Twitter Facebook Tumblr Pinterest Instagram

July 28, 2015

Author Kate Christensen Interviews Musician Nathaniel Bellows

In the "Largehearted Boy Cross-Media Cultural Exchange Program" series (thanks to Jami Attenberg for the title), authors interview musicians (and vice versa).

Kate Christensen is an author, her most recent book is the memoir Blue Plate Special. Her memoir How To Cook a Moose will be published this fall.

Nathaniel Bellows is a musician and author. His new album album is The Old Illusions, and he is the author of a poetry collection, a novel, and a novel-in-stories.


Author Kate Christensen interviews Nathaniel Bellows:


Kate Christensen: Full disclosure: ever since Nathaniel Bellows and I met at a dinner party 6 ½ years ago, we have kept up a running online Scrabble game, and since we began playing, we have made great use of the "chat" box. In that tiny, incidental space, Nathaniel B. and I have discussed matters large and small, ranging from what we're eating for dinner to books we're reading to our childhoods to (most importantly and interestingly for me) moral support and commiseration, progress reports, and small victories related to our own work. Our Scrabble chat has become an open-ended, ongoing conversation that ebbs and flows through the years. So it's a treat to take our conversation out of the chat box into a public forum on the occasion of the release of Nathaniel's beautiful, original new CD, The Old Illusions.

Why did you call your CD "The Old Illusions"? Listening to it, and reading the lyrics, it strikes me that you're looking back--not in anger, but with a kind of elegiac sorrow, reflecting on innocence lost.

Nathaniel Bellows: The title comes from a line in the song, "Oh, Now," which, in its dim pessimism and quiet scorn, is also the epiphany that, in the aftermath of resignation and disappointment is evidence of the self's resilience, the spirit's begrudging reflex to recover.

KC: Each song stands alone, but they also feel cohesive and interconnected. Did you write these songs to comment on one another, or did that happen by accident?

NB: These songs were culled from a larger group, all of which were written without input or audience—essentially in my bedroom, over the period of many years. So, when it came time to narrow them down for a record, I had no objectivity. I asked my friend and artistic collaborator, Sarah Kirkland Snider, for help since she was the person that first encouraged me to record these songs properly, and she knew the material well. She made the initial cut and then, as the process continued with my friend Aaron Roche (amazing recording engineer, multi-instrumentalist, and arranger) I took out one song, and added two new ones. Once all the recordings were done (the main tracks of my guitar and vocals, and the arrangements by the incredibly gifted musicians who feature on the record), the sequencing of the record became instantly clear—each song had always contained a singular, three-dimensional world to me, but strung together, I found they formed a unified, thematic whole.

KC: You mentioned the arrangements—they sound beautiful. How did they come about?

NB: From the beginning I wanted a very spare, straightforward sound to this record—raw and intimate—and Aaron knew some exceptional musicians he thought would respond well to the songs. I didn't give them any direction beyond communicating what the overall sound of the record was to be; otherwise, they had free reign to respond and contribute, as they liked. Along with Aaron, the other musicians that appear on the record are Alex Sopp, David Garland, Julie Lee & Dan Burns, and DM Stith. I'm so grateful for their involvement because they each elevated the songs in their own distinctive way.

KC: You're extremely talented and accomplished in a lot of art forms: you've published two novels and a poetry book, you're a trained artist, you've written lyrics for the composer Sarah Kirkland Snider and also, obviously, for your own songs, and you also play guitar and sing. Did I leave anything out? Have you been a multidisciplinary artist since you were a kid?

NB: Thank you. Yes, I have always worked in these three disciplines, ever since I was very young—music and art first, and then writing, when I learned how. These disciplines have always felt interconnected, if not interdependent, and, over all my years of schooling, I was lucky to have supportive and encouraging teachers, with no one insisting I should focus on one single pursuit. In the past, I used to visualize my three-pronged artistic practice as the three legs of a stool—all functionally necessary, essential for balance, bearing the same amount of weight. But now that I'm older, it feels different—more galvanizing and steadying than ever, these three endeavors are like the sharpened tines of a gardening claw, which I use to dig and pull apart the ground around me.

KC: What was your childhood like? How did art play a part in it, if it did?

NB: My childhood was characterized by a good deal of solitude, spent mostly out in nature, often with animals, and when indoors, drawing or making things, reading books, practicing the piano (I took lessons for eleven years). I was a good student, and I liked learning, but school was a blur. My parents always had music playing in the house (mostly classical), and made concerted efforts to take us to museums and plays and concerts, sharing with us not only their affinities but also their sense of cultural curiosity. At the risk of sounding dramatic—and probably a little strange—I think it's true to say that, as a kid, these private, deeply focused artistic endeavors of mine were like my friends—my true companions. They kept me engaged and challenged and entertained, and resulted—for better or for worse—in an inability to ever feel alone.

KC: To me, that sounds neither dramatic nor strange! I wonder how many of us present-day writers and musicians and painters dove into making art as kids to comfort ourselves and keep ourselves company. It's a powerfully effective way to survive a lonely or difficult childhood.

Since we first became friends a number of years ago, you and I have talked a lot about coastal New England, where you're from, and where I live--Maine in particular. I wonder if you want to talk a little about the ways in which the sensibilities and geography of this place inspire and influence your work. I hear a lot of maritime New England in these songs, in other words.

NB: I am definitely influenced and inspired by the New England landscape—the seaside and the marshes, meadows, forests, and orchards. The whole area has a haunted quality that I've always felt very deeply, which has infiltrated all of my work, like a reoccurring main character. There's something about the rough bleakness of the winter, and the almost primordial fecundity of the summer that makes you feel both at the mercy of the natural world, and that you've been invited to viscerally experience the raw beauty of its extremes.

KC: How do you structure your day? Do you wake up and go, "Today I feel like drawing. Tomorrow I'll work on poetry. The next day is for fiction." How do you keep it all going? And how do all the disciplines inform and complement one another? Or are they at war, competing for your attention like needy brats?

