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August 17, 2017

Book Notes - Matthew Zapruder "Why Poetry"

Why Poetry

In the Book Notes series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates in some way to their recently published book.

Previous contributors include Bret Easton Ellis, Kate Christensen, Lauren Groff, T.C. Boyle, Dana Spiotta, Amy Bloom, Aimee Bender, Jesmyn Ward, Heidi Julavits, Hari Kunzru, and many others.

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

Booklist wrote of the book:

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


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



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

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


Introduction: "Oh, My Stars," Nina Nastasia

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

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

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

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

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

Three Literal Readings: "Hopeless," The Wrens

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Negative Capability: "Frontwards," Pavement

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Matthew Zapruder and Why Poetry links:

the author's website
excerpt from the book

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

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


also at Largehearted Boy:

Support the Largehearted Boy website

Book Notes (2015 - ) (authors create music playlists for their book)
Book Notes (2012 - 2014) (authors create music playlists for their book)
Book Notes (2005 - 2011) (authors create music playlists for their book)
my 11 favorite Book Notes playlist essays

Largehearted Boy's 2017 Summer Reading Suggestions

100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads
Antiheroines (interviews with up and coming female comics artists)
Atomic Books Comics Preview (weekly comics highlights)
guest book reviews
Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week (recommended new books, magazines, and comics)
musician/author interviews
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Short Cuts (writers pair a song with their short story or essay)
Shorties (daily music, literature, and pop culture links)
Soundtracked (composers and directors discuss their film's soundtracks)
weekly music release lists






August 17, 2017

Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week - August 17, 2017

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

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


King-Cat #77

King-Cat #77
by John Porcellino

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


Sea, Land, Shadow

Sea, Land, Shadow
by AUTHOR

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


Across the Vapour Gulf

Across the Vapour Gulf
by Will Alexander

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


My Heart Hemmed

My Heart Hemmed
by Marie Ndiaye

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


š! #29 'Celebration' (kuš! Comics)

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

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


Librairie Drawn & Quarterly links:

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


also at Largehearted Boy:

Support the Largehearted Boy website

other Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week

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


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

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

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


Stream a new Julien Baker song.


CCM interviewed author Bud Smith.


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


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


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


Karl Ove Knausgaard talked books and reading with New York Times


Paste profiled Soccer Mommy's Sophie Allison.

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


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


BrooklynVegan listed fall's most anticipated indie rock albums.


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

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

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


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


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


Stream a new LCD Soundsystem song.


Full Stop interviewed author Lynn Melnick.


The Irish Times profiled the band Grizzly Bear.


LIterary Hub interviewed author Scott McClanahan.


Stream a new Lomelda song.


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


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


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


Entropy interviewed author Kaveh Akbar.


Stream a new Reptaliens song.


Read a new poem by Sherman Alexie.


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


eBooks on sale for $0.99 today:

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

eBooks on sale for $1.99 today:

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

eBooks on sale for $2.99 today:

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


eBooks on sale for $3.99 today:

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


also at Largehearted Boy:

Support Largehearted Boy

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

Atomic Books Comics Preview (the week's best new comics and graphic novels)
Book Notes (authors create playlists for their book)
Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week (recommended new books, magazines, and comics)
musician/author interviews
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Short Cuts (writers pair a song with their short story or essay)
weekly music release lists
WORD Bookstores Books of the Week (recommended new books)
weekly music release lists


August 16, 2017

Book Notes - Fiona Helmsley "Girls Gone Old"

Girls Gone Old

In the Book Notes series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates in some way to their recently published book.

Previous contributors include Bret Easton Ellis, Kate Christensen, Lauren Groff, T.C. Boyle, Dana Spiotta, Amy Bloom, Aimee Bender, Jesmyn Ward, Heidi Julavits, Hari Kunzru, and many others.

