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June 21, 2019

Susan Rudnick's Playlist for Her Memoir "Edna's Gift"

Lifelines

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

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

Susan's Eudnick's Edna's Gift is a moving and thought-provoking memoir that examines the author's relationship with her developmentally disabled sister as well as her own personal challenges.

Kirkus wrote of the book:

"Rudnick’s debut memoir examines her complicated relationship with her developmentally disabled sibling as well as her own tumultuous path to self-acceptance and fulfillment. . . . Rudnick is a talented writer, often displaying a keen ability to capture emotional intensity through concise prose."


In her own words, here is Susan Rudnick's Book Notes music playlist for her memoir Edna's Gift:



Music, and singing in particular, threads through my memoir. In my story of growing up with Edna, my mentally and physically challenged sister, singing folk songs was a way we stayed connected throughout our lives, even on her deathbed. The book is about how she was my greatest teacher, especially when I discovered my own invisible disability. Ultimately, it’s about the voyage from shame and inadequacy to self-acceptance.

1. My book begins with a quote from Leonard Cohen’s song “Hallelujah,” about it not mattering whether you choose the holy or broken hallelujah. My story is about how brokenness and wholeness are always interconnected. My playlist includes two versions of the song: one by Leonard Cohen and one by K.D lang.

2. A shout out to the Fireside Book of Folksongs, which is not downloadable on a playlist, but which contains songs like “Oh Susannah”, “On Top Of Old Smoky,” and “Twelve Days of Christmas,” songs that my sister and I sang over and over.

3. Joan Baez, “Copper Kettle” As a young teenager I idolized Joan, and when I taught myself to play folk guitar, “Copper Kettle” was a hit in my repertoire. Being a musician was a huge source of self esteem, and an antidote to feelings of inadequacy.

]4. I came of age in the sixties, watched the Beatles on Ed Sullivan in my dorm, and slept in a chicken coop at the Woodstock Festival. I wore out the Sgt. Pepper album, but “A Day In The Life,” most of all.

5. “City of New Orleans,” Arlo Guthrie. When Edna was older, she left the spiritual community, where she lived most of her life, and moved to a nursing home in Great Barrington Mass. She led a surprisingly independent life there. One day she called me and said she had called a cab and gone to an Arlo Guthrie concert by herself. She had especially loved “City of New Orleans.”

6. ”The Water is Wide,” a Scottish song dating from the 16th century, was the last song I sang to Edna in the hospital, when she was dying. At the time I didn't know it was the last song I would sing, and I’m so grateful I was able to. James Taylor has a gorgeous version.

7. “Let It Be” by the Beatles, hands down one of the most comforting songs I know. I play it to write, and to cry, when I need to remember loved ones I have lost.

8. “Wagon Wheel”, Old Crow Medicine Show. This song is so infectious, my body starts rolling and I start writing. “Rock me momma like a wagon wheel “ gets me into an altered state, where creativity can slide in.

9. As well, Motown in general and Marvin Gaye, in particular, get me there. Especially “Ain't No Mountain High Enough,” “Sexual Healing,” and “What’s Going On.” I write with my whole body. There’s something about a steady rhythm I can rely on, that allows the words to come.


Susan Rudnick and Edna's Gift links:

the author's website

Kirkus review

Deborah Kalb interview with the author
New York Times essay by the author
Pleasantville Examiner-News profile of the author
Spiritual Media Blog interview with the author


also at Largehearted Boy:

Support the Largehearted Boy website

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

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






June 21, 2019

Shorties (Titus Andronicus Albums Ranked by Frontman Patrick Stickles, The Plight of the Midlist Author, and more)

An Obelisk by Titus Andronicus

Alison Flood discussed the plight of the midlist author at the Guardian.


Patrick Stickles ranked his band Titus Andronicus's albums at VICE.


June's best eBook deals.

eBook on sale for $1.99 today:

Babel-17 by Samuel R. Delany

eBook on sale for $2.99 today:

The Surfboard by Ben Marcus


Paste profiled the band Black Midi.

Are they a noise band? Post-punk? Math rock? Post-hardcore? No one can quite work out what they are or who they sound like. Listeners have suggested everyone from Shellac, Slint and This Heat to The Jesus Lizard and Death Grips, and one YouTube commenter even likened Geordie Greep’s hair-raising voice to The Incredibles’ Edna Mode.


The Paraphrase podcast interviewed author Ryan Chapman.


Stream a new song by Caroline Polachek (of Chairlift).


BuzzFeed profiled author Kathleen Hale.


Marissa Nadler visited World Cafe for an interview and live performance.


Macleans.com and the Evening Standard recommended summer's best new books.


Rolling Stone profiled Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy.


Mental Floss recommended books by LGBTQ+ authors.


BrooklynVegan listed 2019's overlooked albums (so far).


Writers recommended beach reads at GQ.


Stream a new Sharon Van Etten video.


The Guardian recommended the best books on myths.


Stream a new song by Lina Tullgren.


Study Break recommended works of contemporary queer literature.


The National visited The Current for a live performance and interview.


Bookworm interviewed author Laila Lalami.


Imogen Heap played a Tiny Desk Concert.


The New York Times recommended the week's best new books.


World Cafe recommended Andean femme-fronted electro-alternative acts.


Kristen Arnett discussed her debut novel, Mostly Dead Things (one if my favorite books of the year), with the Los Angeles Review of Books.


Stream a new Joanna Sternberg song.


Words Without Borders interviewed author Jeet Thayil.


The Advocate profiled Son Volt's Jay Farrar.


The Los Angeles Review of Books interviewed author E. A. Aymar.


Stream a new song by Maraschino.


Book Riot recommended dark fiction magazines.


Stream two new songs by Luna.


Literary Hub interviewed author Mona Awad.


Aquarium Drunkard interviewed Steve Diggle of the Buzzcocks.


The Rumpus Book Club interviewed author Nicole Dennis-Benn.


Andrew Ridker discussed his debut novel, The Altruists, with Bookforum.


The Barnes and Noble Review interviewed author Ocean Vuong.


BOMB interviewed author Nicholas Mancusi.



also at Largehearted Boy:

Support Largehearted Boy

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

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


June 19, 2019

Catherine Chung's Playlist for Her Novel "The Tenth Muse"

The Tenth Muse

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

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

Catherine Chung's novel The Tenth Muse is timely, poignant, and captivating.

Publishers Weekly wrote of the book:

"Chung’s impressive, poignant second novel (after Forgotten Country) explores the intersections of intellectual and familial legacies.... Chung persuasively interweaves myths and legends with the real-world stories of lesser-known women mathematicians and of WWII.... Chung’s novel boldly illustrates that truth and beauty can reside even amid the messiest solutions."


In her own words, here is Catherine Chung's Book Notes music playlist for her novel The Tenth Muse:



Oh my god, can I just shout in to the ether how much I love Janelle Monae? The song I listened to the most--the video I couldn't stop watching the first year I was working on The Tenth Muse was Q.U.E.E.N., which is about everything I'm interested in, and which took my breath away on every level. It's got attitude, it's got time travel, it's filled with arresting images and ideas and plays with identities (and how we contain multitudes), the costumes are inspired, and the music moves from funk to jazz to rap, while the lyrics--agh, I don't even want to describe it, because I just want everyone to watch it and feel what I feel when I watch it. Monae makes so many big moves musically and lyrically, but all with a sense of perspective and humor, and she is so bold about playing with ideas about time, humanity, collaboration, self determination, image--to see someone execute something so ambitious and mindblowing so flawlessly feels both free and freeing to me.