NB: I wish they were brats competing for my attention! Because then at least we might have some understanding of each other. As it is, it's still a little mysterious. But, I've learned I can't summon poetry or fiction or music down from the eaves to work with me at my command. The best I can do is nurture an environment and mindset in which a discipline can accessed, and then hope for the best. I make it a goal to work every day, so, if actual writing isn't happening, I revise, or I work on one of the various larger art pieces I always have going on, or I practice the guitar. I also have a pretty intense part time job, too, which helps structure my art-making life.

KC: It seems most of your work is done independently. Do you enjoy collaborating with other artists?

NB: I haven't had all that many opportunities, but for the past five years I've been writing text for the composer Sarah Kirkland Snider's vocal-based commissions, which has been an incredibly rewarding and inspiring partnership. Writing poems/librettos for her to set to music has given me the chance to approach my writing in a new way—with a different set of considerations and possibilities I wouldn't otherwise require from myself. And to hear how she takes the text, absorbs it, and makes it her own in musical form—while always honoring what I have written—is astonishing. On July 31st, her second record, Unremembered, a song cycle for seven voices, chamber orchestra, and electronics, will be released. The album is inspired by 13 of my poems and drawings, which explore recollections of my childhood growing up in rural Massachusetts. Unremembered has been four years in the making and the final product really is a stunning work of art—a true collaboration that I feel very lucky—and proud—to be a part of.

KC: When you're writing your own lyrics for your own songs, do you hear them set to music as you write, or does that come later, or does the music come first? How do you know they're lyrics rather than a poem? I notice that your song lyrics tend to rhyme, and your poems don't, so maybe the difference is one of stand-alone words versus words meant to be sung.

NB: The poems I write evolve as deliberately, tangibly built things. The poem's components—language, grammar, aspects of traditional poetic forms alongside the invention inherent in free verse—are familiar and known to me, which makes applying them to the nebulous realms of memory and human emotion (recurring themes in my work) a sturdier, more secure process (though not an easy one, of course). With my song lyrics, it's an unstable, unstructured assemblage, pretty much right up until the point the song finally feels finished. I have tried to write lyrics down and create the music from them, but it never works. The lyrics have to evolve in tandem with the music—or, rather, the lyrics emerge from the music, as the melody slowly congeals. The way I see it: the poems are built on the page and the songs are pulled from the air. They often draw upon similar themes and images and experiences, but they ultimately have a different shape and style in their form, and even in what part of me they're attempting to express.

KC: As a songwriter, whom do you listen to and admire and love and maybe even envy? In whose company would you most like to be placed? 

NB: I've always loved the songwriting of Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell, Simon and Garfunkle, Neil Young, so many…These days some of the songwriters I admire are Joanna Newsom, Conor Oberst, Aimee Mann, Stephin Merritt….To be placed among a cohort of artists like these, who strike their own singular balance between the heart and the mind, affect and intellect, edge and abstraction, would be deeply flattering. I'm not sure where my work fits in within the tradition of singer-songwriters, but that—not fitting in—is pretty familiar and comfortable territory for me.

KC: Yes! That's the list of people, give or take a singer-songwriter, that I was thinking of when I listened to your CD.  Okay, last question: What are you having for dinner tonight?

NB: Tonight I pick up the CSA and, based on last week's haul, this is what I'm imagining: five thumb-sized, yellow onions; four kinds of leafy greens (lettuce, kale, chard, etc, possibly with stowaway snail); one top-heavy basil plant in a crumbling paper cup; a pair of prickly, stunted cucumbers; one kohlrabi the size and weight of a hand bell; a clump of sooty, fuchsia radishes. A good deal of this, as you know, gets chopped up and mixed into cooked brown rice or quinoa and left to steep on the stove for awhile, and then is eaten over greens with olive oil, spices, walnuts, and a handful of raisins, if I have them. If you'd like, I can enlist the services of this seagull hanging out on the roof outside my window to deliver some of this glorified compost slop up to you. I'm pretty sure he knows the way.

KC: Seagull CSA-slop delivery service! I hope I get the stowaway snail.


Nathaniel Bellows links:

Nathaniel Bellows' website


Kate Christensen links:

Kate Christensen's website
Kate Christensen's Wikipedia entry
Largehearted Boy Book Notes essay by Kate Christensen for The Astral
Largehearted Boy Book Notes essay by Kate Christensen for The Great Man


also at Largehearted Boy:

other musician/author interviews

Antiheroines (Jami Attenberg interviews comics artists)
Book Notes (authors create playlists for their book)
guest book reviews
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Soundtracked (directors and composers discuss their film's soundtracks)


Posted by david | Permalink | Comments (View)





July 28, 2015

Book Notes - Christy Wampole "The Other Serious"

The Other Serious

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, Kevin Brockmeier, T.C. Boyle, Dana Spiotta, Amy Bloom, Aimee Bender, Jesmyn Ward, Heidi Julavits, Hari Kunzru, and many others.

Christy Wampole's essay collection The Other Serious offers a unique perspective on modern life, intellectual and philosophical, yet always entertaining.

Library Journal wrote of the book:

"Wampole is a sharp and original observer. Her essays crackle with metaphor and precision…. This is essential for anyone who cares about the future of America."

Stream a playlist of these songs at Spotify.

In her own words, here is Christy Wampole's Book Notes music playlist for her essay collection The Other Serious:


A Serious Playlist

I had the idea once to write an autobiography composed only of a grid of songs, with the artist's name, song title, and the personal association I have with each one. This is one of those vague projects that will probably never materialize, mainly because most of the songs I'd want on the list are associated with the most confidential parts of my soul, things I'll never disclose to anyone. It's my policy to tell only things that would be more or less useless for a person trying to draft my psychogram.

