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August 22, 2017

Book Notes - Jarett Kobek "The Future Won't Be Long"

The Future Won't Be Long

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.

Jarett Kobek's The Future Won't Be Long is one of the best New York City novels I have read, a wise and funny book that captures the city from the mid-'80s to mid-'90s.

Booklist wrote of the book:

"Ambitious. . . . Kobek crafts an electric tale, and the wilds of New York City during this intense time period provide a gritty, undeniably magnetic context."


In his own words, here is Jarett Kobek's Book Notes music playlist for his novel The Future Won't Be Long:


#1 "I'd Rather Go Blind" – Etta James

Etta James was so good. Her songs can end up in ten thousand car commercials and still not suffer even an inch of capitalism's corrosive touch. Baby hears this song when he first shows up in New York.

#2 "Starfucker" – The Rolling Stones

Baby hears this coming off a boombox while going to The Strand to buy a novel by the late, great SF writer Thomas M. Disch. With its extreme-for-the-era lyrics, "Starfucker" was released, commercially, under the name "Star, Star" with some material censored. It's typical mid-70s Jagger/Richards sound, dripping with all the misogyny and sleaze that one would expect. In the era of "England Lost," a Tory wassail about the death of The City as a cesspool of international money laundering, it sounds like a god damned masterpiece.

#3 "Let's Dance" – David Bowie

This song plays while Adeline re-engages with the secular sacrament of California, which is to say that she smokes pot after a long abstinence.

Incidentally, a kid I went to school with turned out to be a precocious serial killer, stabbing four people to death before he was apprehended at the ripe old age of 15. He slaughtered his first victim when he was 13. The video for "Let's Dance" was playing on VH1 while she died.

That's a true story.

#4 "Here I Go Again" – Whitesnake

Adeline embarrasses one of her shitty boyfriends by singing this in front of some drug dealers. It's an apparent ironic rendition… or is it?

#5 "Kiss" – Prince

Great song. It's played at a party just before Adeline convinces her boyfriend to have sex with Baby. Chaos ensues.

#6 "Marry Me" – These Immortal Souls

Heard by Baby and Adeline at the Scream club, live, in a hotel overlooking Los Angeles's scenic MacArthur Park. Scream was a long-running Hollywood institution. It looked like someone set off a bomb inside of a Halloween costume shop. Back in '87, Geffen Records released a promo compilation of the club's house bands. The record's awful but worth finding for the liner notes.

#8 "My Prerogative" – Bobby Brown

There was a scene, set in the year 1989, where Baby and Adeline end up in Bret Easton Ellis's apartment on 13th Street, watching some drag queens do an impromptu rendition of Dean Martin's version of "Marshmallow World" followed by someone putting "My Prerogative" on the stereo.

See the next song.

#9 "Only in My Dreams" – Debbie Gibson

I said there was a scene because Bret East Ellis fact-checked his own appearance. His only issue with the broad travesty of himself in The Future Won't Be Long was the suggestion that he'd be listening to Bobby Brown. He suggested, instead, this song by Debbie Gibson.

You can try and get authenticity and verisimilitude all you want, but there's still some things that you'll miss. BEE's suggestion was so brilliant because it was so fucking true. He's from that last generation where pop music made by White People still had any real cultural cachet. If you weren't there, you can't understand it.

#10 "Crash" – The Primitives

There's a scene where Adeline's wearing an outfit that I stole, wholesale, from Tracy Tracy in the video for this song. Great song. Better outfit.

#11 "She Drives Me Crazy" – The Fine Young Cannibals

A chapter in Future deals with Daniel Rakowitz, a lunatic who lived near Tompkins Square Park and ended up killing his roommate, a dancer at Billy's Topless named Monika Beele. Rakowitz boiled the flesh off her body and then used the broth to serve soup to homeless people.

Rakowitz's neighbor, Stephan Ielpi, graffitied on Rakowitz's door: "Home of the fine young cannibals. She drove me crazy… So I killed her!" For Future, my BFF Sarina Rahman did the lettering for a replica of Ielpi's graffiti. Hi, Sarina!

(A weird side-note: the best article about Rakowitz was published in the Village Voice and was written by Max Cantor, who played Bobby in Dirty Dancing. Cantor himself suffered a horrible East Village death. Those were the days.)

#12 "I'll Keep It With Mine" – Nico

One of the most interesting people hanging around the club scene was the drag queen Christina. Marilyn Manson played her in Party Monster, but his performance missed her true wonder. Luckily Nelson Sullivan was there, and captured her on video. You can find her all over YouTube. She's phenomenal.

Before she committed suicide, Christina was brought up on attempted murder charges. She was performing on stage and threw a microphone stand into a heckler's face, knocking out his eye. There wasn't any documentary evidence of what song she was singing at the time, so I went with this one.

#13 "Fast as You Can" – Fiona Apple

The only reason I became a professional writer was because I thought that if I did well with my books, it was my best chance of meeting Fiona Apple and maybe Alicia Keys. I still haven't met either.

#14 "Hallelujah (SNL Version)" – Alicia Keys

Following up on the previous song. I was in Europe when Donald Trump won the Presidency. A week later, everyone started sending me emails about a performance of "Hallelujah" on Saturday Night Live. It was apparently a bitter rebuke of the electoral results. I went to YouTube and I typed in Hallelujah and SNL, and what came up was a video of Alicia Keys on SNL, performing a ripsnorting version of her song "Hallelujah."

This was a moment of existential crisis. I was shocked. The hacks who run Saturday Night Live had come up with the perfect solution to a moment of national crisis: Alicia Keys. I think that Alicia Keys is the solution to every major problem in the world. When there's a North Korean nuclear bomb exploding over my head, in the millisecond before my flesh is vaporized, I'll cry out for Alicia Keys.

So I was now, at last, forced to admit that something on Saturday Night Live hadn't been distasteful and was exactly what I would have done in the same circumstances. I believed this for a week as I wandered around Munich. And then someone told me that, no, actually SNL's reaction to Trump had been a different performance: Kate McKinnon dressed as Hillary Clinton, performing a version of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah."

The world again made sense in its sickening mediocrity.

15. "Tell Me Something Good" – 3 Teens Kill 4

This was David Wojnarowicz's band. He shows up in the book.

16. "Changing of the Guards" – Bob Dylan

One of Baby's boyfriends mishears a line in this song—"She was trapped between Jupiter and Apollo"—as "Trapped between Jupiter and a bottle." Which Baby ends up using as the title of his first SF novel.

Someone I dated actually made this mistake, so I turned it into a plot device.

16. "You Like it Real" – Holy Cow

Baby snorts a bunch of ketamine. He goes into a K-hole and imagines that he's in a universe of rainbow gradiation, where aliens communicate through high-frequency light manipulation. Thankfully the ketamine has given Baby the ability to understand communication through high-frequency light manipulation, at which point the aliens recite the lyrics of "You Like it Real" by Holy Cow, the best band to ever emerge from Providence, Rhode Island.

17. "Pretend We're Dead" – L7

This song showed up on the playlist I wrote for Largehearted Boy when I Hate the Internet came out. My publicist suggested that I should tone down what I'd originally written. I duly complied. Anyway, Future is another book with an L7 confluence, which is weird, because I never liked their music.

Here's what I struck from the I Hate the Internet playlist: "I really miss all of the Gen X women from the ‘90s who'd invite you to their threadbare apartments, and spend half the night insulting their cat while insisting that you read a translation of Baudelaire's translation of De Quincey, and then wake up the next day and plot to assassinate their exes. Maybe these women still exist and I'm so dreadfully boring that I haven't run into one in over a decade, but it feels like an essential light went out around 2000. Anyway, I Hate the Internet is a love letter to all of them. I hope they're still out there, somewhere, throwing used tampons at posters of Neil Young."

