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July 23, 2014

Book Notes - Susan Scarf Merrell "Shirley"

Shirley

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, George Pelecanos, Dana Spiotta, Amy Bloom, Aimee Bender, Myla Goldberg, Heidi Julavits, Hari Kunzru, and many others.

Susan Scarf Merrell's Shirley is a brilliant homage to both the life and works of author Shirley Jackson, a psychological literary thriller as captivating as it is fascinating.

Booklist wrote of the book:

"Jackson has always been one of the more intriguing and misunderstood writers of her generation, a woman writer at the cusp of feminism's second wave who nevertheless was erroneously dismissed for writing mere 'domestic fiction.' Merrell brings this complicated and compelling woman to life through the kind of taut and intimate thriller Jackson herself would have been proud to call her own."

Stream a playlist of these songs at Spotify.


In her own words, here is Susan Scarf Merrell's Book Notes music playlist for her novel, Shirley:


Shirley Jackson was very musical, and loved just about all of it—from classical to piano jazz to bullfighting music. Her husband Stanley Edgar Hyman was a fan of jazz and blues and folk, and the record player in their house was in constant use. I myself have the kind of singing voice that sounds like a sick cat, and an appropriately tin ear (I sound okay to ME). But ever since I was a child, I've loved the music of poetry as much as I love prose—one of the first "songs" I remember hearing was my mother reading Poe's Annabel Lee out loud. So the pieces here are selected on the basis of story for the most part. If the music pleases you, it's because I'm lucky enough to live in a household of musical people, who mostly prevent me from ever hearing the bad stuff.

Shirley is Rose Nemser's book. It's driven by her vision and what her past brings to the world of the story: the impoverished nature of her childhood, her yearning for love without really understanding what it is, her need for someone to care for and to care for her, her need for a maternal figure on which to model herself. So when I think about music to enhance the way one reads Shirley it's in terms of Rose. Romantic and sentimental, but a little bit cursed at the same time.

1. There's only one song that matters within the novel, a folk song called "The House Carpenter" (sometimes "The Demon Lover"). "Well met, well met, my own true love/Long time I have been seeking thee/ I am lately come from the salt sea/And all for the sake, love, of thee." The version here, from the Library of Congress' Archive of Folk Culture (Anglo-American Ballads, Vol. 1), is hoarsely beautiful, so scratchy and idiosyncratic that the listener's brain immediately provides a whole life story for the distinctly unpolished singer.

2. A poetry anthology my English class studied in the 8th grade included the text of Paul Simon's song "Dangling Conversation." It was the first time I intellectually understood the link between musical lyric and poetry, and I often think about the pure simplicity of these verses and the haunting ambivalence of Simon's storytelling.

3. Elvis' "Can't Help Falling in Love," because how could you be 19-year-old Rose in 1964 and not love this song?

4. And Edith Piaf's "La Vie en Rose," because not only would Rose adore the song for its wistful yearning, but she'd also adore its Gallic sophistication.

5. There's one spontaneous after-dinner dancing scene in the novel, and it's most definitely NOT to The Magnetic Fields' "Nothing Matters When We're Dancing," but the movie romance of the dance floor is so inherent to this song, and movie romance so much a part of learning what one believes love is, that it begs to be here.

6. Vetiver's "Houses." Because houses. Jackson. You know. "I could never make it in your house/You could never make it in mine."

7. Wilco's dreamy, haunting "Reservations" saturates your ears, so that you almost don't realize how creepy and sad it is. It's the same way Shirley Jackson's writing prickles the reader—you are amused and entertained but creeped out as well, in a most delicious way.

8. I had to add Lena Horne's version of "Someone to Watch Over Me." Rose would find Horne's version mesmerizing, and the song itself is the essence of what Rose wants for her own life.

9. Hearing Bombadil's "Honeymoon" for the first time, my initial thoughts were about how nothing ever really changes—"honey if you took back all the promises and rings/and little things and when he sings/ would you still know/what lies behind that honeymoon."

Relationship IS danger, as much as it is safety and home. The other is never completely known…There's something so eternal about this song; I would have wanted to hear it decades ago as much as I like to listen to it now.

10. The Traveling Wilburys' "End of the Line": Shirley has been called brooding and dark, but I don't think it is. Accepting that love is complicated—that there's romance in surviving and compromising and living with and next to the other—is, to me, perhaps the most ridiculously wonderful notion there is. "Well it's all right/ the best you can do is forgive."

