Twitter Facebook Tumblr Pinterest Instagram

April 24, 2018

Joe Donnelly's Playlist for His Essay Collection "L.A. Man"

L.A. Man

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

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

Joe Donnelly's book L.A. Man collects his profiles of Wes Anderson, Werner Herzog, and others who have shaped our culture.


In his own words, here is Joe Donnelly's Book Notes music playlist for his essay collection L.A. Man:



During the question and answer section of readings, inevitably someone asks me how or why I became I writer. It's a simple question with no simple answer, but I often reply that the reason is in part, at least, that I didn't have the guts to follow through on my first desire: to be in a band. I've been in a band or two, or half, but never made the commitment to really try to make a life out of my first love, music. It just seemed too bold a quest, but one I often wish I had tried a bit harder at when it was time to try (though my ski-town band did get paid $300 a for a regular gig at a local waterhole popular with the women's softball league... we typically ended up in the red after the bar tab was settled.). Music and story, though, have been in my ears forever and I hope they will be until the end.

For L.A. Man, a collection and a bit of a retrospective, I'll try not to be bound by the time and place, but rather what comes to mind now when I recall scenes from those encounters.

"Driving Wes Anderson"
For this piece, Wes Anderson and I drove to Texas while Rushmore was premiering on both coasts. If someone filmed the drive, it might have played more Rich Linklater than Wes Anderson--lots of talking, lots of silence, lots of insinuation, broken up with reports coming in from both coasts as we traveled into the interior. American Analog Set's The Fun of Watching Fireworks is what I think of. It's such great driving music. It's unobtrusive but entirely engaging. Perfect for watching the country and your youth move into the rearview mirror. You need the whole album.

"Morning Becomes Electra"
The conceit of this 1997 profile was a "date" with Carmen Electra. For some reason Madonna's "Who's That Girl?" It's cute and bubbly like she was, but sly also. Also, weirdly, she's the subject in this collection, I feel like I got to know the least.

"Lou Reed Laughs Last"
Though this was a pretty upbeat encounter, we talked a lot about Berlin and The Blue Mask. Reed liked to needle our comfort zones and while "The Blue Mask" might be one of the most transgressive rock songs ever, I'm going with "The Kids" from Berlin because it is the bleakest pop song ever recorded... and it's beautiful.

"The Birth of the Now"
Picking a song to go with this (arguably... but not really) definitive piece on Dogtown and Zboys was easy. "Search and Destroy" by Iggy and the Stooges. I might just be echoing Stacy Peralta's documentary, but it's still the right choice.

"Understanding Craig Stecyk"
Craig is a seminal L.A. artist, cultural historian and raconteur. The Zboys were in many ways just another of his conceptual art pieces. The Beach Boys' "Sloop John B" comes immediately to mind.

"The Malloy Brothers' Conspiracy"
These guys surfed like gods, behaved like gentleman, bonded like the brothers-in-arms and, for awhile, made art-damaged, eco-conscious, retro surf movies that harkened back to surfers as watermen and stewards. I'm ripping Beta Band's "Needles in My Eyes" from their 2004 film Brokedown Melody.

"Who's That Girl?"
Oh, maybe that's why the Madonna song was in my head. But for this piece on the amazing comedian and performance artist Lauren Weedman I'm going with the Door's "L.A. Woman" because in many ways she's the quintessential L.A. Woman: fierce, funny, blonde, and from Indiana.

"Christian Bale and the Art of Extreme Acting"
Okay, here's where we go with Lou Reed's "The Blue Mask." Forget American Psycho, or Batman, have you ever seen The Machinist? He goes the distance.

"Sean Penn, With His Own Two Eyes"
Perhaps hitting the nail to squarely on the head, I immediately go to the Clash's "Clampdown."

"Fucking With Drew Barrymore"
At the time I did this piece, she was really going for it, producing a blockbuster franchise with girl-power subtext, stretching out as an actor and director and working on herself as a lifelong project, managing to be sun-kissed despite all the damage she'd endured. Joni Mitchell's "California" comes to mind.

"Monster Out of the Box, a Sandow Birk Omnibus"
For this piece on fearless artist Sandow Birk, I'm going with the Stones' "Street Fighting Man." The song is both rebellious and resigned and I think there's an element of that in Birk's art.

"What's Wrong With Wes Anderson"
We caught up ten years after the road trip to Texas and he seemed weary. The National's "Fake Empire" comes to mind mostly because it reminds me of smoking cigarettes and being lonely and I was doing a lot of that then. I sometimes think this piece was more reflective of my state of mind at the time than Anderson's.

"Into The Wilde"
Olivia Wilde was active in Haiti following the devastating 2010 earthquake. Bob Marley wrote "Get Up, Stand Up" after witnessing the poverty in Haiti in the early '70s. The song remains the same.

"The Pirate of Penance"
For this epic tale about Eddie Padilla, an original member of the Brotherhood of Eternal Love who escaped from the notorious Lurigancho Prison in Peru, I recommend the Grateful Dead's "Estimated Prophet."

"Lone Wolf"
This story about OR7, the wolf who went on an odyssey to reclaim lands and history that had been sacked by Manifest Destiny the choice is pretty obvious, Los Lobos's "How Will The Wolf Survive?"

"The Farewell Tour"
Another road trip tale, this one with my dying dad. I'm going with one of his favorites, The Moody Blues "Lovely To See You." Put it on and then tell me The Moody Blues aren't great.

"Werner Herzog in Los Angeles"
Terrence Trent D'Arby "Wishing Well."
It's funky, optimistic and sprockets-y at the same time. I like to imagine Herzog doing this at a karaoke bar.


Joe Donnelly and L.A. Man links:

the author's website
excerpt from the book

LA Weekly interview with the author
Quaker Campus profile of the author


also at Largehearted Boy:

Support the Largehearted Boy website

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

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






April 24, 2018

Shorties (Recommended Summer Reading, Beach House on Their New Album, and more)

Beach House

Publishers Weekly recommended summer reading.


Musical duo Beach House discussed their new album 7 with Pitchfork.


April's best eBook deals.


Jenn Champion covered "Owner of a Lonely Heart" by Yes.


Joshua Wheeler discussed his essay collection, Acid West, with Vol. 1 Brooklyn.


Phoebe Bridgers visited The Current studio for an interview and live performance.


Fresh Air interviewed Gregory Pardlo about his memoir Air Traffic.


eBook on sale for $2.99 today:

Mort(e) by Robert Repino


Stream a new Cheekface song.


Bustle recommended books to read if you love advice columns.


Consequence of Sound listed St. Vincent's favorite books.


Paste recommended April's best books.


David Bowie-inspired food and drink.


The OTHERPPL podcast interviewed author Elle Nash.


Stream a new Ty Segall song.


Curtis Sittenfeld talked books and reading with Literary Hub.


BuzzFeed listed the best soundtracks and scores of all time.


