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May 28, 2015

Book Notes - Kathleen Ossip "The Do-Over"

The Do-Over

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, T.C. Boyle, Dana Spiotta, Amy Bloom, Aimee Bender, Jesmyn Ward, Heidi Julavits, Hari Kunzru, and many others.

Kathleen Ossip's The Do-Over is a stunning poetry collection, a powerful and unforgettable elegy for the poet's mother-in-law.

The Paris Review wrote of the book:

"Unassuming and masterfully crafted, Ossip's poetry is sneaky, very often disguising itself as easy and surprising you the moment you let your guard down. . . . The Do-Over is a kind of elegy to contemporary culture: it critiques modern life while basking in its ever-younger, glitzier rabble."

Stream a playlist of these songs at Spotify.


In her own words, here is Kathleen Ossip's Book Notes music playlist for her poetry collection The Do-Over:


I'm a lover of music but I'm not someone who needs music budded into her head to accompany every activity. I like silence too, and talk. As a poet, I find words indispensable. So I should say, I'm a lover of songs, of the corner of Music and Lyrics, the compression of them into both sense and pleasure. Specifically, I'm a lover of pop (and not only in songs, but in film too, and fiction) but only pop that transcends: When a song is both immediately accessible and deeply pleasurable and immeasurably profound, I experience true aesthetic magic. There are a lot of songs sprinkled throughout The Do-Over, overtly and covertly (the list in a minute), but first, there's a particular collection of pop songs that, in a weird way, inspired the shape and spirit of the book.

That would be Tusk, Fleetwood Mac's greatest album and, as my all-time favorite album, music that has become part of my nervous system. When I started writing the poems in the The Do-Over I didn't know much about where I was going with them, but I did know that I wanted The Do-Over, a book about death, to have the formal range and varied textures of Tusk. Singleminded in my exploration of that one grand theme, I wanted a variousness of approach, outlook, form, one way to get at the unfathomable complexity of experience. Similarly Tusk applies itself to its one grand theme (heterosexual bliss, heartache, and rage) with all the multiplicity its three singer-songwriters had in them. You never know what you're going to hear next, except that you know it'll have the shimmer of craft, of its having been thought through in some careful way, and you know that each song will sound intensely like itself. I wanted to create a similar sense of texture for the readers making their way through my book. A sampling of the range (and my favorites for each of the writers):

Lindsey Buckingham's "The Ledge"
Stevie Nick's "Beautiful Child"
Christine McVie's "Never Forget"
(the perfect final song)

Famously, Tusk was producer Lindsey Buckingham's deliberate 180 away from the smooth pop splendor of Rumours, the band's previous mega-success. There's a stripped-down weird artlessness to the production (though the playing and singing remains as artful as ever) that I like to think is also reflected in the blunt, strange, naive voice I tried to evoke in much of The Do-Over.

Now for some individual poem-song pairings:

Poem: "Tool Moan"
Song: Jimi Hendrix, "Voodoo Child"

Jimi Hendrix was a fantastic poet; my favorite of his couplets is "You can hear happiness STAGGERING on down the street
/ Footprints dressed in red," which is from "The Wind Cried Mary." But in this poem, the speaker (me) sits at an outdoor table at an Irish pub, hearing in the distance a funk cover band play "Voodoo Child" while, on the pub's patio, an accordion player attempts to compete with the noise, an epic battle of the derivative versus the authentic. I won't spoil the punchline, which explains the poem's title.

Poem: "Lyric"
Song: Robert Johnson, "Stones in My Passway"

"Lyric" is a longish poem written from the state of mind I found myself in when my beloved stepmother-in-law was dying. (Called A., her story forms the spine of The Do-Over.) I saw death everywhere, in history, in the most mundane of daily activities, in the present political atmosphere. The voice of the poem is anguished, fragmented, histrionic. Two of the three sections end in a three-line blues stanza, in which the speaker (me) voices the deluded fantasy that comes out of her death-drenched despair:

There's a crazy bright object stapled to the Western sky
There's a crown of fire bragging in the Western sky
I'll brag right along with it I am never gonna die

