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September 30, 2014

Book Notes - Kim Zupan "The Ploughmen"

The Ploughmen

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

Previous contributors include Bret Easton Ellis, Kate Christensen, Kevin Brockmeier, George Pelecanos, Dana Spiotta, Amy Bloom, Aimee Bender, Myla Goldberg, Heidi Julavits, Hari Kunzru, and many others.

Kim Zupan's The Ploughmen is an impressive debut, a magnificently dark novel that evocatively depicts the modern American West.

Library Journal wrote of the book:

"A fascinating first novel that examines the complexities of two men, opposites in every way, whose lives nevertheless intertwine. With such a strong debut, Zupan’s literary future looks exceptionally promising."

Stream a playlist of these songs at Spotify.


In his own words, here is Kim Zupan's Book Notes music playlist for his debut novel The Ploughmen:


I kept the proverbial wolves from the door for years working as a carpenter. On the job I could not abide music, too often heavy metal blaring from the radios of subcontractors. The din of snarling skilsaws and hammering was the only music I could think in. It was appropriate to the moment. And in my office now, I really require silence; the faintest strain of classical music from another room is a distraction—an embarrassing admission, as my level of concentration would seem as fragile as a dry leaf, ready to disintegrate in a breeze. But music is important to me and the songs listed below, in the frequent and too-long interludes between bouts of writing The Ploughmen, acted almost like placeholders, helping me get my head back in the game when I could finally sit at the desk again.

When I mentioned to my youngest daughter, with some embarrassment, some of the old songs I intended to list, she said, "Dad, I love those songs," which leads me to conclude that I'm either hipper than I thought (unlikely) or I've succeeded in infecting her with antique sensibilities (almost certainly).

Ricky Skaggs (and Boone Creek): "In The Pines"
In my younger, rodeo days I listened to a good deal of country music late at night on long stretches of empty highway, but that music is almost entirely gone from us now: early Merle, George Jones, Johnny Rodriguez, Loretta Lynn, Charlie Pride. Much of what passes for country western music today is execrable stuff—a hybrid of bad country and worse rock and roll. I'd sooner listen to the squalls of a run-over cat. And the hats those guys wear—good Lord. But I digress.

While country has veered alarmingly toward a kind of featurelessness, bluegrass has remained pure and tied to its outland roots. Its quintessential form is the High Lonesome sound—lyrical, heartrending and mournful. If any one form of music inspires me it is the High Lonesome and if I can somehow get it on the page, I feel I've done good work. This cut is one of dozens from Skaggs that could be background music for The Ploughmen. ("Little girl, little girl, what have I done to make you treat me so?") His voice ranges from coyote to meadowlark to far-off train whistle and he can play almost anything with strings.

The Church Sisters: "Bury Me Beneath the Willow"
Burials—all, one might say, informal—play a role in the novel and this bluegrass classic comes to mind when I imagine these secret internments. It's been performed and recorded by many artists over the years but this rendition by the Church Sisters, young women with voices like angels sent down to bear someone up to heaven, makes the hair on my arms stand up.

Jose Feliciano: "La Copa Rota"
My Spanish at one time was passable but has atrophied to nearly nothing from lack of use. So I was forced to Google a translation of La Copa Rota. Some of the English seems odd and unwieldy but it hardly matters—the heartbreak of loss is telegraphed in this song regardless of language. The last line reads: "I want to bleed drop by drop the poison of her love." Not a thing wrong with that in translation. You'd kill for a line like that.

Wayne Hancock: "Thunderstorms and Neon Signs"
Wayne "The Train" Hancock is an unapologetic country throwback with a lot of twang and weeping steel. I listened to this song and disc unendingly for a while. It conjures the same kind of train whistle-in-the-night lonesomeness of the best High Lonesome bluegrass. One of the novel's characters, John Gload, drives through the vast empty night with bloody hands, listening to music coming faint and static-y through the radio speakers of his Oldsmobile. I imagined him listening to Wayne the Train, drumming his fingers on the wheel.

Frank Sinatra and Nelson Riddle: "Summer Wind"
I'm so enamored of the brass arrangements of Nelson Riddle, particularly on this disc (Strangers in the Night) that I'll sometimes tune out Frank (who's voice was an astounding instrument but he was, by most accounts, a total shitweasel) and concentrate on the layers of trumpet and trombone and sax. I've been taken with this song since I first heard it on the soundtrack of the terrific early Mickey Rourke flick The Pope of Greenwich Village. It always provokes in me a feeling of melancholy, not only because it speaks of the end of a romance, but also the end of summer, which for years has signaled for me the terminus of an all-too short period of writing and the beginning of Montana's slow ineluctable slide toward brutal winter.