For this particular exercise today – making a playlist for the wonderful Largehearted Boy Book Notes based on my new book The Other Serious: Essays for the New American Generation – I decided to focus on some songs mentioned in the book and on what I was listening to when I wrote it in the summer of 2013 in Berlin. A book is a product of an atmosphere. I'd never written a book before and I felt my way along in that very singular atmosphere, whose main characteristics were grief from the loss of someone important to me and the feeling of placelessness and timelessness that accompanies such grief.

"Walk Through This World With Me" by George Jones.
As I was writing the book, my grandpa died. Language can't accommodate death. This song always made me think of him for some reason, even though I don't remember him ever saying he liked it. (I discover that George Jones and my grandpa were both born in the early thirties in Texas and they died just a few months apart in 2013.) In the final essay of the book, I write about how I was visited over and over again by ladybugs after his death, which I took as a sign from him that everything was okay. He visited me in a dream and I got a glimpse of the other side, which doesn't look anything like it is typically imagined. There is no temperature and light doesn't behave in the same way as it does on this side. Everything had a purplish cast, an impossible color that might be called neon eggplant, and objects were simultaneously emitting and sucking up light. It was hard to take.

"Fallout" by Neon Indian
Every season, I go hunting for new music in order to create a kind of mood palette that I can associate specifically with Fall 2011, Winter 2015, or whenever. This is a habit I picked up somewhere along the way and I've found it to be very effective in anchoring memories to places and moments. I played this album Era Extraña by Neon Indian over and over in Summer 2013, and this song in particular brings back that time/space confluence in crystal-clear detail. I would write for hours, slipping downstairs to the Brezel Company on Lenaustraße to get my daily Kirschtasche (cherry-filled pastry) before returning to the computer. The German/Turkish actor Birol Ünel was always sitting down there chain-smoking, but I never got up the courage to say hello. We would have late breakfasts on the balcony, composed mainly of smoked fish and spreadable cheeses with horseradish, fig, or curry, mustard, and honey. As usual, we accidentally killed all the plants belonging to the people who owned the apartment. I discovered recently that the guy behind Neon Indian (Alan Palomo) is based in Denton, Texas, where I lived for ten years, all throughout my twenties. You can never replace the exhilaration of that period of your life. Denton created me. People who have lived there know what I mean. If you let it, this town transfuses you.

"Chilly Down" by David Bowie
This song from the Labyrinth soundtrack plays when the Fireys try to convince Sarah that she should take off her head. As a child, this was one of my favorite scenes, and the song, with its habit-forming refrain and its basic, joyful chord structure, always had me and my brother dancing around the living room, pretending that we, too, were Fireys. It wasn't until I started to do a close analysis of the film in my essay "You Have No Power Over Me" that I realized how much this scene and others, like when Sarah falls down the shaft of the Helping Hands, hint at gang rape. The film is full of these suggestive, symbolic scenes, making it one of the most "readable" movies of the 80s.

"Aux armes, etc." by Serge Gainsbourg
In the first essay called "The Glare of the Enlightenment," I do a close comparative reading of the French and American national anthems. The Marseillaise is gory, full of fear about the savages who will slit the throats of those you love. The triumphant French soldiers will water the fields' furrows with the impure blood of the enemy. Can you believe it? Impure blood? When I read the lyrics closely with my students, they are always unsettled by the butchery and the pre-Nazi language of genetic purity. Serge Gainsbourg picked up on all this and did a provocative reggae version of the Marseillaise at the end of the 1970s. Reggae is a music of peace, so the jolting juxtaposition of the violent lyrics and the chill beat, with Bob Marley's wife Rita singing backup, could not but offend the typical well-mannered bourgeois. To make matters better, Gainsbourg shrugs off the full refrain with an insubordinate "etc.," which he claimed was how the song's composer Rouget de Lisle had written the lyrics in the original manuscript. The history of civilization can be summed up this way: Culture happens, gets pissed on and spraypainted, and then cleaned up again by the defenders of propriety.

"Hot Knife" by Fiona Apple
I had never been into Fiona Apple when she got famous back in the 90s. In retrospect, I realize that something about her felt too familiar at the time (she and I were born a couple of months apart and were both bony, self-tormenting females who would have rather been alone), so I disregarded her, preferring as usual to surround myself with all that was alien and unfamiliar. I don't remember why, but I bought her album The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do (2012) on a whim in Summer 2013 and found something genius about it. She doesn't try to sound pretty and her intuitions about chords are not like most people's intuitions. "Hot Knife" is the catchiest tune on the album, and I tried to focus on it in order push away thoughts of death and loss and mourning, the most available and eager thoughts that constantly imposed themselves on me after my grandpa left us. I realize now – just now, as I write this sentence! – that the album clicked with me precisely because it is an album of mourning, not of the death of someone but of the end of a relationship. I read somewhere that the songs are a response to a breakup she had with a writer, the Jonathan of one of the titles. A breakup is a mild death, perhaps harder to take because the separation is not definitive enough.

"I Don't Understand That Man" by U.S. Girls
If you put this song on in the background at night with all the lights out as you sit on the balcony in your thirties and talk to your best friend in the dark about the rough edges of life, after having made a pit stop at the Späti (late-night convenience store) to get Paprika chips or random Schnittkäse or a bottle of fizzy rhubarb juice, and having sat in the bushes with your feet dangling over the water of the Landwehrkanal at twilight for a couple of hours where you saw something bright and inexplicable fall from the sky which provoked a momentary gasp from the disheveled youth sitting all along the banks, and after having sifted out all of the daylight in Kreuzberg and Neukölln by walking through graffitied neighborhoods perfumed with the scent of strawberry Shisha, you might abandon your occasional thought that life has no meaning.


Christy Wampole and The Other Serious links:

the author's website
excerpt from the book

Chicago Tribune review


also at Largehearted Boy:

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

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)
Daily Downloads (free and legal daily mp3 downloads)
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
Word Bookstores Books of the Week (weekly new book highlights)


Posted by david | Permalink | Comments (View)

Shorties (A Stage Adaptation of Claudia Rankine's Citizen, An Interview with Wilco's Jeff Tweedy, and more)

Previews open this weekend for the stage adaptation of Claudia Rankine's poetry collection Citizen in Los Angeles.