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

Bust wrote of the book:

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


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



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

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

And just remember different people have peculiar tastes

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

Hole—"She Walks On Me"

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

Wayne County and the Electric Chairs—"Fuck Off"

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

Bush Tetras—"Too Many Creeps"

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

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

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

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

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

The Mamas and The Papas—"California Dreamin'"

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

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

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

Prince—"Raspberry Beret"

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

The Monkees—"She"

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

Guns N’ Roses—"It’s So Easy"

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

Bikini Kill—"Reject All American"

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

3 Teens Kill 4—"Tell Me Something Good"

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

Lou Reed—"Gimme Some Good Times"

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

Lou Reed—"Crazy Feeling"

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


Fiona Helmsley and Girls Gone Old links:

the author's website

Bust review

Give & Take interview with the author
OTHERPPL interview with the author


also at Largehearted Boy:

Support the Largehearted Boy website

Book Notes (2015 - ) (authors create music playlists for their book)
Book Notes (2012 - 2014) (authors create music playlists for their book)
Book Notes (2005 - 2011) (authors create music playlists for their book)
my 11 favorite Book Notes playlist essays

Largehearted Boy's 2017 Summer Reading Suggestions

100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads
Antiheroines (interviews with up and coming female comics artists)
Atomic Books Comics Preview (weekly comics highlights)
guest book reviews
Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week (recommended new books, magazines, and comics)
musician/author interviews
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Short Cuts (writers pair a song with their short story or essay)
Shorties (daily music, literature, and pop culture links)
Soundtracked (composers and directors discuss their film's soundtracks)
weekly music release lists


Shorties (Margaret Atwood on Ray Bradbury, The Best Albums of the Year So Far, and more)

Margaret Atwood examined the work and legacy of Ray Bradbury at the Paris Review.


Paste listed the best albums of the year so far.


The JDO Show interviewed author Scott McClanahan.


Pitchfork shared a playlist of anti-fascist punk songs.


The Creative Independent interviewed author Tao Lin.


Stream a new song by Makthaverskan.


The Rumpus Poetry Book Club interviewed Iris Dunkle.


Belle and Sebastian visited The Current for an interview and live performance.


Author Molly Patterson shared her recent reading with BookPage.


Perfume Genius covered Mary Margaret O'Hara's "Body's in Trouble."


Literary Hub shared an excerpt from Matthew Zapruder's book Why Poetry.


The Raleigh News & Observer shared an eclipse playlist.


Fanzine interviewed author Hala Alyan.


Stream a new song by the War on Drugs.


Electric Literature is serializing a new story by Joe Meno.


Paul Heaton of the Housemartins and Beautiful South discussed his favorite albums at The Quietus.


Literary Hub shared an excerpt from Jean-Marie Blas de Roblès's novel Island of Point Nemo.


Quilt covered F.J. McMahon's "Black Night Woman."


BookPage previewed fall's nonfiction books.


Coming soon: the L7 documentary Pretend We're Dead.


The Barnes and Noble Review interviewed author Imbolo Mbue.


Stream a new Madeline Kenney song.


Ann Powers shared a playlist of songs mentioned in her book Good Booty with WAMU's 1A.


eBooks on sale for $0.99 today:

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

eBooks on sale for $1.99 today:

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

eBooks on sale for $2.99 today:

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


eBooks on sale for $3.99 today:

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


also at Largehearted Boy:

Support Largehearted Boy

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

Atomic Books Comics Preview (the week's best new comics and graphic novels)
Book Notes (authors create playlists for their book)
Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week (recommended new books, magazines, and comics)
musician/author interviews
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Short Cuts (writers pair a song with their short story or essay)
weekly music release lists
WORD Bookstores Books of the Week (recommended new books)
weekly music release lists


August 15, 2017

Book Notes - Paul Yoon "The Mountain"

The Mountain

In the Book Notes series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates in some way to their recently published book.

Previous contributors include Bret Easton Ellis, Kate Christensen, Lauren Groff, T.C. Boyle, Dana Spiotta, Amy Bloom, Aimee Bender, Jesmyn Ward, Heidi Julavits, Hari Kunzru, and many others.

Paul Yoon's The Mountain is a stunning collection of linked stories.

The Boston Globe wrote of the book:

"Believe me: This is a genuine work of art, a shadowland of survivors that is tough and elegant and true. And beautiful."


