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April 1, 2009

Note Books - Karl Briedrick (Speck Mountain)

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

Speck Mountain released Some Sweet Relief a couple of weeks ago, an album Billboard called, "a 40-minute offering of neo-psych gospel that's more polished, more promising, and altogether stronger than most of the band's contemporaries."

In his own words, here is the Note Books entry from Karl Briedrick of Speck Mountain:

The Short Stories of Raymond Carver

When I was asked to write about my relationship to literature for this feature I accepted with some trepidation. I am a great lover of reading but feel deeply unqualified to act as a literary critic. I decided to focus on a writer whose prose is both as spare and ambient as the music and films that excite me most. Following this line of thinking, the short stories of Raymond Carver became the obvious choice.

Carver’s style is all about economy. His stories are not the biopic ready tales of go-getters on the fast track to glory, who fall on hard times, learn humility and find redemption. His characters were never contenders to begin with. These are people who feel profoundly suffocated by the non-event of their lives. TVs flicker, drinks are poured, the dishes aren’t done, her husband snores, his wife is getting fat. These are the dramas of disenfranchised Americans who crave a connection to something beyond the everyday. A sensation greater than passing out in front of the color TV numbed with whiskey and a vague thought that something will have to change, sometime.

If his stories were short films they would start abruptly in the middle of a reel, and end just as clipped. You would see people peering into one another’s yards or sitting in bed smoking cigarettes and talking endlessly. Carver’s America is one that takes place in diners, halfway houses, and bars. His language is never flowery, his characters are never charming or quirky, and there is never an easy resolution. Scarily there is not even always a tangible problem.

Somehow Carver’s stories give me a great deal of hope whenever I read them. Like many of his characters Carver himself was an alcoholic until 1977 and spent the rest of his life sober, finally settling down with a wife he would stay with until his untimely death at 50 years old. In his best writings Carver found beauty and hope between the cracks of American inertia.

Speck Mountain links and mp3 downloads:

Speck Mountain MySpace page
Speck Mountain's Wikipedia entry

"I Feel Eternal" [mp3] from Some Sweet Relief
Speck Mountain's Daytrotter session

Speck Mountain posts at Largehearted Boy

also at Largehearted Boy:

Previous Note Books submissions (musicians discuss literature)
Book Notes (authors create playlists for their book)
guest book reviews
musician/author interviews
Soundtracked (directors 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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