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July 30, 2014

WORD Bookstores Books of the Week - July 30, 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.


White Girls

White Girls
by Hilton Als

Fresh to paperback, this game-changing essay collection/personal exploration is as powerful as it is significant.


Tigerman

Tigerman
by Nick Harkaway

WORD favorite Nick Harkaway delivers another poignant, exciting story rife with human foibles and uncanny twists.


Lucky Us

Lucky Us
by Amy Bloom

A moving, sweet, and sometimes heartbreaking story of the human need to connect, and the human flaws that interfere.


The Illusion of Separateness

The Illusion of Separateness
by Simon Van Booy

Are we really alone as we sometimes feel, or do we live our whole lives intricately bound to others in mysterious, unseen ways? Such are the central questions of this riveting emotional detective story.


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)





July 30, 2014

Shorties (Stream the New Spoon Album, Author Jim Harrison's Life Lessons, and more)

Stream the new Spoon album at iTunes.


Author Jim Harrison listed life lessons at Esquire.


All Things Considered interviewed author Yelena Akhtiorskaya.


The New York Times profiled book designer and author Peter Mendelsund.


Fuse interviewed Harvey Danger frontman Sean Nelson.


Nick Harkaway discussed his new novel and fatherhood at Whatever.


SPIN interviewed the founder of Jade Tree Records.


James Franco on how reading Cormac McCarthy changed his life.


Jenny Lewis visited World Cafe for an interview and live performance.

Vulture interviewed Lewis.


George Saunders recommended short stories everyone should read.


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 (SHEHEHE, The Holy Coast, and more)

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


Today's free and legal mp3 downloads:

Brother Earth: "Out Like a Lion" [mp3] from Positive Haywires (out September 14th)

Fire Is a Phoenix: "Fire Is a Phoenix" [mp3]

The Holy Coast: "The Highest Love" [mp3]

Jose Contreras: "Past the Stars" [mp3]

Just Us: Seasonal EP [mp3]

King Baby James: Golden Casket EP [mp3]

Slight Birching: "Currency" [mp3]

Strangers From Now On: "Davidoff" [mp3]

Vincent Colbert: Broken Joy EP [mp3]


Free and legal live performances at other websites:

SHEHEHE: 2014-06-13, 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 29, 2014

Book Notes - Christy Crutchfield "How to Catch a Coyote"

How to Catch a Coyote

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.

Christy Crutchfield's How to Catch a Coyote is a marvelously told novel of a family tragedy.

Mary Miller wrote of the book:

"At once epic and spare, beautiful and ugly, Christy Crutchfield's How to Catch a Coyote will make you question whether you ever knew the difference between a scavenger and a predator."

Stream a playlist of these songs at Spotify.


In her own words, here is Christy Crutchfield's Book Notes music playlist for her novel, How to Catch a Coyote:


How to Catch a Coyote is a novel about a fractured family. But rather than telling the story of the event that broke them, it concentrates on the aftermath. It's told in a fractured timeline, and we hear from each family member but one. We hear from other members surrounding the characters and the incident. The reader decides who's right or if anyone is.

For this playlist, I was interested in songs that represent the family members and in songs that these characters would actually listen to.


"Things That Scare Me," Neko Case

Neko Case is from Canada, but this song feels like Southern Gothic to me. I listened to Neko Case while writing this book because her music is full of country tendencies, animals, and hopelessness. The novel shifts point of view, and we get into the minds of many characters, but the character we hear from most is the youngest child Daniel. The lines that always get me in this song are about the black birds, those "same birds that followed me to school when I was young." Daniel has a lot to be afraid of at an early age. He can't quite understand or articulate what is happening to his family when he is 10 years old so he focuses his fear on the coyotes overtaking his neighborhood, the ones her can hear at night, the ones eating neighborhood cats. Later in life, he will be more afraid of death, sex, genetics, splinters, his father, his mother, and his sister. But for his earlier years in this book, his fear can be placed on something outside of himself.

