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March 30, 2017

Book Notes - Jonathan Reiss "Getting Off"

Getting Off

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

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

Jon Reiss's Getting Off is a dark and delicious whirlwind of a novel.

Paula Bomer wrote of the book:

"Getting Off is raunchy, sad, weird, smart, and riotously fun to read. Gross sex, drug shakes, LA, scary cults—what more can you ask for? Reiss has written a refreshingly dark book, with pretty much zero redemption for his characters but plenty of attention and love."


In his own words, here is Jonathan Reiss's Book Notes music playlist for his debut novel Getting Off:


I learned to write a novel as just a collection of scenes. It follows that each scene would have its own soundtrack. In fact, my sister is a casting agent and she and I have already "cast" this book a few times over. Although, we have yet to find the lead.

This book is about a kid putting himself out there in a revealing, vulnerable, and often deluded way for anyone that's willing to watch. He's looking for his dreams in all the wrong places but no matter how demoralized he gets or how arduous the pursuit becomes, he persists. In Getting Off, an aspiring actor makes his living and feeds his addiction by stripping naked on his webcam. He learns that if you put yourself out there online there's always someone willing to receive you.


Over the past few years I've gone on obsessive YouTube searches for acoustic covers. There are some performers who've developed substantial followings by playing covers in front of their own webcams: just them and their acoustic guitars. I find them mesmerizing and brave. Here's a song for each scene in the book and a corresponding acoustic cover.


Hey Kathleen, Are You Hungry by Defiance, Ohio (Performed by JD)


Defiance, Ohio have mastered the introspective punk anthem. Getting Off begins with a young man waking up to a world in which he doesn't quite fit. So each day he undergoes a pretty involved ritual in order to "present" as someone who does. This is especially difficult because his shower doesn't work, and today it's especially important that things work out because it's his mother's birthday. Here, Simon (the main character) is forced to take stock of his situation, much like this song which sort of yells at you to do the same. "Are you angry?" it asks. "Are you searching?" The song is difficult to cover well. JD gets it just right, capturing the raw frustration, anger, and passion of this song with his imperfect, unbridled performance.


Stop! by Erasure (Performed by Danny McEvoy)


Suited up (naked) and fueled up (high on heroin), Simon puts on his webcam show, hoping to earn enough cash to buy his mother a birthday present. He dances in his birthday suit to an unnamed ‘80s electro song. In my mind, "Stop" was always that song. Here, Danny McEvoy manages to turn this electropop classic into an almost full-on rockabilly jam.


Baby Britain by Elliot Smith (Performed by ghettobythesea)


Even Elliot Smith's happy songs are laden with melancholy. On the surface, Baby Britain is upbeat, but the misery is hidden under a crepe-thin layer of piano music. In the second chapter of Getting Off, Simon tries to convince his parents that their baby is alright. His dysfunction is barely obscured and he is made aware of this in the most uncomfortable possible way (at a urinal). The performer of this cover, who goes by ghettobythesea on YouTube, plays this piano-driven song beautifully, finger-picking out the melody and stripping away that layer of cheer entirely. Instead she brings out the gorgeous melancholy of the song, singing soulfully about a person who "fights problems with bigger problems."


The Crowd by Operation Ivy (Performed by Jen Florentino)



After failing miserably to pass himself off to his parents as functional, Simon rushes home to turn it all off but his route home is obstructed by a protest. Here, a person gets lost in the mass and in the intentions of a crowd. This Op Ivy classic captures that feeling perfectly, and Jen Florentine's almost gospel voice turns this punk anthem into a folky spiritual.


Because You're Young by Cock Sparrer (Performed by Cunt Sparrer: Jennie, Sara Rowdy, and Evan Sinclair)


This song, by the greatest street-punk band of all time, captures the feeling of invincibility that one has in their twenties. This song is the soundtrack to a scene where Simon tries to pay his heroin tab by stealing from Barnes and Noble. It's long been my dream to buy this book—which has a scene of someone stealing from Barnes and Noble—from Barnes and Noble. Check out Cunt Sparrer's channel if you like Cock Sparrer. They cover all the great Cock Sparrer songs (and Billy Bragg) better than anyone else on YouTube. Here, the driving back beat of the song comes courtesy of their friend Evan playing two books and a shoebox.


It's Alright Ma, I'm Only Bleeding by Bob Dylan (Performed by Rachel Miele)


Sick and desperately in debt, Simon enters a shady, if not downright dangerous, situation. He breaks his own rule and meets one of his webcam clients at their apartment. The result is a bleak, chaotic fun house of drugged up twinks and rent boys. If you've never accidentally left a Dylan record on while sick with the flu—don't. Here, Dylan's chants haunt the already creepy space. In this video Rachel Miele manages to belt Dylan's quick-fire dystopian slam poem of a song with soul while keeping true to the terrifying vibe that lives within this song.


I'll be Your Mirror by The Velvet Underground and Nico (Cover by Kimber Annie)


Thanks to his terrible experience in the sex funhouse, Simon meets his new best friend. For a moment there's a glimmer of hope in Simon's life. This is a song and a chapter about basking in the light of a special someone. It's about finding someone with whom you can be your true self. In Getting Off, that person is named Fat. In this video Kimber Annie breathes new energy into this song, giving it a little speed and heft, making it feel almost like a Violent Femmes song. Kimber Annie is one of the most impressive musicians on YouTube and she looks like a character that you wish you had written.


Children Play With Matches by Mischief Brew (Performed by Mae Danger)


Sometimes watching a person use the internet for the first time, seeing the look in their eyes as they realize the possibilities, can be like watching a kid handling his first pack of matches. This song was written by the great and dearly departed singer of Mischief Brew, Erik Petersen. Mae Danger plays this cautionary tale with childlike glee on the ukulele.


Children of God by AJJ (Performed by Adam Volpin)


Sean Bonnette of AJJ is, in my eyes, the great literary voice of today's musical landscape which is why I asked him to blurb Getting Off (and why he's got two songs on this list.) Every song he writes has the resonance and universality of a truly well-written short story. There's more vivid imagery in a single AJJ song than in all the popular music you can shake a stick at. Take the opening of this song, "In came the being born police to take the newly un-decaeased. I was the softened gaze upon a child of god. And the sky was full of teeth. Anticipating that sweet relief. I was the little engine that could I was a courtroom bomb sniffing dog." In this song Bonnette sings about a number of very specific, different living entities that exist in some post-apocalyptic world where the children all have USB ports in their arms that bleed sometimes. Despite all the humanity, they're all children of god. Whether or not you believe in a higher power, it's comforting to believe that we're connected, as if we are all some type of family. In this scene, Simon meets another lost child off Craigslist who does not give a fuck about any of that. Here, Adam Volpin wails on this sucker with a really cool accent. He really brings a new element to this cover with his off-kilter voice, all while keeping everything that makes this amazing song work and all while looking like the younger brother from Freaks and Geeks.


Funnel Of Love by Wanda Jackson (Performed by morkwa)


This is a song and a chapter about the inevitable. Here two strangers from different generations attempt to find some common ground before hurtling into an intimate and fumbling exchange. Wanda Jackson's song captures the foreboding that both these characters feel.  Morkwa's cover heightens the ominousness: she remains locked in an icy stare down at the camera for the entire performance. Check out this chapter at Joyland while you listen: http://www.joylandmagazine.com/regions/new-york/cookie-dough


Dean's Dream by The Dead Milkmen (Performed by Mike Scandle)


Ever driven through a neighborhood that feels exactly like the one you grew up in, even though it's clearly not? It's nice at first. Comforting. Then you quickly find yourself racing out of there feeling like you're about to get stuck forever. After crossing yet another boundary that he promised he'd never cross, Simon finds himself driving through such a neighborhood, feeling like every teacher he's ever had, every girl he's ever liked, and every bully he's ever known has a front row seat to his failure. Mike Scandle's frenzied Dead Milkmen cover will make you feel like you're racing your way out of your own suburban hell, trapped in a never-ending cul-de-sac.


