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June 9, 2017

Book Notes - Blake Nelson "Boy"

Boy

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.

Blake Nelson once again proves himself one of our finest young adult writers with his surprising and moving novel Boy.


In his own words, here is Blake Nelson's Book Notes music playlist for his novel Boy:



So I have this friend I was especially close to in college and through my twenties. Not only did we have many youthful adventures, but we also helped form each other's aesthetics. We molded each other and ourselves around what was going on around us in NYC and across the country during the 1980s.

He and I wrote hundreds of letters to each other during that time and we keep promising to exchange these letters, so we can look at them again.

So I found his letters to me and before I sent them back, spent a couple evenings reading through them. Wow. They really took me back. Suddenly I was twenty-two again, running around the East Village with Basquiat in my brain and Echo and the Bunnymen in my Walkman.

So when I sat down to write my next book, I wanted to capture some of that sense of discovery and self-definition from my own life. Boy, was the result. The plot: a bright but directionless high school kid stumbles into the world of photography. And finds his true calling.


"Walk in the Park" by Beach House
As a young man I had issues with feelings. I didn't like them. I wasn't sure what they were. I probably didn't actually have any. So part of my artistic journey has been to locate them, consider them and try to recreate them in my stories. I do this because "feelings" are generally what people who consume the arts are looking for. So I listen to Beach House.

"Florescent Adolescent" by Arctic Monkeys
Ah, when the young criticize older people for being tired, dull, hypocritical and irrelevant! I was merciless like this when I was young, I DESTROYED the old guard at every opportunity. So now I have to smile and take it.

"Kill Vs. Maim" by Grimes
I love artists like Grimes. She starts off as a darling of the liberal arts, social warrior, rainbows and glitter crowd ... then she turns around and shows everyone that she's totally hardcore, she's not going anywhere, she's fucking SERIOUS.

"Dream Machine" by Mark Farina
This slow, minimal, clanking dance groove was kind of my favorite song throughout the year of writing Boy. The laconic vocal mentions "Rebels on the dance floor" which I'm assuming is ironic.

"Hey Cool Kid" by the Cloud Nothings
Really weird, blank song about nothing that goes nowhere and is self-defeatingly casual and unproduced, and is, in it's innocent "whatever-ness" a masterpiece.

"Cigarette Daydreams" by Cage The Elephant
How is it you can always tell if a band is from the Midwest? They believe in things a little more, their own romanticism for one. "You can drive/All night/Looking for the answers in the pouring rain."

"King" by Years and Years
And then the British show up and save us from ourselves with their transcendent, transporting dance club hits.

"Here I Dreamed I was an Architect" by The Decemberists
Did I mention that I had just moved back to Portland when I was writing Boy? So yeah, I happened to catch Colin Meloy playing a couple songs at an event by himself with guitar. Jesus, he is talented. So I dug up some Decemberists songs which ended up on all my playlists.


Blake Nelson and Boy links:

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

Kirkus Reviews review

Largehearted Boy Book Notes playlist by the author for Destroy All Cars
Largehearted Boy Book Notes playlist by the author for Recovery Road
Rookie 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

Largehearted Boy's 2017 Summer Reading Suggestions

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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