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October 14, 2019

Shorties (Elizabeth Strout on Her New Novel, Elton John on His Autobiography, and more)

Olive, Again by Elizabeth Strout

Elizabeth Strout talked to Weekend Edition about her new novel, Olive, Again.


Elton John talked to Weekend Edition about his new autobiography, Me.


October's best eBook deals.


Pitchfork gathered pop music's memorable moments as it turned to activism in the past decade.


The Oxford American shared an excerpt from M. Randal O’Wain’s new essay collection Meander Belt.


Paste recommended the week's best new albums.


Read James Blake's essay on mental health from the anthology It’s Not OK to Feel Blue (And other lies).


Edna O'Brien discussed her new novel, Girl, with All Things Considered.


Salon interviewed musician Kim Gordon.


Brittle Paper shared a history of African authors and the Booker Prize.


Stream new Animal Collective songs.


Book Riot recommended classics of cyberpunk noir.


Stream a new Liz Phair song.


The Rumpus recommended books about female anger.


Stream a new track from St. Vincent's forthcoming remix album.


Latinx authors described how Sandra Cisneros's The House on Mango Street influenced them at Bustle.


Modern Nature shared two cover songs


Words Without Borders recommended October's best books in translation.


Stream a new song by CUP (Nels Cline and Cibo Matta's Yuka C. Honda).


Stream a new song by Air’s Nicolas Godin.



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






October 11, 2019

Chris Eaton's Playlist for His Novel "Symphony No. 3"

Symphony No. 3

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

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

Chris Eaton's Symphony No. 3 is one of the year's finest novels, symphonic in structure and spectacular on a sentence level.


In his own words, here is Chris Eaton's Book Notes music playlist for his debut novel Symphony No. 3:



I listen to a lot of music when I write. At the same time…literally, I suppose…I listen to very little, in that I listen to the same records, on repeat, maybe for an entire week, maybe even longer. A month? It’s a mnemonic, of sorts, something I use to get me back to the same headspace I was in when I stopped the day before, so I can maintain a prolonged tone. I don’t know that I always needed that. Maybe I don’t need it now. But in my current life with—among other things—two young children, I believe that it helps.

I entered into this novel by chance, spurred on by a video a friend sent me trying to prove Vincent Van Gogh was Jack the Ripper—using his own paintings as “proof”. As a reference in another project, I created a fake book that did something similar to the video, and chose Camille Saint-Saëns as my victim, almost at random. I just wanted to take an artist’s oeuvre and somehow use it to “prove” that they had done something else. Gradually the excerpts from this “fake book” grew longer and longer, joined by countless other fake books, until the original project began to swell out of control and I thought, you know, maybe let’s just take one of these fake books and run with it.

But not only did this outlandish idea seem more and more plausible as research continued (Saint-Saëns was living in Whitechapel at the time, while working on his third symphony that he called his Organ Symphony despite it containing very little organ; then, just before the murders stopped, he disappeared from public life to travel the world for years—the newspapers of the day are full of stories wondering where he went; his next opera, sent home from Lordknowswhere, is about another famous artist in the 1500s who actually committed several murders, went on the lam, and only came back when pardoned by the pope in exchange for some of his art), the book also became about an artist trying to capture the entire world in thirty-six minutes of music, not through a story but just the feeling…of the world…especially in a time when the symphony was supposed to be dead…because Beethoven had already done it all. At that point, the book stopped being about murders and was instead about other societal violence and anger. And I stopped trying to write a story so much as write a symphony with words, tried to write a sculpture, to write a painting, where the narrative thread is less important than using the different sounds and the no-sounds and punctuation and feelings to capture…everything--at least a proximal everything. Hopefully single phrases and sentences and passages and pages exist on their own as much as parts of the whole, and people can be moved by the brushstrokes in the lower left corner, or an out-of-place spatter of red, or the entrance of a dissonant bassoon.

I suppose one might expect that I listened to Saint-Saëns’s Symphony No. 3 a lot while writing it. Or even a lot of classical music. But aside from at the beginning and the end, because I wanted to mirror the structure of that piece, with the most extreme tension sitting in at the organ, I listened overwhelmingly (though certainly not exclusively) to contemporary hip hop, which I might argue is the classical music of our time for the way the rhythms and samples and melodies struggle so often against each other, rather than forward in tiresome unison, and for the way emotion lives in each and every moment.


Fever Ray – “This Country”

Fever Ray’s Plunge is one of those records that stands out as one that I listened to for even longer than the others. I would finish a lot of these days so strung out that I could barely speak to my family, and caught in this echo chamber of anger, I genuinely began to despair more and more.

The process of making this playlist, which necessitates going back and re-listening, trying to locate the exact tracks I want, is really wonderful. I love all this music. But this song, as I listen and write this, feels like the time I was walking along Bloor St in Toronto outside the Paradise Theatre and it was summer so the doors were open and I recognized the beginning scene of Requiem for a Dream and all I could hear was "Be! Excited! Be! Be! EXCITED!"

Kanye – “I am a God”

Was there anyone more angry than Kanye at this moment? This was the song I imagined to be constantly playing in the mind of Camille Saint-Saens.

