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October 17, 2017

Book Notes - C. Morgan Babst "The Floating World"

The Floating World

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.

C. Morgan Babst's powerful novel The Floating World is a nuanced and lyrical debut with New Orleans at its heart.

Ploughshares wrote of the book:

"A soulful inquiry of race, class, and family in the dawn of trauma, The Floating World doesn’t just look into the eye of such a devastating storm. The storm itself becomes the lens through which the Boisdorés begin to see the world more clearly. Through it, we see what loyalty truly looks like—the impossible choice to stay or leave, the terrorizing heartbreak of return—and the cost of what we hold onto, what we must release in order to survive."


In her own words, here is C. Morgan Babst's Book Notes music playlist for her debut novel The Floating World:



I wrote The Floating World during a decade-long fit of intense homesickness following Hurricane Katrina. (After evacuating New Orleans with my family, I found my way to a sofa in Manhattan. Three months later, I met my future husband and found that I was stuck.) In some ways, writing the novel was a way of teleporting myself home—with the Boisdorés, I got to return to the city, haul away its fallen trees, bury its bodies, dance 'til dawn on the tile floors of Frenchman Street. While I wrote, I listened to New Orleans—the funk, blues, jazz, hip-hop, and Indian chants that are the many cadences of the city, suffusing the novel with the sound of mournful horns and tambourines. I think it's probably a good thing that bounce had not yet come into vogue in 2005; if it was as big then as it is now, I have no idea what would have become of my prose.


"When the Saints Go Marching In," performed by Dr. John, feat. Mavis Staples and The Davell Crawford Singers
I open The Floating World with an epigraph taken from this spiritual, which has become a metonym for New Orleans—or at least its football team—since Louis Armstrong popularized it in the 1930s. It's so ubiquitous as to be cliché, one of those songs that's played by baby mobiles and car commercials alike. I've been tuning it out for thirty years. It wasn't until I heard this recording—put out by Dr. John in 2004—that I really listened. Played in a minor key and with a funereal, heavily syncopated rhythm, the standard is stranged, renewed. For the first time, I paid attention to the lyrics: When the wicked cease to roam / I wanna step up with all the saints and angels / 'cause this old earth ain't no place I'm proud to call home. This is a song about apocalypse. About salvation. A metonym for New Orleans, after the flood.

"Only God Can Judge Me," by Master P
In the '90s, my brother and I were fond of driving around New Orleans blasting MP Da Last Don though the open windows of our mom's Suburban. I'm sure we got laughed at from the street corners—two red-headed white kids trying to rap along with a 4x Platinum superstar out of Calliope—but we loved it. So, when Del Boisdoré needed something nostalgic and righteous to listen to as her plane from New York began its initial descent into flood-ravaged New Orleans, I gave her Master P. Del's been trying to escape New Orleans for years—its troubles, the barriers it throws up for her—but, in the aftermath of disaster, she finds it impossible to do anything but come home. I imagined she'd find some resonance in Master P's own story of homecoming, and that the lyrics of this particular song—the bull in me will never give up, he says—would strengthen her for what she's about to face. Later on in the novel, there's a burial scene in which she recites Psalm 23; I think, in her head, she was hearing Master P's voice: The Lord is my Shepherd I shall not want.

"It's Eleven O'Clock (Do You Know Where Your Love Is?)", by Irma Thomas
This throwback of a song belongs to Tess Boisdoré, née Eshleman—Del and Cora's mother, errant wife of Joe. Her story is one of regression, as she flees the wreckage of her family and her home, running full speed towards the loves and illusions of her past. This Irma Thomas number—self-consciously syrupy and a little bit deluded—is Tess's theme, as she pulls into the Langenstein's parking lot and swoons a little at the sight of her high school flame. You can't see the forest for the trees! Irma sings, and Tess's heart goes pitter-pat.

"When a Cajun Man Gets the Blues," by Tab Benoit
Since college, this has been my homecoming song—Tab's ambling guitar has the highway in it, the sound of longleaf pines flicking past the car windows. This song belongs to Joe Boisdoré who, though not a Cajun man, is heartsick over the collapse of his marriage, among other things. He's not so far from home—just north of the lake, a distance of a mere forty miles—but he stays there, not sure that either he or his father, Vincent, who's losing his memory, will be salved by returning, given the state New Orleans is in. As Tab sings, It's hard to drive with these tears in my eyes.

"Do You Know What it Means to Miss New Orleans," by Kermit Ruffins, feat. Misha Ruffins
Sometimes obvious is the only way to go. When Del goes down to the Blue Nile to drink, hoping to forget something disturbing Cora has told her, she finds her friend and lover, Zack, has tracked her there, all the way from New York. This is the song Kermit plays as they dance together, falling back into rhythm for the space of the song. This scene is the only really autobiographical one in the book. Six months after the storm, my now-husband and I walked down through the Quarter to Frenchman, where Kermit Ruffins was playing at the Blue Nile. We danced for hours, and then, during the second set, Kermit's daughter Misha got on stage and began to sing. I was twirling over the tile floor, feeling myself falling in love, when the room went dark and the speakers died—a blackout leftover from the flood. Misha just kept on singing.

"You'll Never Walk Alone," by Mahalia Jackson
Please play this on your good speakers, loud, so that the room fills up with sound. Close your eyes. Let Mahalia walk with you, as I imagine her walking with Cora, through the flood-ravaged city in the middle of the night. The emptiness of the city after Katrina is terrible, awesome. Night towers in the sky like a cathedral, and under Cora's feet is lakebed, dried into dark scales of desert. All around her are the dead—those that, though she rowed for days in a pirogue under the burning sun, she couldn't save—but somehow she is still walking. The sleeves of her gown glow white under the moon.

"Shallow Water, Oh Mama," by The Golden Eagles
This book almost made it to press without any Mardi Gras Indians in it. I figured Treme got there first—they even got to this song first. They put it up on billboards: "Won't Bow/ Don't Know How." But then Joe had something he had to burn, and the sound of a passionate bonfire is the sound of a tambourine in the hand of a man dressed in bright feathers. Once I began to hear it, Joe remembered looking from the window of his childhood bedroom into the night street at an Indian returning home. Joe needed this music I realized—needed, specifically, this song, which is about defiance, memory, water—as he faced down his hurt, set fire to what had harmed him.

