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September 27, 2016

Book Notes - Ben Katchor "Cheap Novelties"

Cheap Novelties

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

Originally published in 1991 by Art Spiegelman and Françoise Mouly's RAW Comics, Ben Katchor's Cheap Novelties is an early glimpse into the cartoonist's gift for sharing disappearing cityscapes in miniature.

Library Journal wrote of the book:

"A wonderful peek into an old yet new world, Katchor’s work pleasantly combines art and character, opening readers’ eyes and ears to the sights and sounds of this metropolis in a way that is simultaneously relaxing and thought provoking. Recommended for those who enjoy urban history, nostalgia, and social commentary."

In his own words, here is Ben Katchor's Book Notes music playlist for his comics collection Cheap Novelties:

Not a literal soundtrack, as I don't advise people to listen to music while reading, but a list of a few songs I listen to while drawing. All are songs, as I love text-music and text-image mixtures.

The original Folkways recording, by Prince Nazaroff was a truly authentic version of urban folk music - raw, high energy -- not generic Jewish folk music. The recent cover by the great Brothers Nazaroff revives that feeling.

The Happy Prince by the Brothers Nazaroff (Smithsonian Folkways): Ich a Mazeldicker Yid.

My music video for this track is here:

I've collaborated with musician Mark Mulcahy on a number of music-theater shows. I provide the text, he raises it to poetry by setting it to music. The scenic decor consists of projected drawings and animation. The ultimate luxury text-image art form.

This is one of Mulcahy's songs by his band Miracle Legion, a perfect raising of speech to song.

"You're the One Lee"

Many French chanteurs are in heavy rotation once my writing is finished and I begin to draw. The musicality of the French language as expressed by a great songwriter is overwhelming. Among my favorites:

Jacques Brel: Pardons

Leo Ferre: Les Anarchistes

I've drawn many pictures to sound of Charles Ive's songs. You have to find the right performances, as interpretation is critical.

Charles Ives: Romanzo di Central Park (Dora Ohrenstein performance)

Ben Katchor and Cheap Novelties links:

the author's website
the author's Wikipedia entry

Vulture review

Paste interview with the author

also at Largehearted Boy:

Support the Largehearted Boy website

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)
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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