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January 11, 2017

Book Notes - Joshua Mohr "Sirens"


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.

Joshua Mohr's memoir Sirens is a fascinating account of recovery, writing, and love.

Kirkus wrote of the book:

"By turns raw and tender, this book not only chronicles a man's literary coming-of-age. It also celebrates the power of love while offering an uncensored look at the frailties that can define—and sometimes overwhelm—people and their lives. An entirely candid, compelling memoir of addiction and the long, fraught road of recovery."

In his own words, here is Joshua Mohr's Book Notes music playlist for his memoir Sirens:

Music is always a huge part of my writing process, as is coffee—so much coffee!—but with my new memoir, music played a more intimate role: It supplied the book's biorhythm.

In my novels, I use music to channel certain characters, maybe listening to PJ Harvey exclusively, while I'm writing a ferocious/cerebral woman, etc, but with the memoir, I tried to use music as a literal soundtrack.

What the hell does that mean? A literal soundtrack? That's a good question. I'm glad you're paying attention.

A literal soundtrack means that not only was music playing while I wrote the source material, but I revised this memoir compulsively out loud, reading it like 100 times to myself to dial in the book's time signature, its unique sound, and while I read aloud I always had music playing. So when I'm reading a chapter maniacally, pacing and ranting, scaring my neighbors, super disgusting and lovely punk rock blared to help me lock in and keep the proper sonic assignments for certain scenes.

Here's a selection of tracks that played huge roles in that aural intermingling of music and my out loud rantings.

Kim Gordon – "Murdered Out"
7 Year Bitch – "Hip Like Junk"
Bad Brains – "The Regulator"
Operation Ivy – "Knowledge"
Parquet Courts – "Stoned and Starving"
Karen O – "Native Korean Rock"
The Cramps - "Garbageman"
The Kills – "Weedkiller"
Savages – "I am Here"
Fang – "Invitation"

Go ahead and find these songs on YouTube or Spotify. Turn ‘em up loud—and I mean loud—and try to read to it. It will feel weird at first, but don't stop. You might go hoarse. You might find yourself fighting with it a bit, and that's a good thing! They are screaming and you are screaming and after a few minutes, your different kinds of music will dilute.

Joshua Mohr and Sirens links:

the author's website
excerpt from the book

Kirkus review

Largehearted Boy Book Notes essay by the author for Damascus
Largehearted Boy Book Notes playlist by the author for Fight Song
Largehearted Boy Book Notes essay by the author for Some Things That Meant the World to Me
Largehearted Boy Book Notes essay by the author for Termite Parade
LitReactor interview with the author
Los Angeles Review of Books interview with the author
Rare Bird Radio interview with the author

also at Largehearted Boy:

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List of Online "Best Books of 2016" Lists

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

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