James Taylor: "Don't Let Me Be Lonely Tonight"
This brief beautiful masterpiece of longing and regret features a short perfect sax riff by the great jazz tenor sax player Michael Brecker.

Bonnie Raitt: "Too Soon To Tell"
Some years ago I drove to from Missoula to the central part of the state to do some "visual research" for the book and on the three hour drive I listened over and over to Bonnie Riatt's Nick of Time. It was the fall of the year in the Missouri River breaks under a low grey sky and this song, a touching lament about being cast aside for a new love, found me, even with my wife and kids waiting at home, feeling very much alone in the universe. But it was a productive loneliness and helped me begin to get at the place where Millimaki, the young deputy abandoned by his wife, would have to dwell.

Susan Tedeschi: "Can't Sleep At Night"
Sleeplessness afflicts the two primary characters in the book, and is a kinship they share. It can be an awful thing, coloring even daylight a darker shade and leaving you unable to shut down the mechanism inside your head. This cut by the extraordinary Susan Tedeschi really gets at the ruinous effects of insomnia on a vulnerable soul. Her voice, which can swing from raw and raucous to tender as a child's touch in a heartbeat, just knocks me out.

Guy Clark: "That Old Time Feeling"
It's hard to imagine any writer— poet, fiction writer, lyricist—bleeding Weltschmerz onto the page more exquisitely than Guy Clark. This cut, like all of his songs, is poetry of the highest order. Here, that old time feeling "draws circles around the block, like old women with no children, holding hands with the clock" and like "the old wino praying he can make it ‘til it's dark." As in the best of fiction, his songs tell a wonderful story with vivid and elegiac prose, line after line through his entire songlist that would make a writer of fiction weep with admiration and, frankly, envy.


Kim Zupan and The Ploughmen links:

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

BookPage review
Library Journal review
NPR Books review


also at Largehearted Boy:

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

100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads
Antiheroines (interviews with up and coming female comics artists)
Atomic Books Comics Preview (weekly comics highlights)
Daily Downloads (free and legal daily mp3 downloads)
guest book reviews
Largehearted Word (weekly new book highlights)
musician/author interviews
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Short Cuts (writers pair a song with their short story or essay)
Shorties (daily music, literature, and pop culture links)
Soundtracked (composers and directors discuss their film's soundtracks)
weekly music release lists


Posted by david | Permalink | Comments (View)





September 30, 2014

This Week's Interesting Music Releases - September 30, 2014

Lucinda Williams

Lucinda Williams: Down Where The Spirit Meets The Bone

The Rural Alberta Advantage's Mended With Gold is my personal favorite new album this week.

Prince released two new albums this week, Art Official Age< and Plectrumelectrum.

Reissues include a remastered and expanded 3-CD edition of (What s The Story) Morning Glory? by Oasis.

What new releases are you picking up this week? What can you recommend? Have I left anything noteworthy off the list?


This week's interesting music releases:

Blake Shelton: Bringing Back The Sunshine
Christopher Owens: A New Testament
Curtin: Doghearted
David Byrne and Fatboy Slim: The Remix Collection From Here Lies Love
Electric Youth: Innerworld
Gerard Way: Hesitant Alien
The History of Apple Pie: Feel Something
John Southworth: Niagara
Kat Edmondson: The Big Picture
Lady Antebellum: 747
Lucinda Williams: Down Where The Spirit Meets The Bone
Luke Winslow-King: Everlasting Arms
Melissa Etheridge: This Is M.E.
Oasis: (What s The Story) Morning Glory? (3-CD remastered edition)
The Pine Hill Haints: The Magik Sounds of The Pink Hill Haints
Prince: Art Official Age
Prince: Plectrumelectrum
Puig Destroyer: Puig Destroyer
Raul Midón: Don't Hesitate
Robin Gibb: 50 St. Catherine's Drive
The Rural Alberta Advantage: Mended With Gold
Sick of It All: The Last Act Of Defiance
Steve Aoki: Neon Future
Tove Lo: Queen Of The Clouds
Trigger Hippy: Trigger Hippy
Witch Mountain: Mobile Of Angels
Yelle: Completement Fou
yMusic: Balance Problems


also at Largehearted Boy:

weekly music release lists

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


Posted by david | Permalink | Comments (View)

Shorties (The Weirdest Invented Languages in Literature, Stream the New Zola Jesus Album, and more)

Dazed listed the weirdest invented languages in literature.


Stereogum interviewed singer-songwriter Zola Jesus.

Stream her new album.


The Guardian Books podcast interviewed author David Mitchell.


Sylvan Esso visited the KEXP studio for a live performance.


The National Book Foundation’s 9th annual 5 Under 35 authors has been named.


VH1 shared a "comprehensive music blog genre guide."


The Tin House podcast talked essay writing with Ann Hood.


