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July 17, 2018

Louise Miller's Playlist for Her Novel "The Late Bloomers' Club"

The Late Bloomers' Club

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 Jesmyn Ward, Lauren Groff, Bret Easton Ellis, Celeste Ng, T.C. Boyle, Dana Spiotta, Amy Bloom, Aimee Bender, Heidi Julavits, Hari Kunzru, and many others.

Louise Miller's second novel The Late Bloomers' Club is a warm and moving story of sisterhood and community.

In her own words, here is Louise Miller's Book Notes music playlist for her novel The Late Bloomers' Club:

Eggs and Sausage—Tom Waits

Nora Huckleberry, the main character of The Late Bloomers' Club, is the owner of the Miss Guthrie Diner, and many of the key scenes of the novel take place among plates of eggs and cups of coffee. This is more of a city diner song (every diner song I could find really was a city diner song) but I love that the chorus is a list of breakfast foods.

I Don’t Want to Go Downtown—Gillian Welch

At the beginning of the novel, we find that Nora has divorced her high school sweetheart, but it still pains her a little to see him having moved on so quickly. This Gillian Welch song captures perfectly the feeling of living in a small town, where you can’t hide from your past.

I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry—The Nields

The Late Bloomers’ Club is about sisters, and The Nields are one of my favorite sister acts. Their version of this Hank Williams classic would inspire Charlie or Fern to give it a try at karaoke down at the Bear Cub.

We’re Going to Be Friends—The White Stripes

Friends play an important role in The Late Bloomers' Club, and in it we get to see several new friendships forming. I love to write scenes where characters just begin to connect with each other, and those small moments where intimacy grows. This sweet White Stripes song is the perfect ode to new friendships.

That Summer Feeling—Jonathan Richman

Nora has lost that free, creative part of herself as she has gotten older and taken on more and more adult responsibilities, and her arc in the book is in part about her finding that place within herself again. No song fills me with longing for those easy, loose days of my youth, where everything felt possible, like this one.

The Hatfield Side—Cheri Knight

Cheri Knight is a musician (formerly of The Blood Oranges) and flower farmer, and one of my heroes. Her album The Northeast Kingdom, which refers to the part of Vermont where The Late Bloomers' Club takes place, is one of my favorite records of all time. This track is about an old rivalry between two towns, and it was the inspiration for the tug-of-war in the novel.

One For My Baby—Ella Fitzgerald version

Movies play a big role in The Late Bloomers' Club. Nora and Kit are both movie nerds, and Kit and Max are filmmakers. Here Kit and Max describe a scene in the film Road House to Nora:

“And she sings this absolutely heartbreaking rendition of One for My Baby.”

Max stood. “Before she starts playing, she lights a cigarette.” Max acts out the action, putting two of his fingers to his lips, flicking the thumb of his other hand on an imaginary lighter, and taking a long, deep drag. “And instead of putting it in an ashtray, she balances it precariously on the edge of the piano.”

“And she just lets it burn as she plays,” Kit added. “Like she couldn’t give a single fuck. It’s so badass.”

The Littlest Birds—The Be Good Tanyas

Elliot, the big box developer representative, is an avid birder. One of my favorite scenes in the novel is when Elliot is doing birdcalls in front of Nora. It’s the first moment where Elliot is dropping his guard a bit.

He Woke Me Up Again—Sufjan Stevens

I listened a lot of Sufjan Stevens while I was writing The Late Bloomers' Club. In so many ways, the novel is about waking up to all the possibilities in life. I love the ecstatic joy embodied in all of Stevens’ work, and this song is one of my favorites.

Om Nama Shiva—Krishna Das

Another of my favorite scenes is one where Kit and Max lead Kirtan (yogic chanting) at a nursing home. This is the song they chant.

Century Plant—Victoria Williams

In many ways, this song was the inspiration for The Late Bloomers' Club. It’s a wonderful song about late bloomers, and all they create later in their life. You never know when you will bloom!

Louise Miller and The Late Bloomers' Club links:

the author's website

BookPage review
Kirkus review

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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