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January 24, 2015

Daily Downloads (The Week's Best Free and Legal Music Including Jessica Pratt, Alasdair Roberts, Dr. Dog, and more)

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


Today's free and legal mp3 downloads:

Alasdair Roberts: "Artless One" [mp3] from Alasdair Roberts (out January 27th)

Cobra and Vulture: Grasslands album [mp3]

Dr. Dog: NoiseTrade Eastside Manor Sessions EP [mp3]

Jessica Pratt: "Back, Baby" [mp3] from On Your Own Love Again

Justin Townes Earle: NoiseTrade Eastside Manor Session EP [mp3]

Various Artists: Folkroom Presents: Anthology Three album [mp3]

Various Artists: Hangout Music Fest Mixtape 2015 album [mp3]

Various Artists: New Weird Australia: Passages, Volume One album [mp3]
Various Artists: New Weird Australia: Passages, Volume Two album [mp3]
Various Artists: New Weird Australia: Passages, Volume Three album [mp3]


Free and legal live performances at other websites:

Oneida: 2015-01-10, Brooklyn [mp3]


search for more free and legal music downloads at Largehearted Boy


also at Largehearted Boy:

other daily free and legal mp3 downloads

Essential and Interesting 2014 Year-End Music Lists

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)





January 23, 2015

Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week - January 23, 2015

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.


First Year Healthy

First Year Healthy
by Michael DeForge

The literary year is off to a fine start with First Year Healthy, the first D+Q title of 2015, hitting shelves everywhere this week. The story chronicles the experiences of a woman recently discharged from a stint of hospitalization following a mental health crisis which has made her notorious in her small town. DeForge’s characteristically surreal drawing style complements the weirdness and ambiguity of the story, while the vibrant palate contrasts with the darkness of the narrative. Much like Ant Colony, DeForge's debut D+Q graphic novel, First Year Healthy is a visually striking work which touches on profound human issues, and lends itself well to multiple readings and interpretations.


š! #19 Mathematics

kuš! #19 Mathematics

The Latvian-based Baltic Comics Magazine kuš! is always such a joy to read! Each edition is a collection of comics centred on an overarching theme, featuring work by contributors from all over the world. The miniature format makes for a perfectly portable way to discover new artists, particularly from the Baltic region. The theme of the latest edition is Mathematics, but don't let that scare you. Even the most arithmetic-averse readers will find that math can be fun, thanks to these new comics from kuš!


I Think I Can See Where You're Going Wrong and Other Wise and Witty Comments from Guardian Readers

I Think I Can See Where You're Going Wrong and Other Wise and Witty Comments from Guardian Readers
edited by Marc Burrows

Reading the comments section on an online article is generally an activity to be avoided if you aim to keep misanthropy at bay. However, this collection of the "best and most baffling" comments gleaned from the archives of The Guardian's Comment is Free section is an exception to the "never read the comments" rule! Boasting illustrations by the always on-point D+Q alumni Tom Gauld (You're All Just Jealous of my Jetpack, Goliath) the gems within the pages of this book will have you chortling away in no time.


The Country Road

The Country Road
by Regina Ullmann

Swiss protomodernist poet and author Regina Ullmann's most noteworthy collection of short stories is now available in English for the first time in this New Directions edition. The author was lauded as a genius by her peers and contemporaries, including Rainer Maria Rilke, but like so many female writers of her time, her work has languished untranslated and largely forgotten. Thanks to this new translation from the German by Kurt Beals, her 1921 collection of otherworldly tales of the Swiss countryside are at last available to a wider audience.


Spawn of Mars and Other Stories

Spawn of Mars and Other Stories
by Wallace Wood

Spawn of Mars is the latest in Fantagraphics’ series of re-issues of classic EC comics. This volume features the work of Wallace Wood, undoubtedly one of the foremost pioneers of the sci-fi comics genre. Wood’s drawing style is gorgeously detailed, and his renderings of outer-space scenes are so iconic that they’ve become archetypal. Feast your eyes upon the ghastly aliens, ruggedly handsome astronauts, and intergalactic starscapes that populate this genre-defining collection! Like all of Fantagraphics’ EC library re-issues, there are also supplementary essays and biographical details included.


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

List of Online "Best of 2014" Book Lists

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)

Book Notes - Mark Wisniewski "Watch Me Go"

Watch Me Go

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

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

Mark Wisniewski's new novel Watch Me Go is a compelling and gritty work of literary noir.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune wrote of the book:

"Wisniewski is a sure and smart writer, and his philosophy never gets in the way of his story, which is suspenseful and original and wholly unpredictable."

Stream a playlist of these songs at Spotify.


In his own words, here is Mark Wisniewski's Book Notes music playlist for his novel Watch Me Go:


My third novel, Watch Me Go, owes its existence to music. This was the toughest book for me to write and get into print, maybe because it challenges readers to piece together storytelling about love and hatred and racism and horrible luck, so on most every day of the roughly twenty-five years of writing and revising and submitting it to agents, I needed inspiration from something outside of me that was energetic and beautifully complex yet sometimes simply good. Thus: music. Regardless of where I lived during those twenty-five years--Northern California, San Antonio TX, rural Pennsylvania, Midtown Manhattan, Astoria, Queens, Lake Peekskill in upstate New York, Bed-Sty in Brooklyn, and again in Manhattan on the upper west side—music was always blaring. To be less hyperbolic, there were times when I'd wake after midnight with an idea and hop out of bed and close the bedroom door and the door to my office and work with the volume down. But as my wife told me just weeks ago, she was always—even when she appeared to be asleep—hearing whichever CD I'd play repeatedly (sometimes for days) over the clacking of my keyboard's keys.

Let me straight off admit that some of the songs on the playlist below might strike you as pop. My reasoning: Jan and Deesh, Watch Me Go's two narrators, proved, again and again throughout all those years, to be seeking love in places where bad luck thrived, so I needed a drafting-soundtrack that leaned toward sappy—in order to keep their voices from becoming too tough and jaded.

