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January 23, 2018

Book Notes - Timmy Reed "Kill Me Now"

Kill Me Now

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.

Timmy Reed's coming-of-age novel Kill Me Now features an unforgettable narrator, and is as compelling as it is poignant and funny.

Kirkus wrote of the book:

"Reed convincingly writes a three-dimensional teenager whose self-consciousness, emotions, and hormones threaten to crush him. . . . A coming-of-age story capturing male adolescence in all its disgusting, irrational, and messy glory."

In his own words, here is Timmy Reed's Book Notes music playlist for his novel Kill Me Now:

I was stoked to create a mixtape for this book because it is about adolescence and that is a time-period that always calls for a killer soundtrack. Many of the tunes on here are ones Kill Me Now's protagonist might listen to himself, while others are songs that simply bring him to mind for me. A fair amount of Baltimore stuff, skate punk, and teenage stuff. All the kind of stuff you should expect when reading the novel. Hope you fine folks, enjoy it! Cheers, hon! And if you don't have drink to toast with, what are you waiting for!? Get one and start rocking out!

GG Allin, "When I Die"

I don't know how you could make a set list for a book called Kill Me Now without including this song. Miles Lover is always contemplating death and sometimes seems to be chasing it. I like to think he has a little GG in him. I hope we all have a little GG in us, some of the time. Keeps you sane.

Screeching Weasel, "Teenage Slumber Party"

This one is actually referenced in the book. I believe Miles says something like, "I was listening to a punk rock song about panty raids..." Well, this is that song. Also, this kind of pop-punk shit is the kind of thing Miles would often listen in general. It is geared to his age-group.

Joan Jett, "Bad Reputation"

Joan Jett is the classic Baltimorean teenage rebel and this is a classic tune of that kind of rebellion. Miles doesn't give a damn about his bad reputation, or at least he tries not to give too much of a damn.

Warren Zevon, "Lawyers, Guns, and Money"

There is a chapter in the book, which takes the form of a list, where Miles imagines winning the lottery and buying an island, which quickly becomes a totalitarian dictatorship. Zevon's song about international espionage describes exactly what Miles would end up needing in spades: Lawyers, Guns, and Money!

Dave Hardin, "Baltimore You're Home To Me"

The greatest hometown in the world, hon! Come visit and I will show you the time of your life!

Bad Brains, "Pay to Cum"

The best song in the world to make you want to blast a big air and punch your friend in the face out of pure love. HR lived in Baltimore for a number of years and is my hero (not sure if he is here currently or not because I don't get out enough anymore); I sometimes consider him the homie also, even if he only seems to recognize me a little less than 2/3rds of the time! Get it, kids. But remember that sometimes you gotta pay to cum.

The Faction, "Skate and Destroy"

Stevie Cab's band. One of the greatest skate-punk bands of all time. Hell, it is Thrasher Magazine's main motto! 'Nuff said.

McRad, "Weakness"

Chuck Treece is from Philly and plays Baltimore often. Anyone who knows about the connection between skateboarding and punk rock knows this song well! It is a killer!

Iggy Pop, "Search and Destroy"

Obviously, the precursor to The Faction's "Skate and Destroy" and such a heavy charger. Miles Lover is "the world's forgotten boy/the one who searches and destroys." Get it, Miles! Get some, hon!

The Death Set, "Negative Thinking"

These guys lived in Baltimore for a handful of years (Via Australia) before moving on to Philly and Brooklyn. They skate and put on some of the greatest live shows you could ever see. Get ready to break stuff for fun, folks. Also, Miles Lover has a bit of a problem with negative thinking of his own. Keep them angry worms out of your brain, homies!

Nina Simone, "Baltimore"

We may be "beat-up little seagulls" from time-to-time in this humble burg, but plenty of us still go out everyday and kick some serious ass in the world with only one strong wing.

Iggy Pop, "No Fun"

What is less fun than being a 14-year old boy? Being an adult man. But shhhh. Don't tell Miles that. He thinks his life is no fun - even when it still is!

Talking Heads, "Totally Nude"

This song, by another classic local musician (David Byrne), is all about embracing nature and the freedom that comes with it. "Totally naked/totally nude" is a lyric about Miles Lover all the way. Because "Who's gonna stop me?"

Agent Orange, "Living in Darkness"

What teen doesn't get "I feel safest living alone/living in darkness/living in a world of my own"? This song is a so-cal skate punk classic that feels as universal as teenage masturbation.

Dan Deacon, "Paddling Ghost"

Another Baltimore musical hero of course, Dan Deacon exemplifies the collaborative nature of making art in this tight-knit city, Smalltimore, wherever knows everyone else and a third of us are related. "Paddling Ghost" is a fun song that feels like it tells the story of a journey. Whether he knows it or not, Miles is embarking on a big journey in the direction of adulthood.

Drunk Injuns, "Heal Me"

Skate punk at it's best. Nothing is fun unless there is the potential to get hurt, which Miles Lover knows for sure. We still need to be healed afterwards though. Or heal ourselves somehow.

The Pogues, "Dirty Old Town"

In Gaelic, Baltimore - Baile an Tí Mhóir - means the "The Town of the Big House". It could easily be the dirty old town of the big house though. More descriptive.

NWA, "Fuck Tha Police"

Because, well, fuck those dudes sometimes, right? Miles Lover is a boy who has already begun what looks like a long career of run-ins with the law.

Milk, "The Knife Song"

This song played during Jason Lee's part in the legendary skate video by Spike Jonze, Blind's Video Days. Forget My Name is Earl - dude has the best tre flip of all time. Go watch the video!

The Waco Brothers, "Take Me To The Fires"

This is one that hits me personally in a special because there was a period in my life when this became my "headed to court" soundtrack, so most of the times I have listened to it have involved me in a suit on the way to the courthouse to face up to something. Not death, like in the song, but sometimes the idea of your freedom being taken away feels almost worse than jumping off an impossible cliff. Miles Lover is just beginning to learn this feeling.

Run DMC, "King of Rock"

I took my own high school Senior quote from this song: "Now I walked on ice and I never fell/I spent my time in a plush hotel", which sums up everything about me nicely.

Elvis Presley, "If I Can Dream"

While Miles Lover appears hostile, pessimistic, tough, and a bit hopeless on the surface, at the heart of Kill Me Now's narrator I feel a genuinely sensitive, kind, and hopeful something somewhere deep inside his chest or belly or brain. I have always seen him as a boy full of potential to make positive changes in the world as he grows. Elvis' sometimes over-the-top ballad is full of that potential for hope, change, and real love in a tough world to live in. Keep dreaming, guys! As Debbie Harry sang in a song not on the list, “Dreaming is free", so go out and get some brand new dreams in your head, folks! They are totally worth it! They're free!

Timmy Reed and Kill Me Now links:

the author's blog

Baltimore magazine review
Booklist review
Kirkus review
Publishers Weekly review

also at Largehearted Boy:

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