February 23, 2012
In the Book Notes series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates in some way to their recently published book.
Ramona Ausubel's novel No One is Here Except All of Us is a powerful and engrossing story about the power of storytelling and community set in a remote Romanian village during World War II.
The San Francisco Chronicle wrote of the book:
"'No One Is Here Except All of Us' contains so many achingly beautiful passages, it's as if language itself is continually striving to be a refuge."
The Very Beginning
"Mind the Gap" by Calexico
This song opens with a recording of the Prague Metro. I studied in Prague for a few months in college—the first time I had spent in that part of Europe. We went as a class to the Jewish Quarter and in one of the synagogues there was a list of names of all the people who died in the Holocaust from that community painted on the walls. There was an Ausubel there, and it was the first time it became real to me that my actual relatives had lived and died in this far-away place. Long before I had conceived of the novel, this experience planted a seed.
"How Deep is the Ocean" by Ella Fitzgerald
This song reminds me of sitting in my grandmother's apartment, talking and telling stories. She told me about her mother's adoption as a young girl, about the healer in town who prescribed stuffing a wound with cobwebs, about her father's. Though I took the novel in a very fictional direction, it would never have existed without those stories.
"The Gulag Orkestar" by Beirut
My book contains a version of Eastern Europe different from the one that actually exists, and from the one that used to exist. This song feels like the same thing—a sort of fantasy of the place, made out of some ingredients from reality and some distortions.
The Real Place
"Solnce" by Ani Lorak
This super cheesy Ukrainian love ballad was really popular when I was in Ukraine doing research for the novel. It's high drama and pretty terrible, and I came to like it. It reminds me of stopping for lunch in one of the many countryside-themed restaurants and eating sour cherry dumplings.
"Orphan Girl" by Gillian Welch
In the novel, all the characters including Lena, the protagonist, are orphaned many times over. I spent a lot of time thinking about what it might feel like to be given up, to be passed along, to be abandoned by one's family or by the world. I love the feeling of this song, that in addition to the sadness being orphaned obviously carries, there’s also a big wide openness.
The World of the Novel
"Shteyt Oyf! Davenen" By The Klezmatics
This song is mournful and beautiful. It feels like a grey, rainy Zalischik day to me. I can imagine the jeweler, the butcher, the baker and Lena making their way about town, getting supplies, chatting in the square, going to the barn to pray. This is the music that makes me feel like I am there with them.
Ramona Ausubel and No One is Here Except All of Us links:
Daily Texan review
DBC Reads review
Harvard Crimson review
The House Next Door review
Los Angeles Review of Books review
Minneapolis Star Tribune review
New York Times review
San Francisco Chronicle review
also at Largehearted Boy:
other Book Notes playlists (authors create music playlists for their book)
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)
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