Pitchfork interviewed Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy.


Must-read novels about books.


Stream a new Craig Finn song.


BuzzFeed recommended new books you should read this summer.


Stream a new Josh Ritter song.


On entering an MFA writing program at 68.


The Gawker Review of Books interviewed the authors of The BreakBeat Poets: New American Poetry in the Age of Hip-Hop.


The Guardian interviewed Hanya Yanagihara about her novel A Little Life.


The Quietus recapped the year in Australian music so far.


The Other People podcast interviewed author Sean H. Doyle.


The A.V. Club examined the MP3's effect on music.


Author Jeff VanDerMeer answered questions from the Reddit community.


Weekend Edition profiled guitarist Sir Richard Bishop.


This Tokyo hostel is inside a bookstore.


The Record interviewed Patterson Hood about the forthcoming Drive-By Truckers live album It's Great To Be Alive!.


Follow Largehearted Boy on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Tumblr, Google+, and Stumbleupon for links (updated throughout the day) that don't make the daily "Shorties" posts.


also at Largehearted Boy:

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

100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads
Atomic Books Comics Preview (the week's best new comics and graphic novels)
Book Notes (authors create playlists for their book)
daily mp3 downloads
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)


Posted by david | Permalink | Comments (View)

Daily Downloads (Mekons, Aryn Michelle, and more)

Every day, Daily Downloads offers free and legal music and/or stream.


Today's free and legal mp3 downloads:

Amy Schmidt: Vientiane EP [mp3]

Aryn Michelle: Depth Sampler EP [mp3]
Aryn Michelle: "Fight the Good Fight" [mp3]

Edison: Dead Canary Sessions EP [mp3]

Get Set Go: True Crime Television album [mp3]

KiND: Eunoia Primer EP [mp3]

Oliver Manning: The Don Draper EP [mp3]

Our Lost Infantry: Interregnum album [mp3]

Womb: Womb EP [mp3]


Free and legal live performances at other websites:

Mekons: 2015-07-21, New York [mp3]


search for more free and legal music downloads at Largehearted Boy


also at Largehearted Boy:

other Daily Downloads

covers collections
100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads

Book Notes (authors create 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 music, books, and pop culture news and links)
Soundtracked (composers and directors discuss their film's soundtrack)
weekly new album lists


Posted by david | Permalink | Comments (View)

July 27, 2015

Book Notes - Emily Mitchell "Viral"

Viral

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, Kevin Brockmeier, T.C. Boyle, Dana Spiotta, Amy Bloom, Aimee Bender, Jesmyn Ward, Heidi Julavits, Hari Kunzru, and many others.

Emily Mitchell's Viral is one of the year's finest short story collections, a startlingly clever book.

Kirkus wrote of the book:

"A rich collection that takes the familiar obsessions of love and loneliness and views them from uncanny angles in ways that are magical, cutting, and intensely recognizable."

Stream a playlist of these songs at Spotify.

In her own words, here is Emily Mitchell's Book Notes music playlist for her short story collection Viral:


Viral: Stories is a collection of short stories about the many different ways there are to be a stranger: to a place, to those around you and to yourself. I didn't set out to deliberately build the collection around this theme. The stories in the book are different from one another in many ways. Some are historical fiction, some are speculative fiction. Some are realistic and some are surreal. I wanted to push the short story into as many different shapes as I could find for it. But when I looked at the stories I had written all together, this concern with the experience of estrangement is the current that runs through them.

This comes partly from my experience. I've moved around a lot. I immigrated to the US as a teenager and migrated a lot subsequently, so I've never felt a deep bond to one particular locality. For a writer this presents an interesting problem since no place, people or vernacular are fully your own. Of course, I'm far from being alone in this experience either as a human being or as a writer; if anything, the transience of people's lives is increasing. The result for me has been a desire to write stories that express how this feels, to be a person who is never fully at home; to have been to lots of places but have no deep, native knowledge of anywhere; to have friendships and love affairs that are mediated by phone calls, emails and social media. The characters in my stories want to understand and love, but they find themselves stymied by distance and uncertainty, by the apparent unreliability of even their most intimate places and relationships.

Music, I think, can intensify both of these tendencies. It can create a sense of belonging, and it can also just as easily give us a sense of separateness, of being transported. Some of these songs were directly influential on the stories; others resonate with the emotions I want the stories to convey. Like the stories in Viral: Stories, they appear to be a mismatched bunch, but there are certain underlying threads that connect them.

"Deeper Understanding" and "Rocket's Tail" by Kate Bush
These two songs are definitely keynotes for collection as a whole, especially "Deeper Understanding". Released in 1988 on The Sensual World, it contains these eerily prescient lyrics: As the people here grow colder/I turn to my computer/and spend my evenings with it like a friend. Has there been a clearer expression of our fears about how technology might replace human intimacy? Kate Bush seems to grasp both the allure of technology and the dangers of our attachment to it. In the title story of my collection, a group of bereaved parents gather at a hotel after some initially unnamed tragedy has struck their children. As the story goes on, we discover that social media has played a role in what occurred and must ask, along with the characters, was it the cause of the disaster? And if it wasn't technology that brought about the tragedy, what was it? In several of my stories – "Smile Report", "My Daughter and Her Spider" – I tried to capture the conflicted sense of possibility and anxiety we have about how technology might affect and change us in the years to come.

"Thank You, Friends" by Big Star
I love Big Star's music. Listening to them, you always have the sense that Alex Chilton's lyrics mean exactly what they say and exactly the opposite of what they say at the same time. This song seems to be a straightforward tribute to friendship: Thank you, friends/Wouldn't be here if it wasn't for you/ I'm so grateful/ For all the things you helped me do. But it absolutely omits any context. Where is the person singing these words? What exactly has he been helped to do? You are never told, so the possibility of a different interpretation sneaks in where what he really means is "Thanks for nothing!" In my collection, the story "On Friendship", explores some of the ambivalent, oscillating feelings that we can have about our friends, the way that friendships can be lost through distance, misunderstanding and failures of generosity, but also the ways they can, sometimes, if we are very lucky, be found again after many years.