The Los Angeles Review of Books interviewed author Celeste Ng.

"Very often, women in fiction are held up as either bitter enemies or as complete BFFs. Neither of those portrayals is very complicated, very interesting, or very true. Much more common — and to my mind, interesting — is the middle ground, in which we find ourselves both drawn to and troubled by another person. And actually, we’re often most intrigued by people who seem to be living the lives we ourselves turned down or missed out on. That push and pull isn’t often seen in fiction, and I think it should be."


Stream a new Shilpa Ray song.


The Rumpus interviewed poet Shara Lessley.


BrooklynVegan examined the intersection of Archie comics and indie rock.


Joe Gross discussed his new 33 1/3 book on Fugazi's In on the Kill Taker album with Washington City Paper.


Stream a new Colin Stetson song.


BookPage interviewed poet Aimee Nezhukumatathil.


The Riverfront Times profiled the band Alvvays.

On Antisocialites, the influences peep through on occasion. There are lyrical nods to Jonathan Richman and musical nods to the Primitives and Talulah Gosh, but these are merely window dressings to a truly compelling set of songs.


Poets & Writers interviewed author Alexander Chee.


Stream a new Post Louis song.



also at Largehearted Boy:

Support Largehearted Boy

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

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


April 23, 2018

Shorties (The Women's Prize for Fiction Shortlist, New Music from Fiona Apple, and more)

Home Fire

The shortlist for the 2018 Women's Prize for fiction has been announced:

Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie
The Idiot by Elif Batuman
The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar
Sight by Jessie Greengrass
Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward
When I Hit You: Or, A Portrait of the Writer as a Young Wife by Meena Kandasamy


Stream a new Fiona Apple song.


April's best eBook deals.


Literary Hub shared an excerpt from Elle Nash’s novel Animals Eat Each Other.


NPR Music is streaming Willie Nelson's new album Last Man Standing.


Richard Powers talked to Literary Hub and the Chicago Review of Books about his new novel The Overstory.


Stream a new Yukon Blonde song.


eBooks on sale for $2.99 today:

Among Others by Jo Walton
The Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma
The Moth edited by Catherine Burns


Drowned in Sound reconsidered Frightened Rabbit's album, The Midnight Organ Fight, now ten years old.


Nigella Lawson discussed her new cookbook At My Table with Morning Edition.


Stream a new song by Mitski & Xiu Xiu.


The Guardian profiled author Hanya Yanagihara.


All Things Considered examined the symphonies of Arvo Part.


Robert Coover talked to the New Yorker about his story in this week's issue.


Bleachers and St. Vincent covered Depeche Mode's "Just Can’t Get Enough."


The Guardian profiled author Willy Vlautin.


Juliana Hatfield talked to Morning Edition about her album, Juliana Hatfield Sings Olivia Newton-John.


The New Yorker profiled author Rachel Kushner.


Katie Dey covered Blonde Redhead's "Dr. Strangeluv."


Olivia Sudjic recommended books on breaking internet addiction at the Guardian.


Stream a new Eleanor Friedberger song.


The Guardian interviewed author Curtis Sittenfeld.


Stream a new song by Scarlet Johanssen and Pete Yorn.


Document shared a conversations between authors Édouard Louis and Zadie Smith.


Stream a new Belly song.


The Guardian shared an excerpt from Leslie Jamison's memoir The Recovering.


Pitchfork profiled former Crystal Castles frontwoman Alice Glass.


Publishers Weekly interviewed author Sheila Heti.



also at Largehearted Boy:

Support Largehearted Boy

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

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


April 20, 2018

Liz Crain's Playlist for Her Book "Grow Your Own"

Grow Your Own

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

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

Grow Your Own: Understanding, Cultivating, and Enjoying Cannabis is as entertaining as it is informative.

Publishers Weekly wrote of the book:

"Fun, informative, and stylishly designed, this guidebook positions marijuana cultivation as a legitimate, high (no pun intended) end, enjoyable hobby in the style of brewing beer or growing orchids."


In her own words, here is Liz Crain's Book Notes music playlist for her book Grow Your Own:



Writing Grow Your Own: Understanding, Cultivating, and Enjoying Cannabis with the Raven Grass crew and Tin House was such an artistic, collaborative and sensory experience so naturally music played into it. I may or may not have cultivated cannabis pre-recreational-legalization in Oregon but I certainly grew cannabis outdoors in the summer of 2016 and the summer of 2017 while researching and writing Grow Your Own. What a life. Pretty stinking lucky.

From start to finish, Grow Your Own took us about two years to research, write, edit and design. When we were in the thick of the research and writing of it I put together a playlist for everyone that was primarily based on song titles and lyrics. I thought about using that playlist here, but ultimately decided to put together a more storied playlist for you and our beloved Largehearted Boy David Gutowski.

This mix includes all sorts of songs and musicians that have meant a lot to me over the years. The first three songs are from that original in-book-production playlist, however, because I love them and think you will too. Thank you so much for reading this and listening to my all-things-green playlist.

Every Day I Write the Book -- Elvis Costello & The Attractions, The Best of the First 10 Years

Writing and putting together books is so consuming and it's nice to have fun and enlivening things like playlists to keep everyone's energy up. The first time that someone put together a playlist for a book project I was working on was in 2012. Walter Green, then McSweeney's designer and book designer of my first cookbook, Toro Bravo: Stories. Recipes. No Bull (McSweeney's 2013), made a Spotify playlist for me, our book's editor Rachel Khong (her novel just came out!) and chef John Gorham when we were in the thick of recipe testing and essay writing. It was a generous gesture when stress levels were pretty high. Teamwork greatly benefits this sort of generosity if you haven't learned this much by now. We listened to the songs -- Rachel and Walter in their San Francisco office, John and I in Portland -- while going through final edits and making sure that everything was just as it should be. Or almost everything ;)

Pass the Dutchie -- Musical Youth, Anthology

This song was on a mix tape that I "borrowed" from my brother, who's five years older than me, in junior high. I was just getting into weed at the time and it was such a cool song to me from its sound to its message. I'd never heard anything like it -- kids on the street, so raw, fun and vital. At the time, there were rumors that my brother was growing weed in the woods behind our house but I never found it and he's never admitted to it since if he did.

Lately my brother's been wishing he lived in a legal state because he's been learning more and more about the medical benefits of CBD in particular. We recently had a funny conversation when he was talking about CBD but I thought he was, in fact, talking about cognitive behavior therapy (CBT). Nerds.

I can't tell you how many friends I've turned onto using cannabis as a sleep aid as well as an anti-anxiety treatment over the past couple years. Cannabis as medicine (one you can grow your own!) is a topic that comes up again and again in Grow Your Own and along that line we include recipes for tincture, butter or coconut oil infusion and all sorts of yummy things to make with both. There's even a recipe for cannabis-infused chocolate shell in the book. Remember Magic Shell?? Ours actually tastes good -- good quality chocolate and coconut oil.

