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November 12, 2015

Book Notes - Toni Sala "The Boys"

The Boys

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.

Toni Sala's The Boys is a brilliant literary mystery, dark, complex, and compelling.

Publishers Weekly wrote of the book:

"Sala is a master of meditation, and the excitement and intrigue are never sacrificed despite digressive passages on Internet alienation, art, violence, phrases of grief, the Spanish recession, and love. One hopes this tremendous novel, already an award-winner overseas, will receive the attention it deserves here."

Stream a playlist of these songs at Spotify.

In his own words, here is Toni Sala's Book Notes music playlist for his novel The Boys:

It is difficult to choose songs that have to do specifically with a book. While writing, many thoughts pass through one's head, and as you listen, many pieces of musics do the same. Music helps me concentrate, it imposes a rhythm that helps me move sentences forward, and to formulate these sentences in a natural way... That said, I have sometimes thought that I don't listen to music in order to write, but write so as to listen to music.

Imagining that I am writing to an American friend, I would like to recommend some songs from the best Catalan groups and singers at the moment, which I think can be a very enriching and refreshing experience. In their area, these groups are on the same level as in literature, painting and Catalan architecture.

Considering that literature is so important for Catalans, composers always pay a lot of attention to the lyrics. This also has to do with the important role that music has played for Catalans in moments of political repression, and with the enormous influence that French songwriting has had on Catalan singers. I recommend that you translate the words of the songs with Google to get an idea of what they are singing about.

CANT DE L'ENYOR ( Loss ), Lluís Llach

It is impossible to choose a song from this singer. Some of his compositions are national anthems. The piece I have chosen is a love song. Llach has an impressive sense of melody. Although Llach is involved in politics, he is one of the most important songwriters. All Catalans know at least half a dozen Llach's songs by heart. The role that Catalan poets had before music recordings is now held by singers.

LA CATXIMBA I ELS ROSTOLLS D'ANGELINA ( The water pipe and Angelina's herbs ), Adrià Puntí

Puntí is a genius who introduced sinister rock music, broken and damned, into Catalan songwriting. Always free spirited, he regenerated Catalan songwriting, opening up new worlds with influences from reggae to U2, which he introduced with his group, Umpa-Pah, in the early nineties. The kind of Catalan he uses in his lyrics is also extremely original. He has had an uneven career, but is fiercely radical and brilliant - probably the freeest of them all.

BATISCAFO KATIUSKAS ( Katiuskas bathyscaphe ), Antònia Font

Odysseus had to cover her ears so as not to fall victim to the charm of the sirens. "Batiskafo Katiuskas" talks about a submarine, and is an excuse to let us hear the song of the sirens, which “Antonia Font”, a Mallorcan group had the courage and sensitivity to record. Listen carefully and you can hear.

Rays of sunlight crossing a navy blue sea,
the green algae turns green and stars shine
because it's already night and the plankton glows
and the sirens sing so as to not exist.

I also advise you to listen to the song Alegria, “Joy”. For a Catalan, it is very important to hear the Majorcan dialect. Surely an American would also be interested in the vision that Mallorca could have of Clint Eastwood, something between melancholy and parody:

And a man alone is not always enough
Who doubts today in Clint Eastwood
And a man alone gets broken and tired
Who has any doubt today in Clint Eastwood.

INICI DE CAMPANES ( Beginning of bells) Miguel Poveda and Maria del Mar Bonet.

Thanks to the immigration of people from the south of Spain, Andalusian flamenco has been very fruitful for Catalonia. Miguel Poveda is probably the best Catalan performer in this genre. In this video there is a song by the Majorcan Maria del Mar Bonet, one of the most important voices of Catalan singing. It is about the Mediterranean being the same sea for both Catalans and Andalusians to swim in.

GREEN EYES, Pascal Comelade and P.J. Harvey

Comelade is a composer from North Catalonia who tends to use children's instruments to make music. This unconventional choice, anti-rhetorical, must have been popular with the dark side of rock, and P.J. Harvey has recorded some of her songs with Comelade. Needless to say that Harvey fits nicely into my kind of literature.

Toni Sala and The Boys links:

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

Kirkus review
Publishers Weekly review

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

Online "Best of 2015" 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)
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guest book reviews
Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week (recommended new books, magazines, and comics)
musician/author interviews
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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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