"Hey Pocky A-Way," by the Meters
You know you're in a bad way when this song makes you cry. It made me cry for about five years, and all the while I pretended it didn't. I danced like I was possessed whenever I heard it—around the kitchen counter, around the bar—trying to keep anyone from noticing my tears. It's "feel-good music." It made me homesick as hell. Homesick for Carnival parades—the smell of snap-pops and keg beer in a plastic cup. Homesick for summer afternoons in front of a big cast iron pot watching a roux go from blonde to mahogany. Homesick for parties like the "House-Cooling" Del goes to in Part Three, where she realizes she's been away so long she has but a single friend left in the city, but that it doesn't matter: she's going to have to stay.

"Bluesville," by U.N.L.V.
I have a feeling that Cora played this song on repeat all the way through Mississippi until she hit the Tennessee line. She's running away from everything she can't bear, she's got a bandana wrapped around her brow and a couple orders of onion rings in her lap, and the sun keeps slipping around the edges of her sunshade and burning her retinas. This is exactly the kind of song you want to drive too fast to—upbeat, with this fun kind of disco-vibe to it, but there's something a little desperate about it too. The lyrics "Ain't goin' back to Bluesville/ It's Bluesville" repeat over and over until the end: I think she doth protest too much.

"St. James Infirmary," performed by Louis Armstrong
This is another song ubiquitous in New Orleans; you'll hear it drifting out of people's windows, the tuba line bubbling out from a neighboring school yard, the melody informing improvisation by tired trombonists during the last set before the sun comes up at the Maple Leaf. It's another dirge, a song full of love for the dead, a song about trying to let go of someone still unburied. The unburied are of primary concern to The Floating World—a woman abandoned in a house with a gunshot through her skull, conflicts from the past that have never been resolved—which explain why I listened to "St. James Infirmary" more than any other song while writing the novel. I may be imagining things, but I feel like all of New Orleans began playing it more after Katrina; like the lake mud and the mold, it has always been with us, but now it blooms on our walls, now we track it into our houses on the bottoms of our shoes.


C. Morgan Babst and The Floating World links:

the author's website
excerpt from the book

Foreword review
Kirkus review
Publishers Weekly review
Shelf Awareness review

New Orleans Advocate profile of 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

Largehearted Boy's 2017 Summer Reading Suggestions

100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads
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






October 17, 2017

Shorties (Carmen Maria Machado's Favorite Short Story Collections, St. Vincent on Her New Album, and more)

Carmen Maria Machado recommended short story collections at The Week.


St. Vincent's Annie Clark broke down every song on her new album Masseduction at Pitchfork.


Vol. 1 Brooklyn interviewed Ellen Datlow and Lisa Morton, editors of the new anthology Haunted Nights.


Stream a new Liza Anne track.


Musician Nicolas Jaar's book Network sounds fascinating.


Pitchfork reconsidered Brian Eno and John Cale's 1990 album Wrong Way Up.


Laird Barron and John Langan discussed weird fiction with Library of the Damned.


Stream a new Soft Moon song.


Amy Tan talked to All Things Considered and Shondaland about her memoir Where The Past Begins.


Drowned in Sound reconsidered Radiohead's In Rainbows album.


The New Statesman shared Ali Smith’s Goldsmiths Prize lecture.


Stream a new Screaming Females song.


Electric Literature shared a roundtable discussion with authors V.V. Ganeshananthan, Porochista Khakpour, Bich Minh Nguyen, and Esmé Weijun Wang.


Aquarium Drunkard interviewed singer-songwriter Margo Price.


Masha Gessen discussed her new book The Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia with To the Point.


Stream a new Hoops song.


Claire Messud Electric Literature about her novel The Burning Girl.


Keren Woodward discussed the Bananarama reunion with Stereogum.


The shortlist unveiled for the 2017 Quebec Literary Awards has been announced.

Congratulations to Largehearted Boy Book Notes contributors Heather O'Neill and Kathleen Winter.


NYCTaper shared a recording of a recent Widowspeak performance.


Signature interviewed author Sana Krasikov.


Weaves played a stripped-down Stereogum session.


Literary Hub recommended scary literary fiction for people who hate horror.


Roxane Gay profiled Nicki Minaj at the New York Times Style Magazine.


Autostraddle shared an excerpt from my favorite memoir of the year, Myriam Gurba's Mean.


Stereogum listed notable divorce albums.


October's best eBook deals.



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


October 16, 2017

Book Notes - Pamela Ryder "Paradise Field"

Paradise Field

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.

Pamela Ryder's Paradise Field is an exceptionally moving novel in stories inspired by her relationship with her father.

Foreword Reviews wrote of the book:

"Pamela Ryder's Paradise Field is a novel in stories that stands out for the variety of structures, voices, and styles employed throughout. Paradise Field is a strong whole made of fascinating parts."


In her own words, here is Pamela Ryder's Book Notes music playlist for her novel Paradise Field:



I came to write Paradise Field after my father's death. And it became our story: the last years of a WWII pilot and the adult daughter who cares for him, and her ineptitude, resentments, recollections: his flight from the family; his descent into frailty; the indignities surrounding his demise. Even the unfathomable notion of approaching death does not fully bridge the rift between father and daughter, though both are transformed as they approach the pit. Here, story by story, is the music of the journey they made—father and daughter—in their attempts to keep the inevitable at bay.

"Interment for Yard & Garden: A Practical Guide"
This opening story begins as a handbook for Jewish burial and bereavement, but the narrator cannot avoid revealing herself, her motives, or her memories. And the directives of the text appear to be that of Jewish custom and law, but these instructions for the interment weave magic and myth into the ritual. The shovel is selected, the grave site is determined, the hole is dug. Music softly plays throughout the task, and then at full volume as the last shovelful of earth is flung down, night falls, and the evening watch begins: "The Weight" written Robbie Roberson, and sung by The Band: I pulled into Nazareth, was feeling 'bout half past dead. I just need some place where I can lay my head. Hey, mister, can you tell me, where a man might find a bed? He just grinned and shook my hand, "No" was all he said.