Blood of Abraham – “Dangerous Diseases”

I first discovered BoA when Are We Not Horses first found its legs. The director who made this video, Jonnie Ross (who is a genius), reached out to make a video for us and sent this as his portfolio. Even then this song was old, and the video never happened (we still barely had enough to tour, let alone pay for videos), but I became an instant fan of the band. They only made two records but they’re both amazing and often accompany me at my work desk.

King Cobb Steelie – “Rationale”

Another older one, from around the same time as Blood of Abraham, though now, as then, it feels separated from time. Certainly in the early-to-mid-90s, no one was doing this sort of thing. And I can still remember seeing them live for the first time, with their two percussionists and everyone arranged in a horseshoe, not around the lead singer but the bass player, who played with such frantic joy when he played that he needed the entire center stage to display it. I’m sure I have written many books to this band and feel beyond blessed that most of them have become my friends.

Jamila Woods – “Breadcrumbs”

I feel like Jamila Woods saved my life. Finishing a book is always stressful. But as this book gathered steam and the world I was trying to wedge into it became—at least seemingly, though it was likely not the world that changed so much as eyes being opened—angrier and more horrible. My grandmother died (at the amazing age of 104) and my mother sank deeper into Alzheimer’s which was hard on everyone but especially my father and we moved back to the east coast of Canada where my partner and I were both born, theoretically to be of more help, and our youngest wasn’t sleeping so I wasn’t sleeping and…well…the anger and intensity of the music I was listening to and the anger and intensity Camille Saint-Saëns’s world started to act like a feedback loop that had me chronically on edge and full of self doubt and then I discovered HEAVN. Working to HEAVN lifted me out of this partly because it’s an album of hope and love and empowerment; two lyrics still repeatedly jump to mind for me: “Woke up this morning with my mind set on loving me,” and “I may be crazy, but at least my crazy is my own.”

When we learned that she was giving her final performance of HEAVN the next weekend (before LEGACY! LEGACY! came out), my partner Laura bought us tickets spontaneously and we travelled to Chicago to see her. I’ve had a difficult time with live music since deciding to stop Rock Plaza Central, because so much of it can feel like it’s “put on”, that it’s just a show and not a shared experience of creation between performer and audience. I’ve seen behind the curtain, so to speak, and couldn’t unsee that. This show was not like that. It was magic and real and special and life-changing for me (when, as she does in “Breadcrumbs”, she sang “today I look like somebody you used to know / tomorrow I’m a stranger and I’d better go”, I broke down crying and was supported only by the crowd) and has brought me back to appreciating live music again. From the super-polished big bands to the rougher indie bands that come to our town’s music festival Sappyfest to the local cover bands that play our Fall Fair.

If you don’t already own this album, you really should.

Noname – “Forever”
Rapsody – “Crown”
Sampa the Great – “Final Form”
Jean Grae – “Shadows Forever”

Was it writing about such horrible egotistical men that made me find solace in the music of women? J.Woods stands out because of the concert and the sheer number of times I listened to that record, but these other four artists will always live in my heart as good friends who helped me through hard times. More great music to feel better about when you feel like you’re only one person, particularly with lines like:

“Whatever you dream you can do.” - Rapsody
“Fuck it, I’m gonna live forever.” - Noname

The Sampa song wasn’t actually out when I wrote the novel. It’s from her new album that came out last month. But I listen to it so often these days and both Mixtape and Birds and the BEE9 definitely added to the creation of the novel.

Noname recently started a book club (www.nonamebooks.com) and while I know I can’t be included in it, I’m enjoying being a reader in it and still hope one day I can create something as important as these works and that one will encounter her and it will bring her some fraction of the joy her life and music have brought me.

Swetshop Boys – “Need Moor” and “Birding”

Have always been a fan of Das Racist and have followed Heems ever since. This partnership with Riz Ahmed is angry and funny and pertinent and danceable all at the same time. I wanted to include “Need Moor” for its attack on consumerism, one of the great violences of our time, but couldn’t resist adding “Birding” as well, as birdwatching was one of Saint- Saëns’s many obsessions.

The Parlor – "In" (from Kiku)

The Parlor are one of my favourite bands of all time, have provided the soundtrack to so many parts of my recent life, and have never disappointed with any of their records (including three under a different name: We Are Jeneric). But the sorrow in their latest album Kiku, which documents their grief in trying to have a child, is so breathtakingly beautiful that it faultlessly carried me through a lot of the second half of this book, which deals with similar themes.

Prince – 17 Days (from Piano and a Microphone 1983)

Many important people died while writing this book. Each was a blow. Everything he did was symphonic, but I think it’s this album of stripped down piano where his genius really shines through.


Chris Eaton and Symphony No. 3 links:

the author's Wikipedia entry

Largehearted Boy playlist by the author for Chris Eaton: A Biography
Literary Hub review
Quill & Quire review
Vol. 1 Brooklyn 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


Timothy J. Hillegonds' Playlist for His Memoir "The Distance Between"

The Distance Between

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

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

Timothy J. Hillegonds' The Distance Between is a compelling memoir.

Hypertext Magazine wrote of the book:

"In his memoir, The Distance Between (Nebraska, 2019), Timothy Hillegonds trains his unflinching gaze on addiction, white male privilege, toxic masculinity, and failed relationships. Hillegonds doesn’t try to win the reader over with excuses for past behavior but instead finds the language to excavate then examine his actions with ruthless precision. Instead of allowing himself to become symbolic of any one vice, Hillegonds captures the struggle—in all its grief and beauty—of reckoning with a difficult past."


