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March 18, 2009

Book Notes - Andre Jordan ("Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now")

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

The title of Andre Jordan's graphic memoir, Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now first caught my eye. A Smiths song as title of a memoir? This should be interesting...

Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now often reads like a Morrissey lyric. Jordan lets his simply-drawn cartoons tell his story with an often charming pessimistic romanticism in this clever, dark, funny, and ultimately hopeful memoir.

In his own words, here is Andre Jordan's Book Notes essay for his graphic memoir, Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now:

Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now is a graphic memoir. It tells the story of my painfully shy childhood, awkward teenage years, disastrous love life, depression, and therapy, and ends with the optimism I now feel about my future.

I would go to a shop. The girl in the shop would look at me in a 'moody' manner. "She hates me," I would think to myself. "I am a complete twat." I would then go home and draw a picture or write a poem that captured my complete humiliation: "I wrote a thousand love songs and sang them from my heart. But when I said they're all for you, you laughed and laughed and laughed."

If these words make you smile, if you can see yourself in what I have written, then I wrote Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now for you.

SIX SONGS

1) "How Soon Is Now" by The Smiths

This song is the soundtrack to my youth and my early twenties. I remember standing in the corner of nightclubs watching my friends all dancing to Tina Turner and Duran Duran and wondering if I would ever find my place in this world. As Morrissey sings, "'There's a club, if you'd like to go. You could meet somebody who really loves you. So you go, and you stand on your own. And you leave on your own. And you go home, and you cry. And you want to die."

2) "Mr. Bojangles" by Nina Simone

For years I never felt able to just be me. Instead, I would become the thing I thought people wanted me to be. I would dance for them. The only people I truly felt comfortable being around were the homeless people I would photograph. We would share stories about our pasts and smoke cigarettes on benches. No one came near.

3) "Come Undone" by Robbie Williams

I feel quite embarrassed picking this song. It is not a 'cool' song. Not a song I'd list if I wished to impress you. Just picking it reminds me of how I felt in therapy. Completely ashamed, embarrassed, and so uncool. And, so, it needed to be here. This song really does express how therapy felt. What I thought of myself. "I am scum, watch me come undone."

4) "Must I Paint You a Picture" by Billy Bragg

This song reminds me how it finally felt to draw and write down the things I'd had to face about myself in therapy. It is raw. It is honest. Heart on my sleeve. This is me. Every drawing in my book feels like this song.

5) "Bigfoot" by Weakerthans

When the dust finally settles, and you look up to see who's left standing beside you, you find your true friends. The ones who truly believe in you. It is an amazing feeling. And those people that you once 'danced for' no longer matter. "When the visions that I see believe in me."

6) "Glory Days" by Pulp

This song makes me smile. It reminds me that everything is possible and nothing, nothing, is pointless. For years I was told to "stop this creative nonsense and get a proper job." That my doodles and prose "were pointless." Thank God I never listened. "And if it all amounts to nothing, it doesn't matter, these are still our glory days."

Andre Jordan and Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now links:

the author's website
the author's blog
the author's MySpace page
publisher's page for the author
publisher's page for the book
Facebook group for the book
video trailer for the book

Armchair Interviews review
Atlanta Journal-Constitution review
Good Books in Bad Times review
Urban Outfitters review
A Way to Garden review

BBC Ouch! blog cartoons by the author
Designed for Mankind interview with the author
Psychjourney interview with the author
Top Shelf interview with the author

also at Largehearted Boy:

Previous Book Notes submissions (authors create playlists for their book)
Online "Best Books of 2008" Lists
Largehearted Boy Favorite Novels of 2008
Largehearted Boy Favorite Graphic Novels of 2008
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Why Obama (musicians and authors explain their support of the Democratic presidential candidate's campaign)
guest book reviews
musician/author interviews
52 Books, 52 Weeks (2009 Edition)
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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