"Seedling," Bonnie "Prince" Billy

This playlist could very well be made entirely out of Will Oldham songs. The Letting Go became an important album while writing this novel. His songs are both sweet and nefarious. You want to laugh with him and you want to look away. This album in particular is full of songs about innocent love and songs that deny that innocence, and the song that's always drawn me in even though I don't want it to is "Seedling." The dissonance, the yelling chorus of background voices, and the unapologetic lines like "My full-sized child with full-sized spread" echo the tone and plot of How to Catch a Coyote, especially the "List of Fears" sections of the book, which are told from father Hill Walker's perspective. The novel deals with the question of incest. The teenage daughter Dakota accuses Hill of molestation, and he denies it for the rest of his life. Daniel and his mother Maryanne spend the novel retracing events, deciding how to deal with Hill who, though separated from them, is not out of their lives. And if Daniel believes Dakota, what does that mean about his own genetic makeup?

"Jolene," Dolly Parton

Maryanne Walker wouldn't be a huge fan of Dolly Parton, but she would buy this single and play it on repeat. The lyrics would be so important to her long before she was even in a relationship. She would dig it out after her separation with Hill. Maryanne's self esteem will always place her as the speaker in this song, and she will see many Jolenes in her life, even when they are her own children. What's interesting to me in this song, and many others like it, is that the person blamed here is Jolene. The speaker can't keep herself from crying when her partner calls Jolene's name, instead of kicking him out because she deserves better. It's common, and while this is not exactly how it plays out for Maryanne, this jealousy and pining for the wrong partner is with her throughout the novel.

"Workin' Woman Blues," Valerie June

After her separation with Hill, Maryanne has to go back to work. She's not a stranger to work, but she hasn't held a job since she waited tables at age 19. They live in a dying mill town, but there are a few factories still in operation, and the best paying job she can find is at a yarn factory. Hill does not pay child support so she becomes a full time provider and full time mother. The opening lines of "Workin' Woman Blues" are my favorite on the album: "I ain't fit to be no mother/ I ain't fit to be no wife/ I've been working like a man, y'all/ I've been working all my life." The quick guitar drives the song forward, like the rhythm of Maryanne's factory machine keeps her working. Maryanne's muscles grow and she spends the rest of her life scraping grease out from underneath her nails, dreaming of a job in the factory's office where she can type and wear pencil skirts. She dreams of her son succeeding and saving them. She is not technically divorced, but she is no longer a wife.

"Only Happy When It Rains," Garbage

There is no doubt in my mind that sixteen-year-old Dakota would blast this song on her headphones. She would write these lyrics down in her notebook instead of taking notes. She, like a middle school me, would imitate Shirley Manson's eyeliner (the best part being that you don't have to know how to make a straight line—just smear liquid liner as far up your lids as possible). I think this song is perfect for her because its lyrics are so cliché and mainstream ("I'm only happy when it rains/I'm only happy when it's complicated), but to a small town teenage girl who is forced to go to Catholic school, this is the perfect anthem to show off who she is in the face of the girls who listen to the pop station instead of the alternative one.

"The Fox," Sleater-Kinney

As soon as she's old enough, Dakota leaves small-town Lafayette, NC and her family. She travels farther and farther away with one partner after another as her chauffer. Daniel only sees her when she comes to ask for money and then, after she moves to Boston, he doesn't see her again for a long time. I imagine as she changes and grows, so does her musical knowledge. She's still only happy when it rains, but she's educated on the riot grrrl scene, on music she hopes will make people clutch their pearls. I chose "The Fox" not only because Dakota would love screaming "Land Ho!" but because in many ways Dakota is the fox (or really the coyote) in this story. Daniel wonders if his sister is a predator or a scavenger, killer or prey. In many ways, she is both. If he believes her story, she is a victim and no one stood up to support her. Whether her story is true or not, she shows her manipulative side to lovers and family when she returns back home.

"A Well Respected Man," the Kinks

Any time I can put the Kinks on a playlist, I will. This time it's for Hill Walker. Hill loves music. He loves to noodle on his guitar. His music taste mostly sticks to classic rock, and he stopped seeking out new music some time in the 80s. I imagine Hill would love the Kinks because of their irreverence, their humor, and their fairly easy chord progression. He plays their songs at the beach to tune out. He is drawn to "A Well Respected Man" because he hates the rules he's expected to follow as a young man: a man must go to college and get a good job, a man must marry the woman he knocks up, a man must drop out of college and be the breadwinner for that wife and child, a man must be a respectable father, a real man hunts. He follows these rules for quite some time. On the surface, he seems like the best of family men. In the Kinks song, we're ready for the respectable man to break and show us the opposite of respectable.