In his own words, here is Timothy J. Hillegonds' Book Notes music playlist for his memoir The Distance Between:



The Distance Between takes place primarily in the 90s, the decade I grew from twelve to twenty-two, the decade that music, as it does for everyone, began to shape and mold and narrate my life. The music I had listened to in the early 90s, mostly skater rock and punk—311, Sublime, The Offspring—had transitioned to hip hop, and I was obsessed with Chicago rappers like Twista, Do or Die, and Crucial Conflict, and with the way the late Johnny P’s voice seemed to drift and float like weed smoke above the city.

In the time right before I moved to Colorado, before my legal troubles began eclipsing everything else in my life, I rode around in a beat-up 1985 Chevy Chevette, smoking Marlboro Lights, listening to all the hip hop I could get my hands on. I had bought the car for cheap from my stepfather, and it had only an AM radio, so I installed a Kenwood receiver and a pair of Pioneer speakers, and I remember endless loops of Tupac mixed in with The Fugees (The Score), 8 Ball and MJG (Space Age Pimpin’), and a little-known Long Beach duo called The Mexakinz.

When I think back on that time, which I admit I often do, these are the songs I think of most, and the ones that make up the soundtrack to the book.


1. “For What It’s Worth”: Buffalo Springfield

Every skate show we put on opened with this song. It was a way for us to warm up, to get loose, to lean into the energy of the crowd. Even today—and it’s been close to twenty-five years—I can’t hear this song without thinking of skating, and without feeling a little tinge of loss, of absence, of longing for the days when the only obstacle that really mattered was gravity.

2. “Come Out and Play”: The Offspring

Though I can’t be absolutely certain, “Come Out and Play” was the second song on our skate-show soundtrack, and it usually crackled out of a portable sound system filled with distortion. By the time the song came on, we were through our set of smaller tricks and working our way up to the crowd-pleasers: launching over a car while pulling a stalled-out one-eighty and landing backwards; front flipping over a group of people smiling while looking skyward; pulling long, laid-out backflips that always made it feel like time had stopped.

3. “Hay”: Crucial Conflict

You couldn’t live anywhere near Chicago in the late 90s without hearing this song. It was a Chicago anthem, and during the time it was popular, my friends and I threw a series of gigantic parties at an old barn in the far south suburbs. The parties often brought more than a hundred people—from all different high schools and all different neighborhoods—and when this song came on it was always pandemonium: because we were in an actual barn, because we were young and drunk and high, because we were smoking blunts and bowls and bongs until a thick cloud of smoke hung like atmosphere near the hayloft.

4. “Po Pimp”: Do or Die

When I left Chicago to move to Colorado, I brought a bunch of CDs with me, including Do or Die’s Picture This, which is still one of my all-time favorite albums. Whenever I played the song “Po Pimp” in Colorado, no matter what was happening, no matter how crazy it was, it was like listening to a little bit of home.

5. “I Ain’t Mad At Cha”: 2Pac

When I first heard this track, I was immediately obsessed with it, and I think it may have been the song I played most in the late-90s. There was something about the way Tupac’s voice laid on top of the piano, something about the way the beat hit right before he went in for that first verse that activated something inside me that’s never really turned off. I still listen to it regularly at the gym, or while hitting the heavy bag in the garage, and Tupac’s voice never fails to make me feel like it always has: alive.

6. “Hail Mary” 2Pac

As a nineteen-year old kid who was angry and wandering, and often scared even though I would never admit it, there was no song that made me feel tougher and wilder than this one. As a white kid from a suburb of Chicago, it’s not lost on me (now, at least) that I have almost nothing in common with Tupac and the struggle this song was born from. But I suppose that’s the magic of music: that Tupac could write this song, and then I could hear it, and it could galvanize a part of me in a way that nothing else could.

7. “Only You”: 112 featuring The Notorious B.I.G. and Mase

This song came out either right before or right after I moved to Colorado, and it always reminds me of the drives April and I took from Summit County to Denver, traveling east on I-70 with mountains on both sides of us, impossibly fresh air rushing in the window, Maddie strapped in her car seat in the back. 112’s sound on the track is pure silk, which I know can be said for a lot of their songs, but when their voices mix in with the beat it has a way of lulling me into a place where everything that’s going on in my life feels a little less urgent. Biggie’s opening verse is also one my favorites. And who doesn’t love Mase’s bars on this track?

8. “In My Lifetime”: Jay Z

In the book, this is the song that’s playing when I’m at a party with April, feeling insecure and angry, acting ignorantly, getting ready to throw hands for the first time. My adrenaline is flowing, and the song is background noise that everyone is absentmindedly nodding their heads to, but it’s also a sort of fuel, a mainlined swagger that everyone can feel, whether they know it or not. The song is a classic, of course, with Jay Z’s trademark cool and timeless style, but none of us knew that back then, that it would be timeless, and none of us knew that the songs we heard in those days would stay with us for a lifetime, and that we’d carry the music with us like mannerisms, and that the songs would stay with us forever.


