November 26, 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.
Ravi Mangla's debut novel Understudies is sharply told in short chapters and introduces a talented and innovative new literary voice to discerning readers.
Laura van den Berg wrote of the book:
"Ravi Mangla's Understudies is a brilliant meditation on the private cost of celebrity, the longing to transcend the ordinary, and the seductive nature of performance. Darkly funny, sharply-observed, and terrifically moving, Understudies is an essential debut."
Music plays a pretty major role in Understudies. The main character—a high school teacher—is a former rock guitarist who joins a band made up of kids. (Now that I'm saying it out loud, it sounds an awful lot like The School of Rock.) For this playlist I tried to select songs I'd expect a high school garage band to have in rotation.
The King Khan & BBQ Show – "I'll Be Loving You"
I'm fascinated by Indian rock musicians. The impulse defies our programming. I can't imagine how disappointed his parents must be (surely more disappointed than mine). Yet King Khan is rock ‘n' roll incarnate—a consummate showman with the chops to back it up.
Plus, the band—the one in the book—have their first show at a BBQ restaurant. So there's that.
No Age – "Teen Creeps"
I have no doubt No Age would be Weston's favorite band. A two-piece outfit with the drummer front and center—what's not to like?
The Orwells – "In My Bed"
George Orwell wrote the novel 1984. Ronald Reagan was the president in 1984. Ronald Reagan was married to Nancy Reagan. Nancy Reagan was an actress. There's an actress in my book. (Nailed it!)
Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks – "Senator"
This is a terrific fuck-the-man-type song. Unfortunately the new generation missed out on Pavement, but they can still enjoy Malkmus's mid-career projects.
King Krule – "Ocean Bed"
Point of pointless pride: I've been listening to King Krule since his Zoo Kid days. Despite a deep, gravelly voice that reeks of hard-won experience, he can't be much older than eighteen. I'm looking forward to following his career, seeing how his sound develops over time.
Mac Demarco – "Baby's Wearing Blue Jeans"
Demarco's music has this wonderfully grimy quality to it. He comes off as sort of a sleazeball in interviews. Maybe this is part of his public persona. In any case, I'm certain the guys in the band would idolize him.
Beach Fossils – "Shallow"
Too often Beach Fossils are written off as a poor man's Real Estate, but I really love their music. "Shallow" is an especially killer track.
Yuck – "The Wall"
Simple chords, straightforward lyrics. The kind of song that shouldn't work but it does. That's my book in a nutshell.
The Replacements – "Unsatisfied"
So this song predates the kids by at least a decade, but it's one of my all-time favorites, and I'm the author of this damn book, so I think I deserve some say. If the novel ever gets turned into a film, which it won't, I'd want this song somewhere on the soundtrack.
Ravi Mangla and Understudies 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