"Resurrection Fern," Iron and Wine

There's a bittersweet quality to Iron and Wine songs that work for Daniel. Daniel is innocent but marked. He wants to do the right thing in spite of his sadness. I see him as a young adult putting on this album when he needs to de-stress or when he's driving home to visit his mother. I think "Resurrection Fern" is also appropriate for the chapter "How It's Supposed to Work." Daniel loses his virginity in this chapter, and he's torn about what it means to be the boyfriend who takes his girlfriend's virginity. I've always thought of this song as a story of childhood and first sexual experiences. It's tender, but there's a sadness there for what is lost. Not innocence, but youth and the tight nerves during these early, secret encounters.


"You Are a Runner and I am My Father's Son," Wolf Parade

I could not stop listening to this song in the early 2000s. This song would terrify college-age Daniel, whose greatest fear is to end up like his father. The lyrics, "I'll draw three figures on your heart/one of them will be me as a boy/one of them will be me/one of them will be me watching you run," are representative of so many of the characters in the book. Characters who have been hurt, characters who can't see the good in themselves, and characters who don't think they deserve love. They self-sabotage, and they push people away until they run. When that happens it's easy to say, "I warned you." It's easier than being the one who runs.

"Father, Father," Laura Mvula

Most of Mvula's songs are upbeat with a 60s Motown vibe, so this quiet, sad song stands out. She asks her father and her brother why they let her go. The bridge repeats, "Let me love you" four times. This song could work for any of the Walker family members and all of the family members could be the ones pleaded to. I see all the Walkers wanting to love each other and instead abandoning each other in different ways. But I think the speaker in this song is most appropriate for Daniel, who tries the hardest to figure out how to love his fractured family.


Christy Crutchfield and How to Catch a Coyote links:

the author's website
excerpt from the book

HTMLGIANT review

Josh Spilker interview with the author
Publishing Genius interview with the author
Vol. 1 Brooklyn 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


Posted by david | Permalink | Comments (View)

This Week's Interesting Music Releases - July 29, 2014

Jenny Lewis

Jenny Lewis's new solo album, The Voyager, is in stores this week.

Finding Fela soundtrack and Hooray for Earth's Racy are my personal favorite new releases.

The Muffs also have a new album, Whoop Dee Doo.

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:

Allman Brothers Band: The 1971 Fillmore East Recordings (6-CD box set)
Cassandra Wilson: Traveling Miles (reissue) [vinyl]
Donald Byrd: Black Byrd (reissue) [vinyl]
The Dream Academy: The Morning Lasted All Day - A Retrospective
Eric Clapton: Eric Clapton and Friends - The Breeze (An Appreciation of JJ Cale)
Fela Kuti: Finding Fela (soundtrack)
Harvey Danger: Where Have All the Merrymakers Gone? (reissue) [vinyl]
Hooray for Earth: Racy
Jenny Lewis: The Voyager
Jim-E Stack: Tell Me I Belong
Krakatau: Water Near a Bridge
Lost Midas: Off the Course
Marc Broussard: A Life Worth Living
The Muffs: Whoop Dee Doo
Naomi Shelton and the Gospel Queens: Cold World
SBTRKT: Transitions 001[vinyl]
SBTRKT: Transitions 002 [vinyl]
SBTRKT: Transitions 003 [vinyl]
Shabazz Palaces: Lese Majesty
Soft Walls: No Time
Stardeath and White Dwarfs: Wastoid
Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers: Hypnotic Eye
Van Dyke Parks: Super Chief
Various Artists: Beck Song Reader
Various Artists: The Best of 2 Tone [vinyl]


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 (Flannery O'Connor's Writing from a Theological Perspective, Lady Gaga's Jazz Album with Tony Bennett, and more)

The Irish Times considered Flannery O'Connor's works from a theological perspective.