Actor of Work by St. Vincent (Performed by Ema Chiswell)


St Vincent's music feels like a contradiction that somehow finds harmony. She has this ultra-classical voice that rides this weird, crunchy electronic wave. In this video, Ema Chiswell does some really creative guitar work and slathers it with deep, bluesy vocals. In this chapter, an actor attempts to act and it goes horribly wrong.


White Face Black Eyes by AJJ (Cover by Leftover Cake)


In this song, Sean Bonnette sings "love what you can until it dies." Simon tries to save a dying friendship in this scene, but he can't quite manage. Instead he lets it tear him apart, and his slow unraveling begins. Leftover Cake's classical voice reinvents this already sad song. Fortunately, there's a cute dog in the frame to focus on in case you get weepy.


Sappy by Nirvana (Performed by Oyefish)


Ever put on music that you have intended to be your own personal self-destruction soundtrack? Was it Nirvana? Addicts call it "going on a run." This song is the soundtrack to a run you won't soon forget. Oyefish belts this song out, channelling Cobain's signature growl.


The Hunger by The Distillers (Performed by moderndaywarrior3)


Bloodied and broken, Simon runs into an old friend who is even worse off than he is, even though he doesn't look it. Sometimes a person needs a glimpse into where they might end up to really look at where they're at. Moderdaywarrior3 has one of the strongest voices I've heard on YouTube. She smooths out the rough edges of this song, turning it into a lullaby.


Dying With Decent Music by The Paper Chase (Performed by Stephanie Fyfe


Imagine you could turn off every sensation of pain that you might undergo for a span of three or four years. Now imagine this even meant psychic and emotional pain. Now, imagine your time is up, and the monkey's-paw-irony of this hypothetical is that you now have to experience that entire four years' worth of pain all at once over the course of an evening. This is the soundtrack to that evening.The sound isn't great, but Stephanie Fyfe manages to embody the agony and insanity this song evokes. John Congleton makes the most haunting music there is right now. Covering this song and making it sound austere is no small feat.

Asleep by The Smith (Performed by Jo Wilde)


All terrible things must come to an end. Sleep, in this scene, is death's twin brother. Jo Wilde makes this song even more delicate and dreamy than it already is.


Boat Dreams from the Hill by Jawbreaker (Performed by Patrick Miller)


One day you wake up and everything seems possible. They say you're always a few bad choices away from living out your worst nightmare. The inverse is also true. One good choice can turn things around. This is a song about dreaming because it feels good to dream, even if your dream is impossible.


Generator by Bad Religion (Performed by Emily Davis)


Emily Davis is my personal Justin Bieber. From watching her on YouTube, I've become a super fan. She's got amazing Bad Religion covers as well as some songs by Against Me! Her voice is stunning. It reaches right through your computer screen and grabs you. The end of this book is a race, both in the narrative and as far as pacing is concerned. The chapters get shorter and more packed.


Pink + White by Frank Ocean (Performed by Mallory Cain)


The world starts to present itself to the main character in new ways as the ending approaches. For people who work hard to shut the world out, a moment of natural beauty can be all-encompassing and heartbreaking. For Simon, the birds are singing into Peavey amps with distortion pedals and the sky is like an Oculus strapped to his face. Frank Ocean is like a gift to the millennial generation. He's the best thing we got. Mallory Cain's performance here is so mesmerizingly beautiful, I feel like I'm going throw up every time I hear it.


Heroinsomnia by Closet Fiends


Sam Sadowski aka Closet Fiends was living on the street in San Francisco when her mother reached out to Fat Mike of NOFX and Sturgeon of Choking Victim and played them videos like this one. They were so moved by Sam's music that they searched for her so they could put out her music. This song is on Sam's debut EP on Fat. This is the only song that's not a cover on this list, but this video captures the raw vulnerability that only the best of these YouTube videos has. This song is like a modernized Woody Guthrie song. Only instead of the factory floor, or unemployment, or the dust storms, Sam sings about heroin detox. This struggle has become just as universal now as those things were to people back then. This song is neutral. It's open ended. Things just might work out for Sam, and for Simon, and for Fat, and maybe even you, too.


Jonathan Reiss and Getting Off links:

the author's website


also at Largehearted Boy:

Support the Largehearted Boy website

Book Notes (2015 - ) (authors create music playlists for their book)
Book Notes (2012 - 2014) (authors create music playlists for their book)
Book Notes (2005 - 2011) (authors create music playlists for their book)
my 11 favorite Book Notes playlist essays

100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads
Antiheroines (interviews with up and coming female comics artists)
Atomic Books Comics Preview (weekly comics highlights)
guest book reviews
Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week (recommended new books, magazines, and comics)
musician/author interviews
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Short Cuts (writers pair a song with their short story or essay)
Shorties (daily music, literature, and pop culture links)
Soundtracked (composers and directors discuss their film's soundtracks)
weekly music release lists






March 30, 2017

Shorties (Books To Read If You Enjoy Watching The Americans, Stream the New San Fermin Album, and more)

Paste recommended books to read if you enjoy watching The Americans.


NPR Music is streaming San Fermin's new album Belong.


Words Without Borders recommended tribal literature from India.


NPR Music is streaming a recent live performance by Andrew Bird.


Guernica interviewed author Blair Braverman.


Stream a new Alt-J song.


Entropy interviewed poet Joanna C. Valente.


NPR Music is streaming Annie Hardy's new album Rules.


Literary Hub shared an excerpt from Deb Olin Unferth's new short story collection Wait Till You See Me Dance.


Stream a new Dream Wife song.


Elan Mastai talked to the Guardian about his novel All Our Wrong Todays.


Aquarium Drunkard interviewed members of the band Miracle Legion.


Esquire listed the sexiest erotic novels of all time.


Stereogum interviewed singer-songwriter Tei Shi.


The Windsor Star profiled author Andre Alexis.


NPR Music is streaming Timber Timbre's new album Sincerely, Future Pollution.


The Washington Post recommended poetry collections that inspire.


Stream three new Nightlands songs.


Bookworm wrapped up its interview with author George Saunders.


Sylvan Esso visited World Cafe for an interview and live performance.


Signature recommended books about impeachment.


Morning Edition interviewed singer-songwriter Laura Marling.


Flavorwire previewed April's must-read books.


A biographical Grateful Dead television series is coming to Amazon.


Dzanc Books shared an excerpt from Lance Olsen’s novel Dreamlives of Debris.


eBooks on sale for $1.99 today:

An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser
Ball Four by Jim Bouton
Claudius the God by Robert Graves
Hocus Pocus by Kurt Vonnegut
I, Claudius by Robert Graves
L.A. Son by Roy Choi
The Man Who Fell to Earth by Walter Tevis
Maurice by E.M. Forster
A Passage to India by E.M. Forster
Shoeless Joe by W. P. Kinsella

eBooks on sale for $2.99 today:

The Breaks of the Game by David Halberstam
Bruce by Peter Ames Carlin
Sacred Hoops by Phil Jackson
White Line Fever by Lemmy
Woke Up Lonely by Fiona Maazel



also at Largehearted Boy:

Support Largehearted Boy

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

List of Online "Best Books of 2016" Lists
Essential and Interesting Year-End 2016 Music Lists

Atomic Books Comics Preview (the week's best new comics and graphic novels)
Book Notes (authors create playlists for their book)
Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week (recommended new books, magazines, and comics)
musician/author interviews
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Short Cuts (writers pair a song with their short story or essay)
weekly music release lists
WORD Bookstores Books of the Week (recommended new books)
weekly music release lists


March 29, 2017

Book Notes - Deb Olin Unferth "Wait Till You See Me Dance"

Wait Till You See Me Dance

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

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

Deb Olin Unferth's collection Wait Till You See Me Dance is filled with sharp, masterfully told stories that perfectly balance darkness and hope.