"Stones in My Passway" is a brilliant blues song that uses this traditional stanza, recorded by Johnson in 1936 but so elemental it might as well be prehistoric. It's insanely dark; even the singer's (sexual) body turns against him. A true bookworm, I first encountered this song when I stumbled across Greil Marcus's Mystery Train in my public library when I was in high school. Mystery Train contains a long essay on Robert Johnson's short life and indispensable work, including a detailed analysis of "Stones in My Passway." The argument it seemed to make was: If you want to feel what it is to be American, you need to live with and internalize Johnson's songs. I always (I'm tempted to qualify it with "almost always" but no, always) want to feel deeply American in my poems. This poem includes the quintessential U.S. road trip to the Grand Canyon. As a kid, my immigrant ancestry was very present to me, in the dueling ethnicities of my mother's and father's families (Irish/Italian); harder to come by was a true sense of being American, a longed-for connection with, say, the folk songs ("Polly Wolly Doodle," "Bluetail Fly") in my elementary school textbook. Greil Marcus showed me the way to that connection; Robert Johnson makes the dark end of the way visceral. "Lyric" was written mindful of that same sense of the body's tragic limitations and the same root-deep connection to the U.S. soil.


Poem: "How can we know the journey from the path?"
Song: Bob Dylan, "Subterranean Homesick Blues"

For a while, the British poet Roddy Lumsden enjoyed setting up poetry readings that centered on a single iconic song. When he came to New York in 2009, he invited a bunch of local poets to write poems based on lines in "Subterranean Homesick Blues." He assigned me the lines "Keep a clean nose / Watch the plain clothes," which happen just before the celebrated "You don't need a weather man to know which way the wind blows." Like the song, my poem questions the intentions of "institutions of power" and looks for a place of freedom (of body, of imagination) in a death-ridden culture. The poem was composed while I was listening to the song.

Poem: "Amy Winehouse"
Song: Amy Winehouse, "Rehab"

Poem: Donna Summer
Song: Donna Summer, "I Feel Love"

The Do-Over includes five elegies for famous people who died while the book was being written. "Amy Winehouse" and "Donna Summer" bookend the sequence. Fittingly, the "Amy Winehouse" poem focuses on the formality of her persona and of her craving for escape via substance abuse, so "Rehab" is the appropriate soundtrack. The "Donna Summer" poem is more celebratory, although her death was also untimely, and "I Feel Love," her groundbreaking collaboration with Giorgio Moroder (the first time Brian Eno heard it he said "I have heard the sound of the future"), is called out in several lines of the poem, including the first: "Discourse that night concerned the warm-blooded love we felt."


Poem: "Three True Stories"
Song: Madonna, "Give Me All Your Luvin'"

"Three True Stories" is exactly that, actual things that actually happened to me and other actual people. The third true story happened in the aftermath of the 2012 Superbowl. Madonna put on the halftime show, with the help of a bunch of guest superstars, including a medley of her hits and the premiere of her new offering, "Give Me All Your Luvin'." As many unlikely things tend to do in our house, this song led to an existential dinnertime conversation. You wouldn't think that we could wring death out of this supremely lightweight pop song (and selfie-paean to the life force personified, Madonna) but we did, with my teenage daughter getting the last, knell-like word.


Poem: "What is Death"
Song: John Lennon, "Imagine"

The Do-Over follows the process of A.'s dying and its aftermath; "What is Death" is the poem where the story of her death is told, where she, as a living person, leaves the book. It's a long poem, with many repeated lines and images, one of which is "Above us only sky," from "Imagine." John Lennon was cremated in Hartsdale, NY, where A. lived and died. The first occurrence of the line informs readers of that fact and expresses shocked outrage about the impossibility of life after death:

John Lennon was cremated there.
What??!! Above us only sky?

After that, the line recurs, as the speaker (me) tries and rejects various ways of understanding what happens when someone you love is, abruptly, no more.