Lady Gaga will record a jazz album with Tony Bennett.


Midnight Breakfast interviewed author Edan Lepucki.


Musician Orenda Fink shared her love for the works of Kurt Vonnegut at Magnet.


Brooklyn Magazine interviewed author Lev Grossman.


MOJO listed the 50 best UK indie albums of all time.


Box Brown talked to PopMatters about his graphic novel Andre the Giant: Life and Legend.


The Record profiled east Nashville's thriving music scene.


Bustle recommended books to read before you start an MFA program.


Sylvan Esso visited The Current studio for an interview and live performance.


Novelist Amitav Ghosh discussed modern migrant stories in fiction at All Things Considered.


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 (Black Joe Lewis, Bear Cub, and more)

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


Today's free and legal mp3 downloads:

Balancer: "The Age Is a Gift" [mp3]

Bear Cub: NoiseTrade Eastside Manor Sessions EP [mp3]

Black Joe Lewis: NoiseTrade Eastside Manor Sessions EP [mp3]

Christian Lopez Band: Will I See You Again single [mp3]

Gossling: 2 S'es Not Ryan EP [mp3]

Leah Banks: Sincerely EP [mp3]

Marah in the Mainsail: "Fox Hole" [mp3]

They Set Fire: "Hawthorne Avenue" [mp3]

Twin Cities: Sunflower Cities EP [mp3]


Free and legal live performances at other websites:

Freeman: 2014-07-23, 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 28, 2014

Book Notes - Matthew Gavin Frank "Preparing the Ghost"

Preparing the Ghost

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.

Matthew Gavin's Preparing the Ghost is a marvelously told book-length essay, one that skillfully melds fact, myth, and fiction about the giant squid and its first photographer. One of the year's finest nonfiction books.

The Wall Street Journal wrote of the book:

"'Preparing the Ghost' delights in a banquet of unusual facts and fantasts...Mr. Frank marshals irresistible information—the evolution of calamari as a popular dish, the uses of ambergris—along with pressing philosophical queries and excerpts from scholars. These elements coalesce to give this book a charming dynamism. "

Stream a playlist of these songs at Spotify.


In his own words, here is Matthew Gavin Frank's Book Notes music playlist for his book, Preparing the Ghost:


"Octopus" by Syd Barrett

The book should kick off with this delirious and ominously cheery descent into madness, or myth, or the deep sea. The audience should be armed with foam rubber tentacles that they bought from the souvenir stand in spite of the inflated price. (You can get them much cheaper at the Dollar Store). They should be waving them in the air, on their feet, sipping gin martinis infused with sepia, as Moses Harvey goes for his fateful morning constitution in 1874 St. John's Newfoundland, at the end of which he encounters an intact (though dead) specimen of the giant squid. I realize this song is an obvious choice—like Springsteen's "Born to Run" playing over a scene of a guy going jogging in a factory town—but still.

"Mating Scars" by Giant Squid

In 1735, Carolus Linnaeus, godfather of binomial nomenclature, published the first edition of his masterwork, Systema Naturae, which set about classifying and naming all things in nature. The first edition included, amazingly, the Kraken, under the moniker Sepia microcosmos. (This was about 120 years before the Danish zoologist and spectacularly-named Johannes Japetus Smith Steenstrup dared make a similar assertion, and lent the mythological Kraken the language of science, claiming it existed and was a cephalopod). Linnaeus' entry was removed by the time the second edition went to press, and Linnaeus was mercilessly ridiculed by his colleagues as gullible for having included it in the first place, for being seduced by "the mere fabrications of a distorted mind." The giant squid, having been given its brief and small entry into reality in 1735, once again retreated to the realm of myth. I imagine Linnaeus, depressed over this, holing up in his bedroom, listening to this song on repeat, getting pissed on the precursor to Svedka, and threatening to slit his wrists with the stinger of the Plesiobatis daviesi.

"Underwater Moonlight" by The Soft Boys

A giant squid lays her eggs—sometimes up to 50,000 at a time!—in a string that resembles a pearl necklace, torn, bouncing along the sea-floor on her legs until she finds an object that she deems suitable on which to pile the mass of embryos, a process which often results in thousands of acres of sea-floor to be covered with the sheen of her jellied eggs, until such an object, like a big pink shell, is found. This song would play over such a scene, evoking a cheesiness that eventually edges toward profundity.