Likely excuse, right?

Another admission: Many of these songs were recorded decades ago, proving I'm not Mr. Young Hipster. But then again, please remember I began drafting this book before some people who'll read this list were born. Old-schoolers like Michael Stipe were cutting-edge back then.

"Nightswimming" by R.E.M.
For years Jan narrated a sexy passage about swimming in the dark with Tug. Now, instead, they run in the dark. But the late-August-crickets-still-chirping-mood of this song has always been welcome.

"After the Dance" by Marvin Gaye
You don't grow up in a segregated Polish-American neighborhood and then write a novel about an urban black guy without having heard some Motown. I happened upon this song a few years ago, after having forgotten about it for decades—and then of course couldn't stop playing it, the louder the better.

"Layla," Derrick and the Dominos
At some point agents began insisting that I develop backstories about the organized crime in Jan's narrative thread. This was a good suggestion because, after all, Jan lives among gamblers who deal with bookies and loan sharks and the kinds people you see in films like Goodfellas. So for a few months there, I aspired to have Jan's narrative blossom with passages similar to those great dubbed-in lines of Goodfellas fame: "We were goodfellas. Wiseguys. But Jimmy and I could never be made because we had Irish blood. To become a member of a crew you've got to be one hundred per cent Italian so they can trace all your relatives back to the old country." And to help me write in that vein, I'd play "Layla" [which graces the soundtrack for the climax of Goodfellas] constantly. And hearing this song again and again did help me develop Watch Me Go's backstories about The Nickster and The Show-Stopper and The Form Monger of the renowned severed arm. But what comes to mind when I hear "Layla" now is not so much the violence in Watch Me Go but the fact that in both Goodfellas and Watch Me Go, the violence occurred because people hated other people's bloodlines. My God, I always think. Why is this country so wacked about ethnicity?

"Your Eyes (Sitar Solo)" by Anoushka Shankar
Sometimes writing Watch Me Go required simply getting in a zone and producing quickly, maybe even kind of magically. At times like this I'd play the first disk of Concert for George, the recorded-live tribute to George Harrison that featured not only Shankar but also Clapton, Petty, Ringo Starr, Billy Preston, Paul McCartney and others. And Shankar's music, if you ask me, will put you in a zone like no other.

"Fortunate Son" by Bruce Hornsby
My older brother, who by the way taught me how to play the piano, was a doctor who fought AIDS and then succumbed to AIDS himself back when I began writing Watch Me Go. And for a while, when I'd just begun to draft chapters that would become the start of Jan's narrative thread, I had one of those odd, among-siblings intuitions that my brother was going to die. Yet I knew nothing for sure, since, back then—pre-Obamacare—AIDS and the business of health insurance danced a dance I still don't understand. Suffice to say many AIDS victims back then kept secrets, and my brother kept his very worst secret from his wannabe novelist little brother for as long as he could. And of course secrets like that can spark emotions of every stripe between siblings, some of those emotions not upbeat in the least. But every time I'd hear Hornsby's piano in this song, I'd tell myself that, even though Watch Me Go was being rejected, I was damned fortunate.

"Carnival Town" by Norah Jones
When you want to explore a woman's voice, as I did after making Jan a first-person narrator, why not listen to one of the most heavenly female voices recorded?

"Romeo and Juliet (any live version)" by Mark Knopfler
The streetsmart hope in the lyrics "You and me, babe--how bout it," along with the magic you hear when Knopfler lets his fingers loose in front of a large audience, kept me tweaking those crucial dialogue passages between Deesh and Madalynn—and that last, long, heart-to-heart conversation between Jan and Tug—well into many otherwise quiet nights.

"The Water Is Wide" by Karla Bonoff and James Taylor
I'm a big lover of harmony, in music and among people and within nature and just about anywhere, and in this song love how James Taylor lets Karla Bonoff prove she's plenty strong without him, then often sings very quietly, but, still, you recognize him, yet primarily you just want to join the peace of their results. And of course the lyrics in this song were apropos when I was writing Watch Me Go, which is often set on water—Deesh comes to terms on his river, and the shimmering Jan faces every night as she looks out the Corcorans' lakeside summer porch windows will, in all likelihood, never leave her mind.

"You're a Friend of Mine" by Clarence Clemons (with Jackson Browne)
Call this song hokey, but there's a celebratory aspect to it I have never gotten over, and just after Watch Me Go was slated for publication, I found myself lying awake in bed, humming phrases from it spontaneously.

"Beautiful Side of Somewhere" by Jakob Dylan
I didn't adore this song or use it to write by until I heard Jakob Dylan's down-tempo, hyper-sober rendition of it for Nissan Live Sets. I got the impression that, after having performed it otherwise with The Wallflowers zillions of times, he'd matured into realizing that, hell, some messages we send to each other are better when slowed down and pondered over more than usual. Who knows how many drafts of Watch Me Go I had written by then. In any case this version of this song clicked with me, and I found it on You Tube and would rush my cursor to that curled replay arrow as soon as the last notes would play out. The seemingly simple (yet loaded!) guitar work toward the very end lets the melody pull at you more. Pure earnestness there. Risky as hell. To my ear an earnestness that went beyond sentimentality into a soulfulness that wasn't so much Dylan as it was Jakob. I tried to write passages of Watch Me Go that way. Probably this was impossible, but sometimes you wind up ahead by failing just slightly less often than you try.


Mark Wisniewski and Watch Me Go links:

the author's website
the author's Wikipedia entry

Minneapolis Star Tribune review
Publishers Weekly review

Biographile interview with the author
Huffington Post interview with the author


also at Largehearted Boy:

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

List of Online "Best of 2014" Book Lists
Essential and Interesting 2014 Year-End Music Lists

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


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Book Notes - Michael Christie "If I Fall, If I Die"

If I Fall, If I Die

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, Jesmyn Ward, Heidi Julavits, Hari Kunzru, and many others.