Kirkus reviews wrote of the collection:

"A stunning debut collection. . . . 39 poignant, sharp-edged stories that cut right to the bone of the human psyche with precision and grace. . . . Prickly dilemmas, physical and existential, abound in these allegorical stories, each terrifically mundane and told with an exquisite restraint that drolly captures the inherent hope of humanity. . . . Chock-full of emotional insight and comic verve, Unferth’s beguiling stories are not to be missed."


In her own words, here is Deb Olin Unferth's Book Notes music playlist for her short story collection Wait Till You See Me Dance:



The Day That Lassie Went to the Moon, Camper Van Beethoven

I fucking love the absurdity of this song: the story of this guy's dog going to the moon. The guy says, "My little dog Lassie packed her bags and went out onto the porch…" while a chorus of his pals shout behind him, "yeah yeah yeah yeah." The song's story and manner strike me as having the same note of grandiosity, silliness, impossibility that opera does, if you've ever held off listening to the music and thought about the delightfully ridiculous plotlines (and I am an opera lover). Even the name of the album: Popular Songs of Great Enduring Strength and Beauty, a painting of Lassie the astronaut standing proud, is funny and dramatic and operatic. I sung this song to myself while writing the story "Opera" in the collection.

"Kimberly," Patti Smith

The sky will split
The planets will shift
Balls of jade will drop
Existence will stop

Patti named this song for and sings it to her little sister. She is commemorating a night long ago when Kimberly was tiny and Patti held her in her arms and stood before a barn going up in flames.

I've always suspected that Patti knows how to love better than she knows how to do anything.

My story "The First Full Thought of Her Life" is about a shooter watching a little girl go up a sand dune, her young mother trailing behind her. The question of the story is: will he shoot the little girl when she gets to the top?

The story grew out of a day my little sister and I took her tiny daughter up a sand dune. She let her daughter walk just a few feet out of reach to explore the sand world in front of her. I could see my sister's wild, vulnerable, protective face. I looked at it with my own wild, vulnerable, protective face, protective of her, my sister.

The lesson: Love, even if there might be a shooter nearby.

"Ripple," the Grateful Dead

Jerry Garcia: "If you go, no one may follow. That path is for you steps alone."

In my story "Stay Where You Are," my two characters are sitting on an empty road. One is ready to go one way and the other the other. One can't be anyone but who he is. He didn't ask to be that but he is saddled with it. The other just can't go along with it anymore.

A call to originality, creativity, a peaceful moment on a lonely road. In the next moment a man with a gun comes breaking out of the forest behind them.

"Hallelujah," Leonard Cohen

Leonard's lyric: "Even though it all went wrong, I'll stand before the lord of song with nothing on my tongue but hallelujah."

I listened to this song while writing my story "Voltaire Night," that moment in parenthood when you are at the brink of disaster, cursing fate and your own existence, raging at any God who happens to be up there, and yet in the same moment you are filled with gratitude for having the problem at all.

"Almost Home," Moby

The search for authenticity. I grew up on Grease, became an adult to the thunking sounds of frogs dropping to the earth in Magnolia (oh, Aimee Mann!). Any hunt for the real, any proof it was there all along. And I love to dance.

Begin again. Yes, the ceiling is caving in, and you're facing the wrong direction. Turn. Turn again, and again, and again, and again.

"Ice Cream Truck," Casiotone for the Painfully Alone

This song is in Laurel Nakadate's movie Stay the Same Never Change. We are talking hardcore mumblecore. There's a moment where all the characters stop and look at a sky full of fireworks, and this song incongruously plays. Formally simple, wickedly playful, funny, absurd, whimsical, overwhelming, sad. It's a sensation I'm chasing in many of my shorts: "To the Ocean," "Fear of Trees," "Husband," "Interview."


Deb Olin Unferth and Wait Till You See Me Dance links:

the author's Wikipedia entry
excerpt from the book

Kirkus Reviews review
NPR Books review
Publishers Weekly review

Largehearted Boy Book Notes playlist by the author for Revolution
Largehearted Boy Book Notes essay by the author for her novel Vacation


also at Largehearted Boy:

Support the Largehearted Boy website

List of Online "Best Books of 2016" Lists

Book Notes (2015 - ) (authors create music playlists for their book)
Book Notes (2012 - 2014) (authors create music playlists for their book)
Book Notes (2005 - 2011) (authors create music playlists for their book)
my 11 favorite Book Notes playlist essays

100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads
Antiheroines (interviews with up and coming female comics artists)
Atomic Books Comics Preview (weekly comics highlights)
guest book reviews
Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week (recommended new books, magazines, and comics)
musician/author interviews
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Short Cuts (writers pair a song with their short story or essay)
Shorties (daily music, literature, and pop culture links)
Soundtracked (composers and directors discuss their film's soundtracks)
weekly music release lists


Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week - March 29, 2017

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.


Fire!! The Zora Neale Hurston Story

Fire!! The Zora Neale Hurston Story
by Peter Bagge

New D+Q! Veteran cartoonist Peter Bagge has become quite a refined biographer, following his acclaimed Woman Rebel: The Margaret Sanger Story with this portrait of Zora Neale Hurston. Hurston, renowned novelist, short story writer, folklorist, and key member of the Harlem Renaissance, hardly needs an introduction. Her second novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937), is not only an enduring classic of Black American literature, it is a seminal work for literature as a whole. Bagge’s comic biography, like its subject, is vibrant and humorous, drawing from a number of primary and secondary sources to pay homage to an intellectual, an artist, a heroine.


The Mother of All Questions

The Mother of All Questions
by Rebecca Solnit

Rebecca Solnit is renowned for her glistening wit and infra-insights on feminism, social change, hope, etc. Her newest release, The Mother of All Questions, offers invaluable commentary on the gender binary, violence, rape jokes, and women who refuse to be silenced. For socio-political bellyaches, Solnit’s clear and calm essays are exactly what the M.D. recommends.


Olga and the Smelly Thing From Nowhere

Olga and the Smelly Thing From Nowhere
by Elise Gravel

A store favourite, Montreal author and illustrator Elise Gravel has written many excellent books for children, including The Cranky Ballerina and the Disgusting Critter series. Her newest book is the “observation notebook” of Olga, a grumpy kid “so small [she] can see inside everyone else’s nostrils.” With characteristic kookiness and heart, Gravel brings us into her world of pure fun.


Taduno’s Song

Taduno’s Song
by Odafe Atogun

Taduno’s Song is the debut novel from Odafe Atogun, an exciting, new literary voice. Indirectly based on the life of Nigerian musical sensation Fela Kuti, Taduno’s Song catches its titular character returning from exile only to find that his girlfriend has been abducted by government agents. Taduno is soon torn between standing up to the oppressive or saving his love; to sing for the heart or for his people.


š! #27 'BFF'

š! #27 'BFF'
edited by David Schilter, Sanita Muižniece

Kuš! is a comics/art anthology out of Latvia, collecting comics from both Latvian and international artists on a certain theme. This installments theme? Best Friends Forever! Featuring an adorable cover from Hironori Kikuchi, š! #27 is thematically consistent yet stylistically—wonderfully—varied, hopscotching from the moody to the zany, with art from Lukas Weidinger and Tor Brandt to deadtheduck and Derrengueta, amongst others


Librairie Drawn & Quarterly links:

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


also at Largehearted Boy:

Support the Largehearted Boy website

other Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week

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


Shorties (Pulitzer Prize for Fiction Odds, Stream Vic Chesnutt's Cover of R.E.M.'s "Everybody Hurts," and more)

The Chicago Tribune shared odds for this year's Pulitzer Prize for fiction.


