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February 14, 2008

Book Notes - Martha Frankel ("Hats & Eyeglasses")

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

I am not much of a gambler, and haven't played much poker since high school, but that didn't stop me from enjoying Martha Frankel's memoir, Hats & Eyeglasses. Frankel, a journalist notable for her celebrity interviews, turns the questions to herself and her colorful family in this book that follows her lifelong affair with poker. From her early days watching family and friends play to her own obsession with the game, she unflinchingly chronicles her highs and lows as she opens a window into her life.

The Times-Picayune wrote of the book:

"The thrill of the chase -- or rather, the chase of the thrill -- powers "Hats and Eyeglasses," a fast-paced and amazingly funny memoir by Martha Frankel. Even those of us who scoff at card games will gain a new understanding of the joys of poker, and if you belong to a weekly poker group, well, beware of Internet enticements."


In her own words, here is Martha Frankel's Book Notes essay for her memoir, Hats & Eyeglasses: A Family Love Affair with Gambling:


While I was writing my memoir, Hats & Eyeglasses, music would be blasting from the computer. Sometimes I felt that the louder the music, the more I could focus. The experiences and feelings that have touched me deepest have so many layers, and my playlists inspired me to peel them back--- all the way to the core. I know there are people who talk about how lyrics get in the way--- but I am definitely not one of them.

The songs I’ve chosen are not necessarily from the period of time I was writing about, but they evoke the feelings I had then.

One of the parts of the book that I loved writing was about my parents, their love story-- which was huge and sexy and wonderful-- and about how my sister, Helene, and I were embraced by them. This was a great time in our lives, lighthearted, full of fun.

The songs that fit this time are:

My Funny Valentine by Frank Sinatra
God Only Knows by The Beach Boys
The Greatest Love by Aaron Neville
Summertime by Big Brother and the Holding Company
When a Man Loves a Woman by Percy Sledge
Baby It’s You by the Shirelles


The next part of the story is about my explosive sadness when my father died. I became surly and disruptive, and started experimenting with anything at hand. That playlist included:

While My Guitar Gently Weeps (John or Paul? Neither--- George all the way)
For What it’s Worth by Buffalo Springfield
We Went So High by Leslie Gore
Sympathy for the Devil by The Rolling Stones


When writing about my love affair with poker , I endlessly listened to--

Something’s Got a Hold on Me by Etta James
What a Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong
Moondance by Van Morrison
Sunlight by The Youngbloods
Touch the Hem of his Garment by Sam Cooke
Up the Junction by Squeeze
Giant Step by Taj Mahal


Then I became addicted to online poker and was completely freaked out and in denial and very isolated. The songs I listened to when writing about that horrible time include:

It Makes No Difference by The Band
How Can You Mend a Broken Heart? by Al Green
Wholly Holy by Aretha Franklin
Dark Was The Night--- Cold Was The Ground by Blind Willie Johnson (this is the only song on this list that doesn’t have lyrics)
First Cut is the Deepest by Sheryl Crow
Good Morning Heartache by Etta James
Red Light by Jonny Lang
Cry Me a River by Julie London


When I finally stopped playing, I didn’t know how to reach out to anyone. That embarrassment & isolation led me to these songs:

Nobody’s Girl by Bonnie Raitt
Mr. Pitiful by Otis Redding
I’m so Tired by The Chambers Brothers
Better Days by Susan Tedeschi
If Wishing Made it So by the Subdudes
I Broke Down by The Holmes Brothers
What Becomes of the Brokenhearted by Jimmy Ruffin
Feels like Rain by John Hiatt
Feel Like Going Home by The Notting Hillbillies


There was a time I was sure no one would ever forgive me. These are the songs that helped heal my heart.

Blackbird by the Beatles
Stand by Me by Ben E. King
I Shall be Released by Bob Dylan
Have You Ever Seen the Rain? by Creedence Clearwater
Eden’s Wall by Little Feat
Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood by Nina Simone
Have a Little Faith in me by Delbert McClinton
If You Don’t Know Me by Now by Harold Melvin and the Bluenotes
Safe in Your Arms by John Lilley

And if it had been out when I was writing, Rehab by Amy Winehouse would have been on all the playlists!


Martha Frankel and Hats & Eyeglasses links:

the author's website
the author's upcoming book tour appearances
the book's page at the publisher
an excerpt from the book

Associated Press review
Chronogram review
N review
Publishers Weekly review
Times-Picayune review
USA Today review

New York Times profile of 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 (2008 Edition)
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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