The Los Angeles Times interviewed musician and author John Darnielle.


Morning Edition interviewed author Eula Bliss.


Stereogum interviewed Elizabeth Morris of the band Allo Darlin.


Fresh Air interviewed Lena Dunham about her new book, Not That Kind of Girl.


FACT listed the best albums of 2014's third quarter.


Time and Flavorwire interviewed poet Saeed Jones.


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


also at Largehearted Boy:

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

100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads
Atomic Books Comics Preview (the week's best new comics and graphic novels)
Book Notes (authors create playlists for their book)
daily mp3 downloads
Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week (recommended new books, magazines, and comics)
musician/author interviews
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Short Cuts (writers pair a song with their short story or essay)
weekly music release lists
WORD Bookstores Books of the Week (recommended new books)


Posted by david | Permalink | Comments (View)

Daily Downloads (T. Hardy Morris, The Circus Devils, and more)

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


Today's free and legal mp3 downloads:

Circus Devils: "Eye Mask of Leaves" [mp3] from Escape

Jennifer Knapp: Set Me Free EP [mp3]

Lauren Brown: A Gift from Tennessee EP [mp3]

The Marivaux: "Come With Me" [mp3] from Come With Me EP

Mikhael Paskalev: Obscenic Sessions Live From St. Margaret's Of Antioch EP [mp3]

Morning Brigade: Grow Around the Bones album [mp3]

Shiloh: "God Is a Girl" [mp3] from Last Time for Everything

Split Screens: "Home" [mp3] from Before the Storm

Two White Cranes: Two White Cranes album [mp3]


Free and legal live performances at other websites:

T. Hardy Morris and The Hardknocks: 2014-09-12, Athens [mp3]


search for more free and legal music downloads at Largehearted Boy


also at Largehearted Boy:

other daily free and legal mp3 downloads
covers collections
100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads

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


Posted by david | Permalink | Comments (View)

September 29, 2014

Book Notes - Jean Thompson "The Witch: And Other Tales Re-Told"

The Witch: And Other Tales Re-Told

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

Previous contributors include Bret Easton Ellis, Kate Christensen, Kevin Brockmeier, George Pelecanos, Dana Spiotta, Amy Bloom, Aimee Bender, Myla Goldberg, Heidi Julavits, Hari Kunzru, and many others.

Jean Thompson brilliantly retells fairy tales from modern perspectives in her new short story collection The Witch: And Other Tales Re-Told.

Publishers Weekly wrote of the book:

"In this spooky, enthralling, and morally complex collection, National Book Award finalist Thompson…shows evil, wonder, and majesty…Thompson skillfully infuses our banal world of technology, reality TV, and pop psychology with genuine horror….as eerie as anything you’ll find in the Brothers Grimm."

Stream a playlist of these songs at Spotify.


In her own words, here is Jean Thompson's Book Notes music playlist for her short story collection The Witch: And Other Tales Re-Told:


While I was writing the stories in The Witch, I wasn't focussed on any particular music, in fact, I was trying to keep my head clear of a number of songs that wanted to take up residence there. Things like Disney soundtracks and a cheesy 60's song, "The Pied Piper", which even nostalgia does not make any better than it ever was. But here are some songs that I think bounce off the stories in interesting ways, and reinforce or expand their ideas.

1. "Nothing Matters When We're Dancing", by the Magnetic Fields. Of course Cinderella's gotta dance. And this does a nice job of conveying the real, if wistful, enchantment of it all. For a more tough-minded, country take on the story, try 2. "Hey Cinderella", by Suzy Bogguss.

3. Again, one story suggests two songs. My Little Red Riding Hood is up to no good on her bedroom computer, and "Computer Love" by Zapp and Roger has the right jittery, nervous sound. But I can't pass up a nod to the great 1966 novelty song, "Little Red Riding Hood", by the immortal (sort of), Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs.

4. "Bluebeard" by the Cocteau Twins. A dream pop version of the old story. Don't try to understand it, just sit back and let Elizabeth Fraser's voice carry you away.

5. "Are You Alright?" by Lucinda Williams. Quiet, mournful, a knockout song. Although it's addressed to an absent lover, it works just as well for a boy wondering about his missing mother in my story, "Three".

6. "I Follow Rivers" by Lykke Li. I love the energy of this, and the way it evokes journeys to far away places. My Pied Piper story ("Faith"), does not end well for anybody, but one always starts out a trip with high hopes.

7. "The Curse" by Josh Ritter. I'm a sucker for story-songs, and I love this weird, sad version of my own re-working of Sleeping Beauty. See also: 8. "While You Were Sleeping", by Elvis Perkins.

9. Finally, I didn't undertake to write my own "Beauty and the Beast"; Disney sucked up all the oxygen on that one. But I have always loved Stevie Nicks' song of the same name. She has a voice built for heartbreak.