Timothy J. Hillegonds and The Distance Between links:

the author's website

Hypertext interview with the author
Summit Daily News profile of the author


also at Largehearted Boy:

Support the Largehearted Boy website

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

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


Shorties (Nnedi Okorafor on Books and and Reading, New Julien Baker Music, and more)

Binti by Nnedi Okorafor

Nnedi Okorafor talked books and reading with the Guardian.


Stream two new Julien Baker songs.


October's best eBook deals.

eBooks on sale for $1.99 today:

Antigonick by Anne Carson
Fire Sermon by Jamie Quatro


Luna visited the Paste studio for a live performance.


CBC Books recommended Margaret Atwood's essential books.


Notes from the writer who coined the term "dad-rock."


Bookworm wrapped up its interview with Salman Rushdie.


American Songwriter listed Jay Farrar's top songs.


The National recommended books by African authors.


Rolling Stone shared audio of Liz Phair reading from her new memoir.


The Rumpus interviewed author Adrienne Brodeur.


Palehound covered Yo La Tengo's "Autumn Sweater."


Stream a new Black Mountain song.


WHY? covered Silver Jews' "We Are Real."



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


October 10, 2019

Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week - October 10, 2019

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

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


The Hard Tomorrow

The Hard Tomorrow by Eleanor Davis

Eleanor Davis has done it again! The latest graphic novel from the creator of Why Art? and You and a Bike and a Road follows Hannah, a social justice activist living with her partner in a truck as the latter builds their new house. Set in the undefined near-future, the couple are trying to get pregnant while grappling with the implications of child-bearing amidst such a tumultuous present, and facing such an uncertain future. This work is so full of humanity and daring and wisdom from one of the most fiercely talented artists in contemporary comics.


Grand Union

Grand Union by Zadie Smith

The Zadie Smith is back with an enormously rich collection of stories. Weaving eleven previously unpublished pieces with a wealth of her best-loved stories from The New Yorker and elsewhere, Smith’s is an ever-prescient and indispensable voice.


I Hope We Choose Love: A Trans Girl's Notes from the End of the World

I Hope We Choose Love: A Trans Girl's Notes from the End of the World by Kai Cheng Thom

From discussing mental health and Robin Williams to confronting the complications of consent, Kai Cheng Thom’s I Hope We Choose Love is as urgent a collection of essays as any that has been published this year. This is brave and bright writing that gets to the very molten core of what it means to care for oneself and others in 2019. Another essential book from an incredibly versatile writer who’s already given us a novel, a children’s book, and a poetry collection.


Dakwäkãda Warriors

Dakwäkãda Warriors by Cole Pauls

Dakwäkãda Warriors, by Tahltan comic artist, illustrator and printmaker Cole Pauls, is a graphic novel told bilingually in Tahltan and English that offers an accessible and illuminating allegory of colonialism for young adult readers. Pauls’ dynamic duotone panels follow two earth protectors who defend the world from evil pioneers and cyborg sasquatches.


Love and I

Love and I by Fanny Howe

Poet-laureate of sweet bewilderment Fanny Howe is back with the latest installment in an illustrious career. The American author has published over thirty books, and Love and I is yet another glimmering collection full of inquisitiveness, wisdom, and “pure seeing”.

Librairie Drawn & Quarterly links:

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


also at Largehearted Boy:

Support the Largehearted Boy website

other Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week

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


David Farber's Playlist for His Book "Crack"

Crack

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

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

David Farber's Crack is a thoroughly researched and engaging history of the crack epidemic through a wide lens.

Publishers Weekly wrote of the book:

"This thoughtful, well-researched history highlights the futility of viewing drugs as strictly a matter for law enforcement while ignoring their socioeconomic context."


In his own words, here is David Farber's Book Notes music playlist for his book Crack:



Like a lot writers, I have a morning warm-up routine that sets me up to put words on the page. I drink a cup of coffee and then I talk a long walk, earphones in place, and blast music loud enough to silence my internal monologue. Then I’m ready to concentrate on the people and places I’m trying to animate.

For years, on my morning walk, I listened to Joy Division, the same songs over and over. For my latest book, Crack, I knew I needed something different, something a lot less Manchester in the late 1970s and much more Queens—or the Bronx, or Compton—in the 1980s. I started listening to Hip Hop from that era. From there, I ended up with a long playlist that extended from the late 1970s through contemporary times, keyed to the themes I was writing about: deviant globalization, the underground economy, inner-city life at the tail end of the 20th century, drug addiction, and racial injustice in America. The music I was listening to felt so integral to the book that I told my publisher that I wanted to start the text with a playlist—“Music to Read By.” So when you open up Crack, right after the table of contents, you’ll find a list of 20 tracks that take you, in order, through the book.

Here are some of the key works:

Immortal Technique, “Peruvian Cocaine” (2003)

Crack starts with a chapter accounting for the rise of the powder cocaine trade, from legal commodity to illicit and lucrative street drug. Immortal Technique, the Peruvian-American artist, explains lyrically the cruel international business that brings cocaine from South America to America’s streets.

Grandmaster Flash and Melle Mel, “White Lines (Don’t Do It)” (1983)

A lot of early Hip Hop artists expressed all kinds of ambivalence about the “white powder” that would be, by the mid-1980s, cooked up into crack. Almost everything about this track suggests the opposite of what the title states.

