Twitter Facebook Tumblr Pinterest Instagram

December 10, 2019

Shorties (William Gibson Profiled, Moondog's Music and New York City, and more)

Agency by William Gibson

The New Yorker profiled author William Gibson.


The New Yorker delved into Moondog's music and its connection to New York City.


Largehearted Boy's list of "best books of 2019" lists has collected 741 year-end lists so far.


Largehearted Boy's list of essential and interesting year-end "best of 2019" music lists.


December's best eBook deals.


Electric Literature interviewed Claire Rudy Foster about her short story collection Shine of the Ever.


All Songs Considered recapped 2019 in music.


BuzzFeed recommended November's best books.


Stream a new song by Brian Eno.


Read It Forward recommended the best retellings of the Bronte sisters' novels.


Emilio Fraia talked to the New Yorker about her story in this week's issue.


Lambda Literary recommended December's best LGBTQ books.


Book Riot recommended books with unconventional travel writing.


The finalists for the NBCC's The John Leonard Prize for Best First Book have been announced.


6sqft listed 31 literary icons of Greenwich Village.


West Virginia Public Radio interviewed author Mesha Maren.


Stream a new Okay Kaya song.


This Is Horror interviewed author Daniel Braum.


Stream a new song by Sugar World.


Alison Moorer talked writing and songwriting with Paste.



also at Largehearted Boy:

Support Largehearted Boy

previous Shorties posts (daily news and links from the worlds of music, books, and pop culture)

Atomic Books Comics Preview (the week's best new comics and graphic novels)
Book Notes (authors create playlists for their book)
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)
weekly music release lists






December 9, 2019

Bryan Furuness's Playlist for His Novel "Do Not Go on"

Do Not Go on

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.

Bryan Furuness's novel Do Not Go on is a literary thriller both engaging and surprising.

Philip Graham wrote of the book:

"Do Not Go on, the new novel by Bryan Furuness, goes deep, goes funny, goes suspenseful, often on the same page. His language will often make you slow down and savor the inventiveness of a phrase, a sentence, an observation, while the plot tugs at you to turn the page. This is a brainy thriller that will more than once break your heart. And you will gratefully pick up the pieces and continue, wanting more of the foibles, surprises, self-deceptions, hopeful determination and spacious inner lives of his lively cast of characters."


In his own words, here is Bryan Furuness's Book Notes music playlist for his novel Do Not Go on:



Songs for the Witness


The pilot episode of Portlandia opens with a sketch where one character is trying to explain Portland to another character. "Do you remember the '90s?" he says. "There's a place where [that era] still exists as a reality, and I've been there."

Do Not Go on is set in the '90s, so the easy move would be to put together a '90s playlist. Easy but unsurprising. I'd rather try to capture the 90's spirit where it still exists as an audio reality: alternative hip-hop.

My favorite songs from this genre sound like they’re broadcast from a universe where old-school rap merged with the alternative scene of the early 90's and just kept rolling on the same trajectory for the next thirty years.

Or to put it a different way—if Gen X ran the world, this is the sound that would rule the airwaves:

1. "Delicate Cycle" by The Uncluded

At first, this seems to be two separate songs grafted together in a grotesque, Isle of Doctor Moreau way. The song bounces from Aesop Rock rapping about sending his own body parts through the mail, to Kimya Dawson singing in a sweet, frank voice about how she enjoyed working in a Laundromat as a kid. The juxtaposition is truly weird. But when their voices overlap in the chorus—My whole life/is a delicate cycle, delicate cycle—you realize holy shit, these two parts had different starting points but were headed for the same destination all along. Basically, this song is a braided essay set to a jaunty beat.

In DO NOT GO ON, several characters are involved with the witness protection program. These characters feel like they contain separate identities—who they were, and who they're trying to be now—and they're desperate to find a way to reconcile that dissonance.

2. "Song About You" by Mike Posner

It's a break-up song, the kind that protests too much. I don't want to think about you, he says in the middle of a song that is exclusively that kind of thinking.

But here’s the line that really hits me: And the worst type of sadness you could have/is when you miss something that doesn’t miss you back.

The witnesses in the book miss their old friends and their old lives, of course. But they also miss their old homes and communities. When a character named Kate has a chance to enter WITSEC, she falters. Why? "Because of the pitted sidewalk in front of Transfiguration. Because of Marty’s Deli, where she ate lunch every Tuesday with Michelle, whom she had known since the day in second grade when they’d scrapped over whose turn it was to jump in double dutch. Because of the tarnished kick plate on the door of her childhood home. Because of onions sizzling in a pan, Jim Croce crooning on WLIF, her mother walking into the front room, wiping her hands on a dish towel, glad to see her…Her life was here, her whole life, and if she went into Witness Protection, it would be over."

Sure, there are family and friends in that passage, but there are also a lot of things that make home HOME, that make her life HER LIFE, and those things won't miss her back.

3. “Ain’t Gonna Die Tonight” by Macklemore

Okay, I'll admit it: I like Macklemore more than I should. He’s Meat Loaf for the 21st century: too sincere, too dramatic, too oversingy…but also able to wink at himself.

This song’s got the same edgy, mouthy counterpunching spirit as the teenager at the center of my novel, Ana Easterday. If you threaten her, she’ll cut you to ribbons—usually with just a few words. "This was her real talent, the skill that never showed up on an aptitude test. Her tongue was a slicing black claw. She could say the worst things; she didn’t even have to try. More like the opposite: she had to keep her mouth in check every waking minute, like the eyes of Medusa."