Speaking of time travel and culture, one of my cousins got me into the Korean pop group BTS, and then I discovered pretty much all my cousins and my mom are obsessed with them, too! Their music and videos are stylish and exhilarating and surprisingly brainy: in addition to time travel and multiverses they play around with everything from the Icarus myth to neuroscience, and are packed with references to writers and thinkers like Ursula Le Guin and Nietzsche. Here's Blood, Sweat, and Tears.

One of the songs I listened to most was a recording my singer and composer friend Faye Chiao made for me. It was a cover of Adele's "Make You Feel My Love" (I know Adele's was a cover, too!) but I listened to it all the time, and that sense of generosity and wanting to give everything to another person just to make them feel beloved definitely made it into the book. Faye, who studied physics at university (female artists with backgrounds in the hard sciences, unite!), was also working on a song cycle called To See The Stars about stargazing and astronomy and the Hubble telescope, which I saw for the first time when it opened at the Einstein Planetarium of the National Air and Space Museum. I really love being close friends with such a talented and brilliant composer: I love getting to listen to what she's working on and to talking through the artistic process with her. Our conversations always feed my work.

Amy Winehouse. I will never stop being sad about her. I can't pick a single song! Back to Black, Love is a Losing Game, You Know I'm No Good, and Rehab.

Alabama Shakes "Hold On." Brittany Howard, people!

I spent a lot of time researching my book at The Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton where I met the composer Sebastian Currier, who was the Artist-in-Residence there. I loved his music and our conversations--he's a huge reader and brilliant on many topics, and I learned so much from the way he thinks about things as well as the way he approaches his work. Here's an excerpt from Theo's Sketchbook, made up of 13 short pieces that traces the life of an imaginary composer. Currier's ensemble pieces are also incredible.

Speaking of composers I met while I was working on the book: I spent a month in a castle in Italy at a place called Civitella Ranieri and met so many amazing people, including a woman named Ute Wassermann who has a whole forest of birds inside her throat. Seriously. Her work is gorgeous and unsettling and deeply strange. She's a magical fairy person, if ever I met one.

I wasn't at Civitella with the composer Du Yun, but I saw her perform at the reunion, and holy hell, you guys. I am still reeling. Her work is visceral, visionary, and more moving than I can properly express. Angel's Bone won the Pulitzer in 2017 and it is stunning. I strongly recommend you listen or watch the video, which rearranged parts of my heart and brain, and changed what I thought music could do.

Another favorite badass, brainy, brilliant composer is Kate Soper, whom I met over ten years ago now. I love everything she does, and how she does it--her opera Here Be Sirens is funny, moving, intellectual, just everything at once.

To go in a totally different direction altogether, The Bremen Town Musicians is an old school Soviet cartoon told in music based on the folk tale of the same name that my daughter is obsessed with, and I've watched it more times than I should admit. It's joyful and fun and gorgeously done, and I don't understand any of the words, which can sometimes be a great thing.


Catherine Chung and The Tenth Muse links:

the author's website
excerpt from the book

Booklist review
BookPage review
Kirkus review
Publishers Weekly review

Entertainment Weekly interview with the author
Largehearted Boy playlist by the author for Forgotten Country


also at Largehearted Boy:

Support the Largehearted Boy website

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

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


Heidi Diehl's Playlist for Her Novel "Lifelines"

Lifelines

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

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

Heidi Diehl's debut novel Lifelines is an arresting portrait of the confluence of art and family.

Publishers Weekly wrote of the book:

"Diehl finds the bittersweet heartache of retrospection, and compassionately explores how art helps heal. This complex, intimate story memorably portrays what it looks like to reckon with one’s choices and to feel both uncertainty and peace."


In her own words, here is Heidi Diehl's Book Notes music playlist for her debut novel Lifelines:



Music was so important to my writing of Lifelines, and I’ve really enjoyed putting together this playlist. (I love reading the playlists on this website; it’s interesting to think about music’s relationship to narrative and craft.) Lifelines tells the story of an American painter, Louise, who moves from Oregon to Düsseldorf in the early ‘70s to go to art school, and gets together with Dieter, a German drummer who is haunted by Germany’s history. The novel traces their time together and its fallout through the perspectives of five characters; the chapters move back and forth between 2008 and the 1970s, and between Germany and the United States.

These characters include two musicians: Dieter, the German drummer, and Margot, Louise’s American daughter from her second marriage, whose band makes psychedelic drone. While I wrote the novel, I was listening to albums that helped me imagine what Dieter and Margot’s music would sound like. I also sought out music that would give me a feel for the book’s settings—in particular, West Germany and Oregon in the ‘70s.

The initial spark for this book was my interest in the music and art made in 1970s West Germany, particularly the ways this creative work responded to broader cultural shifts. At that time, as the postwar generation came of age and demanded a change to Germany’s silence—and unspoken shame and guilt—about its crimes in the Holocaust. I was listening to “Krautrock” bands—those musicians whose experiments with form and sound intertwined with the call for public atonement and remorse.

Since the book moves between different times and places, it was helpful to have a song as a signpost, a way in to writing a setting or a character’s perspective. This playlist reflects the book’s nonlinear structure; I’m fascinated by the ways that time periods speak to each other, and the ways that memory and history weave their way into present time.


Lifelines playlist


1. Popol Vuh, Morgengruss

I love Popol Vuh’s music, and I love the films that this band scored, working in fruitful tandem with Werner Herzog. These films grapple with history, obsession, landscape, the very personal and slippery nature of truth—all things I was thinking about while writing Lifelines.

2. Neu!, Isi

A Düsseldorf band—their name is a very literal reflection of what was going on culturally in West Germany at the time. I find something optimistic in the music—yet still searching, still finding the way.

3. Pharoah Sanders, Astral Traveling

Dieter, the German drummer, is haunted by his country’s history, and the emotional quality of free jazz gives him a visceral outlet. I imagined him playing the album Thembi for the American painter, Louise, when they’d first met in Dusseldorf, offering connection to her homeland, and with this track, a little dreaminess to their evening together.

4. Kraftwerk, Tanzmusik

An early Kraftwerk song, the sound more delicate and wistful than the band’s later tunes. This sounds to me like the anthem of young Louise’s first days in Düsseldorf, and I used it to get my head into writing that time and place. The song helped me tap the hope and trepidation Louise felt in this unknown space. I visited Düsseldorf while writing the novel, and tracked down the street where Kraftwerk’s Kling Klang studio had once been located. The city street was solidly in the present, busy with a work day, with no trace of its wild history. I peeked into the courtyard, imagining.

