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September 27, 2012

Book Notes - Mette Jakobsen "The Vanishing Act"

The Vanishing Act

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, Heidi Julavits, Hari Kunzru, and many others.

Mette Jacobsen's debut novel The Vanishing Act is a sophisticated and modern fable for young and old, one both philosophical and magical.

Booklist wrote of the book:

"Jakobsen's debut novel is a delectable delight, a fetching fable that is both heartbreaking in its poignancy and breathtaking in its delicacy."

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 Mette Jakobsen's Book Notes music playlist for her debut novel, The Vanishing Act:


While writing the novel The Vanishing Act I drew inspiration from my childhood island. I grew up on an isolated farm on an island in the Baltic Sea. It was cold, windy and it often snowed. Today, through some of life's twists and turns, I live in Australia and my novel was written during some very hot summers in Sydney.

The imagination is a curious thing. It reaches back, summoning childhood memories making more of them. Out of my childhood experiences grew a fictional island; an island so tiny that it doesn't exist on any map. On it lives a twelve year old girl called Minou, her philosopher papa, a magician, a priest and a dog called No Name. And in addition to these characters a dead boy washes up on the beach at the beginning of the story.

My childhood island didn't have the colourful characters, neither was it as small as Minou's, but the landscape is similar; harsh, unforgiving, desolate, and achingly beautiful. I have chosen a list of songs that evoke that landscape for me.


Cecilia Bartoli, Faure, "Pie Jesu"

Cecilia Bartoli's singing is so restrained and beautiful. This piece reminds me of the rare nights when the wind didn't blow over the flat landscape, and where snow would collect with calm ease on our cobbled yard, coloring the night blue. The beauty of it made me, even as a child, sense endless possibilities. Part of me would float out the window with only tippy toes bound to the earth. Oh, how quickly I flew amongst the snowflakes.


Pat Metheny Group, "First Circle"

First Circle to me is about curiosity. It brings back memories of the hayloft where I played as a child. It was a palace, a castle, a magical place. A wooden ladder reached from the stable floor to the loft. Up there everything was muted and dark. There was a feeling of holiness that made us whisper in awe. Bale after bale of sweet-smelling hay. My brother and I made pathways between them, secret caves, hiding spots.


Keith Jarret, The Koln Concert

Keith Jarret doesn't just play when he gives this concert. He slaps, sighs, stamps and growls. This concert is an improvisation and it feels full of space somehow, maybe because what lies ahead is not determined.

In autumn sugar beets were harvested around us. They were pulled out of the wet soil and collected by large trucks that made their way back to the city, laden and wobbly on the narrow roads. Left were devastated, war ravaged fields. Brown wet soil, tractor tracks, discarded sugar beets. I loved it. It signaled freedom, new beginnings.


Ravi Shankar and Phillip Glass, "Channels and Winds"

When I first heard this piece I was so excited. Listening to the whole CD is like being swept into not just one world, but several. The pieces are long. Movements are repeated over and over. It doesn't feel like the music is going anywhere and yet it is present, and full of life. This piece aptly has 'winds' in its title. That's exactly what I think of when I listen to it.

Wind that takes hold of the fine layer of early frost covering the plough furrows. A reluctant dance, back and forth, back and forth. Fine glittering frost trapped in perpetual movement. And we, the children, throwing our bikes at the side of the road, trying to catch the frost between gloved hands; futile, exciting, invigorating.


Mette Jakobsen and The Vanishing Act links:

video trailer for the book

The Bookbag review
Bookgeeks review
Bookmagnet's Blog review
Bookreporter review
Children's Book Cellar review
Daily Mail review
Dog Ear Discs review
Irish Examiner review
Real Simple review
Strangely Literary review

Stuart Beaton interview with the author


also at Largehearted Boy:

Book Notes (2012 - ) (authors create music playlists for their book)
Book Notes (2005 - 2011) (authors create music playlists for their book)
my 11 favorite Book Notes playlist essays

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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