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September 21, 2012

Book Notes - Paula Bomer "Nine Months"

Nine Months

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.

Much like her short story collection Baby and Other Stories, Paula Bomer's debut novel Nine Months is jarringly honest, exquisitely written, and filled with dark humor.

Publishers Weekly wrote of the book:

"Sonia’s inner and outer turmoil is graphically rendered, and the novel is characterized by raw emotion and humanity that mirrors the wrenching experience of motherhood. Bomer revisits the same tropes of death and loss in childbirth that characterize her short fiction, with the same ability to appall. This is an alarmingly genuine account of the emotions that accompany that most primal act of giving birth and raising children."

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 Paula Bomer's Book Notes music playlist for her debut novel, Nine Months:

Writing Nine Months happened over a long period, but really the two most significant times were the first draft, written about ten years ago, and the massive revisions I made in the year preceding its publication in August. The first draft I wrote over the course of a few months. I wrote it sort of manically and I feel the narrative reflects that. Then after a few aborted revisions--I got some bad advice, followed it and then went back to my original draft--I revised it extensively with my incredible editor Mark Doten once Soho Press took it on. As I've stated before music is incredibly important to me. I listen to the same things over and over again in preparation to write, psyching myself up to write. During the first draft I listened to a lot of PJ Harvey, in particular to her B-Sides. In fact, I quoted some lyrics in one of my epigraphs from "Long Time Coming." I'm fairly certain I listened to that song every day, repeatedly, for most of those months of writing. I also listened to Ravel's gorgeous piano concertos and at one point, my character Sonia masturbates to Ravel.

During the revisions, I was very stressed out about getting them done on time and making the book as good as I could possibly make it. Most mornings I would drive my son to tennis camp and listen to Juliana Hatfield's very soothing, beautiful spare record, Peace and Love. Then while my son played tennis for three hours, I wrote on my laptop at this outdoor table with a umbrella over it, shaded and working. At other times I revised at my home in Brooklyn, and again, I would listen to soothing music, and again, the same music repeatedly: it was always Sun Kil Moon's Ghosts of the Great Highway, the second CD (there are two).

Writing this, I find it so strange that the book was written to two very different kinds of music and it represents how different first drafts are from revisions. I'll be frank- I much prefer the former, but all the music I listened to I love equally.

"Long Time Coming"
"Kick it to the Ground"
"Peace and Love"
"Carry Me Ohio"
"Salvador Sanchez"
"Gentle Moon"

Paula Bomer and Nine Months links:

the author's website
excerpt from the book

Brooklyn Rail review
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette review
Publishers Weekly review

The Atlantic interview with the author
Bat Segundo Show interview with the author
The Galleyist interview with the author
Largehearted Boy Book Notes essay by the author for Baby
Publishers Weekly essay by the author (on books she loves)

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
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