Stream Vic Chesnutt's cover of R.E.M.'s "Everybody Hurts."


Stream two new Big Walnuts Yonder (the band features Nels Cline, Mike, Watt, and Greg Saunier) songs.


Rare Bird Radio featured a conversation between authors Tobias Carroll and duncan barlow.


Jarvis Cocker discussed the music that has influenced his life with Pitchfork.

Cocker also talked to The Quietus with Chilly Gonzales about their new collaboration.


The Atlantic looked back on Julio Cortázar’s Berkeley lectures.


The Flaming Lips visited World Cafe for an interview and live performance.


The Paris Review interviewed Pénélope Bagieu about her graphic biography California Dreamin': Cass Elliot Before The Mamas & the Papas.


Stream a new Joan Shelley song.


Signature recommended books on the craft of comedy.


Stereogum interviewed singer-songwriter Mac Demarco.


The Millions interviewed author Brit Bennett.


Connect Savannah interviewed singer-songwriter Justin Townes Earle.


Full Stop interviewed author Samanta Schweblin.


Encore profiled MC Taylor of His Golden Messenger.


Signature recommended books to understand the Muslim experience.


MTV interviewed Phil Elverum of Mount Eerie.


Jeff Buckley: His Own Voice will collect the singer-songwriter's handwritten journals.


Paste profiled the band the Jesus and Mary Chain.


Claudia Rankine’s Citizen: An American Lyric has been awarded the 2016 Bobbitt National Prize for Poetry.


A huge Bob Dylan archive has opened in Tulsa, Oklahoma.


Esquire recommended recently published art books.


Regina Spektor visited The Current studio for an interview and live performance.


The Black Warrior Review interviewed author T Kira Madden.


The Moonlandingz broke down their album Interplanetary Class Classics track by track at Drowned in Sound.


Stream a new Alison Moyet song.


eBooks on sale for $1.99 today:

An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser
Ball Four by Jim Bouton
Claudius the God by Robert Graves
Hocus Pocus by Kurt Vonnegut
I, Claudius by Robert Graves
L.A. Son by Roy Choi
The Man Who Fell to Earth by Walter Tevis
Maurice by E.M. Forster
A Passage to India by E.M. Forster
Shoeless Joe by W. P. Kinsella

eBooks on sale for $2.99 today:

The Breaks of the Game by David Halberstam
Bruce by Peter Ames Carlin
Sacred Hoops by Phil Jackson
White Line Fever by Lemmy
Woke Up Lonely by Fiona Maazel



also at Largehearted Boy:

Support Largehearted Boy

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

List of Online "Best Books of 2016" Lists
Essential and Interesting Year-End 2016 Music Lists

Atomic Books Comics Preview (the week's best new comics and graphic novels)
Book Notes (authors create playlists for their book)
Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week (recommended new books, magazines, and comics)
musician/author interviews
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Short Cuts (writers pair a song with their short story or essay)
weekly music release lists
WORD Bookstores Books of the Week (recommended new books)
weekly music release lists


March 28, 2017

Book Notes - Hannah Lillith Assadi "Sonora"

Sonora

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

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

Hannah Lillith Assadi's moving and lyrical novel Sonora is an impressive debut.

Kirkus Reviews wrote of the book:

"A lyrical meditation on the confusion and awe of growing up that is made beautifully strange by the desert's haunting presence . . . both typical and painfully, relatably fresh . . . Lyrical, raw, and moving."


In her own words, here is Hannah Lillith Assadi's Book Notes music playlist for her debut novel Sonora:



Often when writing the first draft of something, I listen to classical music or contemporary classical, sometimes the same piece over and over, as if I'm trying to emulate the melody of something absolutely transcendent inside prose. This was the case with writing Sonora and what follows is definitely not an exhaustive list of all that I listened to in the years it took me to write and edit it and edit it again. The protagonist Ahlam is a dancer and her best friend Laura is a musician and some of the songs contained here are mentioned in the pages of the novel and some of these songs inspired scenes and some are so beautiful that I owe them a fair share of gratitude for their company over the years.

"Broken Bell"—Friends of Dean Martinez

A song I listened to often and on repeat in the first thrusts of Sonora when it was just a lot of word vomit on the page. The band is from Arizona, so maybe that has something to do with it.


"Once upon a Dream"—Mary Costa, Bill Shirley

This of all the Disney tunes I heard in my childhood still haunts me. In the book Laura hums this song from the early more innocent days of the girls' friendship to the very end when things have become rather gloomy. It's a song about loving someone in a dream before knowing them in life, and hoping that in life the dream love will burn as brightly, a premise that manifests itself rather darkly in the book.

"Blue American"—Placebo

This is another song Laura sings in the backseat of a car as the girls make their way into a night that will have disastrous consequences. In my own teenage years, I remember the dawn coming up in Arizona, listening to someone sing this song as he drove us home. The lyrics crawled inside me that morning fifteen years ago and never went away: "I wrote this novel just for you, that's why it's vulgar, that's why its blue, and I say thank you…"

"Gloomy Sunday"—Rezso Seress

An urban legend surrounds this song claiming it caused dozens of suicides in the thirties in Hungary. Its composer committed suicide decades later (he survived defenestration, only to choke himself with a wire in the hospital). It has been covered broadly but the original is the one I love most. There is a chapter in Sonora I've morbidly deemed "the suicide chapter", which ends with Laura mentioning this song.

"Pictures of You"—The Cure

I could list a few Cure songs (especially from the album Disintegration) here that inspired parts of Sonora. My father introduced me to The Cure at age five and told me I would love them one day. He was right. This sequence of lyricism and anguish from Robert Smith is still so beautiful to me: Remembering/ you fallen into my arms/crying for the death of your heart/you were stone white/So delicate/ Lost in the cold/ You were always so lost in the dark/ Remembering/ You how you used to be/Slow drowned/You were angels/So much more than everything/Hold for the last time then slip away quietly/ Open my eyes/But I never see anything

Ba Ba Ti Ki Di Do—Sigur Ros

This 20 minute instrumental album will forever be associated with the black Honda Civic I drove as a teenager (I still have the keys though the car is gone), my sun roof down, the windows open, the smell of the desert in my car. I used to say it reminded me of what the stars would sound like if they had a soundtrack. There is a scene in Sonora where the two girls drive into the mountains by night and an album Laura has recorded is playing which I imagined to be like this one.

"La Llorona"—Chavela Vargas

Laura sings this song throughout the book and I tried my best to write her voice something like Vargas' wild, supernatural resolution to her version when she screams (in translation): "If I have already given you life, Llorona, what else do you want? You want more?"

"Venus in Furs"—Velvet Underground

On my wildest nights that lasted far into morning, this was the song that despite feeling "tired, weary" like "I could "sleep a thousand years" still made me feel a little too sexy. I liked to imagine the girls in Sonora on their darkest nights swinging their hips to this far past when the party should have ended.

"House of the Rising Sun"—Jesse Glendon Tillers

My dear friend Jesse and I would sing her version of this song together, very, very drunk for whoever would listen on some of those nights mentioned above. We went through some shit together, some of which just may have made its way into the book, and hers is the voice that still brings back those times and can still make me cry. You may not know who she is now but one day you will.

"Kol Nidre"—Max Bruch

Laura plays this song on her cello for the narrator and it is playing in the end at their last meeting which I will not further embellish here. I am not religious but used to go to High Holiday services on Yom Kippur just to hear this performed.

"Windows"—Angel Olsen

I first heard Angel Olsen play live at Le Poisson Rouge in February 2014. I was floored by her voice as many had been before me. I listened to her album Burn Your Fire For No Witness nonstop for the next several months. Then in April that same year, a dear friend and one of the most influential people in my young life passed away suddenly. This was the song that in the few moments it lasted softened my grief because it was hard to be so sad inside something to beautiful. I had written a draft of Sonora which after that April changed to be almost unrecognizable from what it was and became more or less what it is now.