"Prince of the World" by Carla Bozulich

Aristotle and Pliny and Ælian and Strabo and Melville, all, in their writings, believed that the Mediterranean waters were occupied by enormous, immeasurable cephalopods ("the most wonderful phenomenon of the secret seas," Melville wrote), claims which spawned the "squid-as-fad" concept in places like Paris, where, for a time, squid hats were in fashion and squid parties were the favored after-hours choice of the high society. Such parties seem to me so firmly entrenched in a desperate, but luxurious (and luxuriously off-yellow-lit) past, glimpsed through, say, a six-story window from street-level. Everyone behind the pane has a drink in hand, and is plucking some hors d'oeuvre from a passing platter, and they all seem to be whirling, finite, and they have silk tentacles in their faces, beaks on their heads, and something appears to be burning on the horizon, and there are no stars, and this song is playing, and down the cobblestone alley, a bell is marking time.

"I'm So Green," by CAN

Moses Harvey's nose is bleeding, and it's morning, and he's walking toward that beach where he'll see the squid. He swears he sees ducks in the air speaking in tongues to ducks on the earth, and he stumbles downhill over the rocks and feels a cold pins-and-needles rain, and his heart begins to speed, and he is frightened, and he is at the shore, finally at the shore, and he smells it before he knows what it is he is smelling, and he puts his hand to his mouth to catch the blood, but lets some of it fall to the beach to mix with the rain and the sea. The world goes green at its edges—psychedelic and slightly Germanic, and Harvey swears he tastes Aegean okra in his mouth, though his mouth is empty of food, and he's never had Aegean okra besides.

"Poor Born," by Dead Moon

A fascinating connection exists between the obsessions of clergymen and the giant squid. Not only were Newfoundland Reverends Moses Harvey and M. Gabriel (not to mention Olaus Magnus, coiner of the term kraken, and 16th century Archbishop of Uppsala) obsessed with the animal, but so was Norwegian Protestant Bishop Erik Ludvigsen Pontoppidan, who, 200 years after Magnus' death, stole the late Swede's thunder and claimed that he himself "invented" the Kraken, and claimed that it was the "size of a floating island" with horns "as long as a ship's mast." As Magnus was born in 1490, and Pierre Denys de Montfort, considered the first scientist to engage the giant squid, began his inquiries only in 1783, it can be said that the mythological giant squid belonged to the church for nearly 300 years before science began to interrogate. This is the song I imagine playing as Science rightfully forces its way into the conversation.

"An Image of You," by The Chatham Singers

This is the song I imagine playing as the ecclesiastics lick their wounds, regroup, and try to make another tired pitch associating the giant squid with the Devil.

"Is It Forever," by Ornette Coleman
With the carcass of the giant squid firmly tied down on a flatbed, Moses Harvey rides up front with the stagecoach driver. A myth is busy dying, becoming real. They pass St. John's Newfoundland's immigrants breaking down their tables, storing their wares and services, believing this passing stagecoach to be some indecipherable omen over which they would pray, or mass hallucination, or a chariot of the Devil, or caravan of God. The land over which they pass used to belong to the now-extinct Beothuk culture, and the alto sax, and tenor sax, and oboe, and clarinet, and bassoon and French horn are all plaintive, and the questions rhetorical, at best.

"Something" by The Willowz.

As Moses Harvey and his hired hands wedge the carcass of the giant squid through the front door of his rowhouse and into his bathroom, where they spread it out over the tub's curtain rod so its full size could be displayed for the forthcoming and fateful photograph, this is the song. Frenzied, celebratory, exasperated. Spent in an energized sort of way. On the curtain rod, the squid droops and releases a drop of seawater to the floor, then another, like a metronome. One man thinks he sees it move, as if hiccupping, and runs for the bathroom door as the others look at him red-cheeked and puzzled. Sarah Harvey pours everyone a round of whiskey. Flashbulbs and power chords begin their exploding.