11. Porches' "Good Book." Maybe it's not about love, and yet of course it is. Like every song ever written. "baby I'm just a good book/that you pick up when you want to/and put it down when you are tired/but fold the page when I knew you/and you knew me/it's a good one"


Susan Scarf Merrell and Shirley links:

the author's website
the author's Wikipedia entry

Independent review
Kirkus review
LitReactor review
Washington Post review

The Daily Beast profile of the author


also at Largehearted Boy:

Book Notes (2012 - ) (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
Largehearted Word (weekly new book highlights)
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


Posted by david | Permalink | Comments (View)





July 23, 2014

Book Notes - Phil Elverum "Dust"

Dust

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, George Pelecanos, Dana Spiotta, Amy Bloom, Aimee Bender, Myla Goldberg, Heidi Julavits, Hari Kunzru, and many others.

I have long been a fan of Phil Elverum's music, his bands the Microphones and Mount Eerie have been staples of my playlists for years. His new photobook Dust exposes his talent for storytelling through photography, each spread of photos is hauntingly balanced in this beautifully designed volume.

Exclaim wrote of the book:

"Like Mount Eerie, there's a certain otherworldly quality to Dust that's easy to get lost in, with each page flip bringing you deeper into Elverum's faraway and often ghostly world. No, there's no actual record hidden within the pages, but there doesn't need to be; Dust is a beautiful statement in its own right."

Stream a playlist of these songs at Spotify.


In his own words, here is Phil Elverum's Book Notes music playlist for his novel, Dust:

This is a wordless book of photographs that has no story and no point. Honestly, it is very difficult to come up with music that relates to the book because for the most part my aim in assembling these images was to convey some kind of statement about impermanence and void. I guess most people would try to relate these ideas with something more visually bleak, but I think it's very interesting to consider these ideas while walking around in beautiful places, in the midst of the realistic sensory overload that is everyday life. To me, a picture of a new red car parked in front of a dilapidated karate building says "emptiness" because I notice the bushes growing through the window and the many layers of history erasing and replacing each other. Many layers on every page, in every view, all the time every moment, physical matter churning around so constantly that nothing is really solid. Appropriate music for this book would really be non-music, just the sound of a breeze, a trickle of water, traffic, etc. But here are some of my favorite songs anyway and some ideas about how they might relate:

(NOTE: I designed the book as pairs of images meant to be viewed as spreads. That's why they are listed that way here.)

pages 5 & 6
"The Piano Drop" by Tim Hecker (from Ravedeath, 1972)
The whole album is amazing and deserves to be heard as one piece of music, but for the purposes here this song will do. The glimmer on empty water, the moon in an empty sky, sharp symmetry, a razor horizontal line, a circle. The real wild world occasionally makes straight lines and points, poking our minds open. This music is an excellent interweaving of the wild and the precise.

pages 9 & 10
"Open Field" by Maher Shalal Hash Baz (from "Blues du Jour")
The photo on page 9 is literally of the man who made this music, Tori Kudo. On tour in Matsuyama, Japan I had the good luck to spend a morning hanging out with him. I can't summarize his work here, but the way the figures seem to accidentally pass and miss each other (on both pages) and the disorienting skew of page 10, plus the piercing moon, pretty much capture the sensation of Maher Shalal Hash Baz. Moments of accidental brilliance, constantly.

pages 11 & 12
"Some Lightning" by Thanksgiving (from "Nothing")
Specifically the words "the shape of those rocks coming out of the ocean, that is my shape". These rocks seem to jut out so strikingly that they become charismatic personalities. Mirrored by the mid-summer toasted wild grass on a sloping hill, the atmosphere here is of a young poet hanging out under a tree by the water saying sayings to the inanimate surroundings. This early Thanksgiving song was made by a very young brilliant Adrian Orange, an actual real-life lounging grass-grove poet who went on to write the best songs in human history. I picture him in that grass.

pages 33 & 34
"Generous Palmstroke" by Björk (from Vespertine singles)
The house on page 34 is a couple blocks from my house. I walk past it daily, listening to music in my headphones. Frequently I listen to this specific Björk song, trying to figure out how she made that close humming texture, while I walk to the studio to work on my own music. Close and spooky and dynamic. I haven't been able to figure it out but I've been listening to it for many years. Many nights I walk past this house's roses lit like that, dramatically. Both of these images have a similar close and spooky feeling. Unusually intimate.