4. "Bad Dreams" by Lyrics Born

This playlist wouldn't be complete without my favorite voice in alt-hip-hop: Lyrics Born.

My problems follow me to sleep at night/won't let me go./The more I hide, the more thrive deep down inside of my soul.

Yeah. Witnesses can relate.

"Five months. That's how long they had been in [this new town.] Enough time to settle in, settle down, and reasonably conclude they were hidden and safe. [Ana's] father had gone the other direction. It started with patrolling the house at night, checking locks, peering out into the yard. He stashed guns in dark pockets of the house, taped to the back of cabinet doors, under floorboards, and inside light fixtures, where they cast weird shadows. A few weeks ago, her father announced it was only a matter of time before [the hitman] found him, and when he did, no one could help. That's when he told Ana to leave, save herself, go back home."

5. "I like it, I love it" by Lyrics Born

I don't care where you're from/ the first time that I saw you girl, you had me sprung.

I gave you a break-up song, so I owe you a Gotta get witchoo song. Ana comes to Indiana with "the mentality of a short-timer: no friends, no joining, no roots. Do the time, get her father through the trial, leave for college, forget about this ugly chapter of her life. That was the plan, anyway, before Logan barnacled onto her."

In this small town, Logan is the kid whose brother caught him watching gay porn. Right away he recognizes Ana as a fellow castaway and befriends her, despite her best efforts to the contrary.

6. "Bad Vibes" by Kay Flay

If Ana was a real living person, she'd be listening to Kay Flay. Flay’s lyrics hit like a club, but they can also be funny. You're the sequel that sucks, she sings in this one. How is the earth so hot?/Like why even try when it's already fucked?

It's a song about wanting to quit, and knowing you never will. “Bad Vibes” is kind of the mirror image of the Macklemore song. Macklemore is defiance salted with a little realism (A few seconds after shouting I ain’t gonna die tonight, he says If I happen to die tonight…). “Bad Vibes” is weariness and bitterness. Flay is like: I’m so tired I wish I could quit, but let’s face it, that’s not gonna happen.

Defiance, weariness, bitterness, realism—all of that is swirling around Ana’s heart. But just as the speakers in both songs find a way to carry on, so does she.


Bryan Furuness and Do Not Go on links:

the author's website

Monkeybicycle essay by the author


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

Antiheroines (interviews with up and coming female comics artists)
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)
Shorties (daily music, literature, and pop culture links)
Soundtracked (composers and directors discuss their film's soundtracks)
weekly music release lists


"Best Books of 2019" Lists Update - December 9th

For the twelfth straight year, I am aggregating every online year-end book list I find in this post. As the lists appear online, I will add them to the master list, updating daily.

Please feel free to e-mail me with a blog, magazine, newspaper, or other online list I have missed.

Previous updates to the master list of online "best books of 2019" lists.

See also: Largehearted Boy's list of essential and interesting 2019 music lists.

Please consider making a donation or leaving a tip to Largehearted Boy to support posts like these.


Today's updates to the Online "Best of 2019" Book Lists:


100 Scope Notes (best children's books)
Alliance of Independent Authors (favorite authors)
The Balance (best personal finance books)
The Balance (best start-up books)
BecSoBookish (favorite books)
Between These Sheets (top books)
BookMarks (best-reviewed memoir and biography)
Books, Pens, Jen (favourite books)
Boston Globe (best books of Boston booksellers)
Christian Science Monitor (best nonfiction books)
Companion Animal Psychology (animal lovers' favourite books)
Daily Mail (best cookbooks)
Digital Camera World (best books on fashion photography)
Digital Camera World (best books on portrait photography)
The Dirt (best books)
Electric Literature (novels in translation)
EmmabBooks (top books)
Evening Standard (best tech books)
Fortune (favorite books)
FourFourTwo (best football books)
Guardian (best food books)
Healing Through Connection (books)
Henrico County Public Library (kids' books)
The Horton Family (top books)
Jesus Creed (books)
JoelBooks (best psychological thrillers)
Kirkus Reviews (best biographies)
Kirkus Reviews (best books of historical excavation)
Kirkus Reviews (best books to fight misogyny and sexism)
Kirkus Reviews (best books to fight racism and xenophobia)
Kirkus (best current affairs books)
Kirkus Reviews (best essay collections)
Kirkus Reviews (best health and popular science books)
Kirkus Reviews (best memoirs)
Kirkus Reviews (best nature and travel books)
Kirkus Reviews (best reported books)
Librairie Drawn and Quarterly - Arizona (favourite books)
Librairie Drawn and Quarterly - Luke (favourite books)
Mac Reviews Books (books)
New Yorker (best cookbooks)
New Zealand Listener (best children's books)
Observer (best graphic novels)
Pernille Ripp (best books)
Playbill (best theatre books)
Prospect (best books of bold ideas)
Psychobabble (top pop-culture books)
PureWow (best books)
Read With River (best books)
Romance Book Binge (best books)
Shannon A Thompson (favorite books)
Southwest Review (must-read books)
Washington Post (best cookbooks)
William Hill Sports Book of the Year (best sports books)


also at Largehearted Boy:

Online "Best Books of 2018" Lists
Online "Best Books of 2017" Lists
Online "Best Books of 2016" Lists
Online "Best Books of 2015" Lists
Online "Best Books of 2014" Lists
Online "Best Books of 2013" Lists
Online "Best Books of 2012" Lists
Online "Best Books of 2011" Lists
Online "Best Books of 2010" Lists
Online "Best Books of 2009" Lists
Online "Best Books of 2008" Lists
Best of the Decade (2000-2009) Online Book Lists

2019 Year-End Online Music Lists
2018 Year-End Online Music Lists
2017 Year-End Online Music Lists
2016 Year-End Online Music Lists
2015 Year-End Online Music Lists
2014 Year-End Online Music Lists
2013 Year-End Online Music Lists
2012 Year-End Online Music Lists
2011 Year-End Online Music Lists
2010 Year-End Online Music Lists
2009 Year-End Online Music Lists
2008 Year-End Online Music Lists
2007 Year-End Online Music Lists
2006 Year-End Online Music Lists
Best of the Decade (2000-2009) Music Lists

other lists at Largehearted Boy
Book Notes (authors create playlists for their book)
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
musician/author interviews


Shorties (Olga Tokarczuk's Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech, The Music of Noah Baumbach's Life, and more)

Flights by Olga Tkarczuk

Read Olga Tkarczuk's acceptance speech for her Nobel Prize in literature.


Filmmaker Noah Baumbach discussed the music of his life at Pitchfork.


Largehearted Boy's list of "best books of 2019" lists has collected 741 year-end lists so far.


Largehearted Boy's list of essential and interesting year-end "best of 2019" music lists.


December's best eBook deals.


NPR Music examined songs about climate change.


Stylist recommended the past decade's best books by women.


Camp Cope’s Georgia Maq discussed her new solo album with Paste.


Kacen Callender talked to Electric Literature about her novel Queen of the Conquered.


Courtney Barnett covered Leonard Cohen's "So Long, Marianne."


Rachel Kushner detailed her art collection for the New York Times.


BrooklynVegan recapped the week's best new holiday songs.


The Guardian profiled author Lisa Taddeo.


Marissa Nadler & Stephen Brodsky covered Phil Collins and Extreme.


Book Riot recommended contemporary short story collections.


Sloan, Kevin Drew & Tracey Ullman covered Buzzcocks’ “Why Can’t I Touch it?”.


The Quietus pondered if unfilmable books exist.


Literary Hub shared an excerpt from Howard Fast’s story collection The General Zapped an Angel.



also at Largehearted Boy:

Support Largehearted Boy

previous Shorties posts (daily news and links from the worlds of music, books, and pop culture)

Atomic Books Comics Preview (the week's best new comics and graphic novels)
Book Notes (authors create playlists for their book)
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)
weekly music release lists


December 7, 2019

"Best Books of 2019" Lists Update - December 7th

For the twelfth straight year, I am aggregating every online year-end book list I find in this post. As the lists appear online, I will add them to the master list, updating daily.

Please feel free to e-mail me with a blog, magazine, newspaper, or other online list I have missed.

Previous updates to the master list of online "best books of 2019" lists.

See also: Largehearted Boy's list of essential and interesting 2019 music lists.

Please consider making a donation or leaving a tip to Largehearted Boy to support posts like these.


Today's updates to the Online "Best of 2019" Book Lists:


BookBrowse (best books)
BookPeople (favorite kids books)
C. Doyle Hughes (best books)
CBC (best Canadian fiction)
CBC (best Canadian nonfiction)
Christian Science Monitor (best fiction)
Detroit Free Press (best books that will inspire and delight readers)
Glamour (female authors' book recommendations)
Independent - Julia Platt Leonard (best cookbooks)
Irish Independent (best children's books)
Isabel Hutchinson (best books)
KCRW (cookbooks)
Paste (best book covers)
Prospect (best politics books)
TVexamined (best nonfiction books)
Une Belle Vie (books)
Vogue (best fashion books)
Vox (best books)


also at Largehearted Boy:

Online "Best Books of 2018" Lists
Online "Best Books of 2017" Lists
Online "Best Books of 2016" Lists
Online "Best Books of 2015" Lists
Online "Best Books of 2014" Lists
Online "Best Books of 2013" Lists
Online "Best Books of 2012" Lists
Online "Best Books of 2011" Lists
Online "Best Books of 2010" Lists
Online "Best Books of 2009" Lists
Online "Best Books of 2008" Lists
Best of the Decade (2000-2009) Online Book Lists

2019 Year-End Online Music Lists
2018 Year-End Online Music Lists
2017 Year-End Online Music Lists
2016 Year-End Online Music Lists
2015 Year-End Online Music Lists
2014 Year-End Online Music Lists
2013 Year-End Online Music Lists
2012 Year-End Online Music Lists
2011 Year-End Online Music Lists
2010 Year-End Online Music Lists
2009 Year-End Online Music Lists
2008 Year-End Online Music Lists
2007 Year-End Online Music Lists
2006 Year-End Online Music Lists
Best of the Decade (2000-2009) Music Lists

other lists at Largehearted Boy
Book Notes (authors create playlists for their book)
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
musician/author interviews


December 6, 2019

"Best Books of 2019" Lists Update - December 6th

For the twelfth straight year, I am aggregating every online year-end book list I find in this post. As the lists appear online, I will add them to the master list, updating daily.