Piano Concerto No. 2, op. 18 (all three movements)—Sergei Rachmaninoff

My favorite piece of music in this universe and the next one. If anyone were to ask me what song, dance, book, film would I wish I could have made, it would be this. I've listened to this concerto while running, figuring out beginnings, endings, while writing and smoking furiously because there is nothing I could ever do that would be as good as this. I will never make something so fucking beautiful. Thankfully Rachmaninoff did. Also he died on March 28th, the birthday of Sonora, so in that minor way we are forever connected.

Piano Concerto No. 23 in A Major, K 488, Adagio—Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart 

The hesitation and longing in the duet between the piano and the strings reminds me of the feeling I have when I never want a book to end, a night to end, a love affair to end, or even this list which too must end.


Hannah Lillith Assadi and Sonora links:

the author's website

Kirkus Reviews review
Publishers Weekly review


also at Largehearted Boy:

Support the Largehearted Boy website

Book Notes (2015 - ) (authors create music playlists for their book)
Book Notes (2012 - 2014) (authors create music playlists for their book)
Book Notes (2005 - 2011) (authors create music playlists for their book)
my 11 favorite Book Notes playlist essays

100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads
Antiheroines (interviews with up and coming female comics artists)
Atomic Books Comics Preview (weekly comics highlights)
guest book reviews
Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week (recommended new books, magazines, and comics)
musician/author interviews
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Short Cuts (writers pair a song with their short story or essay)
Shorties (daily music, literature, and pop culture links)
Soundtracked (composers and directors discuss their film's soundtracks)
weekly music release lists


Shorties (An Excerpt from Hannah Tinti's New Novel, A List of the Best Hip-Hop Autobiographies, and more)

BuzzFeed shared an excerpt from Hannah Tinti's novel The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley.


The Guardian listed the best hip-hop autobiographies.


Stream a new song by Courtney Marie Andrews and Will Oldham.


Vol. 1 Brooklyn interviewed author Lance Olsen.


Noisey is streaming Wire's new album Silver/Lead.


The New York Times recommended Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan fiction.


Stream a new Guided By Voices song.


Melissa Febos talked to Bookforum about her memoir Abandon Me.


Stream a new Moon Duo song.


The shortlist for the 2017 Walter Scott prize for historical fiction has been announced.


Today is the 76th anniversary of Virginia Woolf's death.


Xiu Xiu recorded their version of Mozart's "Turkish March."


Elle UK recommended "woke" works of literature you need to read this year.


Esquire interviewed singer-songwriter Craig Finn.


The Los Angeles Review of Books interviewed author Kanishk Tharoor.


Paste listed the best Bob Dylan songs.


The Huffington Post interviewed author George Saunders.


Jay Som visited The Current for an interview and live performance.


Stream a new Slowdive song.


Electric Literature interviewed author Mohsin Hamid.


The Creative Independent interviewed Henry Rollins.


eBooks on sale for $1.99 today:

An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser
Ball Four by Jim Bouton
Claudius the God by Robert Graves
Hocus Pocus by Kurt Vonnegut
I, Claudius by Robert Graves
L.A. Son by Roy Choi
The Man Who Fell to Earth by Walter Tevis
Maurice by E.M. Forster
A Passage to India by E.M. Forster
Shoeless Joe by W. P. Kinsella

eBooks on sale for $2.99 today:

The Breaks of the Game by David Halberstam
Bruce by Peter Ames Carlin
Sacred Hoops by Phil Jackson
White Line Fever by Lemmy
Woke Up Lonely by Fiona Maazel



also at Largehearted Boy:

Support Largehearted Boy

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

List of Online "Best Books of 2016" Lists
Essential and Interesting Year-End 2016 Music Lists

Atomic Books Comics Preview (the week's best new comics and graphic novels)
Book Notes (authors create playlists for their book)
Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week (recommended new books, magazines, and comics)
musician/author interviews
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Short Cuts (writers pair a song with their short story or essay)
weekly music release lists
WORD Bookstores Books of the Week (recommended new books)
weekly music release lists


March 27, 2017

Book Notes - Patty Yumi Cottrell "Sorry to Disrupt the Peace"

Sorry to Disrupt the Peace

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

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

Patty Yumi Cottrell's novel Sorry to Disrupt the Peace is a brilliant, darkly comic debut.

Publishers Weekly wrote of the book:

"In Cottrell’s stellar debut novel, 32-year-old Helen is in her Manhattan apartment when she receives a call that her adoptive brother has killed himself… The real attraction here is Helen: her perspective ranges from sharp (New York is 'a city so rich it funds poetry') to askew ('People who call themselves photographers are fake... the real charlatans of our time. Behind a photo is a perfectly fake person, scrubbed of all flaws, dead inside') to unhinged (her adoptive parents’ grieving takes the physical form of a middle-aged European man who walks around the house and helps himself to pizza). Cottrell gives Helen the impossible task of understanding what would drive another person to suicide, and the result is complex and mysterious, yet, in the end, deeply human and empathetic."


In her own words, here is Patty Yumi Cottrell's Book Notes music playlist for her debut novel Sorry to Disrupt the Peace:



As I wrote my book, I swept up the debris of my life. I trimmed the candles, I polished the mirrors, I watered my plants, etc. The following songs showed me how to love the void, how to care for the void as if it were an altar or a shrine.

"On the Bound" Fiona Apple: This song has been with me for almost twenty years. How brutal. It sounds like Fiona Apple is having a meltdown at a haunted house and the haunted house goes on forever. The last lines are especially savage: "Baby say that it's all going to be alright/I believe that it isn't."

"Swordsman" GZA: Listening to this is like drinking a glass of ice water as you watch the world burn down.

"Something On Your Mind" Karen Dalton: This song sounds contemporary even though it's from the 70's. Karen Dalton was in possession of one of the best voices ever recorded. It sounds like something emanating from a musical instrument resting inside its case.

"Deathtrap" Gravediggaz: Creepy and fucked up, it's another haunted house of a song. I like how the words are clinically insane, but logical. A lot of my friends in Minneapolis liked Gravediggaz. I haven't met anyone in Los Angeles who likes them, but hopefully one day I will.

"Suicide Demo for Kara Walker" Destroyer: Political, dream-like, shifting, immersive, and co-written by Kara Walker, this is one of the best songs from the last ten years. Dan Bejar has such a pure and complete vision. I've listened to "Suicide Demo for Kara Walker" hundreds of times. There's a bitter quality in Dan's voice, which I love: "Four more years/Four more years/Four hundred more years of this shit."

"Holofernes" Grouper: A palate cleanser. Clearing. Claire Donato told me I should listen to Grouper. She was right.

"Stroke It Noel" Big Star: I love Alex Chilton. I was very sad when he died. I wanted to meet him and ask him to tell me my horoscope. That was a great dream of mine when I was twenty-five years old. I grew up in the suburbs and there was something approachable yet scary about Big Star. I can't tell if this song is a joke or what. It sounds joyful. I think it might be about masturbation while listening to an orchestra, but I'm not sure.

"The Message" Nas: This is one of the most depressing songs I've ever heard. I can't even explain why I think it's so depressing. Perhaps it's the Sting sample. Yeah, I think it's probably that.