In his own words, here is Paul Yoon's Book Notes music playlist for his short story collection The Mountain:



The Mountain is a collection of six stories set around the world. It begins in the Hudson Valley of New York in the early twentieth century and moves east around the globe (and forward in time) until we circle back to New York. I write listening to music. I tend to be minimalistic and will usually put a track or an album on repeat. With this book, because of the vast geography I was dealing with, I decided that for each story I was working on I would listen to only one song, on repeat. It helped me establish, I hope, an individual identity for each story within the book as a whole. The following are the songs that kept me company.

"Cold Clear Moon" by Tomo Nakayama

With the opening story, "A Willow and the Moon," I was looking for a song that evoked a pastoral evening—more specifically, an evening with a large, empty house by a lake. Tomo Nakayama's "Cold Clear Moon" was perfect. I love the spaces in this song; there's a lot of air in the piece, and I think this helped me think of how to structure "Willow." Also, the piano chords became a kind of heartbeat that held the mini-chapters together.

"Yet Again" by Grizzly Bear

The star of this song, for me, is the percussion. It is gently ominous at first and then builds. I needed that propulsive and yet, at first, ghostly beat for a "Still a Fire," the seed of which was an image of men being forced to walk down a forest road. The incessant cymbals helped me think of the small pieces of things throughout this story: debris, shrapnel, wreckage, snow and sunlight. The song evolves toward the end, and that was helpful in terms of thinking of how I could make this story evolve from one to another.

"Fall Hard" by Shout Out Louds

"Galicia" is a kind of interlude story, which I thought was necessary after the long, dark tunnel of "Still a Fire" which was a brutal story to write. Coming out of it was not easy; I would have these recurring dreams of violence to the body. That's where Shout Out Louds comes in, as they are currently my favorite band. Dreamy, melancholic, Swedish pop goodness. "Fall Hard" has a vulnerability that lent itself well to the character, Antje, in this story. A lot of that comes from Adam Olenius's beautiful voice and whatever guitar pedals they're using. "Mistakes and mistakes" becomes a recurring chorus by the end of the song, and I couldn't help but think that Antje would be listening to this song as she cleaned the hotel rooms.

"Stubborn Love" by The Lumineers

A lot of "Vladivostok Station" deals with walking. It opens with two friends walking in the countryside in the Russian Far East, and it ends with one of them walking through the city of Vladivostok. This song has a rolling quality that seemed to capture the narrative rhythm I wanted to convey. I find this song to be terribly lonely. Perhaps it's Wesley Schultz's knife-like voice, which is a nice contrast to Adam Olenius's, but it embodied a pain (and a rage) that is really repressed in this story. So in some ways Schultz's voice became everything that my narrator couldn't voice himself.

"Homesick" by The Cure

I have a very special place in my heart for epic songs by The Cure. I grew up listening to them and I always make sure I get one in during a book project. The title story of my book is set mostly in a factory in Shanghai. I wanted to capture the mundane, repetitive gestures and movements of working in an assembly line. In its quiet relentlessness, "Homesick" seemed the perfect song. I love the slow build, the repetitions, the layers of melodies. Two characters, Faye and Tad, are the center of this book—a kind of love story, I suppose. I love that "Homesick" begins with just two instruments, the piano and guitar, and then everything else fades and we return to them at the end.

"Lucky You" by The National

The last story, "Milner Field," comes full circle, so to speak, and returns to Hudson Valley, New York for a while, though this one is set in the present day. I listened to "Luck You" by The National because in some ways this song, like the Nakayama song, has a lot of space in it. Everything seems to be a micro-beat slower than it should be. It leaves room for some interesting pauses, as though we are standing on a cliff's edge. And like "Willow," this story is structured in mini-chapters, so the song helped me think about space, white space, and how to let the reader fill in that space, if they wanted to. I also think there's a longing in this song, and the lyrics, that spoke to the tone I was trying to capture with the narrator, his history, and his world.