Please feel free to e-mail me with a blog, magazine, newspaper, or other online list I have missed.

Previous updates to the master list of online "best books of 2019" lists.

See also: Largehearted Boy's list of essential and interesting 2019 music lists.

Please consider making a donation or leaving a tip to Largehearted Boy to support posts like these.


Today's updates to the Online "Best of 2019" Book Lists:


The Beat (best comics)
BuzzFeed (favorite cookbooks)
Daily Mail (children's books)
Greater Good (favorite books)
IGN (best comic book artists)
IGN (best comic book series)
IGN (best comic book writers)
IGN (best limited comic book or mini-series)
IGN (best original graphic novel)
Kenny Coble (favorite books)
Librairie Drawn & Quarterly - Saelan (favourite books)
MBTB's Mystery Book Blog (best books)
New York Times (best crime novels)
New York Times (critics' top art books)
Noteworthy - Jackie (best fantasy books)
Paste (comics)
Prospect (best economics books)
Qspirit (top LGBTQ Christian books)
Rainy Days and Cliches (favorite books)
Ryan Miller (top books)
Science Friday (best science books)
Smithsonian Magazine (best children's books)
Sommer Reading (best children's books)
Vulture (best comedy books)
Vulture (best overlooked books)


also at Largehearted Boy:

Online "Best Books of 2018" Lists
Online "Best Books of 2017" Lists
Online "Best Books of 2016" Lists
Online "Best Books of 2015" Lists
Online "Best Books of 2014" Lists
Online "Best Books of 2013" Lists
Online "Best Books of 2012" Lists
Online "Best Books of 2011" Lists
Online "Best Books of 2010" Lists
Online "Best Books of 2009" Lists
Online "Best Books of 2008" Lists
Best of the Decade (2000-2009) Online Book Lists

2019 Year-End Online Music Lists
2018 Year-End Online Music Lists
2017 Year-End Online Music Lists
2016 Year-End Online Music Lists
2015 Year-End Online Music Lists
2014 Year-End Online Music Lists
2013 Year-End Online Music Lists
2012 Year-End Online Music Lists
2011 Year-End Online Music Lists
2010 Year-End Online Music Lists
2009 Year-End Online Music Lists
2008 Year-End Online Music Lists
2007 Year-End Online Music Lists
2006 Year-End Online Music Lists
Best of the Decade (2000-2009) Music Lists

other lists at Largehearted Boy
Book Notes (authors create playlists for their book)
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
musician/author interviews


Shorties (The Selected Letters of Ralph Ellison, New Holiday Songs from Sharon Van Etten and Bleached, and more)

The Selected Letters of Ralph Ellison

KGOU interviewed Ralph Ellison's literary executor about the new book, The Selected Letters of Ralph Ellison.


Stream new holiday songs by Sharon Van Etten and Bleached.


Largehearted Boy's list of "best books of 2019" lists has collected 698 year-end lists so far.


Largehearted Boy's list of essential and interesting year-end "best of 2019" music lists.


December's best eBook deals.


Paste recapped November's best songs.


Julie Andrews talked books and reading with the New York Times.


Bill Callahan covered the Silver Jews' "I Remember Me."


Entertainment Weekly recommended comics to read this month.


Happy Magazine recommended mashup albums.


Akwaeke Emezi talked about her forthcoming novel The Death of Vivek Oji with Entertainment Weekly.


Stream a new of Montreal song.


The Guardian examined the rise of "revenge novels" in Norway.


Stream a new song by Kelly Lee Owens and Jon Hopkins.


Richard Powers answered questions about his novel The Overstory at PBS NewsHour.


Stream a new album by Camp Cope’s Georgia Maq.


BOMB interviewed author Chigozie Obioma.


Marco Benevento shared three covers at Aquarium Drunkard.


Jeff VanderMeer talked climate fiction and his new novel Dead Astronauts with Esquire and InsideHook.


Stream a new song by Algiers.


Carolina De Robertis discussed her novel Cantoras with Electric Literature.


Stream a new Smoke Faeries song.


The New York Times recommended the week's best new books.


Stream a new Caribou song.


The Rumpus interviewed author Brian Alan Ellis.


Stream a new Soccer Mommy song.


Stream a new song by Criteria.


Stream a new solo song by Radiohead guitarist Ed O'Brien.



also at Largehearted Boy:

Support Largehearted Boy

previous Shorties posts (daily news and links from the worlds of music, books, and pop culture)

Atomic Books Comics Preview (the week's best new comics and graphic novels)
Book Notes (authors create playlists for their book)
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)
weekly music release lists


December 5, 2019

"Best Books of 2019" Lists Update - December 5th

For the twelfth straight year, I am aggregating every online year-end book list I find in this post. As the lists appear online, I will add them to the master list, updating daily.

Please feel free to e-mail me with a blog, magazine, newspaper, or other online list I have missed.

Previous updates to the master list of online "best books of 2019" lists.

See also: Largehearted Boy's list of essential and interesting 2019 music lists.

Please consider making a donation or leaving a tip to Largehearted Boy to support posts like these.