Jean Thompson and The Witch: And Other Tales Re-Told links:

BookPage review
Kirkus review
Library Journal review
Publishers Weekly review

Largehearted Boy Book Notes essay by the author for Do Not Deny Me
Largehearted Boy Book Notes essay by the author for Throw Like a Girl

Omnivoracious interview with the author


also at Largehearted Boy:

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

100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads
Antiheroines (interviews with up and coming female comics artists)
Atomic Books Comics Preview (weekly comics highlights)
Daily Downloads (free and legal daily mp3 downloads)
guest book reviews
Largehearted Word (weekly new book highlights)
musician/author interviews
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Short Cuts (writers pair a song with their short story or essay)
Shorties (daily music, literature, and pop culture links)
Soundtracked (composers and directors discuss their film's soundtracks)
weekly music release lists


Posted by david | Permalink | Comments (View)

Book Notes - Susan Hope Lanier "The Game We Play"

The Game We Play

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

Previous contributors include Bret Easton Ellis, Kate Christensen, Kevin Brockmeier, George Pelecanos, Dana Spiotta, Amy Bloom, Aimee Bender, Myla Goldberg, Heidi Julavits, Hari Kunzru, and many others.

Susan Hope Lanier's The Game We Play is an assured and outstanding debut story collection filled with unforgettable characters.

Paste wrote of the book:

"Without glamorizing youthful malaise, her flawed but endearing characters bump—and sometimes grind—against each other, leaving the kinds of bruises that turn into lingering regret and inconvenient wisdom. In The Game We Play, Lanier manages to be understated and unflinching at the same time and strides forward with a confident, highly compassionate debut."

Stream a playlist of these songs at Spotify.


In her own words, here is Susan Hope Lanier's Book Notes music playlist for her short story collection The Game We Play:


To choose just one song from the artists on this list would be an impossible task. Albums for me are like a good story collection in that they allows for space to take pause and shift tone to visit similar subject matter anew. It's hard to say definitely how these records influenced this book at the time of these stories conceptions, but I suspect through constant obsessive listening they found a way of seeping in. These are the albums that were in constant rotation while writing The Game We Play.

Midnite Vultures by Beck
If this list could include one artist, that artist would be Beck. He's donned so many different hats in a career that has spanned a quarter decade, but he's never donned a hat better than the funk hat. Man, is Midnite Vultures groovy as fuck. This record has Beck playing an outwardly suave and cocky guy lookin' to pick up a nice young thing in his Hyundai. Beck is a party. That Midnite Vultures was followed up by the heart wrenching Sea Change only makes it so much better. Sure, I get that Beck is just playing a character here, but listening back to back Vultures feels like the fun time mask hiding his Sea Change soul. I'll always be interested in a good mask.

Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere by Neil Young & Crazy Horse
This record was about routine. In the winter of 2011 when I first started many of the stories that would become The Game We Play, I would put on this record every morning while making coffee. Then I would sit down to write. I can't say for sure why I liked to write to this record except that I would listen while staring out my front window down onto the grey slab of pavement between the coach house I was living in at the time and the apartment building in front of me. I'd often imagine Neil sitting at his own window imagining his perfect Cinnamon Girl. It got my mind wandering.

Steve McQueen (AKA Two Wheels Good) by Prefab Sprout
This record is cheesy as hell. When Paddy McAloon croons "You're not the first though it hurts," on the endlessly catch tune "Goodbye Lucille" it perfectly sums up the fleeting, albeit agonizing pain of first heart break. And there are other perfect nuggets of endearing earnest buried throughout this little-known gem of a British pop record. So I love it. Basically, go listen to this record now.

Slanted and Enchanted by Pavement
Some records can't be divorced from time and place. Slanted and Enchanted will always remind me of the youthful malaise I had growing up, when driving around the cookie cutter suburban streets of Northern Virginia looking for tacky pink flamingos to steal from neighbors lawns was my idea of an exciting Saturday night activity. Slanted and Enchanted was synonymous with slack and I was proud to be a gifted slacker, albeit one that maintained good grades and skirted trouble like a job. In the story "Night Hawk" when a two dead beat dudes have nothing better to do but score some weed at the local IHOP, I couldn't help but slide in a little self-referential nod to Pavement during the calm before the storm, just before real life manages to take hold and pull them out of their lackadaisical, self-induced haze.