5. Grateful Dead, China Cat Sunflower – Live in Paris 1972 Version

I have a complicated relationship with the Grateful Dead, though I’ve come a long way since my teenage days going to punk shows at the local community center. It was actually my time as a noise musician that introduced me to people who understood the Dead in a context beyond the stoned jocks at my high school, which broadened my perspective. And it’s really impossible to write about Oregon in the ‘70s without them. Louise and Dieter go to the Dead’s concert in Düsseldorf in 1972. Listening to the recordings of the Europe ‘72 tour helped me write about the culture clash at the heart of Lifelines—this American watching her hippie compatriots alongside Germans discreetly feeling the music. True Deadheads would tell you that the band peaked later, but here both the crazy sound system and the enormous amounts of LSD ingested by the band on this tour make this song pretty far out.

6. Can, Mother Sky

Joel is Margot the noise musician’s boyfriend, and one of the book’s record freaks; as he says, Mother Sky is probably the greatest song of all time. I imagined this was playing during a pivotal scene on a dance floor in Düsseldorf in 1973.

7. The Doors, Waiting for the Sun

Richard is Louise’s second husband; he is left home alone in Oregon while she returns to Germany and her estranged ex-husband Dieter’s family in 2008. This album is a good one to blast in the car while he drives around Eugene, brooding about his wife and their complicated romantic history.

8. Amon Düül II, Archangel Thunderbird

Another banger. I think this is what Dieter’s band Astral Gruppe sounds like at their best, minus the vocals, which in Astral Gruppe are much less remarkable than Renate Knaup’s transfixing work here in Amon Düül II.

9. The Everly Brothers, I Wonder If I Care as Much

A sweet, sad song from the album Roots—a country departure from the Everlys’ earlier, poppier releases, still making great use of their signature blood harmony. This album came after a difficult period. I’m drawn to these kinds of stories of musicians and bands —the music made to score a time of personal upheaval and change—and I was thinking about that as I developed my characters’ creative work.

10. Don Cherry, Resa

While writing, I was listening to recordings of Don Cherry’s concert with Terry Riley in Cologne in 1975, and I imagined Dieter going to the concert and finding inspiration. This song is from Cherry’s album Organic Music Society, released around the same time as Dieter would have encountered his work.

11. Starving Weirdos, Meditator

Margot is in a drone band in the 2008 chapters. In thinking about what their music would sound like, I mined my memories of making music in the 2000s: private press CD-Rs, cassette labels, mail-order distros. Line-6 pedals and threadbare touring, fleeting acquaintances with people and places, and throughout it all, a sense of possibility that just outweighed my sense that none of it was going to last.

12. Fleetwood Mac, Honey Hi

My favorite Fleetwood Mac song: to my mind, Christine McVie is criminally underappreciated next to the bigger personalities in the band (though they deserve our respect, too). Fleetwood Mac inspired me as I wrote the book—the physical and emotional landscapes of the West Coast in the ‘70s.

13. Ashra, Deep Distance

Much of the time I was writing in silence, but sometimes, especially during the first draft, I needed something wordless and fluid to set a rhythm. This solo work by Manuel Göttsching of Ash Ra Tempel also gave me a window to 1970s West Germany.

14. African Head Charge, Off the Beaten Track

This track inspired another important scene on a dance floor, this time in Berlin in 2008.

15. Cat Stevens, Wild World

Part of the fun of writing this book was getting to think about questions like, what song would be played on an acoustic guitar by the campfire at a clothing-optional hot springs in central Oregon in 1978?

16. GAS, Gas 5

I felt I couldn’t write about Germany without at least a little bit of techno, so I had the characters go dancing at a throbbing nightclub in Berlin in 2008. Techno is central to German culture and has often come up in my visits there. For example, one of my extended cousins put giant speakers and a fog machine on a float pulled by his father’s tractor in the harvest parade in the small town where my grandmother was born.

Or the time when, on tour in Germany, my bandmates and I arrived in Hamburg a day early for our show. We’d heard of a giant techno party, and though we were intrigued in an anthropological sense we mentioned it to our host in cautious terms. He was the promoter at an avant-garde art space, and he’d booked us, a noise band, to play there. We thought he might be disdainful of techno’s mass-market appeal. But he wasn’t. “Techno party? We are all going to the techno party,” he told us matter-of-factly. Like, why were we even asking?

17. Cluster, Ho Renomo

A little more Krautrock to close things out.


Heidi Diehl and Lifelines links:

Kirkus review
Publishers Weekly review

Saratoga Living interview with the author


also at Largehearted Boy:

Support the Largehearted Boy website

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

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


Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week - June 19, 2019

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.


TITLE

Hot Comb by Ebony Flowers

So excited for this expressive and generous collection of short connected stories attentive to black girls’ and women’s relationship to their hair. It features the salons, the products, the hairstyles, the peer pressure, the connotations of hair, its texture, shape, and care. Ebony Flower’s watercolour-stroked drawings in blacks, whites, and greys show movement and form with effortless style.


A Sand Book

A Sand Book by Ariana Reines

With only Kim Gordon’s commanding words - “mind-blowing” - at the back of the book, Ariana Reines’s latest book of poetry A Sand Book is much-anticipated and shines golden like the sun. Tackling our present days with a fresh and decisive voice, she recounts, conveys, feels, and associates with enthusiastic spirit that is all her own.


Penny Nichols

Penny Nichols by MK Reed

This story follows the titular Penny Nichols as a bored and aimless temp professional. Her trajectory drastically shifts when she becomes part of a horror movie production - the ragtag team has energy, enthusiasm, and no budget. A book for the imaginative spirits that need to, must, make their visions of the future come to life.


Oval

Oval by Elvia Wilk

Set in a near-future Berlin, Oval is a penetrative look at what is to come. Wilk imagines the city as a place where artists are hired by corporations as consultants, and the price of housing sky-rockets in the name of “sustainability”. This is one to curl up with and steel oneself for the impending future.


Maiden, mother, crone: fantastical trans femmes

Maiden, mother, crone: fantastical trans femmes ed. Gwen Benaway

Proudly recognized as the first anthology by trans femme authors writing in magic and fantasy, Maiden, mother, crone offers a groundbreaking collection featuring trans heroines. With stories by Gwen Benaway, Casey Plett, Kai Cheng Thom, among many others, we encounter worlds and languages that stir the spirit with visionary imagination.


Librairie Drawn & Quarterly links:

Librairie Drawn & Quarterly's website
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 (Nicholas Mancusi on His Debut Novel, Six Covers of Television Themes by Damien Jurado, and more)

A Philosophy of Ruin by Nicholas Mancusi

Nicholas Mancusi discussed his debut novel, A Philosophy of Ruin, with Debutiful.


Damien Jurado shared six covers of television theme songs at Aquarium Drunkard.


June's best eBook deals.

eBook on sale for $1.99 today:

Inheritance from Mother by Minae Mizumura


Stream a new Sheer Mag song.


BuzzFeed shared an excerpt from Dacey Steinke's new book Flash Count Diary.


Stream a new song by Spoon.


Joy Harjo has become the first Native American to be appointed Poet Laureate of the United States.


Stream a new song by the Hold Steady.


The Guardian recommended the best books about cults.


Amazon listed the year's best books so far.


Sun Kil Moon covered Minnie Riperton’s “Lovin’ You.”


The Daily Iowan profiled author Lucy Ives.


Full Stop interviewed author Brian Evenson.


The OTHERPPL podcast interviewed author Elvia Wilk.


