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August 2, 2007

Note Books - Mike Grimes (Mancino)

The Note Books series features musicians discussing their literary side. Past contributors have included John Darnielle, John Vanderslice, and others.

Mancino's self-released debut full-length Manners Matter is a pop gem, one of the few 2007 releases I make time to revisit on a regular basis.

Tracks from Mancino's debut album, Manners Matter:

"Hetchie Hutchie Footchie" [mp3]
"Five Blades" [mp3]
"L'amour (or Less)" [mp3]

Thanks to frontman Mike Grimes for taking the time to share some of his favorite books with Largehearted Boy readers.

In his own words, here is the Note Books entry of Mancino's Mike Grimes:

For better or worse, I tend to do most of my reading on the subway. As a commuting companion, the iPod fell out of favor with me some time ago for one reason or another - be it a continual awareness of time being wasted on the train, bouts of mistaken eye contact with others, etc etc - whereas a serviceable book always gave my eyes somewhere safe and non-creepy to look. Of course, the downside is that I'm still on a packed train with loads of other people for 20-30 minutes at a time, making sustained attempts at digesting heady material somewhat problematic (this is coincidentally why I spent an entire week re-reading the same five pages of "Gravity's Rainbow"). Instead, I've let another pattern emerge with my reading habits. Namely, someone will give me a book they've enjoyed and I will immediately begin reading it. Unlike the good-natured album, film, and television show recommendations I tend to ignore for one reason or another, chances are if you give me a book I'll read it within a few weeks. So, in the spirit of recommendations, here are some books others have shared with me that I have enjoyed recently whilst caroming between boroughs:

"The World According To Garp" by John Irving
Recommended by: My girlfriend

This is actually the most recent book I've finished, and perhaps the first one in a long time that actually felt finished. A common gripe of mine is that so many books I read (really good books too) just seem to sputter out and arbitrarily end with no sense of narrative closure. It makes me uneasy. Call me simple but I like to know what happens to everyone I've invested so much time into and how everything turns out. A story largely about lust (meta-alert) framed by a writer's own drive to create stories, this book neatly wraps up all the loose ends unfurled by its sweeping three-generational narrative with a particularly vivid and wince-inducing climax (road-head enthusiasts beware). Ouch. I also really enjoyed the pace of this book. For particularly bizarre scenes like a midnight jog that leads Garp into the bedroom of the mother of his son's best friend, Irving teases the narrative out and paints a vivid portrait over several chapters before then launching into breakneck speed through less intriguing events only to lead up yet again for another slowdown. Yay.

"Drop City" by T.C. Boyle
Recommended by: Nadim's (Mancino keyboard player's) girlfriend

This was a perfect subway read. Every time I picked it up, it immediately transported me into the deep deep wilderness of Alaska. It's essentially a story about a hippie commune that moves from Northern California to the woods outside of Boynton, Alaska in the 1970s. Perhaps my favorite thing about this book was Boyle's ability to adopt various voices and take multiple points of view, so that one chapter would be told from one point of view and the next from a competing POV, all the while pushing the narrative forward. It just lent a richness and texture to the whole story that I really enjoyed. Plus, I can't seem to get enough of hippies. There should be an exhibit in the Museum of Natural History devoted to them.

"Middlesex" by Jeffrey Eugenides
Recommended by: My mother

Maybe the reason I have such a hard time taking other people's recommendations about music and film is that I usually have some sort of prior knowledge, and thus prior perceptions, to contend with, and with books this is rarely the case. The exception to this would be "Middlesex", which I knew a few things about before my mother recommended it to me. I knew that a) it was about a hermaphrodite and b) it was in Oprah's Book Club, and for some reason I foolishly thought both of these factors would prevent this book from resonating with me. Well, of course I was wrong. I honestly can't remember the last time I appreciated the craft of writing as much as when I read this book. Eugenides crafted such an amazingly rich and nuanced story here that I instantly identified with and felt for every single character.

Mancino links:

Mancino's website
Mancino's MySpace page

Mancino tracks at Hype Machine
My Old Kentucky Blog in-studio tracks
SPIN profile

also at Largehearted Boy:

Previous Note Books submissions (musicians discuss literature)
Book Notes submissions (authors create playlists for their book)
Interviews (authors interview musicians and vice versa)
Book Reviews


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