Above us only sky.
We don't have the tools, yet, to prove

much of anything. I believe in cosmic energy, spirit
heading to reunite with the source while our

bodies burn to ash or decompose. She would say:
Enjoy life on earth because this is all there is


Story: "After"
Song: Prince, "Kiss"

I knew that I'd have to grapple with the afterlife in this book about death, but for a long time I couldn't figure out how. My dilemma was that I wanted to make the extremely nebulous possibility of an afterlife feel real in the world of the book, something that didn't seem to happen with my attempts at poems on the subject, which no matter how I tried felt tentative and speculative. What finally emerged was the short story "After," where a somewhat clueless woman visits her dead ancestors at night (through the portal of her boyfriend's bathroom mirror) while she struggles with career woes by day. Though she ultimately ends up losing everything, for a while her relationship is happy enough, and "Kiss" serves as the couple's seduction song.

Poem: "The Arrival of Spring"
Music: Mozart, String Quartet No. 14 in G major, K. 387 "Spring" - I. Allegro vivace assai

After death, we hope for rebirth, and as survivors we usually find some metaphorical way to achieve it. In the last section of my book, after A.'s death, I include poems about how we grope our way toward those moments of grace. Spring is a rebirth available to everyone, every year. This poem was inspired by my favorite painting, Botticelli's Primavera. It depicts the moment at which spring blooms, with Venus presiding over all in the center, the Three Graces dancing on her right, Mercury stirring up the clouds with a wooden rod to let the sun shine through, Zephyr and Chloris enacting the allegory of winter-into-spring, blindfolded Cupid hovering. I always think it looks like a charming 15th-century cocktail party with the guests in classical costume. The poem ends:

Below the canopy,

all is explained,
everything's
explainable
and explained.

This pleasant and necessary delusion happens to all of us occasionally and is perhaps most pleasant and necessary after a great loss. Mozart seems the obvious choice for a soundtrack.


Kathleen Ossip and The Do-Over links:

the author's website

Brooklyn Rail review
New York Times review
NPR Books review
Publishers Weekly review
The Rumpus review
Slate review

Huffington Post interview with the author
Tin House 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

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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May 28, 2015

Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week - May 28, 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.


Melody

Melody
by Sylvie Rancourt

In autobiographical comics that have never before been translated into English, alter ego Melody and her boyfriend Nick move to Montreal from Northern Quebec, where she begins working as an exotic dancer. Despite the challenges, nothing is too much to handle for the cheerful, indomitable heroine.


Strange Plants II

Strange Plants II

Featuring the work of thirty artists, Strange Plants II picks up where the first collection left off, exploring the place of plants in contemporary art. Whether it's how plants are incorporated into their art or how vegetation makes them feel, each artist's approach is unique, and accompanied by an explanatory interview.


The Oaf

The Oaf
by Nick Maandag

What happens when you're sharing a disgusting apartment with a mismatched roommate, and unemployment makes leaving impossible? Do you take a stand or make do? In this comic, the decision isn't always easy.


Breakneck

Breakneck
by Nelly Arcan

A new English translation of famed Quebec writer Nelly Arcan, Breakneck tells the story of Rose and Julie, two women whose competitive relationship and feelings for the same man create an arms race of artificial beauty and debasement, and show the tenuous power of stereotypical femininity.


River Music

River Music
by Mary Soderstrom

In a sweeping work of historical fiction, pianist Gloria Murray put nothing ahead of her musical career. But the secrets of her past collide with the life she's made for herself, thirty years after she studied piano in post-WWII France.


Librairie Drawn & Quarterly links:

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


also at Largehearted Boy:

other Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week

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


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Shorties (Neil Gaiman and Kazuo Ishiguro on Genre Fiction, Wilco Albums Ranked, and more)

Neil Gaiman and Kazuo Ishiguro discussed genre fiction at BBC Radio 4.


Diffuser ranked Wilco albums.


Paste interviewed cartoonist Nate Powell.


Pitchfork interviewed Destroyer frontman Dan Bejar.


Bookworm interviewed author Valeria Luiselli.


Paste profiled the band The Milk Carton Kids.


Biographile interviewed Deborah Lutz about her new book The Bronte Cabinet.


Stereogum interviewed Christopher Owens about releasing his surprise new album Chrissybaby.


The Masters Review Blog interviewed author Daniel Orozco.


The A.V. Club shared a playlist of essential Wire songs.


Author Anna North recommended books and films about famous female artists at Flavorwire.


Drowned in Sound interviewed singer-songwriter Roisin Murphy.


BuzzFeed recommended new books to read this summer.