18. "Feeling Good" – Nina Simone

Dr. Simone at one of her many many many high points—a song somehow resistant to the eldritch touch of Michael Bublé, an individual who looks like a Victorian resurrection man crawled into Frank Sinatra's wardrobe.

Adeline starts listening to Nina Simone after seeing Point of No Return, a remake of La Femme Nikita. She goes to a record store in San Francisco and buys an album, only to be condescended to by the clerk. You cannot overestimate how frequently this condescension occurred in the months after Point of No Return.

19. "Bring it on Home To Me (Live at the Harlem Square Club 1963)" – Sam Cooke

There's a tender reunion scene in Future that follows Baby's purchase of a Japanese issue of this album by Sam Cooke. This live show is almost certainly the greatest thing ever recorded.

20. "Here Comes the Hotstepper" – Ini Kamoze

This song was really, really popular in 1994. It still sounds great, which you can't say for most things that were really, really popular in 1994. Hearing "Hotstepper" is what makes Adeline realize that she's gotten old: like Bret Easton Ellis, pop music has left her behind.

21. "The Beautiful People" – Marilyn Manson

Speak of the devil.

The artist William E. Jones had an idea that the best way to understand the alternative rock music of the early 1990s was as capitalism transforming the so-called trangressive culture of the previous decades into digestible product for straight people.

Nine Inch Nails is Robert Mapplethorpe. Nirvana is William Burroughs. Hole is Lydia Lunch.

I'd suggest that Marilyn Manson was the last of these groups, and that the band's early days were about harnessing the energy and output of the Club Kids and making it into safe product.

Just before Future ends, Baby ends up seeing Marilyn Manson live and having the same idea.

I told Jones that I'd stolen his idea, but he didn't remember having it in the first place.


Jarett Kobek and The Future Won't Be Long links:

excerpt from the book

Publishers Weekly review

Largehearted Boy Book Notes playlist by the author for I Hate the Internet
OTHERPPL 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






August 22, 2017

Shorties (Fall's Best Books, Matt Berninger on the New Album by the National, and more)

ELLE previewed fall's best new books.


Matt Berninger broke down the National's new album Sleep Well Beast on the Rolling Stone podcast.


CLASH interviewed author Sarah Gerard.


The band Chvrches will be features in an Archies comics.


Tin House features new short fiction by Justin Taylor.


Luna covered the Cure's "Fire in Cairo."


The DSC Prize for South Asian Literature has announced its 2017 longlist.


PopMatters examined the musical legacy of Tony Conrad.


Weekend Edition interviewed Ayobami Adebayo about her debut novel, Stay with Me.


CBC Music is streaming Oh Sees' new album Orc.


Entropy interviewed author Zoe Zolbrod.


James Murphy discussed LCD Soundsystem's return with Vulture and the New York Times.


Haaretz recommended North Korean films and books.


Diane Coffee covered Pink Floyd's "Eclipse."


Book Riot previewed September's best books by British authors.


John Darnielle talked writing with the Independent.


eBooks on sale for $0.99 today:

Benazir Bhutto: Favored Daughter by Brooke Allen
J.D. Salinger: The Escape Artist by Thomas Beller
The Lost Tribe of Coney Island by Claire Prentice
Lucian Freud: Eyes Wide Open by Phoebe Hoban
Men, Women & Children by Chad Kultgen

eBooks on sale for $1.99 today:

The Blazing World by Siri Hustvedt
The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson
Girl Through Glass by Sari Wilson
The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells by Andrew Sean Greer
Island Beneath the Sea by Isabel Allende
Jailbird by Kurt Vonnegut
A Land More Kind Than Home by Wiley Cash
Life Among Giants by Bill Roorbach
Red Moon by Benjamin Percy
The Small Backs of Children by Lidia Yuknavitch
A Small Revolution by Jimin Han
This Is Your Life, Harriet Chance! by Jonathan Evison
You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine by Alexandra Kleeman

eBooks on sale for $2.99 today:

Broken Verses by Kamila Shamsie
The Child in Time by Ian McEwan
The Comfort of Strangers by Ian McEwan
The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers
Inferno by Eileen Myles
The Sunlit Room by Rebecca Dinerstein
Visible City by Tova Mirvis


eBooks on sale for $3.99 today:

The Beautiful Bureaucrat by Helen Phillips
Broken Glass by Alain Mabanckou
A Complicated Kindness by Miriam Toews
Lightning People by Christopher Bollen
The River Why by David James Duncan
The Theoretical Foot by M. F. K. Fisher


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
WORD Bookstores Books of the Week (recommended new books)
weekly music release lists


August 21, 2017

Book Notes - Jarret Middleton "Darkansas"

Darkansas

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.

Jarret Middleton's novel Darkansas is a compelling and dark debut.

Kirkus wrote of the book:

"It’s a well-carved story of a family’s curse, as brittle and grotesque as any works in the vein of Faulkner or O’Connor.

A subversive twist on Southern myths that’s surprisingly rich in its execution."


In his own words, here is Jarret Middleton's Book Notes music playlist for his debut novel Darkansas:



1. Tim Barry - "Texas Cops"

Darkansas opens with country musician Jordan Bayne waking up hungover with a black eye and an unnamed girl in his bed, trying his best to recount what happened the night before after his solo acoustic set at a San Antonio dive. He throws some clothes in a bag, leaves the girl, grabs his guitar, and heads back home to the Ozarks for his twin brother's wedding.

Tim Barry is one of my favorite folk-country artists ever. Former front man of legendary punk band, Avail, his solo career is a perfect blend of fiercely independent punk attitude, trains, booze, tragedy, perseverance, middle age, friends, family, and the struggle to be a good man. In a lot of ways, there couldn't be a better fit for the character of Jordan.

2. Leon Payne - "Lost Highway"

Leon Payne is one of those songwriters like Kris Kristoffersen, Roger Miller, or Townes Van Zandt, who wrote dozens of songs made famous by other musicians over the years. Lost Highway is a perfect example. Leon Payne wrote it in 1948 and it has since been covered countless times, most notably by Hank Williams and Bob Dylan. In Darkansas, the patriarch of the family is bluegrass legend, Walker Bayne. When Jordan returns home, he takes a meandering walk through Walker's studio, looking at all of the pictures, records, and memorabilia of his father's storied career. One of the pictures is of Walker with Leon Payne, who's squinting because, in addition to being a genius songwriter, he was also blind.

3. Lucero - "Banks of the Arkansas"

In choosing an appropriate playlist for Darkansas, I wanted the tracks to comprise an equal amount of contemporary tunes and old classics, to account for the generational gap of the two musicians in the family, Jordan and his father, Walker. What better way to represent the new country-folk influence than to go with this classic from Lucero, whose frontman Ben Nichols' is an Arkansas native. This song is fitting for the tone of the book because it is new but sounds like an old traditional. It is also a nod to Jordan's relationship with ex-girlfriend Leah Fayette, who he has known since they were kids. Things ended badly between them and now that he is back in town he has to make amends, which is easier said than done.

4. The Louvin Brothers - "Satan is Real"

Throughout Darkansas, the narrative revisits all the grisly, violent, and bizarre ways that sons have murdered their fathers in the long and twisted history of the Bayne clan. In 1907, Zuriel Bayne becomes a zealot in the Evangelical revival of Charles Parham. When he returns home to find his father ill, he blames his twin brother Jonathan for being a Freemason, which Zuriel considers demonic. He believes his brother unwittingly has invited the devil into their house. From that point on, Zuriel's mental state deteriorates into madness. He believes God has chosen him to release his family from Satan's grasp. Spoiler alert: it does not go well.