"Mal de Mer," by Rupa and the April Fishes

The giant squid is now real. Oddly enough, though Harvey's photograph proved its existence, the giant squid continued (and continues) to straddle that border between myth and reality. A full 150 years after Linnaeus cited the beast, and a full decade after Harvey photographed it, Henry Lee, occasional naturalist of the Brighton Aquarium, possibly knew that he was chained to an archaic, sad argument when he dismissed, in Sea Fables Explained, the giant squid as "a boorish exaggeration, a legend of ignorance, superstition, and wonder." Soon after the photo was taken, Harvey's voice strangely abandoned him, and he remained mute until his death. He gave no more sermons. He ate his breakfasts and his suppers. He continued writing his own articles under his various pennames. He was "Delta," and he was "Locomotive," and he was "Nemo." He published them. He wrote about geography, the flora and fauna of Newfoundland. He wrote about the fishing industry, and religion, and railways, and hydroelectric systems. He kissed his wife goodnight and good morning. He picked up his kids, and his pen. He got ink on his hands. The world went seasick. This song played. And he wrote about squid.


Matthew Gavin Frank and Preparing the Ghost links:

the author's website
excerpt from the book

Flavorwire review
Kirkus review
New York Times review
Wall Street Journal review

Largehearted Boy Book Notes essay by the author for Pot Farm


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)

Book Notes - Nicole C. Kear "Now I See You"

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

Nicole C. Kear's memoir Now I See You is more than a book about losing her sight, and is filled with unforgettable wisdom and wit about life, love, and motherhood.

Booklist wrote of the book:

"Kear is earthy and daringly frank in this never-boring, unusually illuminating account of living with diminishing sight as she, ultimately, takes a refreshingly glass-half-full approach to life."

Stream a playlist of these songs at Spotify.


In her own words, here is Nicole C. Kear's Book Notes music playlist for her memoir, Now I See You:


I've been losing my vision for a long time, and so far, I haven't developed compensatory superpowers – no Spidey Sense, regrettably -- but I am more sensitive to sound than I used to be. Maybe it's partly because I have three young children, so my life now is full of sound -- loud, frequently grating, incessant sound – and quiet feels like a rare and delicious luxury.

Whatever the reason, I don't listen to music in the same way I used to. It feels more penetrating, less likely to melt, innocuously, into the background - and that's both a good and a bad thing. When I listen, now, to the songs in the playlist below – compiled from various chapters of my life detailed in my memoir – they have a tendency to undo me, like a intense, audible version of Proust's madeline. It's an exercise that's proven two things to me: we really do get sentimental with age, and also, blasts from the pasts can give you whiplash.

"You Oughta Know" by Alanis Morrissette

I was angry in my early twenties. I mean, it's hard to blame me; I'd just found out I was going blind. I, managed, however, to repress my rage, or at least to morph it into an overzealous joie de vivre, as I devoted my energies to Really! Savoring! Every! Moment! On a few occasions, though, I allowed myself a proper fit of fury, and this catharsis usually took the form of putting on "Jagged Little Pill" and rocking the hell out to this song. It suited my purposes because while the lyrics are, theoretically, about a douche bag ex-boyfriend, if you isolate certain clauses, it sounds a lot like it's all about a douche bag, sight-robbing retinal disease: "It was a slap in the face" or "I'm not gonna fade" or (my favorite at the time) "the cross I bear that you gave to me." Scream that while flailing your body around and see if you don't feel a whole lot better.

"Fuck and Run" by Liz Phair

This was my anthem in my early twenties. The whole "Exile in Guyville" album, really, was, but this song, in particular, encompassed the girl I thought myself to be in the years following my diagnosis; I think it's the sadness bubbling up under the surface of bored and resigned acceptance. "What ever happened to a boyfriend? The kind of guy that tries to win you over?" and "I want all that stupid old shit. Like letters and sodas." Hits the nail right on the head.