Pass the Koutchie -- Mightly Diamonds, Crucial Reggae

I had no idea that this original version of the song existed until I put together that original Grow Your Own playlist. It’s funny though because “dutchie” in the Musical Youth song actually refers to a cooking pot, while “kouchie”, in this original version refers to a cannabis pipe. The Musical Youth song removed all explicit drug references. I like to have these two versions together -- the original and the cover. That juxtaposition reminds me of one of my favorite radio shows Chances with Wolves.

Strawberry Letter 23 -- Shuggie Otis, Freedom Flight

My fine fellow DJ Jimbo played this beauty at our wild Grow Your Own launch party last summer at Holocene in Portland. He played a lot great music throughout the night, some of which you can listen to here, and his music combined with all the mind-melty, bold and beautiful art and images that my co-author Nichole Graf gathered and projected over the stage and bar was awesome.

I really dig this song. If you want to check out the Grow Your Own launch party, and all the kick-ass folks, many of them women, who spoke and demo'd and tabled at it, I posted a bunch of photos and info about it here.

Shine a Light -- Shabazz Palaces with Thaddilac, Quazarz: Born on a Gangster Star

Last summer after Pickathon music festival, Jimbo was invited to open with a DJ set for Shabazz Palaces (!!) at Portland's Star Theater. I can't properly relay to you how excited I was when I heard this news. Shabazz is one-big-part Digable Planets with Ishmael Butler aka Butterfly being so crucial to both bands. The Digable Planets have made my heart go pitter patter since they formed in the late 1980s.

The end of last summer in Portland was really stinking hot and also smoky because of a dramatic, destructive wild fire that tore through the nearby Columbia Gorge. My two backyard sativa-dominant cannabis plants, that I grew in easy-to-move 25-gallon fabric pots, suffered through it with significant heat stress. The tips of their leaves browned and curled up and they also got overloaded with ash and particulates from the fire. (Our Grow Your Own Troubleshooting chapter gives you all sorts of info. and insight into tackling this sort of problem, as well as a host of cannabis pest problems, naturally, effectively and organically.)

My plants survived and so did we! And my friends and I have been enjoying their despite-all-obstacles perseverance via our pipes, vaporizers, joints, cannabis tinctures and oils all fall, winter and spring. I remember showering my quite-mature-by-then cannabis plants in water and shaking the droplets off (steer clear of mold!!) before we made our way to the Shabazz show.

At the show, after Jimbo's awesome set, I offered my vaporizer filled with my previous year's homegrown to a couple of Shabazz friends -- they'd been hanging out backstage. We passed it back-and-forth a fair few times and one of the security guards saw us and took it from me later that night. I know that I shouldn't have done that but I'm a wild one and summer tends to get to me. I got the vaporizer back eventually but it took some fancy footwork.

What Cool Breezes Do -- Digable Planets, Reachin' (A New Refutation of Time and Place)

I took a year off in-between high school and college and tried out some jobs in some places I'd always dreamed of. I thought I might want to be a farmer or a park ranger so I worked a couple seasons at Yosemite National Park -- in the general store and housekeeping, and I worked on a culinary herb farm in Spain. I saved up for both journeys with restaurant service jobs in Cincinnati, Ohio. At Yosemite, I made all sorts of lifelong friends. I lived in a tent cabin, slept on a cot, did a lot of solo backpacking, did a little rock climbing and smoked a lot of weed.

My friends Raquel, Cindy and I -- we all ventured to the park solo and became fast friends there -- listened to this first Digable Planets album often when we were passing a joint, pipe or smoking the occasional blunt. I got the nickname Crazy Glasses in Yosemite because whenever I'd get really stoned in the valley I'd put on a pair of these big funny sunglasses. In the evenings, we spent a lot of time standing in front of camp vending machines weighing our options and laughing, always laughing. I wonder why??

Burnin' Up -- Sonny Smith, Rod For Your Love

I first came to Sonny and the Sunsets several years ago when a good friend gave me his debut album right after I'd been through a bad breakup. It carried me through, as music does, and Sonny's music has signified independence and artistic freedom for me since. His music is heartfelt, full of truth and most of it is just really fun. Sonny is all about fun.

I sort of wish that I was stoned the last time I saw him at Mississippi Studios a few weeks ago for this new solo album (So good! Get it!) but I was getting over a minor concussion that took about a month to recoup from so I was taking it easy. Sonny had them turn off the lights completely on stage and in-house a couple of times during the set and that was really sweet. I've never experienced that at a show. It felt so intimate and special.

Mellow My Mind -- Neil Young, Tonight's the Night

Neil Young is one of my favorite people on the planet who I've never met. I feel so grateful to him and all of his music, art, activism and vitality. I get the feeling Neil partakes in cannabis much less now post-brain surgery but it's obviously been a longtime friend to him and his musical creation.

If I listed some of my favorite things to do when stoned the top two would certainly be listen to music and have sex -- preferably both at the same time. I wish I could get you a copy of my Grow Your Own co-author Nichole's sex and cannabis zine that she put together at the beginning of the year and that I contributed to -- Birds, Bees, Flowers, Trees. So many good stories in it along with inspired artwork and poetry. Also, have you read Broccoli? Love it.

Do What You Wanna Do -- Devin the Dude, The Dude

Years ago when I was waiting tables and managing the wine program at a Portland's RIP Alameda Cafe there was a Cuban man who I worked with named Erasto who was a dishwasher at the café and always had one bright and shining piece of advice for me. I'd come in from setting up the outdoor sidewalk tables in the morning, or pass by him when taking out the trash at the end of the night, and he'd look at me, hold up his index finger and say in his beautiful voice, "Only one life, Liz, remember. Only one life."

We're long out of touch, but Erasto's life involved a lot of sacrifices for his family as he'd left his scholarly career path in Cuba to wash dishes in Portland, Oregon. He was always there to remind me -- I was then a fledgling in the freelance food writing world -- that I should dream big, follow my heart and not waste any time. Mostly I think he just wanted me to stop waiting tables and dive full-time into my writing. It didn't take long for me to do just that. Thank you, Erasto. This song would probably make him roll his eyes in many parts, but the primary sentiment of living your own life and blazing your path shines through.

I listened to this Devin the Dude album on my drive back from Olympia the first time I met the Raven Grass crew up there right as we were setting off into our Grow Your Own book project at the end of summer 2015. A four-leaf clover affixed itself to my boot during that first meeting. I'm not exaggerating. We went on a walk and all of the sudden there it was on the tip of my boot. Anyhow, it's a good memory of the very beginning of Grow Your Own.

Rirongere -- Oliver Mtukudzi, Tuku Music

In 1998, when I was in college, I was lucky enough to do a semester of study abroad in Zimbabwe. When we got to Bulawayo for a several week stay I asked a teenage street sculptor selling his wares downtown if he would carve me a fish-shaped charcoal colored soapstone pipe. He loved the idea of that and he did. It's beautiful and works so well. To this day, it's my favorite pipe.