Michael Christie's If I Fall, If I Die is a poignant debut novel featuring an unforgettable eleven year old protagonist.

Kirkus wrote of the book:

"Dark, threatening, dislocating and altogether brilliant."

Stream a playlist of these songs at Spotify.


In his own words, here is Michael Christie's Book Notes music playlist for his debut novel If I Fall, If I Die:


If I Fall, If I Die was entirely written under the influence of music. I usually choose something fierce and overwhelming when I'm churning out new proselike Black Sabbath or Wu Tang or Beethoven. There's nothing like a good old-fashioned cacophony to open the word-gates wide. But when editing, I turn to instrumental works like William Basinski's Disintegration Loops or Stars of the Lid's and the Refinement of Their Decline, long, moody pieces that sustain my energy, With no lyrics to infect my ear and lead the work to a place it shouldn't go. This novel was half-drawn from memory and half-imagined, so much of the music I've selected here was as important a part of my own coming of age as it was to my ten year-old character, Will. I've also chosen a few songs for Will's mother Diane, an agoraphobic, housebound experimental filmmaker, who spirals into panic at the thought of touching the doorknob and uses old folk music to soothe herself. This novel is about freedom, self-discovery and art, and the beautiful, terrible linkage between love and fear. In my life, music has been the both the instigator and the balm for all the most important transformations.

"500 Miles"
Peter Paul and Mary, s/t

There are many versions of this traditional, but I know this one best. There's something deeply unsettling about how the saccharine, matching-Christmas-sweater performance that PP&M deliver interacts with the gut-level sorrow of the song. On his first day at school, Will recalls his mother playing this on her guitar, and it happens again near the climax of the book. "Lord I'm one, Lord I'm two, Lord I'm three…"there is something about how the growing distance from home is explicitly measured that communicates a great sadness and longing for a lost world. And when you hear "I can't go home this a-way…" you realize that nobody can. Ever. Not after what the world has done to us. Will learns that becoming an adolescent means finding out that home evaporates the instant you leave it.

"The Rite of Spring"
Igor Stravinski

Will claims that this piece sounds like "a heinous multi-car accident, except the cars are actually made out of orchestral instruments." And I stand by that one. It's exactly what Diane's panic sounds like. Feral. Throbbing. Menacing. At times soothing. Accidentally beautiful.

"Raining Blood"
Slayer, Hell Awaits

Jonah and Will listen to music that seems to articulate the cruelties of their situation growing up in a small, industrial town, and this song is the perfect sonic expression of that cruelty. The double bass drum thudding like a herd of demonic horses is what really gets me going. This is the kind of music that's designed to scare parents, which is, perhaps, what a child is designed to do as well. So there you go.

"Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos"
Public Enemy, It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back

A brilliantly executed narrative poem about a black man breaking out of prison with a rocket launcher after being jailed for refusing to join the military? Yes please! Also, Chuck D's majesterial line: "They wanted me for the army or whatever" is the greatest use of a qualifier in lyrical history. Also, the prison break has a special resonance for our heroes, Diane and Will.

"Brave Captain"
Firehose, Ragin' Full On

All you skateboard nerds out there will be familiar with this one, otherwise you'll just have to trust me. This obscure gem soundtracked one of the most influential skateboard parts of all time: Natas Kaupas' mind-melting section in Streets on Fire (yup, the one where Natas ollies up onto a fire hydrant and spins around impossibly like a top before somehow freeing himself of the spin and actually rolling away?) But it's a tremendous song regardless.

"Electric Pow Wow"
A Tribe Called Red, s/t

There is an Indigenous creative renaissance already underway in North America, and these guys are planted right on the forefront of the forefront of it. Don't be surprised when Kanyelike a headdress-sporting Coachella attendees tapping into the infectious authenticity of this sound. But don't settle for imitators. Get it from the source. This one goes out to Will's best friend in the book, Jonah.

"Agoraphobia"
Deerhunter, Microcastle

May be a little of a no-brainer, but it's a great song. And the "cover me / comfort me" ambiguity of the lyrics really get at the puzzling duality of this terrible illness. The way that anxiety and fear can be weirdly comforting, and how we must stash our true selves away if we ever hope to grow.

"Dead Flag Blues"
Godspeed You Black Emperor, f#a#infinity

When I first heard the first tape-hiss drone of these classically trained anarcho-punks from Montreal, my mind melted. This kind of thing makes me want to wear my Canadian passport on my lapel. (Included prominently on this list: John Candy, Arcade Fire, Salt & Vinegar Chips, Alice Munro). "It went like this: the buildings toppled in on themselves / mothers clutching babies, picked through the rubble" is a lyric that predates our current fictional obsession with post-apocalyptic narratives by about 10 years or so. Here's the sound of a world ending. The only good news, is it's gorgeous.


Michael Christie and If I Fall, If I Die links:

the author's website
the author's Wikipedia entry

Georgia Straight review
Kirkus review
Publisher's Weekly review

CBC News interview with the author
Everyday eBook essay by the author
Sunday Drive Digest interview with the author
The Ubyssey profile of the author
Vancouver Sun profile of the author


also at Largehearted Boy:

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

List of Online "Best of 2014" Book Lists
Essential and Interesting 2014 Year-End Music Lists

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


Posted by david | Permalink | Comments (View)

Shorties (A Literary Guide to Sundance, Pitchfork's Radio Station, and more)

Word and Film shared a literary guide to this year's Sundance Film Festival.


Pitchfork has launched an online radio station.


38 online "best books of 2014" lists were added to the master aggregation at Largehearted Boy last week.


The Largehearted Boy list of essential and interesting "best of 2014" music lists.


CBC Books previewed 2015 poetry collections.


The Quietus interviewed Polish musician Natalia Zamilska.


Publishers Weekly interviewed author Tiphanie Yanique.


Stereogum ranked Ramones albums from worst to best.


Biographile interviewed author Mark Wisniewski.