5. Cory Brannan - "Survivor Blues"

Jordan Bayne is a convicted felon. In addition to playing dive bars, drinking himself into oblivion, and numerous brushes with the law, he's also a hopeless romantic. Brannan's lyrics are overtly literary and tragic, each one a story in itself. He's a brilliant songwriter, dyed in the same wool as the cast of characters in this book. Guy and girl fall in love, steal a car to get "way the hell away from here." Fleeing a lifetime of betrayal and abuse, they head off together, fully aware that this chapter will probably soon end badly as well. A great star-crossed lovers story song wrapped up by the beautifully brutal chorus line: "They say it makes you stronger, but first you gotta survive / What didn't kill you will make you wish you died."

6. Merle Travis - "I'll See You In My Dreams (Live on Ozark Jubilee)"

"Jubilee U.S.A." was a live music variety show that aired on ABC in the 1950's. Also known as the "Ozark Jubilee," the show aired a showcase of country, bluegrass, and folk artists live from its studios in Springfield, MO. Patsy Cline, Johnny Cash, Marty Robbins, Wanda Jackson, The Louvin Brothers, Lefty Frizzell, Conway Twitty, and virtually every country star at the time graced it's stage (with the glaring absence of black blues and folk musicians, of course). Carl Perkins made his TV debut on the show. It was eventually overtaken by more popular music variety shows, not least of which was the "Grand Ol' Opry."

The "Ozark Jubilee" was significant for a number of reasons and it figures into the history in Darkansas. On the evening of Malcolm's bachelor party, a drunk Jordan climbs up a fire escape and sneaks inside of the Jewell Theatre, also known as the Landers Theatre, where the show had originally been shot. Jordan reminisces that their father Walker performed live on the show in the early '50s. Also, early on in the novel, when Jordan is shaken up by an off-handed remark about his famous father, Jordan jealously reasons that he could, "Travis pick his way out of a toilet stall faster than Walker ever could."

7. Roscoe Holcomb - "Trouble in Mind"

Roscoe Holcomb is as Kentucky bluegrass as it gets. Trouble In Mind reminds me of that golden age of bluegrass, whether from Kentucky or Arkansas, which the character Walker Bayne plays his fictional part. There are few better practitioners of the banjo than Roscoe Holcomb. His sustained high tenor wail carries like wind through a reed and you can almost imagine it cutting clear and high above the constant chug of a locomotive on the tracks, watching fields and sky pass from one of its boxcars.
A chapter in Darkansas is set in 1936 and recounts Bayne ancestor Casey's robbing of a moonshine still and his war with the avenging gang that follows. There is a chase down a country road in a Ford wagon and a fight at the mouth of a mine. I can hear this song playing as they careen towards tragedy.

8. Henry Thomas - "Arkansas"

Henry Thomas is one of the earliest surviving recordings of black sharecropper blues, alongside Blind Willie McTell, who's up next on the playlist. This version of Arkansas is unique. Similar to many earlier folk traditionals, it is a pastiche of multiple different songs in a new arrangement. This version combines parts of "Let Me Bring My Clothes Back Home," "Trials and Troubles," and "Arkansas." It contains the famous line, "I had my ups and downs through life and bitter times I saw, but I never knew what misery was 'til I hit old Arkansas." There are countless iterations of this song, making it one of the most famous state songs and satire folk songs on record. Thomas' version also contains the part of "Trials and Troubles:" "I'm going to buy 'em all, cigarettes and chewing tobacco when I can, 'cause trials and troubles are heavy for a man." Which you might recognize from its contemporary treatment in a fantastic rendition by Old Crow Medicine Show.

9. Blind Willie McTell - "You Was Born To Die"

Another early blues folk legend. Ghostly, romantic, and straight-forward. It pertains to one of the brothers and the fate that befalls them by the end of the book, but in the interest of avoiding spoilers, I won't say which one. "You made me love you, then you made me cry / you should remember that you were born to die."

10. Sister Rosetta Tharpe - "Strange Things Happening Every Day"

The undisputed godmother of rock n' roll! The queen diva! It is hard to overstate the indelible mark Sister Rosetta Tharpe made on American music. If Chuck Berry was the godfather of rock n' roll, she was the godmother, and still has yet to receive her proper due. A big, proud, beautiful black woman from Cotton Plant, Arkansas, Sister Rosetta Tharpe's voice booms with that feel-good, deep-down-in-your-soul gospel that forms the backbone of music in this country. Despite racism, sexism, a slave economy, and a repressive state, her voice rings with the joy of song and the ultimate deliverance of God's love. Until judgment day, though, take it from the master herself, strange things are happening every day. . . .

11. Townes Van Zandt - "The Highway Kind"

Townes is my favorite artist on this list and possibly of all time. There is no more casually genius songwriter that I know of, though a few come close. The tone and lyrics of this song perfectly reflect the years of loneliness and suffering that have come to define Jordan's life. No matter what he has ever done, it has never been the right thing, and it will never be enough. Now Jordan is heading into the jaws of something much bigger than him--something abstract, visceral, and eclipsing in its horror. In the words of Townes: "Follow the circle down, where would you be?"

12. Gillian Welch - "Time (The Revelator)"

Ultimately, Darkansas is about a cyclical murder myth that plagues the Bayne family throughout the ages. For generations nobody was even aware the myth existed, until Jordan comes home for Malcolm's wedding and starts to see clearly for the first time that something is not right with his family. He always thought a dark cloud hung over only him, a black sheep fuck up that can do no good. He starts to understand that something unnamable, old, and evil has infested every generation going back to the Civil War. While he doesn't yet know the purpose, he knows something is amiss, but even still it might be too late. What is revealed, we are powerless to stop. Jordan could act to stop fate from happening, but as the old saying goes, we usually meet our fate on the road we take to avoid it. Perhaps anything Jordan could do to stop the murder from happening is exactly the action that will ensure the murder will occur. Time will reveal all.

13. Slim Cessna's Auto Club - "This Is How We Do Things In The Country"

A ceremonial murder ballad celebrating the surreal, dark secrets, murderous intentions, bloody pasts, insane psyches, old-time religion, snake cults, the devil, and redemption that populates the shadowy world of Slim Cessna's Auto Club and the twisted history of Darkansas. Beware!


Jarret Middleton and Darkansas links:

the author's website

Criminal Element review
Kirkus review
Publishers Weekly review
Shelf Awareness review

The JDO Show 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


Shorties (Nicole Krauss on Her New Novel, Stream a New St. Vincent Song, and more)

Nicole Krauss discussed her new novel Forest Dark with the Guardian.


Stream a new St. Vincent song.


Electric Literature interviewed author N. J. Campbell.


Randy Newman broke down his new album track-by-track at Pitchfork.


Playboy interviewed author N.K. Jemison.


The A.V. Club interviewed Grizzly Bear's Ed Droste.


The Los Angeles Review of Books interviewed author Scaachi Koul.


Noisey profiled the band Grizzly Bear.


Signature interviewed author John Boyne.


NPR Music shared a playlist for the solar eclipse.


BuzzFeed recommended books that explain the white supremacy movement in the United States.


Stereogum reconsidered Oasis's Be Here Now album on its 20th anniversary.


Bustle recommended books on the history of food.


The Creative Independent interviewed Tori Amos.


Lauren Groff talked to the New Yorker about her story in this week's issue.