Patty Yumi Cottrell and Sorry to Disrupt the Peace links:

excerpt from the book
excerpt from the book

Fiction Advocate review
Los Angeles Review of Books review
Portland Mercury review
Publishers Weekly review

Literary Hub interview with the author
Los Angeles Review of Books interview with the author


also at Largehearted Boy:

Support the Largehearted Boy website

List of Online "Best Books of 2016" Lists

Book Notes (2015 - ) (authors create music playlists for their book)
Book Notes (2012 - 2014) (authors create music playlists for their book)
Book Notes (2005 - 2011) (authors create music playlists for their book)
my 11 favorite Book Notes playlist essays

100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads
Antiheroines (interviews with up and coming female comics artists)
Atomic Books Comics Preview (weekly comics highlights)
guest book reviews
Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week (recommended new books, magazines, and comics)
musician/author interviews
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Short Cuts (writers pair a song with their short story or essay)
Shorties (daily music, literature, and pop culture links)
Soundtracked (composers and directors discuss their film's soundtracks)
weekly music release lists


Book Notes - Daniel Jose Ruiz "Coconut Versus"

Coconut Versus

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

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

Daniel Jose Ruiz's Coconut Versus is a moving coming of age novel filled with authentic characters.

Bruce Bauman wrote of the book:

"Daniel Ruiz, in taut and urgent prose, that often takes your breath away (like a punch to your gut), reveals the often turbulent life of Miguel Reyes as he navigates his way from confused child to manhood. With a cast of characters ranging from fierce to loving to humorous, Ruiz has given us an essential bildungsroman befitting America in the 21st Century."


In his own words, here is Daniel Jose Ruiz's Book Notes music playlist for his novel Coconut Versus:



Coconut Versus is a novel that really is about watching a character grow. It is about trauma, triumph, violence, sex, booze, and all the things that we like to pretend aren't part of growing up, and when you grow up as a ghost between spaces, well, there tends to be even more of the above to get you through it. I wrote the first draft of this novel at my MFA program at Calarts, so it really is a much younger version of me writing this, and as such, the music included is very much the music that my younger self would have favored. These are songs that I assuredly did listen to when I was writing this novel, and probably the first few edits as well, and each song also encompasses the specific locations of the novel where the main character, Miguel, finds himself.

1. "People are Strange" – The Doors
Exeter, California - This song captures a lot about that town and Miguel. It captures him perfectly as he feels strange at all times, but he is also aware that people in general are never as normal as we'd like to think. The 60s also never really left Exeter in some ways, and this is the kind of song that Miguel's father Jose would listen to and remember his own youth in those orange groves. It captures the nostalgia of a small town like Exeter, its haunting pull, and the almost surreal experiences and characters that inhabit such a place. Miguel truly learns that people are strange, there are many kinds of strange, and there is a great deal of loneliness and anger that comes along with being an outcast.

2. "Down Rodeo" – Rage Against the Machine
Tempe, Arizona - While it doesn't make a lot of sense to include a song about Rodeo Drive in the section about Arizona, the general feeling of isolation and the resulting anger matches perfectly with Miguel's experience in an upper-class environment like his neighborhood in Tempe. From my own experiences, there is a specific and unsettling sense of both betrayal and trespassing when a person of color with means enter into spaces coded as “white” and/or “wealthy”. One feels like they have “lost their roots” by escaping to some better place, yet this inevitably creates a false narrative that being a person of color must equate to poverty, and of course, the feeling of trespassing is ever-present when you are one of the few brown-skinned individuals in a location, or at least one of the few who is not at work there. These dual fangs in the heart lead to either sorrow or rage, and well, Miguel typically defaults to rage. A lot of rage.

3. "Mexican American" – Cheech and Chong
Los Angeles, California - This song (well more of a scene really) captures that sense of the dual identity of being Chicano/Latinx/second or third or fourth generation American. The line that never leaves me is “getting a B in Spanish”. While this is meant for comedic effect, this is exactly the type of media that Miguel's high school friends Smiley and Pesgato would subject him to in order to teach him how to be Mexicano. Miguel doesn't fit into what other Latinx kids think he should, and his friends do their best to fix him, even if they are unaware of the irony in it. For many, many second, third, or fourth generation Latinx people, America is their homeland, but there is a constant labeling of “other” where a Latinx cannot simply be “American”. As silly as the song is, it does capture that feeling of living between the lines, blending worlds together but really belonging in full to neither. A burrito is pretty damn American in truth, but then most never accept that since Mexicans (as in citizens of Mexico) would call it American and Americans would call it Mexican, just like Miguel.

4. "TV Party" – Black Flag
Irvine, California - What better song captures the consumerist ennui that permeates the modern collegiate experience? Well, at least what they show on TV. This is also the exact song Miguel would blast out of his car to annoy people. In Irvine, Miguel is a punk rocker both in dress and attitude in a suburban paradise, yet that paradise rings hollow. Miguel would rather just drink a few beers and watch TV as would most young men, but his friend Al constantly reminds him that there is a message to the song that Miguel needs to learn. If nothing else, it captures Miguel's lack of self-reflection at times.

5. "The Legend of Zelda (main theme)" – Koji Kondo
The 909 - It is hard for me to imagine life without this theme burned into my mind, and I know Miguel would hear this theme and think of his best friend, Scott. Part of Miguel and Scott's relationship is built upon the shared experience of video games, and as Miguel lives most of his life in isolation and shifting locations, the North-Star that is Scott exists because of this shared love. It may seem childish, but then for those of a tender age when Zelda, Mario, and Sonic were bursting into the fabric of American culture, these are not just hobbies but defining moments. It is easy to dismiss video games as mindless entertainment, and certainly some are, but at least for Miguel, a crucial and necessary friendship grew within video games. It is fair to say that without Scott, Miguel would have ended up somewhere bad pretty early on in life. This theme is so iconic, and for part of the 909 stories, it conveys that innocence of exploration in children, and how these explorations can be life-saving.

6. "Deceptacon" - Le Tigre
The 909 - Every coming-of-age story needs sex and love, and Miguel's lover, Sunshine, definitely listens to Le Tigre. This would definitely be one of Sunshine's anthems, and well, the song is a wonderful post-punk jam with a nice dose of feminist octane. Sunshine is that post-punk girl. She is low-key annoyed by Miguel's taste in metal, and her aggression is more veiled behind manic energy and a deceptive first impression. She is a sexual creature with no reservations, but she also knows that sex is a power play. As Sunshine is the defining love of Miguel's life, it is only fitting then for this song to be in rotation, especially in the last few chapters. A good playlist ends on a thumper anyway.


Daniel Jose Ruiz and Coconut Versus links:

the author's website


also at Largehearted Boy:

Support the Largehearted Boy website

List of Online "Best Books of 2016" Lists

Book Notes (2015 - ) (authors create music playlists for their book)
Book Notes (2012 - 2014) (authors create music playlists for their book)
Book Notes (2005 - 2011) (authors create music playlists for their book)
my 11 favorite Book Notes playlist essays

100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads
Antiheroines (interviews with up and coming female comics artists)
Atomic Books Comics Preview (weekly comics highlights)
guest book reviews
Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week (recommended new books, magazines, and comics)
musician/author interviews
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Short Cuts (writers pair a song with their short story or essay)
Shorties (daily music, literature, and pop culture links)
Soundtracked (composers and directors discuss their film's soundtracks)
weekly music release lists


Shorties (An Interview with Joan Didion, The Best Music Documentaries on Netflix, and more)

Belletrist interviewed author Joan Didion.


Paste recommended the best music documentaries streaming on Netflix.


BOMB features a conversation between authors Belle Boggs and Mike Scalise.


Vogue previewed spring's must-read books.


Work in Progress shared a conversation between authors Teju Cole and Ishion Hutchinson.


Patti Smith has purchased the reconstructed childhood home of Rimbaud.


Electric Literature interviewed poet Morgan Parker.


Stream a new Land of Talk song.


VICE features new short fiction by Ottessa Moshfegh.


Stream a new track by the New Pornographers.


The Guardian profiled author Jami Attenberg.


Receive Passion Pit's new album for free when you support science.


Bookworm interviewed author George Saunders.


Stream a previously unreleased Mountain Man song.