SPIN profiled the band Purity Ring.


The Los Angeles Review of Books interviewed author Sarah Gerard.


Jhumpa Lahiri was awarded the DSC prize for south Asian literature for her novel The Lowland.


Bob Dylan talked to AARP Magazine about his forthcoming standards album.


The Rumpus interviewed book designer and author Peter Mendelsund.


Drowned in Sound interviewed members of the band Viet Cong.


Jamie Quatro interviewed fellow author Megan Mayhew Bergman at the Oxford American.


Rookie interviewed singer-songwriter Emmy the Great, and streamed her new EP S.


Authors offer writing tips at Biographile's Write Start series.


The Guardian listed 10 of the best Smiths songs.


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)

Essential and Interesting 2014 Year-End Music Lists
List of Online "Best of 2014" Book Lists

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 (Toby Lightman, Wussy, and more)

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


Today's free and legal mp3 downloads:

Cobra and Vulture: Grasslands album [mp3]

Hidden in the Sun: "San Francisco Blues" [mp3] from Seven Seasons
Hidden in the Sun: "Salt and the Spring" [mp3] from Seven Seasons

Mmoner: Misty Skin EP [mp3]

Raindeer: You Look Smashing EP [mp3]

Sing, Bird of Prey: Sacred Bones EP [mp3]

Toby Lightman: Time Traveler EP [mp3]

The Vicious Kisses: Infatuation EP [mp3]
The Vicious Kisses: First Kisses album [mp3]


Free and legal live performances at other websites:

Wussy: 2015-01-17, Brooklyn [mp3]


search for more free and legal music downloads at Largehearted Boy


also at Largehearted Boy:

other daily free and legal mp3 downloads

Essential and Interesting 2014 Year-End Music Lists

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)

January 22, 2015

Book Notes - Robert Repino "Mort(e)"

Mort(e)

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, Jesmyn Ward, Heidi Julavits, Hari Kunzru, and many others.

Robert Repino's debut novel Mort(e) is an impressive work of speculative fiction, daring and enormously entertaining.

Publishers Weekly wrote of the book:

"With sly references to Orwell’s Animal Farm, debut novelist Repino puts a nicely modern post-apocalyptic overlay on the fable of animals taking over the world . . . an engrossing morality tale with unexpected depths."

Stream a playlist of these songs at Spotify.


In his own words, here is Robert Repino's Book Notes music playlist for his debut novel Mort(e):


My science fiction novel tells the story of a war between humans and animals. The instigator of the war is the queen of a colony of intelligent ants, who is determined to wipe out the humans and remake the world in her image. The centerpiece of her plan is a specially designed hormone that transforms the surface animals into intelligent, bipedal killing machines who turn on their masters. In the midst of this insanity, a housecat named Sebastian adopts the name Mort(e) and joins the war effort. But foremost on his mind is the fate of a friend from before the conflict began, a dog named Sheba whom he assumes has been killed. Years after the war is won, Mort(e) receives a mysterious message from the dwindling human resistance claiming that Sheba is alive. Thus he begins a search that will lead him to the heart of the ant colony, where he will discover the true purpose of the war and the fate of all of the earth's creatures.

What follows are the songs I would consider the soundtrack for the book. Some inspired me while I wrote. Some articulate the themes better than my prose could. And some just fit with a particular scene or character.


Edwyn Collins: "A Girl Like You"
While still a pet confined to his master's house, Sebastian first spots Sheba through a window, a moment every bit as jarring as the drastic transformation that awaits him later in the story. To him, Sheba is "mysterious and exotic…a creature from another world." Later, they draw closer, though still separated by the glass. Sheba tries to lick him, but they have to settle for simply staring at one another for now. Any time I read or watch some kind of unorthodox love story, I think of the one-hit wonder by Collins. I can imagine the song playing while Sebastian stupidly gapes at the incomprehensible site of this creature before him. And that line that everyone remembers—"You made me acknowledge the devil in me"—hints at the way Sebastian will become so single-minded in his pursuit of Sheba that he will abandon all other loyalties, and even, at one point, any sense of morality.

Beres Hammond: "They Gonna Talk"
When Sebastian and Sheba finally have the opportunity to meet without interference, they begin a strange affair in which the two animals cuddle in the cold basement while their masters are off doing their human things. For Sebastian, who never had a friend until now, finding Sheba is part of his realization that he is more of a prisoner of this house than a member of the master's family. I've imagined myself dancing to Hammond's song if I ever married a woman whom my family did not approve, so I thought it was appropriate here for this interspecies relationship. I love the smiling way Hammond asks, "Why not let it be/and stop worrying about it?"

Sam Cooke: "A Change Is Gonna Come"
The animals refer to their transformation simply as the "Change," so I admit that this selection is a bit on the nose. In earlier drafts of the book, I imagined the animals co-opting some of the twentieth century songs of freedom and struggle, reinterpreting the lyrics to suit their present condition. A common sentiment expressed in Mort(e) is that the animals now have the opportunity to finally avenge the countless generations that came before them, who would never be able to speak for themselves. Thus, I think it's perfect when Cooke drags out that line, "It's been a long, a long time coming." I think that line, even more than the title, serves as a reminder and a warning to those who have stood in the way.

Everything But the Girl: "Missing"
This is the second of three songs from around 1995—the year I turned 17, not surprisingly. "Missing" conveys a lot of self-inflicted angst, a message that resonated with me even after the millionth time I heard it on the radio that year.

Back to the novel: after Sheba is lost in the chaos of the war, Sebastian (now Mort(e)) is haunted by what he could have done to save her. And like the "Missing" song in 1995, the memory is rattling around in his head every day.