Inside Hook profiled author Taffy Brodesser-Akner.



also at Largehearted Boy:

Support Largehearted Boy

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

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


June 18, 2019

Shorties (2019's Underrated Books, Julien Baker Covered Frightened Rabbit, and more)

Mouthful of Birds by Samanta Schweblin

The A.V. Club recommended underrated books from 2019's first half.


Julien Baker covered Frightened Rabbit's "The Modern Leper."


June's best eBook deals.


The Current shared video of a recent Jason Isbell performance.


Paste listed the best audiobooks of the year so far.


Stream two new songs by Steve Gunn.


The Oxford American shared a new essay by Mary Miller.


Stream a new Devendra Banhart song.


The Independent recommended books for summer reading.


Stream a new song by Luke Temple.


Stylist recommended LGBTQ+ books to read during Pride month and beyond.


Stream a new song by Jefre Cantu-Ledesma.


The Guardian interviewed author Taffy Brodesser-Akner .


Stream a new Purling Hiss song.


Aspen Public Radio interviewed author Tayari Jones.


Vol. 1 Brooklyn shared an excerpt from John Domini's new novel, The Color Inside a Melon.

Fiction Writers Review interviewed Domini.


Mona Awad discussed her new novel, Bunny, with Bookforum and Literary Hub.

Awad also shared a recipe for breakfast cookies at the New York Times.


Poet Dorothea Laskey shared an essay on creativity at The Creative Independent.



also at Largehearted Boy:

Support Largehearted Boy

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

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


June 17, 2019

Chris Gabbard's Playlist for His Memoir "A Life Beyond Reason"

A Life Beyond Reason

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

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

Chris Gabbard's memoir A Life Beyond Reason is a poignant and empathetic portrait of fatherhood and a child's life.

Kirkus wrote of the book:

"This is both a memoir of a child’s short life and a father’s journey from an academic who thought that love was a weakness to a thoughtful, questioning adult who values the capacity to give and receive love. Parents and caregivers will find plenty of inspiration in these moving, empathetic pages."


In his own words, here is Chris Gabbard's Book Notes music playlist for his memoir A Life Beyond Reason:



After my son August passed away in October of 2013 at the age of 14, I began writing a book about my life with him. It came out recently as A Life Beyond Reason: A Father’s Memoir. Right after he died was a time of mourning, as you can imagine. To divert my troubled thoughts, I started assembling playlists of new music, songs that had been published within the preceding month.

I had been out of touch with the music scene for decades. When I was younger, I had lived in London for about fifteen months, the Maggie Thatcher years. I’d seen performances by ska bands like The Specials, reggae bands such as UB40, and post-punk bands like Wire, Gang of Four, The Psychedelic Furs, and Echo & the Bunnymen. After my son’s death, I thought I’d try to reconnect, so I started regularly cruising aggregator sites like Clashmusic, Stereogum, Gorilla vs Bear, and Indie Music Filter. The songs I gathered I’d post as playlists under the title August’s List (augustslist.com), which I’d then link to various social media platforms. The songs on this digital memorial were ones I speculated my son might have enjoyed, had he gone on living, but I didn’t flatter myself too much about that. Occasionally, to create variety, an older song made its way in.

I would play these lists while spending long hours writing, month after month and then year after year. The story I was composing was overwhelmingly sad, and it was difficult to write, and sometimes I would be writing through tears, but music helped soften that sadness and lend it shape and purpose. Sometimes the songs themselves would make me weep, but at other times they’d pump me up.

The memoir was finished in mid-2018, but I continue to add music to August’s List, and it keeps growing. The site doesn’t have an eye-popping number of followers, but clicks and followers are not the point. Even if no one clicked on the site, I’d still maintain it. It keeps August’s memory alive, for me at least, and makes it seem he’s still a part of the world. Also, I’ve included a link on it to a local charity serving disabled kids, and a few donations trickle in, so it’s worth it.

The following are the songs that figured the most prominently in the writing of A Life Beyond Reason, although not all of them wound up being explicitly mentioned.


“Losing My Religion”—R.E.M.

This is the theme song of A Life Beyond Reason. It also had been my wife’s and my “Song,” our relationship song. R.E.M. released it a year before we were married in 1992. We definitely did not have it played at our wedding: no one at our nuptials would have understood why this was “Our Song.” Given this provenance, it had to be included in the memoir, and subtle references to it appear throughout. As its title suggests, the song is about letting go of dogmatic belief and instead embracing what the Romantic poet John Keats called “Negative Capability,” which he defined as being capable of living with “uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason.” “Losing My Religion” serves perfectly as the theme song because the memoir itself is about learning to live with ambiguity. Lyricist and lead singer Michael Stipe sings, “That’s me in the corner / That’s me in the spotlight.” But there’s no point in the listener asking, “Well, which is it, the spotlight? or the corner?” To demand an answer would be to miss the point. Even the opening line is unclear, but for a good reason. Does Stipe sing, “Oh, life is bigger”? Or does he sing, “O Life, it’s bigger”? At our twentieth wedding anniversary dinner, my wife and I debated this. Oh? or O? The interjection “Oh” meant that life was bigger than love, while the vocative “O” pointed toward love being bigger than life. Because of August and his medical needs, this had become the central question of our marriage: will life be bigger than love? Or will love be bigger than life? Which in the end would triumph?

“7”—Catfish and the Bottlemen

Because I was prowling for music while writing the memoir, songs invariably bled in. I included a reference to the Welsh band Catfish and the Bottlemen, specifically to their 2016 song “7.” This was not a reference to the dull studio version, but to the live, 4:24 minute one on Youtube. If every rock song were as good as this live version, the world would be a beautiful planet. Watching footage of the live performance, I get high. It captures the spirit of the band’s concerts, which are rowdy affairs characterized by human pyramids, fist-pumping exuberance, and fans like surfers riding atop the crowd. More importantly, as I was writing the memoir, “7” was useful for depicting the insouciance of a time in life when you just aren’t ready yet to take on adult responsibilities. The words lead singer Van McCann sings convey this sense of wanting to put things off: “And I’d beg you, but know I’m never home / And I’d love you, but I need another year alone.” That sentiment described my life before my wife and I had August. Prior to having him, I intended to defer fatherhood for as long as possible. I had great things to accomplish, many things to do before I allowed myself to be saddled with a kid on my knee. I would love my son when he arrived, but first I needed another year without him, maybe even two or three, to get things done. This song captured that spirit of wanting to postpone, to keep as many options open as possible, a typical adolescent stance.

“Pompeii”—Bastille

Lines from the 2013 song “Pompeii” by the London-based band Bastille became relevant during one phase of the narrative, the time when August was deathly ill. I’m by nature an optimist, but remaining in an upbeat state of mind was becoming increasingly difficult, considering August’s condition. The song’s lyrics reference Mount Vesuvius erupting in AD 79 and the nearby town of Pompeii on the brink of being submerged in ash and lava. Vocalist Dan Smith describes the dire prospect with the words, “Grey clouds roll over the hills / Bringing darkness from above.” One could hardly imagine a more dreadful realization, that everything is about to be obliterated. In that moment, Smith poses a question I frequently asked myself during my own cheerless period of watching August suffer: “How am I gonna be an optimist about this?” And then he offers an answer: “But if you close your eyes / Does it almost feel like / Nothing changed at all? / And if you close your eyes / Does it almost feel like / You've been here before?” And these lines would cheer me up somewhat because they reminded me that nothing is forever and that I still had some control over my own state of mind. Thinking that things are permanent is an illusion; it’s better to try to be flexible and ready for change. Unfortunately, these excellent Bastille lyrics dropped out of the text during the editing process and now sit as scraps on the cutting-room floor.

