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May 28, 2013

Book Notes - Dan Kennedy "American Spirit"

American Spirit

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, Aimee Bender, Myla Goldberg, Heidi Julavits, Hari Kunzru, and many others.

Dan Kennedy's debut novel American Spirit impresses with dark humor and the immersive world of its struggling middle-aged protagonist. USA Today rightfully compared the book to, "a love child born of The Office and High Fidelity."

Booklist wrote of the book:

"This is the eponymous American spirit—foolhardy, even dangerous, but surprisingly beautiful at times—an apt description for the novel itself. Following two memoirs, Kennedy’s fiction debut is a full-throttle, white-knuckle adventure into a land of destroyed dreams, a land whose residents are so confident it makes the normal people seem crazy."

Stream a Spotify playlist of these tunes. If you don't have Spotify yet, sign up for the free service.


In his own words, here is Dan Kennedy's Book Notes music playlist for his debut novel, American Spirit:


Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds "I Had a Dream, Joe"

Listen to this song and you feel dangerous and impassioned enough to fight your way out of a shotgun wedding then lead a life on the lam smoking cigarettes and playing chicken with trains while you daydream of redemption. Never mind why I listen to it while typing a book, listen to this track and tell me your life hasn't been saved again.


Fight Like Apes "Do You Karate?" and "Lend Me Your Face"

I live in a world where Mary­Kate Geraghty is bigger than Katy Perry. The sky is on fire and I eat mostly feelings and jokes but it's an amazing world and I hope you'll consider living in it too.


Warren Zevon "Lawyers, Guns, and Money"

I hate when men like me talk about what makes a song interesting or good. Really, the root of that last line is that I hate men like me. I love this song.


Tyler, The Creator "Goblin"

I don't know. Any song with the line, "Sell out a fucking show in London just to end up on couches" and "And when [life] gives you lemons, nigga, throw 'em at pedestrians" is my anthem. But then I get bummed out that there are those terrible lines about women. I find myself hoping he's super satirical and misunderstood when it comes to those lines.


Fleetwood Mac "Second Hand News" and "Gypsy"

I remember making bad and hilarious comedy sketch videos that we accidentally taped over the important Superbowl games that Shaun's step dad had saved on VHS, and then relaxing by viewing the Fleetwood Mac live Laserdisc and watching desperately for every cue that suggested Lindsey Buckingham was still in love with Stevie Nicks, and wondering if I was born too late to be simultaneously saved and killed by that kind of fame­love hurricane.


Guided By Voices "The Main Street Wizards"

I listened to this song in Colorado on a really cold clear day after standing in a river all day, fishing and staring at a huge cabin that I wished was mine. It's a perfect song for that. Also reminds me of when I saw hobos in the forest once on Highway one in California. We laughed from our comfortable rental car and asked each other if we saw the woods­tramps. I'll be dead relatively soon, if that makes the last anecdote more palatable or less indefensible.


Future Islands "Walking Through That Door"

Samuel T. Herring is the only guy that matters right now when it comes to lyrics. The opening lines to this song are as good as anything David Bowie or Nick Cave have written.


The National "Lemonworld"

I love this song and I leaned on it heavily at three and four in the morning while working on this new novel American Spirit. I heard they played the song "Sorrow" for six hours at MoMa. This was a few weeks after that actress was sleeping there in a glass box. Why is everyone doing weird shit at MoMa?


Devo "Space Junk" and "Uncontrollable Urge"

Still speechless and it's been so many years.


Morrissey "Something Is Squeezing My Skull"
Brian Eno "Here Come The Warm Jets"
Paul McCartney and Wings "Jet"

I don't know, I could give you a million songs. And then I could change my name to Greenberg. And hook up with Greta Gerwig's character. I do, in fact, remember how the radio always played "It Never Rains in Southern California" every time it rained in the southland when I was little. Life is short and fast.


Dan Kennedy and American Spirit links:

the author's website

Publishers Weekly review

Metro interview with the author
The Rumpus 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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