October 4, 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.
Norm Sibum's debut novel The Traymore Rooms has been called a modern day epic, and is as ambitious a book as I have read all year.
The Millions wrote of the book:
"Poet Norm Sibum's 700-pager should be on the radar of all the maximalism-starved readers who landed A Naked Singularity on our Top 10 list in 2012—though the book might more rightly be likened to something by William Gass or Alexander Theroux. Plot isn't Sibum’s thing, exactly, but his erudition (considerable), sense of character (eccentric), and mood (quietly splenetic) more than compensate. The novel concerns a group of aging friends who share haunts in downtown Montreal. They talk, fight, love, and try to make sense of a historical moment that has disappointed their youthful hopes ... the prose is a consistent pleasure."
Music that relates to my recent novel, The Traymore Rooms:
1: Almost all the guitar compositions and guitar arrangements of John Fahey, too numerous to list. But apart from the seemingly extroverted rhythms of the folk and the blues material from which he took his inspiration, and apart from the introspective quality of the music despite the down-hominess of it, what most speaks to me from the music and to the novel is the onset of hope and the inevitable disappointment of the same that the music dramatizes, as it were, and that attests to the so-called American experience.
2: Anouar Brahem's Le pas du chat noir. I am not going to list one track from the CD, because while listening to this music, I was never conscious of 'tracks' as such. It is the music of a trio at play on the oud, the piano, the accordion. The grandly pessimistic oud, the near cloying romanticism of the piano, the whimsy of an accordion playing the role of straight man in a comedic routine – all of it had the effect of stretching out time, so that I could, in a sense, reflect, for instance on the Iraq war and the Roman empire; and I could put my characters who were decidedly creatures of the moment into a much vaster framework of time and historical import.
3: Jordi Savall's viole de gambe. As above, I am not going to list specific tracks, and for the same reason. But what I received from this music in the particular was the satisfaction of inhabiting a sensibility or allowing a sensibility to inhabit me which served somewhat to create a bit of distance between myself and the characters and their travails while not losing sight of the world and all its treacheries and wild, crazy beauty.
4: 'A Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis,' by Ralph Vaughan Williams. Once in a while, in the course of a day's writing, I'd take a breather from the writing and pick up the guitar and play a Fahey piece, or I'd simply 'crash' on the couch, and play this bit which, whatever the composer's intention, always manages to come off like the Great Universal Lament. And though one might not credit this, the music helped keep me in 'focus.' I want to say that I never listen to music while writing, though the music alluded to above certainly had and continues to have its effect on me. The only place where music and writing coincide for me is when I happen to be in a café and I'm scribbling in a notebook or revising or some such, and the music adrift in the speakers of a sound system – pretty much always some soft core rock and roll, pretty much the product of market forces that have down to a science how we are pretty much units of commerce – will take on the apocalyptic shade of here we are fiddling while Rome burns.
Norm Sibum and The Traymore Rooms links:
also at Largehearted Boy:
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