"Long, Long Journey" by Louis Armstrong
I wrote the story "Lucille's House" after visiting the Louis Armstrong House Museum in Corona, Queens, a place I loved and found extremely moving. After Lucille Armstrong purchased this house in 1943, she and Louis lived there for the rest of their lives. When you walk through its rooms, you can tell it was truly someone's home. Of all the stories in the collection, this is the most clearly indebted to music and I had a tough time choosing one song by Armstrong to signify that connection. Armstrong's music has such height and depth; each song seems to contain the greatest joy and the deepest sadness. I chose "Long, Long Journey" because, like the story, it is about how enduring and complicated love can be and how much we need it to sustain us.

"Oh You Pretty Things" by David Bowie
Really, I have no idea what David Bowie is on about in the lyrics of this song which is on Hunky Dory, a generally pretty inscrutable album. However, in the guise of a rousing knees-up, this song seems to be about the transition to a post-human world where the change has come so abruptly that parents don't have any idea what to make of their own children. However, instead of being horrified, the song urges the listener to embrace the strange new world it envisions. In my collection, "My Daughter and her Spider" is a story told by a mother whose daughter chooses a giant, robotic spider for a pet, a choice that makes the mother feel she has no idea who her own daughter has become. But perhaps the problem is not with the daughter, but in the mother's unwillingness to accept her for who she is, giant robot spider and all.

"Big Science" by Laurie Anderson
Our built landscape in the US is composed of non-places. It is designed to be traveled through easily but it contains very few real destinations when you compare it to many other countries. This song brilliantly articulates that quality, which makes American locations dynamic and haunted by what was there before and also by what is to come. Anderson deadpans: [J]ust take a right where they're going to build that new shopping mall, go straight past where they're going to put in the freeway, take a left at what's going to be the new sports center, and keep going until you hit the place where they're thinking of building that drive-in bank. You can't miss it. In the story "States", which is told in the form of a fantastical guidebook for foreign travelers, I wanted partly convey the strange sensation of moving through the American landscape, and also to work against its homogenization by populating it with stories that would re-enchant it, differentiate it, bring it back to life.

"It's the End of the World as We Know It" by R. E. M.
Several of the stories in this collection are about bewilderment. In "Guided Meditation" a meditation teacher loses her veneer of calm, goes off script and starts haranguing her students, telling them what she really thinks. In "If You Cannot Go to Sleep" a woman whose marriage has recently ended, lies awake all night with thoughts spinning in her head on every topic from supermarket check-out clerks to global warming. This song has the same manic, trapped energy as some of my narrators and characters, which I think could be a reaction to the bewildering overload of disjointed information that we encounter in our daily lives now, like it or not.

"Into Your Alien Arms" by Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
The refrain of this song (I fell into your alien arms/I've never felt so good, so lost) suggests the connection between falling in love and losing your bearings. Even if we love and live with someone for years, aspects of them will always remain mysterious and, more interestingly, love requires and thrives off this mystery for its renewal, even while being threatened by it. The story "Three Marriages" traces the arc of three couples who find out things about each other that have the potential to demolish their relationships, and then follows them to find out what happens as a result of their respective discoveries.

"Waiting for the Great Leap Forward" by Billy Bragg
In "No-no" – a story set during World War Two, one of the collection's two pieces of historical fiction – a Japanese American man tries to decide whether to sign a loyalty questionnaire that might allow him to leave the internment camp where he and his family are being held. Like a lot of idealistic people of his generation, this character is a Communist. He has certain optimistic ideas about America's potential to realize a truly egalitarian society, which have been battered by how his government has turned on him for his ethnicity. Billy Bragg's song is about the difficulty of maintaining a belief in the potential for justice in a world that seems determined to erode and undermine it.


Emily Mitchell and Viral links:

the author's website
the author's Wikipedia entry

Kirkus review
Library Journal review
New York Times review
Publishers Weekly review

3 Quarks daily interview with the author
Kirkus profile of the author


also at Largehearted Boy:

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

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)
Daily Downloads (free and legal daily mp3 downloads)
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
Word Bookstores Books of the Week (weekly new book highlights)


Posted by david | Permalink | Comments (View)

Book Notes - Sophie McManus "The Unfortunates"

The Unfortunates

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, Kevin Brockmeier, T.C. Boyle, Dana Spiotta, Amy Bloom, Aimee Bender, Jesmyn Ward, Heidi Julavits, Hari Kunzru, and many others.

Sophie McManus's The Unfortunates is a brilliant debut novel, a social satire cunningly rendered.

The Washington Post wrote of the book:

"A modern day Edith Wharton . . . Just often enough some unknown writer darts from the forest of little magazines to publish a novel that blows away the gathering shades of cultural despair . . . Her first novel, 'The Unfortunates,' merges Old World elegance and modern irony in a brilliant social satire of life among the 1 percent of the 1 percent . . . almost every sentence here has been worked, through a decade of composition and revision, into a jeweled strand of dry wit."

Stream a playlist of these songs at Spotify.


In her own words, here is Sophie McManus's Book Notes music playlist for her debut novel The Unfortunates:


How I envy writers who can listen to music while they work. The music sinking into the art—sublime commensalism! At the least, music eases the drudgery and loneliness of such a solitary pursuit. But I am too vulnerable to suggestion. Even with the volume low, my young sentences are conscripted to battle lyric after lyric for the brain’s puny gray hillock that puts order to language. This hillock, which I have just looked up—distractible as I am—is called Wernicke’s area. It rests slightly above and behind my left ear. The lyrics always win it. Writers who can type one string of words while hearing another must have superior Wernicke’s areas, probably also superior Broca’s areas. Hell, probably their entire Brodmann area 22 glows like an electric eel. Like an electric eel writing a particularly banging bit of prose while listening to a great album.