"Sir Duke" by Stevie Wonder

Stevie Wonder was the only blind person I knew of when I was diagnosed with my retinal disease. I mean, I knew about Milton too, but somehow, his experience felt pretty remote from mine (have you ever read any Milton? That guy could have seriously benefitted from some anti-depressants). I'd always liked Stevie, but after my diagnosis, I began to feel this secret kinship with him, like we were both members of the same club. I bought all his CDs, and I enjoyed them all but Musiquarium was special to me, and of all those songs, Sir Duke was my favorite. Damned if I know what the song is about, but it doesn't matter; the irrepressible air of celebration is what I love about it. As Stevie sings, "You can feel it all over," and I did, a joyous wakefulness. That's the song I'd listen to when I needed to pick myself up and put myself back together again.

The summer after junior year in college, while living in San Francisco, I took a weekend trip to Los Angeles, where I had cocktails one night at Trader Vic's. There, right in front, waiting for the valet to pull his car around, was Stevie himself. My instinct was to rush up and tell him my sad little tale of woe – and then request a song, possibly Sir Duke, maybe Living For The City. I suppressed that impulse. To be honest, I sort of regret that self–control now.

"Overcome" by Tricky

In my book, I describe a British ex pat boyfriend with whom I enjoy a brief, sizzling love affair while I'm attending circus school in San Francisco. He introduced me to Tricky. It wasn't remotely the kind of music I'd listen to on my own, but discovering new music is half the fun of dating (sometimes more than half, depending on the guy). I found this song alluring, inaccessible, and sexy – pretty much exactly like the beau I know I wouldn't be able to keep.

"Beyond the Sea (La Mer)" by Bobby Darin

You know how certain nights get crystallized into these pure, perfect memory objects? I remember one such a night, just before college graduation, when my best friend Beth and I danced down the dark streets of New Haven, singing this song. Anything was possible. The future beckoned to us, bright, accommodating. I was still going blind, sure, but I'd managed to find the silver lining of my diagnosis and convinced myself it would all be OK. What pierces me about this song, even today, is its sweetness; it's just brimming with promise and hope, so much hope, it damn near breaks your heart.

"I Hope That I Don't Fall In Love With You" by Tom Waits

Beth had introduced me to Tom Waits (that's half the fun of roommates, too, the other half being unlimited access to a new closet), but I didn't really fall for him until David played "Closing Time" for me. In the movie of my life, this song would be playing in the scene where I go to East Tennessee to star in David's indie movie and end up finally opening myself up, in a real and enduring way, to love.

"Valentine's Day" by Steve Earle

Before I married a Southerner, I'd claimed that the only genre of music I really didn't like was country. David clarified that what I didn't like was country crap. He played me Lucinda Williams and Gillian Welch and Steve Earle, and my mind was changed. This is the song that actually plays in the indie movie David and I made together, in the scene where my character realizes her love affair is over. In my real life, it communicated the opposite message; David sang it to me, a cappella, at our wedding.

"Hey Jude" by The Beatles

When my son was born, a little over a year after David and I were married, we started listening to kids' music. I'd dreaded this chapter of my musical life but there was no shortage of good stuff to tune into -- Johnny Cash's kid album, in particular, was killer. As it turned out, though, my son ended up loving grown-up music, pretty much whatever his Daddy liked, with a real soft spot for Dylan and the "Bye Bye Suckers" (more commonly known as the Drive By Truckers). His all-time favorite song, though, was "Hey Dude" (why there's not a Weird Al song of this title, I don't know). We listened to it on repeat play on car rides, sometimes for an hour or more. That's when I realized it might just be the world's most perfect song. I never got sick of it, not even the super long coda. It's another song bursting with hope, and coming through a vessel like McCartney, the hope just explodes like a firework.

"Oh Yoko" by John Lennon

This is a song referenced in my book; I listened to it while getting an electro retinograph (ERG) at my brand-new retinal specialist's office. The ERG is not a fun test. Suffice it to say: it involves attaching electrode contact lenses to your eyes. The first time I took the test, at the time of my diagnosis at nineteen, the whole experience was pretty reminiscent of A Clockwork Orange. When I repeated it, about a decade later, it was a far more humane experience, not because the test had changed (it hadn't) but because the doctor allowed me to listen to music. This is the song that was playing, and in the not-seeing of the test, the awe in Lennon's voice as he forms all those big, open vowels, the joy there in the harmonica, the tenderness of it all just soaked right into me, filling me like water in a sponge.