Today's updates to the Online "Best of 2019" Book Lists:


Air & Space (best aviation- and space-themed books for young readers)
Andrea Scher (best books)
Autostraddle (best queer books)
Bernardine Evaristo (best books)
The Birdbooker Report (best bird books)
Boing Boing (best books)
BookPeople (favorite teen books)
Books Are Magic (books)
Bookslovereaders (favorite debut books)
BookTrust (authors' and illustrators' best books)
The Buzz Magazines (best books)
Camille Styles (best books)
Chicago Tribune (best cookbooks)
Entertainment Weekly (best books)
Fatherly (best self-help books for men)
Financial Review (top books)
Five Books (best science books)
Good Housekeeping (best books)
Frolic - Keira Soleore (best books)
Iowa Public Radio (best nonfiction books)
KCRW - Michael Silverblatt (best books)
Library Thing (staff members' top books)
Literary Hub (favorite books)
Melissa Schlies (favorite books)
The Nerd Daily (best fantasy and science fiction books)
New York Times (critics' top books)
Paste (best young adult novels)
Quill & Quire (best books for young people)
Readings - Mark Rubbo (favorite books)
Reason (books)
SCC English (best book lists)
The Times (paperbacks)
Tulsa City-County Library - Rebecca Howard (best books)
Variety (best books)
Vulture (best books)
The Walrus (Canadian authors' favorite books)
Your Tango (best books)


also at Largehearted Boy:

Online "Best Books of 2018" Lists
Online "Best Books of 2017" Lists
Online "Best Books of 2016" Lists
Online "Best Books of 2015" Lists
Online "Best Books of 2014" Lists
Online "Best Books of 2013" Lists
Online "Best Books of 2012" Lists
Online "Best Books of 2011" Lists
Online "Best Books of 2010" Lists
Online "Best Books of 2009" Lists
Online "Best Books of 2008" Lists
Best of the Decade (2000-2009) Online Book Lists

2019 Year-End Online Music Lists
2018 Year-End Online Music Lists
2017 Year-End Online Music Lists
2016 Year-End Online Music Lists
2015 Year-End Online Music Lists
2014 Year-End Online Music Lists
2013 Year-End Online Music Lists
2012 Year-End Online Music Lists
2011 Year-End Online Music Lists
2010 Year-End Online Music Lists
2009 Year-End Online Music Lists
2008 Year-End Online Music Lists
2007 Year-End Online Music Lists
2006 Year-End Online Music Lists
Best of the Decade (2000-2009) Music Lists

other lists at Largehearted Boy
Book Notes (authors create playlists for their book)
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
musician/author interviews


December 4, 2019

Kate Wisel's Playlist for Her Short Story Collection "Driving in Cars with Homeless Men"

Driving in Cars with Homeless Men

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.

Winner of the Drue Heinz Literature Prize, Kate Wisel's linked story collection Driving in Cars with Homeless Men is filled with haunting and poignant portrayals of women and violence.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette wrote of the book:

"Unflinching in its portrayal of the violence visited upon her protagonists, Ms. Wisel’s stories move back and forth in time to examine the difficulty of transcending one’s history, while reminding readers that the work of becoming one’s best self can only be achieved with love and support — not just from others, but from oneself."


In her own words, here is Kate Wisel's Book Notes music playlist for her short story collection Driving in Cars with Homeless Men:



“Hoops”
“Oh Yeah” Foxy Brown

It’s interesting that Boston is a majority-minority city yet the minorities are made to feel like the misfits. White girls listening to black music is nothing new, but the girls, as outsiders to Boston, to their families and society, who have also been violated in different ways, feel a connection to black culture and to the black community, who have had the most difficult history of violence in the city. Rap speaks to that, while also taking back control by means of storytelling. Just like Foxy Brown takes back control as a female by declaring what’s hers. The whole song is this retaliation against shutting up and looking pretty. I like the movie Thirteen because it paints this picture of white girls being hyper-drawn to black culture. Of course it’s problematic. That’s why it’s interesting. You have to think, what’s the connection?

“Frankie”
“Cape Canaveral” Conor Oberst

I wonder why certain people in our lives become so monumental in our minds, so glorified, that they take on all these different prodigious roles, like the roles in this song. Serena thinks and talks a lot about God, though her cadence is deadpan. If Emerson were right, Serena would either be godless or God. In Serena’s experience, both are terrifying, as an omniscient God would have cosigned serious harm, and to a child. The nothing or everything dilemma is too stark. Like in many of the stories, there’s an inherent religious quality to love, a promise of transformation, being delivered from evil. Part of this story and this song is accepting the fact that the savior you believe in is mortal and can’t free you.

“She Says She Wants One Thing”
“Ball and Chain” Janis Joplin

There’s so little hope in Janis Joplin’s agonized voice, that strangely, the overwhelming hope that resonates in this song is the fact that she’s singing at all. I realized that this story in the courtroom was hopeless…Serena will drop the charges, she’ll be back in court when things get even worse. The hope is that, in the courtroom, she’s paying attention with everything she has and is writing a story anyway, in the present, from the scraps that she’s seeing. Hope is not a one-off prayer or even a resolution, it’s the endlessness of imagination. It’s the ability to tangibly make something other than what is there.

“Cribs”
“Wake Up” Paolo Nutini

There are almost no men in this story. The contained feeling of the apartments that the girls bounce from, one to the next, becomes increasingly threatened by outside elements. The assumption that people have to get married when they’re older is absurd, a looming threat in the book. I like the part in “Wake Up” about having no choice but to adjust, to bigger bodies, broken hearts, rusted cities. Why can’t they live like this forever, with each other, as a family?