"The Renoir is Put Straight"
Ah. The family vacation in France. The glories of the food, the insolence of the waiters, the forest walk in search of champignons. Sun shifts though the leaves, light spatters the path. A warbler peeps from a bough. A snake is bludgeoned. And the music that weaves through the dining room and the wood: "The Poor People of Paris" by Marguerite Monnot, an uplifting instrumental, and counterpoint to the ghastly murder of the snake—the "ribbon of grace in the water". And finally, the music of the closing dinner, featuring the medallions of veal and tarragon potatoes that everyone likes: the heroic ballad composed by Charles Dumont, with lyrics by Michel Vaucaire, and sung by the French chanteuse, Edith Piaf. "Non, je ne regrette rien" (No, I regret nothing). Neither the good that was done to me, nor the bad.

"The Song Inside the Plate"
Here, the grotesqueries of the diner table. The lamb sits in the oven. The radio plays. The monkey languishes on his chain. The father persecutes. The children quake. As the father kicks the cat, the body of the lamb is toted to the table, to be sliced and doused with the gravy boat of its blood. And Kitty Carlisle sings her closing song as she does through every dinnertime broadcast. "Bless This House", by May Brahe with lyrics by Helen Taylor. Bless this house O Lord we pray. Keep it safe by night and day. Bless these walls so firm and stout, keeping strife and trouble out.

"As Those Who Know the Dead Will Do"
The daughter takes the father on a final trip to where there would be canyons, where she "had once walked in her younger years, had traveled those vast regions of sage and mesa cleft with chasms of stone and the rivers of their incision—and now wanting the father to see—while there was still time, while there was still breath and sense and flow through those most turbulent of tributaries within his fisted heart." And so, they take to the road. The music here reflects the pace of the traveling, the desperate rushing on. "Viva la Vida", by Coldplay, with its sweeping instrumentals and lyrics: I hear Jerusalem bells a ringing. Roman cavalry choirs singing….For some reason I can't explain I know Saint Peter won't call my name…

"Arrow Canyon"
The setting is a remote motel in the desert. The narrator is a chambermaid, observing the father and daughter, while telling her own tale of loss. The music is "A Thousand Miles From Nowhere" by Dwight Yoakam, a mournful but fast-moving tune: I'm a thousand miles from nowhere. Time don't matter to me. ‘Cause I'm a thousand miles from nowhere and there's no place I want to be.

"Somewhere in the North Atlantic"
The father is confined to his living room, trapped in his railed and rented bed, as a night of storms and dreams slip by and flocks of geese sail up river. The music is "Helpless" by Neil Young: Blue, blue windows behind the stars, yellow moon on the rise. Big birds flying across the sky, throwing shadows on our eyes, leave us helpless, helpless. Helpless.

"Two Things"
The daughter asks her sister to pick up a few items she needs for their dying father's care—and it goes ridiculously wrong. All to the sound of "Stayin' Alive" by the Bee Gees (Barry, Robin, and Maurice Gibb): Whether you're a brother or whether you're a mother, you're staying alive, staying alive. Feel the city breaking and everybody shaking, people staying alive, staying alive.

"Mitzvah"
The father as patient, finally hospitalized. The hospital staff: infuriating, uncaring, incompetent. But there is another patient, and this one is wandering the corridors – Gabriel Hirshbine, old Jew at large, and largely unnoticed as he snoops about and contrives small acts of kindness. A song plays though the hospital's overhead paging system: "Calling all Angels" by the rock band "Train", and its haunting chorus rises as Gabriel Hirshbine lights his cigar and the Shabbos candle at dusk. Calling all angels. Calling all angels. Walk me through this world…don't leave me alone.

"Recognizable Constellations and Familiar Objects of the Night Sky in Early Spring"
The story moves between two histories: a childhood trip to the planetarium, where the child leans in to touch the meteorite on display. And a midnight phone call from the nursing home administrator, informing the daughter that the father has escaped somehow, and is lost amidst the stars. The music is "Southern Cross" by Stephen Sills, Richard Curtis, and Michael Curtis, and sung by Crosby, Stills & Nash: When you see the Southern Cross for the first time, you understand why you came this way. Cause the truth you might be runnin' from is so small. But it's as big as the promise, the promise of a comin' day.

"Jerusalem"
The father drifts between the cockpit of his bomber plane and the confines of his bed, in flight from oblivion. The song is that fine old hymn "Jerusalem"—William Blake's poem set to music by Sir Hubert Parry. I will not cease from mental fight, nor shall my sword sleep in my hand: till we have built Jerusalem in England's green and pleasant land.

"Details of Grief"
The daughter selects the coffin. Choices must be made as to expense and type of wood. The purveyor of boxes pushes the oak. The daughter runs her hands over the polished lid. The music is Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah": Now I've heard there was a secret chord that David played, and it pleased the Lord. But you don't really care for music, do you?…The baffled king composing Hallelujah.

"In Other Hemispheres"
The hearse makes its way to the cemetery where the father will be buried, and he speaks to the daughter throughout the ride. In that final view of the world passing by, the ordinary is made luminous, the mundane becomes precious. A leaf floats along the gutter, a crumpled paper rolls down the road, a bird sits on a bough. The music is "The Waters of March" by Antonio Carlos Jobim: A stick, a stone. It's the end of the road. It's the rest of stump. It's a little alone. The father continues to speak even as he is lowered into the hole, and as the shovelfuls of earth are flung. His voice becomes muffled as the soil rains down, and as the daughter, unhearing, walks away from the grave, we hear "100 Years" by Five for Fighting: I'm 99 for a moment, and dying for just another moment…there's never a wish better than this, when you only got a hundred years to live.


Pamela Ryder and Paradise Field links:

the author's website
the author's Wikipedia entry
excerpt from the book
excerpt from the book
excerpt from the book

Foreword Reviews review

Brooklyn Rail 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

Largehearted Boy's 2017 Summer Reading Suggestions

100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads
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


Book Notes - Barney Hoskyns "Joni: The Anthology"

Joni: The Anthology

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.

Joni: The Anthology, a collection of interviews, commentary, and commentary, illuminates the life and art of Joni Mitchell.