The Kick Inside by Kate Bush
It may not be her most sophisticated record but The Kick Inside was my first exposure to the power-house that is the magical Kate Bush so it holds a special place in my musical rotation. Even at 19 Bush could make her voice jump two octaves like it's no big deal. Whether she was writing from the point of view of Emily Bronte's Catherine--such as in the break out hit "Wuthering Heights"--or singing odes to menstruation ("Strange Phenomena") and pregnancy ("The Kick Inside") Bush was making music well beyond her years. Not to get too sentimental or anything but as a young woman and a writer in a field that is professionally dominated by men, this record remains a reminder to always write what interests me. To hell with the naysayers.


Susan Hope Lanier and The Game We Play links:

the author's website

Newcity Lit review
Paste review


also at Largehearted Boy:

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

100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads
Antiheroines (interviews with up and coming female comics artists)
Atomic Books Comics Preview (weekly comics highlights)
Daily Downloads (free and legal daily mp3 downloads)
guest book reviews
Largehearted Word (weekly new book highlights)
musician/author interviews
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Short Cuts (writers pair a song with their short story or essay)
Shorties (daily music, literature, and pop culture links)
Soundtracked (composers and directors discuss their film's soundtracks)
weekly music release lists


Posted by david | Permalink | Comments (View)

Shorties (David Cronenberg on His Debut Novel, Bob Dylan Lyrics in Scientific Papers, and more)

Filmmaker David Cronenberg talked to All Things Considered about his debut novel Consumed.


The Guardian reports that several Swedish scientists have a long-running bet on who can sneak the most Bob Dylan lyrics into academic papers.


The Rumpus interviewed author David Bezmozgis.


Carl Wilson reviewed John Darnielle's new novel Wolf in White Van at Slate.


Aquarium Drunkard interviewed singer-songwriter Lucinda Williams.


SPIN ranked every Led Zeppelin song.


The New York Times examined Lena Dunham's whirlwind book tour for


The New Yorker profiles singer-songwriter John Vamderslice.


Paul Theroux talked to Weekend Edition about his new short story collection Mr. Bones.

"I think of my writing, generally, as being about the odd man out or the odd woman out, so it's maybe extraordinary people, but maybe also fantasies that I have. A short story is often the fantasy of a writer, as well as the experience of a writer."


NPR Music is streaming the new Ex Hex album, Rips.


Poet Richard Blanco talked to All Things Considered about his memoir The Prince of los Cocuyos.


NPR Music is streaming the new Foxygen album ...And Star Power.


The New York Times featured a new short story by László Krasznahorkai.


Max Richter shared a track-by-track guide to his album The Blue Notebooks on its 10th anniversary at Drowned in Sound.


Karl Ove Knausgaard's essay on International Ibsen Award winner Peter Handke.


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


also at Largehearted Boy:

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

100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads
Atomic Books Comics Preview (the week's best new comics and graphic novels)
Book Notes (authors create playlists for their book)
daily mp3 downloads
Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week (recommended new books, magazines, and comics)
musician/author interviews
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Short Cuts (writers pair a song with their short story or essay)
weekly music release lists
WORD Bookstores Books of the Week (recommended new books)


Posted by david | Permalink | Comments (View)

Daily Downloads (David Thomas Broughton, Neonheart, and more)

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


Today's free and legal mp3 downloads:

The American Spirit: James Street EP [mp3]

The Appeal: "She Loves Me" [mp3]

Career Girls: Going Deep... EP [mp3]

Cariad Harmon: "Like You" [mp3] from Cariad Harmon

David Thomas Broughton and Juice: "In Service" from Sliding the Same Way

Dive Index: "A Person to Hide with" [mp3]

Journalists: "Coffee and Cocaine" [mp3]

Neonheart: "Comatose" [mp3]

Will Winters: What's Left of Me Sampler EP [mp3]


Free and legal live performances at other websites:

Enemy Waves: 2014-09-05, Raleigh [mp3]


search for more free and legal music downloads at Largehearted Boy


also at Largehearted Boy:

other daily free and legal mp3 downloads
covers collections
100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads

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


Posted by david | Permalink | Comments (View)

September 26, 2014

Book Notes - Stuart Rojstaczer "The Mathematician's Shiva"

The Mathematician's Shiva

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

Previous contributors include Bret Easton Ellis, Kate Christensen, Kevin Brockmeier, George Pelecanos, Dana Spiotta, Amy Bloom, Aimee Bender, Myla Goldberg, Heidi Julavits, Hari Kunzru, and many others.

Stuart Rojstaczer's novel The Mathematician's Shiva is a smart, funny, and charming debut.

Publishers Weekly wrote of the book:

"High math, Eastern European history, and American culture converge in this hugely entertaining debut from geophysicist Rojstaczer….[A] multilayered story of family, genius, and loss."

Stream a playlist of these songs at Spotify.


