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December 5, 2007

Book Notes - Vincent Lam ("Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures")

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

Short fiction collections have been especially wonderful this year, but Vincent Lam's Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures stands out as the my favorite. An intertwined collection of short stories, this 2006 winner of Canada's Giller Prize follows the paths of several doctors from their pre-med days to their medical practices.

Preview or download this mix at iTunes

In his own words, here is Vincent Lam's Book Notes essay for his short fiction collection, Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures:

The Be Good Tanyas – Human Thing
From: Hello Love

Ibrahim Ferrer – Nuestra Ultima Cita
From: Buena Vista Social Club presents Ibrahim Ferrer

Cowboy Junkies – I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry
From: The Trinity Session

Sting – Fields of Gold
From: Ten Summoners’ Tales

Ani DiFranco – Overlap
From: Out of Range

Sarah McLachlan - Out of The Shadows
From: Touch

Indigo Girls – Southland In The Springtime
From: Nomads Indians Saints

Crash Test Dummies – Superman’s Song
From: The Ghosts That Haunt Me

U2 – Until The End of the World
From: Until The End of the World (soundtrack)

Amelie Lefebvre – 24 Heures (solo)
From: Amelie

This playlist is meant to accompany my book, ‘Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures’. I assembled the playlist instinctively, without preconception, which is the same way I write. I sat down and began to listen to my music. I shuffled through my favorite CD’s late at night after the kids were asleep, and listened until the next song ‘fit’ the playlist. I wasn’t sure why each one fit, but when I was done, I felt this would be a good list to follow the emotional arc of my book

Only after putting the list together, I thought about common threads and themes. Such things always have a way of making themselves known, don’t they? Or maybe we just throw them in afterwards to justify what we have done. In any case, this is also much in keeping with the way I write – I don’t send the characters off to prove my point, I observe what they do.

Many of the musicians here are lonely voices. They remind me of my characters, who find themselves in intimate human situations but are often obliged to act alone. This playlist is eclectic in geography and styles, and I have written a book of linked short stories – which is perhaps a quirky compromise between the form of the novel and the collection of separate short stories. Much of this discography is early in these musicians’ careers. Apart from the obvious parallel with ‘Bloodletting’ as my first book, I think there is a certain similarity in the freshness and unfiltered energy which comes through in the early work of both writers and musicians.

The songs I have chosen are often suspended, at some point, entirely on a single voice. They are largely acoustic. Perhaps this is the musical form that I feel is closest to literature. The lips of the artist whisper in the ear of the recipient. This human intimacy through the void of the page, or through the vanishing sound waves is what we crave as artists, readers, and listeners.


Vincent Lam and Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures links:

the author's website
the author's Wikipedia entry
the book's Wikipedia entry
audio excerpts from the book
excerpts from the book

Canadian Literature review
New York Times review
Philosophy, Ethics, and Humanities in Medicine review
Willamette Week review

CTV profiles the author
Entertainment Weekly interview with the author
Macleans interview with the author
Minnesota Public Radio interview with the author
Notes from the Underground profile of the author
The Strand interview with the author
Torontoist interview with the author

also at Largehearted Boy:

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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