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September 19, 2016

Book Notes - James Boice "The Shooting"

The Shooting

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.

James Boice's The Shooting is a timely and pitch-perfect novel about gun violence in America.

Elizabeth Crane wrote of the book:

"In The Shooting, James Boice offers a timely and scathing indictment of our current gun-happy culture, cross-cutting hearts and minds in his incomparable take-no-prisoners style. Another stunner from Boice."


In his own words, here is James Boice's Book Notes music playlist for his novel The Shooting:


Gun Songs



"Guns" – Justin Moore

I used to this song to help me get into the head of one of my main characters, Lee Fisher, who sees himself as a good guy with a gun. "As long as I’m still breathing, you won’t take my guns." Beneath all the bravado is fear, insecurity.

"Guns" – Nice as Fuck

On this song from her new project, Jenny Lewis sings "The crisis is not ISIS" – we’re spilling our own blood." We’ve spent over $1.7 trillion on the War of Terror and continue to obsess over "Islamic extremists" potentially killing us, but meanwhile 33,000 of us die each year to routine gun violence and we do literally nothing about it.

"In Bloom" – Sturgill Simpson (via Nirvana)

"He likes to shoot his gun, but he don’t know what it means to love someone." My character Lee Fisher falls into that description.

"Big Exit" – PJ Harvey

This song sums up Lee Fisher’s worldview nicely:

"Look out ahead/see danger come
I want a pistol/I want a gun
I'm scared baby/I wanna run
This world's crazy/Give me the gun"

"Outlaw Shit" – Waylon Jennings

We like to see ourselves as cowboys in this country: independent, self-determining, armed to the hilt. But that myth is clashing too harshly with our reality, which is death and suffering and sadness. As Waylon sings, it’s "gotten out of hand." The Shooting is about this.

"Murder to Excellence" – Kanye & Jay Z

Guns are killing people in droves in Chicago and in black communities nationwide with nothing happening to stop it. My character Clayton Kabede and his family, sadly, fit in with that as they are crushed beneath all our political machinations.

"Happiness is a Warm Gun" – The Beatles

Lennon wrote this song after seeing an advertisement for a gun in American Rifleman magazine. Twelve years later, he would be shot in the back in New York City.

"Not Myself" – Sharon Van Etten

Van Etten dedicates this song to the victims of the Pulse shootings in Orlando. Proceeds from its release benefit Everytown for Gun Safety.

"Bang Bang" – Green Day

New song from the point of view of a school shooter. More and more new art is coming out lately addressing gun violence – this song, Sharon Van Etten and Nice as Fuck’s above, as well as many movies: this year’s Sundance Film Festival saw an unprecedented number of both fiction and documentary flicks centered on the topic.

"That’s When I Reach for My Revolver" – Mission of Burma

Gun as exhibition of desperation.

"Yvette" – Jason Isbell

This boy is going to save a girl in class from her abusive father, and he’s going to do with his Weatherby rifle. He thinks he’s doing right, that he’s being a hero but in fact he has no idea that he’s about to compound the tragedy.


James Boice and The Shooting links:

the author's website

TNBBC's The Next Best Book Blog review

Largehearted Boy Book Notes playlist by the author for The Good and the Ghastly


also at Largehearted Boy:

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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
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