In his own words, here is Stuart Rojstaczer's Book Notes music playlist for his novel The Mathematician's Shiva:


Lobachevsky, Tom Lehrer
I heard this for the first time when I was twelve on a 10" LP from the 1950s. I thought at the time that it was ancient, an archaeological relic. I listened to those clever lyrics sung in Lehrer's nasal, cantoral drone, and was mesmerized. The idea behind Tom Lehrer's songs is to be both smart and funny and to never hide your intellect. He's an inspiration to me and this tune about a fictional Russian mathematician was certainly influential in writing my novel in more ways than I can count.

Katyusha, Theodore Bikel
My favorite song when I was about three years old. It's a lover's tale. Katyusha, a girl's name, was also the nickname of rocket launchers used by the Soviet Union during WWII (the kind that Sasha's grandfather, Aaron Czerneski, helped to manufacture in the novel after Stalin "liberated" all Poles in the Soviet Union). I think I still have the scratched LP from my childhood. It's a joyous tune. I like being joyous. I was so happy listening to this song once that I jumped onto the marble coffee table in our living room and started to dance. The coffee table promptly snapped in two. I was mortified. My mom, though, didn't seem to mind. "It's just a table," she said.

Stracić Kogoś (Losing Someone), Czerwone Gitary
A hit song in the 1960s by a band that was the equivalent to The Beatles in Poland. It's about the loss of a mother and is featured in my novel (Governor Dombrowski loves this song). To an American, it might sound like a dirge with a depressing lyric, but to me (and more than likely to Poles) it's hopeful.

Octopus's Garden, The Beatles
And speaking of The Beatles, John Lennon one said, for theatrical effect more than likely, "Before Elvis, there was nothing." For me nowadays the opposite is mostly true. That said, I still like the Beatles. (How can anyone not like The Beatles?) The person whom Sasha is partly based on, more engrained in European culture than I was while growing up, loved this song. It's hopeful and whimsical. My novel is hopeful and a bit whimsical. It's a nice way to be, I think.

The Grass is Blue, Dolly Parton
Dolly Parton gets a cameo in my book and her song about needing to turn everything upside down in order to carry on is quite appropriate for my novel. It's a song that Sasha's aunt, Texas-born Cynthia Czerneski, would like as well.

Chopin Mazurka Op.50 No.3, Arthur Rubinstein
Chopin is a source of calm and spirit whenever I feel overwhelmed. I go back to his music and believe I can understand the value and glory of artistic achievement in a less than perfect world. Not coincidentally, he's the favorite composer of the best mathematician in this story, Rachela Karnokovitch. Arthur Rubinstein makes a cameo appearance in a draft of my next novel and I think the kid will stay in the picture.

Shostakovich: Symphony No. 5, Bernstein,New York Philharmonic Orchestra
Shostakovich was a magician for being able to avoid being sent to a gulag or worse by Stalin. Making just about any art is a compromise between the artist's inner vision and the wish to find an audience. It's a marriage and it can be a wonderful marriage. Shostakovich's most important "audience," Stalin, caused the composer to make extreme and awful compromises. I need him for perspective when I'm writing.

I Am Captain of the Pinafore, Madison Savoyards
I know people groan at the plot lines, but I've always found Gilbert and Sullivan's operettas amusing and wonderfully entertaining. There's more than a little Gilbert and Sullivan in my novel. This is my favorite song (which I once sang on stage, but not with the Madison Savoyards) from this operetta. If you need to introduce a major character in a story, you shouldn't be shy or sly about it.

Schadenfreude, Stuart Rosh & The Geniuses
The potential for schadenfreude, even from the grave, drives much of the action in my novel. By the way, in the 2000s I had a band called Stuart Rosh & The Geniuses, and our music still pops up now and then in Kentucky Fried Chickens and Tesco department stores in England.

Asante, McCoy Tyner
This album is talked about as a source of inspiration for Sasha Karnokovitch, but its title isn't given explicitly. Sasha remembers this album as he is walking down State Street in Madison, Wisconsin and, boom, he knows exactly what mistake he's been making in his dissertation research. The ability for cross-fertilization between art and science is a major theme in this novel.

Lara's Theme, Dr. Zhivago
This song gets mentioned in a jokey way in the book. Throughout the novel, the temperature never gets above -10 degrees C and some of the characters are as out of place in the weather as Omar Sharif was in Siberia. This version is ridiculously ongepotchket and wonderful at the same time.

Vu Ahin Zol Ikh Geyn (Where Can I Go), Menashe Oppenheim
I first heard this tune, which is about Jews being unable to cross borders during WWII, when my mother sang it to me about two years before she died. I sobbed as I listened to her. Border crossings are an important part of the novel. Lots of people have sung this song – I think even Nat King Cole did it – and this version is as authentic as I can find.

Your State's Name Here, Lou and Peter Berryman
Patriotism is another theme in my novel and since much of the action takes place in Madison, Wisconsin, what better song can there be to riff on the strange patriotism associated with statehood than this one by Madison's favorite folk duo?

