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February 3, 2014

Book Notes - Lisa Moore "Caught"


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.

Lisa Moore's novel Caught is truly a literary thriller, a character-driven page-turner masterfully written. wrote of the book:

"This is an author who grips you with her impeccable use of language. The novel walks a great line between paperback levity and psychological intelligence—exactly what you want in a summer read."

Stream a playlist of these songs at Spotify.

In her own words, here is Lisa Moore's Book Notes music playlist for her novel, Caught:

"Dreams" by Fleetwood Mac 1977

‘Now here you go again, you say you want your freedom'

Who says that these days? Who says he wants his freedom? It seems such a 70s notion. As though, in the 70s, freedom was attainable, a concrete knowable ideal, something to grapple toward, easy to want. I love how tantalizing the idea of freedom is here, how inchingly out of reach, and somehow quaint and romantic. Nicks' voice full of distilled longing. ‘Players only love you when they're playing.' There's a sense of the turmoil of the moment, everything in swing, the zooming through of possibility, the need to seize a chance – that moment when things are in play. Players are lovers. But only in the midst of the big swirl of the play. When they're playing.

In writing Caught, I borrowed from several true stories about pot smuggling in Newfoundland during the mid-to-late 70s. Newfoundland is a hard-scrabble, magnificently beautiful island with a rugged coast and dangerous seas, off the east coast of the continent, a country of its own until 1949, when it joined Canada. People in Newfoundland traditionally made a living fishing, but as early as the 70s the fish were beginning to disappear, and most of the money had always gone to producers and packagers of fish, rather than the fishermen. It was a hard way to forge a livelihood.

In the 70s a few young Newfoundland men decided to cut out the middleman. They were going to get rich by importing the largest amount of marijuana ever imported into Canada. The sheer bravado required to even imagine such a heist, the will to break all the rules, to head out on the wide-open sea. They set sail from the west coast of Canada down to Columbia, in search of adventure and they believed they were chasing after some kind of rarefied freedom.

It's not only that they were young, not only that they'd tried it before and got caught and some of them had gone to jail and some of them had taken on aliases and were living underground.

It's that they craved that sense of abandon. They were willing to risk everything for it. They had a beautiful sailboat, and the backing. A young woman, a piano player, ended up tagging along for the ride; the boys were addled with lust and cabin fever and suspicion.

The tease of Stevie Nicks' voice, the dreamy languor, the willingness to accept abandonment by the lover in the song, and the sheer sense of abandon. How sexy this song is, the coy irony, the weary knowing. ‘Now here you go again' she chides, as though the desire for freedom is futile, destined to wane, fizzle before it is consummated. The boys in my novel are all, for a brief time, the duration of the novel, players. There's lots of thunder.

"In My Secret Life" by Leonard Cohen

"I saw you this morning, you were moving so fast, I can't seem to loosen my grip on the past."

This story unfolds after one of my characters has spent time in jail and has broken out, and is on the run. David Slaney is living a secret life, although his face is splashed all over the papers. The hint of desperation, and the will to just go for it, is a kind of musk, and everyone he meets is attracted to him. He's charming, observant and funny. He's handsome and young and wild, on the make and on the run.

I'm interested in how time can stand still, and then rush forward. We imagine it flows evenly, one minute after another, each minute equal in duration. But time doesn't behave that way, it squirts, or floods, it rushes past or it crawls on its belly.

The duration of time my character spends in prison is much longer than the time it takes to journey to Columbia, to fall in and out of love, to trust and fall prey to betrayal, to believe everything is possible and to learn the difference. But the time of the adventure balloons in hindsight, burns the brightest, and maybe that's true of any adventure.

"Big Time Sensuality" by Bjork

"It takes courage to enjoy it, the hardcore and the gentle, big time sensuality."

If I had to live by a mantra, this would be it. It takes courage to keep your eyes open, to be alive to the sensual world, however in-your-face, or broken or brazen or full of scent or sadness or elation or colour it is, however hardcore or gentle or unrelenting or reticent. Bjork's big-building sound hammering home the command: enjoy it.

Bjork has a tremendous power in her voice, and in her videos she looks so tiny. It always amazes me to see this very petite woman open her mouth and belt out this powerful beautiful sound. She seems alive to beauty and invention. She's my hero.

"Scattered and Small" by Amelia Curran

"I was so alive I could only look back, longer than a legend, larger than a fact."

Newfoundland songstress Amelia Curran sings about the chance that someone might let you down, and the difference between legends and facts. How the horizon can make you feel scattered and small.

The idea of trust is something my characters grapple with throughout the novel. I wanted to explore trust: it requires a leap of faith, vulnerability, and humility. It's safer to doubt, but doubting is hard work too, and you can't have both. Doubt erodes, chafes, makes things fall apart. Trust is luxurious freedom, a mild narcotic. It's a succumbing, a giving in, and giving up: it's the halfway down mark, when you're falling in love, and looks a lot like floating. But trust is difficult to maintain. It's involuntary, like grace or being struck by lightning, you can't will it; you have to wait for it. It's also delicate, fickle and dangerous. My main character, David Slaney, knows trust will be his downfall, his tragic flaw, but he doesn't want to live without it.

"Stand By Me" by Ben E. King

‘When the night has come, and the land is dark and the moon is the only light we will see."

David Slaney has a childhood friend named Hearn. Their friendship is like the silk of a spider's web: wispy, transparent, lethally sticky, strong as steel. Though the relationship is strained, it doesn't ever snap because Slaney has decided to trust Hearn; or because he cannot help but trust him. There's something undeniable and obdurate about the friendship, neither man can escape it or live up to it. They fail each other, without meaning to do any harm. And they remain true, though they come to very different ends.

I was interested in friendships between men. In my experience they are rare, but enduring, with lots unspoken.

The Ben E. King 1961 version of "Stand by Me" suggests a love that will stand, no matter what happens. Mountains may fall, darkness will descend, but the friendship in the song will hold firm. It is a romantic notion of love and friendship. Perhaps those friendships that last for lifetimes last because they are allowed to lie fallow, are sometimes forgotten, and neglects lets them grow wild.

"The Devil's Got a Gun" by Whitehorse ( Luke Doucet and Melissa McClelland)

"Look out, this thing is going to blow, I heard it from the people in the know."

This duet captures the slow burn of suspense that surrounds outlaws. Newfoundlanders are famous for wanting to go home. Eternal return, the magnetic tug. Even Newfoundlanders who have lived in other parts of the world for 60 years or more, are living to get back home. Of course my characters are outlaws, fated to a life in hiding, and it seems they can never go home. And yet, who would think to look for them there?

Lisa Moore and Caught links:

the author's Wikipedia entry
excerpt from the book

Globe and Mail review
National Post review
Publishers Weekly review
Quill and Quire review
The Winnipeg Review review

The Toronto Quarterly interview with 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

Online "Best of 2013" Book Lists
2013 Year-End Online Music Lists

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)
weekly music release lists

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