Paul Yoon and The Mountain links:

the author's website
excerpt from the book

Kirkus review
Minneapolis Star Tribune review
Publishers Weekly review

Aspen Public Radio interview with the author
Boston Globe interview with the author
Harvard Gazette interview with the author


also at Largehearted Boy:

Support the Largehearted Boy website

Book Notes (2015 - ) (authors create music playlists for their book)
Book Notes (2012 - 2014) (authors create music playlists for their book)
Book Notes (2005 - 2011) (authors create music playlists for their book)
my 11 favorite Book Notes playlist essays

Largehearted Boy's 2017 Summer Reading Suggestions

100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads
Antiheroines (interviews with up and coming female comics artists)
Atomic Books Comics Preview (weekly comics highlights)
guest book reviews
Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week (recommended new books, magazines, and comics)
musician/author interviews
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Short Cuts (writers pair a song with their short story or essay)
Shorties (daily music, literature, and pop culture links)
Soundtracked (composers and directors discuss their film's soundtracks)
weekly music release lists


Shorties (An Interview with Catherine Lacey, Reconsidering The Smiths' Strangeways Here We Come Album, and more)

Vol. 1 Brooklyn interviewed author Catherine Lacey.


The Quietus reconsidered the Smiths' last studio album, Strangeways Here We Come, released 30 years ago.


n+1 shared an excerpt from Jarett Kobek's novel The Future Won't Be Long.


Steve Earle shared some of his favorite offstage activities at Men's Journal.


Literary Hub interviewed Katie Kitamura about her novel A Separation.


Prince now has his own Pantone color.


Catapult shared a moving essay by Juliet Escoria.


Stream a new Wilco song.


This year's Hugo Award winners have been announced.


The Shreveport Times interviewed singer-songwriter Jason Isbell.


Ms. Magazine interviewed author Laurie Penny.


Stream a new Car Seat Headrest single.


The Paris Review shared an excerpt from Matthew Zapruder's book Why Poetry.


St. Vincent's Annie Clark broke down her song "New York" on the Song Exploder podcast.


Slate examined the recent wave of true crime books by literary writers.


Stream a new Chelsea Wolfe song.


Eugene Lim discussed his novel Dear Cyborgs with the Village Voice.


Soccer Mommy covered Bruce Springsteen's "I'm on Fire."


The Creative Independent interviewed author Tamara Shopsin.


Stream a new Dodos song.


Garth Greenwell talked to the New Yorker about his story in this week's issue.


Stream a new song by Duds.


Literary Hub shared an excerpt from Paul Yoon’s new short story collection, The Mountain.


The Quietus previewed August's jazz albums.


VICE interviewed Pussy Riot's Nadya Tolokonnikova.


eBooks on sale for $0.99 today:

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

eBooks on sale for $1.99 today:

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

eBooks on sale for $2.99 today:

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


eBooks on sale for $3.99 today:

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


also at Largehearted Boy:

Support Largehearted Boy

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

Atomic Books Comics Preview (the week's best new comics and graphic novels)
Book Notes (authors create playlists for their book)
Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week (recommended new books, magazines, and comics)
musician/author interviews
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Short Cuts (writers pair a song with their short story or essay)
weekly music release lists
WORD Bookstores Books of the Week (recommended new books)
weekly music release lists


August 14, 2017

Book Notes - Sylvia Brownrigg "Pages For Her"

Pages For Her

In the Book Notes series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates in some way to their recently published book.

Previous contributors include Bret Easton Ellis, Kate Christensen, Lauren Groff, T.C. Boyle, Dana Spiotta, Amy Bloom, Aimee Bender, Jesmyn Ward, Heidi Julavits, Hari Kunzru, and many others.

Sylvia Brownrigg's Pages For Her compelling sequel to Pages for You is a thoughtful and lyrical depiction of two womens' lives.

The San Francisco Chronicle wrote of the book:

"[A] deeply thoughtful, absorbing fifth novel . . . Pages for Her is filled with such rich considerations―of meaning, direction, comparative ways of being―in restless, sensuous prose . . . We're glad to come to know these women, and to be taught by what happens between them."


