August 9, 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.
Scott Bradfield's novel The History of Luminous Motion, first published in 1989, has been brought back in print by Calamari Press and is as immediate and vibrant today as ever.
Michael Chabon wrote of the book:
"A novel as mysterious, beautiful, sad and frightening as contemporary American childhood itself—and, fortunately, a good deal funnier. Bradfield's California is haunted by vast primordial Lovecraftian forces—death, sex, credit cards, Mom—which threaten always to emerge from their ancient hiding places and engulf the world and the narrator, eight-year old Phillip and his preteen Karamazov friends. Those who think they know all about California and Oedipal drives will here discover the true extent of their ignorance. The thing is indescribable—violent, hallucinatory, comic and incredibly well written. Scott Bradfield has not simply staked out new literary terrain here, he has mapped and colonized an entire new planet."
During the late eighties, music was what I did to keep happy when I wasn't writing, and I almost always listened to it while walking fast through the rainy streets and parks of London. It was the perfect conjunction of history, location and stuff: a cheap plastic metal-grey Sony Walkman, a fraying pair of foam-padded over-the-ear miniature headphones (the kind provided as freebies on transatlantic airline trips), and two or three cassette tapes packed away in the vest of my Levis jacket like those bullet clips favored by television detectives - always ready to pop another one into the fist-sized chamber and start playing. And when music and ambulation hit just the right speed and tempo, I could happily imagine into existence the sentences that would get me back to work the next morning on my first book of stories, The Secret Life of Houses, or my first novel, The History of Luminous Motion. They were good years, and good songs.
Here's some of what I listened to then, and still listen to now:
Paul Weller and The Style Council: my original tapes and CDs have gone the way of dead media, but you can find most of their stuff on Sweet Loving Ways: The Style Council Collection.
Bob Dylan, Shot of Love: one of his most passionate and surprising and beautifully-sustained pieces of work, even if it was (provisionally) about (oh no) Jesus
Van Morrison, Wavelength: once, when I cranked this up at the top of Hampstead Heath on a sunnyesque Keatsian early afternoon, I'm pretty sure my feet lifted off the dull earth long enough to compose an entire paragraph.
The Bangles, Greatest Hits: another tape that eventually vanished, warped and well-used, into one of my many transatlantic moves
And for some reason, lots of Rossini, Rossini, Rossini, Rossini! La Cenerentola and Guillaume Tell, in particular, taped from the marvelous CD library of my friends in Camden Town, John and Judith Clute. The details of those CD versions have faded into the refuse bin of my brain, but it's impossible to feel sad or lost or unintrepid when you're listening to Rossini - whatever country you're living in. It's just the way good music works, innit?
Scott Bradfield and The History of Luminous Motion links:
also at Largehearted Boy:
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)
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