Paste listed songs based on real life crimes.


Huffington Post listed innovative writers who are shaking up the book world.


Hype Machine is streaming the new Trails and Ways album, Pathology.


The Grio recommended books by black authors for summer reading.


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


also at Largehearted Boy:

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

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


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Daily Downloads (The Barn Mice, Mountain Lakes, and more)

Every day, Daily Downloads offers free and legal music and/or stream.


Today's free and legal mp3 downloads:

The Barn Mice: The Barn Mice album [mp3]

Burzinski: Paralyzed EP [mp3]

Fleece: Fleece EP [mp3]

Good Lovelies: Burn the Plan EP [mp3]

Mountain Lakes: Eyesore EP [mp3]

Plastic Sky: Meet Plastic Sky EP [mp3]

Slaraffenland: Slow Waves album [mp3]

Twin Brother: Swallow the Anchor album [mp3]

Zach Vinson: "You Can Have Me" [mp3] from How We Spend Our Days EP


Free and legal live performances at other websites:

Follakzoid: 2015-05-23, Brooklyn [mp3]


search for more free and legal music downloads at Largehearted Boy


also at Largehearted Boy:

other Daily Downloads

covers collections
100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads

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


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May 27, 2015

Book Notes - Gallagher Lawson "The Paper Man"

The Paper 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 Bret Easton Ellis, Kate Christensen, Kevin Brockmeier, T.C. Boyle, Dana Spiotta, Amy Bloom, Aimee Bender, Jesmyn Ward, Heidi Julavits, Hari Kunzru, and many others.

Gallagher Lawson's startlingly original novel The Paper Man is a fantastic debut in every sense, a bold exploration of identity and art.

Ploughshares wrote of the book:

"Lawson's dark vision proves both intriguing and disturbing, partially summed up when one character says to another, 'Creativity is nothing more than transferring emotions, mostly anxiety and fear, to the outside world.' But, of course, ultimately it is more than that. This is an unusual story about art's costs and its capacity for exploitation, political influence, and profound change–and for its ability, finally, to humanize."

Stream a playlist of these songs at Spotify.


In his own words, here is Gallagher Lawson's Book Notes music playlist for his debut novel The Paper Man:


1) Allegretto from Shostakovich's Piano Trio No.2

A perfect overture for The Paper Man. It might even encapsulate the entire book. This fourth movement of Shostakovich's trio begins with a funny little motif that is played upon throughout the piece by the various instruments. Sometimes the strings are working together and the piano accompanies; other times they are competing to be the melody. Sometimes the motifs repeat so many times it feels like it's being drilled into our heads, but after awhile, similar to when you repeat a word so many times that it loses its meaning and it feels like a foreign word, this piece will disorient you by the end with its glassy strings. Thematically, the novel looks at identity, and all of the characters, along with the setting of the city by the sea, are undergoing a kind of identity crisis, trying on each other's voices and styles, and then struggling to stand out. The same occurs in this fantastic, final movement of the trio.

2) "The Visitors" by Gino Soccio

There's a scene in Fellini's La città delle donne where Marcello is trying to make it back to the train station. On the way he is picked up by a teenage girl and her friends in a convertible, where they proceed to blast this song by Gino Soccio while waiting at the end of a tarmac. When a plane appears to be landing, one of the girls withdraws a pistol from her purse and prepares to shoot it down.

I imagine Michael hearing this song playing when he arrives in the city by the sea, and everything looks so strange to him, like visitors from another planet, but really Michael is the visitor, the outsider, who especially stands out because his body is made of paper.

3) "Anti Anti" by Bonaparte

Bonaparte's "Anti Anti" is a perfect anthem song for those living in the city by the sea who are resisting the sudden interest that the northern continent has taken in their home. They know that the north plans to take away their livelihood and increase the cost of living and understand their power over their home, because, as Bonaparte says, "They drive a limousine, but we ride a bike; they own the factory, but we're on strike. Anti anti!"

