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July 7, 2017

Book Notes - Patrick Dacey "The Outer Cape"

The Outer Cape

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.

Patrick Dacey's impressive debut novel The Outer Cape is timely and unforgettable.

Booklist wrote of the book:

"Beautifully written, with strong, deeply memorable characters, this is a powerful story of possibility and promise."

In his own words, here is Patrick Dacey's Book Notes music playlist for his debut novel The Outer Cape:


"Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere" – Neil Young

Early on in the novel we learn that the matriarch of the family, Irene Kelly, is wistful for the past, when she was free and could go where she wanted and was open still to fall in love. This song reminds her of that time; and she uses it to convince herself she isn't trapped now.

"White Rabbit" – Jefferson Airplane

If Nowhere is somewhere it may as well be ever-changing—Wonderland. And as she's preparing dinner for her husband and boys, Irene lets this song flash her back to a time when wonder abounded. Feed your head. Feed your head. Or don't feed it too much, because then you end up Jefferson Starship.

"She Belongs To Me" – Bob Dylan

For the first part of this book, I took a lot from the memory of my mother, from the stories she used to tell me, and tried to make them my own, make Irene Kelly as much a part of my story as it is my mother's story. This song, from Dylan's early blues album "Bringing It All Back Home" reminds me of who she was before she was my mother.

"Loser" – Grateful Dead (Dick's Picks Vol. 10; Winterland, CA 12/29/77)

There's more to this song than the title suggest, not mentioning one of Garcia's best solos during this specific performance. Late in the first part of the novel, Robert Kelly, the Patriarch, risks his business on a land deal, and once he goes bankrupt, decides he can no longer be a family man and tries to make a run at the casinos in Las Vegas. Much of what he's looking for in this story is action, though. Like most gamblers, he doesn't care about winning or losing so much as being in the game.

"Moonlight Mile" – Rolling Stones

Because the event that finally causes Robert and Irene's marriage to split is an argument over a pair of Rolling Stones' tickets for the Steel Wheels tour, I felt as though both, in their own way, would be hearing this song once they were alone, remembering what it was like to be "…living to be lying by your side."


"Stoned Raiders" – Cypress Hill

The second part of the novel moves ahead twenty or so years, and because there's so much nostalgia for what music was when you get older, re-listening to how ominous and sublime some of those Cypress Hill tracks from the 90s are, you don't really need to get high to feel what it was like sitting in your room back then blowing smoke into a sploof.

"Rake" – Townes Van Zandt

The oldest son, Nathan is back from serving overseas, and now suffering from PTSD, and what I call self-loss. There are a number of terrifyingly dark Van Zandt tracks to choose from, but this one seems to speak to Nathan's character as he navigates through both the maze of his memories and the city of Boston, upon his return home.

"Hello in There" – John Prine

Towards the end of Part II, all four characters are dealing with isolation, loneliness, and a sense of time lost. Prine brilliantly articulates this feeling with a strange sense of comedy and melancholy.


"I Shall Be Released" – The Band

I have always felt this song had something to do with forgiveness. Being forgiven is being released. These characters seek forgiveness whether they know it or not, and, in a sense, they find it.

"How Deep is the Ocean" – Miles Davis

A sad, old-fashioned, traditional, made brilliant and complex by the playing of Miles Davis. Toward the end of the novel, there's a line about how no one ever sees how beautifully we fail.

"Sea of Love" – Cat Power

At its heart, this novel is about love, which is at the heart of most of my writing—an attempt at defining love. The original version, as well as this one by Cat Power, both capture the haunting, infinite, and sublime power of love over all else.

Patrick Dacey and The Outer Cape links:

NPR Books review
Publishers Weekly review

Richmond Magazine profile of the author

also at Largehearted Boy:

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Book Notes (2015 - ) (authors create music playlists for their book)
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