The Guardian interviewed cartoonist Daniel Clowes.


Stream a new Marissa Nadler song.


The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel recommended the year's best new baseball books.


Uproxx interviewed singer-songwriter Craig Finn.


Emma Donoghue discussed her new children's book The Lotterys Plus One with Morning Edition.


PopMatters is counting down the best classic progressive rock songs.


RadioTimes recommended the best books by and about the Bronte sisters.


The A.V. Club is streaming Twin Cisterns' new EP Cloudspiller.


Cultured Vultures previewed April's best new books.


NPR Music is streaming several tracks from Bob Dylan's new album Triplicate.


Plus55 recommended must-read works of Brazilian literature.


Strand of Oaks visited The Current studio for an interview and live performance.


Fortune previewed spring's best nonfiction books.


Stream a new Perfume Genius song.


Cosmonauts Avenue interviewed author Juliet Escoria.


NPR Music is streaming Aimee Mann's new album Mental Illness.


Literary Hub interviewed author Geoff Dyer.


Stream a new Tiny Vipers song.


The Brooklyn Quarterly interviewed Lauren Elkin about her book Flâneuse: Women Walk the City in Paris, New York, Tokyo, Venice, and London.


The Creative Independent interviewed author Michael Stipe.


Full Stop interviewed poet Sasha Fletcher.


eBooks on sale for $1.99 today:

An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser
Ball Four by Jim Bouton
Claudius the God by Robert Graves
Hocus Pocus by Kurt Vonnegut
I, Claudius by Robert Graves
L.A. Son by Roy Choi
The Man Who Fell to Earth by Walter Tevis
Maurice by E.M. Forster
A Passage to India by E.M. Forster
Shoeless Joe by W. P. Kinsella

eBooks on sale for $2.99 today:

The Breaks of the Game by David Halberstam
Bruce by Peter Ames Carlin
Sacred Hoops by Phil Jackson
White Line Fever by Lemmy
Woke Up Lonely by Fiona Maazel



also at Largehearted Boy:

Support Largehearted Boy

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

List of Online "Best Books of 2016" Lists
Essential and Interesting Year-End 2016 Music Lists

Atomic Books Comics Preview (the week's best new comics and graphic novels)
Book Notes (authors create playlists for their book)
Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week (recommended new books, magazines, and comics)
musician/author interviews
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Short Cuts (writers pair a song with their short story or essay)
weekly music release lists
WORD Bookstores Books of the Week (recommended new books)
weekly music release lists


March 20, 2017

Book Notes - Phillip Lewis "The Barrowfields"

The Barrowfields

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

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

Phillip Lewis's novel The Barrowfields is an outstanding and richly told debut novel.

Booklist wrote of the book:

"In his evocative debut about disenchantment and identity, Lewis captures the longing of a southerner separated from his home, his family, and his ambition… Like fellow North Carolinian Thomas Wolfe, Lewis tackles the conflicting choice between accepting one’s roots and rejecting the past, and he does so with grace, wit, and an observant eye."


In his own words, here is Phillip Lewis's Book Notes music playlist for his debut novel The Barrowfields:



The Barrowfields is set in a small mountain town in northwestern North Carolina called Old Buckram. A young man named Henry Aster is the book's narrator. Much of the story is set in a hillside mansion described as a "monstrous gothic skeleton" made of iron and glass where the Aster family lives, and where untold mysteries reside. Henry refers to it as "the vulture house," and deep inside this labyrinthine structure is an enormous library of ten thousand books, along with a magnificent square grand piano at which Henry's father sits once he's finished his writing for the night and plays nocturnes that resonate with the dark soul of the house. This is in maximal contrast to what's happening in town, where locals play old-time gospel and bluegrass with acoustic guitars, fiddles, banjoes, and mandolins. Like his father, Henry learns to play the piano, and much of the music they play consists of beautiful yet brooding melodies that barely disturb the dark.

Doc Watson, "Omie Wise"
Doc Watson grew up in an area called Deep Gap, which is up in the mountains of North Carolina about 13 miles due east of Boone, and about 14 miles south of West Jefferson, which is my hometown. Born in 1923, Doc became blind from an eye infection early in his life. He picked up the guitar when he was a boy and never put it back down. Doc was the godfather of old-time bluegrass, gospel, and blues. He was respected and revered as perhaps the preeminent musician of mountain music. My favorite Doc Watson songs are the old ballads that tell some gothic tale of woe or murder. "Omie Wise" is one example, and "Banks of the Ohio" and "Tom Dooley" are two more. The story told by Doc in "Omie Wise" is, from most accounts, based on a true story, according to which a fellow named John Lewis (probably not related to me, but short of a DNA test, I wouldn't swear to it either way) who murdered a young girl named Naomi Wise in Randolph County, North Carolina in 1807. According to the story, she became pregnant and he drowned her in a river. Existing court documents from the time corroborate some of the details of the story. If I were to take you to Old Buckram (or to West Jefferson), we'd listen to Doc Watson on our way into town.

Frederic Chopin, Mazurka in A-minor, Op. 17, No. 4
This is a nocturne-like piece that Henry's father plays at the square grand piano in the great room of the vulture house. It begins with three simple notes within an A-minor chord, and then a sorrowful melody begins in the right hand, while in the left there is a descending chord structure that's almost hidden beneath the melody. The middle of the piece features a dance-like segment that is common for traditional mazurkas (a Polish folk dance), but which is out of character for the rest of the otherwise dolorous piece if played brightly in the usual mazurka style. I've found, however, that if you play it a bit more slowly with an aspect of melancholy, it gives the entire piece a sad, nostalgic quality. Thus, in the book I have Henry's father play the piece with "more sadness than the music required."

Led Zeppelin, "Tea for One"
"Tea for One" has to be the darkest song in the Led Zeppelin catalog. Written in 1976 for the band's Presence album, it's a grinding, searing, minor blues piece that laments the slow passage of time and not living up to one's self-perception. Robert Plant was injured in a car accident prior to recording, and accounts say that he did the vocal tracks for the album from a wheelchair. This song is a perfect accompaniment to the bleakness Henry finds in Old Buckram, where, at five thousand feet of elevation, the landscape is perpetually rain-sodden and hidden in the mist. One Saturday in late autumn, to escape his loneliness, he drives out to the Blue Ridge Parkway where he is alone in the world, and while on the road he drinks from his father's flask and listens to the whole Presence album at dangerous auditory levels, which is how this album may best be enjoyed.

Led Zeppelin, "Bron-yr-aur"
This is an acoustic instrumental in an open C tuning written and performed by Jimmy Page. When I was first learning the guitar and before I had discovered alternate tunings, this song became my nemesis as I tried to play it in a standard tuning, a feat which I now know is probably impossible unless your name is Leo Kottke or Satan. One night I became so frustrated that I contacted an overseas operator in Scotland in an attempt to get Jimmy Page on the telephone so I could ask him how to play it, but obviously the person with whom I spoke correctly identified me as a lunatic and disconnected the line. Later I came across the sheet music for the piece and finally learned of the open tuning. "Bron-yr-aur," named after a Welsh country cottage where Zep wrote some of their music, has a doleful, patient quality to it that reminds me of summer in the mountains of North Carolina. "Tangerine" and "Ten Years Gone" are two more favorites.

Frederic Chopin, "Fantasie-Impromptu" in C-sharp minor, Op. 66
The so-called Fantasie-Impromptu is an extraordinary piece that Chopin withheld from publication during his lifetime, possibly because he believed it too similar to Moscheles's "Impromptu in E-flat," Op. 89. The beginning and the end of the piece are tumultuous and dramatic, while the middle section slows to a sweet, simple melody with variations over arpeggiated chords. At the end of the piece, Chopin reintroduces the simple melody a single time in the left hand as the music fades to silence. Henry often plays this song in his house at law school while he imagines that his love, Story, might appear at the door and hear him pouring his heart out for her. Finally, he gets his wish and gets to play it for her with all the passion that he's imagined. The Vladimir Horowitz version of this song from his last recording session is the preferred recording.