Literary Hub shared an "end times reading list for your existential crisis."


eBooks on sale for $0.99 today:

Benazir Bhutto: Favored Daughter by Brooke Allen
J.D. Salinger: The Escape Artist by Thomas Beller
The Lost Tribe of Coney Island by Claire Prentice
Lucian Freud: Eyes Wide Open by Phoebe Hoban
Men, Women & Children by Chad Kultgen

eBooks on sale for $1.99 today:

The Blazing World by Siri Hustvedt
The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson
Girl Through Glass by Sari Wilson
The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells by Andrew Sean Greer
Island Beneath the Sea by Isabel Allende
Jailbird by Kurt Vonnegut
A Land More Kind Than Home by Wiley Cash
Life Among Giants by Bill Roorbach
Red Moon by Benjamin Percy
The Small Backs of Children by Lidia Yuknavitch
A Small Revolution by Jimin Han
This Is Your Life, Harriet Chance! by Jonathan Evison
You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine by Alexandra Kleeman

eBooks on sale for $2.99 today:

Broken Verses by Kamila Shamsie
The Child in Time by Ian McEwan
The Comfort of Strangers by Ian McEwan
The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers
Inferno by Eileen Myles
The Sunlit Room by Rebecca Dinerstein
Visible City by Tova Mirvis


eBooks on sale for $3.99 today:

The Beautiful Bureaucrat by Helen Phillips
Broken Glass by Alain Mabanckou
A Complicated Kindness by Miriam Toews
Lightning People by Christopher Bollen
The River Why by David James Duncan
The Theoretical Foot by M. F. K. Fisher


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
WORD Bookstores Books of the Week (recommended new books)
weekly music release lists


August 20, 2017

Atomic Books Comics Preview - August 20, 2017

In the weekly Atomic Books Comics Preview, Benn Ray highlights notable new comics, graphic novels, and books.

Benn Ray is the owner of Atomic Books, an independent bookstore in Baltimore. He also runs the Mutant Funnies Tumblr.

Atomic Books has been named one of BuzzFeed's Great American Bookstores, as well as one of Flavorwire's 10 greatest comic and graphic novel stores in America.


Behaving Madly

Behaving Madly
by Ger Apeldoorn

If imitation is one of the sincerest forms of flattery, what does that make outright ripping off? In the 1950s, when it was clear that MAD Magazine was not just a huge hit, but a cultural phenomenon, it didn't take long for other publishers to glut the market by launching their own versions of the humor/satire magazine. In some cases, these knock-offs even employed some of the best illustrators of the time. The results were uneven, but this book provides both a history of the publications of that era who all went MAD, and selections of some of the better comics from the wannabes.


Dark Nights Metal #1

Dark Nights Metal #1
by Scott Snyder / Greg Capullo

I'm not apt to recommend single issues of mainstream superhero comics, but this one has been highly anticipated since it's the vision of writer Scott Snyder, and it is the official starting point of DC's big crossover event. Basically, this weird metal, the Nth metal, has some sort of weird tie to a dark universe. Batman's shenanigans may have opened a doorway and something might be coming through. Snyder's take on the DC pantheon is very entertaining (so much so that I'd say that Warner Bros. would do well to put him in charge of their DC movies). And oh yeah, there is a huge surprise appearance from a beloved DC character who we rarely see anymore.


Sh*t My President Says: The Illustrated Tweets Of Donald Trump

Sh*t My President Says: The Illustrated Tweets Of Donald Trump
by Shannon Wheeler

New Yorker cartoonist and creator of Too Much Coffee Man, Shannon Wheeler has taken the Tweets of Donald Trump and illustrated them here. So it's the President's own words, with Wheeler's art. The results make our national nightmare more bearable - for like a day or two.


Where Have All the Flowers Gone: The Women of Folk Music

Where Have All the Flowers Gone: The Women of Folk Music
by Bijou Karman

This awesome zine is a collection of profiles of female folk singers from the 50s-70s, some you have have heard of and some you may not have. It is a great little read with a solid list of artists you'll want to check out. Each entry also very smartly comes with a song recommendation as a starting point.


Women In Sound #4

Women In Sound #4
by Madeleine Campbell / Maggie Negrete

This inspiring zine features an array of interviews with women, queer and trans musicians and sound artists. There are band members, rappers, DJs, sound engineers, producers, and more.


Questions, concerns, comments or gripes – e-mail benn@atomicbooks.com. If there’s a comic I should know about, send it my way at Atomic, c/o Atomic Books 3620 Falls Rd., Baltimore, MD 21211.


Atomic Books & Benn Ray links:

Atomic Books website
Atomic Books on Twitter
Atomic Books on Facebook
Benn Ray's blog (The Mobtown Shank)
Benn Ray's comic, Mutant Funnies


also at Largehearted Boy:

Support the Largehearted Boy website

other Atomic Books Comics Preview lists (weekly new comics & graphic novel highlights)

Online "Best of 2015" Book Lists

Antiheroines (interviews with up and coming female comics artists)
Book Notes (authors create music 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)
WORD Bookstores Books of the Week (weekly new book highlights)


August 18, 2017

Book Notes - Caitlin Hamilton Summie "To Lay To Rest Our Ghosts"

To Lay To Rest Our Ghosts

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.

Caitlin Hamilton Summie's To Lay To Rest Our Ghosts is an impressive short fiction collection that quietly explores themes of place and loss.

Foreword Reviews wrote of the book:

"What is remembered; what is missed; what will never be again . . . all these are addressed with the tenderness of a wise observer whose heart is large enough, kind enough, to embrace them all without judgment. . . . intense and finely crafted . . . . her stories reach into the hidden places of the heart and break them open to healing light, offering a touch of grace and hope of reconciliation."


In her own words, here is Caitlin Hamilton Summie's Book Notes music playlist for her short story collection To Lay To Rest Our Ghosts:



I don't write to songs. I write when I have time—at night, on weekends—and the music I hear as I write is kids laughing or bickering or throwing back the door and dashing through the house. TV. Cars revving up the hill in front of our house—and the school bus wheezing its way to the top. Lawn mowers. My husband typing in his office space. Birdsong.

My short story collection is about geography, about how where we live shapes us, but it's also about the landscape of loss and hope—what boundaries separate us and how we learn to walk across them.

The following playlist is for or from my characters, story by story.

The lyrics of some songs sometimes might be intended for lovers, and my stories are not about lovers, but the overall themes of the music/songs speak to my characters' conflicts. And my characters would change a few lyrics to fit their lives anyway.

TAGS

The opening piece in the soundtrack to Dances with Wolves by composer John Barry would remind Dorothy of the kinds of classical music that seems to be in so many WWII movies. She'd be able to imagine, as she listens, the men posing for photos, then the planes flying off, high into the clouds. And those sad, high violin notes would be her father—the handsome, tall one in the back row with the cigarette almost falling out of his mouth because of his wide smile. He was the navigator, but he did not find his way home. He was the one whose plane became the fireball that tore open her heart.

GROWING UP COLD

If there was ever a song John needed—he who returns home after a two year absence to the loss of the sister he deeply loved—it is "Shine" by Mondo Cozmo. Oh, if he could just let it all go. But he can't. As a boy, he lost his mother. Sunk by his own grief, his older brother turned away from him. And now his sweet sister, Lonnie, is gone. How can one family attract so much lightning? John doesn't know. There is a lot he doesn't understand. No one talked to him about handling death and loss so it's awfully frickin' hard to let go. But, oh, if he could…The one thing he does know, though, is who is he is, and what goodbye means to him, and he is going to do his best to honor what is most beautiful in himself by creating a goodbye that he feels honors what was best in Lonnie.

POINTS OF EXCHANGE

American Mars, "Better Angels." Jenny yearns to escape the close, small community of women that raised her, then gets to the big city after college and realizes she isn't as strong as she thought. She's inclined to keep trying to establish roots, until she faces real trouble. Then she realizes her champions are back home. Her family will always let her go—but open the door wide if she wants to circle back, no questions asked, even Earl, so new to the family he shines.

