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July 1, 2010

Book Notes - John Brandon ("Citrus County")

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

John Brandon's macabre novel Citrus County is at once touching, funny, and terrifying. Definitely an odd (and extremely rare) combination, but Brandon is a master at creating greatly flawed, believable characters who jump off the page and into our memories.

Brandon's debut novel Arkansas greatly impressed me and landed on my favorite novels of 2008 list. Citrus County is a worthy successor, a book that haunts as well as it entertains.

Publishers Weekly wrote of the book:

"Brandon's dry wit, dark imagination, and surprisingly big heart combine to reveal a Florida that, despite (or because of) being more Ted Bundy than Disney World, is absolutely worth visiting."

In his own words, here is John Brandon's Book Notes music playlist for his novel, Citrus County:

Like with Arkansas, in the new one music isn't held in too positive a light. No music comes through the radio at Toby's house, only police chatter. Mr. Hibma blames his inability to fit in partly on music, and at one point purges his villa of CD's. Shelby uses the opening of a jazz bar in Crystal River as proof that the world is unsuitable. Well, take heart--my next book is full of folks who all have a decent shot at happiness, and music is celebrated throughout.

"Love Song," The Cure

It's from 1989, the year I was in 8th grade, and it's one of the best love songs around.

"Adagio E (Water Music)," Handel

Mr. Hibma went to a prep school at which Handel was played during the passing period. Since we're all tired of MESSIAH, let's try this.

"Turkey in the Straw," Lyrics by Dan Bryant

This is the music of ice cream trucks. It's mentioned in the book, unless I cut that scene out. Either way, now you know what song that is.

"The Sewanee River (Old Folks at Home)," Stephen C. Foster

The state song of Florida. If you've never really listened to it, as I hadn't, you'll find it's pretty damn good.

"She Drives Me Crazy," Fine Young Cannibals

Also 1989. I don't know whether Toby is crazy. I suppose not. But Shelby could easily drive one so.

"Teenagers from Mars," The Misfits

They're not from another planet, but they're from Citrus County.

"Bled Out in Black and White," It Dies Today

There's a scene where this guy Pete plays his band's music and it's described, not lovingly, as an assault of noise (maybe not my exact words). Well, the music was described as punk music, which I enjoy, and when I poked around I couldn't find any punk that was obnoxious enough. I ended up in the metal aisle instead. Enjoy, or do the opposite of enjoy.

"Transylvania Blues," Silver Jews

This is the music I hear while Toby rambles the woods.

"Call It a Day," The Soft Pack

Sometimes I wish they would. My characters, I mean.

"Swamp Song," Blur

A great song with the word 'swamp' in the title. Get set to set the setting, y'all.

"Go for Mine," Rob the Viking

Last time I did this, I provided a beat to write to, and explained why I write to beats. Here's another.

John Brandon and Citrus County links:

excerpt from the book

Jack Pendarvis review
Poor Sap Publishing review
Publishers Weekly review
The Rumpus review review

HTMLGIANT interview with the author
Largehearted Boy Book Notes essay for Arkansas by the author
The Rumpus interview with 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 comics highlights)
Daily Downloads (free and legal daily mp3 downloads)
guest book reviews
Largehearted Word (weekly new book highlights)
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 the week's CD releases)
weekly music & DVD release lists

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