That pipe is actually photographed in all its glory on page 170 of Grow Your Own at the beginning of Chapter 11: Consuming Your Cannabis. That chapter also includes fun things like steps and illustrations for how to make a gravity bong and carve an apple pipe, and it also lays out the ins and outs of vaporizers, dab rigs, and all the other myriad methods for enjoying cannabis.

When the sculptor in Bulawayo handed the pipe over to me a week or so later he said, please be careful when using this while you're here. So I named it Chenjerai which is Shona for beware, be cautious. I fell in love with Oliver Mtukudzi's music during my time in Zimbabwe and this album had just launched so I saw him play from it a few times. If you've never listened to Mtukudzi, and dig this song, I highly recommend finding an album of his. He's brilliant.
 
Didn't I (Blow Your Mind this Time) -- The Delfonics, The Delfonics

I don't have a story for this song (and my other stories have been a bit long so…) I just want it here. It feels right so I'm going with it.

At My Window -- Townes Van Zant, Be Here to Love Me

Nichole and Micah, my Grow Your Own co-authors and co-owners of Raven Grass have a dog named Townes and I used to have a cat named Little Susie and both of those pet names are inspired by the same man, the late Mr. Townes Van Sant. What are the chances? Lil Susie was named after a character in the song Dead Flowers which Townes sang. The Rolling Stones wrote and originally performed that song but I much prefer Townes' version. I really like this Townes song that I've included and hope you do too.

Look at What the Light Did Now -- Little Wings, Light Green Leaves

This is the first Little Wings song that I ever heard and I'm pretty sure I first heard it while listening to Jeffrey Davison's excellent WFMU show Shrunken Planet but it also might have been through an old Arthur Magazine compilation. I came to both around the same time and there's a lot of overlap.

While working on Grow Your Own I learned how very much my co-author Nichole loves Little Wings because I told her about a writing residency that I did at the Sou'wester when on my last night of the residency Little Wings happened to play a show that Michael Hurley opened for, who I also love. Nichole freaked. She loves Little Wings. Michael Hurley actually congratulated me on making so much headway on my novel during my residency that night and that really made my heart sing. I'll never forget it.

This song is so simple and beautiful. When you're cultivating cannabis, whether indoors or outdoors, there's a lot of time and thought that goes into lighting and believe you me we hold your hand and go into the details of that in Grow Your Own so that you know about all of your options. I grew cannabis indoors a bit pre-legalization but I prefer outdoor gardening of all stripes. In fact, in another month or so I'll be planting this year's backyard cannabis garden! I can't wait -- I look forward to my spring-time planting all year. It's nice to have all that I learned while researching and writing Grow Your Own with the Ravens fuel it now. When I'm out in the garden and the light shifts in a pleasing way this song often breezes into my mind. I hope it will breeze into yours now too.


Liz Crain and Grow Your Own links:

the author's website

Publishers Weekly review

Largehearted Boy Book Notes playlist by the author for Food Lover's Guide to Portland
Largehearted Boy Book Notes playlist by the author for Toro Bravo
Portland Culinary Podcast interview with the author


also at Largehearted Boy:

Support the Largehearted Boy website

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

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


This Week's Interesting Music Releases - April 20, 2018

DRINKS

DRINKS' Hippo Lite (the second album from Cate LeBon and Tim Presley's collaboration), Lord Huron's Vide Noir, and Sera Cahoone's The Flora String Sessions are the new releases I can recommend this week.

Roxy - Tonight's the Night Live captures highlights of two 1973 Neil Young performances.

Reissues include a remastered and expanded edition of Pete Townshend's Who Came First.


This week's interesting music releases:


Alexis Taylor: Beautiful Thing
Alison Moyet: The Other Live Collection
A Perfect Circle: Eat The Elephant
Bishop Briggs: Church Of Scars
Black Stone Cherry: Family Tree
Bonnie 'Prince' Billy: Wolf of the Cosmos [vinyl]
Brothers Osborne: Port Saint Joe
Cheech & Chong: Up In Smoke 40th Anniversary Deluxe Collection (4-disc box set)
Donovan Woods: Both Ways
DRINKS: Hippo Lite
Flaming Lips: Scratching The Door: The First Recordings Of the Flaming Lips
Various Artists: Hopes & Dreams: The Lullaby Project
Henry Mancini: Breakfast at Tiffany's (soundtrack) (reissue) [vinyl]
J. Cole: Kod
Jackson Browne: Broadcast Archive (4-CD box set)
John Zorn: Insurrection
Jonny Greenwood: Phantom Thread (soundtrack) [vinyl]
Joshua Hedley: Mr. Jukebox
Kimbra: Primal Heart
Larkin Poe: Peach
Linda Ronstadt: Mad Love (reissue)
Lord Huron: Vide Noir
Manic Street Preachers: Resistance Is Futile
Marcia Ball: Shine Bright
Melvins: Pinkus Abortion Technician
Neil Young: Roxy - Tonight's the Night Live
New York Dolls: Personality Crisis: Live Recordings & Studio Demos 1972-1975 (5-CD box set)
Old Crow Medicine Show: Volunteer
Pennywise: Never Gonna Die
Pete Townshend: Who Came First (remastered and expanded)
Post Animal: When I Think Of You In A Castle
The Promise Ring: Nothing Feels Good (reissue) [vinyl]
Sera Cahoone: The Flora String Sessions
Sting & Shaggy: 44/876
Stryper: God Damn Evil
Sufjan Stevens: Tonya Harding [vinyl]
Sweet Valley: Eternal Champ II
Tesseract: Sonder
Thievery Corporation: Treasure From The Temple
Todd Rundgren & Utopia: The Road To Utopia - The Complete Recordings 1974-82 Original Recording Masters (7-CD box set)
Various Artists: Brown Acid - The Sixth Trip - Heavy Rock from the Underground Comedown
Various Artists: Songs from Coco (soundtrack) [vinyl]
The Who: Live at the Fillmore East: 1968
Widespread Panic: Light Fuse, Get Away (4-LPs) [vinyl]


also at Largehearted Boy:

Support Largehearted Boy

weekly music release lists

Book Notes (authors create music 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 book and music news and links)
Soundtracked (composers and directors discuss their film's soundtracks)


Shorties (An Interview with Alexander Chee, A Demo from Liz Phair's New Box Set, and more)

Liz Phair

Poets & Writers interviewed author Alexander Chee.


Stream Liz Phair's demo for "Stratford -on-Guy," from her forthcoming Girly-Sound To Guyville box set.


April's best eBook deals.


Stream a new Courtney Barnett song.


Signature recommended political poetry collections published this year.


Hot Chip's Alexis Taylor on his favorite books.


Vol. 1 Brooklyn interviewed author Jordan A. Rothacker.