The Atlantic wrote of the book:

"Nearly 50 years' worth of critical efforts to solve Mitchell’s mysteries have now been rounded up in Barney Hoskyns's Joni: The Anthology....what comes through most consistently is a possessive impulse, a desire to really know an artist whose fierce privacy has often seemed at odds with the impression of intimacy conveyed by her music."


In his own words, here is Barney Hoskyns' Book Notes music playlist for his book Joni: The Anthology:



Joni Mitchell's 10 Best Albums


1 Court and Spark (1974)
An ultra-cool masterpiece about the '70s SoCal high life, set to stunning jazz-lite arrangements by Tom Scott and his L.A. Express. Breezy freeway chords and slick licks suggested a kind of female Steely Dan, while Mitchell's lyrics were alternately arch and angst-ridden. The newly chic Joni swanned through 'People's Parties', but behind the paved-paradise façade lurked the brooding introversion of 'Trouble Child'. It was Mitchell at the peak of her powers.

2 Blue (1971)
A virtual concept album about romantic love, Blue was written after a stormy affair with fellow acoustic navel-gazer (and heroin addict) James Taylor. It could almost have been an extended therapy session: just Joni alone in the studio with engineer Henry Lewy, warbling of love's waxing and waning. "Will you take me as I am," she sang on 'California', "strung out on another man?" Yes, unhappy damsel, we will.

3 Ladies of the Canyon (1970)
This seminal SoCal album was the sound of Joni growing up – and out of the wide-eyed folkie ingenuousness of 'Chelsea Morning' and 'Both Sides Now'. The arrangements were more ambitious, the ambiguities richer. 'Big Yellow Taxi' was Joni in exuberant satirical mode, strumming and whooping. 'Woodstock' was an ominous hymn to the counter-cultural Catskills gathering she never got to.

4 The Hissing of Summer Lawns (1975)
In opting to write "social description" rather than "personal confession," Mitchell provoked the ire of fans and critics alike. Yet The Hissing's complex studies of suburban malaise comprised one of her greatest collections. 'Harry's House' and 'The Hissing of Summer Lawns' dissected white-collar America with clinical precision, while airy ruminations such as 'The Boho Dance' and 'Edith and the Kingpin' were bittersweet-beautiful. A mid-'70s masterwork.

5 Hejira (1976)
Mitchell has stated that Hejira is her most overlooked and underrated work, and one can hear why. Stripping her sound down to guitar, minimal percussion and the ultra-melodic bass playing of tragic Jaco Pastorius, this was Joni alone again, drifting across an older, wilder, weirder America.

6 For the Roses (1972)
The forgotten bridge between Blue and Court and Spark, Roses was written in retreat, in the remote wilds of British Columbia. Haunted by the same losses and regrets as its predecessor, it felt less naked. And 'You Turn Me On, I'm A Radio' returned us to the playful Joni of 'Big Yellow Taxi'.

7 Night Ride Home (1991)
Joni's stripped-down '90s sound was unveiled on this dreamily soulful, overtly nostalgic collection. Acoustic guitars, bongos and congas, Wayne Shorter's twittering sax and Joni's increasingly nicotine-stained voice: all combined to create sexy, sensual moods.

8 Turbulent Indigo (1994)
Lateish Joni: husky, anguished, inveighing against contemporary ills ('Sex Kills') while her heart bled for her sex ('Not to Blame'). An apocalyptic counterpart to Night Ride Home, caustic but deeply moving.

9 Dog Eat Dog (1985)
While it was odd to hear Mitchell backed by thudding drum machines and squalling L.A. geetars, Thomas Dolby's sonic flange actually suited the splenetic bent of these songs. This was Dame Joni on the highest of horses, laying waste to Gordon's Gekko Amerika in the soulless big-hair '80s.

10 Chalk Mark In A Rainstorm (1988)
At the tail end of a troubled, fish-out-of-water decade, Joni found her feet again with this lush, assured set. Heavy on Native American mysticism, Chalk Mark harked back to the techno-rock of Dog Eat Dog but also anticipated the unplugged jazziness of Night Ride Home. Oh, and Billy Idol was on it.


Barney Hoskyns and Joni: The Anthology links:

the editor's website
the editor's Wikipedia entry

Atlantic review
Kirkus review
PopMatters review
Publishers Weekly review

Largehearted Boy Book Notes playlist by the editor for Small Town Talk: Bob Dylan, The Band, Van Morrison, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and Friends in the Wild Years of Woodstock


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
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


Shorties (Tom Hanks on His New Story Collection, Eileen Myles on the Music That Has Shaped Her Life, and more)

Tom Hanks talked to Morning Edition about his new short story collection Uncommon Type.


Eileen Myles discussed the music that shaped her life at Pitchfork.


Vol. 1 Brooklyn shared new short fiction by Meg Pokrass.


Dan Deacon talked to All Songs Considered about his score from the film Looper.


R.I.P, poet Richard Wilbur.


The Globe and Mail noted a resurgence of books on Canadian music.


LitReactor recommended authors who are masters of "body horror" fiction.


Stream a new St. Vincent song.


Ian Rankin discussed his side gig as frontman for a band with the Guardian.


The Memphis Flyer interviewed musician Jon Langford.


The Atlantic examined how science fiction writers are imagining Iraq's future.


Gorilla Vs. Bear shared a Halloween mix.


Tom Gauld discussed his new comics collection, Baking with Kafka, with The Verge.


St. Vincent's Annie Clark discussed her new album Masseduction with TIME and the New Yorker Radio Hour.


Vogue profiled cartoonist Roz Chast.


Stream two new Sorority Noise songs.


Salon interviewed authors Greg Ames, Panio Gianopoulos, Vanessa Grigoriadis, Carmen Maria Machado and Ross Raisin about their new books.


The A.V. Club and BrooklynVegan recommended the week's best new albums.


Caitlin Doughty discussed her book From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find the Good Death with Weekend Edition.


Stream a new Haters song.


BOMB features new fiction by Annie DeWitt.


Stereogum is streaming Makthaverskan's new album Ill.


Ron Chernow discussed his new book Grant with All Things Considered.


Rolling Stone interviewed Dolly Parton.