In her own words, here is Sylvia Brownrigg's Book Notes music playlist for her novel Pages For Her:



The soundtrack for my novel Pages For Her has two parts, since this book is a sequel to Pages for You, published in 2001. You don't have to read the first book to enjoy the second, they stand independently, though they speak to one other— something like the way a cover version speaks to the original song. (Everyone has their favorites: Kurt Cobain singing Lead Belly, Prince singing Joni Mitchell, Wyclef Jean singing Pink Floyd.)

The main characters in both novels are Flannery Jansen and Anne Arden, who first met at college, when Flannery was a wide-eyed freshman, and Anne a beautiful and brilliant graduate student. They have an intense, love affair, a half year of sensual and intellectual discoveries that ends in heartbreak—as first loves nearly always do.

Pages For Her takes up the story of Flannery add Anne twenty years later, at very different points in their lives. Flannery is married to a charismatic artist named Charles, and has a sweet little girl she adores, but is trying to relocate herself after being submerged in the roles of wife and mother. Anne, in the midst of a successful academic career, is contending with her long-term partner Jasper having left her. When the two women meet again for the first time in years, they rediscover not just that there is still a connection between them, but also that each has somehow held a place within themselves for the other. In an underground way, their love has endured.

Love stories, like love songs, have to walk a careful path to avoid being sweet or cloying; though in the New Yorker, Adam Gopnik wrote a piece arguing that love songs are essential even when they are cliched: "The love song, whether from Shakespeare or his lessers, is to the currency of our feelings what the dollar bill is to our economy, the dining-room table to our family life—the necessary, inevitable thing. Exactly because everything is a love song, we sigh at another one, even as we prepare to sing it."

So: maybe really every song is a love song; and every story ultimately is a love story. In any case, these are some songs for Flannery and Anne.


Pages for You


"Every Day I Write the Book" by Elvis Costello & the Attractions

This is a song I shared with my own first college love, who was nothing like Anne, though together we had some of the great swoons and fevers of young passion (and a few specific moments that I did slide into that novel). The Prologue of Pages for You begins with the narrator promising a friend that she will write, "Each day a page, to show you that I'm finding a story, the story of how we might have been together, once." It's almost a subconscious echo of Elvis Costello's lyric: "I'm giving you a long look… every day I write the book." I like that the music is jaunty and has a snap to it, though the lyrics have an edge too, as you'd expect from Elvis: "You said you'd stand by me in the middle of Chapter Three/ But you were up to your old tricks in Chapters Four Five and Six."

"Stewart's Coat" by Rickie Lee Jones

I've loved Rickie Lee Jones since my brother played her for me when I was in my teens, and I've carried her into every relationship since, with varying results. My college love and I played "Walk Away Renee" together, a great unrequited love song, probably suspecting that one of us would end up leaving the other; my former husband found a way for us to listen to Rickie sing in someone's home; and during a charming, philandering poet with whom I had a misguided affair introduced me to this song of hers, Stewart's Coat. Usually RLJ is jazzy and angled, but "Stewart's Coat" is one of her straightest, sweetest songs. Still: "Hold me love; I can't sleep again… " How is anyone supposed to resist that?

"I Found a Reason" by Cat Power

Chan Marshall, in her covers, slices off pieces of the original, to keep just the core of the song she is after; so Cat Power crooning, "You'd better come come come, come come to me, better run, run run, run to me," has a purity that is completely different from Lou Reed's darker lyric in the full Velvet Underground song: he has found a reason to live, and "the reason is you". Flannery and Anne never have that kind of adolescent I'll die if I can't have you love. Theirs is much closer to Cat Power's urgent, quiet want. Even young Flannery, devastated when Anne ends their relationship in the first book, knows she will survive the heartbreak, and maybe be better for it. In Pages For Her, we learn how true that was: how many gifts Anne gave her with that love—including the gift of heartbreak.

"Straight, No Chaser" by Thelonious Monk

One important element in Flannery and Anne's story is the relationships they each have with the men in their lives. Flannery learns that Anne had once (and will have again) a partner named Jasper, and with Jasper Anne shared things she'll never have with Flannery—such as Paris, or like Thelonious Monk. Flannery hears Anne playing Monk one evening when Anne is cooking for the two of them, and can feel Anne going elsewhere as she listens to the music. In both novels, this is part of love: knowing that there are other loves behind or ahead of you, too. "Straight No Chaser" is a great piece, even if you are frightened by jazz, as Flannery is and as I used to be.