Stream a previously unreleased Brian Eno track.


John Moreland played a Tiny Desk Concert.


Maria Enriquez discussed her story collection Things We Lost in the Fire with Literary Hub.


Stream a new Aquaserge song.


Richard Powers talked to All Things Considered about his new novel The Overstory.


L7 visited The Current studio for an interview and live performance.


Tin House interviewed author Rowan Hisayo Buchanan.


Stream a new Innocence Mission song.


But That's Another Story interviewed author and editor Julie Buntin.


Half Waif visited Paste for a video session.


Literary Hub shared an excerpt from Jonathan Evison's novel Lawn Boy.


Stream two new Lykke Li songs.


Sofija Stefanovic discussed her memoir Miss Ex-Yugoslavia with CarolineLeavittville.


Aquarium Drunkard interviewed the members of Wye Oak about the duo's new album.


The shortlist for the 2018 Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction has been announced.


Stream a new song by Yuno.


The Los Angeles Review of Books interviewed poet Hannah Sullivan.


Erika Wennerstrom of Heartless Bastards visited World Cafe for a live performance and interview.


The Rumpus interviewed singer-songwriter Juliana Hatfield.


Bradford Cox discussed the new Deerhunter album with Vogue.


Stream a new song by Roseblood (the new band of Kathy Foster of the Thermals).



also at Largehearted Boy:

Support Largehearted Boy

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

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


April 19, 2018

Malinda McCollum's Playlist for Her Short Story Collection "The Surprising Place"

The Surprising Place

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

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

Awarded the 2017 Juniper Prize for Fiction, Malinda McCollum's The Surprising Place is an impressive debut story collection.

Booklist wrote of the book:

"The 12 loosely linked tales in McCollum's prize-winning, virtuosic debut are as funny and vivid as the characters are lonely and desperate . . . Darkly comic and brimming with conviction, McCollum's taut collection is an inverted portrait of the American dream."


In her own words, here is Malinda McCollum's Book Notes music playlist for her short story collection The Surprising Place:



Most of the stories in The Surprising Place are set in Des Moines, Iowa, where I grew up. I haven't lived in Des Moines for a while, but I still visit Iowa every summer, and the moment I get off the plane, there's something about the light and landscape that stirs me. The expansiveness of the horizon makes me think of an empty movie screen, and I can remember the restless anticipation I felt when I lived there, like, When's this movie going to start? What you eventually realize, as a Midwesterner, is that if you want a movie, you have to make it yourself. And, of course, an essential part of any movie is its soundtrack. Since many of the stories in The Surprising Place unfold in the 1990's, music from that decade features prominently in my playlist. The Quiet-Loud-Quiet scheme you hear in a lot of 90's songs also lines up with my book's characters, who often struggle to articulate what they most long for––and then suddenly explode.

"Violet," Hole

Different stories spring from different sources, and "Kicks," the first piece I wrote in The Surprising Place, came from a specific action: punching out a window. I'd heard the act of punching through a window doesn't hurt you, and that the injury actually comes afterwards, when you try to retract your arm through broken glass. This struck me an amazing metaphor––for something?––so I started thinking about a person who might punch a window, which led to Severa, a raging, grieving teenage girl. I went on to write two more stories about Severa, and while writing them, I had Live Through This and Celebrity Skin on repeat. In "Violet," I love the odd images in the opening lines: And the sky was made of amethyst/And all the stars were just like little fish. Then there's the chorus, which moves from a lilting singsong––When they get what they want, and they never want it again––to a full-blown scream: Go on, take everything, take everything, I want you to! For me, Courtney Love's singing is the vocal equivalent of smashing a window with your fist.

"Blister in the Sun," Violent Femmes

To the surprise of almost everyone who knows me now, I used to be a synchronized swimmer. In my story "Sharks," a high school synchronized swimming team performs (badly) to Falco's "Rock Me Amadeus," but the routine that sticks with me from my own adolescence was set to "Blister in the Sun." It sticks with me because before we started practicing in the pool, we spent six weeks walking through our routines on land, using our arms to mimic what our legs would do in the water. That felt weird, and it felt even weirder to pair precise, regimented synchro moves (barracudas, oysters, flamingo turns) with "Blister's" jittery beats and Gordon Gano's dynamic–-first punchy, then languid––delivery.

"Numb," Portishead

An element that pops up throughout The Surprising Place is the emergence of 17-year cicadas in the trees around Des Moines. The cicadas' incessant keening––and their shed skins littering the ground––transform the town and evoke anxiety and awe. This mix of uneasiness and wonder is something my stories aim for, and I think "Numb" embodies that unsettling, mesmerizing feel. Hearing "Numb" creeps me out, but I can't stop listening to it. I'm compelled by its discordant moments and by its spooky voices that seem to be calling from very far away.

"6'1"," Liz Phair

When writing, I usually listen to the same music over and over again, and Exile In Guyville fueled a lot of The Surprising Place (along with every other Liz Phair album.) "6'1" is the first track on Exile In Guyville, and as soon as I'd hear the intro––even before Phair starts singing––I'd know it was time to get to work. Once Phair is singing, she somehow manages to sound cool, but not cold, and eerily distant, even as she's right up in your face. That tension is irresistible to me, and I hoped it would infuse my collection.

"Everything is Everything," Lauryn Hill

The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill is another album I listened to again and again while writing The Surprising Place. I'm drawn to authors and artists with strong, singular voices that instantly immerse you in their distinctive vision. That's Lauryn Hill, for sure, and while this whole album kills me, "Everything is Everything" is one of my favorites, especially the way she sings, After winter, must come spring. Her rendition of this line comes into my mind a lot, like a mantra.

"California," Joni Mitchell

I couldn't love Joni Mitchell more, and "California" appears in "The Fifth Wall," during a scene in which a young girl is abandoned on a cross-country road trip. I love everything Joni Mitchell's ever done––did I already mention that?––but this particular song resonates because many of the people in The Surprising Place are lured by the image of California as radically different from Iowa in terms of landscape and vibe. They imagine a change in location will ease their burdens and transform their lives, but discover they can't outrun who they are. "California" ends with Mitchell's repeated, escalating pleas for acceptance: Oh will you take me as I am? Will you take me as I am? Will you? Will you take me as I am? It's such a scary question to put out into the world, and her voice strains when she asks it, but never breaks.


Malinda McCollum and The Surprising Place links:

the author's website

Booklist review


also at Largehearted Boy:

Support the Largehearted Boy website

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

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


Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week - April 19, 2018

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

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


The Dangerous Journey

The Dangerous Journey
by Tove Jansson

This new release by Drawn & Quarterly was the last picture book completed by our collective fairy grandmother Tove Jansson. In gorgeous watercolour illustrations and a whimsical lyricism, Jansson tells the story of Susanna, a precocious youth fed up with her humdrum day-to-day. She aches for adventure. A story or adults and children, the serious and the impish, alike.


