February 3, 2015
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.
Amelia Morris's memoir Bon Appetempt is a moving, smart, and often hilarious coming-of-age story.
Kirkus wrote of the book:
"A refreshing take on growing up and coming to terms with the joys and travails of family, career and navigating the kitchen. . . Whether Morris is deconstructing her failed attempts at finding satisfying work, struggling with rocky family relationships or experiencing a culinary failure, she adroitly blends the ingredients of humor and self-reflection."
Stream a playlist of these songs at Spotify.
"Ends of the Earth" by Lord Huron
You know that saying about how the only thing worse than having a job is looking for a job? I feel like there should be a saying like that in terms of writing a book proposal, e.g. The only thing worse than writing a book is writing the proposal. It doesn't quite work though because as difficult as writing a book can be, it is still so much better and more rewarding than writing a proposal for one. Point being, the album Lonesome Dreams by Lord Huron got me through. I listened to it just about every morning while I wrote (and rewrote and rewrote, as I had about five versions of the thing by the time I was done). The songs are so hopeful and uplifting but not cloying. They're the music equivalent of taking a long walk in the desert as the sun is just coming up.
"Today" by The Smashing Pumpkins
My book is a memoir, and it starts in the beginning—with my childhood. And this song reminds me so much of that chapter of my life. I worshipped my older brother and listened to just about everything he listened to. He made himself a Smashing Pumpkins t-shirt using a black marker to draw that elongated heart with the letters SP in the middle of it. I thought it was so cool.
"Like a Friend" by Pulp
At 14, I decided to move in with my mom. This meant changing schools, and at my new school, I would meet a boy named Matt, who often wore a suit to school and who would introduce me to Pulp (not to mention The Cure, Billy Bragg, and some of Sinead O'Connor's deeper cuts) and with whom I would begin a tortured on-again-off-again romance. (Twelve years later, we would get married.)
"Butterfly" by Weezer
College was such a weird time—music-wise (remember Napster?!), self-esteem-wise, friend-wise, and boyfriend-wise. Junior year was a particularly rough time for me. And that summer before senior year, while all of my friends took on various internships, I went home, lived with my parents, got a job at a used record store, and took guitar lessons. Weezer's "Butterfly" was one of the few songs I learned to play.
"The Confrontation" Les Misérables Original Broadway Cast recording
A week or so after my 24th birthday, Matt and I finally got together for real, and we set out (via car) for California. We were young and super naïve. But we were also best friends recently turned boyfriend/girlfriend. And though we were keenly aware of how "uncool" it was, we were comfortable enough with each other not only to belt out Les Miz songs but to assign one another specific characters to sing.
"Unsatisfied" by The Replacements
For the next five or so years, Matt and I will struggle to fulfill our artistic dreams (he as an aspiring filmmaker and me as an aspiring writer) while working a string of pretty odd jobs—from a blackjack banker to a receptionist at The School of Rock to a retail associate at a paper store to the list goes on and on. And I think that this song really captures both my own frustration as well as my frustration as I watched Matt struggle.
"Try a Little Tenderness" by Otis Redding
Otis begins this song with an accurate statement: "Oh, she may be weary, and young girls they do get weary." Matt and I made it through those aforementioned years mostly because of Matt's insane optimism, patience, and yes, tenderness.
"Caravan" by Van Morrison
Five words: Switch on your electric light! If you haven't done so in a while, go watch Van's performance of this song from The Last Waltz. It's so full of life and self-assuredness and I-don't-give-a-f*ck. And I think that if you want to be a writer or artist of any kind, you need to really try and tap into some of what Van here is putting out.
"Manhattan" by Cat Power
This song feels like contentment to me—and not a resigned contentment, but an active one. It reminds me of the summer before I'd sold the book proposal. My husband and I had just moved to the east side of Los Angeles to a beautiful, windy, hilly neighborhood. We'd just gotten a dog. We were starting to think about having a kid, and the world felt very hopeful and full of opportunity.
"Moonshadow" by Cat Stevens
As it turned out, I eventually sold that book proposal and then got pregnant two months later. When I turned in the first draft of the manuscript, I was 8 months pregnant. (I was hoping to get the notes back from my editor so that I could work on revisions before the baby came.) Just a few weeks later, my dad died suddenly of a massive heart attack. He missed the birth of my son and what would have been his first grandchild by 6 weeks. Any Cat Stevens song reminds me of him, but particularly "Moonshadow;" he would belt it out as he played it on the piano.
"The Emperor's New Clothes" by Sinead O'Connor
I finished the final revisions on the book when our son was still a newborn. And for those of you familiar with newborn babies, you probably know that they're not quite meant for the world yet; that the first three months of their life are often referred to as "the fourth trimester," and that you spend a lot of time trying to recreate what it was like for them in the womb. Thus, the swaddling and swinging and white noise. But when our son, Teddy, wasn't calmed by those things, we resorted to blasting this song and dancing with him in our arms. He loved it, and we loved it.
Amelia Morris and Bon Appetempt links:
also at Largehearted Boy:
Book Notes (2015 - ) (authors create music playlists for their book)
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