“I Thought The Future Would Be Cooler”—YACHT

The opening words from this 2015 up-tempo dance number by the Portland, OR band YACHT captured succinctly the spirit of what happened toward the end of August’s life. I had once been hopeful and idealistic about the future, believing that we as a species were on the cusp of a great leap forward. I had embraced the transhumanist dream of human perfectibility. Science and technology would make the world wondrous, and we would be awash in modern marvels. Then an ultra-hi-tech medical device was implanted in August to help with his spasticity. It started going south as soon as it went in, and horrors ensued. Our lives became like an episode of the TV series Black Mirror. That chapter of the memoir illustrate how the “cutting edge” can quickly morph into the “bleeding edge.” As I was writing this section, I couldn’t help recalling the lines lead singer Claire Evans intones: “I thought the future would be cooler, / I thought the brave world would be newer.” This was an understatement, to say the least. Still, it became my mantra. The future was not only not as cool as I’d hoped it would be, it was a friggin’ dystopian nightmare! These lines too, like the ones from “Pompeii,” dropped out of the book during the editing. Such things happen when attempting to write a tightly woven story.

“Awakening”—Aurora

Mentioning songs in a prose piece can be tricky. As a writer, I didn’t want my reader to put the book down to go listen to music. What writer wants the reader to put the book down? So, I included song references judiciously. The ones that remain did so because they helped illustrate a point or evoke a mood. One line doing the latter came from a 2016 song “Awakening.” “Aurora” is singer-songwriter Aurora Aksnes from the town of Os on the southwestern coast of Norway. Young, waifish, and Nordically blond, she sings this sad ballad with one of the purest voices I’ve ever heard. “Awakening” is moving and brilliant, but the lyrics’ meaning is opaque. One line though stands out clearly, a mother’s elegiac call: “My little child, please come home.” The line captured my wife’s and my mood after August was born with hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (H.I.E.), likely due to medical error. Because of H.I.E., our son would live with multiple and severe impairments during his fourteen years. “My little child, please come home” became a mental refrain as we struggled to get over the shock of what happened at August’s delivery.

“The Gold”—Manchester Orchestra

As with Aurora, I included a line from Manchester Orchestra’s song “The Gold” without attributing it to the source. But it’s a line about which no one would trouble themselves to invoke copyright. Manchester Orchestra is a band from Lawrenceville, Georgia, but they don’t have a southern sound or ethos. In fact, they draw their inspiration from the music scene in Manchester, England: hence, the name. It is one of my favorite bands. Lead singer and lyricist Andy Hull was a close friend of Scott Hutchinson, lead singer of the Scottish band Frightened Rabbit, who took his life in 2018. I listened to Frightened Rabbit a lot too while writing the book, but no song seemed particularly pertinent. By contrast, “The Gold” did. It comes from the 2017 album A Black Mile To The Surface and is peppered with coal-mining metaphors. The lyrics of the song consist a father-son colloquy. At one point Hull wails, perhaps in the voice of the father, but it could be in that of the son, “What the hell are we gonna do? / A black mile to the surface / I don’t wanna be here anymore / It all tastes like poison.” Perhaps that’s the point—ambiguity—the voice could be that of either one. These could have been my own ruminations when August was at his sickest. And the words, “What the hell we going to do?” particularly suited the part of the story describing how my wife and I had had to refinance the house twice to cover August’s medical bills. Bankruptcy loomed in our future.

“Passover”—Joy Division

What attracted me as a young man to the Manchester-based, post-punk band Joy Division was its minimalist sound—the slow tempo, placement of the bass guitar in the acoustic foreground, and stripped-down melodic structures featuring non-traditional and unexpected chord progressions. All of this generated a hypnotic, hallucinogenic, dreamy quality that was a relief from the bombastic histrionics of the punk band The Sex Pistols. By serendipity, I saw Ian Curtis and his band perform their last concert at the University of Birmingham in Spring of 1980. Curtis committed suicide shortly after, on the eve of the band’s first American tour. For years I pondered, “Why would a young man on the verge of celebrity kill himself?” Curtis was the band’s lyricist, and, in the decades following, I puzzled over the lyrics on the last album, Closer. After many years, I concluded that “Passover” was the most explicit of Curtis’s suicide notes. Three lines in it speak to the notion of believing one is protected when in fact one is not: “Safety is sat by the fire, / Sanctuary from these feverish smiles, / Left with a mark on the door.” The lyrics reference both the Jewish holiday and Exodus, when the Jews, captive in Egypt, marked their doors with lamb’s blood so that the avenging angel would spare their first-born sons. “Left with a mark on the door,” croons Curtis about his own circumstances, implying that the mark on the door provided him with hollow comfort. That line seemed particularly relatable regarding my wife’s and my situation early on in the memoir when we were expecting our first-born son. Our middle-class privilege lulled us into assuming that we were living with “a mark on the door,” supposedly protected by medicine’s best and brightest when we got to the hospital for August’s birth. We soon found out differently, that we couldn’t count on even the best and the brightest to look out for us.

“Life’s A Happy Song” – The Muppets

“Life’s A Happy Song” was part of the 2011 film The Muppets, which itself was a revival of the Muppet franchise. Sung by Jason Segal, it isn’t my favorite in the movie (“Man or Muppet” is), but August loved “Life’s A Happy Song,” and his taste in the matter is what counted. I liked it too because the lyrics describe the relationship he and I had. We were together a lot, and I needed him as much as he needed me. And one thing I appreciated about August was the fact that he greatly loved music. When he enjoyed something, he would throw his head back and roar with delight. Sometimes he would laugh so hard he could barely breathe. Over the years he had a number of favorites: he particularly relished Dan Zane’s “All Around the Kitchen,” Raffi’s “Bananaphone,” and Oscar the Grouch’s “I Love Trash.” These songs aroused him, making him kick his feet and squeal. To settle him down for sleep at night, I would put on Returning by Ajamu Mutima. (This is back in the days of CDs.) Mutima is a master of the kora, a twenty-one-string West African harp-lute. Returning isn’t necessarily a lullaby, but August loved the familiarity of it. Its first sounds would bring a smile to his face and make him relax.