Your Black Friend and Other Strangers

Your Black Friend and Other Strangers
by Ben Passmore

As the name suggests, this comic collection is written pointedly for white readers. Told through challenging and humorous stories, it's broadly about the ways in which today's social and moral contacts are failing black people and the vulnerable. Specifically, it's about characters tinted in purple and pink hues just trying to get through the daily chaos.


Authenticity Is a Feeling

Authenticity Is a Feeling
by Jacob Wren

In this collection of essays, local Montreal writer/artist/sage Jacob Wren shares his experiences in multi-disciplinary performance. As a member of the bilingual collective PME-ART, Wren recounts his theatrical and musical experiments through this intimate collage-memoir-diary.


Building and Dwelling: Ethics for the City

Building and Dwelling: Ethics for the City
by Richard Sennett

A deep dive consideration of cities, how they are built, and how we live in them. Sennett looks at the evolution of cities in widely different locals, For everyone who lives in a city (yes, you!), because they are not indifferent settings but trace long histories of disparity, growth, and unusual adaptations.


Milk

Milk
by Dorothea Lasky

Opening with a startling and vivid line by Ovid, Lasky's collection of poetry is a series of shudders. Each line stands on its own and demands the imagination, longing, and sorrow of the reader. She writes with tender aches and pains about her body changing into a maternal one and the loss she subsequently encounters.


Librairie Drawn & Quarterly links:

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


also at Largehearted Boy:

Support the Largehearted Boy website

other Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week

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


Shorties (A Book About Touring with the Replacements, Stream the New Speedy Ortiz Album, and more) Stream he New Speedy Ortiz Album, and more)

Lemon Jail

Bill Sullivan discussed his book Lemon Jail: On the Road with the Replacements with Minneapolis City Pages.


NPR Music is streaming Speedy Ortiz's new album, Twerp Verse.


April's best eBook deals.


NPR Music is streaming Half Waif's new album, Lavender.


The Los Angeles Review of Books interviewed author Hanif Abdurraqib.

The Rumpus shared two poems by Abdurraqib.


Paste profiled singer-songwriter Lucy Dacus.


Cosmopolitan UK recommended books to read this summer.


Stream a new song by Let's Eat Grandma.


Dan Sheehan discussed his novel Restless Souls with BOMB.


The Washington Post examined the state of Prince's estate and legacy.


Art Spiegelman on the genius of comics pioneer Lynd Ward.


Stream a new Iceage song.


The Millions shared an excerpt from Genevieve Hudson's book A Little in Love with Everyone: Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home.


NPR Music is streaming Okkervil River's new album In the Rainbow Rain.


Full Stop shared Rivka Galchen's introduction to Bruno Schultz's Collected Stories.


Superorganism visited World Cafe for an interview and live performance.


Ronan Farrow discussed his book War on Peace: The End of Diplomacy and the Decline of American Influence with Morning Edition.


Ryan Walsh discussed his book Astral Weeks: A Secret History of 1968 with Full Stop.


Alexander Chee discussed his essay collection How to Write an Autobiographical Novel with the Los Angeles Times.


Noisey profiled the band Forth Wanderers.


Bookworm interviewed author Christine Schutt.


Prince's unfinished memoir will be published later this year.


The New York Times interviewed authors Tracy K. Smith and Jacqueline Woodson.


Steam a new Carla Bozulich song.


The OTHERPPL podcast interviewed author Steve Almond.


The Quietus profiled the band The Messthetics.


The Paris Review interviewed Jhumpa Lahiri on her work as a translator.



also at Largehearted Boy:

Support Largehearted Boy

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

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


April 18, 2018

Elise Juska's Playlist for Her Novel "If We Had Known"

If We Had Known

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

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

Elise Juska's novel If We Had Known is a timely and important literary page-turner about a mas shooting at a mall.

Booklist wrote of the book:

"Switching between viewpoints, Juska contrasts the actions of a split second and the slow burn of a lifetime of behavior to show that both can have extensive, damning consequences that are rarely foreseen."


In her own words, here is Elise Juska's Book Notes music playlist for her debut novel If We Had Known:



My three-year-old's favorite thing to watch is a YouTube video about musical instruments. "Music is everywhere," the narrator intones. He goes on to name the places music can be heard—in the wind, the rain—and the range of feelings it can evoke. This music is peaceful, my son will often report when listening to a song. This music is silly. Serious. Sad.

If I were to attach such terms to the music accompanying this novel, they would be stunned. Anxious. Isolated. Scared. In the opening chapters, which take place in the days after a mass shooting in a mall in a small town in Maine, these were the feelings the characters were experiencing. They were my feelings too, over the years I wrote this book, as the real-world headlines grew only more harrowing. (This music is heartbroken. This music is enraged.)

The novel is written from multiple points of view—including Maggie Daley, the shooter's former English professor, and her teenage daughter—and traces the ripple effect of this tragedy as the characters are impacted in different ways; for each, I chose a song whose lyrics (or absence of them) reflected their particular emotional state.

Though the novel takes place in Fall 2015 and is decidedly contemporary, writing it—and, later, thinking about this essay—coincided with a household cleaning project: digging through a formidable pile of old boxes from my mom's attic, which included hundreds of cassettes. Many of these were mixed tapes from high school/college/grad school, roughly 1988-1997, carefully curated playlists with titles like Music for Driving or Songs for When You're Down. As I sifted through them, I remembered the songs instantly and viscerally, music that at the time was lonely, heartbroken, confused—a counterpoint to my own teenaged angst and that I listened to repeatedly, as if scraping at a wound.

Now, February 2018, as I watch the news of the horrific shooting at Marjory Stoneham Douglas High School, returning to these songs evokes something more than nostalgia. It's freighted with a deeper grief—not just that my own high school experience is over, but that the experience of high school is changed, gone in a larger way. Because of the convergence of these things—the news, the novel, the obsolete mixed tapes—some of those songs found their way onto this list.

"I Don't Like Mondays" - The Boomtown Rats

In the opening pages of the novel, as news of the shooting emerges, one of the first lines of inquiry is who the shooter is and why he did it. I have a clear memory of this Boomtown Rats song coming on the radio of our Datsun when I was ten or eleven, and my dad explaining that it was written about a shooting. That the shooter, upon being asked why she did it, replied: "I don't like Mondays." Maybe it's because this response, in the ordered world of my childhood, was so warped and disordered that I remember the moment so vividly: sitting at a red light, looking out the window, trying to wrap my mind around this senselessness.

"Green Arrow" - Yo La Tengo

Upon hearing about the tragedy, Maggie immediately realizes the gunman, Nathan Dugan, had been her student. She later discovers something he wrote for her freshman composition class, four years prior, that may have signaled he was violent. A devoted teacher who prides herself on her ability to detect subtext and subtlety, it seems impossible that her eye for language might have, in this instance, failed her so critically. This Yo La Tengo instrumental evokes a summer night—not unlike the August night, quiet and mournful and even ironically peaceful, when Maggie is processing the news—and has no words.