Literary Hub recommended feminist horror story collections.


Weekend Edition talked to the people behind the new Mick Ronson documentary, Beside Bowie.


Authors recommended books that evoke nostalgia at Entropy.


The Quietus reconsidered Queen's News of the World album.


Winnie M Li's novel Dark Chapter has been awarded the 2017 Not the Booker Prize.


The Quietus interviewed Spencer Doran of the musical duo Visible Cloaks.


October's best eBook deals.



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


October 13, 2017

Book Notes - R. Dean Johnson "Californium"

Californium

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.

R. Dean Johnson's Californium is a compelling punk rock fueled coming-of-age novel.

The Live Oak Review wrote of the book:

"Californium comes alive through its obsession with detail—not simply in how precisely Johnson evokes the era and locale, but in how details are vitally important to every single character."


In his own words, here is R. Dean Johnson's Book Notes music playlist for his novel Californium:



You might think the music list for a novel set in 1982 and with punk rock in the subtitle would have to be exclusively punk bands. That wouldn't be very punk rock though, would it? I did listen to a lot of music while writing and revising this novel. It helped me drown out the rest of the world and focus on the work. So, some of the songs in this list were a part of the writing process and some just fit particular characters, or moments, or the overall feel I was after. Then, there are the songs I left out such as "What I like About You" by The Romantics and "London Dungeon" by The Misfits—the former because, well, it's the era but not a favorite of mine; the latter because while it might be van Doren's favorite song (you won't find that in the book, but I know), he's just a character so I get to make the final decisions. And I left out some of my personal favorites too. I'd love to have had a Pixies or Killers song here but I couldn't find just the right ones. And I'm currently obsessed with "High" by Sir Sly, but it's got nothing at all to do with the book; it's just a really cool, hilarious song. Oh, and none of the songs by Filibuster or DikNixon made the list either because as awesome as both those bands are, they only exist in Californium.

"Depreston" – Courtney Barnett
The first time I heard "Avant Gardener" on the radio, I had to know who sang it, how she made those great lyrics fit with that distinct sound, and what else she'd done. Everything I've heard so far from Courtney Barnett is great, and "Depreston," a song didn't hear until after finishing Californium, fits the mood I'm going for early on when Reece and his family are hoping time and a change of scenery will help them escape recent tragedy.

"Sick Boy" – Social Distortion
A seminal Orange County punk band. Or are they rockabilly? Or punkabilly? Whatever, they're great and "Sick Boy" is Social D at their best. That, and this song reminds me of the character Treat, partly who he is and partly who he wants people to think he is.

"All Night" – Trashcan Sinatras
Early in the novel, the protagonist, Reece, is at a high school dance where he sees the object of his desires across the floor. We've all been there, and the Trashies remind us how we can get caught up in the music, if only for a short while, and escape our troubles out on the dance floor. This song, like nearly every Trashies song, is so well crafted and so layered that, as I intended with the novel, there's a lot happening on the surface and even more underneath.

"Clampdown" – The Clash
Check your lists of all-time great punk bands, then cross-reference them with your lists of all-time great rock bands, and The Clash are going to be near the top of both. Maybe "Clampdown" is too radio friendly to be hard core, but the lyrics and attitude are pure punk: "Kick over the wall, cause governments to fall / How can you refuse it? / Let fury have the hour, anger can be power / D'you know that you can use it?"

"California Uber Alles" – Dead Kennedys
As a teenager, what drew me to a lot of music was the lyrics. It happened early on with U2's anthems and Morrissey's irony and wit. The Dead Kennedys? Sometimes I dig the lyrics. Sometimes I just love the sound. This is punk. In the book, DikNixon rip-off the DK band logo though none the songs. Jello Biafra and company aren't fooling around. These aren't pop songs and the boys in Californium aren't quite ready for this.

"Evil" – Interpol
If Interpol were a person, he'd be that guy who never dresses flashy but never dresses like anybody else either, the guy you recognize from a hundred yards away. He'd be van Doren, the lead singer of Filibuster in the novel. Like "Depreston," this song features lyrics smashed into good music. Neither wants to compromise for the other, and yet it all works. Sometimes writing feels that way. You have to know the rules so you can break them.

"Dear Prudence" – Siouxsie and the Banshees
So much of this novel is about appropriating things and Siouxsie does this with, of all sacred things, a classic Beatles song. It's not so much a cover as it is a reinvention. To me, it's the character Edie when she shows up the night DikNixon's first gig having reinvented herself, stunning Reece. "The sun is up / the sky is blue / it's beautiful / and so are you."

"Gigantic" – The Wombats
"Gigantic" is clever, and desperate, and charming, and silly, and serious, and you don't know quite what it's going to do next but at its core it's honest. It's very Keith, Reece's best friend in the book. And it's all brought to you in the post-punk, electronic-influenced, pop The Wombats do so well.

"Solitary Man" – Neil Diamond
If you've read the book, this totally makes sense. If you haven't read it, or if you haven't listened to this song in a while, just imagine these lyrics—"I'll be what I am / a solitary man"—with a distorted guitar and Neil Diamond is totally punk rock.

"Too Much Stereo" – The Urge
Way back when the novel was just a story I was writing for workshop at Kansas State University, a friend of mine took me to see this band and I was hooked. Songs like "It's Getting Hectic" and "Brainless" show off their punk and ska roots best, though I can't help but love the way this song speaks to the novel with lines like, "You saved me the effort of being for real / as long as you'll stand there and listen to reason / my colors won't show / no one will ever know."

"Sweetness Follows" – REM
I could, I often did, put on the entire Automatic for the People LP and write anything, even scenes about punk bands in bowling alleys. Every song on that album matters, every line, and they build upon each other. This song doesn't stand above the rest, though it feels most like Reece's plight: "It's these little things / they can pull you under / live your life filled with joy and thunder." The honesty of the first line gets turned on its head, hopeful in the face of despair. This is what Reece is struggling to do. Aren't we all?

"The Boys Are Back" – Dropkick Murphys
No spoiler here, but this is the note I wanted the novel to end on. I think it does. And even if you never read the novel, listen to this song. It'll make your day better even if you're already having a good one.