N.W.A., “Dopeman” (1988)

Nobody expressed the anger over the racial injustice that gave brutal life to the crack game better than N.W.A. Their lyrics still shock the soul.

Public Enemy, “Night of the Living Baseheads” (1988)

It’s easy to find Hip Hop lyrics that glorify Crack kingpins and the “flossing” that went with a successful corner operation. This is not that: “Shame on a brother when he dealin’.”

UGK, “Pocketful of Stones” (1992)

Pimp and Bun rapped as hard as anyone in glorifying the get money culture of the crack scene. It was hard to resist falling into their slow rolling, sly cadences when writing about the crack crews that ruled urban neighborhoods in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Notorious B.I.G., “Ten Crack Commandments” (1997)

Because, of course, this one has to be on the list: Biggie’s sensible plan for selling crack cocaine speaks to one of my major points about the young black men who dominated the street distribution of “rock.” They wanted, like a lot of Americans in the predatory capitalist “Reagan era,” to find a business that would make them rich, the consequences for anyone else be damned.

Bone Thugs and Harmony, “Foe tha Love of $” (1994)

Recorded in 1994 and released in early 1995, just as crack began to lose its broad customer base, the track featuring Eazy-E, an erstwhile drug dealer, helped put the gangsta in gangsta rap: “Standin' on the corner straight slangin' rocks/Aw shit! Here comes the muthafuckin' cops!”

Nas, “Represent” (1994)

In CRACK, I’ve got a chapter titled, “Crack Money: Manhood in the Age of Greed,” that situates the crack trade in the cultural terrain of late 20th century inner-city life. The illustrious Nas paints that world with legendary aplomb in this track from the killer album, Illmatic.

Ka, “Up Against Goliath” (2012)

I start CRACK with an epigraph taken (with permission) from this track: “Up against Goliath to bring butter home/I’m David on pavement, sling another stone.” Not as well known as most of the other artists on this list, the Brownsville, Brooklyn born and bred Ka is a lyrical genius. This track is a heart breaker, spelling out the devastation the crack epidemic left in its wake. In the book’s last chapter, I rely on this organic intellectual of the black inner-city community to help make sense of the crack era.

Killer Mike, “Reagan” (2012)

Racism—structural, institutional, and personal—undergirds how authorities at all levels of government responded to the onslaught of crack cocaine in poor, predominately African American neighborhoods in the 1980s and 1990s. The gross injustice that put black crack dealers in prison for a five year mandatory minimum sentence for selling five grams of rock, while mostly white powder cocaine dealers had to be caught selling one hundred times as much product to receive the same five years, is just the tip of the racist iceberg that resulted in what Michelle Alexander has called “The New Jim Crow.” Killer Mike lays out this racial injustice—a roadmap to the story of crack in America--in his anti-Reagan diatribe.


David Farber and Crack links:

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


Shorties (Presidential Candidates' Favorite Books, Angel Olsen Breaks Down Her New Album, and more)

All Mirrors by Angel Olsen

Book Riot asked 2020 U.S. presidential candidates to list their favorite books.


Angel Olsen broke down every song on her new album All Mirrors at Pitchfork.


October's best eBook deals.


Charly Bliss played a Tiny Desk Concert.


Ben Lerner talked to All Things Considered about his novel The Topeka School.


Stream a new song by the Twilight Sad.


Real Simple listed 2020's most anticipated books.


Pitchfork examined the evolution of viral music stardom.


Brittany Howard discussed her solo album with VICE.


Mica Levi discussed her Monos score with SPIN.


The Los Angeles Review of Books profiled author Jim Gavin.


Daniel Cook Johnson discussed his book Wilcopedia with Indy Week.


Jac Jemc recommended ghost stories for Halloween at The Millions.


Stream a new song by Panda Bear.


Electric Literature interviewed author Mahir Guven.


Stream a new Young Knives song.


Literary Hub interviewed author Josephine Rowe.


Stream a new song by the Dodos.


Berfrois interviewed author Christopher Higgs.


Stream a new song by Eric Bachmann.


Daniel Mendelson talked books and reading with Literary Hub.


Stream a new Amy O song.


BOMB interviewed author Wayne Koestenbaum.


Stream a new Hovvdy 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


October 9, 2019

Mark Barr's Playlist for His Novel "Watershed"

Watershed

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

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

Mark Barr's novel Watershed is a compelling and emotionally intelligent debut.

Publishers Weekly wrote of the book:

"A powerful debut...readers looking for vivid historicals full of emotional turmoil in the vein of Wallace Stegner will enjoy this impressive novel."


In his own words, here is Mark Barr's Book Notes music playlist for his debut novel Watershed:



I’ve never been able to listen to music when writing unless it is instrumental or maybe a short playlist of one or two songs played on repeat until I can’t hear the songs themselves anymore and am left with only a tonal impression. In the mid-2000s, when I was doing a lot of my work on the book at coffee shops and diners in the hours before going to my office job, two of the chief challenges I faced were 1) finding a shop that opened early enough so that I could work for a decent chunk of time and 2) avoiding distracting music. I once had to abandon a promising, early-opening restaurant because they played country music (like it or not, you can’t NOT listen to a country music song; they’re all just stories). Which is not to say that I didn’t listen to music. My listening just tended to happen in the time outside of writing. Over the years, I’ve counted a number of songs as profound influencers of my fiction.