“Stage Four”
“Start Wearing Purple” Gogol Bordello

It’s easy for me to picture Villy eating up this whole cabaret punk thing. Frankie welcomes Villy’s exploitation. She’s not being coerced. I don’t exactly know what wearing purple means, but it sounds like a great way of avoiding reality. Coming from someone who only nicknames the ones I truly love, I do alternately think nicknames can be used to manipulate a situation, a special form of abuse. Frankie, degraded, is a Frankie that’s living outside the bounds of what’s real. If she’s Ray Charles, if she’s wearing purple, how could her mom be dying?

“Good Job”
“Sweet Side” Lucinda Williams

This song could be the anthem to the whole book. The toughest girls are the sweetest girls who can’t afford to show their sweet side.

“Benny’s Bed”
“Renee” Lost Boys

This song portrays all the excruciatingly tender and tiny details of young love so well. There’s no fear, Mister Cheeks just goes after this girl on the street. And he notices everything, a chain that her moms gave her and her “hairdo of pain,” which is such an amazing line. My friend Aria Aber said, on a road-trip, that first love is like learning to swim, first you have to drown in it to know how to survive. This song and this story are both about teenage love and drowning.

“When I Call, You Answer”
“What Is It About Men” Amy Winehouse

How convenient. A question all my characters are striving to answer.

“English High”
“Eva” Bumboks

My friend and I used to read her father’s love letters from Moscow, an aspect of what this story was inspired by. I think of love in general, love that’s forbidden or unable to survive, and we just walk around loving people we can’t be with. The combination of love and estrangement is baffling. Both the love and the estrangement are epic, meaning the lover lives an epic life of absence. How do you portray a life of absence? I think the most damaging element that emerges is the disconnect, the struggle to express love that can’t be, through language. We could only listen to this song on YouTube and then spent months trying to get it on our iPods. I’m mesmerized by this song because the Ukrainian speaker is fumbling desperately through the English language to reach his love interest across a continent. “The only chance to be a star, so you could hear me,” is the most desperate, heartbreaking line.

“Stop It”
“No Pigeons” Sporty Thieves

“Your pussy ain’t worth the Ramada.” Now that’s something Seamus would say to Nat. If I had the chance, I’d go back in to write more lines like that. If you zoomed in on Nat’s facial expression, there would be a smirk where a scowl was. The story, like all the stories, takes place within the trenches of a gender war, and there’s something Nat enjoys about that, being thoroughly degraded. Why? Because it’s funny. Until it’s not.

“Trouble”
“I See the Light/What’s His Name” Scott Birum

I didn’t realize this song had the word trouble in it until I listened again after choosing it for this story. When I think of domestic violence, I think of someone who is seeking enlightenment, on both ends. It’s borderline vigilant, this search for glory, salvation, God, words you could put in place for God. When the speaker holds the woman down under water, the notion that the action could be baptism or murder, but either way, they’ll see the light, is such an astute way to render violence. Just like in a story, I see so many aspects of the song, beyond Scott Birum’s rowdy lawless ethos, that coincide with the story at second and twentieth glance. Like how the narrator in “Trouble” wakes up on a Sunday with a black eye and starts drinking. The choice of day, Sunday, was subconscious. Sunday is the day of reckoning. The sun is out, the dogs are barking, and the narrator’s neighbor is receiving the sun’s conspicuous signals and Serena wants but can’t see the light, or herself.

“Tell Us Things”
“Sara” Bob Dylan

Rarely in music do you get this view of early family life, childhood through a father’s eyes. I like to think Serena’s father is like Bob Dylan, intentionally misunderstood. There’s a guard up, he’s evasive through his evolution, you won’t ever truly know him. I like to think that over time, he will regret the family’s course, like the speaker in this song. I think his fear is the reason he cheats and leaves. He’s afraid of what he has, almost as if it’s too close to the womb, a perfect state, true love. I think of the scene in “Tell Us Things” when the snow is piling up outside the car as they wait for their father to come inside, and Serena’s mother is telling her about the day she was born. Love and estrangement. What does it do to you? That’s what I was thinking throughout this collection. How hard it is to articulate experience when there are pieces missing. “Sara, Sara, so easy to look at, so hard to define,” is a testament to how estrangement can occur in the first place. It begins with the loss of language.

“Sadie Escobar”
“Ultraviolence” Lana Del Rey

“Sadie Escobar” is more about the aftermath of violence and the people we’re drawn to. Mariah is this tragic figure who, if you’re living in a world of violence, you might feel decent next to. Everyone discounts Lana Del Ray but she’s only blowing up concepts that are already true, and while I don’t think violence is glamourous or simple, there’s an aspect of it that feels larger than life, a dramatic dynamic that keeps women hooked on that energy. I don’t think this song is super complicated and I like it for that. Mariah and Serena are both women who have mistaken violence for love. Violence for enlightenment, like the baptism or murder reference. What’s complicated is the scope of their before and after, what’s happened and what will happen to them, which inevitably is tangled, but the present moment of getting hit or beaten up, that one second or four-hour feeling of the monstrosity of violence being presented as a horrible gift, is captured in this song.

“I’m Exaggerating”
“Changed the Locks” Lucinda Williams

Williams could be talking to a lover or an abuser or both, and the indistinct nature of the lyrics, “so you can’t touch me anymore,” can refer to violence or love or both but either way, it’s now unwanted, or beyond unwanted, the speaker is leaving out of need. I think becoming a flight attendant to escape a man is something Lucinda would have gotten to if the song went on for three more minutes.