Stevie Wonder: "Superstition"
Although this track falls under the category of songs that I listened to while writing, the lyrics make it a soundtrack for the character of Culdesac, the bobcat who has sworn his life to the Queen's cause. Shortly after recruiting Sebastian to join the elite Red Sphinx, Culdesac gives him a speech about what he considers to be the ultimate the folly of humans: their tendency to believe that they are the center of the universe, that they have dominion over other species, that a creator made them him in his image. As Stevie sings, "When you believe in things that you don't understand/Then you suffer/Superstition ain't the way." Regardless of the lyrics, the beat makes this a song that would play while Culdesac swaggers into a room or drives a Humvee with his elbow propped on the open window.

Tupac: "Untouchable"
Mort(e) channels his anger into becoming a better soldier in the struggle against humanity, and the energy of Tupac's "Untouchable" fits with the montage sequence in chapter four, in which Mort(e), among other things, charges into a pitched battle, hunts humans in the forest, and tosses a sniper from a rooftop. "Each murder was revenge for his loss," the narrator of the novel states. "Every human who pleaded for mercy, every man or woman who whispered a prayer to the old man in the sky, had to pay for Sheba." For the purposes of this playlist, Tupac's line "Ya'll remember me" is probably the most relevant, given that the animals consider it an honor to find and kill humans whom they knew before the war.

Claude DeBussy: "Clair de lune"
One of my favorites scenes in the book involves members of the Red Sphinx gathering secretly to drink a "greenish-brown" liquor made from the "active ingredient in catnip." They reminisce, share regrets, exchange jokes, reveal gossip. In the background, "light piano music" plays, making a "tinkling sound" that "was pleasing to the feline ear." I always thought of the music in that scene as DeBussy's classic work. Later, when I read the poem that inspired the movement, which explores sadness and beauty and hope, I became more convinced that this song had to be the one playing on the Red Sphinx's stereo.

Peter Gabriel: "Digging in the Dirt"
It has taken a few years, but I have now fashioned my Peter Gabriel Pandora station into a work of art, and it's always a thrill when this song comes up. I mean, he screams "Shut your mouth/I know what you are!" at one point! I included this song because it explores the way that the past can have a stranglehold on the present, a theme that comes up with all of the characters in my book. Several of the chapters are simply titled "The Story of Culdescac," "The Story of Sebastian and Sheba," etc. In doing so, I intended to show how the trauma of the Change made these characters who they are, even when they tell themselves that they remain the masters of their fate.

Hozier: "Take Me to Church"
This is a new song, so I can't say that it inspired the writing process. However, it took only one listen to declare it the unofficial anthem of Mort(e). Late in the book, our hero discovers that he is the prophesied messiah who will destroy the Queen—at least, that's what the humans' sacred scriptures claim. As a rational being trained to reject human superstition, Mort(e) dismisses the prophecy for the primitive nonsense it is. Hozier's song reflects Mort(e)'s sheer disgust at the idea of being a chosen one: "Take me to church/I'll worship like a dog at the shrine of your lies/ I'll tell you my sins and you can sharpen your knife/Offer me that deathless death/Good God, let me give you my life." For Hozier, like Mort(e), only the people we love are worthy of worship, not the silent gods who speak through high priests and magic books.

mewithoutYou: "Torches Together"
Mort(e) takes place in the ruins of Philadelphia, so I needed to get one of my favorite local bands on this playlist. "Torches" makes me think of the battle sequence near the end of the book, not just because of its fast pace (and screaming), but because of the vulnerability and self-doubt it conveys: "Strum the guitar if you're afraid/And I'm afraid and everyone's afraid and everyone knows it/But we don't have to be afraid anymore." The warriors are not superheroes. Instead, they have been forced into this conflict, and have to tell themselves that they are brave enough to see it through.

Sinead O'Connor: "Thank You for Hearing Me"
I don't want to give away too much about why this song works for the end of the novel. I'll just say that in the closing pages, the characters sit on a beach and contemplate what they've been through, and what they owe each other. The simplicity of O'Connor's song captures the moment, showing equal gratitude for the good times and the bad.

Belle and Sebastian: "My Wandering Days Are Over"
The third mid-nineties song on the list. And I'm not entirely sure what it's about. I just think of it as the song that would play during the closing credits. I interpret the lyrics to mean that the wandering days are actually just beginning—that the real wandering starts when the familiar world of one's youth is unmercifully stripped away, and we are left with only our wits and our determination to keep moving forward in the dark. Maybe I'm reading too much into it.


Robert Repino and Mort(e) links:

the author's website
excerpt from the book

Boston Globe review
Kirkus review
LitReactor review

Fiction Advocate interview with the author


also at Largehearted Boy:

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

List of Online "Best of 2014" Book Lists
Essential and Interesting 2014 Year-End Music Lists

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


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Atomic Books Comics Preview - January 22, 2015

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

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

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


Alan Resnick Comics

Alan Resnick Comics
by Alan Resnick

If you've caught the Adult Swim shorts "Unedited Footage Of A Bear" or "Live Forever As You Are Now With Alan Resnick," you are already familiar with Alan's sharp (and sometimes joyfully unsettling) sense of humor. Here he collects a series of his short, funny comic strips. The cartooning style is in the realm of Matt Furie of Ron Rege Jr., and the strips involve butt clubs, Ed Schrader's t-shirts and dinners, self-loathing and wimp.com. Alan's comics could easily run in an any alt-weekly or even The Believer's comics pages should he ever get tired of this pretty awesome TV thing he's got going on.


Baltimore Coloring Book Project Vol. 1

Baltimore Coloring Book Project Vol. 1
by Benn Ray (editor) / Ben Claassen III (designer) / various

Last year, the Baltimore Museum of Art invited us to curate an event for their 100 year celebration. They wanted something illustrative and Baltimore-centric, so what we came up with was the beginning stages of this book. I put together a list of famous people who have lived in Baltimore, and then I invited a bunch of my artist friends to draw a portrait of them, coloring book style. During the BMA celebration, pages were set out on a big table with a bunch of colored pencils and visitors were invited to color in the sheets, but here, we've collected it all into a coloring book, and I've written a series of short bios for each person. So now you can color in Dan Deacon or Billie Holiday or Tupca Shakur or Frank Zappa or Divine (among many others) as drawn by artists like Alex Fine, Gary Kachadourian, Molly O'Connell, and many more. Our goal is to put out a new one every year.


