June 19, 2013
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."
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.
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.
Memories of a long-lost lover. The bleary morning after a savage storm, when the birds themselves seem surprised to be alive.
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.
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.
The losers of a battle picking through the ruined field. The recognition of a relative’s face. The hum of wind through the ropes.
The sweet sweat smell of people laboring together. A drink with new friends. Picking flowers you don’t know the names of.
The dizzy course traced by a body floating on the water. The jumbled waltz of a new set of crutches.
Reedy, lonesome moans of a ship without a crew. Witnessing the last sunrise. A body preserved in a barrel of wine.
Realizing that the loved ones are still alive. Waking in a bed with a new lover.
Eli Brown and Cinnamon and Gunpowder links:
also at Largehearted Boy:
100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads
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