Robert Schumann, "Kind im Einschlummern" (Child Falling Asleep), Kinderszenen, Op. 15, No. 12
I have always loved Schumann's Scenes from Childhood (1838), which comprises 13 short, connected pieces for solo piano with titles like "Blind Man's Bluff," "Knight of the Hobbyhorse," and "Traumerei" (dreaming or reverie), the latter piece being perhaps the most well-known in this collection. While in law school in Chapel Hill, Henry would sneak into a church after dark and play its grand piano while drowning himself in red wine. Kind im Einschlummern, a haunting piece reminiscent of a handbell choir, was a piece Henry would play in the church before finally being ejected one night by the caretaker.

Frederic Chopin, Nocturne, Op. 37, No. 1
I grew up with a piano in our family home, but it was, I came to discover, tuned a half-step down from standard pitch due to what the county's one piano tuner described as deficiencies with the sound board. Imagine playing the sheet music to "Moonlight Sonata" a half-step down along with a recording of the same piece (the sonorities are milk-curdling). Eventually I got my own piano, an 1888 W. W. Kimball ornamental upright that weighed in at about 850 pounds. Once, when I lived in a second story apartment, I had to move it in with a forklift. This piano followed me from place to place for a few years, including to law school, where it sat on the inside wall of the tiny house where I lived at the time. While at law school, I learned this particular nocturne because I fell in love with the slow and stately funeral march hidden inside the otherwise traditional nocturne form. It begins around the 2:35 mark in the 1965 Arthur Rubinstein recording.

Frederic Chopin, Piano Sonata No. 2 in B-flat minor (Mvmt III; lento) (the Marche Funèbre)
This piece is an honest-to-god funeral march. It's almost the reverse of the prior piece (Op. 37, No. 1), in that Op. 37 begins and ends with forlorn arpeggios that are more commonly found in Chopin's nocturnes while featuring a funeral march in the middle, whereas this piece begins and ends with a plodding dirge, but hides an exquisite nocturne-type section in the middle. In The Barrowfields, Henry learns this piece as a young man. Following the death of a family member, he absently but instinctively begins to play it one night in the vulture house, but brings himself up short when he hears the notes of its first dark chord.

Amadeus Mozart, Piano Concerto No. 27 (K. 595) (Mvmt II; larghetto)
Henry plays this beautiful piece as Story, his girlfriend, explores the Great Room of the vulture house. As the delicate music plays, she "tour[s] the room as if it were a museum, moving with balletic delicacy from antiquity to antiquity." I first heard this piece after learning about it from William Styron, who mentions it in Sophie's Choice. Including it here in The Barrowfields was a kind nod to the late Mr. Styron.

Ludwig Beethoven, Piano Sonata No. 29, Op. 106 (the Hammerklavier) (Mvmt III; adagio sostenuto)
As a young man (age 8 or 9), Henry begins to learn the piano in the fashion of his father, sitting alone in the Great Room at the center of the vulture house, playing mournful pieces by candlelight as his father sits at his writing desk in the corner of the library above. One piece Henry tries to learn after hearing it is the slow movement of the Hammerklavier, described by Wilhelm von Lenz as "a mausoleum of the collective sorrow of the world." This 18-minute piece set in F-sharp minor is remarkable for its length and its meandering nature.

Ludwig Beethoven, String Quartet in A-minor, No. 15, Op. 132 (Mvmt III; molto adagio)
If there is a more sublime piece of music in the catalog of classic music, I'm not aware of it. Henry and his father listen to this together at his father's desk while sharing a glass of wine (Henry is only 16) and Henry's father expresses a wish, now abandoned, that his own writing could have achieved the "perfect sorrow" of the A-minor quartet.

Frederic Chopin, Nocturne, Op. 62, No. 1
This is another beautiful Chopin piece. I often listened to this one (again, the Horowitz recording from 1989) to set my frame of mind for writing about the vulture house and the narrator and his father playing the piano into the night as others slept. It's one of Chopin's last compositions.

Dan Bern, "Estelle"
Dan Bern is a singer and songwriter from the west coast. His songs, often wry, frequently have literary allusions and content. His song "Marilyn," for example, discusses why Marilyn Monroe should have married Henry Miller instead of Arthur Miller, and he makes a compelling case for it (he'd have "tied her to the bed and eaten dinner off of her," is just one of the lines). "Estelle," in the same vein, is a sprawling, rollicking, almost-stream-of-consciousness love song that begins with the persona depicted in the song (hopefully, Dan) painting a still life of a throat lozenge sitting on a copy of Tropic of Cancer (Dan is also a painter), and later, after mesne topics, Dan is hanging out at a coffee shop "and this girl walks in and the universe kinda stops." He tries to paint her portrait but just can't get it right. Henry and Story listen to this song and sing it a few times after an adventure in the mountains under starry skies, as they drive down out of the mountains back to civilization.


Phillip Lewis and The Barrowfields links:

the author's website
excerpt from the book

BookPage review
Kirkus Reviews review
Publishers Weekly review

Signature essay by the author


also at Largehearted Boy:

Support the Largehearted Boy website

List of Online "Best Books of 2016" Lists

Book Notes (2015 - ) (authors create music playlists for their book)
Book Notes (2012 - 2014) (authors create music playlists for their book)
Book Notes (2005 - 2011) (authors create music playlists for their book)
my 11 favorite Book Notes playlist essays

100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads
Antiheroines (interviews with up and coming female comics artists)
Atomic Books Comics Preview (weekly comics highlights)
guest book reviews
Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week (recommended new books, magazines, and comics)
musician/author interviews
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Short Cuts (writers pair a song with their short story or essay)
Shorties (daily music, literature, and pop culture links)
Soundtracked (composers and directors discuss their film's soundtracks)
weekly music release lists


March 18, 2017

Atomic Books Comics Preview - March 18, 2017

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

Benn Ray is the owner of Atomic Books, an independent bookstore in Baltimore. He also runs the Mutant Funnies Tumblr.

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.


American Gods Shadows #1

American Gods Shadows #1
by Neil Gaiman / P. Craig Russell

In advance of the much anticipated TV show based on the same source material, P. Craig Russell adapts Gaiman's hit novel American Gods into comic book format. Shadow Moon gets out of jail to find the life he thought he had waiting for has been obliterated and a questionable employment opportunity from the mysterious Mr. Wednesday.


Eartha

Eartha
by Cathy Malkasian

The wonderfully lush art of Malkasian tells the story of a woman leaving her island in search of dreams. Dreams used to come from the city and populate her land, but they're no longer showing up and she aims to find out why.


Gauguin: The Other World (Art Masters Series Volume 5)

Gauguin: The Other World (Art Masters Series Volume 5)
by Fabrizio Dori

The newest installment in Selfmade Hero's Art Masters Series focuses on Paul Gauguin. He discovers paradise and artistic vision in Tahiti, but back home in Copenhagen he has a wife who would rather not have to deal with him, tasked with selling his expensive work in a city that really has little appreciation of it and little fondness for him.


Haunted Love Volume 1

Haunted Love Volume 1
by various

Bringing together the vintage horror comics of Haunted Horror and the strange romance comics of Weird Love - the result is this collected volume of Haunted Love. Includes homages to H.P. Lovecraft and Edgar Allan Poe.


Madballs

Madballs
by Brad McGinty / Brian Smith

This oversized, hardcover, full color book collects the often grosso comics focusing on the disgusting toys that annoyed parents everywhere - Madballs. It's a fun, modern update on a nostalgic classic.


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:

Support the Largehearted Boy website

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

Online "Best of 2015" Book Lists

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)


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