May 6, 2009
In the Book Notes series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates in some way to their recently published books.
In Madewell Brown, the fourth book of his New Mexico series, Rick Collignon again conjures the mythical town of Guadalupe and weaves the town's past into its present with his signature magical realism.
Library Journal wrote of the book:
"Straightforward prose and well-drawn characters, married to fragmented memories of racism and violence, make for a compelling tale. Think Tony Hillerman with a dash of Cormac McCarthy."
Dolores O'Riordon, lead singer of The Cranberries, performed a song a number of years ago by the name of "Ode to My Family." At the time, I was lost in the midst of writing my second novel, The Journal of Antonio Montoya, which dealt with family and loss and, ultimately, I suppose, redemption. What I remember from back then was driving back roads from one job site to another when suddenly O'Riordon's voice would fill the cab of the truck. I recall to this day the impact it had on me. It was so intense that I would sometimes pull off to the side of the road and sit there in almost a trance until the song ended. What I heard and felt in her voice was a vast depth of pain and longing and loss. And where it took me was to a place of dead quiet that enabled me to feel not only her emotions and mine, but also those of the people in the book I was writing. Somehow whatever I was trying to touch with words, she had managed to touch with sound.
I can think of only a few others who have managed to affect me in that way. Certainly Leonard Cohen. It doesn't much matter where I am or what I'm doing, if the ballad "Suzanne," which is like a sea of melancholia, is playing my brain immediately shuts down and I'm not even sure where the hell I go in my mind. The Beatles' "Getting Better" with its weird mix of upbeat rhythm and simple, dark lyrics does the same thing. There's even an old time fiddle tune, "Robinson County," when played slow has the feel of a dirge, the feel of something that is always in the air around you, but that you seldom look at.
So there you go, Largehearted Boy. My first thought when invited to write a piece for you was how can I do that? I don't have a love affair with music. I don't have the time to sit and listen to it. Even the radio in my pickup quit on me years ago. But then I remembered the sound of Dolores O'Riordon's voice. And I remembered the power it had to take me somewhere I never would have thought possible.
Rick Collignon and Madewell Brown links:
also at Largehearted Boy: