November 6, 2009
In the Book Notes series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates in some way to their recently published book.
Kamby Bolongo Mean River is a novel that resonates long after its end, the story of a young man alone in a room with only his memories. In understated prose Robert Lopez crafts the man's history in one of the year's most original and psychologically haunting novels.
The bulk of Kamby Bolongo Mean River came together during the summer of 2007. The novel concerns a young man who finds himself confined to a room and the subject of seemingly pointless tests. His only connection to the world is a telephone that will not dial out. The story moves from there. I had a nice office in the house my then-wife and I were renting just outside of Portland, OR, having just moved from just outside of New York City. The office overlooked a beautifully landscaped backyard kept up by the landlord. There were trees and flowers and what have you. Every so often I'd spot a hummingbird floating fast and feeding on what was out there. There are no hummingbirds in New York City or just outside of New York City. At least I've never seen a hummingbird. After work each day I'd listen to Wilco's Sky Blue Sky, which pertained to my life in more ways than one during that summer. Turns out there are lines that relate to the narrator's predicament in Kamby Bolongo Mean River all over the record, though I was unaware of this at the time.
"Either Way" – "Maybe the sun will shine today"
"You Are My Face" – "Trying to be thankful/Our stories fit into phones"
"Impossible Germany" – "This is important but I know you're not listening"
"Sky Blue Sky" – "Windows open and raining in/Maroon, yellow, blue, gold and gray"
"Side with the Seeds" – "Embracing the situation is our only chance to be free"
"Shake It Off" – "I take to sleep again/Where I dare pretend I'm more than I seem"
"Please Be Patient with Me" – "It means I'm partially there"
"Hate It Here" – "I try to keep myself occupied"
"Leave Me (Like You Found Me)" – "Tell me what to do"
"Walken" – "I was talking to myself"
"What Light" - "If you're trying to paint a picture but you're not sure which colors belong"
"On and On and On" – "This world of words and meanings make you feel outside"
Robert Lopez and Kamby Bolongo Mean River links:
also at Largehearted Boy:
other Book Notes submissions (authors create playlists for their book)