BROTHERS

American Mars, "If Monday Were Mine." If George could regain his sense of self, then maybe, maybe he could handle the rest. But his spirit is as damaged as his body. For now, he relies on being stubborn and on his dog, Jack, and his drink, sometimes also Jack.

PATCHWORK

Knots & Crosses, "Creatures of Habit."

"One night, no warnin', you walked away, the light come mornin', do you like it that way?"

"I reach out my empty hands, but all I touch is air."

Inter-generational conflict, all over how we are to be remembered. Who has the right to tell the family history? Which version is the truth? And why does the truth hurt so much more if other people know?

SONS

"I Still Believe" by The Call. What father doesn't hope? Aren't the fathers in this story hoping—to reconnect? To survive financially? To live?

Nothing is promised, little is fair, but God help them, the Kvists—failing dairy, fragile preemie—are going to hope. In the winter that is their world and also their lives right now, hope is all they have. And hope is enough.

GEOGRAPHIES OF THE HEART

Here are sisters in their 30's whose whole relationship is about to sink. Words are the only way back to each other, even if the lyrics aren't perfect. Like I said, my characters would make the lyrics suit them.

Sarah to Glennie: After years and years of caring for her family and worrying about Glennie's health, Sarah would sing Janis Joplin's "Take A Piece of My Heart" to her beautiful, wildly successful sister. The song is rough, broken, pleading. Done. Sarah is done. This is her last effort to reconnect.

Glennie's reply? John Hiatts's "Have A Little Faith in Me" would be Glennie, speaking to Sarah, asking for a break from her expectations. Asking for a chance to reconnect as she is, not as the person Sarah wants her to be.

MOTHERS

"Into My Arms" by Nick Cave. Another song for lovers, but Carol changes the lyrics in her mind so that the singer is a mother speaking to a child.

Plaintive, lonely, simple—all this makes sense to a woman whose world is fading away, child grown and gone, landscape lost to development, home irrevocably changed.

FISH EYES IN MOONLIGHT

Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan's Sufi devotional music would be played in John's house, and he would have liked listening to it, though he came from another religious tradition.

Fiedler's Greatest Hits—for a retired military man who lived his whole life in Boston, Fiedler would be a tonic, reminding of him of how many Fourth of July evenings? How many songs that reflect his life?

"Song for My Father" by Horace Silver. It's got a beat and is a bit chirpy, but it would have soothed. He would like it to be his sound, to walk out –a final walk-- with that spirit.

TAKING ROOT

Al and Sarah have lost their baby, a second child.

For Al, one has to list The Gopher fight song. He's lived in Minnesota all his life. And he needs a fight song right now.

The only other song that fits is "Amazing Grace." Which shocks him as much as it might you. Really? Faith? Yup. Faith.


Caitlin Hamilton Summie and To Lay To Rest Our Ghosts links:

the author's website
excerpt from the book

Beth Fish Reads review
Booksie's Blog review
Centered on Books review
Chapter 16 review
Foreword review
Hungry for Good Books review
Minneapolis Star Tribune review

Beatrice essay by the author
Bloom interview with the author
Deborah Kalb interview with the book


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 - August 18, 2017

Rainer Maria

Rainer Maria's self-titled album is my favorite new release this week.

Sisters Shelby Lynne & Allison Moorer's Not Dark Yet and Grizzly Bear's Painted Ruins are other albums I can recommend.

Reissues include vinyl editions of Neil Young's American Stars 'N Bars, Comes a Time, Live Rust, and Rust Never Sleeps.


This week's interesting music releases:

A$AP Ferg: Still Striving
The Accidentals: Odyssey
Ariel Pink: Another Weekend B/W Ode To The Goat Thank You [vinyl]
Beyonce: How To Make Lemonade (2-LP and book box set)
The Blind Boys Of Alabama: Almost Home
Cheap Trick: We're All Right! [vinyl]
Cloakroom: Time Well
Dent May: Across the Universe
Everything Everything: Fever Dream
Ghostpoet: Dark Days & Canapés
Grizzly Bear: Painted Ruins
HAIM: Something To Tell You [vinyl]
Interpol: Our Love To Admire (remastered and expanded) [vinyl]
Jerry Garcia: Garcia Sky Blue (reissue) [vinyl]
k. d. lang: Ingénue (remastered and expanded) [vinyl]
Major Lazer: Know Better EP
Mozzy: 1 Up Top Ahk
Neil Young: American Stars 'N Bars (reissue) [vinyl]
Neil Young: Comes a Time (reissue) [vinyl]
Neil Young: Live Rust (reissue) [vinyl]
Neil Young: Original Release Series Discs 5-8 (4-disc box set)
Neil Young: Original Release Series Discs 8.5-12 (5-disc box set)
Neil Young: Rust Never Sleeps (reissue) [vinyl]
Phora: Yours Truly Forever
Rainer Maria: Rainer Maria
Randy Newman: Dark Matter [vinyl]
Shelby Lynne & Allison Moorer: Not Dark Yet
Steven Wilson: To The Bone
Style Council: Our Favourite Record Shop (reissue) [vinyl]
Thee Oh Sees: Orc
Trombone Shorty: Parking Lot Symphony [vinyl]
The Tubes: The A&M Albums (5-CD box set)
Various Artists: Guardians of the Galaxy 2: Awesome Mix 2 [vinyl]
Various Artists: Wonder Woman (soundtrack) [vinyl]


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 (An Animal Farm Videogame, A Playlist of Anti-Fascist Metal Songs, and more)

A videogame adaptation of George Orwell's novel Animal Farm is forthcoming.


Stream a playlist of anti-fascist metal songs.


Longreads features new nonfiction by Lindsay Hunter.


Drowned in Sound reconsidered Fugazi's The Argument album.


On Life and Meaning interviewed author and musician Jeff Jackson.


SPIN shared its songs of the summer.


BOMB shared an excerpt from Jesse Ball's book Notes on My Dunce Cap.


Baeble interviewed Geographer's Mike Deni.


Irvine Welsh discussed his favorite albums at the Daily Express.


Simon Raymonde visited World Cafe for a live performance and interview.


Jarret Middleton talked to The JDO Show about his new novel Darkansas.


Stream a new song by The Pains of Being Pure at Heart.


Mimi Pond talked to KQED about her new graphic novel The Customer Is Always Wrong.

The San Francisco Chronicle reviewed the book.


Overcoats visited World Cafe for an interview and live performance.


Ryan Gattis discussed his new novel Safe with Bookworm.


Stream a new Alvvays song.


Granta interviewed author Peter Stamm.


Rolling Stone interviewed singer-songwriter Steve Earle.


Omnivoracious interviewed author Kamila Shamsie.


Stream a new Game Theory song.


Lenny shared an excerpt from Chelsea Martin's essay collection Caca Dolce.


Coming soon: a graphic novel biography of Nick Cave.


