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April 1, 2010

Book Notes - Scott Bradfield ("The People Who Watched Her Pass By")

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

Jonathan Lethem has called Scott Bradfield one of his favorite living writers, and after reading The People Who Watched Her Pass By, I can understand why.

Bradfield's fifth novel is narrated by a three year-old girl whose tale involves her kidnapping, homelessness, and involvement with a bizarre religious cult. Unclouded by sentiment, her voice is powerful, arresting, and occasionally funny, she is easily one of the most memorable narrators I have read in years.


In his own words, here is Scott Bradfield's Book Notes music playlist for his novel, The People Who Watched Her Pass By:


As a novelist and short story writer, I hate plotting - preferring to release my characters to travel wherever it is they need to go. In The People Who Watched Her Pass By, the pre-school heroine, Sal, enjoys all the freedoms I couldn't dream of enjoying back when I suffered the limited horizons of monkey bars, swing sets, and monochrome TV. She freely roams the surface of the world, explores the houses of people she never needs to know too well, and doesn't take anybody as seriously as they take her.

Sal wouldn't fall for music - not Raffi or the Stones or any of that lot; she wisely disdains the beat and swell of emotions that aren't hers. But since I'm not Sal, I wouldn't drop my pre-school self off at the end of the road until I had loaded his backpack full of Cheese-Stix and bottled water, and his headset with the following CDs: long sweeps of thesis and antithesis that will keep him listening long enough to forget what he's listening to. (Which, of course, is when it'll be time to start all over again.)


Philip Glass, Symphonies Nos. 2 and 3

Even when you don't know where you're going, Glass will get you there.


Bill Evans, Waltz for Debby

Or any of those early sixties albums featuring Scott LaFaro on bass. Landscape in a bottle.


Carlos Santana, Havana Moon

Even Santana doesn't know where he's heading on in this one. Booker T keeps him on track.


Coleman Hawkins, Soul

Pure this-ness.


The Beatles, Abbey Road, Let It Be, and the White Album

Eventually these pop up on every GPS.


Art Pepper, Winter Moon

Like his more famous contemporary, Chet Baker, Art Pepper was handsome, talented, selfish, egomaniacal and always busy making music, even while he drove his body into the ground. A permanent state of fugue that Sal would ride well into the sunset and beyond.


Bob Dylan, Shot of Love

Would make any unholy child happy.


John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman

Real together.


Van Morrison, Poetic Champions Compose

Too schmaltzy and angry for Sal - but not for me.


The Byrds, Sweetheart of the Rodeo

Happy trails.


Puccinni's La Boheme, with Pavarotti and Freni, et.al

And finally you're home!


Scott Bradfield and The People Who Watched Her Pass By links:

the author's Wikipedia entry

The Nervous Breakdown review

Believer profile of the author
Vice short story by the author


also at Largehearted Boy:

other Book Notes playlists (authors create music playlists for their book)

52 Books, 52 Weeks (weekly book reviews)
Antiheroines (interviews with up and coming female comics artists)
Atomic Books Comics Preview (weekly highlights of comics & graphic novels)
Daily Downloads (free and legal daily mp3 downloads)
guest book reviews
Largehearted Word (weekly highlights of new books)
musician/author interviews
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Soundtracked (composers and directors discuss their film's soundtracks)
Try It Before You Buy It (mp3s and full album streams from this week's CD releases)
weekly music & DVD release lists


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