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June 29, 2015

Book Notes - Wendy C. Ortiz "Hollywood Notebook"

Hollywood Notebook

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, T.C. Boyle, Dana Spiotta, Amy Bloom, Aimee Bender, Jesmyn Ward, Heidi Julavits, Hari Kunzru, and many others.

Wendy C. Ortiz's Hollywood Notebook is a brilliant memoir composed of striking prose poems.

Stream a playlist of these songs at Spotify.


In his own words, here is Wendy C. Ortiz's Book Notes music playlist for his novel Hollywood Notebook:


During the initial writing of Hollywood Notebook I was influenced by the music I heard in friends’ and lovers’ cars, apartments, dj booths. This mix reflects some of those influences, sounds I integrated and made mine. This is one interior soundtrack to that time period.

"Junk Barge" – Sally Timms
This song was a refrain many days during the writing of Hollywood Notebook and after. And I don't know where I'm going to is still a constant refrain, in just this melody.

"How to Disappear Completely" – Radiohead
A friend introduced me to Kid A while on a drive to Ventura and back, when he let the CD loop and loop. It lodged in me. In my apartment, it had a completely different meaning than on a coastal highway. This song in particular was the one I related to most. Wanting to sing this to the character "Sh." but singing it to myself on hikes, sweat and tears. Wanting to erase an entire relationship because of the pain. I had never experienced that desire before, or since.

"Tightly" – Neko Case
S. introduced me to Neko Case. The first time I saw her, in a small venue in Hollywood, I couldn't stop the tears from rolling. Uncontrollable. Her voice unlatched something in me that reminded me of the music my grandmother listened to on AM radio when I was a child. The word covet repeated through the song felt prescient, deeply honest. Still does.

"Rowboat" – Johnny Cash
A friend I traded mix tapes with for years put this on a tape, since lost, that I still want to reconstruct. Though I first heard this song when I lived in Olympia, it followed me to Los Angeles. So many days and nights spent with a joint and a beer, a boyfriend with a country bent, these words an undercurrent in my life. This song is a poem I've memorized.

"Enjoy" – Bjork
My apartment, with its tiny built-in vanity, my sequins bustier showcased on the surface, a single drawer full of my collection of porn, vibrators, wrist restraints, matches, weed if I had it, a pack of cigarettes. I wanted to move through my life with this beat underneath. The lyrics seared me with the truths I felt I was living.

"Cars" – Gary Numan
Killradio, the internet station where my boyfriend DJ'd. Hearing this, one of my favorite new wave songs since I was a kid, reverberating in the dank dark little space with its window facing the street full of traffic at all hours, a cold beer in my hand, was heaven. (The song still has some power over me.)

"Physical (You're So)" – Adam Ant
I'd never heard this Adam Ant song until Sh. shared it with me. Then I probably over-listened to it. And still do. Anyone I've ever shared it with hates it. Makes it even more sexy to me.

"Warm Leatherette" – The Normal
One of the reasons I love Jumbo's Clown Room so much is because the women who work there choose songs like this to dance to. I admire anyone who even attempts to dance to this. I admired one dancer who did more than justice to this.

"You Got Lucky" – Tom Petty
Frank n' Hank. Sunlight streaming in from the doorway. Belly up to the bar. Feeding singles into the jukebox. One afternoon, he maybe had surpassed me one or two drinks and played this. When he returned to his stool next to mine and the song started I probably frowned at his selection. He didn't slur when he sang it to me. His voice was always too loud. He emoted when he sang anything. I always think of him when I hear this and remember that someone felt this way about me, wanted me to know it. And I still wince.

"Hurt" – Nine Inch Nails
I saw Nine Inch Nails play this live and sang along with thousands of others on a field in the best kind of choir I can imagine. When I think of the hole I was in for a spell, the suicidal ideation making me spin out on that fourth floor, unknown to anyone but me, I remember this song as one of my lullabies.


Wendy C. Ortiz and Hollywood Notebook links:

the author's website
the author's Wikipedia entry
excerpt from the book

Bustle review
Entropy review
The Rumpus review
Yay! LA review

Bustle interview with the author
Electric Literature interview with the author
Forth interview with the author
Largehearted Boy Book Notes essay by the author for Excavation
Lunch Ticket 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

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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