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June 15, 2017

Book Notes - Paul Cohen "The Glamshack"

The Glamshack

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.

Paul Cohen's novel The Glamshack is an inventive and intense debut.

Kirkus Reviews wrote of the book:

"In his debut novel, Cohen manages the impressive feat of memorably documenting obsession without surrendering to it."


In his own words, here is Paul Cohen's Book Notes music playlist for his debut novel The Glamshack:



Once, bloodied by love and money, I lived in a borrowed pool house on a mountainside estate in California. It was an El Nino year, hard rain day in and day out. Heat came from a wood stove and all the wood was wet. Oak leaves floating on the rain-puckered pool struck me as a painfully lonely sight. Outside my windows at night, coyotes clicked their bunny-stained canines. I found refuge in writing, and running and listening to music, all of which I did in a fever, and wound up with The Glamshack.

Writing and running's rhythmic friction generated the first draft. Music, particularly jazz, helped shape it. That slow, steady, mad, rapturous build I didn't know I was after was revealed by music. So was the eerie ability—on the part of both Henry and Her--to hold incompatible truths. How so-called foreign elements can amplify and clarify. The way the world, in darkness, coughs up its own essence. That beauty is breath.


Pat Metheny, "Are You Going with Me (with Maria Jopek)"

In a café, She places a flower in a plastic cup on his table, and sits down. Her smile is an event. Her hardhoney thighs, shy lioness eyes. A table opens and She removes Herself, no hint of misgiving. She's reading a scholarly book on the mind and motivation of the torturer. So he later learns. So it begins. Sweetly, softly. In the too-bright distance, thunderclouds. Faintly he hears their bass-tones, feels their prick. Or is that Her, or him, or them? They've melded like claythings, like he's always dreamed. Is it a problem that he no longer recognizes himself? Silly Henry, into the storm, that drenching booming shrieking beast, no relation to the flower in the cup. Her smile, as they are washed away, is an event.

Dire Straits,"On Every Street"

Brokenhearted, southbound, on Mexico's Baja peninsula, the ocean a thousand feet below, everywhere the setting sun. At the wheel of his '68 baby blue Cadillac convertible, my six-four 300-pound best friend. We met in 2nd grade, at the school bus stop, when he discreetly alerted me to the fact that my shoes were on the wrong feet. In the decades since, I have decided he retied them. I passed him the tequila. He drank while slipping in a CD. On every street, the slurry-voiced lover searches for Her. Where most songs begin their fade, a muscular, plaintive build kicked in. “Turn it off,” I said, reaching for the bottle. My friend pressed Pause. The crimson Pacific drained to green. To black. I drank, and hit Play.

Pat Metheny, "Offramp"

Mention The Unbearable Lightness of Being to Henry before May 3, 1999 and he may envision fine women, cushioned seats in the dark, ringed fingers grazing his thigh, unexplained turbulence in the chest. After that date the unbearable lightness manifests as a hawk's talons sunk into selfsame chest, the terrible bird lifting him into a fogged expanse bearing a wire-attached tag that reads, White Sky. Below, crimped to a retreating tree, another tag reads Growing. Once composed of God Particles (as the physicists say), the world now runs on bits of madness.

Mention The Purple Bloom of New Orleans to Her before May 15, 1999, and She'll see madness bits everywhere except inside that 700 sq. ft. Love Nest She shares with the fiancé. After that date, the bits—moving as a purple bloom-- infect even the Love Nest. For the first time since Dad's demons alighted on Her, She is not Her own conductor. She finds Herself striding New Orleans at night in monster truck boots and a breakaway miniskirt. Backstreet darkness, like inky hair, leaves its mark on flesh. Back at the Love Nest, Her fiancé sits on the floor, exploded. Yellow petals in his lap. Time lies in shards. Hello, Henry?

Weather Report, "A Remark You Made"

Henry thinks he's mastered the trick of hearing only what he wants to hear. He's wrong. Often he travels to understanding's underworld. Once, standing in plants, She takes one particularly lovely plant in Her no-nonsense fingers and tells him it only blooms every third year, which would be next year, and says, “Promise me you'll visit then,” and he hears, “Promise me we'll visit then,” and all the while he's burrowing through blackrock tunnels, into vast chambers lit with dust angels, past corridors riven with seams of emerald and coal, searching for the deepspot from which all hope of return to light is futile.

Amos Lee, "Windows Are Rolled Down" (Live at Red Rocks with Colorado Symphony)

Day 12. With sun in his throat Henry looks down upon brass buttons imprinted with eagles ripped from their moorings, a squaw's grieving finger, bloody Ghost Shirts imprinted with thunderbirds, blue marble on white snow, world's most perfect fist, and into this carnage She pilots one-handed Her slick convertible, skips with lit cigarette past Henry's borrowed pool, dodges the shot from the robot that lives at the bottom, and onto the Glamshack's porch She sprawls in pieces--hardhoney thighs and snaketaut belly and brutish pores and orange toes and big toe drawing, redrawing, . . . S.


Paul Cohen and The Glamshack links:

the author's website

Heavy Feather Review review
Kirkus Reviews review
Shelf Stalker review


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

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musician/author interviews
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