"Kid Fears" - Indigo Girls

Anna, Maggie's daughter, has suffered from anxiety since she was a child. On the weekend of the shooting, she's about to leave for college and is in a relatively stable place. But the news of the shooting and subsequent flood of discussion on social media gradually reignite her old worries, as her "kid fears"—scenarios that used to frighten her but seemed ultimately abstract, impossible—have turned real.

"Wise Up" - Aimee Mann

Suzanne, the wife of a professor at the college, suspects her husband is having an affair but can't bring herself to ask. When the victims' names are released—one of them a teenage girl with whom Suzanne had a brief but deeply affecting conversation a few months prior—it levels her, and she's no longer willing or able to ignore the realities of her own life.

"I Think I'll Make Another World" - Magnetic Fields

Luke, another former student of Maggie's, took to social media after the shooting, writing a quick, unfiltered Facebook post about his memories of his classmate Nathan, his guilt about not befriending him. Though Luke doesn't expect anyone to notice, his post unexpectedly and unsettlingly goes viral. Suddenly he's connected with thousands of strangers, immersed in an online world of his own creation, but feels only more isolated, stuck, strange.

"Your Ghost" - Kristen Hersh

Marielle, the shooter's mother, disappears inside her house in the weeks following the tragedy, trying to reconcile her grief for her son with her horror at what he's done. "Your Ghost" is a lament, as she mourns the loss of her boy—or the boy she thought she knew—and is haunted by one that he became.

"You Are Not Alone" - Patty Griffin

Despite the loneliness and unreality of the online world—and the fear and anxiety of the real one—some of the characters in the novel are ultimately able to move forward, form new and meaningful connections. "Put out the fire in your head," the song says, just a voice and a guitar. "You are not alone." This music is sad. But hopeful.


Elise Juska and If We Had Known links:

the author's website

Kirkus review


also at Largehearted Boy:

Support the Largehearted Boy website

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

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


Shorties (Books That Reimagine Classic Myths, New Music from Mazzy Star, and more)

Circe

Signature recommended books that reimagine classic myths.


Stream a new Mazzy Star song.


April's best eBook deals.


Stream a new Jim James song.


Sergio De La Pava discussed his brilliant new novel with BOMB.


Philadelphia Weekly profiled the shoegaze band King Woman.


eBook on sale today for $2.99:

The Color Purple by Alice Walker


Stream a new song by The Essex Green.


Paste listed America's best music festivals.


Entertainment Weekly reports that Nicole Kidman will adapt and star in an adaptation of Meg Wolitzer's novel The Female Persuasion.


Julien Baker covered the Mountain Goats' "No Children."


Book Riot shared a primer on Japanese horror fiction.


Bill Sullivan discussed his new book Lemon Jail: On the Road with the Replacements with The Current.


VICE shared a new comic by Anya Davidson.


Stream a new Deafheaven song.


Literary Hub features a new essay by Rebecca Solnit.


PopMatters interviewed Ripley Johnson of the band Wooden Shjips.


BookPage interviewed author Aimee Nezhukumatathil.


Stream a new Frog Eyes song.


Unbound Worlds interviewed Chandler Klang Smith about her novel The Sky is Yours.


Get a David Bowie MetroCard.


Tor.com recommended horror novels with unreliable narrators.


Stream a new song by Sibille Attar.


Madeline Miller talked to BookPage about her novel Circe.


Stream a new song by Laura Jane Grace song.



also at Largehearted Boy:

Support Largehearted Boy

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

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


April 17, 2018

Rebekah Frumkin's Playlist for Her Novel "The Comedown"

The Comedown

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

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

Rebekah Frumkin's ambitious debut novel The Comedown is an impressive account of American life across generations.

Booklist wrote of the book:

"Frumkin's powerfully drawn moments present themes of race, religion, and education; addiction and mental illness; sex, love, and inheritance....Frumkin displays a real knack for creating lifelike, original characters and letting them do the talking."


In her own words, here is Rebekah Frumkin's Book Notes music playlist for her debut novel The Comedown:



The Comedown is multi-generational, and so was the music I listened to while I wrote it. This playlist is so inspired by my characters’ preferences that it doesn’t feel like my own. I tend to approach my writing like a method actor studying for a role: if I’m going to inhabit the psyche of a baby boomer, for instance, then I’ll listen to her music, read her books, watch her TV, talk to people who knew her in an effort to understand her. Most importantly, I’ll draw upon moments of intense emotion in my own life that could possibly bring me closer to hers. Music elicits emotion in me like almost nothing else, which is good news for my “performance” on the page – if the song makes me feel happy then I’m better able to channel a character’s happiness. And that happiness changes with the variables of the character’s identity. A middle-aged, straight fisherman’s happiness is an entirely different genre from a young, queer prison abolitionist’s happiness. Picking the right song for the right emotion for the right character was one of my favorite parts of writing this novel.


“God Only Knows” by the Beach Boys

Pet Sounds was an earth-shattering album, and “God Only Knows” is a harmonized prayer right in the middle of it. Writing to this song was like writing in my sleep – I was putting words on the page but in an abstracted, dreamy way, watching myself write from a distance and nodding and thinking, “Good job, Rebekah.” I listened to this song most when I was writing a character, Melinda, who takes up space in a way women aren’t supposed to, who is married to a coke-addicted egomaniac, and whose son is one of her few tethers to reality. She isn’t the picture of confidence, but she never collapses into a pile of self-loathing. She manages, despite everything, to love herself: instead of “god only knows what I’d be without you,” “god only knows where I’d be without me.”

“To Love Somebody” by the Bee Gees

This is one of a handful of songs I played on repeat for hours while writing The Comedown. The Bee Gees are typically associated with a semi-nude John Travolta combing his hair in Saturday Night Fever, but they’re more than a shaggy disco band. They wrote ballads like “To Love Somebody,” which contains the powerful refrain: “You don’t know what it’s like / Baby you don’t know what it’s like / To love somebody / To love somebody / The way I love you.” Those lines almost sound like a parent talking to their child. And even though many baby boomers hated disco for its encroachment on the folk, rock, and folk-rock of the ‘60s – there was even a Disco Demolition at Comiskey Park in 1979 that turned into a riot – I think the refrain of “To Love Somebody” applies to Reggie, Natasha, and Melinda, all boomers passionately devoted to their children. Even Leland Sr. manages to collect himself enough to care about the younger of his two sons. I’ve never been a parent, but the Bee Gees helped me write about them.

