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December 9, 2014

Book Notes - Frank Portman "King Dork Approximately"

King Dork Approximately

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, Jesmyn Ward, Heidi Julavits, Hari Kunzru, and many others.

Frank Portman's King Dork is one of my favorite YA novels. King Dork Approximately is a smart and sardonic sequel, a book for all ages.

There will be a book release party for the novel tonight at Manhattan's Housing Works Bookstore.

Booklist wrote of the book:

"A voice sharp with humor, sarcasm, and intelligence…utterly enjoyable.”"

Stream a playlist of these songs at Spotify.


In his own words, here is Frank Portman's Book Notes music playlist for his novel King Dork Approximately:

1. "Live Wire" -- AC/DC

"So I started to do the thing where you think of all the women you’ve had and pretend you are the Lord and Master of the Universe, making grandeur-deluded Mussolini eyes with an Angus Young lip curl and a slight head-bang, left hand idly positioned with the fingers draped over an invisible, floating guitar neck while the right index finger makes a series of rhythmic stabs, in time to which you growl tunelessly, under your breath, something like “I’m a live wire, live wire, I’m a live wire. . .”


2. "Little Queenie" -- Chuck Berry

"Meanwhile, I was thinking: I’ve got the chance and I ought to take it. And the way I saw it, there was no reason this whole thing couldn’t be accomplished without resorting to the terrifyingly extreme tactic of exchanging actual words.

So I tentatively put the very edge of my hand so it was just touching Pammelah’s leg. Her hand found mine..."


3. "Diddie Wah Diddie" -- Blind Blake

"What is it about these blind guys that gives them the improbable superhuman power to play guitars like pianos? Something beyond nature, without a doubt (disproving atheism conclusively, if you ask me)."


4. "O'Brien Is Tryin' to Learn to Talk Hawaiian" -- Ada Jones

"I had really started to identify with this guy O’Brien, trying to speak a language he doesn’t understand to communicate with someone who just doesn’t get him at all. I mean, I’ve been there, brother. And then he goes ahead and does it anyway, just barreling in, making his ignorance work for him. I thought that was, maybe, something to aspire to."


5. "Chewy Chewy" -- Ohio Express

"Joey Levine: the most gifted songwriter of his generation."


6. "Smoke on the Water" -- Deep Purple

"'Smoke on the Water'" tells the true story of a fire at a Frank Zappa show at the Swiss casino where Deep Purple had been planning to record the very song about this selfsame incident that prevented them from doing so..."


7. "Screaming for Vengeance" -- Judas Priest

"Little Big Tom was sitting with his back to the wall and his chin on one knee, eating his vegan pizza and nodding to the music intently, examining the screaming eagle on the album cover with serious-minded intensity, while Sam Hellerman and I, our appetites long vanished, looked on in perplexed horror.

'Screaming for vengeance,' said Little Big Tom. 'What’s that they’re saying after that? I can’t quite make it out.'

‘"The world is a manacled place,"' Sam Hellerman and I said almost in unison, and in the same dry, robotic monotone."


8. "Wake Up, Little Susie" -- Everly Brothers

"Back when they had drive-in movies, you could 'neck' in the car and, shall we say, 'fall asleep.' That's how couples used to cook each other's geese back then."


9. "Je t'Aime" -- Serge Gainsbourg with Jane Birkin

"Flapjack didn’t sing the song in an Irish accent like Little Big Tom had, but it sounded just as great as an instrumental as 'Maple Leaf Rag' had, and he did a whole new set of crazy, inventive, unexpected embellishments on it.

I wanted to be able to do that more than anything in the world, except maybe going back in time to ramone the young Jane Birkin. Or to ramone Celeste Fletcher right here in our own time. Or basically to ramone pretty much anyone. But what I’m saying is, I wanted it."


10. "I Wish I Was a Girl" -- Pink Fairies

"So there we were, still in my room, finishing off the last of Little Big Tom’s pizza, listening to PD 5537 in an attempt to restore some balance and sanity to our world. (I’ll save you having to go look it up, because I doubt you’d get that one: it’s the Pink Fairies, Kings of Oblivion.)"


11. "Cat Scratch Fever" -- Ted Nugent

"But Sam Hellerman had had Shinefield at 'lifetime supply of Mountain Dew.' He was, in an instant, the compliant and cooperative drummer once again. For a bit of Mountain Dew, it seemed, Shinefield would play 'Cat Scratch Fever' all you wanted till the cows came home. It was kind of weird, actually. But what can I say? The guy just happened to like Mountain Dew. A lot."


12. "Taxman, Mr. Thief" -- Cheap Trick

"If I want the Beatles, first I go to the Beatles; then I go to all the legitimate Beatles imitators of the sixties and seventies; then I might sing “I Am the Walrus” in the shower or put on a Cheap Trick record or something. Only then, having exhausted all the other possibilities, would I resort to last year’s fake Beatles."


13. "Honolootchie Boogie" -- Mott the Hoople

"The band is named after an impossible-to-find novel, which I’d read in a second if I were allowed, but for some reason the powers that be want to make it as difficult as possible to learn what a 'hoople' is."


14. "Who's Your Baby?" -- Archies

"It must have been great to live in their bubblegum world of genius songs, negligible student-on-student violence, and girls in short skirts. Much better than your favorite supposedly real band, whatever that may be."


15. "Telephone Hour" -- Bye Bye Birdie soundtrack

"Well, that didn’t take long, did it? I’m referring to this: by the end of the second week of classes at Clearview High, Celeste Fletcher could already be seen around the school wearing this jacket with a letter on it that was two sizes too big for her.

'What the hell is that?' I said, when she flounced into Mrs. Pizzaballa’s class, swimming in the Bye Bye Birdie dating symbolism of yesteryear."


16. "Love Gun" -- KISS

"I grew up on Paul Stanley, so sometimes I announce breakfast by saying, 'People, listen now, I got something to say right here. Are you listening? There were some good-lookin’ girls in the hallway askin’ if we were gonna have Rice Chex this mornin’. I said no. Well, they said, how about a little . . . Kix? I said, uh-uh. And they said, well, what kinda cereal we gonna have, then? And I told them, I bet there’s some people in Toronto who know just what kind of cereal we gonna have: Honey! Nut! Cheerios!'"


17. "Teenage Kicks" -- Undertones

"Feeling strange and awkward, wanting the girl, rarely to never getting the girl, being compelled to jump around aimlessly physically as well as mentally -- well, it turns out it takes about two and a half minutes to to tell the world about this situation, and what's more, it's something you can do over and over again."


18. "New Rose" -- Damned

"They had to kill rock and roll to save it."


Frank Portman and King Dork Approximately links:

the author's website
the author's Wikipedia entry
"King Dork Approximately," the song

Kirkus review
Publishers Weekly review

KQED profile of the author
Largehearted Boy Book Notes by the author for Andromeda Klein
Largehearted Boy interview with the author
Publishers Weekly interview with the author
The Runout interview with the author
Santa Cruz Sentinel profile of the author
SF Gate profile of the author
SF Weekly profile of 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

List of Online "Best of 2014" Book 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)
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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