Literary Hub shared an excerpt fro Chiara Barzini's novel Things That Happened Before the Earthquake.


eBooks on sale for $0.99 today:

Benazir Bhutto: Favored Daughter by Brooke Allen
J.D. Salinger: The Escape Artist by Thomas Beller
The Lost Tribe of Coney Island by Claire Prentice
Lucian Freud: Eyes Wide Open by Phoebe Hoban
Men, Women & Children by Chad Kultgen

eBooks on sale for $1.99 today:

The Blazing World by Siri Hustvedt
The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson
Girl Through Glass by Sari Wilson
The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells by Andrew Sean Greer
Island Beneath the Sea by Isabel Allende
Jailbird by Kurt Vonnegut
A Land More Kind Than Home by Wiley Cash
Life Among Giants by Bill Roorbach
Red Moon by Benjamin Percy
The Small Backs of Children by Lidia Yuknavitch
A Small Revolution by Jimin Han
This Is Your Life, Harriet Chance! by Jonathan Evison
You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine by Alexandra Kleeman

eBooks on sale for $2.99 today:

Broken Verses by Kamila Shamsie
The Child in Time by Ian McEwan
The Comfort of Strangers by Ian McEwan
The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers
Inferno by Eileen Myles
The Sunlit Room by Rebecca Dinerstein
Visible City by Tova Mirvis


eBooks on sale for $3.99 today:

The Beautiful Bureaucrat by Helen Phillips
Broken Glass by Alain Mabanckou
A Complicated Kindness by Miriam Toews
Lightning People by Christopher Bollen
The River Why by David James Duncan
The Theoretical Foot by M. F. K. Fisher


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
WORD Bookstores Books of the Week (recommended new books)
weekly music release lists


August 17, 2017

Book Notes - Matthew Zapruder "Why Poetry"

Why Poetry

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.

Matthew Zapruder's Why Poetry is an eloquent book that makes the case for poetry's relevance and importance.

Booklist wrote of the book:

"[A] diligently executed investigation. . . . Conversational yet eloquent, accessible and intelligent, Zapruder considers a range of writing on poetics and the craft of composition and includes close reads and smart explication."


In his own words, here is Matthew Zapruder's Book Notes music playlist for his book Why Poetry:



My dad taught me how to finger pick Bob Dylan songs when I was five, and I've been playing ever since, sometimes in bands and on records, but mostly on my own, in every room I've lived in. Listening to and playing music is a way I have of connecting with other artists throughout time, mostly ones I've never met, many of whom are dead. I have deep, private relationships in my imagination with those songs and the people who made them. Music is a huge part of my memories, and my understanding of my own personal history. My feelings about the songs I love and their creators are inextricable from the experiences that make up my life.

Why Poetry is an amalgam of autobiography, inquiry, analysis, and polemic. I set out originally to write a book about poetry, and not about my own life. But as I tried to ask myself what was difficult about poetry, and what could be done to bring it closer to readers, I came back again and again to my own experiences with reading and writing it as a way to clearly and honestly bring out what I think are central concerns. Below is a playlist with one song per chapter of the book.


Introduction: "Oh, My Stars," Nina Nastasia

I start off the book by talking about when I began writing this book, in New York in 2005 or so. I remember that was a deep Guided by Voices period for me: for years, I listened to them more than any other band. For obvious reasons I associate those dark, second term George W. Bush years with a perfect song from their brief commercial music era, "Hold on Hope." But the other singer who I listened to so much during that time was Nina Nastasia, whom I met once at the KGB Bar in the Lower East Side.

Three Beginnings and The Machine of Poetry: "Darkness," The Police

The first chapter of the book centers around when I first started reading poetry, in high school and much earlier, as a child. But other than those isolated experiences, I wasn't into poetry at all as kid. In high school my brother and I used to go into the back area of our house, where we would sit and play primitive video games for hours and listen to The Kinks, Led Zeppelin, and then later The Talking Heads, Men at Work, Tears for Fears, and other bands that were then "alternative." Eventually U2, REM, Aztec Camera. But the band we loved the most, and vowed at the time never to abandon, was The Police. We were especially attached to the moody Ghost in the Machine, essentially a perfect record. As soon as I hear a few notes from any song on that record, I am spiritually transported back to those times. It's hard to pick a song, but I'm going to go with the last one on the record, "Darkness," penned by Stewart Copeland, an underrated songwriter.

Literalists of the Imagination: "Linctus House," Robyn Hitchcock

In this chapter I write about how crucial it is to read any poem, no matter how clear or confusing it first appears, completely literally: to be as attentive as possible to the words on the page, and avoid leaving them in search of supposed symbolism, scholarly allusion, etc. I discuss surrealist Paul Eluard's great poem, "The earth is blue like an orange," and when I think of surrealism I think of the songwriter whom I listened to incessantly in my early 20's, the great Robyn Hitchcock. It's almost impossible to pick a song -- "I Often Dream of Trains," "My Wife and My Dead Wife," "Tropical Flesh Mandala," "Madonna of the Wasps" – but I'm going to have to go with a song so painfully suffused for me with ineffable nostalgia that I can only listen to it at those rare times when I feel strong enough.

Three Literal Readings: "Hopeless," The Wrens

At the end of this chapter I talk about going to Emily Dickinson's grave in Amherst, Massachusetts, where I went to college and then later returned to go to graduate school. Writing this I had a vivid memory of driving, at night, away from the graveyard one summer night in 2006, and listening at top volume to one of my favorite songs by one of favorite bands. I will tell you all a secret: I have heard rough versions of some of the new songs from their upcoming record, and it's some of the most epic, ambitious, pleasurable, transformational rock music I have ever experienced. Finish it, Charles!!

Make It Strange: "I Send My Love to You," Palace Brothers

The only place in the book where I write about literary theory, in this case the Russian theorist Viktor Shklovsky's well-known concept of "defamiliarization." According to him, in its artificiality, art reminds us of the true strangeness of life: it makes the stone feel stony to us again. This makes me think of the stripped-down early lyrics of Will Oldham, when he was still mostly just a voice, before he was a bearded indie-rock weird god. I listened to Palace Brothers all the time when I was first starting to seriously write poems. Is there a stranger, simpler, more mysterious song ever written than this one?

Some Thoughts on Form and Why I Rhyme: Tribe Called Quest, "Show Business"

Oh, I could have put "I Send My Love to You" in this section too, since Oldham is so good at rhyming! Or gone back to the great American whose songs I have definitely played far more on guitar and sung than anyone else, Hank Williams. In this chapter I talked about an idea called "normal rhyme," an idea Hugh Kenner came up with, that there are certain words that feel so connected we suspect that they must have an etymological relationship, when in fact they don't. In those rhymes, we feel as if we are, he writes, "confronting the wisdom of our vanished ancestors." A perfect example of normal rhyme happens in this Tribe Called Quest song, in Sadat X's guest lyrics: "But I wasn't that cute when I didn't have no loot/ Although I hit a pound of herbs I'm still nice with the verbs." Cute and loot, verbs and herbs: normal rhymes. Or MCA from the Beastie Boys:

I keep my underwear up with a piece of elastic
I use a bullshit mic that's made out of plastic
To send my rhymes out to all the nations
Like Ma Bell, I got the ill communication

The One Thing That Can Save America: "Gymnopédies," Erik Satie (performed by Teodoro Anzellotti)

A chapter about John Ashbery and dreams in poetry. The first (and only) time I hung out with Ashbery, in his house in upstate NY, I brought him a copy of a c.d. of Erik Satie's Sports et Divertissements, played by the genius accordionist Teodoro Anzellotti. I realize writing this how terrible that probably sounds, but it's one of the best records you could ever hear, and is also packaged gorgeously by the label Winter & Winter. I have no idea if he listened to it.

Negative Capability: "Frontwards," Pavement

This chapter is about what happened to me when I first started writing poetry for real, how it pushed me out of one life and into another. Pavement's records Slanted and Enchanted and the EP Watery, Domestic, which has this song on it, were the soundtracks of this transition from California back to Amherst, where I would get my MFA. The lines "I am the only one, searching for you. And if I get caught, then the search is through" continue to have mysterious resonance for me. Plus I also love the dripping ironic confidence of, "I've got style, miles and miles, so much style that it's wasted!"