“Burn It Down”—Linkin Park

After the debacle with the implanted medical device—the complications it brought about leading to August’s death—I was furious with the hospital and with the entire medical establishment, just raging with anger. My wife and I had fallen prey to smooth-talking doctors who stood to gain and an institution and an industry that had a vested interest in convincing patients’ parents to let complicated digital hardware be placed inside their children. Only later did I find out that the F.D.A., which should have been regulating the medical device industry, had been asleep at the wheel. Every step of the way with this implant had been a disaster. But it wasn’t just August’s ending, but also his beginning, that was an issue: medical error was implicated in both his birth and death. Credible sources estimate that tens of thousands of Americans, if not hundreds of thousands, die every year from medical mistakes. Medical error is reportedly the third leading cause of death in the United States. And yet, the house of medicine remains indifferent. After August’s death, I began listening to Linkin Park, a band from Agoura Hills CA. They had a harder sound than I normally liked, but suddenly that pitch of thrashing intensity made sense. Their sound and message were angry, and these now appealed to me. Soon their songs populated my iTunes playlist for listening when I went running. In one, the late Chester Bennington belts out the lyrics to “Burn It Down,” singing, “We can't wait / To burn it to the ground.” Hearing this imparted a lift to my stride.

“Love and Hate”—Michael Kiwanuka

London-based indie- and folk-rock singer Michael Kiwanuka has an affecting voice that cuts to my core. People might know him from his song “Cold Little Heart,” which serves as the theme for the HBO series Big Little Lies. His 2016 song “Love and Hate” was my introduction to his work. I chanced across it as a YouTube video of an eight-minute studio session. I discovered it at a time when I was wrestling internally, and the very title “Love and Hate,” which intimated a teetering between two extremes, struck me as a pressing question that needed answering. I was hovering, trying to figure out which way to fall: should I love? Or should I hate? My anger was still strong, but I was mulling over whether I could let go of it. Lines like, “Calling for my demons now to let me go” made sense as a message contributing to healing. And yet, this was counterbalanced in the song by another line, “You can’t steal the things that God has given me,” as well as by the chorus, which consisted of the repetition of the line “You can’t take me down.” The singer’s tone oscillates between acquiescence and defiance. Would it be possible to let go but not forget? Could I maintain a sense of righteous anger and a commitment to justice while at the same time forgiving the perpetrators of injustice? And then, in the eight-minute studio YouTube version at least (not so much in the “official” one), I heard something else even more striking: Kiwanuka’s mournful wail at the close, communicating deep emotional pain in a way I’d never heard before. That pain was my pain, and he gave voice to it, and this made “Love and Hate” the perfect song upon which to wrap up the memoir.


Chris Gabbard and A Life Beyond Reason links:

the author's website

Kirkus review

The Chronicle of Higher Education essay by the author
Florida Times-Union profile of the author


also at Largehearted Boy:

Support the Largehearted Boy website

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

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


Shorties (Damian Barr on Thriving Independent Bookstores, The 40th Anniversary of Joy Division's Debut Album, and more)

Unknown Pleasures by Joy Division

Damian Barr examined how independent bookshops are thriving in the age of online shopping at the Guardian.


The Independent explored how Joy Division's debut album, Unknown Pleasures, was made on the disc's 40th anniversary.


June's best eBook deals.

eBooks on sale for $3.99 today:

The Chicago Cubs: Story of a Curse by Rich Cohen
The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe


The Sunday Times listed the best books of 2019 so far.


The Fader profiled Sleater-Kinney.


Bookworm interviewed cartoonist Seth.


The Jawbox reunion tour has begun.


Damian Barr examined how independent bookshops are thriving in the age of online shopping at the Guardian.


Molly Parden covered R.E.M.'s "Losing My Religion."


Book Riot recommended emerging Irish writers to watch.


Stereogum reconsidered Super Furry Animals' Guerilla album 20 years after its release.


Ling Ma has been awarded the 2019 Young Lions Fiction Award.


Noisey recommended the week's best new albums.


The Chicago Review of Books interviewed author Kristen Arnett.



Dan Fox discussed his new essay collection, Limbo, with BOMB.



also at Largehearted Boy:

Support Largehearted Boy

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

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


June 14, 2019

Lauren Acampora's Playlist for Her Novel "The Paper Wasp"

The Paper Wasp

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

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

Lauren Acampora's debut novel The Paper Wasp is a a haunting literary thriller.

The New York Times wrote of the book:

"Take The Talented Mr. Ripley, cross it with Suspiria, add a dash of La La Land and mix it all at midnight and this arty psychological stalker novel is what might result."


In her own words, here is Lauren Acampora's Book Notes music playlist for her debut novel The Paper Wasp:



The Paper Wasp is set partly in Western Michigan, where the narrator Abby has been living a dull existence in her parents' house and working as a superstore cashier. She secretly creates detailed drawings based on her fantastical and possibly premonitory dreams, including one in which she reconnects with Elise, her former best friend who's now a Hollywood actress. When their ten-year high school reunion comes around, Abby works up the nerve to attend—and just as in her dream, she and Elise embrace as long-lost friends. Elise drunkenly extends a casual invitation for Abby to give her a call if she's ever in Los Angeles, and Abby subsequently takes this as license to fly to California, call Elise from the airport, and appear at the gate of her sumptuous home in Malibu.

The rest of the novel takes place in and around L.A.—Malibu, Hollywood, Santa Monica, Venice Beach, Topanga Canyon, Joshua Tree—and the music I associate with the book is the music I associate with Southern California. I traveled there to do field research, combining it with a family road trip to the Grand Canyon. On our travels, we passed through the Mojave Desert and stayed overnight in a tiny rusty camper in Joshua Tree. We brought along a "desert mix" of music for the drive, and the songs on that mix are inextricable with the experience of writing the book and strongly linked to Abby's character. Many of the songs are from the 1960s and '70s, and I think the book has a bit of a retro vibe. Abby is herself partial to music from that time because it calms and comforts her. As she reflects, while anxiously driving her parents' car around her Michigan hometown: "I played soothing music—Fleetwood Mac; Cat Stevens; Crosby, Stills and Nash—suggestive of an easier era, corded phones, and handwritten letters."

Many of the songs on this playlist (and many of my own favorite songs), tend to shift back and forth between minor and major keys. To me, these changes make a song interesting and emotionally affecting. The music seems to express darkness, despair, and longing at one moment, then shifts to light and hope with an ecstatic rise. I think of this musical change as reflective of the change in Abby's life circumstance: her journey from a grim existence in Michigan to the comforts and sunny promise of California. Also, just as Abby's moods are mutable, the mood of this book is ever-changing, from despair to hope, from melancholy to joy, back and forth. I think of The Paper Wasp as toggling between keys—darks and lights—and ending on a triumphantly bright orchestral swell.

"Crimson and Clover" - Tommy James and the Shondelles

This is the song that comes to mind for the scene in which Abby first sees Elise after ten years at their high school reunion. The swell of emotion in the music seems to convey the obsessive love Abby feels for Elise at that point. The slow tempo fits that moment of suspended time, when her senses become so finely attuned to every detail, when she experiences a swoon of sensory overload—"crimson and clover, over and over"—like a wave continually pulling her down. Abby is flooded with the vision of Elise in her starry black beaded dress, the scent of honeysuckle in her hair, all the sensuous parts of her and of their surroundings that come together and latch into place just right.

"California Dreamin'" and "Twelve-Thirty"- The Mamas and the Papas

The Mamas and the Papas capture the perennial excitement of being young, throwing off convention, and going west. These two songs form a pair in my mind, as they both utilize the minor-major key shift in order to reflect the change of atmosphere that comes with leaving behind a cold, drab place and going to California. As in the lyrics to "California Dreamin'": "All the leaves are brown and the sky is gray...I'd be safe and warm if I was in L.A." There's a sense of helplessness in the song, of being trapped by the cold and by the expectations of others, and dreaming of escape. "If I didn't tell her, I could leave today." This is Abby's state of mind at the beginning of the book.

