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November 3, 2014

Book Notes - MariNaomi "Dragon's Breath"

Dragon's Breath

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.

MariNaomi's comics collection Dragon's Breath reads as memoir, the graphic vignettes powerfully understated. Once again, MariNaomi proves herself one of the most talented cartoonists working today.

Publishers Weekly wrote of the collection:

"Award-winning author MariNaomi (Kiss and Tell) returns with this charming and intimate collection of vignettes and meatier personal histories. […] The book is utterly absorbing, funny, intimate, and even philosophical."

Stream a playlist of these songs at Spotify.


In her own words, here is MariNaomi's Book Notes music playlist for her comics collection Dragon's Breath:


Dragon's Breath

1. “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” - Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra (Appears in the story “He Sees You When You’re Sleeping”)

In “He Sees You When You’re Sleeping,” I (as a little girl) watch my parents fussing under the tree late Xmas eve, after I’d supposedly gone to bed. I was livid, watching them move around the presents, certain they were delaying Santa’s visit. Because he sees us when we’re sleeping, he knows when we’re awake. Geez, how creepy is that song?


Dragon's Breath

2. “Add It Up” - Violent Femmes (Appears in the story “Gone”)


One of my most joyous memories was singing this song at the top of my lungs, but totally making up all the words, because it was also the first time I’d ever heard it. How could I sing a song I’d never heard at the top of my lungs, you ask? Well, I was sixteen. And I’d just been through a crisis. And my whole life was ahead of me, as I sat in the front of a VW bus with my first love, watching the sun rise. That’s a good reason, I think.


Dragon's Breath

3. “Maneater” - Hall and Oates (Appears in the story “Song in My Head”)

“Song in My Head” is about when Jerome, a homeless guy I was kind of friends with, completely fell off the deep end. For a full day, he sang just one line from this song again and again, at the top of his lungs. “Whoa-oa here she comes,” he sang. “Whoa-oa here she comes. Whoa-oa here she comes. WHOA-OA HERE SHE COMES.” That was the first time I realized the extent of his mental illness. Before that, I’d thought he was just quirky and subversive. It made me wonder how close all of us are from falling off the deep end.


Dragon's Breath

4. “What’s New, Pussycat?” - Tom Jones (Appears in the story “What’s New, Pussycat?”)

This story is about a socially awkward guy I knew who, every time he saw me, would greet me by saying “What’s new, pussycat?” I thought this was kind of weird and overly familiar, but I played along with it by singing back “Whoa-whoa-whoa,” Tom-Jones-style. Long story short, I eventually told him it annoyed me, and later on he killed himself by walking into the San Francisco Bay. As a result, this song has haunted me ever since.

A few years later, I was invited by a work friend to see Tom Jones in concert. Tom was playing a gig in the mountains somewhere, and we were the youngest people there. All these amazing older ladies were in the audience, in shiny dresses and make-up, their hair in glorious up-dos. During the show, occasionally one of the ladies would un-sit herself from her seat, go up close to the stage, dance a little, then throw a pair of panties (with the price tag still on it) onto the stage. She’d give Tom a little wave, and he’d smile or wink at her, and keep performing as she politely returned to her seat. I used to joke that the old ladies threw granny panties, but honestly it was sweet, watching them revisiting their youth.
Panties aside, Tom Jones could really belt out the tunes. When he sang What’s New Pussycat, I might have cried a little.


Dragon's Breath

5. “Is There Anyone Out There?” “Please Please Tell Me Now” “New Moon on Monday” - Duran Duran (Appear in the story “Heartthrobs”)

“Heartthrobs” is about the time I went to a party in Tiburon with the rock band Duran Duran. The party was thrown at Steffi Graf and Andre Agassi’s house. I was a huge Duran Duran fan as a preteen (a.k.a. a “Durannie”), and it was surreal to meet these guys decades after I’d been obsessed with them. I wasn’t as star-struck as I would’ve been, had I still been an active fan. And it gave me an interesting perspective as to what a middle-aged person might be like if they’d been famous from an early age (spoiler alert: very confident).

It was a fun time, sipping champagne in a rich person’s house, surrounded by celebrities and their sycophants. Over the duration of the party, I might have pocketed a flattened tennis ball souvenir from one of their many courts (this doesn’t appear in my story). I might have also stolen one of the band member’s boxer briefs (this does appear in the story).

I’m not usually a party thief, but I was drunk, and my friends were egging me on!


MariNaomi and Dragon's Breath links:

the author's website
excerpt from the book
video trailer for the book

Graphic Novel Reporter review
Library Journal review
Panel Patter review
Publishers Weekly review
Shakeytown Radio review

Books and Authors with Cary Barbour interview with the author
Comic Book Resources interview with the author
Largehearted Boy Book Notes essay by the author for Kiss and Tell


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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