4) "Masin" by Ya Tosiba

Ominous synth strings are a favorite sound of mine. Add some Scandinavian Skweee blips and beats, and I'm hooked. This song by Ya Tosiba illustrates the atmosphere of the city along the coast of a peninsula. The lyrics use old texts from Azeri language, and loosely are about the sudden increase of vehicles on the streets. In the novel, art is the suddenly increasing object, sometimes as a form of protest, sometimes as a thing of beauty in a weary world, and sometimes as a thing of power and danger.

5) "Andy Warhol" by Stereo Total

Stereo Total is one of my favorite bands because of their blend of styles and languages. They sing in so many languages about so many things that they are like musical chameleons. This song seemed especially fitting for the novel, as it's about an artist, and it's not in English. The chorus, simply the artist's name repeated, uses such bittersweet chords. It reminds me of Doppelmann, the artist of the novel, whose reputation ultimately supersedes himself.

6) "Udi Baba" by Asha Bhosle

This song is incredible. It reminds me of the decadence of Mischa, the woman from Michael's past while living inland. Michael is surprised to see her all grown up, and her fascination with his unusual body. A celebration of life, of beauty, of the self before others, this song has the character of Mischa pegged perfectly.

7) "The Way I Feel Inside" by The Zombies

Michael's mixed feelings for everyone in the city deserve a simple, unadorned song like this androgynous-sounding one from The Zombies. Michael confuses kindness from Maiko, the unemployed fur model, as love; he confuses the past with Mischa as love; and the help from the artistic hands of Doppelmann as love. And yet Michael knows not one of them can love a man with a paper body, so he keeps his feelings to himself.

8) "Russian Dance" by Tom Waits

In the middle of the novel, Michael is forced to work in the display window of a department store, where he dances with mannequins and reenacts scene from radio plays. This song by Tom Waits is a good example of the kind of slightly dissonant, crackly songs that played through the speakers outside the display window while Michael stomped on the floorboards with the stiff mannequins.

9) "Che" by Suicide

As Michael searches for his own identity, he decides to imitate the artist Doppelmann. Things begin to get carried away, and he finds himself trapped in a web of lies and paper masks. The lines "The whole world lied / They said he was a saint / But I know he ain't," nicely describes Michael at this stage in his journey.

10) "We Share Our Mother's Health" by The Knife

The opening line "We came down from the north," fits the atmosphere of the book. But in general, the aesthetics of the band The Knife have influenced me for a long time. The music video for this song haunted me for a long time after seeing it, especially the animation by the artist Motomichi Nakamura.

In this song, in the middle they alter Karin's voice to sound more masculine as she sings: "Say you like it, say you need it when you don't." This masochistic command reminds me of Michael's treatment of himself and his body, and how he thinks he deserves the treatment he gets as an outsider.

I also love when songs can layer over earlier sections. The opening verses of this song are layered over the middle refrain, and you suddenly have voices competing, then complementing each other. Similar to the Shostakovich piece, there's a lot of tension and anxiety from songs that have voices straining against each other, just as the characters in the novel do the same with each other.

11) Waltz from Masquerade by Khachaturian

Without giving too much away, at the end of the book, there is a large masquerade in the city streets. What perfect way to end this playlist, then, with the stately, romantic, slightly terrifying waltz that comes from Khachaturian?


Gallagher Lawson and The Paper Man links:

the author's website

Dwarf + Giant review
Ploughshares review

Brazos Bookstore profile of the author
Electric Literature interview with the author
Los Angeles Times 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

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 - May 27th, 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.


The Bloody Chamber

The Bloody Chamber
by Angela Carter

A beautifully designed reissue of Carter's story collection, introduced by avowed disciple Kelly Link.


Antigonick

Antigonick
by Sophokles (translated by Anne Carson)

Classicalist/intellectual treasure Anne Carson renders Antigone, a name she translates as "against birth" or "instead of being born".


Thirteen Days in September

Thirteen Days in September
by Lawrence Wright

Lawrence Wright analyzes the historic 1978 meeting at Camp David that led to peaceful relations between Israel and Egypt.


The Water Knife

The Water Knife
by Paolo Bacigalupi

An unfortunately timely story based on water shortages in the Southwest.


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)

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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Shorties (Chuck Palahniuk Interviewed, An In-Studio Torres Session, and more)

Chuck Pahlaniuk talked to the New York Post and BuzzFeed about his Fight Club 2 comic book series and new short story collection Make Something Up.


