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June 19, 2013

Book Notes - Eli Brown "Cinnamon and Gunpowder"

Cinnamon and Gunpowder

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.

Eli Brown's Cinnamon and Gunpowder is a colorful and entertaining pirate tale, one that centers around a kidnapped chef expected to create gourmet meals from the ship's meager provisions.

Kirkus wrote of the book:

"Brown is able to make his narrative both sizzling and swashbuckling."

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 Eli Brown's Book Notes music playlist for his novel, Cinnamon and Gunpowder:


In Cinnamon and Gunpowder, kidnapped chef, Owen Wedgwood, plays a synesthetic game with flavors, assigning each of the principle tongue sensations a color and theme. To him, flavors are too important to leave in the mouth. They are what cardinal directions are to a cartographer, what chords are to a composer. He compares the mouth to a cave our earliest ancestors peered out of with awe.

In this spirit I will play a similar game with the music that was with me during the writing of the book. In the early stages, when the characters were still introducing themselves to me in eddies of black smoke and spilled wine, I used these songs to prime my mood. The premise of the plot is simple: a chef gets kidnapped by a notorious pirate and is forced to cook on her ship. But it is also a story of a dawning consciousness, of a long and desperate search, and of finding passion in the most unlikely of places. These songs are haunting, anachronistic, nostalgic, and heavy on the squeeze-box. Of course they could serve as a movie soundtrack but they could just as well accompany a seven- course meal, a trial and judgment, a parade, or a sacrifice.

Yellow #5 - "Demon Crossing"

The rhythm knocked out by an empty bottle rolling on a deck. A story being told by an old lecher. The promise of a journey.


The Eels - "Bride of Theme From Blinking Lights (Live At Town Hall)"

Memories of a long-lost lover. The bleary morning after a savage storm, when the birds themselves seem surprised to be alive.


Devendra Banhart - "Cristobal"

The erratic journey of a letter doomed to arrive much too late. The hypnotic coastline of an unexplored world. The first vertiginous signs that a drug has taken hold. A surrender.


Moondog - "Bird's Lament"

The erotic, coercive thump of the tide beneath a boat. The realization that you were wrong. The sigh of a whale and the dance of circling sharks. The sunset color of saffron rice.


Bulgarian State Television Female Choir - "Messetschinko lio Greilivko"

The losers of a battle picking through the ruined field. The recognition of a relative’s face. The hum of wind through the ropes.


Beirut - "Forks and Knives"

The sweet sweat smell of people laboring together. A drink with new friends. Picking flowers you don’t know the names of.


DeVotchKa - "Charlotte Mittnacht"

The dizzy course traced by a body floating on the water. The jumbled waltz of a new set of crutches.


DeVotchKa – "Reprise"

Reedy, lonesome moans of a ship without a crew. Witnessing the last sunrise. A body preserved in a barrel of wine.


Sigur Ros - "Se Lest"

Realizing that the loved ones are still alive. Waking in a bed with a new lover.


Eli Brown and Cinnamon and Gunpowder links:

video trailer for the book
excerpt from the book
excerpt from the book
audio excerpt from the book

Kirkus review
NPR review
Publishers Weekly review

Work in Progress essay by 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
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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