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June 20, 2013

Book Notes - A. Igoni Barrett "Love Is Power, or Something Like That"

Love Is Power, or Something Like That

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.

The powerful stories in Love Is Power, or Something Like That are filled with desperation and hope, and are written by one of the genre's new masters, A. Igoni Barrett.

Publishers Weekly wrote of the book:

"While most of the nine stories in [Love Is Power, or Something Like That] have Nigeria as their backdrop, the emotional turbulence they capture should strike any reader as universal."

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 A. Igoni Barrett's Book Notes music playlist for his short story collection, Love Is Power, or Something Like That:


I live in the city of Lagos, areas of which are the noisiest places on earth, and one of the challenges in writing my story collection was the search for silence in which to hear myself thinking in the voices of my characters. And so music, when I'm writing, is also noise. But on those days when I sought relief from silence, those dawdling hours when the empty page was the loudest voice in the room, these are the songs to which I turned for distraction, for inspiration, and often just for the chance to screech at the top of my voice without alerting anyone to my misery.


"Sinnerman" and "Ne Me Quitte Pas"– Nina Simone

I'll listen to anything sung by Nina Simone. I'll even gobble up anything she regurgitates.


"Search for the New Land" – Lee Morgan

If you ask me, the opening riff of this melancholic tune is the best in all of jazz. But if you know anything about jazz, then don't ask me. I wallow in the musical ignorance that allows me to listen to Lee Morgan year after year and still break out in goose bumps at the bleak beauty of his mind.


"You Know I'm No Good" – Amy Winehouse

I can't tell you how much I love this song. Really. That would be telling.


"So Ala Temen" – Rex Lawson

From this song by a late, great Nigerian highlife singer I learned how to laugh and cry at the same time. And this without even understanding what the words of the song meant.


"Trouble Sleep Yanga Wake Am" – Fela

In turning anger into art, there are few artists who can touch Fela. This is one of his mellower, shorter musical arrangements. If you've never listened to Fela, don't start with this. You'll never get it out of your head.


"A Poem on the Underground Wall" – Simon and Garfunkel

Rhyming in falsetto was never done better than by this duo.


"Yay Boy" – Africando

Here's the fictionalised version of my discovery of this song which has now become an essential part of my psychological life: I accompanied a friend to a dance club in Lagos to learn how to dance salsa, but after the DJ put on this song, I gave up on dancing, hurried home and found the song online, then sat down in a corner and listened to it until my beard turned white. It's exactly that sort of song.


"Picture Me Rolling" – 2Pac

This song shouts loudly and gloatingly: I'm free, I'm happy, fuck everybody. In 1996 I was preparing for my final examinations in secondary school when news arrived of 2Pac's shooting death. For almost a week I had this song on repeat on my Walkman as I studied my physics textbook. Then I passed physics in my finals even though I thought I'd fail. Nostalgia works in mysterious ways.


"Three Little Birds" – Bob Marley

Everyone I know went through a Bob Marley phase. My phase ended many years ago, but this song apparently didn't get the memo.


A. Igoni Barrett and Love Is Power, or Something Like That links:

the author's Wikipedia entry

All Things Considered review
Bookslut review
Boston Globe review
Kirkus review
The Millions review
Publishers Weekly review
Time Out New York review


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
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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