"Obladi Oblada" by The Beatles

Two years after my son was born, I had a daughter, a golden-haired firecracker of a girl. In addition to being super kinetic, she was also super verbal, and was talking in full sentences by the age of 2 -- which meant she got a vote really early on about music requests. "Lada-leda" was her preferred jam, and again, as with my son, I can't say I minded. It struck me as the perfect encapsulation of our life at the time – ebullient, loud, high-energy, and a little bit all-over-the-place.

"Ne Me Quitte Pas" by Nina Simone

This is another song referenced in my book, in the final chapter. David and I are driving the kids to our annual apple-picking adventure, they both fall asleep in the car and we seize control of the music (by then, their taste had taken a turn for the worse, and included a Backyardigans monomania). We were talking about the possibility of having a third baby; I desperately wanted another child but was scared shitless, and David wasn't sure what to think. Nina's exquisite voice washed over us – so strong and yet so fragile too – and we fell silent. There's no way to talk while listening to Nina sing this. You're too busy trying to hold your heart intact as it explodes into tiny pieces. But we'd have ended up quiet anyway; the decision on the table wasn't one we could make quite yet.

"This Little Light of Mine" by anyone with vocal chords

We decided to have that baby, and I sing this song to her, as I did to my big kids, too, because it's a feel-good song, a galvanizing gospel gem that always does the trick. I've still got plenty of fury and sturm and drang, but not while I'm belting out the words to this baby. This song makes the glass half-full even when it's not even close, even when you're down to the last drops. Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.


Nicole C. Kear and Now I See You links:

the author's website
excerpt from the book
excerpt from the book
excerpt from the book
excerpt from the book
video trailer for the book

Kirkus review

Brooklyn Magazine interview with the authors
Fox News profile of the author
Miranda Beverly Whittmore interview with the author
New York Daily News interview with the author
New York Times essay by 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 (An Excerpt from Haruki Murakami's New Novel, Stream the New Christiopher Denny Album, and more)

Slate shares an excerpt from Haruki Murakami's forthcoming novel, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, as well as an interactive introduction to the book.


NPR Music is streaming the new Christopher Denny album If the Roses Don't Kill Us.


Samantha Irby interviewed Sari Botton at The Rumpus.


A Wondering Sound, Dan LeRoy looks back on the Beastie Boys album Paul's Boutique 25 years after its initial release.


The Rumpus interviewed author Richard Russo.


NPR Music is streaming the new Spider Bags album Frozen Letter.


A bestselling ghostwriter shared the tricks of his trade with the Observer.


The New York Times magazine profiled singer-songwriter Jenny Lewis.

NPR Music is streaming Lewis's Newport Folk Festival performance.


All Things Considered interviewed author Tiphanie Yanique.


Paste listed the best music documentaries streaming on Netflix.


Authors Edwidge Danticat and Katia Ulysse talked at Salon.


Stream David Kilgour's new album at Wondering Sound.


Germaine Greer discussed her favorite books at The Week.


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 (The Clientele, Guster, and more)

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


Today's free and legal mp3 downloads:

Amarante: "Don't Look Back" [mp3]

Cardinal Sons: Singles EP [mp3]

The Clientele: Live on WFMU with Irwin Chusid - July 23, 2014 [mp3]

Guster: "Long Night" [mp3]

Justin Stens and Jessica Lea Mayfield: "Strange Love" [mp3]

Laramie: "Charlottes Waltz" [mp3]

Lodger: Low Blue Flame album [mp3]

Those Who Ride With Giants: Those Who Ride With Giants EP [mp3]


Free and legal live performances at other websites:

Melvins: 2004-09-22, 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 26, 2014

Daily Downloads (The Week's Best Free and Legal Music Downloads, Including Raveonettes, Sea Wolf, Shovels and Rope, and more)

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


Today's free and legal mp3 downloads:

The Bright Road: Norway album [mp3]

Mandolin Orange: Live Tapes EP [mp3]

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

Rose-Erin Stokes: Not Alone EP Sampler [mp3]

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

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

Strand of Oaks: World Cafe Session EP [mp3]

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


Free and legal live performances at other websites:

Night School: 2014-07-10, 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)

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