So, the music here is what I listened to when I needed a break from drafting The Unfortunates. I spent years writing from the mind of a character who is punctilious, aloof, inflexible. The plot was tricky, too, as intricate and tight as the guts of a clock. These songs are the opposite: playful, loose, outlandish, frank, droll, unabashed.

1. Le Tigre "Deceptacon"

Sad to say, I grew up almost totally unaware of punk rock, from which this galvanic, addictive rally-cry of a song descends. How is that possible? I went to an all-girls school and the internet didn’t exist yet, is how. Also, I was a cautious and incurious kid. Also, for us, in New York City, the mind-blowing innovation was hip hop.

2. Nina Simone "Funkier Than a Mosquito’s Tweeter"

Someone has disappointed Simone. Here she sings her withering assessment to that someone. This song is a masterpiece of steely, vanquishing energy. It builds and ebbs and builds. Oh, the burns. You think you’re slick but you could stand a lot of greasing/the things you do ain’t never really pleasing. Are you jilted? Are you over it? Do you need some courage? Are you on the rise-up-out? Here’s the song for you.

3. The Modern Lovers "Pablo Picasso"

One morning, in the early days of writing The Unfortunates, I dreamed Picasso challenged me to a duel. He slapped me in the face with his brown leather glove, which I found both shocking and hilarious. Later that morning, I went to see an available apartment in Brooklyn. I was buzzed in and looked up the dark communal stairwell. Picasso looked down at me, looming as he was at the top of the stairs, from a larger than life, framed black-and-white photograph. I lived in that building for the next seven years. The Modern Lovers’ song is unhurried, laconic, genuinely funny, and reminds the listener that girls could not resist Picasso’s stare. I was one of those girls, for every day, as I ascended the stairs, I felt he was challenging me, rudely, to rise to my task, to write the thing better than he/I thought I could. In the photo, his look is patronizing, and also has the force of life.

4. Modest Mouse "Bukowski"

The Modern Lovers’ song suggests, probably incorrectly, that Pablo Picasso was never called an asshole, because his greatness nullified any possible assholery. Modest Mouse’s "Bukowski" also ponders the artist-asshole connection: Yeah, I know he’s a pretty good read…but God, who’d want to be such an asshole?...God who’d want to be such a control freak? These lines buoyed my writer-spirits to no end. To write a novel is to be a control freak. It’s your universe. You made it up. That’s the gig. And: sometimes you must protect the work. Be the asshole, when you must.

5. Yeah Yeahs Yeahs "Rich"

Sex and money and power and yelling and an icy-hot, fierce authority. Many of the subjects I was writing about are in this song, but in a totally different attitude and key. When I began The Unfortunates I was a sheepish, non-confrontational person. This song reminds me how to feel otherwise, as did writing the book.

6. The Kinks "All of My Friends Were There"

The early years of writing, I drank a lot of wine. Not while writing, a practice I am amazed anyone can pull off, but evenings after. It was a lot of fun and a bit depressing. This song captures the expansive pleasure, that real-false-real nostalgia for the self and for the future that comes with the drink, in the perfect, gorgeously lilting sound of the song. And then, in the lyrics, its limits. It’s also about folly and ego and ambition. Not true ambition, but that early, fool ambition to be the person that other people are paying attention to.

7. Ennio Morricone "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly"

I drank a lot but I also ran a lot. In wintery Vermont, at a writer’s residency, I ran on a wooded, snow-banked dirt road that wound through a pig farm. If you’ve ever been near a pig farm you know they stink for miles and that for the entirety of this song I ran with my hands over my nose and mouth.

8. Bob Dylan "Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright"

Another snowy residency. Wyoming in winter, like living on the moon. I ran over an icy bridge; the snow was blue for a hundred undulating miles. I ran past cows and horses. Sometimes the residency’s fat-faced gray cat ran with me, plunging into the snow up to her shoulder sockets and springing out again. The lyrics to this song seem simple but are not. They are certainly about leaving someone, about moving on.

9. Girltalk "Play your Part" (Parts1&2)

Girltalk mashes up samples of rap and top-forty pop and riffs from classic rock. It’s infectious Mad Libbing, good for jumping around. It might be a slick trick, might be brilliant, I’m not sure, but these (often mysoginistic, sometimes beautiful) songs fill me with total exuberance.

10. Sufjan Stevens "All the Trees of the Field will Clap their Hands"

Hope, fear, beauty, to be alone, to think about dying. I wrote most of The Unfortunates near a winter sea at The Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Massachusetts, where I listened to this endlessly. Trees remind us how we are here, alive, and also of how the world existed without us before and soon enough will again. How your or my being here is unusual, and the more regular state of things is for the trees to stand without our noticing, without our being here to notice.

11. Arvo Pärt "Tabula Rasa"

The one piece of music I did indeed write to. Only for a few days, at the very end, when I was so tired of revising I needed to wedge something between myself and the familiarity of my sentences. It’s mesmeric and repetitive with variation and courses along in the way writing can, when inspired.


Sophie McManus and The Unfortunates links:

the author's website

Buffalo News review
Globe and Mail review
Paste review
Publishers Weekly review
Washington Post review

FSG Book Keeping interview with the author


also at Largehearted Boy:

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

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)
Daily Downloads (free and legal daily mp3 downloads)
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
Word Bookstores Books of the Week (weekly new book highlights)


Posted by david | Permalink | Comments (View)

Shorties (The Kafka on the Shore Play Reviewed, An Interview with Jessica Hopper, and more)

Variety and the Hollywood Reporter reviewed the theatrical adaptation of Haruki Murakami's novel Kafka on the Shore.


Hello Giggles interviewed Jessica Hopper about her book The First Collection of Criticism by a Living Female Rock Critic.


Howler Magazine reassessed Bill Buford's book Among the Thugs 25 years after its initial publication.