I Can't Get Started, Bunny Berigan
Sasha walks into a bar on State Street in Madison in the early 1970s. That bar, Nick's, is still around. It had a great jukebox in the 1970s and this Ira Gershwin/Vernon Duke song is one of the tunes that my wife-to-be and I would listen to while we drank back then (when the drinking age in Wisconsin was eighteen). It's, in fact, our theme song. We've been married for thirty-five years. Back then we were in college, I was working on a novel and we both thought that I had what it took to become a professional novelist. I thought I'd publish my first novel by the time I was twenty-two. I was off by a mere thirty-six years. That delay has come with some significant advantages.


Stuart Rojstaczer and The Mathematician's Shiva links:

the author's website
the author's Wikipedia entry

Kirkus review
Publishers Weekly review
San Jose Mercury News review

Frederick News-Post interview with the author
Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel interview with the author


also at Largehearted Boy:

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

100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads
Antiheroines (interviews with up and coming female comics artists)
Atomic Books Comics Preview (weekly comics highlights)
Daily Downloads (free and legal daily mp3 downloads)
guest book reviews
Largehearted Word (weekly new book highlights)
musician/author interviews
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Short Cuts (writers pair a song with their short story or essay)
Shorties (daily music, literature, and pop culture links)
Soundtracked (composers and directors discuss their film's soundtracks)
weekly music release lists


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Book Notes - Dmitry Samarov "Where To?: A Hack Memoir"

Where To?: A Hack Memoir

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

Previous contributors include Bret Easton Ellis, Kate Christensen, Kevin Brockmeier, George Pelecanos, Dana Spiotta, Amy Bloom, Aimee Bender, Myla Goldberg, Heidi Julavits, Hari Kunzru, and many others.

Dmitri Samarov's illustrated memoir is a captivating account of the artist's time driving a cab.

Stream a playlist of these songs at Spotify.


In his own words, here is Dmitry Samarov's Book Notes music playlist for his memoir Where To?:


Music has haunted me my whole life. I played violin from ages 6 to 14 and fought it through most of those years. I chose drawing and painting but could well have switched instruments and continued on making sounds. It just didn't happen, but music has never really gone too far away. I'd have to say it's as much of an influence on my art and writing as any book or picture ever was.

Where To? is my second book of illustrated work memoirs from my days driving a cab. It's a summing up of my 12 years behind the wheel in Boston and Chicago. I started driving upon graduating from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1993 and moving back to Boston. The first few years I'd hear Bernard Herrmann's "Taxi Driver Theme" every time I drove over a steaming grate. That movie was my first frame of reference for the strange job I'd gotten myself into.

Boston wasn't ever a happy place for me. It's not a place that welcomes outsiders and I'd felt like one there ever since my family emigrated from the Soviet Union to Brookline, Massachusetts in 1978. There are certain songs that sum up a city and "24" by Sorry has always done that for Boston with its frustrated refrain about "turning something into nothing..."

Come

​Come

One of the pleasures of cab-driving in Boston was the luxury of parking the cab and going to see bands at the Middle East, t.t. the bear's, The Rat and other holes-in-the-wall. From '93 to '97, I saw few bands more than Come. Songs like "New Coat" expressed the frustration and longing I felt from being alone, looking back at my college-years relationship, with no dating prospects or much hope of any kind.

Cheater Slicks

Cheater Slicks

The Cheater Slicks were another favorite. "I'm Grounded" and all of their Whiskey LP, really, were a go-to in the '90s. These bands any many others made the loneliness and confusion of my 20s a lot more bearable. There are records that I've gone back to—like Double Nickels on the Dime by Minutemen, Hüsker Dü's Zen Arcade, and Roland Kirk's Rip, Rig and Panic—which have served as barometers of my inner condition at various points. I couldn't point precisely to how they inspired particular pieces of art or writing but they're a constant, and thus inevitably part of my creative process.

Handsome Family

Handsome Family

When The Handsome Family sing about the wind screaming up Ashland Avenue in "The Woman Downstairs" I know that screaming wind all too well.

Silver Jews

​Silver Jews

David Berman singing about wanting to be like water if he can in Silver Jews' "Horseleg Swastikas" seemed like good advice on nights when I was ready to snap at the nth group of drunk fratboys giving me a hard time on a Saturday night. The couple hours at the Empty Bottle or the Hideout, when I could draw people onstage playing their songs made the 12-16 hours behind the wheel fade away.

Azita

In my last few years of driving I got to know some of the people that made the music and even got to work with them occasionally. Whenever I hear songs like "Yours for Today" I remember the time I took a break and ran into Azita at a bar and she asked me to paint the cover for her record. It was due a week from that night. Cab-driving allowed me to do things like that. No one called wondering where I was when I wasn't driving. The company got their money in advance so they were happy my cab was parked on Western Avenue rather than wearing down from use.