pages 41 & 42
"Hello Earth" by Kate Bush (from "Hounds of Love")
Even though Kate Bush doesn't always sound so detached from earth (usually persistent and prominent snare hits), this song is totally loosed and floating. These images are from a morning drive through Somerset in southern England. I don't know where in England Kate Bush is from, but it's close enough. Wandering through unearthly trees in a British fog, thinking of generations past, diverting frequently into spooky eastern European mens' choirs, voices from behind trunks. These trees almost look like a set from a movie, but it was really like that.

pages 49 & 50
"Over Dark Water" by Mount Eerie (from "Clear Moon")
OK, yeah, I know, it's taboo for me to put my own song on this list, but it is very appropriate. This image on page 50 is exactly of what the song is about. This photo was taken on Deception Pass bridge late into a sunset, looking west. You can see the strip of orange sky through a slit in the clouds, out past beyond the dark water and the blinking green light of a lighthouse. Geneviève, the singer in the song, appears at an unnatural elevation, lit from the side by distant headlights. The song is about mentally riding on those high winds, like valkyries or witches, westward over these exact waters towards the ocean, illuminated orange and wild. The murk on page 49 is the tumult of the water below, the distorted bass.

pages 83 & 84, plus 91 & 92
"Wanderer Above The Sea Of Fog" by Wolves In The Throne Room (from "Black Cascade")
Pages 83 & 84 are meant to basically scream "Pacific Northwest". The image of Snoqualmie Falls is hopefully immediately recognizable from the opening credits of Twin Peaks, appearing here as a lazy visual shortcut, but foggier. The shredded massive cedar trunk feels like a scream to me. I don't know what could do this to a tree. Epic forces exist here. Wolves In The Throne Room is definitely the music for these images. Their whole project is to give voice to this epic force, specifically Pacific Northwestern, in an exaggerated and sacred way. This song in particular starts with a pretty amazing primal scream, something definitely coming up from beneath. The title is a reference to a painting I love by Caspar David Friedrich of a lone wanderer looking out over an "other world" type of landscape, back to the viewer, weird and alien and symmetrical. The image on page 92 is a nod to that painting: 3 figures watching an indistinguishable orb in a copper night fog. The vivid sharpness of the stars on page 91 is also found in the music, chiming in the overtones (if you listen to it loud enough).

pages 107 & 108
"Renihiliation" by Liturgy (from "Renihiliation")
Two thick black metal songs in a row, sorry. I think it is necessary to do it all the way if you're going to do it at all. Liturgy makes music like a very sharp blade. It is precise and enveloping. It brings me immediately to another place, cold and clear. These 2 images, blasting through piercing snow in a car and arriving in the thickest of white walls of snow, so thick that everything goes dark, this is the feeling of Liturgy's music. They call it "transcendental black metal" and I agree. It is a movement to a brighter place, not darker, but somehow so blindingly brighter that it feels like a wall of white noise. It might as well be black. That wall of trees might as well be solid.

pages 131 & 132
"Tirili Tovann" by Kirsten Bråten Berg (from "Nordisk Sang" compilation)
Page 131 was taken in western Norway, traveling up the fjord, up the river, into the mountains. This is a traditional Norwegian song. I'm not sure what it's about exactly but I made out the word "skogen" (forest). It is easy to picture Kirsten Bråten Berg on that ridge in the background, singing out to a neighbor 2 fjords over, like Swiss yodeling but much more beautiful, like a bird that can fly super high and loves getting whipped around on the high atmospheres, or like a wild river that gracefully consumes tree groves. The placid river scene on page 132 is at home in the Skagit Valley and is also a component of that music, the omnipresent low drone note on the fiddle.

pages 57, 58, 59 & 60
"Aavehuminaa (Katjalle)" by Es (from "Kaikkeuden kauneus ja käsittämättömyys")
This is the sound of my imagined version of Finland, made by actual Finnish people. These first 3 images are in Helsinki. There is no picture of a sauna here, but the feeling is there. Inside those ordered buildings on 57 & 58 (taken a year apart incidentally) there is clearly some coziness happening, behind an iconic birch trunk and a grid of walls and window coverings. On 59, a power plant and the setting sun's glow stand in for the transforming otherworldly sauna feeling. Out of nowhere a stack of trucks blasts across west Texas, into a new thing, like the ice plunge wakeup. This song by Es is one of my favorites ever and brings me immediately to a snowy tundra in my mind, high winds whistling and squealing, opening the door to a tiny hot room where everything transforms.