The playlist that follows is made up a standouts from the period in which I was writing the novel or even just beginning to think seriously about undertaking the project. Each of these songs resonated with me and helped inform particular moods or movements in the book.


Woody Guthrie - This Land is Your Land

It all starts here.

Guthrie and the populist movement of the 1930s and '40s are right at the ground zero of this book. Roosevelt, the War Projects Administration, the Rural Electrification Act, the people’s vigorous reclaiming an expectation of economic fair play; they’re all bound up together in my mind, and this song lies at the heart of it.

Foo Fighters -- The Pretender

Nathan enjoys early success at his career, only to lose all of the ground he’s gained when he becomes embroiled in a scandal. He spends the rest of the novel running away from it, having to work twice as hard to get ahead while maintaining the illusion of his assumed identity. Some people are natural liars, but I never envisioned Nathan as one; he’s paying a cost every day to keep up that facade.

Mumford and Sons -- I Will Wait for You

So much of this book is about Nathan running from his past, but an equal portion is about his wrestling with the sudden spark of his love for Claire. Because of her relationship with her boss, Nathan and Claire are blocked from becoming lovers, and so become something else, something keener and more powerful than if they’d simply fallen together in the more conventional manner.

Bush - Machinehead

This forward-leaning, energetic hit from Bush was a staple of my on-repeat listening in the early 2000s. It captures the way I feel sometimes when I’m deep in the groove writing or programming, and it’s how I imagined Nathan would be when he’s in the zone working on those plans for Maufrais.

Carrie Underwood -- Before He Cheats

Claire is from an older and far more polite generation, but I like to think she’s got a little bit of this Underwood spunk in her. Claire has a certainty and sense of self that allows her to leave Travis when he betrays her, and a determination and strength that keep her going despite the challenges she encounters.

The Polecats - Make a Circuit with Me

I had to learn a fair amount of the basics of electricity and about hydroelectric dams in preparation for writing the novel. More than a few times, as I worked to dramatize the assembly of subpanels and transmission lines, I thought back to the Polecats and their clever recitation of terms.

Tim Easton -- Just Like Home

From the earliest drafts, I envisioned Freitag as the book’s Falstaff. He’s a scallywag, and I think it’s a role that he’s entirely comfortable with. The path he is on is one of pleasure in the moment, rather than the balanced, longevity-oriented goals most of us pursue in a civilized society. In the long run, things probably won’t turn out well for Freitag, but he’s endlessly entertaining in the moment.

R.E.M. -- What’s the Frequency, Kenneth?

Doesn’t each and every generation wonder what the hell is up with the kids? In the 1930s, parents wrestled with how to hang onto their families as the promise of an electrified, comfortable life drew the young people off of the farms and away from the countryside in huge numbers.

OneRepublic -- Secrets

I think that it’s Nathan’s frankness with Claire, his disinclination to play the role that society tells him a man should, that initially draws Claire to him. In the end,they become keepers of each other’s secrets, with all the intimacy that such an arrangement implies.

Stone Temple PIlots -- Creep

When Nathan arrives in town, he’s a harried, damaged version of himself. Bit by bit, he attempts to build his new life on top of that wreckage, but it’s not a workable solution to the problems he faces, and he eventually comes to realize that.


Mark Barr and Watershed links:

the author's website

Arkansas Democrat & Gazette review
BookPage review
Chapter 16 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


Shorties (Liz Phair on Her New Memoir, An Interview with Carmen Maria Machado, and more)

How We Fight for Our Lives by Liz Phair

The Millions interviewed author Carmen Maria Machado.


Liz Phair discussed her new memoir Horror Stories with Salon and Chicago.

Stream a new song by Phair.


October's best eBook deals.

eBook on sale for $1.99 today:

Meridian by Alice Walker


Pitchfork listed the best albums of the 2010s.


Jac Jemc shared her love for the Real Housewives series at Electric Eel.

Vol. 1 Brooklyn interviewed Jemc.


Stream a new song by Caribou.


The 2019 National Book Award finalists have been named.


Wilco’s John Stirratt discussed the band's new album with Metro US.


Town & Country recommended October's best books.


Lucy Dacus covered Phil Collins' "In the Air Tonight."


PopMatters shared an excerpt from Paul Theroux's new book On the Plain of Snakes.


Stream a new song by Guided By Voices.


The Guardian Books podcast interviewed author Lucy Ellmann.


Stream a new Hana Vu song.


Literary Hub recommended the week's best books.


Stream a new song by Bonnie "Prince" Billy.



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


October 8, 2019

Veronica Raimo's Playlist for Her Novel "The Girl at the Door"

The Girl at the Door

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

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

The Girl at the Door, Veronica Raimo's first novel translated into English, is a moving and important book.

Publishers Weekly wrote of the book:

"[A] fanged, elliptical tale… The novel deals in shifting sentiments: between love, revulsion, and desire… A writer of wry and lucid prose, Raimo sculpts from these ambiguities a crystalline, powerful novel."