UR

UR
by Eric Haven

Fans of the TV show MythBusters may recognize the name Eric Haven as a producer and director. He's also an extremely talented cartoonist - with precise linework that melds the best of Jack Kirby and Charles Burns with evocative coloring. The stories in UR start by following a pattern of a some kind of strange superhero (Man-Cat, Reptilica, Bed Man, The Equestrian) who goes on an adventure that typically takes a surreal turn part-way through. They then move to a collection of Race Murdock adventures about a seemingly average Joe who, within a handful of panels, finds himself dismembered, exploded, beheaded, impaled, etc. UR is a fun package of alternative superhero/adventure humor and oddity.


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


Atomic Books & Benn Ray links:

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


also at Largehearted Boy:

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

List of Online "Best of 2014" Book Lists

52 Books, 52 Weeks
Antiheroines (interviews with up and coming female comics artists)
Book Notes (authors create music playlists for their book)
guest book reviews
Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week (recommended new books, magazines, and comics)
musician/author interviews
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Short Cuts (writers pair a song with their short story or essay)
WORD Bookstores Books of the Week (weekly new book highlights)


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Shorties (New Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Short Fiction, A New Mountain Goats Song, and more)

A new Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie short story.


Stream a new Mountain Goats song.


38 online "best books of 2014" lists were added to the master aggregation at Largehearted Boy last week.


The Largehearted Boy list of essential and interesting "best of 2014" music lists.


Timber Journal interviewed author Victor LaValle.


Stream a previously unreleased 1998 interview with Elliott Smith.


Bookworm interviewed author Lydia Millet.


SPIN profiled the band Speedy Ortiz.


Authors Beth Steidle and Sarah Gerard interviewed each other at Vol. 1 Brooklyn.


PopMatters interviewed musician and author Ben Watt.


Hector Tobar answered questions from Morning Edition's book club.


Songwriters and novelists talked songwriting at the Guardian.


YA writers listed their favorite books for adults at Flavorwire.


Drowned in Sound interviewed singer-songwriter J. Mascis.


The Oxford American interviewed poet Christian Wiman.


Corin Tucker talked to Bandcamp about the Sleater-Kinney reunion.


Literistic is a new monthly e-mail featuring "a highly-curated list of deadlines for submissions to literary publications, contests and fellowships."


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)

Essential and Interesting 2014 Year-End Music Lists
List of Online "Best of 2014" Book Lists

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 (Jessica Pratt, Alasdair Roberts, and more)

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


Today's free and legal mp3 downloads:

Alasdair Roberts: "Artless One" [mp3] from Alasdair Roberts (out January 27th)

Balto: "Saints and Crows" [mp3]

Cicero and the Orations: Holiday 45 single [mp3]
Cicero and the Orations: "Summer" [mp3]

Cool Shades: "If I Go I'm Going (Gregory Alan Isakov cover)" [mp3]

Eli Henry: I've Been Awake album [mp3]

From Us: "The Moonlit Garden" [mp3]

Jessica Pratt: "Back, Baby" [mp3] from On Your Own Love Again

Various Artists: Folkroom Presents: Anthology Three album [mp3]


Free and legal live performances at other websites:

Obits: 2014-11-22, Brooklyn [mp3]


search for more free and legal music downloads at Largehearted Boy


also at Largehearted Boy:

other daily free and legal mp3 downloads

Essential and Interesting 2014 Year-End Music Lists

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)

January 21, 2015

Book Notes - Deepti Kapoor "A Bad Character"

A Bad Character

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, Jesmyn Ward, Heidi Julavits, Hari Kunzru, and many others.

Deepti Kapoor's novel A Bad Character is sharply told and poignant, an impressive debut.

The Telegraph wrote of the book:

"The backdrop of Delhi and its class structures are drawn with sharp detail, but Idha's voice – that of a young woman struggling with the world’s sometimes violent plans for her – could ring out from anywhere. As the narrative skips through time, there emerges a poignant and impressionistic portrait of the end of adolescence and a changing world."

Stream a playlist of these songs at Spotify.


In her own words, here is Deepti Kapoor's Book Notes music playlist for her debut novel A Bad Character:


1.) 'Laura Palmer's Theme' – Angelo Badalamenti, Twin Peaks Soundtrack

Laura Palmer, the heart of Twin Peaks, is a love of mine. Men want her, but they're scared of her, they want to save her, they want to possess her. And sometimes they want to kill her. And since she's dead when we meet her, she already exists out of time. The surface perception - in her fictional world at least – is of a perfectly sweet, popular girl, and this is soon revealed to be false, replaced with the reality of a damaged, intelligent, sad, doomed, funny, nasty, loving, scared, strong and complex person. There's something supernatural about her too. For all these reasons I love her, and she's someone I tapped into for the novel. Not an influence exactly, more a reference, a presence. So I choose Badalementi's 'Laura Palmer's Theme,' from the Twin Peaks soundtrack. And it's not a symbolic choice either. The track is lonely, sinister, mysterious, hopeful and heartbreaking. It moved me the moment I heard it, and I never tire of listening.


2.) 'Go Long' – Joanna Newsom, Have One On Me

'With the loneliness of you mighty men / with your jaws and fists and guitars and pens / and your sugarlip / but I've never been to the firepits with you mighty men.'

It was a choice between quoting these lines, or some from Chris Marker's film, Sans Soleil, at the start of the novel. In the end I decided to have nothing. But this song was a direct inspiration for the approach, and it remained with me the whole way through writing. Among other things, it connects the breakdown of a relationship, the man's violence, despair and creativity, and the narrator's telling of it, with the Bluebeard myth, which is about the terrible consequences of female curiosity. It's much more than that though, which is part of its virtue, the impossibility of pinning it down. But for me, I was really interested in the link between creativity and violence, how the latter is so often seen as necessary for the former, especially in young men. And how the song manages to provide a counterpoint to this, even as it addresses the point.

