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November 2, 2007

October 2007 Largehearted Boy Wrapup

School started, the weather cooled, and Halloween came and went, and I still found time to update Largehearted Boy with a selection of special posts beyond the daily Daily Downloads, Bittorrent Brunches, and Shorties posts. In case you were moving back to school, having a baby or otherwise doing other things rather than reading LHB, here is the October recap, along with excerpts from the posts:


Book Notes (authors create and discuss a music playlist based on their book)

I celebrated the first 138 entries in the Book Notes series.


Eric Nuzum for The Dead Travel Fast

“Know Your Chicken” by Cibo Matto

Every chapter in The Dead Travel Fast has two things in common: they all (a) describe the significance of vampire lore and (b) contain references to chickens. This is not accidental. I kept searching for things that were as omnipresent as vampires—and my mind kept drifting towards chickens. Everybody loves chicken, thus you find chickens everywhere—just like vampires.

Not surprisingly, there aren’t many great songs about chickens. While there is “Chicken Soup For The f*ck You” by Shout Out Out Out (off one of my favorite records from last year), These Arms Are Snakes’s “Child Chicken Play,” and the forgotten classic “Chicken Outlaw” from Wide Boy Awake, my favorite all time chicken song is by Cibo Matto. It captures the whole chicken vibe quite well.


Jamie Rich for his novel, Have You Seen the Horizon Lately?

8. Sinead O'Connor – "Sacrifice"

This is an Elton John cover, but no one can sing it like Sinead. It's so painful, so bitter, so full of heartache. Listen to it on headphones as loud as you can stand it. The song starts off very quiet, a whisper, but it grows in volume moment to moment, until the hurt turns into righteous bile. I'd hate to be the "you" on the other end of this lashing out, but then again, it might be worse that I tend to recognize myself swimming through the same spite.


Stephen Catanzarite for his 33 1/3 book, U2's Achtung Baby

“Jump Jump” by Bunny Wailer

This tune has haunted me since I first saw the video on the USA cable network’s late, lamented Night Flight show (1981-1988 and so much cooler than MTV). My friend and colleague Dan LeRoy graciously located a copy for me recently, and I’ve been dubbed out ever since.


Sam Quinones for his book, Antonio's Gun and Delfino's Dream: True Tales of Mexican Migration

El OTRO MEXICO (The Other Mexico)

The Mexico in the United States. The song was a response to an attitude, common in Mexico for many years, that immigrants were betraying their country for leaving it to work in the United States. The song insists it is immigrants who keep Mexico alive.

”While the rich go abroad to hide their money and travel Europe,” the band sings, “the campesinos who came here illegally send almost all our money to those who remain back home.”


Joe Bonomo for his Fleshtones biography, Sweat

“Word Up!,” Cameo (1986)

Many a mid-1980s crowd hooted at The Fleshtones’ take on this Top 40 funk classic, another example of their love for Soul source music and for over-the-top stage presentation. I only wish they’d recorded this one.


Jonathan Messinger for his collection of short fiction, Hiding Out

Slayer “Reign in Blood”

Sample lyric: “What I am / What I want / I’m only after death”. If listened to through headphones this song makes you better at pretty much any physical activity you may be doing at the time, be it skateboarding, jogging, working an oven, yoga. I highly recommend it during such activities but with a few exceptions, such as surgery and love making of the wistful persuasion. Also the thunder sound effect was rarely used in music as delightfully as Slayer used it in this one.


Kimberlee Auerbach for her memoir, The Devil, The Lovers & Me: My Life in Tarot

Chapter Nine: “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” by Roberta Flack

My boyfriend Noah and I were at a two-day couples’ workshop in Upstate New York, listening to Roberta Flack’s “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face.” People were sitting on beanbags, boxes of tissues were scattered across the carpet. I tried not to laugh. Roberta Flack’s voice is hauntingly beautiful, but listening to it with a bunch of strangers, being asked to remember the first time you laid eyes on your “beloved” had to be the cheesiest, most ridiculous, Stuart Smalley bullshit I had ever experienced. I took a deep breath and thought about dead pandas.


Jeff Parker for his novel, Ovenman

Africa Dream by Talib Kweli

I actually took (and cited) a line from this song for a story called "One Valve Opens." In it, Julius, an African-American kid brow-deep in the slam poetry scene of Chicago, tries to reconcile his suburban class status with the urban art form he's immersed in. It all leads up to the big end-of-the-year slam, and he's prepared his magnum opus, an extended poetic rant bout race and class and the sub/urban divide. And then one of his teammates almost throws it away by stealing this lyric: "They had potty issues and snotty tissues, we been rockin'/Think you poppin' next year nobody will miss you." I love the way Talib Kweli just builds rhymes on top of rhymes. And for some reason "potty issues and snotty tissues" has always cracked me up.