Phil Elverum and Dust links:

the author's website
excerpts from the book

Exclaim review

Exclaim profile of the author


also at Largehearted Boy:

Book Notes (2012 - ) (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
Largehearted Word (weekly new book highlights)
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


Posted by david | Permalink | Comments (View)

WORD Bookstores Books of the Week - July 23, 2014

In the Largehearted Word series, the staff of Brooklyn's WORD bookstore highlights several new books released this week.

WORD Bookstores are independent neighborhood bookstores in Greenpoint, Brooklyn and Jersey City, New Jersey. Our primary goal is to be whatever our communities needs us to be, which currently means carrying everything from fiction to nonfiction to absurdly cute cards and stationery. In addition, we're fiends for a good event, from the classic author reading and Q&A to potlucks and a basketball league (and anything set in a bar). If a weekly dose of WORD here isn't enough for you, follow us on Twitter: @wordbookstores.


How a Mother Weaned Her Girl From Fairy Tales

How a Mother Weaned Her Girl From Fairy Tales
by Kate Bernheimer

The tale is in the telling, and this new collection of lyrical, exhilarating fairy tales makes use of the moribund, ruthless aspects of the Brothers Grimm and the lilting, calmative qualities of Mother Goose.


Levels of Life

Levels of Life
by Julian Barnes

Master storyteller Julian Barnes applies his erudite, unsparing hand to the wrenching experiences of growing older and losing what one loves and cherishes to passing time and to death.


Hunted Down

Hunted Down
by Charles Dickens

"What young men will do, sometimes, to ruin themselves and break their friends" ... Charles Dickens, of course! But this time it's in the setting of the classic detective tales, "stories in which the men of the law make their mark."


Doug Unplugs on the Farm

Doug Unplugs on the Farm
by Dan Yaccarino

Doug Unplugs on the Farm is the perfect fable to inspire the Minecraft generation to reacquaint themselves -- or acquaint themselves -- with the world beyond the Apple product.


WORD Brooklyn links:

WORD website
WORD Tumblr
WORD on Twitter
WORD's Facebook page
WORD's Flickr photos


also at Largehearted Boy:

other Word Bookstores Books of the Week (weekly new book highlights)

Antiheroines (interviews with up and coming female comics artists)
Atomic Books Comics Preview (weekly comics & graphic novel highlights)
Book Notes (authors create music playlists for their book)
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)


Posted by david | Permalink | Comments (View)

Shorties (The Man Booker Prize Longlist, Jenny Lewis Profiled, and more)

The longlist for the 2014 Man Booker Prize has been named.


Paste profiled singer-songwriter Jenny Lewis.


Full Stop interviewed author D. Foy.


Stereogum listed essential songs from the golden era of emo.


CBC Books listed its favorite literary references on The Simpsons.


The Guardian listed the best parody songs.


GQ listed its top 20 beach reads.


Drowned in Sound interviewed Interpol guitarist Daniel Kessler.


Lauren Groff wrote about the mermaids of Weeki Wachee at the Oxford American.


Paste listed songs with obscure soccer references.


Comic Book Resources interviewed Mimi Pond about her graphic novel Over Easy.


Follow me on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest, 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 (The Raveonettes, Sea Wolf, and more)

Every day, Daily Downloads offers 10 free and legal mp3 downloads.


Today's free and legal mp3 downloads:

Adryelle: The Waiting Room album [mp3]

Fever Shakes: Concrete Echo album [mp3]

Geology: Our Intertwining Words album [mp3]

Jmzs Smith: Pretty People EP [mp3]

Raveonettes: "Sisters" [mp3] from Pe'ahi

Sea Wolf: Song Spells, No. 1: Cedarsmoke album [mp3]

Sincerely Iris: License Plate Sessions EP [mp3]

Various Artists: Doomed and Stoned in Portland album [mp3]

Various Artists: 2014 Summer Sampler: Mist and Moss album [mp3]


Free and legal live performances at other websites:

King Buzzo: 2014-07-14, Brooklyn [mp3]


search for more free and legal music downloads at Largehearted Boy


also at Largehearted Boy:

other daily free and legal mp3 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 22, 2014

This Week's Interesting Music Releases - July 22, 2014

The Raveonettes

The Raveonettes' surprise new album Pe'ahi is by far my favorite new release.

Alvvays' self-titled album, The Black Angels' Clear Lake Forest, and PS I Love You's For Those Who Stay are other discs I have heard and can recommend.

