series, the staff of Brooklyn's WORD bookstore highlights several new books released this week.

WORD Bookstores are independent neighborhood bookstores in Greenpoint, Brooklyn and Jersey City, New Jersey. Our primary goal is to be whatever our communities needs us to be, which currently means carrying everything from fiction to nonfiction to absurdly cute cards and stationery. In addition, we're fiends for a good event, from the classic author reading and Q&A to potlucks and a basketball league (and anything set in a bar). If a weekly dose of WORD here isn't enough for you, follow us on Twitter: @wordbookstores.


This Changes Everything: Capitalism Vs. the Climate

This Changes Everything: Capitalism Vs. the Climate
by Naomi Klein

Klein is 3 for 3 in terms of writing important books for our times. In This Changes Everything, she tackles climate change and capitalism, and she somehow manages to make the reader feel smarter, angrier, and more hope-filled at the same time.


Stone Mattress

Stone Mattress
by Margaret Atwood

After a spate of novels and essay collection, the Canadian master brings out her first story collection in almost a decade -- nine "tales" heavy with meaning, light with humor, and filled with wit and humanity.


Men We Reaped

Men We Reaped
by Jesmyn Ward

Jesmyn Ward tells a difficult, necessary story about the tragedies, triumphs, pain, and power of a Deep South town riddled with poverty, violence, and the dire need for change.


Mix It Up

Mix It Up
by Herve Tullet

The exuberant master of digit drawing returns with a colorful followup to the fantastic Press Here.


WORD Brooklyn links:

WORD website
WORD Tumblr
WORD on Twitter
WORD's Facebook page
WORD's Flickr photos


also at Largehearted Boy:

other Word Bookstores Books of the Week (weekly new book highlights)

Antiheroines (interviews with up and coming female comics artists)
Atomic Books Comics Preview (weekly comics & graphic novel highlights)
Book Notes (authors create music playlists for their book)
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)


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Shorties (Michael Chabon's Punk Band The Bats, An Interview with Nick Cave, and more)

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette remembered Michael Chabon's punk band, The Bats.


Morning Edition interviewed Nick Cave.


The Detroit Metro Times interviewed Shara Worden of My Brightest Diamond.


Indy Week interviewed John Darnielle of the Mountain Goats about his new novel Wolf in White Van.

VICE shared an excerpt from the book.


Author Lauren Beukes answered io9 reader questions.


The A.V. Club listed 10 books that should be adapted into albums, and by whom.


Salman Rushdie listed the books that have influenced him at Vogue India.


Chet Faker visited The Current studio for an interview and live performance.


BuzzFeed listed essential books by Latino authors in America.


Follow me on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest, 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)

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