R. Dean Johnson and Californium links:

the author's website

The Live Oak Review review

Focus on Fiction 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

Largehearted Boy's 2017 Summer Reading Suggestions

100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads
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


This Week's Interesting Music Releases - October 13, 2017

Beck

Beck's Colors, Courtney Barnett & Kurt Vile's Lotta Sea Lice, The Rural Alberta Advantage's The Wild, St. Vincent's MASSEDUCTION, and Stars' There Is No Love In Fluorescent Light are the new albums I can highly recommend this week.

Archival releases include cassette reissues of three White Stripes albums (De Stijl, White Blood Cells, and The White Stripes).


This week's interesting music releases:


$ Non Blondes: Bigger, Better, Faster, More! (reissue) [vinyl]
Adam Ostrar: Brawls In The Briar
The Barr Brothers: Queens Of The Breakers
Beck: Colors
Bob Marley and the Wailers: Live!
Bruce Springsteen: Under the Covers
Courtney Barnett & Kurt Vile: Lotta Sea Lice
Daniel Cavanagh: Monochrome
Dolly Parton: I Believe in You
Drivin' n' Cryin': Mystery Road (expanded)
dvsn: Morning After
Electric Six: How Dare You
Enslaved: E
Exhumed: Death Revenge
The Front Bottoms: Going Grey
The Horrors: V [vinyl]
Jackie Greene: The Modern Lives Vol. 1
Jerry Garcia Band: Cats Under The Stars - Gold Marbled 40th Anniversary Edition (reissue) [vinyl]
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard: Sketches Of Brunswick East
King Krule: The Ooz
Knuckle Puck: Shapeshifter
Lana del Rey: Lust for Life [vinyl]
L.A. Guns: The Missing Peace
Lydia Loveless: Boy Crazy and Single(s)
Marillion: Living in F E A R EP
Michael Giacchino: Spider-Man: Homecoming Soundtrack Highlights [vinyl]
Neil Finn: Out of Silence
Nine Inch Nails: Add Violence EP [cd]
Pale Honey: Devotion
Pearl Jam: Building Bridges
P!nk: Beautiful Trauma
Propagandhi: Victory Lap [vinyl]
Robert Plant: Carry Fire
Reba McEntire: My Kind of Christmas
Rolling Stones: From the Vault - Sticky Fingers: Live At The Fonda Theater 2015 [vinyl]
The Residents: 80 Aching Orphans: 45 Years Of The Residents (4-CD box set with book)
The Rural Alberta Advantage: The Wild
Shelby Lynne & Allison Moorer: Not Dark Yet [vinyl]
St. Vincent: MASSEDUCTION
SISTERS: Wait Don't Wait
Stars: There Is No Love In Fluorescent Light
Stick To Your Guns: True View
Terra Lightfoot: New Mistakes
TJ Kong & The Atomic Bomb: Dancing Out The Door
Trombone Shorty: Parking Lot Symphony [vinyl]
Various Artists: Halloween Garage Blues
Various Artists: Holidays Rule Volume 2
Various Artists: The Nightmare Before Christmas (soundtrack) (reissue) [vinyl]
Various Artists: Punk Rock Halloween - Loud Fast & Scary
Various Artists: The Return of the Living Dead: Original Soundtrack (Limited Black & Brown "Tarman" Edition) (reissue) [vinyl]
Various Artists: Tegan and Sara Present The Con X: Covers
White Stripes: De Stijl (reissue) [cassette]
White Stripes: White Blood Cells (reissue) [cassette]
White Stripes: The White Stripes (reissue) [cassette]
The Who: Tommy Live At The Royal Albert Hall
William Patrick Corgan: Ogilala
Wu-Tang Clan: The Saga Continues


also at Largehearted Boy:

Support Largehearted Boy

weekly music release lists

Book Notes (authors create music playlists for their book)
musician/author interviews
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Short Cuts (writers pair a song with their short story or essay)
Shorties (daily book and music news and links)
Soundtracked (composers and directors discuss their film's soundtracks)


Shorties (Summer's Overlooked Books, Expanded Editions of Wilco's First Two Albums, and more)

Kirkus listed summer's most overlooked books.


Wilco is releasing expanded reissues of the band's first two albums, A.M. and Being There.


The Brooklyn Rail shared an excerpt from Pamela Ryder's novel Paradise Field.


Cults played a Paste Studio Session.


Quill & Quire profiled Ricochet Books, which publishes classic Canadian pulp fiction.


World Cafe shared a Friday the 13th playlist.


Tor.com examined the works of author Samuel R. Delany.


Laura Jane Grace listed Against Me!'s albums at Noisey.


James Reich talked to La Casita Grande about Stalking Horse Press.


Fenway Park's organist shared a list of requests he played during this year's Red Sox season.


The Washington Post explained how Tom Hanks published short fiction in One Story.

Hanks talked books and reading with the New York Times.


Lo Moon visited World Cafe for an interview and live performance.


The Rumpus interviewed author Miranda Pennington.


The Creative Independent interviewed musician Ryuichi Sakamoto.


Eimear McBride talked books and reading with the Guardian.


Stream Melkbelly's new album Nothing Valley at Stereogum.


The Rumpus interviewed poet Nicole Homer.


Stream a new song by Calexico.


io9 interviewed comics writer Vita Ayala.


The War on Drugs visited World Cafe for an interview and live performance.


Stream Loamlands' cover of the Mountain Goats' "Fall Of The Star High School Running Back."


Modern Mrs. Darcy recommended fall nonfiction books.


Stream a new song by Forever.


Literary Hub shared an excerpt from Cristina Rivera Garza's novel The Iliac Crest.


Stream a new Thin Blue Line track.


October's best eBook deals.



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


October 12, 2017

Book Notes - Alex Behr "Planet Grim"

Planet Grim

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.

Alex Behr's collection Planet Grim is filled with bold and imaginative stories.

Tom Bissell wrote of the collection:

"Alex Behr's imagination is wild, rigorous, and totally unique. I haven't been able to decide if her stories are comedies intercut with horror or horror stories leavened by comedy, but when they're this entertaining, who cares?"