What new releases are you picking up this week? What can you recommend? Have I left anything noteworthy off the list?


This week's interesting music releases:

Alvvays: Alvvays
The Amazing Snakeheads: Amphetamine Ballads
Anti-Flag: A Document of Dissent 1993-2013
Big Deal: June Gloom (Deluxe Edition)
The Black Angels: Clear Lake Forest
Blind Thorns: Blind Thorns
Colony House: When I Was Younger
Common: Nobody's Smiling
Dakota Suite and Quentin Sirjacq: There Is Calm to Be Done
Donato Dozzy and Say DJ: Polarity EP [vinyl]
Electric Funeral: Total Funeral [vinyl[
Field Mouse: Hold Still Life
Fleetwood Mac: Boston Vol. 3 [vinyl]
Floor: Homegoings and Transitions / Shadowline [vinyl]
FREEMAN: FREEMAN
Got a Girl: I Love You But I Must Drive Off This Cliff Now
Haitian Rail: Solarists
Jonwayne: Cassette on Vinyl
Joyce Manor: Never Hungover Again
La Hell Gang: Thru Me Again
La Roux: Trouble In Paradise
Lawrence English: Wilderness of Mirrors
Lee Hazlewood: Friday's Child (reissue)
Martyrdod: Elddop
Matthew Young: Recurring Dreams [vinyl]
Midnight Masses: Departures
Mike Doughty: Live at Ken's House
Mogwai: Come on Die Young (Deluxe Edition)
Mutilation Rites: Harbinger
Neil Hamburger: First of Dismay
Nico Vega: Lead to Light
Nona: Through the Head
OBN IIIs: Live in San Francisco
PS I Love You: For Those Who Stay
The Raveonettes: Pe;ahi
Real Friends: Maybe This Place Is the Same and We’re Just Changing
Richard Thompson: Acoustic Classics
RX Bandits: Gemini, Her Majesty
The Story So Far: Songs of (Acoustic EP)
White Fence: For the Recently Found Innocent


also at Largehearted Boy:

weekly music release lists

100 online sources for free and legal music downloads
Book Notes (authors create music playlists for their book)
Daily Downloads (free and legal daily mp3 downloads)
musician/author interviews
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Short Cuts (writers pair a song with their short story or essay)
Soundtracked (composers and directors discuss their film's soundtracks)


Posted by david | Permalink | Comments (View)

Shorties (Folio Society Changes with the Times, A New Raveonettes Album, and more)

Publishing Perspectives examined how Folio Society is changing with the times.


Drowned in Sound interviewed Sune Rose Wagner about the new Raveonettes album, surprisingly released this week.


The Japan Times profiled Annie Clark of St. Vincent.


PopMatters listed the top 25 albums in Merge Records' history.


Author Porochista Khakpour shared her daily habits with Adult.


Will playlists replace the album?


Author Yannick Murphy interviewed herself at Publishers Weekly.


The A.V. Club listed the best albums of 2014 so far.


The Rumpus interviewed author Lucy M. Johnson.


Paste listed the most visually captivating music videos.


R.I.P., author Thomas Berger.


Hamilton Leithauser of the Walkmen played a solo Tiny Desk Concert.


The Guardian predicted books that will make the 2014 Man Booker Prize longlist.


Follow me on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest, 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 (Shovels and Rope, The Sunshine Fix, and more)

Every day, Daily Downloads offers 10 free and legal mp3 downloads.


Today's free and legal mp3 downloads:

2:54: two tracks [mp3]

Casey Jack: "Not in Love with the Modern World" [mp3] from Casey Jack (out August 26th)
Casey Jack: "Stay Away" [mp3] from Casey Jack (out August 26th)

L'anarchiste: The Traveler album [mp3]

Populous: "Brasilia" [mp3] from Night Safari

Shovels and Rope: Swimmin' Time Primer EP [mp3]

The Teaspoons: free and legal The Teaspoons album [mp3]

Turning Plates: "Falling Lives" [mp3] from The Shouting Cave (out September 22nd)

Wednesday's Wolves: The Queen EP [mp3]


Free and legal live performances at other websites:

The Sunshine Fix: 2003-09-20, Athens [mp3]


search for more free and legal music downloads at Largehearted Boy


also at Largehearted Boy:

other daily free and legal mp3 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 21, 2014

Book Notes - Gustavo Faverón Patriau "The Antiquarian"

The Antiquarian

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, George Pelecanos, Dana Spiotta, Amy Bloom, Aimee Bender, Myla Goldberg, Heidi Julavits, Hari Kunzru, and many others.