CarolineLeavittville interviewed Joshua Mohr about his new novel All This Life.


A new Prince album is coming.


The Rumpus interviewed author Etgar Keret.


Patricia Park talked to Weekend Edition about her novel Re Jane.


Rolling Stone interviewed Titus Andronicus frontman Patrick Stickles about the band's forthcoming album The Most Lamentable Tragedy.


The Independent interviewed author Evie Wyld.


Stream Jason Isbell's Newport Folk Festival set.


Flavorwire recommended beautiful books for creative thinkers.


PopMatters explored the musical legacy of OutKast.


The New York Times interviewed author William T. Vollman about his reading habits.


Mixmag recommended albums released in 1995.


Austin Grossman talked to Weekend Edition about his new book Crooked.


All Things Considered interviewed Elijah Wald about his book Dylan Goes Electric!: Newport, Seeger, Dylan, and the Night That Split the Sixties.


The Los Angeles Review of Books interviewed author NoViolet Bulawayo.


Follow Largehearted Boy on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Tumblr, Google+, and Stumbleupon for links (updated throughout the day) that don't make the daily "Shorties" posts.


also at Largehearted Boy:

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

100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads
Atomic Books Comics Preview (the week's best new comics and graphic novels)
Book Notes (authors create playlists for their book)
daily mp3 downloads
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)


Posted by david | Permalink | Comments (View)

Daily Downloads (Blitzen Trapper, My Morning Jacket, and more)

Every day, Daily Downloads offers free and legal music and/or stream.


Today's free and legal mp3 downloads:

Alright Panther: Hey Man Nice Set EP [mp3]

Blitzen Trapper: "Lonesome Angel" [mp3] from All Across This Land (out October 2nd)

Blood Sound: Too Much Sun and Not Enough Gloom at the Beach album [mp3]

Cousin Boneless: Trash Masquerade album [mp3]

The High Divers: "Summertime" [mp3] from Riverlust (out October 9th)

Jelena Ciric: Places EP [mp3]

Pinegrove: Meridian album [mp3]

Stevie B. Wolf: "Nothing But a Name" [mp3]


Free and legal live performances at other websites:

My Morning Jacket: 2015-07-26, Brooklyn [mp3]


search for more free and legal music downloads at Largehearted Boy


also at Largehearted Boy:

other Daily Downloads

covers collections
100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads

Book Notes (authors create 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 music, books, and pop culture news and links)
Soundtracked (composers and directors discuss their film's soundtrack)
weekly new album lists


Posted by david | Permalink | Comments (View)

July 26, 2015

Largehearted Boy Weekly Wrap-Up - July 26, 2015

A list of the past week's Largehearted Boy features:


Book Notes: (authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates to their book)

Annie Liontas for her novel Let Me Explain You
Dale Marlowe for his novel Digging Up the Bones
Jill Talbot for her memoir The Way We Weren't
Kate Schatz for her children's book Rad American Women A-Z
Lisa Unger for her novel Crazy Love You
Louisa Hall for her novel Speak
Polly Samson for her novel The Kindness


Interviews: (authors interview musicians and vice versa)

Author Paula Boner interviewed Jimmy LaValle of The Album Leaf


Weekly New Book Recommendations:

Atomic Books Comics Preview (recommended new comics and graphic novels)
Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week (recommended new books, magazines, and comics)
WORD Bookstores Books of the Week (recommended new books)


New Music Recommendations:

The Week's Interesting Music Releases


And of course, the daily music and news posts:

Daily Downloads (10 free and legal mp3 downloads every day, plus links to free live recordings online)
Shorties (news & links from the worlds of music, books, and pop culture)


also at Largehearted Boy:

100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads
Antiheroines
Atomic Books Comics Preview
Book Notes
Contests / Giveaways
Cover Song Collections
Daily Downloads
Lists
weekly music release lists
musician/author Interviews
Note Books
Soundtracked
WORD Bookstores Books of the Week


Posted by david | Permalink | Comments (View)

Atomic Books Comics Preview - July 26, 2015

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

Benn Ray is the owner of Atomic Books, an independent bookstore in Baltimore. The Mobtown Shank is his blog, and his comic Said What? is syndicated weekly in the Baltimore Sun's B-Paper.

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.


Fante Bukowski

Fante Bukowski
by Noah Van Sciver

There's so much to love about Van Sciver's new comics novella. First, publisher Fantagraphics has designed the book in an excellent, vintage pulp paperback format (something fairly uncommon in comics, but it really works). Then you have Van Sciver's Fante Bukowski character - a talentless bore who wants to be a famous writer and instead of fame experiences one humiliation after another. Fante Bukowski is quintessential Van Sciver.


In The Garden Of Evil

In The Garden Of Evil
by Charles Burns / Killoffer / Will Oldham

This super-limited, handmade project combines work from artists Charles Burns and Killoffer and a special flexidisc from Will Oldham. Another exquisite Pigeon Press production. Blink and it'll be gone.


Slurricane #8

Slurricane #8
by Will Laren

Tumblr sensation Will Laren collects a new issue of mostly previously unpublished one page gag comics: a kid who puts Louis Armstrong stamps on his backpack instead of band patches, a girl who can't stand the Beach Boys, a woman who vomits to compete with mama birds and more.


VYM Magazine #1

VYM Magazine #1
by Sasha Velour / Johnny Velour

This gorgeous, new, full color magazine explores the rapidly growing world of drag with a queer theory/gender studies/art context.


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:

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

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)


Posted by david | Permalink | Comments (View)

Daily Downloads (The Week's Best Free and Legal Music Including Marissa Nadler, Lydia Loveless, Tracy Bonham, and more)

Every day, Daily Downloads offers free and legal music and/or stream.