"Help Me" by Joni Mitchell

We've got to have Joni in here, she is essential to any soundtrack of love and life (if not always writing: it depends on the book). "Help Me" is another great love song that acknowledges that two people don't always sync up precisely in their passion: "Help me, I think I'm falling in love with you," Joni sings, then has to ask, "Are you going to let me go there by myself? that's such a lonely thing to do."  Flannery and Anne fell in love with each other, but from the start Flannery knew that she was more fully inside their love than Anne was. Anne's leaving her is written into their story from the beginning, as Flannery somehow realized, by its end. Flannery didn't fall in love by herself; but she stayed longer, after Anne had left. That is one reason there had to be a sequel one day: I had to write Pages For Her so we could learn what happened to them after. People kept asking me, and I wanted to find out.


Pages For Her


"Rather Be" by Clean Bandit

OK, zillions of people have viewed the video on YouTube but I doubt that Flannery knows that—she doesn't have time yet to watch YouTube again, her kid is still too young. (Willa is just six.) When Flannery meets Anne again in Pages For Her, initially she is almost too alarmed by the feeling she still has to want to be in a room alone with Anne; but eventually, the way Jess Glynne sings is the best expression of how Flannery feels: there is no place she would rather be. This later version of their love is complicated for Flannery—after all she does have a husband, and a child she loves, across the country in her San Francisco home—("We're a thousand miles from comfort") but for the few days they are together in New Haven, this is where she wants to be. And no place else.

"At My Most Beautiful" by R E M

The coolness and sweetness of Michael Stipe come together in this song—I hate to keep using the word sweet, but that is the only way to describe a line like, "At my most beautiful I count your eyelashes secretly." There are those hidden moments in love, maybe most often while the other is sleeping but you are still too wired to—when you can silently admire your beloved, without having to feel self-conscious or even faintly sinister about your own sappiness. You can just quietly enjoy your moment of astonishment and luck. Also the recurring line in this song, "I've found a way to make you smile," seems right for Flannery, who used to find Anne intimidating, a bit fierce (she has always been so beautiful and so sure of herself). Twenty years later, herself older, more confident, sadder, more knowing: now Flannery can find that buried and vulnerable part of Anne. She can make her smile.

"Famous Blue Raincoat" by Jennifer Warnes

Leonard Cohen's songs are often so melancholy that if it is his deep resigned voice singing them, you more or less want to kill yourself. (There is a reason so many other singers cover "Hallelujah," it becomes inspiring in others' voices; Cohen's own rendition is a closer to a dirge.) Jennifer Warnes' cover of Cohen's brilliant love triangle song not only makes its story bearable, but brings out the strange consolation there can be in knowing that someone you love—here it is Jane—is loved by someone else, too. In the song, the other man somehow helpe his Jane. And thanks, for the trouble you took from her eyes/ I thought it was there for good, so I never really tried. I find this true about love, and it's woven into Flannery and Anne's story: two people can't always be everything for each other. Flannery has loved how adored Anne was, by Jasper; and in Pages For Her Anne respects the love between Flannery and Charles, though she knows little of it.

An improbable side note on "Famous Blue Raincoat": it is one of the only songs, for some reason, I can actually sing start to finish, and so I used to sing it as a kind of lullaby for my son when he was a baby (and later my daughter). I figured he didn't really need to know or understand the words, the tune was pretty. Why wouldn't it be as soothing to go to sleep to as All the Pretty Horses? Or a ditty about a bough breaking, and the baby and crib coming crashing to the ground?