Profound, poignant, dark, and complex, The Antiquarian is one of the year's finest novels.

The New York Times wrote of the book:

"Delightfully macabre. . . . A novel in which storytelling can prove redemptive, but it can also kill. . . . The Antiquarian is steeped in alienation, shame, mourning and disgust. It is intelligently conceived and well executed. Rather than serve up a tantalizing mystery with a tidy resolution, this book does the opposite, demolishing the 'facts' and assumptions amassed along the way. It has hundreds of intricate pieces. Once you finish reading, you may feel compelled to take it apart, figure out how it works and begin again."

Stream a playlist of these songs at Spotify.


In his own words, here is Gustavo Faverón Patriau's Book Notes music playlist for his novel, The Antiquarian:


The story I tell in The Antiquarian takes place mostly in a city shaped like two intersecting spirals. At its center is a psychiatric hospital: a bleak atmosphere, a sad and rarified psych ward that seems as crazy as the people it houses, where patients, doctors, and ghosts are indistinguishable. When I was trying to visualize it in my mind, I often thought of German expressionist movies, and I started watching them again after many years. Of course, most are silent films. I wondered what would happen if I watched them while listening to old songs that had come to mind since I had started writing the novel, songs I felt were connected to my characters and the spaces they inhabited.

These are some of those songs:

Charlie Parker, "Lover Man"The Antiquarian is not a horror story, but a novel about madness and literature (one might confuse madness and horror because each produces the other, so when one is present the other is not too far). The best novella I've read about madness and its connection to the creative process is El perseguidor (The Pursuer) by the Argentinean master Julio Cortázar. Its protagonist, an American sax player named Johnny Carter, is a barely disguised Charlie Parker, whose most disturbing psychotic incident comes when he is recording a song called "Amorous." He starts perceiving time in a twofold manner: time in the world and time in the music, the latter growing and elongating inside the former, pushing its limits. Johnny Carter´s "Amorous" is Charlie Parker's "Lover Man." Parker recorded many versions, at least two of them legendary: one for Dial, and one for Verve with his own quintet. The second recording is perfect but the first one—the one Cortázar had in mind, although clearly flawed—is much better: a visionary going after something, with an instrument that is not enough for him. Both for Parker and for Carter the sessions concluded in panic attacks: fear of their own mental instability, of having gone too far. While writing The Antiquarian, I often listened to both versions as a reminder of the difference between good craft and great art, but also as a reminder of the proximity between madness and horror.

Unknown Peruvian musicians, "Pastora", "Negro de Lachaqui" – Andean violin music is the most awkwardly happy way of expressing melancholy that I have ever heard. It might have to do with the fact that violins arrived to the Andean region in the hands of conquistadors and murderous hacienda owners: the gift of new music from the hand that will very likely kill you. Part of The Antiquarian is set in a place evocative of the Peruvian highlands during a time of political violence. Although that aspect of the novel has not been brought up by American critics so far, the novel alludes to the war that the Shining Path—a Maoist guerrilla—launched against the Peruvian state in the 1980s. I felt naturally compelled to listen to Andean music and found two beautiful and intriguing songs, "Pastora" and "Negro de Lachaqui," both included in the seventh volume of the Smithsonian´s "Traditional Music of Peru." Listen to them here.

Paavoharju, "Italialaisella Laivalla" – Considering I am not a religious person and the members of Paavoharju are ascetic Christians, it just may be a good thing that I don´t understand a word they say. But "Italialaisella Laivalla" sounds like the saddest little melody even if you do not know what is going on. The emotion it produces, then, is purely atmospheric. I'm always seduced by art that has the capability of communicating at a level that is well beyond pure referentiality, beyond literal or metaphorical meaning, and even beyond suggestion: art that opens wounds in your body or in your mind and waits to see what comes from inside you.

Shugo Tokumaru, "Parachute" – The first time I heard Shugo Tokumaru's "Parachute" I knew there was too much happiness in the music itself for it to be true. So I looked for an English version of the original Japanese lyrics and found out I was right. The song is infused with beautifully pitch-black humor and it is almost perverse. It sounds, though, like a childlike tune. Perversity and childishness were the characteristics I was building in the personality of Sofia, one of the most darkly enjoyable characters of The Antiquarian. Tokumaru helped me with that almost as much as the next song, "The King of Carrot Flowers."

