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September 12, 2014

Book Notes - Benjamin Parzybok "Sherwood Nation"

Sherwood Nation

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.

Benjamin Parzybok's new novel Sherwood Nation is a riveting and imaginative retelling of the Robin Hood myth set in a near-future dystopia.

Shelf Awareness wrote of the book:

"Sherwood Nation--Benjamin Parzybok's second novel, after Couch--is a fast-moving tale of ideas and action, lent credibility by current headlines and engaging characters. Parzybok's apocalyptic future is so realistic, readers may think twice before guzzling a big glass of ice water."

Stream a playlist of these songs at Spotify.

In his own words, here is Benjamin Parzybok's Book Notes music playlist for his novel Sherwood Nation:

Sherwood Nation is about a woman who secedes a neighborhood and runs it as her own country, an enclave, during a period of extreme drought. Within, the city's mayor plays video games, a retiring drug dealer wishes he could read tea leaves, an ad exec digs a tunnel under his house, and a cafe barista becomes a revered hero. Sherwood Nation's playlist speaks to each of these, while, I hope, making a kick-ass mixtape. Enjoy!

"Fake Empire" - The National, from Boxer

The empire has fallen. Let's put a little something in our lemonade! (Probably that drought-ration moonshine.)

"Scared Money" - Saul Williams, from The Inevitable Rise and Fall of Niggy Tardust

A rallying call to the disenfranchised. This song is a masterpiece.

"Fuck the bullshit
Whether from the hill or from the pulpit
Today, I put my money
On the fall of every culprit"

"Bag of Hammers" - Thao, from We Brave Bee Stings and All

The image Thao paints here, of a woman standing on a lawn with a bag of hammers in her hand, on the verge of wreaking holy hell on the house in front of her, is perfect. Renee, aka Maid Marian, gathers her own army on the city's front lawn.

"Halo," by The Upsidedown, from Human Destination

A halo is a dangerous weapon. By my friends The Upsidedown. #portlandband

"Paris is Burning" - St Vincent, from Marry Me

A city that has not burned is a city full of tinder. In order to seed the new nation with some wealth, Josh and Jamal steal a city truck full of water rations. One of them won't make it back.

"Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)" - Arcade Fire, from Funeral

The ad executive from the city's ad firm has lost his job. In his new free time, he obsessively builds a tunnel under his house for reasons he's not entirely clear.

"City of Refuge" - Abigail Washington

While the city around them falls apart, the small nation at its center, housing 20 to 30 thousand citizens, are getting their shit together. For now, it's a refuge.

"Dog Walkers of the New Age" - Breathe Owl Breathe

The surreality of this song mirrors how I imagine those first few days of the new nation, when you wake up unsure to what nation you belong, and what the implications of that are. A song of tentative, disorienting hope.

"The Roots Beneath Your House" - The Golden Bears, from Wall to Wall

This book could have taken place just about anywhere (it's playing out now in the cities like Rio de Janeiro and Detroit and Los Angeles!). But in the end I put it in Portland, where I live, and so I have the pleasure of calling out Portland bands. My friends The Golden Bears: "When the roots beneath your house come crowning through the floor… lay your body down… and trade your famined thoughts for leaves and vines instead." #portlandband

"Belly of the Cavern" - Typhoon - from Hunger and Thirst

Like this song, Nevel is on a quest, seeking in the earth for some meaning and escape. But instead his solitary quest brings him a new entrance back into the world. #portlandband

"Butter + Toast" - Reggie Watts - from Why S*** So Crazy?

Reggie sings about flapjacks with agave nectar. Also: the mirrors and the mirrors within & stores full of useless shit. Zach, the new nation's strategist, would put this on long repeat, as he wanders through the deep and shallow of country logistics and supplies. "Somebody want a napkin? Too bad, motherf***er, use your sleeve."

"Fables of Faubus" - Charles Mingus

Gregor is a late-sixties retired drug dealer, and the general of the new nation of Sherwood. A man who has weathered incredible storms in his life. At this point, to his growing surprise, he realizes he would do anything for this fledgling nation. Even go up against the National Guard, as this incredible political piece by Mingus speaks to.

"Shame" - Hungry Ghost

Hungry Ghost is another PDX power trio. Let's not beat around the bush: Just about everyone does the wrong thing at some point in her/his life. Major fuckups make major catalysts. Shame never sounded so good. #portlandband

"The New Country" - Marisa Anderson, from Mercury

Yes, we repeat the cycles of history. But revolutions leave the residue of lasting change. My friend Marisa Anderson's intricate, melancholy instrumental aptly finishes us off. #portlandband

Benjamin Parzybok and Sherwood Nation links:

the author's website
the author's Tumblr

Kirkus review

KBOO interview with the author
Largehearted Boy Book Notes essay by the author for Couch
Late Night Library 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

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)
Short Cuts (writers pair a song with their short story or essay)
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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