"The Fox (What does the Fox Say?)" by Ylvis

Brief break for some light relief, and a hit that was part of the sound track of my writing the first draft of Pages For Her. Our family was living in London, and this pretty terrible but oddly haunting song by a Norwegian comedy duo became one of the year's break out viral sensations. It was also the first pop song I listened to with my kids, 9 and 12 at the time. We all became minorly obsessed by the song and the video: we knew it was ludicrous but somehow you couldn't look away. Also, there was a fox in London who jogged boldly through back yards, marking his territory, and you had to wonder if he sang the way the song imagined him to. Pages For Her is not only about romantic love, but about maternal love, and the first moment you start sharing songs with your kids—real, adult songs—is a landmark in your relation with them. You'll be glad to know that it went up from there: Twenty One Pilots and Chance the Rapper and many perfectly respectable artists would be songs we could sing together.

"Hold You in My Arms" by Ray La Montagne
"Need the Sun to Break" by James Bay
"Lullaby" by Dixie Chicks

I did listen to some old-fashioned, honest-to-god love songs while rewriting Pages For Her. During an extended period of editing, I was having a passionate love affair my own self, so music and life and fiction twined together nicely. Mine wasn't the same story as the one in Pages For Her (of course it wasn't: this was life after all, not art), so she was not someone I had known for years but was someone I was just meeting and getting to know. We traded songs and playlists, and as we lived at some distance from each other, this music became essential to how we communicated about how much we missed each other. James Bay was big on the radio, so his lines, "I need the sun to break, you've woken up my heart, I'm shaking" seemed right for new love; and she introduced me to the soulful gravel of Ray La Montagne, whose songs we once listened to together in an LA park; and the spare, lovely adoration in the Dixie Chicks song, "They didn't have you where I come from—" can really hit you, late at night, if you are pining away for a person. These three are love songs in that vein. Listen to them and sigh. (I did.)

"Two of Us" by The Beatles

And the Beatles, finally. This song must be Paul, right? All four of them could be silly and playful, but this tune has Paul's lilt to it, and I think I read that he wrote it as a bromance love song to his mate John. I love that kind of love: the buddy kind, the going so deep you'll always be something to each other kind, even if spouses or kids intervene and claim your affections, too. The love between Anne and Flannery is a romantic one, but it has a strain of the buddy love in it, too: the two women can tease each other, they can prank each other. There is a scene, in bed, in which they pass back and forth an imaginary cigarette, and take deep, nicotine-free drags, because neither of them smokes any more, of course. ("I completely shocked Willa once," Flannery tells Anne, after faux-exhaling, "by telling her, in passing, that I had smoked in college. You should have seen her face. It was like I told her I had robbed a bank.") Flannery and Anne love each other enough that they could take a road trip, one day, together—as Flannery did with a previous girlfriend, the woman she was with after Anne. That is how you know you love someone: if you can drive with them. "You and I have memories/ Longer than the road that stretches out ahead."


Sylvia Brownrigg and Pages For Her links:

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

Kirkus review
New Republic review
San Francisco Chronicle review
ZYZZYVA review

San Jose Mercury News profile of the author


also at Largehearted Boy:

Support the Largehearted Boy website

Book Notes (2015 - ) (authors create music playlists for their book)
Book Notes (2012 - 2014) (authors create music playlists for their book)
Book Notes (2005 - 2011) (authors create music playlists for their book)
my 11 favorite Book Notes playlist essays

Largehearted Boy's 2017 Summer Reading Suggestions

100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads
Antiheroines (interviews with up and coming female comics artists)
Atomic Books Comics Preview (weekly comics highlights)
guest book reviews
Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week (recommended new books, magazines, and comics)
musician/author interviews
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Short Cuts (writers pair a song with their short story or essay)
Shorties (daily music, literature, and pop culture links)
Soundtracked (composers and directors discuss their film's soundtracks)
weekly music release lists


Shorties (An Excerpt from Chris Kraus's Kathy Acker Biography, The Best Books About David Bowie, and more)

The New Yorker shared an excerpt from Chris Kraus's book After Kathy Acker: A Literary Biography.


The Guardian listed the best books about David Bowie.


The Paris Review shared a new Gabrielle Bell comic.


Beck discussed his forthcoming album Colors with Rolling Stone.


The Guardian previewed fall's new books.


Drowned in Sound interviewed Pussy Riot's Nadezhda Tolokonnikova.


Entropy interviewed author Steve Erickson.


Stream a new Grizzly Bear song.