In her own words, here is Veronica Raimo's Book Notes music playlist for her debut novel The Girl at the Door:



Every time I start writing a new book, or when I am finishing it, or when I am stuck for whatever reason (so basically in any crucial part of my writing process)—I need to go somewhere else to write, somewhere else which is not home. I am not talking about an exotic place or some kind of buen retiro; what I need is a place that could be my apartment but is not. That’s why I am constantly keeping a close eye on my friends. I check if they are leaving, so I can temporarily move into their place. I’ve become a professional squatter. Since my friends in Berlin tend to travel more than my friends in Rome, I’ve written most of my books in Berlin.

Islaja - Shit Hit The Fan

One of the apartments where I wrote The Girl at the Door is Merja (Islaja)’s place. The light was beautiful, the windows were very high, and I had the best bed I’ve ever had in my life. Actually, the bed was so comfortable, and I spent so much time laying on it and collecting thoughts for the novel, that it almost felt like I was sick. That kind of peaceful sickness you have when you are a child and you don’t want to get up and go to school. That’s why the first track of this playlist is dedicated to Islaja.

Liima - Life is Dangerous

Another apartment in Berlin where I stayed to finish my novel was at Mads’s place (Mads from Efterklang and Liima). He moved out because he split up with his girlfriend, and I was all alone in this huge and totally empty apartment. There was just a bed, a desk, and a chair left (and some bills to pay). I remember one night when Mads and Casper (the band’s singer) made me listen to their new album, shortly before the release. Since there were no sofas, we laid on the floor, half stoned, and I immediately fell in love with “Life is dangerous,” which I asked them to play on a loop forever.

Efterklang - Hollow Mountain

But actually there are two more reasons why The Girl at the Door is connected to Liima and Efterklang. The first one is that I spent a whole afternoon with Casper taking about the Danish concept of “hygge” which plays a strong role in my novel. And the second one is that the original title of my novel is Miden, which is where the story is set, an imaginary place which takes its name and its landscape from Pyramiden, an abandoned Russian coal-mining settlement in the Norwegian Svalbard, the same location which inspired Efterklang’s album “Piramida.”

Smog – You Moved In

I worked as a journalist for Rolling Stone Italia, and my very first interview, many years ago, was with Bill Callahan, when he was still Smog. The interview was never published because the magazine thought he was not relevant enough at that time, and maybe it was better like this, because my questions were so long and pretentious he barely answered (“Hm…”, “Yes…”, “No…”, “Dunno…”, Maybe…”). But as I writer, my inner desire is to have Callahan’s ability to create images and brilliant verses.

Cat Power - What Would The Community Think

My first real interview then was with Chan Marshall, alias Cat Power, and fortunately she talks a lot. The interview lasted hours, we kept on talking and smoking cigarettes sitting outside a concert hall (not a smart move for me when I had to transcribe what she said …). It’s still one of my fondest memories. I love her, and I love her music, and, actually, when my publisher and I were discussing a title for my novel in the States, I wanted to steal Cat Power’s beautiful title, “What Would The Community Think”.

Bon Iver – 33 “GOD”

While in Berlin, I attended to a festival organized by Bon Iver and The National, even if they said it was “neither a festival or a concert or an event to visit.” They said it “was a communal experience”. And it was. But all the emphasis on sharing a communal experience, with an audience that was supposed to be called just “people,” felt a bit paradoxical, because all those “people” looked the same, like we were a sort of Bon Iver/The National cute army. At the end of my novel, there is a scene which is clearly inspired by that.

Father John Misty – Nancy From Now On

When I interviewed Father John Misty, he was slightly seductive talking passionately about how deep in love he was with his wife. I guess this kind of studied ambivalence is part of his poetics, and the video of this song inspired one of the crucial scenes of my novel—not in its narrative, but in its tension.

Peter Broderick – And it’s Alright

If I have to imagine a kind of music the people living in Miden would listen to, I’d say Peter Broderick’s, or all the things released by Erased Tapes. There is a scene in a wood in the novel; I think this song could be the right soundtrack.

Heroin in Tahiti – Black Market

And if I have to imagine a kind of music people living in Miden would never listen to, it would be Heroin in Tahiti. But I listen to them, and I think their music is the right dose of “Sun and Violence” (the album’s title) to prescribe against the cold ideology of Miden’s society.

Lucio Battisti – Macchina del tempo

One of the most powerful songs about the sense of loss. In my novel this is a central theme: what does it mean to lose something? And how can a sense of belonging become just a form of oppression? Maybe it’s just my interpretation, but that’s why I feel very connected to this song and—in its complexity and dissonance—I recognize a fertile form of anxiety very dear to me.

Iosonouncane – Stormi

Iosonouncane is not so related to the novel itself, but I listened to his album so many times while I was writing it, and he is the most interesting Italian artist in recent memory—so I am happy to have him at the end of this playlist.


Veronica Raimo and The Girl at the Door links:

Evening Standard review
Kirkus review
New York Observer review
New York Times 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


Shorties (An Excerpt from Saeed Jones' Memoir, Stream a David Berman Tribute Album, and more)

How We Fight for Our Lives by Saeed Jones

Literary Hub shared an excerpt from Saeed Jones' memoir How We Fight for Our Lives.


Stream Approaching Perfection, a tribute album of David Berman songs, featuring contributions from Dean Wareham, Diane Cluck, and others.