You see the idea that one must destroy to create, you see it everywhere, the attraction of that violence and destruction, the revolutionary zeal. And the despair this thinking leads to, the chaos at its end. I saw it in the boyfriend in the novel. He believed that violence was not only transformative, but necessary, that creativity demanded violence, upheaval, madness. That to not go over the edge was to fail. Being a man with money in Delhi, he had that privilege. And he wanted to carry the girl along with him, but she had other ideas. Newsom has other ideas. She becomes more powerful than the violence, than the “jaws and fists and guitars and pens”, and demonstrates how to create something extremely powerful without falling back on those impulses, she knew how to create without destroying. So the song does not attack. It does not pursue. It does not consume and is not consumed. It opens, allows things to pass through, and remains open. As she says “What a woman does is open doors / And it is not a question of locking or unlocking.” It's a staggering work.


3.) 'To Bring You My Love' – PJ Harvey, To Bring You My Love

Unlike Newsom, PJ fights fire with fire. She just rocks harder than the men. She is a harder, better, more terrifying singer and guitarist than most men. This is her response, her femininity. She's modulated this as her career has gone on, she's evolved and explored. But on this song, and in this era, she's a force of nature in the mould of the old blues players. I couldn't believe what I was hearing, the first time I heard it. It was so masculine, and yet so unmistakably female. So brazen. It's another kind of inspiration. In the novel I wanted to do what men do with their novels, with their characters, with their access to the city, with their swagger. I wanted to write like a man might and can. But never at the expense of being a woman. So this song often came to mind and was often played.


4.) 'Clara' – Scott Walker, The Drift

Scott Walker is a genius. Lyrically, and musically, no one touches him. His access to concepts and nightmares is unparalleled. My husband got me into him. It took a long time, as it tends to. I don't listen, I don't like, I resist, and then one day I listen and it clicks. It was the same with Sonic Youth. I'm stubborn like that. But The Drift is Scott Walker's masterpiece. It's a record that I still haven't absorbed, I've only begun to scratch the surface after a few years. Some music, you like instantly, and then a few weeks later it's gone. The Drift takes time, it has staying power, it exists in a vacuum, it's unlike anything else ever made. I picked this song specifically because Walker's method influenced the grammar of the novel, and this song is a perfect demonstration of the method. He tends to work with sound blocks rather than melodies. The combinations and variations of distinct blocks of sound create the songs, rather than having one unbroken thread running through. So there are sonic textures instead of melodies. I took this for myself. I wanted to avoid making a fully connected narrative, avoid a stream, a full melody, so to speak, and instead have moments, blocks, vignettes, which are not necessarily fully linked, and which taken together create a sensation, a kind of meaning, but have no truly linear connection, and as a by product of this create a blinkered, surreal, slightly nightmarish quality. Beyond this, the song itself is stunning, terrifyingly conjuring the inner life of Mussolini's lover, Clara Petacci, and her eventual hanging with Mussolini, and obliquely connecting it to early 21st century global politics. Operatic, horrifying, surreal, deeply moving, and the only song I've ever heard where a classically trained percussionist is punching a side of dead pig with good reason.


5.) 'Unravel' – Bjork, Homogenic

An early draft of the novel had some of the lyrics to this song within a passage of the middle section, where things are lost and drifting, where the girl is caught in love and the body and can see nothing else. I used to listen to this song a lot during the time the novel was set. My boyfriend of that time introduced her to Bjork, as he introduced me to other music, Radiohead and The Velvet Underground, things that were exotic in Delhi at that time for me. Before him I didn't know so much in terms of music, film, art. He opened me up. These artists seem mainstream now, obvious, but to me then they were a revelation. We'd drive the city and listen to Bjork's and he'd tell me how the world was going to be, how it was our world. Both Delhi and I at that time were more insular, protected. I never forget this song. It's one of the most beautiful in the world. A perfect song. And it still reminds me of those days, which were never going to last.


6.) 'Pacific Coast Highway' – Sonic Youth, Sister

I don't really have heroines, but Kim Gordon is a heroine. I love Sonic Youth as a whole, but Kim's the one. She's cool without being cool. And the way she sings, howls, grunts, yelps, commands, it leaves me floored. The way she sings this song, the flat intonation of menace and desire and revenge as she tells whoever is her object to 'c'mon get in the car, let's go for a drive somewhere,' it's a talisman for me. Driving around Delhi with that song playing gives me the necessary aggression to beat the city. I wanted some of that trashy, punk, no-wave energy inside the novel.


7.) '108 Chants of the Mahalaxmi Mantra' – Pandit Jasraj/Shweta Pandit/Ram Dixit

We used to put this on waking every morning at 5am when I had to teach yoga in the beach resort I was working at in Goa, and we also put it on when I left all that and had the freedom to write in the mornings without worrying about a job. It lasts twenty minutes, the single line of the mantra over and over, accompanied by sitar and drone. It's incredibly meditative, calming and focusing at once. These twenty minutes are the time I have to focus my mind for the day ahead.


8.) The Call to Prayer over Delhi

It's not a track, but it plays every day. The azaan, the Islamic call to prayer. It's one of the most beautiful creations, but never in a recording, it has to be heard live, and it has to exist as part of the city too, it has to call out alongside car horns, pigeons, crows, men, women, people washing their pots and pans, all those lives rubbing against one another. It has to call out alongside trains bleating. It's one essential sound of Delhi and the soundtrack to the novel.


9.) 'Kindred' – Burial, Kindred EP

There was a period writing the novel where there was a block. I'd go walking in the morning in the village with headphones on, often in a mode of despair, running calculations in my head. This track hadn't been out long, and so I listened to it on repeat for a while. Not only does it coincide with the blocked period, it also provided one small answer to it, in the crackle of needle static at the beginning of the track, which made me think of thunder, and triggered an image of my childhood that brought certain memories back. All the lines of that page, “the thunder breaks inside the sky like the crack of an old record player…” were composed walking through the village, and later written down from memory at home.