Singer-songwriter Torres (aka Mackenzie Scott) visited Studio 360 for an interview and live performance.


The Offing interviewed author Colin Winnette.


Biographile called for a biography of author Kent Haruf.


PopMatters profiled musician Colleen Green.


Tin House interviewed author Luke Goebel.


Guernica features Kelly Link's introduction to Angela Carter's The Bloody Chamber: And Other Stories: 75th-Anniversary Edition.


LA Music Blog shared a playlist of songs by actors who rock.


Biographile recommended biographical books about New York's arts and music scenes.


NPR Music is streaming Daughn Gibson's new album Carnation.


The Penny Dreadful Novella Prize is a new award for English language fiction between 15,000 and 35,000 words.


iTunes is streaming Jamie xx's solo debut album In Colour.


Bustle recommended books to read if you enjoyed Leslie Jamison's essay collection The Empathy Exams.


The New Yorker on why we need more female rock critics.


The Montreal Gazette profiled Drawn and Quarterly's new publisher, Peggy Burns.


A new Beach House album is coming August 28th.


Roz Chast has won the Reuben Award fr cartoonist of the year.


The Record interviewed singer-songwriter Rickie Lee Jones.


Author Mat Johnson shared an essay on bi-racial identity at BuzzFeed.


Vaccines frontman Justin Young talked to Paste about the band's new album English Graffiti.


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


also at Largehearted Boy:

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

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


Posted by david | Permalink | Comments (View)

Daily Downloads (The Crane Wives, Mogwai, and more)

Every day, Daily Downloads offers free and legal music and/or stream.


Today's free and legal mp3 downloads:

Alex Burey: Family Stone EP Sampler single [mp3]

The Bear and the Bride: "Summertime" [mp3] from The Bear and the Bride

The Crane Wives: The Fool in Her Wedding Gown album [mp3]

Florals: "Grey" [mp3]

Forrest: "Close to Me" [mp3] from Soluna (out July 16th)

Juna: On Courage EP [mp3]

Messy Is the Bird: Chewed Up Boots album [mp3]

Skyjelly: Boston Hassle Listening Party - May 22, 2015 album [mp3]

Various Artists: Living High On The Dirty Business Of Dreams - A Wiaiwya Sampler album [mp3]


Free and legal live performances at other websites:

Mogwai: 2011-05-15, Dallas [mp3]


search for more free and legal music downloads at Largehearted Boy


also at Largehearted Boy:

other Daily Downloads

covers collections
100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads

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


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May 26, 2015

Book Notes - Litsa Dremousis "Altitude Sickness"

Altitude Sickness

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, T.C. Boyle, Dana Spiotta, Amy Bloom, Aimee Bender, Jesmyn Ward, Heidi Julavits, Hari Kunzru, and many others.

Litsa Dremousis's memoir Altitude Sickness is a bold, compelling and lyrical meditation on loss.

Stream a playlist of these songs at Spotify.


In her own words, here is Litsa Dremousis's Book Notes music playlist for her memoir Altitude Sickness:


Last April, my now fiance' and I were looking at engagement rings at my favorite antique jewelry store. The next morning, I received an email from my now publisher, Future Tense Books, asking me if I'd like to commemorate their 20th anniversary by launching their first-ever ebook line.

That was a good 24 hours.

They asked if I had a long essay or memoir idea. I replied I did and laid out Altitude Sickness, replete with its title. Within half an hour, we had our book set. Now I just needed to write it.

I'd been taking notes on Altitude Sickness for two years, unsure of what I was going to do with it. In 2009, my best friend and partner died in a mountain climbing accident when loose rock gave way and he fell 1000 feet.

He was brilliant, kind, hilarious, great in bed, and wholly irrational when it came to climbing, his all-consuming passion. Climbing was the one part of his life where logic held no sway: he always convinced himself--and sometimes, me--that the risks were less than they appeared and that most other climbers died for reasons that wouldn't or didn't apply to him.

Two and a half years after his death, when I could finally breathe without feeling my lungs were taking in shards of glass, I began researching the similarities between climbers and addicts, unaware it's a burgeoning field of neuroscience.

