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February 2, 2015

Book Notes - Daniel Galera "Blood-Drenched Beard"

The Sasquatch Hunter's Almanac

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.

Daniel Galera's novel Blood-Drenched Beard is lyrical and impressive.

The New York Times wrote of the book:

"Mr. Galera has a lovely sense of the rhythms of beach town life in the off season, the salty air and the diesel fishing boat motors and sun that burns off the morning chill… Like his narrator, he's a lover as much as a fighter, and his novel is seductive. It's got a tidal pull. Blood-Drenched Beard also has a terrific ending. It's one that suggests, sometimes at least, that peace, love and understanding are vastly overrated."

Stream a playlist of these songs at Spotify.

In his own words, here is Daniel Galera's Book Notes music playlist for his novel Blood-Drenched Beard:

1. "Mucuripe" by Raimundo Fagner and Antonio Carlos Belchior
Unlike other novels and stories I wrote, Blood-Drenched Beard mentions a lot of songs and artists that I dislike. Most characters, including the protagonist, listen to stuff I'd never listen to myself, like Rush or Brazilian pop rock bands like Charlie Brown, Jr. But there are exceptions, and one is this gorgeous and sad song by Raimundo Fagner and Belchior, with verses that refer to youth and lost love. The composers recorded their different versions, and they are both beautiful. I knew how to play it on the guitar, but now I forgot. My parents used to listen to it on vinyl when I was a kid, and I lent some of my own nostalgia about this song to my character in a scene of the book.

2. "I Love You, I’m Gonna Blow Up Your School" by Mogwai
During the period I lived in Garopaba, the seaside village where the novel is set, I'd listen to a lot of this Scottish post-rock band. I'm a huge fan. Their amazing album "The Hawk Is Howling" was released in the same period, and this is my favorite track, a slow-building instrumental piece with a kind of narrative quality, full of subtle dynamics, until it explodes in glorious distortion. Like so many Mogwai tracks, it evokes tides, waves crashing, natural disasters. A great soundtrack to an approaching storm.

3. "Sea" by Low
Another song I relate to my time in Garopaba and the work sessions to write this novel. The whole album is a masterpiece (I Could Live In Hope, 1994). This is a sweet, sleepy, short song with the most bare lyrics: "The sea is a long, long way from me / I'd go there if I had the time / But lying here will do just fine." Yeah.

4. "Nocturne Op. 55, No. 1 in F Minor" by Chopin
This one appears in the book. The protagonist recalls a certain Chopin nocturne that his ex-girlfriend really liked. He knows nothing about Chopin and can't even remember the girl's face, but the melody is always clear in his mind. This is the tune I had in mind when I wrote that part.

5. "Fearless" by Pink Floyd
Pink Floyd is mentioned briefly in the novel, some guy plays one of their CDs to show how potent his stereo is. "Fearless" from the album Meddle was always one of my favorite songs. The acoustic guitar riff is magical. This song also plays on the radio in a scene from my previous novel Mãos de Cavalo ("Horse Hands").

6. "Peixes", Darma Lóvers
This is a band from my hometown Porto Alegre that writes songs based on Buddhist religion and philosophy. There's a Buddhist character in my novel, and while researching the topic I remembered this song from a demo-tape they recorded in the 1990's. It's a simple acoustic tune, but with powerful lyrics and mood. From the idea that we live and die like fish in a tank, the song draws stunning metaphors.

7. "In the Colors" by Ben Harper
Just a song from a record – 2007's Lifeline – I'd listen to a lot in the period I wrote the book, especially in my car, driving to nearby beaches and other locations. This record never failed to lift me up.

8. "Lover Come Back to Me" by Billie Holiday
A harrowing song about love lived and lost. There are several recordings, and there's a special one that gets under my skin, even though I can't say when or where it was recorded. It's a mellow version, full of pain and longing. The part that puts me to the ground is "The sky is blue / The night is cold / The moon is new / But love is old," and of course we need Billie's voice to really feel it. I include it here because I listened to it often when I worked on the novel. I had a long relationship that ended a couple of years before, and this song was, as they say about the blues, pain to heal pain.

Daniel Galera and Blood-Drenched Beard links:

the author's Wikipedia entry

Financial Times review
Guardian review
Kirkus review
The Millions review
New Statesman review
New York Times review
Observer review
Publishers Weekly review
Wall Street Journal review

Deborah Kalb interview with the author

also at Largehearted Boy:

Book Notes (2015 - ) (authors create music playlists for their book)
Book Notes (2012 - 2014) (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
Essential and Interesting 2014 Year-End 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
Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week (recommended new books, magazines, and comics)
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
Word Bookstores Books of the Week (weekly new book highlights)

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