“I Want You Back” by the Jackson 5

I recently watched the Goin’ Back to Indiana version of this song and felt bad for how little I cared about the other brothers: the only person onstage was Michael in his weird sunflower costume, clapping his hands and dancing with perfect rhythm. Michael, like Brian Wilson, was a massive talent with a tyrannical father-manager. “I Want You Back” has him screaming at the top of his lungs, desperately fighting for a second chance with a woman who’s abandoned him. The song should be sung by someone three times his age, but somehow he manages to fill it with enough emotion to outstrip the abilities of any adult. Reggie would have been a young man when this song topped the Billboard Hot 100 – in an earlier version of the book, this song is playing when he first meets Sunny. My editor wanted me to rewrite the scene for practical reasons, but I still kept the spirit of Michael in the book, populating it with fans of his music and child prodigies alike.

“Tell Me Something Good” by Chaka Khan and Rufus

In this song, Chaka Khan appears to have the world’s worst lover, some guy totally underserving of her. I kept listening to this funky, sexy, song over and over, trying to piece together why Chaka Khan is begging this lame dude to tell her something good. Just leave him, I’d think, you can do so much better. Still, I can’t get enough of this song – it’s a quintessential 70s track, the kind of record that would be playing while Reggie and Natasha were having sex. The wah wah of the synthy talkbox somehow calls to mind the debauchery that went on behind bedroom doors in 1974: stolen kisses and psychedelic trips and plots against unhip parents. The fact that Chaka Khan was a member of the Black Panther Party would probably still the hearts of many a white kid who was more into the civil rights thing for the drugs than the liberation of marginalized people – there were (and continue to be) many such white kids. But they don’t matter. What matters is how Chaka’s brilliance shines through in this song. Her talent for music is like Natasha’s for criticism: persistent, undeniable, and beautiful.

“Heart of Glass” by Blondie

Cocaine is basically its own character in the book, so I’ve dedicated two songs on this playlist to it. This is the first. Blondie, hanging out in Studio 54 with her band of L.L. Bean models, might as well be singing about addiction and recovery: “Once I had a love and it was divine / Soon found out I was losing my mind / It seemed like the real thing but I was so blind / Mucho mistrust, love’s gone behind.” Leland Sr. never recovers from his addiction and Lee seems to be headed into the same territory. This song helped me write their drug-fueled manias: the beat is just cheerful enough to call to mind cocaine’s quick-wittedness and self-possession but not its jagged aftereffects. That part is for the lyrics.

“Atmosphere” by Joy Division

This is a beautiful song which sounds like a funeral dirge for Joy Division’s lead singer, Ian Curtis. It was released just two months before Curtis’s suicide, and the lyrics seem to be calling him back to earth: “Don’t walk away, in silence / See the danger / Always danger.” The Comedown has characters who suffer, like Curtis did, from disturbances in their mental health: Leland Sr., Leland Jr., Caleb, Lee, Tarzan/Tweety, and Maria Timpano are some of the most notable in the book. Curtis was epileptic, prescribed a cocktail of anticonvulsants to keep his brain’s electricity in order. It’s hard not to compare him to Maria Timpano, who has a chronic brain disorder that nearly kills her and grants her a 200+ IQ. I’m not a terribly big fan of the “mentally ill genius” trope, often because it functions as an apologia for (men’s) shitty behavior, but I do think there’s something to be said for one’s disability informing one’s view of the world. Curtis would not have sang how he sang and danced how he danced without his neurodivergent brain. Neither would Maria Timpano have written how she wrote or loved how she loved.

“Just a Friend” by Biz Markie

I fell in love with the Freddie Scott track Biz samples from before I’d even heard of this song, which (the song) is boy-dorky, like if an overindulged class clown started rapping a chart-topping single. “(You) Got What I Need” is an example of R&B wizardry, and Biz’s track doesn’t deny its power. Instead, Freddie Scott’s love story becomes the irresistibly catchy refrain to Biz’s corny heartbreak. Of all the characters in the novel, this song reminds me the most of Aaron. He would have been almost 20 in 1989, the year Biz topped the charts with “Just a Friend.” And, like Biz, Skee-Lo, and others who rapped about how great it would be if they could just pull hot ladies, he would have been a “nice guy,” the kind of straight, cis man who talks about “the mysteries of the female sex” and bemoans other men’s attractiveness. At least Biz doesn’t take himself too seriously – I’m not sure the same can be said for any man in my novel.

“Debra” by Beck

This is the second of the two cocaine songs on this playlist. Although it’s a Beck-proclaimed “slow jam,” there’s something about it that reminds me of the bedraggled morning after a night of indulgence. If you had just blown lines and lines of amphetamines and were so energetic you had to walk two miles to a park, where you would then sit sweating on a bench, wide awake and underslept, watching the sun come up, this song would be playing in your head. This song would be playing in your head as you were arrested for loitering around 5:00am, as you were chatting people up in jail, as cops leered at you while you paced your cell. “I pick you up late after work / I say, ‘Girl, step inside my Hyundai’” – that is exactly the kind of thing Leland Sr. would say to a woman he was trying to court. In my mind, Leland Sr. even looks a little like Beck: a thin white dude in a wide-lapeled suit, singing about stuff that doesn’t make any sense.

“A.D.H.D.” by Kendrick Lamar

Finally, a song about the millennial drug-taking experience! “My generation sipping cough syrup like it’s water / Never no pancakes in the kitchen / Man, no wonder our lives is caught up in the daily superstition / That the world is ‘bout to end / Who gives a fuck? We never do listen.” Kendrick Lamar is brilliant without bounds, the kind of talent that makes you weak in the knees when you listen to his early stuff: the fact that he only got better after Section.80 is almost unfair to other rappers. This song almost exactly captures the drug-glazed apathy of Netta’s college years, the hedonism of Lee and Tarzan/Tweety’s adolescence. Kendrick is talking about a generation that was born into the crack epidemic and matured into DSM diagnoses like A.D.H.D. While Netta, Lee, and Tarzan/Tweety may be privileged in ways Kendrick’s subjects are not, they share a desire to get as fucked up as possible and forget about the world crumbling around them.

“Chanel” by Frank Ocean

Although many have hoisted him aloft as a queer icon, Frank Ocean has resisted categorization. Other than revealing that his first love was a member of the same gender, he hasn’t adopted any labels for himself. His music revels in ambiguity. When I think of “Chanel” I think of Tarzan/Tweety, a person who doesn’t want to be defined by their appearance or pronouns, who wants to live in that murky suspension before all the categorization and delineation that goes on in our world. “I see both sides like Chanel” refers to the interlocking Cs of the Chanel logo, as well as, perhaps, Frank’s quicksilver fluidity. He’s bisexual one minute, pansexual the next, gay another: there’s no pinning him down, hard as Gen X music critics might try. He’s no one’s symbol, and neither is Tarzan/Tweety.


Rebekah Frumkin and The Comedown links:

the author's website
excerpt from the book

BookPage review
Kirkus review
Publishers Weekly review


also at Largehearted Boy:

Support the Largehearted Boy website

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

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


Google
  Web largeheartedboy.com   


1 | older