Altitude Sickness became part memoir, part reportage, a wry and candid look at the inanity of high altitude climbing.

Here are the songs that fueled the book:


"Mockingbirds", Grant Lee Buffalo "Devastation/ My door was left open wide..." Oh, yes.

"After the Fire", Pete Townshend (live) "After the fire/ the fire still burns/ the soul grows older/ but never ever learns/ the memories smolder/ and the heart always yearns/ After the fire/ the fire still burns..." Townshend emits a howl at the song's start that cuts to the bone. To me, this is what grief sounds like.

"Always Look on the Bright Side of Life", Monty Python "Life's a piece of shit/ when you look at it/ Life's a laugh and death's a joke/ it's true/ You'll see it's all a show/ Keep ‘em laughin' as you go/ Just remember that the last laugh is on you..." Because you can't just cry when you're grieving. For me, at least, so much became so morbidly funny. I've treasured this song since high school, but it actually helped save me when the worst of the grief hit.

"Goodbye Little Dream, Goodbye", Susannah McCorkle's version of the Cole Porter classic, "For the stars have fled from the heavens/ the moon deserted the hill/ And the sultry breeze/ that sang in the trees/ is suddenly, strangely still." Exactly.

"Mexican Wine", Fountains of Wayne: Neal gave me FoW's Welcome Interstate Managers one year as part of my Christmas gift. We each loved this song and his favorite line was, "He was killed/ by a cellular phone explosion..." The kind of the thing that's notable because he's dead, but that I might not ever think about if he were alive.

"Good Morning, Heartache" Billie Holiday: Holiday's rendition yanks my soul through my skin. Such genius; such epic pain. When you're convinced hell is the start of yet another day.

"Nothing Compares 2 U" (live), Prince w/ Rosie Gaines: "Since you've been gone/ I can do whatever I want..." I didn't know until he died I'd miss even things about him that drove me nuts when he was alive. The world becomes unknowable when you'd drown a bag of kittens just to hear him explain one more time that "‘Fred Clause' "wasn't that bad of a film".

"Wendell Gee", R.E.M.: "There wasn't even time to say/ goodbye to Wendell Gee/ So whistle as the wind blows...and if the wind were colors/ and if the air could speak..." For 31 years, Michael Stipe has broken and mended my heart again and again. There wasn't time to say goodbye to Neal and I didn't know when we hung up on Saturday night he'd be dead by Tuesday morning. I remember our last conversation, and for a long time, I wished I had a recording. It's embossed in my cells, though. That works.

"No More Drama", Mary J. Blige: This shows how grief demolishes reality. In my all-encompassing post-death shock, thoughts and feelings and rationale became dislocated. As I dimly recall, I needed to believe I'd feel better eventually, that this horrific pain would eventually fade. As Mary sings, "I don't ever want to hurt again." Hey, past self: good luck.

"Fire and Rain", James Taylor: Pretty self-explanatory. If your best friend and partner dies and you don't play this song near all the goddamned time, you are a communist bad person and/or genocidal maniac.


Litsa Dremousis and Altitude Sickness links:

the author's website
excerpt from the book

Killing the Breeze review

CityArts interview with the author
Hobart interview with the author
Radio New Zealand interview with the author
The Stranger 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

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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This Week's Interesting Music Releases - May 26, 2015

Remembering Mountains: Unheard Songs By Karen Dalton

Remembering Mountains: Unheard Songs By Karen Dalton features the singer-songwriters lyrics put to music and sung by Sharon Van Etten, Lucinda Williams, Larkin Grimm, and others.

Thee Oh Sees' Mutilator Defeated at Last and Zhala's self-titled album are new releases I can wholly recommend.

Robert Pollard's new album Faulty Superheroes is also in stores this week.

Reissues include vinyl editions of Animal Collective's Prospect Hummer, Nirvana's In Utero and Live at Reading, and Mark Kozelek's Rock N Roll Singer.