Three Political Poems: "All These Governors," The Evens

I grew up listening to D.C. hardcore of the 80's, especially my two favorites, Minor Threat and Rites of Spring. When the frontmen of those two bands, Guy Piccioto and Ian MacKaye, formed the straight edge supergroup Fugazi, we all went to one of their first shows, at the outdoor music space Fort Reno park, which Wikipedia informs me has the highest natural point in the entire District of Columbia. Makes sense. It's just a hill. I might be wrong, but I think the red-tinged photos on Fugazi's eponymous first e.p. were taken at that show. I loved that band so much and have seen them many times in concert, never paying more than $5. This great song is from MacKaye's side project, The Evens. It still rocks, and still applies. "When things should work and don't work, that's the work of all these governors." And check it out, you can stream the entire Dischord catalog on line for free!

Dream Meaning: "Perfect Circle," R.E.M.

This chapter is about how associative thinking and movement is central to poetry. The dreamiest of all bands for me, from their name on down, is R.E.M. When I graduated from high school, for some reason I took a job working in a toy store in our local mall, Mazza Gallery. It was like some kind of a living nightmare, the last horror before going away to college. I eventually got my hours reduced to almost none, for leaving work in the middle of the day and playing video games in the record store across the corridor. I used to listen to this record every single morning in my car before I would go into work in my stupid madras shirt. It was the promise of a new life.

Alien Names: "Game of Pricks," Guided By Voices

I have always suspected without evidence that Robert Pollard got the name of the classic GBV record Alien Lanes from Aristotle's description of metaphor: he calls it "the application of an alien name." When I saw GBV in Columbus, Ohio (the poets Joshua Beckman, Betsy Wheeler, and Maggie Smith were all there!) they were so drunk they played this song twice, once during the set and once for an encore. We didn't mind.

True Symbols: "The Ghost in You," Psychedelic Furs

In this chapter I make a distinction between the kind of dreary symbol hunting so many of us were taught to do in school, and the way poetry can reactivate language and remind us of its mysterious symbolic nature. This symbolism is often connected with a return to childhood, when things are both what they are, and something more. When I think of the feeling I get when I encounter a true symbol in a poem, the rush of excitement and possibility and impossible longing, I think of this song, which is probably the one I would play for an alien race if I were going to try to convince them not to kill us all, that we were worth saving.

Most of the Stories Have to do With Vanishing: "He Vanished," Mark Mulcahy

I write about W.S. Merwin and my experiences in graduate school trying to figure out how to write poetry. It's probably the most pervasively personal chapter. During that time at UMass Amherst I was playing a lot of music with The Figments (still in existence, just in hibernation, fronted by my friend the brilliant songwriter Thane Thomsen), and very briefly with the great songwriter Mark Mulcahy. I play on a few songs on his record In Pursuit of Your Happiness, though humiliatingly there are vastly better guitar players on that record too, including Alex Johnson and (gulp) J. Mascis. I love this song, which I don't play on. At around the 9 minute mark, long after the song is over, you can hear me count off, and then Mark sings and I play a hidden track, into one mic.

Nothing is the Force that Renovates the World: "Don't Think Twice," Bob Dylan

In this chapter I write about the limits of knowledge and language, and how they are central to the meaning of poetry. I also write about my father's death, which I was not expecting. I mentioned earlier that my father taught me to play songs by Dylan when I was a kid, including this one, a great performance of negation.

Afterword: Poetry and Poets in a Time of Crisis: "Search and Destroy," Iggy and the Stooges

This song is pure power and anger in its most distilled elixir. I have a feeling we're going to need a whole lot of that feeling going forward.


Matthew Zapruder and Why Poetry links:

the author's website
excerpt from the book

Divedapper interview with the author
Kirkus review
New York Times review
Publishers Weekly review of the book
San Francisco Chronicle review

The Grotto interview with the author
The Millions interview with the author
PBS Newshour profile of the author
Poetry Society of America 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


Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week - August 17, 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.


King-Cat #77

King-Cat #77
by John Porcellino

John Porcellino has been churning out charming and insightful comics and stories (or, Comix + Stories) since 1989. The newest edition of King-Cat again demonstrates Porcellino’s wholeheartedness in his distinct, spare style.


Sea, Land, Shadow

Sea, Land, Shadow
by AUTHOR

Sea, Land, Shadow, a startling book by experimental Japanese poet Kazuko Shiraishi, is the 23rd notch in the wonderful New Directions Poetry Pamphlet series.


Across the Vapour Gulf

Across the Vapour Gulf
by Will Alexander

Will Alexander is not your typical avant-garde poet (which, yes, is an oxymoron). The American’s swirling, psychic craft is marked by its lexical density and willingness to explore the farthest reaches of human understanding. This is #22 in the New Directions Poetry Pamphlet series.


My Heart Hemmed

My Heart Hemmed
by Marie Ndiaye

French writer Marie Ndiaye published her first novel at age seventeen, and has won the prestigious Prix Goncourt. My Heart Hemmed In is an uncanny novel of paranoia and flash-floods from the darkest corners of selfhood.


š! #29 'Celebration' (kuš! Comics)

š! #29 'Celebration' (kuš! Comics)
by Kazuko Shiraishi

The Latvia-based kuš! Comics is celebrating their 10th anniversary! While their first issue featured only one Latvian artist, this installment contains almost exclusively Baltic cartoonists, with comics ranging from the bizarre to the bewildering to the beautiful.


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 (Lena Dunham on Her New Publishing Imprint, A New Julien Baker Song, and more)

Lena Dunham discussed her new Lenny Books imprint with Publishers Weekly.

"It was essential to Jenni and me that we use the gift of our platform to give voice to a diverse group of women who need to be heard."


Stream a new Julien Baker song.


CCM interviewed author Bud Smith.


Laura Jane Grace shared the music that has inspired her life at Pitchfork.


Chiara Barzini discussed her novel Things That Happened Before the Earthquake with Read It Forward.


NPR Music is streaming EMA's new album Exile in the Outer Ring.


Karl Ove Knausgaard talked books and reading with New York Times


Paste profiled Soccer Mommy's Sophie Allison.

In what has become the bedroom pop norm, Allison took to Bandcamp to release music for free under an alternate name—2015’s songs for the recently sad and 2016’s for young hearts are particularly notable, though maudlin—and was surprised to find a wave of listeners fall head over heels. What separates her from the rest, however, is her phrasing, the way she shapes musical sequences to show emotion. Sonically, her songs sound intimate, but it’s the way she as Soccer Mommy captures teenage insecurities through tastefully nonplussed delivery that sticks with listeners.


The New York Times examined Instagram's influence on book sales.


BrooklynVegan listed fall's most anticipated indie rock albums.


Comic Book Resources interviewed Mimi Pond about her new graphic novel The Customer Is Always Wrong.

Pond also talked to the Independent about writing the first full-length episode of The Simpsons.

The A.V. Club shared an excerpt from the book.


Josh Ritter shared the backstory behind his song "Showboat" with American Songwriter.


The finalists for comics' 2017 Ignatz Awards have been announced.


Stream a new LCD Soundsystem song.


Full Stop interviewed author Lynn Melnick.


The Irish Times profiled the band Grizzly Bear.


LIterary Hub interviewed author Scott McClanahan.


Stream a new Lomelda song.


Jill Bialosky and Matthew Zapruder discussed the state of poetry and their new books at The Millions.


St. Vincent's Annie Clark will direct an adaption of The Portrait of Dorian Gray.


Lucinda Williams talked to Rolling Stone about re-recording her 1992 album Sweet Old World.


Entropy interviewed author Kaveh Akbar.


Stream a new Reptaliens song.


Read a new poem by Sherman Alexie.