“What Counts”
“Romeo and Juliet” Mickey Avalon

Obviously these two are not meant to be together. Case closed.

“Mick’s Street”
“Pills I Took” Hank Williams III

I like the images of damage occurring all around the speaker as the speaker simply feels good. Getting high, in Raffa’s experience, is the false sensation of being held by a man who loves her. She feels it when she’s high in Benny’s bed, when she asks his father to kiss her, when the sunlight is raining down on her at the rental house, and all she wants is to climb inside the sun’s mouth. These are all attempts towards an embrace that feels all-encompassing.

“Run for Your Life”
“Jigsaw Falling into Place” Radiohead

This song feels like it’s being told backwards, which is how “Run for Your Life” unfolds. Though the chase is all forward momentum, the emotional backstory is unraveling. It’s all about urge and muscle memory and fighting against instincts and time. The song then becomes a loop, like Raffa’s life, as she tries to hold onto what’s already lost.


Kate Wisel is author of the linked story collection Driving in Cars with Homeless Men, winner of the Drue Heinz Literature Prize. Originally from Boston, Wisel received her MFA from Columbia College Chicago, and was most recently a Carol Houck fiction fellow at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she taught fiction. Her writing has appeared in such publications as Gulf Coast, Tin House online, Redivider as winner of the Beacon Street Prize, and others. She currently lives in Chicago, where she has been a long-time assistant to WBEZ music journalist and author Jim DeRegotis, The Case Against R. Kelly. She currently teaches in the English Department of Columbia College Chicago. Visit www.katewisel.com.


Kate Wisel and Driving in Cars with Homeless Men links:

the author's website

Boston Globe review
Chicago Tribune review
Foreword review
Library Journal review

The Rumpus interview


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

Antiheroines (interviews with up and coming female comics artists)
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)
Shorties (daily music, literature, and pop culture links)
Soundtracked (composers and directors discuss their film's soundtracks)
weekly music release lists


"Best Books of 2019" Lists Update - December 4th

For the twelfth straight year, I am aggregating every online year-end book list I find in this post. As the lists appear online, I will add them to the master list, updating daily.

Please feel free to e-mail me with a blog, magazine, newspaper, or other online list I have missed.

Previous updates to the master list of online "best books of 2019" lists.

See also: Largehearted Boy's list of essential and interesting 2019 music lists (to be started soon).

Please consider making a donation or leaving a tip to Largehearted Boy to support posts like these.


Today's updates to the Online "Best of 2019" Book Lists:


Charlotte Alicia (top books)
Chicago Tribune (notable Chicago books)
Comfort Reads (most surprising books)
CSMCL (best books)
Dog Eared Reads (books)
Five Books (best crime fiction)
From Cover to Cover (top books)
The Gospel Coalition (top books)
GQ Australia (best books)
The Growth Equation (top books for performance and wellbeing)
Haliburton County Echo (favourite books)
Happiest When Reading (surprising books)
North Olympic Library System (best picture books)
A Novel Sisterhood (best books)
The Progressive (favorite books)
The Quill To Live (best books)
Russell Moore (favorite books)
Silver Button Books (surprising books)
TechCrunch (must-read books)
Toronto Star (best non-fiction)


also at Largehearted Boy:

Online "Best Books of 2018" Lists
Online "Best Books of 2017" Lists
Online "Best Books of 2016" Lists
Online "Best Books of 2015" Lists
Online "Best Books of 2014" Lists
Online "Best Books of 2013" Lists
Online "Best Books of 2012" Lists
Online "Best Books of 2011" Lists
Online "Best Books of 2010" Lists
Online "Best Books of 2009" Lists
Online "Best Books of 2008" Lists
Best of the Decade (2000-2009) Online Book Lists

2019 Year-End Online Music Lists (coming soon)
2018 Year-End Online Music Lists
2017 Year-End Online Music Lists
2016 Year-End Online Music Lists
2015 Year-End Online Music Lists
2014 Year-End Online Music Lists
2013 Year-End Online Music Lists
2012 Year-End Online Music Lists
2011 Year-End Online Music Lists
2010 Year-End Online Music Lists
2009 Year-End Online Music Lists
2008 Year-End Online Music Lists
2007 Year-End Online Music Lists
2006 Year-End Online Music Lists
Best of the Decade (2000-2009) Music Lists

other lists at Largehearted Boy
Book Notes (authors create playlists for their book)
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
musician/author interviews


Shorties (An Interview with Virginie Despentes, Lana Del Rey's Interview with Grimes, and more)

Vernon Subutex 1 by Virginie Despentes

CrimeReads interviewed author Virginie Despentes.


Grimes talked to Lana Del Rey and Brit Marling at Interview.


Largehearted Boy's list of "best books of 2019" lists has collected 641 year-end lists so far.


Largehearted Boy's list of essential and interesting year-end "best of 2019" music lists.


December's best eBook deals.

eBook on sale for $1.99 today:

How Music Works by David Byrne


Mountain Man covered Wilco and Feist's "You and I."


Paste listed the best books of the 2010s.


NPR Music is streaming G Stands For Go-Betweens: The Go-Betweens Anthology - Volume 2.


The Washington Post recommended December's best books.


The New Yorker listed the best books of the decade and the year.