I drove Lou Reed once when he was in town for Lollapalooza. I wracked my brain the whole ride for something to say but could only mumble, "Thanks for the music". I think he was glad not have to make smalltalk. Dozens of his songs were soundtracks in my cab, but a few like "Perfect Day" stuck around like regular passengers through all those years.


Dmitry Samarov and Where To?: A Hack Memoir links:

the author's website
the author's blog
video trailers for the book

After Hours interview with the author
Chicagoist interview with the author


also at Largehearted Boy:

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

100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads
Antiheroines (interviews with up and coming female comics artists)
Atomic Books Comics Preview (weekly comics highlights)
Daily Downloads (free and legal daily mp3 downloads)
guest book reviews
Largehearted Word (weekly new book highlights)
musician/author interviews
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Short Cuts (writers pair a song with their short story or essay)
Shorties (daily music, literature, and pop culture links)
Soundtracked (composers and directors discuss their film's soundtracks)
weekly music release lists


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Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week - September 26, 2014

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

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


Lose #6

Lose #6
by Michael DeForge

Though his best-known project is likely the Cartoon Network's Adventure Time, DeForge's talent is most certainly not limited to the wacky hijinks of a boy and his shapeshifting dog. In the latest installment of Lose, cool aunt Cherrelle takes on the mafia and human sacrifice, all for her niece's clarinet. Nominated for both Ignatz and Eisner awards, the comic features the same clean lines and surreal situations that so charmed us in Ant Colony.


Dessins

Dessins
by Pascal Girard

Though "dessins" might translate directly as "drawings," the way the books moves from one story to another, never getting bogged down in any one narrative, a more accurate term might be "sketches." Collecting together work from the past two years, Dessins offers a fascinating look into the day to day life of a comic artist who, with titles like Bigfoot and Petty Theft, has been delighting readers for years.


In Case of Emergency

In Case of Emergency
by Courtney Moreno

When rookie EMT Piper Gallagher answers an emergency call from a man who can only tell her "I can't function," the question of what it actually means to function begins to haunt her. In her debut novel, Moreno weaves the physical trauma of Piper's patients with the more esoteric pain of abandoned children, unrequited love, and war-rooted PTSD, showing that sometimes medicine can only heal so much.


Distance Mover

Distance Mover
by Patrick Kyle

When publisher Koyama Press asks you to image Distance Mover as Dr. Who designed by Joan Miró, they're not wrong. The new collected edition of Kyle's "art house, sci-fi adventure" is told through beautiful, two-toned full page panels, and follows the story of Mr. Earth who, in his vehicle the Distance Mover, takes on everyone from the Council of the Misters to the Ooze.


The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher and Other Stories

The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher and Other Stories
by Hilary Mantel

The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher and Other Stories, Hilary Mantel

Having won the Man Booker Prize twice (for her novels Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies), Hilary Mantel is back with a collection of short stories, displaying what the New Yorker calls her "maddeningly unteachable gift of being interesting." Her direct writing style has always promised nothing but delight, and between the deaths, infidelities, and family secrets of her new offering, Mantel's signature keen prose will likely continue to keep readers on their toes.


Librairie Drawn & Quarterly links:

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


also at Largehearted Boy:

other Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week

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


Posted by david | Permalink | Comments (View)

Shorties (Fall Book Recommendations from Emily Gould, Jeff Tweedy on Making Music with His Son, and more)

Author Emily Gould listed fall's must-read books at Paper.


Morning Edition interviewed Wilco's Jeff Tweedy and his son Spencer about making an album together.


PEN interviewed the finalists for the Robert W. Bingham Prize.


FACT listed the 100 best IDM tracks.


The New York Times and Pitchfork reviewed John Darnielle's new novel, Wolf in White Van.


Justin Townes Earle visited The Current studio for an interview and live performance.


Author Amina Gautier interviewed herself at The Nervous Breakdown.


Bands defined the psych music genre in 2014 at Drowned in Sound.


Stream the new Rural Alberta Advantage album Mended With Gold at Consequence of Sound.


Author Steven Pinker talked books with the New York Times.


The Telegraph listed the best albums named after real places.


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


also at Largehearted Boy:

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

100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads
Atomic Books Comics Preview (the week's best new comics and graphic novels)
Book Notes (authors create playlists for their book)
daily mp3 downloads
Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week (recommended new books, magazines, and comics)
musician/author interviews
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Short Cuts (writers pair a song with their short story or essay)
weekly music release lists
WORD Bookstores Books of the Week (recommended new books)


Posted by david | Permalink | Comments (View)

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