October's best eBook deals.

eBooks on sale for $1.99 today:

A Devil in Paradise by Henry Miller
Seventh Heaven by Alice Hoffman


Sharon Van Etten played a Tiny Desk Concert.


Rachel Maddow talked to All Things Considered about her book, Blowout.


San Fermin covered Carly Rae Jepsen's "Run Away with Me."


Booker Prize-winning authors shared tips on writing a prize-winning books at the Guardian.


Stream a new Michael Stipe song.


Tim O'Brien recommended his favorite books at The Week.


Stream a new Kim Gordon song.


NerdMuch? listed the best horror books of all time.


Gorilla Vs.Bear shared a playlist of the best songs of the decade.


The Millions interviewed author John Domini.


American Songwriter counted down Bob Dylan songs.


The New Yorker profiled author Edna O'Brien.


NYCTaper shared a recently recorded Ty Segall performance.


The Observer reviewed Jesse Ball's new novel, The Dives' Game.

Ball richly imagines a society where empathy is eroded at every level – a condemnation of the by-design inequalities of wealth, justice, freedom and opportunity that underpin western societies.


Stream a new song by Girl Ray.


The New York Post recommended the week's best books.


Stream a new Anna Meredith song.


Salon recommended October's must-read books.


Wilco's Jeff Tweedy played guest DJ at All Songs Considered.


Joyce Carol Oates talked to the New Yorker about her story in this week's issue.


Pitchfork listed the top 200 songs of the 2010s.


Literary Hub interviewed author and comedian Josh Gondelman.


Book Riot recommended entry points into the books of Harvey Pekar.


Vol. 1 Brooklyn interviewed author Chuck Greaves.


Literary Hub listed September books you may have missed.


Literary Hub shared a conversation between authors Crystal Hana Kim and Laura van den Berg.


A JD Salinger exhibition is coming to the New York Public Library.


Literary Hub listed the best short story collections of the decade.


Women.com recommended fall's best books by women.



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


October 4, 2019

October's Best eBook Deals

eBooks on sale for $1.99 this month:


Devotion by Dani Shapiro Intimations by Alexandra Kleeman


1968 in America by Charles Kaiser
200 Women
Alfred Hitchcock: A Life in Darkness and Light by Alfred Mcgilligan
All-Night Party: The Women of Bohemian Greenwich Village and Harlem, 1913-1930 by Andrea Barnet
Already Dead by Denis Johnson
Antelope Woman by Louise Erdrich
Bessie by Chris Albertson
Canada by Richard Ford
The Confusion by Neal Stephenson
Dalva by Jim Harrison
Devotion by Dani Shapiro
Dreadful Young Ladies and Other Stories by Kelly Barnhill
The Essential Chomsky by Noam Chomsky
Flings by Justin Taylor
The Gay Metropolis by Charles Kaiser
Goat Mountain by David Vann
Half Wild by Robin MacArthur
Hallowe'en Party by Agatha Christie
A House Divided by Pearl S. Buck
I Never Had It Made: An Autobiography of Jackie Robinson
I'd Rather Be Reading: A Library of Art for Book Lovers
Intimations by Alexandra Kleeman
Man V. Nature by Diane Cook
The Optimistic Decade by Heather Abel
Our Hearts Will Burn Us Down by Anne Valente
Our Short History by Lauren Grodstein
Outlaw: Waylon, Willie, Kris, and the Renegades of Nashville by Michael Streissguth
Reefer Madness by Eric Schlosser
Sip by Brian Allen Carr
The Secrets Between Us by Thrity Umrigar
Ted Williams, My Father by Claudia Williams
Three Hundred Miller by Blake Butler
The Young Widower's Handbook by Tom McAllister
Zombie by Joyce Carol Oates


eBooks on sale for $2.99 this month:


The Last Samurai by Helen DeWitt Complete Stories by Clarice Lispector


The Beginning Place by Ursula K Le Guin
Borne by Jeff VanderMeer
Bowie: The Biography by Wendy Leigh
Complete Stories by Clarice Lispector
Console Wars by Blake J. Harris
The Dark Dark by Samantha Hunt
The Day of the Locust by Nathanael West
Dinner by Cesar Aira
The Driver's Seat by Muriel Spark
The Ghost Stories of Muriel Spark
The Grip of It by Jac Jemc
Hemlock Grove by Brian McGreevy
The Henry Miller Reader by Henry Miller
How I Became a Nun by Cesar Aira
I Work Like a Gardener by Joan Miro
The Last Samurai by Helen DeWitt
The Mere Wife by Maria Dahvana Headley
Normal by Warren Ellis
The Prague Cemetery by Umberto Eco
Revenge by Yoko Ogawa
Seventy-nine Short Essays on Design by Michael Bierut
The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris
Sisters in Law by Linda R. Hirshman
Slammerkin by Emma Donoghue
Universal Harvester by John Darnielle
Why Comics?: From Underground to Everywhere by Hilary Chute


eBooks on sale for $3.99 this month:


American Meteor by Norman Lock The Encyclopedia of Trouble and Spaciousness by Rebecca Solnit


American Meteor by Norman Lock
The Encyclopedia of Trouble and Spaciousness by Rebecca Solnit
Letters of Note: Volume 1 by Shawn Usher


also at Largehearted Boy:

Support Largehearted Boy

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)


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