Book Riot recommended graphic novel adaptations of Shakespeare plays.


Devendra Banhart discussed his favorite books at Vulture.


The Guardian recommended books about comedy.


Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross covered David Bowie's "Life on Mars."


The Rumpus interviewed poet Diane Seuss.


Indy Week interviewed John Darnielle of the Mountain Goats.


Literary Hub listed the week's best books.


Stream a new Holy Fuck song.


JP Gritton discussed his debut novel Wyoming with the Los Angeles Review of Books.


Stream a new song by M. Ward.


The Believer interviewed author Ted Chiang.



also at Largehearted Boy:

Support Largehearted Boy

previous Shorties posts (daily news and links from the worlds of music, books, and pop culture)

Atomic Books Comics Preview (the week's best new comics and graphic novels)
Book Notes (authors create playlists for their book)
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)
weekly music release lists


December 3, 2019

Curdella Forbes' Playlist for Her Novel "A Tall History of Sugar"

A Tall History of Sugar

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.

Curdella Forbes' novel A Tall History of Sugar is a richly told fable that comes alive in its pages.

Booklist wrote of the book:

"Forbes' novel, rich in metaphors and biblical and fairy-tale allusions, explores the cyclical nature of birth and death, and the overwhelming and terrifying power of love. It is also a forceful critique of colonialism...Born to this complicated heritage, Moshe and Arrienne discover their voices in art and social protest as Jamaica grapples with independence and identity. A fascinating post-colonial blend of romance, social history, and myth."


In her own words, here is Curdella Forbes' Book Notes music playlist for her novel A Tall History of Sugar:



A Tall History of Sugar is a modern-day fairy tale and love story framed around the history of Jamaica. Starting in the late 1950s, four years before Jamaica’s independence from British rule and ending in ‘the age of Brexit and Donald Trump’, the novel tells the story of Moshe Fisher, a man ‘born without skin’ so that no one is able to tell what race he is. The narrator is Moshe’s soulmate and lover Arrienne Christie, a fiercely rebellious activist who makes it her duty to protect him from the consequences of his strange appearance. The story follows Moshe’s travels through Jamaica, Britain, Europe and back again, in search of place and parentage. The combination of myth, magicality, history and not-quite-happily-ever-after is because I wanted to write a fairy tale that was so true, you would have to believe it was real.

1. Redemption Song: Bob Marley

In conversation with A Tall History of Sugar, Bob Marley’s classic posits redemption as rescue, on many levels. Rescue is a recurring theme throughout the book. Rachel, Moshe’s foster-mother, ‘redeems’ Moshe when she saves him as a foundling. The lovers redeem each other from soul-destroying isolation. In the end, love is the redemption from the destiny that the sugar plantation would have imposed, and art (Arrienne’s, Moshe’s, Marley’s) the redemption that rescues their lives from silence and ‘the single story’, the geopolitical stereotype. Marley’s haunting voice, reggae instrumentals and epic lyrics are well suited to the novel.

2. Make You Feel My Love: (Bob Dylan) Sung by Andreya Triana

This Bob Dylan song rendered by British singer Andreya Triana captures something of Arrienne’s yearning, especially during the turbulent year at university when she realized she had come to think of him as a lover while he still thought of her as his ‘twin’.

3. Thinking out Loud that We Found Love Right Where We Are: Ed Sheeran

Moshe almost never speaks his love out loud. But Arrienne can hear him, through their telepathic connection. This song expresses some of what he might say, if he spoke. It conveys a strong sense of ‘placedness’ (centeredness, belonging), and it suggests a crimson-red passion underneath Moshe’s sexual unresponsiveness.

4. You Are the Reason: Callum Scott and Leona Lewis

A duet for Arrienne and Moshe’s reconciliation after he returns ‘home’ from Europe.

5. Many Rivers to Cross: Jimmy Cliff.

This almost liturgical classic will bear varying and powerful significance for different listeners. It reminds us how Moshe and Arri’s physical appearance becomes a sort of river or gulf that they and those around them must cross. At the same time it can invoke the larger weight of Jamaica’s colonial and migratory history that circumscribes the love affair.

6. I Am not Afraid: Etana

This song fits with Rachel and Arrienne’s way of traveling through the world—a quality of fearlessness that manifests in their relationship with Moshe. These two astonishing women who nurture a man without losing their selfhood deserve a song for ‘them two’.

7. Spirit: Beyoncé

This one speaks to Arrienne and Moshe’s obsession with apotheosis/ transcendence/ transformation. It relates to the end of the book where Arrienne tells us she dies into resurrection. This obsession is also characteristic of Tumela Gut, where they grew up, and Jamaica as a whole in the novel.

8. Destiny: Buju Banton

Forms a bookend with Bob Marley’s song. A political declaration of the right to choose, grounded in a spiritual vision of the world, it encapsulates the sense of integrity, the desire to ‘evaluate [themselves] justly’*, of all the major characters.


*The semi-quotation is from Arthur Miller.


Curdella Forbes and A Tall History of Sugar links:

the author's Wikipedia entry

Booklist review
Kirkus review
New York Times review
Publishers Weekly review

The Rumpus interview with the author


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

Antiheroines (interviews with up and coming female comics artists)
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)
Shorties (daily music, literature, and pop culture links)
Soundtracked (composers and directors discuss their film's soundtracks)
weekly music release lists


Google
  Web largeheartedboy.com   


1 | older