In her own words, here is Alex Behr's Book Notes music playlist for her short story collection Planet Grim:



I played music throughout writing Planet Grim. I performed strange, eclectic music in my former band The Double U and played bass in occasional projects (like covering Plasmatics, Raincoats, Runaways in a “Bad Girls” reading/performance). That subversive culture and humor is part of my writing. I tried to start a “Queeros” club in fifth grade. No one joined.

When I play classical piano, my teacher dances to the melody. I analyze the composer’s intent, as if he’s under the Steinway ready to masturbate—or not—based on my interpretation. Bach, Brahms, Bartok, Prokofiev: they are never dead when I play. I argue with them and marvel at their gifts. My teacher says, “What’s easy about this piece?” We look for patterns and how to bring in relaxed power. When writing, I try to call on that same musical intelligence: where is the rhythm, the space, and the motifs? Where can I bring in a surprise? How can I write so I’m using my body? (I write in my head while walking.) Where can I throw away the “precious” words to bring out the story?
 
Songs that influenced me:
 
1. Jimmy Scott, "Slave to Love"

The ethereal voice slips into the ache of jealousy and desire with its sensitive voicing. “Tell her I’ll be waiting in the usual place.” The piano call and response creates a false nostalgia to the jazz club era (when, in fact, my childhood era was the cocaine glitter bomb of Elton John).

2. Iggy Pop, "Dum-Dum Boys"

The crooning voice and the codeine-guitar slush commemorates dead boys who broke rules. “I was most impressed. No one else was impressed, not at all.” The wild spirits who died young: this song and my collection are dedicated to them.

3. Rolling Stones, "Paint It Black"

Now this original is replaced by my son’s version in the 200-member marching band: the undercurrent of menace reinterpreted by virginal middle schoolers. The parade watchers perk up. My teen years are never too far from me when I write from that perspective. Naïve belief in the body and fears of the body, especially as a girl who stalked stoner rock guys in the halls and was, simply by existing, a target of older males.

4. Sun Ra, "The Outer Heavens"

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, I was in a Bay Area scene of experimental musicians, some of whom were also artists, published fanzines, or made movies (or stripped). When I put the collection together I questioned my use of “found” objects (will they make sense?), but it’s part of my underground aesthetic. Whenever I hear this song I always find something new that resonates, much like with early Brian Eno. According to John Szwed, Sun Ra used “feedback, distortion, high delay or reverb ... to [create an] antistyle, a self-reflexive approach which anticipates both free jazz recording conventions and punk production.”

5. Gang of Four, "Love Like Anthrax"

6. Birthday Party, "Fears of Gun"

7. Radiohead, "The National Anthem"

8. D’Angelo and The Vanguard: "1000 Deaths"

“When I say Jesus, I’m not talking about some blond-haired, blue-eyed, pale-skinned, buttermilk complexion cracker Christ. The Jesus of the Bible with hair like lamb’s wool.” Malcolm X’s words are reinterpreted by D’Angelo, who wears the names of his three children around his neck. My birth and early years were in Rochester, NY: my dad was a reporter on the “race beat,” covering the riots and a speech by Malcolm X, shortly before his assassination. I grew up in northern Virginia: we took field trips to plantations with no reflection or historical accountability by the teachers; we colored in maps showing the produce of “slave states.” In sixth grade, I watched Roots on TV and lent the book to Cindy, a black girl seated next to me. When she returned it she said, “My mom hates whites.” One of my best friends, who is white, was bullied at school and kicked out of her house for getting pregnant by her boyfriend, an older black guy. Now in the start of the Trump years, I feel the legacy of blood and resistance in music like this. Can I be an ally to people of color? Is that possible in Portland, a predominantly white city, where I’m raising a teen boy, of Chinese birth, who says all whites are racist?

9. World of Pooh, "Strip Club"

This is a cover of a Urinals song, and in 2015 I asked Barbara Manning if we could play it for her birthday party show (I played bass). It became a cover once removed. This song reminds me of the cleansing release of playing simple, loud bass lines while someone is singing about sexual rejection. A story set in an Austin, TX, all meaning in life is reduced to a scotch and soda brought to the table by Cat. Then she takes the stage to dance. The narrator sings: “I shouldn’t feel. She made me feel.” Isn’t all art about that?

10. Jessie Mae Hemphill, "Go Back to Your Used to Be"

Her music represents a perfect connection between intent and performance. It’s simple like an ax to the heart.

11. Prokofiev, Visions fugitives, Op. 22, No. 6

My teacher’s comment while I was learning this piece: “The memory of the past is vivid. The rest falls away.”


Alex Behr and Planet Grim links:

the author's website

Mom Egg Review review
Shelf Stalker review

Grab the Lapels interview with the author
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

Largehearted Boy's 2017 Summer Reading Suggestions

100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads
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


Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week - October 12, 2017

In the weekly Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week, the Montreal bookstore recommends several new works of fiction, art books, periodicals, and comics.

Librairie Drawn & Quarterly is one of Montreal's premiere independent bookstores.


Baking With Kafka

Baking With Kafka
by Tom Gauld

New D+Q! Tom Gauld deflates literary pomp in this best-of comics collection. In his weekly comic strips for The Guardian, Gauld treads silliness and seriousness with a humour that is both distinctly British in its deadpan, yet simultaneously all his own.


The Good Times Are Killing Me

The Good Times Are Killing Me
by Lynda Barry

New D+Q! A novel from acclaimed cartoonist Lynda Barry, The Good Times Are Killing Me is set during the white flight from urban Seattle in the 1960s, and depicts the callous racism of adults from the impeccably captured voice of an adolescent.


Tropico

Tropico
by Marcela Huerta

In Marcela Huerta’s debut poetry collection, she digs to the roots of her family tree, unearthing grief, memory, and the experiences as a second-generation immigrant.


The Original Face

The Original Face
by Guillaume Morissette

Guillaume Morissette’s second novel follows an under-employed internet artist in his late twenties, who is as sardonic and disillusioned as he is yearning and philosophical, as he struggles to reap a healthy harvest both in his relationships and from the brutal digital economy.


Worlds From the Word’s End

Worlds From the Word’s End
by Joanna Walsh

Joanna Walsh’s worlds are not easy. Throughout the stories collected in Worlds From the Word’s End, Walsh maps a searing psychological landscape, elucidating the inherent madness in our quotidian lives.


