November 15, 2012
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.
Julia Pandl's Memoir of the Sunday Brunch is a heartfelt and true exploration of a father-daughter relationship.
Publishers Weekly wrote of the book:
"There’s much to relate in this worthwhile read, from funny family and workplace tales to thoughtful musings on faith, mortality, and loyalty."
Full disclosure: I'm not the most literate person when it comes to music, and my taste is way uncool. A few years ago, I came painfully close to being tossed off a gondola—by my two nephews—for listening to a Yanni CD on my headphones while skiing. The looks on their Phish-following faces made me want to cry.
I may not know much about music, but still, it invokes some pretty powerful memories. I hear Jon Bon Jovi's "Livin' on a Prayer," and I can still smell...holy oil. My parents let me go to my first concert—guess who—on the night I received the sacrament of Confirmation. Play me a little Glenn Miller, and I can see my mother, dancing around the living room in her red and green striped Christmas apron. Fire up some Grateful Dead and I remember several nights in college when I fired up a whole bunch of…er…never mind.
I recently published a book called Memoir of the Sunday Brunch. It's a sassy and irreverent story about growing up in the restaurant business, and working side-by-side with my father and my eight siblings. Yes, eight. While I did not listen to music while writing the book—I've never been focused enough to do that—there are a few songs that, whenever I hear them, I remember.
"Can't Help Falling in Love"—UB40
I fell in love with the family business. I fell in love with the idea of it, and I fell in love with the building. I didn't mean to, it happened when I wasn't looking. I rushed in, just like a fool, and fell in love with the chaos, the mess, and fun and the fighting. Yeah, we fought. Family businesses are like that. When you used to drink Boone's Farm behind the garage with your boss, it's a little difficult to take them seriously when they're yelling at you for not ordering enough spinach. Professionalism is in the ring somewhere, but nine times out of ten, it gets its ass kicked by history, birth order, and sibling rivalry.
"Always Something There to Remind Me"—Naked Eyes
I have a scar on my right thigh. It's been there for thirty years, since my first full day of work at my father's restaurant. You'll have to read the book to find out how it got there, but let's just say that it served as a reminder, all these years, there was a book was to be written.
"I Dreamed a Dream"—Les Miserables/Susan Boyle Version
I know, I know, it's embarrassing, but I was in the midst of writing Memoir of the Sunday Brunch, of dreaming my dream, when Susan took the world by storm. What can I say? She inspired me, and she distracted me. I bet I watched that YouTube video fifty times. It still makes me cry.
"Forever Young"—Bob Dylan
I would like to believe that Bob wrote this song just for me. That's all.
"Thunder Road"—Bruce Springsteen
For me, it's the ultimate feel good song. It's a blast to crank in the car. It makes me feel like anything is possible, no matter who you are, or where you come from. Life is pure potential. It also makes me want to grab a beer. I can't count the number of times I left the restaurant on a Friday or Saturday night and drove home to Thunder Road, anticipating a party.
"Bookends"—Simon & Garfunkel
"Preserve your memoires, they're all that's left here." This is how I define the word memoir.
"How Can I Tell You"—Cat Stevens
This one makes my heart ache. November 14th marks the 10-year anniversary of my mother's death. This song reminds me of the moments—and there have been thousands of them—that I could not share with my mom. There have been big moments, like watching her granddaughter get married, or watching her twelfth great grandchild be baptized, and tiny moments, like picking up the crossword puzzle and trying to figure out a three letter word for snake. (It's Asp, by the way).
"Moon Shadow"—Cat Stevens
Again, it's a mom thing. My mother lost her left leg to diabetes in 1999. As horrible as the whole ordeal was, when I look back I'm oddly comforted. Easy for me to say, I know. But watching my mother survive, and thrive, after an amputation, has somehow fortified my against whatever challenges I might face. It's human nature, I think—from bearing witness to a thing so frightening, we become less afraid.
"Catch the Wind"—Donovan
My parents are present in my life, not physically, but I can feel their presence every day, in the decisions I make. But, my God, what I wouldn't give to have them back for just five minutes. A hug from both of them—that would be the sweetest thing. I would like to touch my mother's soft, smooth cheeks. And I would like to hold my father's worn, rugged hand. But I might as well try to catch the wind.
"These Are Days"—10,000 Maniacs
Life is good. I feel blessed, lucky, and "touched by something that will grow and bloom."
Julia Pandl and Memoir of the Sunday Brunch links:
also at Largehearted Boy:
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