March 29, 2012
In the Book Notes series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates in some way to their recently published book.
Peter Markus's We Make Mud is an innovative and absorbing novel in stories, told mostly in the first person plural.
Norman Lock wrote of the book:
"In the slow accrual of his two narrators’ discoveries (mundane and earth-shattering, related by a twin, scarcely divisible intelligence), Markus builds a kind of novel from the humblest of materials-–transfiguring them to make us a gift, again, of how it was to have been a child: a life newly formed and breathless with the rapture of being."
I don't usually listen to music when I write, and never did when I was spending time—over a decade of my life, roughly the years 1998 to 2008—living with and writing about the brothers who live in and occupy the pages of We Make Mud. The brothers, I hope, bring with them a way of speech and a musicality of their own that occupied my ears every time I picked up a pen to scribble some note or sentence or catch-phrase that I heard them say to me during those years. That said, music occupies its own large space in the heart of the boy-man that I am and aim to be, and there are songs, and singers, whose songs I believe occupy a space that is a kindred space that the brothers live in: music that, to my ears, is lyrical but muddy, simple and blunt and beautiful and strange, everything that I look for when I look for something to hold onto me in this world. These are some of the songs that I think of when I think of the brothers who love and live in the dirty river that runs through this dirty river of a book, and through these songs, I realize, the world that all of us live in is made into a more livable place.
Smog's "Drinking by the Dam" and "Stick in the Mud"
The voice of Bill Callahan is the voice inside my own head. I can't tell you how many times people have come up to me to say that when they read and hear my stories they think of Smog. If I'm going to be accused of being derivative, there's no other writer/singer whose shadow I'd rather stand beside.
Neutral Milk Hotel "Two-Headed Boy"
Jeff Magnum is the boy born without a tongue in his own mouth. Where most of us have a tongue, Magnum has a fish in his mouth that knows what it means to sing.
Nick Cave "The Hammer Song"
Because the hammer comes down hard in Cave's hand and I am held.
Because Moore is a brother. If I had to picture the brothers grown up Chris Moore is who I would want them to be. He is the voice inside my own head.
I could build a backyard totem pole studded with the heads of fish in his memory and honor.
Spahn Ranch: "Echoes of the Day"
"I gave words and you gave words/ Sounds like a fair trade." In memory of Bob.
Neil Young "Down by the River" and Springsteen's "The River"
Because both Neil and Bruce know the power of the river, and that when you go down there there's always something about to go down.
Cat Power's "Bathysphere"
I love this Bill Callahan song and love even more, I think, the version sung by Chan Marshall. I think the brothers create their own sort of bathysphere out of fish and river and mud.
The Decemberists' "Down by the Water"
I can see the brothers bobbing their boy heads and tapping their muddy boots to this tune.
Leonard Cohen's "Suzanne"
If the brothers sang a song about Girl this just might be what they'd say.
Peter Markus and We Make Mud links:
also at Largehearted Boy:
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