Neutral Milk Hotel, "The King of Carrot Flowers, Part 1" – A different take on childhood and perversity with a loving touch and suicidal tendencies, Jeff Mangum's song sounded to me like a conversation over coffee between two of my characters. Daniel and Sofia, the siblings, are often associated throughout the novel with childhood, but there are only two or three brief passages in which Sofia is still an actual child (Daniel is at least 18 years old in last of these episodes). The rest is a perverted prolongation of childhood into adulthood. The crimes themselves are aberrant reiterations of childhood games.

Tom Waits, "Alice" – I don't think I need to say a lot about this one and how it connects with the others. What's great about Tom Waits's song is that, somehow, Alice is the adult whereas the singer is the child longing for her. That is a nice way of vindicating the original Alice, robbed of her innocence by Lewis Carroll (remember the pictures?) and then forced to remain a child forever thanks to the book.

Daniel Johnston, "Devil's Town" – Ghost towns only exist is bad movies, great fictions, and postwar countries, and I am interested in all three. But what drew me towards Daniel Johnston was Jeff Feuerzeig's documentary on Johnston's bipolar disorder and satanic obsession, and the relation between that and his unending creativity. I don't remember exactly what the phrase is that my protagonist, Daniel (see the connection in the name?) says to the narrator of The Antiquarian, something like: "Mental illnesses make you speak, but they turn language into a ritual… I'm going to tell you lots of stories today." All that came from my own obsession with Daniel Johnston and songs like this one.


Gustavo Faverón Patriau and The Antiquarian links:

Bustle review
Kirkus review
Publishers Weekly review
Three Percent review


also at Largehearted Boy:

Book Notes (2012 - ) (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
Largehearted Word (weekly new book highlights)
musician/author interviews
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Short Cuts (writers pair a song with their short story or essay)
Shorties (daily music, literature, and pop culture links)
Soundtracked (composers and directors discuss their film's soundtracks)
weekly music release lists


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Book Notes - Jean Kwok "Mambo in Chinatown"

Mambo in Chinatown

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, George Pelecanos, Dana Spiotta, Amy Bloom, Aimee Bender, Myla Goldberg, Heidi Julavits, Hari Kunzru, and many others.

Jean Kwok's second novel Mambo in Chinatown is an engrossing cross-cultural coming-of-age tale.

Booklist wrote of the book:

"In her winning second novel (after Girl in Translation, 2010), Kwok infuses her heartwarming story with both the sensuality of dance and the optimism of a young woman coming into her own."

Stream a playlist of these songs at Spotify.


In her own words, here is Jean Kwok's Book Notes music playlist for her novel, Mambo in Chinatown:


Tracy Chapman, "Fast Car" and "Mountains O' Things"

I've always been a big Tracy Chapman fan, partly because she sings about the burdens of being working class with desperation and tenderness. My heroine Charlie is washing dishes in a noodle restaurant when we first meet her, and she dreams of being someone else, of having a better life. I hear Tracy Chapman's desire to escape in "Fast Car":

You got a fast car

I got a plan to get us out of here

I been working at the convenience store

Managed to save just a little bit of money
…
You and I can both get jobs

And finally see what it means to be living

And I also think of her lyrics from "Mountains O' Things":

The life I've always wanted

I guess I'll never have

I'll be working for somebody else
Until I'm in my grave

I'll be dreaming of a live of ease
And mountains, oh mountains o' things

Beyoncé, "If I Were a Boy"

I really love Beyoncé's wistful daydreaming about being a boy here, and both Charlie and I would have had an easier time if we'd been born male. Like Charlie, I was an anomaly in my traditional Chinese family: a girl bad at cooking and cleaning, clumsy and not feminine enough.


Ricky Martin, "Livin' La Vida Loca"

This Ricky Martin mambo always reminds me of the years I spent working as a professional ballroom dancer, both because I danced to many Ricky Martin songs in that time period and because this number is so passionate and wild. Indeed when Charlie lands a job at a ballroom dance studio, she finds herself suddenly living la vida loca, a crazy life.

Verdi, La Traviata, Giorgio Germont and Violetta duet

I find this to be such a moving duet, especially when sung by Angela Gheorghiu. Germont is the father of Violetta's lover, Alfredo, and Germant persuades Violetta to give Alfredo up because she is a courtesan and would destroy their family's reputation. It's an extraordinarily beautiful piece of music as the father reminds Violetta of her duty even though she is passionately in love with Alfredo. That struggle between duty and love is one that my heroine Charlie must wrestle with throughout my novel as she finds herself living in two worlds, that of working class Chinatown and the glamorous one of ballroom dance.