Once the dream has become a reality, once Abby has actually gone to California, there's a shift in tone to celebration and joyous disbelief. As in "Twelve-Thirty," Abby is taken by the warmth and light around her. "Young girls are coming to the canyon / And in the morning I can see them walking / I can no longer keep my blinds drawn..." Abby is ecstatic to have escaped the "dark and dirty" place she came from, and gone through the looking glass to the California fantasy world of her imagination.

"Ocean Size" - Jane's Addiction

Jane's Addiction brings me back to my visits to L.A. in the 1990s, with my then-boyfriend who grew up there and who loved to surf and skateboard. We listened to Jane's Addiction ad nauseum, and Perry Farrell was a kind of symbol of the bohemian art life. Venice Beach was the band's spiritual home: gritty, passionate, and weird. This song in particular reminds me of Venice and of that particular phase of life, both for me and for Abby. It's full of youthful energy, the desire to embrace the infinite possibilities of the future, the wide expanse of the Pacific Ocean. As the song goes: "Wish I was ocean size...I want to be as deep as the ocean." As Abby sits on the beach in Venice at the lip of the water, she feels its power and her own.

"Message" - Harry Perry

Harry Perry is the legendary turbaned rollerblader who's been a fixture of Venice Beach for longer than I've been alive. He makes his way up and down the boardwalk, playing his guitar and singing his own psychedelic compositions. A similar character makes a cameo appearance in The Paper Wasp, and in my mind he's singing Harry Perry's song "Message," with the lyrics: "I've got a message, got a message, from another world, dreaming and receiving, I've got a message from another world." As Abby sees it, he's a kindred visionary, "deep within his own waking Spring."

"A Violent Yet Flammable World" - Au Revoir Simone

During the time I wrote this book, I watched the new season of Twin Peaks on television. As any David Lynch fan will tell you, watching Twin Peaks or any of his work is a uniquely immersive experience, with an atmosphere that lingers in the mind well after it's over. Lynch used the new season of the show to spotlight some of his favorite new musical artists, ending many episodes with a performance at the fictitious Bang Bang Bar. I'd never heard Au Revoir Simone before seeing them play "A Violent and Flammable World" on that televised stage, and I fell in love with the song immediately. It's complex and ethereal, and it's bound up with Abby's character for me. "Tonight I sleep to dream of a place that's calling me / It's a whisper / It's always just a dream / It's a funny thing / Still I cannot forget what I have seen / We fold like icicles on paper shelves."

"Inn of the Seventh Ray" - Eleanor Friedberger

The Inn of the Seventh Ray is where I imagine Elise taking Abby for brunch toward the end of the book, when she wants to be away from it all, and where their dynamic shifts in a lasting way. It's a restaurant high up on the hill in Topanga, with outdoor seating beside a creek. The wooded setting is beautiful, and it's furnished with rustic wooden tables and chairs, and decked with fairy lights and wildflowers. It's tucked away on a twisting mountain road that can be dangerous to navigate, but it's also a popular wedding venue and a celebrity favorite. And despite its laid-back, natural ambience, it's not cheap. Even when Elise says she needs to get away, she still chooses a chic place where she might be noticed. The lyrics of this song don't make a whole lot of sense to me, except for the refrain, "You promised to take me to the Inn of the Seventh Ray," with its spacey echoing reverb. Abby's opinion of Elise has already begun to sour by this point, and there's a sardonic, jaded quality to this song that fits the mood just right.

"Hey Hey, My My (Out of the Blue)" - Neil Young / "Into the Black" - The Chromatics

I associate Neil Young with Topanga Canyon and vice versa, and this song makes me think of Paul, the character in The Paper Wasp who lives alone in his cabin there. He's a documentary filmmaker, idealistic, concerned with social justice, and truth, and he purposefully lives in this simple cabin in the woods without modern technology, as if it were the 1960s. The Chromatics also do a gorgeously haunting cover of this song with a female vocalist, which changes the feeling completely, and gives Abby a claim on it. To me, the two versions are like a conversation between these two characters who share a mutual affection but have vastly different natures and purposes.

"Some Velvet Morning" - Lee Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra

This is such a darkly psychedelic, spooky, bewitching song, and I love everything about it. It begins with Hazlewood's driving, baritone voice, and then is abruptly cut off by an innocently tinkling music box and Nancy Sinatra's dreamy, slow-waltz chanting. It's like two completely different songs mashed together by interfering radio stations. The effect is destabilizing, and suggests Abby's vacillating mental states in the novel, her alternating moods, and the strange coexistence of her waking and dreaming lives.

"Paint It Black" - The Rolling Stones

I get a lot of grief for not being a huge Rolling Stones fan, but I've always loved this song. The lyrics are about depression, grief, and nihilism—but somehow the song also evokes to me the decadence and nihilism of the L.A. party scene. It has that minor-major key thing going on, along with a propulsive bassline and drums that make me think of reckless, self-destructive momentum. I associate it with the debauched summer solstice event at the Rhizome, with Elise's slide into alcoholism, and also with Abby's dark outlook and the spellbound purpose with which she carries out her carefully strategized final acts.


Lauren Acampora and The Paper Wasp links:

the author's website
excerpt from the book

Booklist review
Kirkus review
Publishers Weekly review

Deborah Kalb interview with the author
Largehearted Boy playlist by the author for The Wonder Garden


also at Largehearted Boy:

Support the Largehearted Boy website

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

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


David Carlin and Nicole Walker's Playlist for Their Book "The After-Normal: Brief, Alphabetical Essays on a Changing Planet"

The After-Normal: Brief, Alphabetical Essays on a Changing Planet

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

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

David Carlin and Nicole Walker's book The After-Normal: Brief, Alphabetical Essays on a Changing Planet is an inventive and profound dialogue in essays.

Publishers Weekly wrote of the book:

"In this winning collection of essays cued to letters in the alphabet, writers Carlin and Walker exchange personal reflections on the state of the planet today. [...] Carlin and Walker's enjoyable literary exchange will charm readers and leave them wondering which topic will pop up next."


In their own words, here is David Carlin and Nicole Walker's Book Notes music playlist for their book The After-Normal: Brief, Alphabetical Essays on a Changing Planet:


Our book is an A to Z of diverse topics and subjects—from Flying to Hesitation, from Bitumen to Vulture, Grief to Resist—that one or other of the two of us felt it was important to dwell with and consider, in these times of planetary change and challenge. If we had a song for every essay that would be 60 tracks—what’s that, a quadruple album? So we’ve chosen a ‘Greatest Hits’ approach, plucking out a few essays where soundtracks particularly strike us. Cue the stylus.