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


This week's interesting music releases:

Acid Mothers Temple: Benzalten
Allen Stone: Radius
Animal Collective: Prospect Hummer (reissue) [vinyl]
Anti-Flag: American Spring
The Bad Plus Joshua Redman: The Bad Plus Joshua Redman
Boosie Badazz: Touch Down 2 Cause Hell
Eilen Jewell: Sundown Over Ghost Town
Fall Out Boy: American Beauty/American Psycho [vinyl]
Joan Jett: I Love Rock 'N' Roll 33 1/3 Anniversary Edition (reissue) [vinyl]
Little Wings: Explains
Mark Kozelek: Rock N Roll Singer (reissue) [vinyl]
Miles Davis: Tutu (reissue) [vinyl]
Nirvana: In Utero (reissue) [vinyl]
Nirvana: Live at Reading (reissue) [vinyl]
Nocturnal Sunshine: Nocturnal Sunshine
Ozric Tentacles: Technicians of the Sacred
Porcupine Tree: Anesthetize
Rachel Grimes: The Clearing
Robert Pollard: Faulty Superheroes
Ryan Adams: Heartbreaker (reissue)
Shana Cleveland & The Sandcastles: Oh Man, Cover The Ground
Steve Roach: Skeleton Keys
Thee Oh Sees: Mutilator Defeated at Last
Townes Van Zandt: Whole Coffeehouse Minneapolis Mn 9 November 1973
Unknown Mortal Orchestra: Multi-Love
The Vaccines: English Graffiti
Various Artists: Remembering Mountains: Unheard Songs By Karen Dalton
Yes: Progeny: Highlights From Seventy-Two
Yes: Progeny: Seven Shows From Seventy-Two (14-CD box set)
Zhala: Zhala


also at Largehearted Boy:

weekly music release lists

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


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Shorties (Nick Offerman's Favorite Books, A New Grimes Album, and more)

Actor Nick Offerman discussed his favorite books at The Week.


Grimes' new album is coming in September.


The Guardian interviewed author Jonathan Ames.


Stream Courtney Barnett's Soundcheck Live show at WNYC.


CarolineLeavittville interviewed Jami Attenberg about her new novel Saint Maizie.


The Guardian recommended the week's best new music.


The Other People podcast interviewed author Sean Doyle.


The Los Angeles Times glowingly reviewed the Karen Dalton tribute album Remembering Mountains.


The New Inquiry recommended summer reading.


NPR Music is streaming SOAK's Before We Forgot How To Dream album.


The Guardian profiled author Vivian Gornick.


Mac McCaughan shared his favorite music throughout his life with Pitchfork.


The Offing features an excerpt from Colin Winnette's novel Haints Stay.


NPR Music is streaming Algiers' self-titled album.


The University of South Carolina has purchased a major collection of Dashiell Hammett letters, photographs and books.


The Phoenix New Times recommended indie rock songs for your road trip playlist.


The Guardian profiled author Judy Blume.


NPR Music is streaming Dawes' new album All Your Favorite Bands.


Author Amitav Ghosh talked to the Guardian about India's vibrant literary scene.


The Record considered ABBA's influence on pop music.


Weekend Edition interviewed Nell Zink about her new novel Mislaid.


NPR Music is streaming Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard's new album, Django and Jimmie.


The shortlist for the Read Russia Prize 2015 has been named.


Stream a new Class Actress song.


Weekend Edition interviewed Mat Johnson about his new book Loving Day.


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


also at Largehearted Boy:

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

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


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Daily Downloads (Hey Rosetta!, Beirut, and more)

Every day, Daily Downloads offers free and legal music and/or stream.


Today's free and legal mp3 downloads:

The Brightest Hour: "In My Place" [mp3]

Embleton: Extras: Volume I EP [mp3]

Ghosts of the American Road: Ghosts of the American Road album [mp3]

Hey Rosetta!: Introducing Hey Rosetta! album [mp3]
Hey Rosetta!: Introducing Hey Rosetta! album [mp3]

Holly Arrowsmith: The River EP [mp3]

Pinecones: "Sleep Is Forget" [mp3] from Sings For You Now

Rachel Thomasin: "Mysterious" [mp3]

Various Artists: Division Three compilation album [mp3]


Free and legal live performances at other websites:

Beirut: 2006-10-28, Austin [mp3]


search for more free and legal music downloads at Largehearted Boy


also at Largehearted Boy:

other Daily Downloads

covers collections
100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads

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


Posted by david | Permalink | Comments (View)

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