Billie Holiday, "God Bless the Child"

One thing that Charlie could never turn her back on is her love for her little sister, Lisa. That devotion in the midst of hard times is beautifully sung by Billie Holiday:


Yes, the strong gets more
While the weak ones fade
Empty pockets don't ever make the grade
Mama may have, Papa may have
But God bless the child that's got his own
That's got his own

Thelonious Monk, Round Midnight

As Charlie becomes a strong and graceful dancer, Lisa's health fails and Charlie becomes desperate to get Lisa a Western diagnosis despite their father's insistence on treating Lisa only with Eastern medicine. In the night scenes, when Charlie walks the streets of Chinatown in despair, I hear Ella Fitzgerald singing Thelonious Monk's Round Midnight, with Oscar Peterson on the piano:

Suppertime I'm feelin' sad;
But it really gets bad,
'round midnight.
Memories always start round midnight.

Tito Puente, "Take the A Train"

Meanwhile, Charlie is exploring new worlds both emotionally and physically, and she goes on a date to dance mambo in Spanish Harlem with her dance student Ryan. Of course, I think of Tito Puente as they take the subway uptown.

Miles Davis, "Baby, Won't You Make Up Your Mind"

But even when Ryan and Charlie begin to fall in love, Charlie can't forget that Ryan already has a girlfriend. As Ann Baxter sings together in a band with the great Miles Davis and Art Blakey:

I'm tired of playing this game

I've suffered just enough pain

Baby, won't you make up your mind

Aretha Franklin, "You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman"

By the end of the book, Charlie has found herself, as a dancer, a sister, a daughter and a woman. She feels understood and complete, as Arethra Franklin sings:

When my soul was in the lost and found

You came along, to claim it

I didn't know just what was wrong with me

'Til your kiss helped me name it


Jean Kwok and Mambo in Chinatown links:

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

BookPage review
Bookreporter review

ArtsATL interview with the author
Banana Writers interview with the author
Bustle interview with the author
Weekend Edition interview with the author


also at Largehearted Boy:

Book Notes (2012 - ) (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
Largehearted Word (weekly new book highlights)
musician/author interviews
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Short Cuts (writers pair a song with their short story or essay)
Shorties (daily music, literature, and pop culture links)
Soundtracked (composers and directors discuss their film's soundtracks)
weekly music release lists


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Shorties (Ranking Cormac McCarthy's Books, Stream the New Jenny Lewis Album, and more)

Flavorwire ranked Cormac McCarthy's books.


All Things Considered interviewed singer-songwriter Jenny Lewis.

NPR Music is streaming Lewis's new album, The Voyager.


At the New Republic, Andrew Ladd calls for "author's cuts" of books.


NPR Music is streaming Bear in Heaven's new album Time Is Over One Day Old.


The London Free Press profiled cartoonist Bryan Lee O'Malley.


Salon examined streaming music royalty rates' effects on jazz and classical musicians.


Weekend Edition interviewed Douglas Copeland about his new novel Worst. Person. Ever.


Pitchfork listed overlooked albums of 2014 so far.


Two winners of the Caine Prize for African Writing discussed the award at Tell Me More.


Flavorwire shared a career-spanning Morrissey playlist.


Author Dean Koontz listed his favorite books at The Week.


Sharon Van Etten visited The Current studio for an interview and live performance.


Follow me on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest, 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)


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Daily Downloads (Oneida, A Great River Folk Fest Compilation, and more)

Every day, Daily Downloads offers 10 free and legal mp3 downloads.


Today's free and legal mp3 downloads:

Autumn in June: "Weeks" [mp3] from Autumn in June (out September 116th)

The Bright Road: Norway album [mp3]

Chasing Phantoms: Like Sailing into a Storm EP [mp3]

Go Life: "I'm Not Really Here" [mp3]

Neil Holyoak: "Red Queen of Autumn" [mp3] from

New God: "Firework" [mp3] from

Sassparilla: "Cool Thing" [mp3]
Sassparilla: "What the Devil Don't Know" [mp3]

Various Artists: 2014 Great River Folk Fest Mix album [mp3]


Free and legal live performances at other websites:

Oneida: 2014-17-02, Brooklyn [mp3]


search for more free and legal music downloads at Largehearted Boy


also at Largehearted Boy:

other daily free and legal mp3 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)

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