Atmosphere "Space Oddity-2015 Remastered Version" – David Bowie

DC: The original ‘man floating in space’ song from the year Neil Armstrong bounced on the moon. I was watching the event on the black and white TV in first grade at our primary school in Perth, Western Australia. Planet earth is blue and there’s nothing I can do… captures that feeling of disembodied detachment, as if we are watching the catastrophes unfolding on our planet from some distant space-station, tethered in a space suit on the end of an oxygen cable, with Hal the computer from 2001 slowly going crazy in our earpiece…

Albatross "Save It for Later" - The (English) Beat

NW: Ska bands don’t usually decry Global Warming but The English Beat, which, I learned at David’s beach house, is known as The Beat everywhere but in the U.S., is prescient. Who knew a song we played before we even knew we would write the book would give us the lyrics to the book:

Black air and seven seas are rotten through
But what can you do?
I don't know how I'm meant to act with all of you lot

Embroidery "Anthem, Live in London" – Leonard Cohen

DC: I say Leonard Cohen perform live once, in the days when he was old and would get down on one knee. This is the scene I fantasise in this essay as wanting to live in forever. He was so full of grace, having such a great time with the band and the glorious backing singers. There’s a crack in the world…that’s where the light gets in…is this the most beautiful lyric ever written?

Flying "At the Bottom of Everything" – Bright Eyes

NW: It is wrong to sing while the planet is dying, as it is wrong, to hold up traffic looking at a car crash. But you can’t help but look. You can’t help but sing. I’m sorry, I’m sorry. I’m watering my plants.

Kindness "Treaty" – Yothu Yindi

DC: This is such a great dance-floor track, at the same time as it feels like it should be the national anthem of Australia, since the number one thing in our country that non/Indigenous people are coming to terms with, as being so very far from what should be ‘normal,’ is the way we have behaved, over the past two hundred years, towards the Indigenous people whose land we inhabit. Negotiating genuine treaty arrangements has never, ever happened in Australia—there was always the sly myth of ‘terra nullius,’ which lingers even today—and this song is providing the call to arms and the soundtrack to celebrate when it happens.

Jerms "The Only Living Boy in New York" - Simon and Garfunkel

The news is on the TV. It’s on the radio. The news is on my Facebook. On my Twitter. The news is also on my phone. But also on my phone is the weather. I check Flagstaff, Salt Lake City, Portland, Seattle, Sedona, Tucson, Minneapolis, New York City, Reykjavik, Melbourne. It is expensive, both money-wise and fuel-wise, to fly but it is free to see the weather everywhere you ever wanted to be.

Voice "Wiyathul" - Dr G Yunupingu

DC: Dr G Yunupingu was an artist I wish I had seen in concert, before his untimely early passing. He sings in the languages of his Yolgnu people. He comes from Galliwinku, on Elcho Island, in Arnhem Land in the far north of Australia. Up there is strong Aboriginal country where outsiders need a permit to enter. I was lucky enough to visit Galliwinku in the 1990s on tour with Circus Oz. We flew in on an old DC3 and the circus played an outdoor gig on the footy field, before the whole community joined in and had a party late into the night. I don’t know Yolgnu languages, of which there are many, as rich and varied as those of Europe. Apparently Dr G sings here of the scrub fowl, calls like women crying, looking for Murrurnawu. I hope I’m not being disrespectful by quoting the song lyrics. When we went to Arnhem Land it felt like going to another country, but in fact it was our country as it had been and always will be. The ‘Normal’ that we are ‘after’ was such a brief moment in time compared to this fifty thousand years of culture.

Whistle "Son Volt" – Drown

I didn’t want it to turn out this way but that’s what you get when you drive fast down the highway in the summertime with the windows down. You wanted to stop driving but how else can you feel the wind on your face?

You "Utopia" – Bjork

DC: From Bjork’s 2017 album, and with the lushness of an ensemble of female flautists. It reminds me of Iceland, from whence this essay came, its big skies and volcanic plains, but also the song is like being immersed in the middle of a fragrant jungle, enlivened with countless creatures. It is like a grounded, all-tangled-up-in-the world response from a woman, calling out to the floating spaceman to return to earth.

You, too "Us Fish Must Swim Together" – The SubHumAnz

It’s lonely recycling plastic you know will still end up in the Pacific garbage patch. It’s lonely when you watch the bagger at Fry’s place a pound of butter into a plastic bag and then move on to the next bag. It’s lonely when you walk through the parking lot while someone idles his car while you pop into the store and he still idles his car as you pop out. But you can’t yell at the people all the time. You can’t even yell at yourself all the time. When sink or swim is the choice you get, you cannot swim forever. You need support to keep you alive. Us fish must swim together.


David Carlin and Nicole Walker and The After-Normal: Brief, Alphabetical Essays on a Changing Planet links:

David Carlin's website
Nicole Walker's website
excerpt from the book

Publishers Weekly review

Arizona Daily Sun profile of the authors


also at Largehearted Boy:

Support the Largehearted Boy website

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

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


Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week - June 14, 2019

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.


The 2019 Griffin Poetry Prize Anthology

The 2019 Griffin Poetry Prize Anthology by Kim Maltman

As this is being written, Kim Hyesoon (trans. Don Mee Choi) and Eve Joseph have been announced as International and Canadian Griffin Poetry Prize winners for their books Autobiography of Death and Quarrels, respectively. Excerpts from these award-winning books, along with those from the sparkling shortlist (including Dionne Brand and Sarah Tolmie), are featured in this anthology.


Red Ultramarine

Red Ultramarine by Manuele Fior

Manuele Fior, author of the beguiling sci-fi-noir graphic novel The Interview is back with a daring new take on an old tale. In a striking red-and-black palette and an instinctive line, Fior reimagines the life of Icarus and adds his own hijinks to the mythology.


Under the Gamma Camera

Under the Gamma Camera by Madeline Bassnett

“Must I learn / to love this weakness?” Published in a (typically) beautiful Gaspereau Press edition, Under the Gamma Camera is a collection of poems that contend frankly with disease. Bassnett draws from personal history to explore how disease is experienced in the immediacy of the body and at the clinical remove of diagnosis, treatment, etc.


Mrs. Everything

Mrs. Everything by Jennifer Weiner

Mrs. Everything is the latest novel from Jennifer Weiner, an outspoken feminist, NY Times Opinion writer, and bestselling author of 16 books. Weiner has been forthright in criticizing the “chick lit” label that dogs women who write accessibly about female experience, and Mrs. Everything is a page-turning generational epic about two different women who grow up in 1950s Detroit and eventually pass through the tumultuous Sixties and after on divergent life paths. It’s an undeniable “summer read” kind of book that asks fundamental questions about how a woman should be in the world.


Someone Who Will Love You in All Your Damaged Glory: Stories

Someone Who Will Love You in All Your Damaged Glory: Stories by Raphael Bob-Waksberg

The debut short story collection from Bojack Horseman creator Raphael Bob-Waksberg offers some of the same dark humour, absurdist whimsy, and poignant melancholy that the beloved show is known for. These offbeat love stories include: a young couple engaged to be married, forced to deal with interfering relatives dictating the appropriate number of ritual goat sacrifices for their wedding; the tragicomic tale of a pair of lonely commuters eternally failing to make that longed-for contact; and a struggling employee at a theme park of dead presidents who finds that love can’t be genetically modified. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll probably snort.


Librairie Drawn & Quarterly links:

Librairie Drawn & Quarterly's website
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)


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