Members of Rainer Maria discussed the band's reunion with Stereogum.


eBooks on sale for $0.99 today:

Benazir Bhutto: Favored Daughter by Brooke Allen
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eBooks on sale for $2.99 today:

Broken Verses by Kamila Shamsie
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Visible City by Tova Mirvis


eBooks on sale for $3.99 today:

The Beautiful Bureaucrat by Helen Phillips
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A Complicated Kindness by Miriam Toews
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The River Why by David James Duncan
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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
WORD Bookstores Books of the Week (recommended new books)
weekly music release lists


August 16, 2017

Book Notes - Fiona Helmsley "Girls Gone Old"

Girls Gone Old

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.

Fiona Helmsley's impressive collection Girls Gone Old is a timely reminder of the power of the personal essay.

Bust wrote of the book:

"At its finest, Girls Gone Old blends the DIY aesthetic of '90s grrrl zines with an astute eye for injustice, hypocrisy, and 'the vagaries of geography.' Helmsley uses the personal essay form like a weapon, aiming at herself and at American culture at large.


In her own words, here is Fiona Helmsley's Book Notes music playlist for her essay collection Girls Gone Old:



I can’t write and listen to music. It’s impossible for me— I get too distracted, but in the space between writing, both of my books came together to music. The soundtrack to my first book My Body Would Be the Kindest of Strangers was provided almost entirely by Marc Bolan, and the soundtrack to my new book Girls Gone Old was provided almost entirely by Lou Reed, specifically two of his albums for the 1970s: Coney Island Baby and Street Hassle. There is a stanza from the song "Coney Island Baby":

Ah, but remember that the city is a funny place
Something like a circus or a sewer

And just remember different people have peculiar tastes

Girls Gone Old is made up of thirteen essays and stories covering such peculiar tastes diverse subject matter as ‘80s television and sexual fantasy; drug addiction and past- epoch romanticization; school shootings and serial killers; the internet; the rich and the cruel; aging and exhibitionism; and the bonds that form between women. The songs I chose for the book’s playlist are either mentioned directly in the text, or are else in some way thematically relevant.

Hole—"She Walks On Me"

Women are only given so much room to exist as singular identities— we often end up pitted against each other, or start to get territorial, when we work with the same themes. Kat Bjelland and Courtney Love had been friends for years, but once their bands began to get attention, they started feuding over petty things, like who wore a babydoll dress first. My short story "My Icon Hates Me" is an exaggerated account of my interactions with a woman who probably inspired me more than anyone.

Wayne County and the Electric Chairs—"Fuck Off"

In "Girls Gone Old," the book’s title essay, I go high (to quote Michelle Obama) is my analysis of what it feels like to age in a society that put so much value on youth and desirability. With this great Wayne (now Jayne) County song, I go joyously low.

Bush Tetras—"Too Many Creeps"

I just don't wanna go
Out in the street no more

On the internet no more
Because these people they give me
They give me the creeps

I’ve long had a conflicted relationship with the internet. I always feel best when I take long sabbaticals from social networking. My essay "2002: An Internet Odyssey" is about my early experiences online: I was in my twenties then. I can’t imagine how badly I would have embarrassed myself had I been any younger.

The Lovin’ Spoonful—"Do You Believe in Magic?"

Charles Baudelaire said, “Genius is nothing more nor less than childhood recaptured at will,” which makes this song genius, or a conduit to genius. (Sonic youth serum? Auditory Botox?) When I listen to it, it’s like I’m eleven again, wearing my purple bathing suit with the grey tiger on the front, swimming in my first boyfriend’s pool, a memory that I recount in "12 Flash Non-Fictions."

The Mamas and The Papas—"California Dreamin'"

My short story "California Dreaming" is about a mentally-ill woman who never gave up on her dreams in spite of her circumstances. Most people would have described her as “delusional,” but in her apocryphal story about a 1960s folk singer, I saw a striving.

Sonic Youth (featuring Lydia Lunch)—"Death Valley ’69"

I was a small town teen, and Charles Manson was my cultural pariah of choice. My interest had nothing to do with murder, and everything to do with The Family. As I recount in my essay "Ghoul Girl Grows Up" I yearned to find a group of people to accept me, and move to the desert with. The essay is also about the epiphany I finally had when a notorious killer (not Manson) wrote to me.

Prince—"Raspberry Beret"

My essay "My Inner Debbie Gibson" is about a friend’s illness and her process coming to terms with how it changed her life. It’s also about my process coming to terms with what her illness revealed to me: specifically, what I was willing, and not willing to write about.

The Monkees—"She"

As I write in Girls Gone Old, Micky Dolenz of the Monkees was my first love, and the foil of my first sexual fantasies. As the book was about to be printed, I actually met him. Earlier in the night, he performed this song and I joined in as a theatre of multi-generation Monkees fans did the “Hey!” part. "She" is an angry, borderline scary break-up song (But I love her! I need her! I want her! Yea! Yea! Yea! Yea! Yea! She!) about a girl who “devours all” a boy’s “sweet love,” then “takes all” he has, and “feeds him dirt.” My essay "Killing Me Softly" is about the over-the-top sense of entitlement some men have, and the potential consequences women face when we reject them.

Guns N’ Roses—"It’s So Easy"

Is this a family website? A stanza from this song plays an important role in an essay from Girls Gone Old. I feel a bit uncomfortable elaborating without the entire context. Andy Warhol, Pa Ingalls, and Mork and Mindy all make appearances.

Bikini Kill—"Reject All American"

An inspirational palette cleanser after the anachronistic misogyny of GN’R, sort of like when Nirvana came along in the '90s, and cleansed the cultural palate of the scourge of hair metal.

3 Teens Kill 4—"Tell Me Something Good"

I wrote my essay "Playing the Donald Trump Game" after Trump won the election, but before the inauguration. I believed intervention was imminent— be it in the form of “faithless” electors, the passing of the NPVIC, or James Comey, on horseback, with handcuffs. Eight months later: Comey’s on unemployment, 24 million people stand to lose their healthcare (I am one of them), the country has a travel ban, international diplomacy’s been undermined, and the White House wants access to the voter rolls. "Tell Me Something Good."

Lou Reed—"Gimme Some Good Times"

“It just seems strange. Lou Reed dies, but I live. It doesn’t seem right,” I say to my doctor, in my essay "Vagaries of the Demimonde." Because of my drug use, I contracted the same disease that felled The Rock ‘N’ Roll Animal. The difference was I was being treated for it in the 21rst century: an exorbitantly expensive cure was available. The essay reflects on the influence of artists like Lou Reed, and the romance I once saw in their lifestyles. It’s also a rumination on the United States healthcare system, where access to life-saving treatment is determined by the depth of your pockets, the whimsy of politicians and greedy corporations, and geographic boundaries.

Lou Reed—"Crazy Feeling"

Coney Island Baby and Street Hassle (the two albums I listened to the most while assembling the book) were inspired by the beginning, and the end, of Lou Reed’s relationship with a transgender woman known as Rachel. Because of my love for the albums, I wanted to write about Rachel, and what became of her after their relationship ended. As I mention briefly in Vagaries of the Demimonde, because of the internet, nobody seems to disappear anymore, not even in death, not for good, but the people I contacted while searching for Rachel all said the same things: they thought she’d died in the 1980s. Nothing more concrete, or substantial than that. They thought. The person who inspired all those beautiful songs simply vanished. Maybe she wanted it that way, but I couldn’t stop thinking about her. A line from the song "Coney Island Baby" is Girls Gone Old’s dedication: For Lou and Rachel and the kids at PS 192.


Fiona Helmsley and Girls Gone Old links:

the author's website

Bust review

Give & Take interview with the author
OTHERPPL 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
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Atomic Books Comics Preview (weekly comics highlights)
guest book reviews
Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week (recommended new books, magazines, and comics)
musician/author interviews
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
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weekly music release lists


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