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February 24, 2012

Book Notes - Diane Williams - "Vicky Swanky Is a Beauty"

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

Previous contributors include Bret Easton Ellis, Kate Christensen, Kevin Brockmeier, George Pelecanos, Dana Spiotta, Amy Bloom, David Peace, Myla Goldberg, and many others.

In only 118 pages Diane Williams manages to fit 51 stories, each compelling and thought-provoking in its own way. The stories may be short, but all are filled with the humor, pathos, and humanity that are trademarks of Williams's fiction.

Vanity Fair wrote of the book:

"The shorts in Diane Williams's Vicky Swanky Is a Beauty (McSweeney's) emit an unsettling brilliance, becoming, on repeated readings, even stranger and more revelatory."

Stream a Spotify playlist of these tunes. If you don't have Spotify yet, sign up for the free service.


In her own words, here is Diane Williams's Book Notes music playlist for her short fiction collection, Vicky Swanky Is a Beauty:


Glenn Gould's Bach all of the time! That's how it used to be. The two of them labored with me for the whole workday. Now I listen to bird language, what schoolboys scream, the hum, vehicle horns, all clanks – the mystery percussion – sirens.

Bach's retreat occurred a third of the way through the composition of Vicky Swanky Is a Beauty, I think --- which took six years to write.

But before the city sounds had dominion -- Bach was upended by the cellist Frances Marie Uitti --- her Uitti 2 Bows. I also attended her live improvisational concerts.


While at work I only listened to music with no words or to music in languages I could not understand:

Villa-Lobos Piano Music, Ciclo Brasileiro-Suite Floral Charol Nos. 1, 2 and 5, Sonia Rubinsky
Guitar Music of Villa-Lobos, Joseph Bacon guitarist
If You Love Me, Cecilia Bartoli
Clara Schumann, Preludes et Fugues OP. 16 Romances OP. 11,21 ET22 Helen Boschi piano, Annie Jodry violin
The Art of Segovia
In Close Proximity, music of Augusta Gross
Reflections on Air, Bruce Levingston Piano Music of Augusta Gross and Erik Satie
On Yoolis Night Medieval Carols and Motets, Anonymous 4
Debussy: Images – Etudes, Pierre-Laurent Aimard
Swingin Partout (band we heard in the market in Tours)
Oyo, Angelique Kidjo
La Difference, Salif Keita
Song for My Father, Horace Silver


Here's what I listened to –- listen to --- when not writing… and when riding, riding, riding, riding in the car, on long rides:

Les Stances A Sophie, Art Ensemble of Chicago
Sun-Ra, The Singles
The Commodore Master Takes, Billie Holiday
The Best of Mahalia Jackson
When the Gates Swing Open, Clara Ward
Sail Away, Albertina Walker
The Best of Sam and Dave
I'll Rise Again, Al Green
Blue, Joni Mitchell
Twisted Tunes (Kringliga Latar)
The History of Pop Radio 1920-1927 Vol. 1 – Vol. 6
Misa Criolla/ Ariel Ramirez, Navidad Nuestra, Jose Carreras

I cannot list all of the music. Impossible. The above are highlights and some of my best beloveds.


Diane Williams and Vicky Swanky Is a Beauty links:

the author's Wikipedia entry
excerpt from the book (the story "Between Midnight and 6 AM)

Barnes and Noble Review review
Boston Globe review
The Millions review
Publishers Weekly review
San Francisco Chronicle review
Time Out Chicago review
Vol. 1 Brooklyn review

McSweeney's interview with the author


also at Largehearted Boy:

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

List of Online "Best Books of 2011" Lists
List of 2011 Year-End Online Music Lists

100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads
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)
Shorties (daily music, literature, and pop culture links)
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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