10.) 'Ain't Got No, I Got Life' – 'Nina Simone / 'Aint' – Body/Head

One is the original, the other the atonal, noise-art cover. The original I used to listen to in my car in Delhi at the time the novel was set. The Body/Head record came out around the time the editing was happening. I hadn't listened to the Simone song in years, I'd grown out of it, but the Body/Head version brought it back. It was perfect for my life then, Nina Simone's voice, her singular, lonely power. And this primal guitar-drone feminist banshee-wail – Kim Gordon again – was perfect for me at this point, so direct, painful, strong and uncompromising. It's the sonic equivalent of the kind of maelstrom I wanted by the end of things.


11.) 'All in Your Mind' – My Sad Captains, In Time

This is a band from London, my husband went to university with a couple of them, and when they're recording he gets bits and pieces, hears early tracks sometimes. The album this song comes from was written and recorded and produced when the novel was written, so there's an association. It's interesting to hear and see the process and development of someone else's work, especially when you're in the same kind of boat. But this very short song is something I'd listen to regardless of all that. It's a melancholic, acoustic piece of, I suppose, British Americana, but what's really special is the fleeting, ten-second guitar solo that's so slight, sublime and achingly beautiful that it's hard not to rewind and listen to it again right away. Sometimes when you can't face things, you need this kind of thing to sooth you, and this was there for me. It's also a good album to listen to the morning after the night before, a good comedown album.


12.) 'Night' – Midival Punditz, Midival Punditz

These guys, Tapan Raj and Gaurav Raina, started the 'Cyber Mehfil' mentioned in the novel, the early raves of Delhi. They're pioneers of India, fusing Indian classical forms and instruments with electronic music. They're still going, elder statesmen now. I used to listen to them all the time, everyone I knew in this scene did, my boyfriend went to their parties, though I was not part of that in those days, I was still somewhat removed. This song is not so indicative of a party, it's mournful, more down-tempo, uses the esraj, a sitar-like instrument, but it brings back that era for me completely.


13.) 'Living Room' – Grouper, The Man Who Died In His Boat

I'm looking for the place the spirit meets the skin
can't figure out why that place feels so hard to be in
we're all of us at this ill-fitting party
busy pretending to relate
and it's getting harder and harder to fake
acting like everything's in its place

I could include anything of Grouper's, I use her to sleep at night, and I mean that in the best possible way. She comforts me and calms my mind. This track is not a typical one, in the sense that you can actually hear the lyrics - usually they are obscured - but I choose it because it sums up how the girl in the novel feels about the world, how I have felt, and how I imagine many others do. The yearning to connect both to other people and to the natural world, and the suspicion that somehow this is an impossibility.


14.) 'Dead People's Things – Deathprod, Morals and Dogma

I want to end with some black magic: Deathprod, Helge Sten. He's Norwegian. This is all I know about him. This, and that he calls what he does an “audio virus”. Sometimes when you hear a band, an artist, a piece of music, you go and discover everything about them, you look up their other work, you familiarize yourself with them, get to know them or imagine you know them. But not here, not with Deathprod. All that I know is the music, all that exists is what I hear. Nothing beyond it matters one bit. Everything else is black. What I hear is also black, and yet it is black in the most expansive way. Listening to his music, to this track in particular, is like looking across the edge of the universe, it's like dying, being lost in an ocean or in deep space. Or maybe like being in the womb. Only when I started to write this did I go and find out what he looks like. I read up a little too. So I can tell you, in his own words, that his instrumentation “is made of homemade electronics, old tape echo machines, ring modulators, filters, Theremins, samplers and lots of electronic stuff”. I think this track uses the Theremin, oscillator and violin. It's just under twenty minutes long. It has a menacing hum of electricity, and hovering above it, a monolithic quality among a deep sorrowful melody that moves like a glacier. It's the sound of the end of the world. I used it for a long time in my yoga practice, to help go inside myself and access the secret parts. It gave me power. I transferred that power to the novel too, it allowed me to access painful things and come out unscathed.


Deepti Kapoor and A Bad Character links:

excerpt from the book

The Calcutta Telegraph review
Guardian review
The Hindu review
New Indian Express review
Publishers Weekly review
Telegraph review
Wall Street Journal review

BBC Radio 4 interview with the author
Biographile essay by the author
Fiction Advocate interview with the writer
The Hindu interview with the author
The Hindu profile of the author


also at Largehearted Boy:

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

List of Online "Best of 2014" Book Lists
Essential and Interesting 2014 Year-End Music Lists

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


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WORD Bookstores Books of the Week - January 21, 2015

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

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


All Joy and No Fun

All Joy and No Fun
by Jennifer Senior

Flipping the usual question, Senior asks how children change their parents, from marriage to hobbies to jobs.


The Darkest Part of the Forest

The Darkest Part of the Forest
by Holly Black

Staff-beloved Holly Black has done it again with her newest, which follows a brother and sister as their dreams start to come -- not altogether pleasantly -- true.


The Land of Steady Habits

The Land of Steady Habits
by Ted Thompson

A coming-of-age story and a story of aging, best summarized by the opening line of the book's second part: "The numbers weren't adding up." Do they ever?


The Rabbit Back Literature Society

The Rabbit Back Literature Society
by Pasi Ilmari Jaaskelainen

Nothing incites social drama quite as much as a secret society, especially one that's based on books!


Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs

Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs
by Johann Hari

A stirring, pivotal entry in the decades-long stalemate that is the War on Drugs.


WORD Brooklyn links:

WORD website
WORD Facebook page
WORD on Instagram
WORD Tumblr
WORD Twitter


also at Largehearted Boy:

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

List of Online "Best of 2014" Book Lists

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


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