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September 1, 2017

Book Notes - Karl Geary "Montpelier Parade"

Montpelier Parade

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.

Karl Geary's debut novel Montpelier Parade vividly captures 1980s Dublin.

Booklist wrote of the book:

"Fast paced and highly engrossing, Geary’s debut perfectly balances dreary romance with sharp teen angst."


In his own words, here is Karl Geary's Book Notes music playlist for his novel Montpelier Parade:



Leonard Cohen - "Take this Waltz"

Cohen was greatly influenced by the Spanish poet, Federico Garcia Lorca, who like Cohen spoke of love, of longing and of desire. But for all that, awareness of class injustice - a rage against fascism, against imperialism is never far from the surface. Lorca, before he was murdered by the Fascists, had become almost entirely engaged with bringing theatre to the working class. Understanding that poverty does not lock itself inside the pantry. It’s on the empty book shelves, the pictures missing from the wall. With "Take This Waltz," Cohen pays homage and borrows almost word for word from, Little Viennese Waltz. He lets us know he understands both desire and hunger.

“There’s a shoulder where death comes to cry
There’s a lobby with nine hundred windows
There’s a tree where doves go to die.”

Squeeze - "Up the Junction"

I was a teenager when I first heard this. On Top of the Pops, the only music show that was on Television, long before MTV had come to Ireland. It felt like everyone stopped for that half hour on a Thursday night, ran home and sat mesmerized. When Squeeze came on it was different, like watching someone I knew, they were grubby and wore clothes I recognized. They could have been working in a local shop or going to my school. They weren't angry like The Clash, they were resigned and ironic. And they sang about us, the ones that didn't get out. The ones that weren't exceptional. This is Sharon Burke's song. I love that character, I hold a soft spot for her as she exhales smoke into a world that she knows, even as a teenager, has discarded her. She's resigned to her fate, to the coming drudgery.

Miles Davis - "Blue in Green"

Sonny, sitting in a darkened room with an older woman, Vera, whom he has falling in love with, a record player crackles to life and Miles comes on. Blue in green. She looks up from her book, and asks, "Do you like it?" Hearing music for the first time without words/ lyrics. It's unlike anything he's heard before. Melancholy, pure. A lament for what is about to happen, for what is inevitable, like any doomed love affair worth its salt. Every beat and resonance painted in blue, in green.

Radiohead - "How to Disappear Completely"

This song was playing when I kissed my wife for the first time. Years ago, in a cold and damp caravan near the sea. Not A first kiss. The first kiss. The original kiss. We were lost. When I imagined Sonny kissing Vera that first time, I felt it would have the same effect on him. There is no going back from that, no retreating.

“I’m not here,
This isn’t happening.
I’m not here, I’m not here.”

Beth Orton - "Sweetest Decline"

This song really speaks to me about Vera. She remains a mystery to Sonny. Other. We know a few stray facts. She’s English, from a different class, she’s educated. She’s not interested in the facts of her life. Whenever Sonny tries for more, she shuts him down. “Who cares?” She asks, “It’s just a story, you make one up and I promise to believe in it.”

Alela Diane - "Heavy Walls"

Sonny works with his father, A thumbless bricklayer. Building walls, always walls. I like this image, this fortification. He’s at a stage in life where he desperately wants to leap over and be free. However, he also wants to be a part of, to belong. To be his father’s son. But he can’t have both, and there’s great tension in that knowing.

Olafur Arnalds - "Faun"

Vera’s house on Montpelier parade overlooks the sea. I imagined as a backdrop, the seascapes of Turner. This is a Icelandic composer, and seems to me, he captures all that is alone and separate. It’s not without tenderness though. It feels like people occupying the same space separately and all that longing in between.


Karl Geary and Montpelier Parade links:

the author's Wikipedia entry

Daily Express review
Financial Time review
Guardian review
Irish Times review
Kirkus review
Publishers Weekly review

Herald Scotland profile of the author
Hot Press profile of the author
Irish Independent profile of the author
Irish News profile of the author


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

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