Mitch Myers for his book, The Boy Who Cried Freebird

Metal Machine Music, Lou Reed

Was it a real rock ‘n’ roll swindle, or just minimalist-art-rock for the ages? On Metal Machine Music, rather than using conventional instruments or the human voice, Lou Reed chose to stack multiple combinations of reverberating electronic sound to create a vast industrial howl. Derived from a process of manipulating aural frequencies and distorting both intensity and pitch, Reed’s mechanized drones and harmonic buildups released shifting waves of pulsing white noise and emitted squeals of pure feedback into two separate (but equal) stereo channels. MMM was released in 1975, and it is still controversial today - an album certainly not for the weak of heart or mind.


Dan LeRoy for his book, The Greatest Music Never Sold

8. David Bowie “Shadow Man”
From the unreleased album Toy (2001)

This re-recording of a Hunky Dory-era demo has been officially released, as a B-side a few years back. It’s still the best commercial for Toy, Bowie’s update of his unfairly-maligned Sixties back catalog. The disc would finally have given some of his oldest tunes their due, but Virgin passed (and might have lost Bowie as a result). Lisa Germano, who played on “Shadow Man” and several other tracks from Toy, calls the atmospheric results of this one “beautiful.” You would too.


Veronica Gonzalez for her novel, twin time: or, how death befell me

Sathima Benjamin – I Could Write a Book

This is from her only recording, a record Manuel is very secretive about having, and this song is just out of this world gorgeous, and perfect for a writer… and the simple secret of the plot would be to show that I love you a lot…


Note Books (musicians discuss books)

Singer-songwriter Carol Bui shared her love for Sylvia Plath's novel, The Bell Jar.

I was reading The Bell Jar when I wrote a good portion of Everyone Wore White. I'm kind of afraid to admit this, but I followed the narrator through her thought processes, through all the hoops and jumps, really believing they were all valid, totally human and understandable. It wasn't until I got to the point in the book when she was committed, when everyone else had declared her kooky, that I thought...wait, so she's nuts? If I am able to relate to her does that mean I'm nuts, too?


The Caribbean's Michael Kentoff explained his love for the works of James Ellroy.

As a devout watcher of A&E’s Cold Case Files, this was a natural for me. What I didn’t expect was to discover such a freakishly brilliant writer. The story alone of the unsolved murder of Ellroy’s mother in El Monte, California in 1958 [when Ellroy was 10] and his subsequent personal disintegration and piece-by-piece re-integration is enough to sustain this reader. Ellroy’s prose, however, is kinetic, streamlined, ridiculous, and beautiful and led me into the warped world of his wonderful novels like American Tabloid and L.A. Confidential. It was this book, in a way, that led me back into fiction, tramping through the fertile fields of noir [Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, David Goodis, Jim Thompson, Ross MacDonald], back into more “classic” literary territory like Philip Roth and Evelyn Waugh and odd, jazzbo geniuses like Philip K. Dick and James Tiptree. I even got the word “jazzbo” from Ellroy – pretty sure.


52 Books, 52 Weeks reviews

This Book Will Save Your Life, by A.M. Homes

The book is one the most outstanding novel I have read all year. Clever, witty, and a slick satire of modern life, I savored every moment.


Chance in Hell, by Gilbert Hernandez

A masterful story told by a talented storyteller this book will stay with you long after you finish the slim volume.


The Omnivore's Dilemma, by Michael Pollan

Pollan explains how politics shape what we eat, and gives insights into the farms and people who grow our food.


Spook Country, by William Gibson

In the end though, the pieces are greater than the whole. In spots, the book is absorbing and often compelling, but in the end I was glad to finish Spook Country and move on to book #39.


Exactly

The stories are richly illustrated by Bay Area artists, and each is a true fairy tale, offering a lesson that children of all ages should learn.


also at Largehearted Boy:

Book Notes
Previous Book Notes submissions (authors create playlists for their book)
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
guest book reviews
musician/author interviews
directors and actors discuss their film's soundtracks
52 Books, 52 Weeks (2007 Edition)
52 Books, 52 Weeks (2006 Edition)
52 Books, 52 Weeks (2005 Edition)
52 Books, 52 Weeks (2004 Edition)


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