Librairie Drawn & Quarterly links:

Librairie Drawn & Quarterly's blog
Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Facebook page
Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Tumblr
Librairie Drawn & Quarterly on Twitter


also at Largehearted Boy:

Support the Largehearted Boy website

other Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week

Antiheroines (interviews with up and coming female comics artists)
Atomic Books Comics Preview (weekly new comics and graphic novel highlights)
Book Notes (authors create music playlists for their book)
guest book reviews
musician/author interviews
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Short Cuts (writers pair a song with their short story or essay)
WORD Bookstores Books of the Week (weekly new book highlights)


Shorties (The Best Contemporary Iraqi Writing About War, Bjork's Self-Interview, and more)

Literary Hub recommended the best contemporary Iraqi writing about war.


Bjork interviewed herself at W Magazine.


Literary Hub shared an excerpt from Sangeeta Bandyopadhyay's novel Abandon.


NPR Music is streaming Margo Price's new album All American Made.


LIT interviewed author Jason Diamond.


St. Vincent's Annie Clark discussed her new album Masseduction with Morning Edition.


Bookworm interviewed author Stephen Greenblatt.


Stream a new Sufjan Stevens song.


Tom Hanks discussed his new short story collection Uncommon Type with the New York Times.


The Omaha World-Herald recommended music-related podcasts.


Signature listed the best books written by Shirley Jackson.


NPR Music is streaming Colleen's new album A Flame My Love, A Frequency.


Literary Hub shared an excerpt from Emily Fridlund's story collection Catapult.


The Beijinger interviewed Casey Li Brander of the Chinese punk band Ugly Girls.


John Irving interviewed Kevin Hardcastle at Electric Literature.


NPR Music is streaming Bully's new album Losing.


The Millions interviewed author Attica Locke.


Baeble recommended one song from every Beck album.


Stream the trailer for the documentary Joan Didion: The Center Cannot Hold.


Stream a new Mallrat song.


The Guardian profiled cartoonist Chris Ware.


NPR Music is streaming Dori Freeman's new album Letters Never Read.


Entropy shared a new essay by Wren Awry.


Stream a new Totally Mild song.


The Who's Roger Daltrey will publish a memoir next year.


Stream a new Hamilton Leithauser song that features Angel Olsen.


Longreads shared a new essay by Michele Filgate.


Stream a previously unreleased Bob Dylan song from his forthcoming album Trouble No More: The Bootleg Series Vol. 13 / 1979–1981.


October's best eBook deals.



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


October 11, 2017

Book Notes - Celeste Ng "Little Fires Everywhere"

Little Fires Everywhere

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.

Celeste Ng's powerful novel Little Fires Everywhere is a nuanced portrait of motherhood, community, and identity.

Publishers Weekly wrote of the book:

"Both an intricate and captivating portrait of an eerily perfect suburban town with its dark undertones not-quite-hidden from view and a powerful and suspenseful novel about motherhood... Ng explores the complexities of adoption, surrogacy, abortion, privacy, and class, questioning all the while who earns, who claims, and who loses the right to be called a mother. This is an impressive accomplishment."


In her own words, here is Celeste Ng's Book Notes music playlist for her novel Little Fires Everywhere:



Little Fires Everywhere takes place in 1997 and 1998, so how could I resist the opportunity to put together a playlist of the '90s music I grew up with? Each main character in the book would have listened to very different music, so here is a song for each—one that they'd both listen to and that captures their personality.

Lexie: "Spin the Bottle" (The Juliana Hatfield Three)
Parties, truth or dare, kissing a movie start: this is the perfect blend of teen innocence–meets–burgeoning sexuality, and perfectly encapsulates Lexie's golden, slightly dizzy view of life.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jUAVbGoR81I

Trip: "Insane in the Brain" (Cypress Hill)
For me, this is a classic jump-around-get-stupid party song, ridiculously catchy, just the kind of thing Trip would have blasted from the rolled-down windows of his Jeep. I suspect he'd have been oblivious to the complexities of the song and the connotations of the lyrics and just enjoyed the beat.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RijB8wnJCN0

Moody: "Good Intentions" (Toad the Wet Sprocket)
Moody would've been into alternative and the melancholy of Toad the Wet Sprocket would have been right up Moody's alley. And of course the regret of this particular song—"It's hard to rely on my good intentions"—is Moody in a nutshell.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xejQogXzrPw

Izzy: "What's Up?" (Four Non-Blondes)
The existential angst, the crescendo from resigned frustration to furious scream, the prayer for a revolution: I can't think of a song that better captures Izzy.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6NXnxTNIWkc

Pearl: "One Hand in my Pocket" (Alanis Morissette)
"Ironic" might be the Alanis song that best represents the '90s, but this has always been my favorite, and the most like Pearl: startlingly earnest, a bit confused and contradictory, still figuring it all out and doing the best she can.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CUjIY_XxF1g

Mrs. Richardson: "Pleasant Valley Sunday" (The Monkees)
Of course Mrs. Richardson needs a song about suburbia—but not just any song. "Pleasant Valley Sunday" is about how perfect life isn't quite as perfect as it seems. At the same time, it's a song criticizing conformity and artificiality... by The Monkees, a band manufactured for TV. The levels of irony keep echoing right through that reverb-soaked ending. (Plus, some people insist it's about being trapped in an insane asylum—a whole other level of commentary on suburbia, maybe.)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sUzs5dlLrm0

Mia: "1979" (Smashing Pumpkins)
When I was seventeen, I'd put this song on the tape deck in my car and roll down the windows and just drive. And that's actually what this song is about—youth and recklessness and the intoxication of being constantly on the move.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4aeETEoNfOg

You can hear all of these songs—plus a few extras to accompany key moments in the book—on Spotify.


Celeste Ng and Little Fires Everywhere links:

the author's website

Chicago Tribune review
Kirkus review
Los Angeles Times review
New York Times review
Publishers Weekly review
San Francisco Chronicle review
Washington Post review

New York Times interview with the author
TIME profile of the author
Weekend Edition 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

Largehearted Boy's 2017 Summer Reading Suggestions

100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads
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


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