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November 8, 2017

Book Notes - Shane Hinton "We Can't Help It If We're From Florida"

We Can't Help It If We're From Florida

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.

We Can't Help It If We're From Florida gathers short fiction and essays from an impressive cast of writers with Florida ties (including Lidia Yuknavitch, Sarah Gerard, Alissa Nutting, Lindsay Hunter, and Laura van den Berg) that shines a light on the weird and wonderful state.

Foreword Reviews wrote about the book:

"Vivid scenes in each piece provide both nostalgic and newly discovered images of Florida's landscape and culture."

In his own words, here is Shane Hinton's Book Notes music playlist for his anthology We Can't Help It If We're From Florida:

The title of our anthology comes from the classic punk compilation, released by Destroy Records in 1980, that put Florida's underground music scene on the map. Pack some industrial-strength bug spray, slather on some sunscreen, and leave behind everything you love for this tour of great Florida writers and bands. This playlist isn't easy listening, but nothing is easy about making your home in America's subtropical dumping grounds. You may want to bring along an extra neck brace. Things are about to get bumpy.

"I'm Not Cleaning Up This Mess" by Murder-Suicide Pact

We've had our share of particularly grisly deaths down here – from face-eatings to road rages to infanticides – and the narrator of this song is taking a stand against cleaning them up. Pair with Jeff Parker's story "Major Disassociation on Crescent Lake" and goose boiled in reclaimed lake water for a flavor profile that both shirks responsibility and denies that there is any to be assigned. Plate at the edge of a sinkhole in a cheap motel room and enjoy your meal as you ponder just what might be down there, including, maybe, your ex-girlfriend – or at least someone pretending to be her.

"My Spine! My Spine! My Spine!" by Combatwoundedveteran

The breakneck grindcore style of this band isn't for the faint of heart or the weak of stomach. Pair with Alissa Nutting's story "Undoing" and pan-fried donkey placenta for a dinner combo that showcases the suffering of parents, children, and livestock. Try to imagine your own birth as you chew. What would your first moments have looked like in reverse? Drop in that old VHS tape and find out.

"Sink, Florida, Sink" by Against Me!

Environmental collapse is upon us, and this tune reminds us of the fragile nature of our dear state, perched on the edge of the continental shelf, built on sand dunes that will wash away in the first high waves. Pair with Sarah Gerard's essay "A Study of Human Responses to Man-Made Disaster" and pelican braised with crude oil for a meal that captures the complex interactions between the interests of big business and the individual. Serve at a beach picnic and look out at the sheen of chemical dispersant on the surface of the Gulf. Ladle the chemically-enhanced seawater into your wine glass and relax as the hallucinations and muscle paralysis kick in. A perfect way to enjoy one of Florida's trademark sunsets.

"One Call to Cuba" by The Eat

Lots of people who end up in the Sunshine State, lured, perhaps, by the promise of an endless spring break, leave behind families and child-support payments to float around from beach to beach, their skin growing leathery with repeated sunburns, their feet developing thick callouses from walking on seashells and hot pavement. Pair this classic Florida tune with the essay "In Praise of the Greyhound" by Nathan Deuel and a bus-station hamburger for a meditative moment on the side of the highway, thinking about your loved ones and how you're going to get back to them. The postcards lied to you. Suck down a cigarette that you bum from a stranger and exhale into the dusk as the mosquitoes begin their nightly feeding frenzy. How do you feel about your life choices?

"Bless the Printing Press" by Reversal of Man

It doesn't get much more Floridian than sliding a filet knife along the belly of a largemouth bass, letting the entrails spill out into a lake, then waiting as the alligators begin to circle. It's part of our heritage, but what a waste! Pair this song with Lidia Yuknavitch's essay "Gutted" and stewed bass intestines for a dish you won't find at any theme park. Could it hurt to take a swim with the local wildlife? We're at the top of the food chain around here. Exercise your dominion over nature by surfing on the back of North America's apex predator. If you end up losing a limb then you'll at least have a physical reminder of your emotional trauma. We should all be so lucky.

"Uncomfortable Goodbye" by Assholeparade

How many goodbyes start out fine but end with both parties walking in the same direction to the parking lot after a funeral where no one really says what they think? Pair with Jaquira Díaz's essay "Vultures" and open up one of Miami's famous Cuban sandwiches to insert a slow-roasted vulture leg. Trust me – you can really taste the carrion. This meal will have you grinding your teeth and picking the remnants of your least-favorite relative's cooking out of your gumline.

"A Funny Red Moustache" by Gay Cowboys in Bondage

Summer is the perfect time for a company picnic, and it just wouldn't feel like team-building season without a rope swing and a Dixie cup full of sugary liquid. Pair with Lindsay Hunter's story "Storm" and a hot dog dipped in red Kool-Aid for a sweet treat that's sure to impress your lover's coworkers. You'll win them all over this time. Do a double backflip into the river. How deep is the water? Are there broken bottles sticking out of the sand, just below the surface? There's only one way to be sure.

Shane Hinton and We Can't Help It If We're From Florida links:

the editor's website
excerpt from the book (Alissa Nutting's short story)

Foreword review
Kirkus review
Sarasota Herald Tribune 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

Largehearted Boy's 2017 Summer Reading Suggestions

100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads
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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)
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Soundtracked (composers and directors discuss their film's soundtracks)
weekly music release lists

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