Today's free and legal mp3 downloads:

Eszter Balint: Live on WFMU [mp3]

Jesse Harris: The Secret Son Sampler EP [mp3]

Julie Rains: "You and Me" [mp3]

Lisa/Liza: The First Museum album [mp3]

Lydia Loveless: Folkadelphia Session [mp3]

Marissa Nadler: "Solitude (Black Sabbath cover)" [mp3]

Susumu Yokota: My Energy EP [mp3]

Tracy Bonham: Making Heads & Tails of Wax & Gold EP [mp3]

Wild Ones: "Dim the Lights" [mp3]

Zeta Wave: "Change (Banks cover)" [mp3]


Free and legal live performances at other websites:

Eidetic Seeing: 2015-07-09, Brooklyn [mp3]


search for more free and legal music downloads at Largehearted Boy


also at Largehearted Boy:

other Daily Downloads

covers collections
100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads

Book Notes (authors create 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 music, books, and pop culture news and links)
Soundtracked (composers and directors discuss their film's soundtrack)
weekly new album lists


Posted by david | Permalink | Comments (View)

July 24, 2015

Book Notes - Annie Liontas "Let Me Explain You"

Let Me Explain You

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, Kevin Brockmeier, T.C. Boyle, Dana Spiotta, Amy Bloom, Aimee Bender, Jesmyn Ward, Heidi Julavits, Hari Kunzru, and many others.

Annie Liontas's Let Me Explain You is a stunning debut, a pitch-perfect comic novel filled with unlikeable characters who wend their way into the reader's heart.

Publishers Weekly wrote of the book:

"Liontas adds tremendously to the novel's ambiance through Stavros's idiomatic language, expertly reveals the layers of her characters' lives, and perfectly captures their emotional temperatures in an unputdownable read."

Stream a playlist of these songs at Spotify.


In her own words, here is Annie Liontas's Book Notes music playlist for her debut novel Let Me Explain You:


I can play the hell out of a song. When I sit down to write, it's almost always to a single track on repeat. This can last for days, weeks, sometimes even months (my wifee is awfully tolerant). Hip Hop usually has the driving, thumping beats I'm searching for—guttural and in the throat—but I've been known to seek out powerful, confessional female vocalists, too.

Every one of these tracks, I listened to on repeat while writing this novel. They might give you a glimpse into the essential characters and obsessions of Let Me Explain You.


"Ambition" by Wale feat. Meek Mills: Stavros Stavros Mavrakis likes to say that he came into this country with fish bones in his pocket and intends to leave with a whale. The whale in Let Me Explain You might be the email that he sends to his daughter and ex-wife, declaring that he has ten days left to live—not to mention how they are each failing at life and here's what they need to change in order to be ambitious like him. Before the ten days are up, however, Stavros Stavros abruptly disappears. His daughters have no choice but to find what has become of their father.

"Work Hard, Play Hard" by Wiz Khalifa: Every immigrant novel needs a little work ethic and come-up hustle. I sweated out the summer of 2012 listening to this track, trying to figure out how to make all the strands of this book come together. There are a lot of voices, everyone trying to speak at once.

"O Gamos Kalorizikos" by Dimitris Sakalis: I had this on repeat more for research than for writing—specifically, in crafting the wedding night of Stavros Stavros Mavrakis. "[With] the whole village watching, Stavros Stavros finally proved his manhood: on the dance floor with the pomp of the traditional syrtos that suggested respite before battle… All he needed now was to deflower a virgin." Cue Dina.

"Next" by The Weeknd: Stavros Stavros' first wife, Dina, endures one traumatic experience after another. She is never quite a full person to any of the people in her life—not her parents, not her husband, not the man who takes advantage of her when she's only twelve-years-old. I think "Next" captures the pain and heartache of Dina—and listening to The Weeknd helped me breathe a little life into her.

"Stop in the Name of Love" by Kim Weston: In his email to his eldest daughter, Stavros Stavros Mavrakis instructs, "Please grow out your hair, it is very very short." He tries to convince Stavroula that, "Sometimes if we are who we are supposed to be on the outside, we are who we are supposed to be on the inside." Stavroula must choose, then, between love and obedience. She confesses her feelings the only way she knows how—by dedicating her menu to her boss' daughter, July, the woman she's been in love with for two years. Every dish is inspired by her beloved, every taste. I bet Stavroula goes home and cries into her pillow at night, this song on repeat in the background.

"Breath of Life" or "Seven Devils" by Florence + The Machine: At this point in her life, Litza is purging. She has a lot of anger. She is a resilient but wounded character, and news of her father's impending death sends her reeling. I wrote most of Litza under heavy driving beats, overlaid with mournful wailing, exactly like these tracks put out by Florence.

"This is What Makes Us Girls" by Lana Del Rey: I can't help but think of this song—its ache for the past—when I think of the relationship between Stavroula and Litza. They couldn't be more different—one a satellite, one an ocean liner, in Marina's own words—and yet they are inextricably linked in the intimate, excruciating, sometimes severing experience of sisterhood.

"Nantes" by Beirut: This is one that I put on repeat for weeks! I was going through a lot—loss of job, moving cities, picking up and starting over again. I also wasn't sure how to bring together Part III, the third and final movement of the novel. It was this track that helped me realize I could break the novel's structure and rely on Marina's voice for the close of the novel. "Nantes" is a nostalgic track, but playful. Much like Marina—the wise old cook—herself.

"Hope" by Ace Hood: At the end of the day, Let Me Explain You is about hope. Death always makes us think of life—cling to it. We remember what is precious and what matters, and all the gunk gets washed away. This is a novel about resilience, forgiveness, the American Dream, the stories we tell, what it means to be an immigrant, and family.


Annie Liontas and Let Me Explain You links:

the author's website
excerpt from the book

BookPage review
New York Times review
Slate review
St. Louis Post-Dispatch review


also at Largehearted Boy:

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

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)
Daily Downloads (free and legal daily mp3 downloads)
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
Word Bookstores Books of the Week (weekly new book highlights)


Posted by david | Permalink | Comments (View)

Google
  Web largeheartedboy.com   


1 | older