The JDO Show interviewed author Monica Drake.


Passion Pit's Michael Angelakos talked music and mental health with Weekend Edition.


Literary Hub interviewed author Marlon James.


Sinkane's Ahmed Gallab shared a Sudanese mixtape at Aquarium Drunkard.


Actress and poet Amber Tamblyn discussed her favorite books with Vulture.


Salon made a case for 1987 as the most impotant year for alternative rock.


The Guardian interviewed author Ned Beauman.


Shelby Lynne & Allison Moorer covered Nirvana's "Lithium."


The New Yorker interviewed Garth Greenwell about his short story in this week's issue.


MusicRadar profiled singer-songwriter Jason Isbell.


Vanity Fair recommended August's best new books.


Stream a new Washer song.


Book Riot recommended August's best small press books.


EMA's Erika Michelle Anderson discussed her music with PopMatters.


The New York Times interviewed Lindsay Hunter about her new short story collection Eat Only When You're Hungry.


Rob Sheffield talked to the Los Angeles Review of Books about his book Dreaming the Beatles.


The Guardian profiled author Maggie O'Farrell.


American Songwriter profiled Jay Som's Melina Duterte.


eBooks on sale for $0.99 today:

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

eBooks on sale for $1.99 today:

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

eBooks on sale for $2.99 today:

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


eBooks on sale for $3.99 today:

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


also at Largehearted Boy:

Support Largehearted Boy

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

Atomic Books Comics Preview (the week's best new comics and graphic novels)
Book Notes (authors create playlists for their book)
Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week (recommended new books, magazines, and comics)
musician/author interviews
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Short Cuts (writers pair a song with their short story or essay)
weekly music release lists
WORD Bookstores Books of the Week (recommended new books)
weekly music release lists


August 11, 2017

Book Notes - Suzanne Burns "The Veneration of Monsters"

The Veneration of Monsters

In the Book Notes series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates in some way to their recently published book.

Previous contributors include Bret Easton Ellis, Kate Christensen, Lauren Groff, T.C. Boyle, Dana Spiotta, Amy Bloom, Aimee Bender, Jesmyn Ward, Heidi Julavits, Hari Kunzru, and many others.

Suzanne Burns' The Veneration of Monstersis a stellar short fiction collection featuring unforgettable characters.

Kirkus wrote of the book:

"Burns is an unmissable heir to writers of the peculiar, from Shirley Jackson to Roald Dahl."


In her own words, here is Suzanne Burns' Book Notes music playlist for her short story collection The Veneration of Monsters:



As I began shaping the stories that became The Veneration of Monsters, the follow-up to my debut collection, Misfits and Other Heroes, both published by Dzanc Books, I started to see the characters in the book as real people. This is a cliché that I've heard writers say from small town critique groups to that time, in the mid-nineties, when I participated in Ken Kesey's last writing workshop and the class sat in rapt enchantment when he told the story of an anonymous person who sent letters to his house years after One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest came out. I am Big Chief, the letters proclaimed. I am in Denver waiting for an airplane eating an omelet. Do you know they put ham in their omelets out west? I am in Paris. I am in Rome. I am watching you outside your bathroom window while you shower and shave.

I think the reason these characters, more than any other characters, felt real is because the process of writing and rewriting coincided with a tumultuous few years in my life, through breakups and death and European travel and more breakups and more death. It was a time of reflection and headphones, pastry and tears.

I do write in complete silence. I can't have a television on in the next room, a stereo in a far corner of the house. I can't even hear the quiet sounds of someone sleeping close to me, so I've never listened to music while I work. Maybe sometimes if I'm typing a long section of a piece, since I handwrite all first drafts, I might sneak on Pandora and let Beethoven or a very quiet Nina Simone help get me by, but this playlist is not a playlist to read by, necessarily, as much as it is a playlist dedicated to the characters in this collection. These are the songs I imagine they listen to in their dark times, in their bright times, and in those times in between.


First Movement: "On the Street Where You Live" by Vic Damone

A song for an eternal optimist. A song for someone as much in love with love as they are in love with the person who lives on the only street in town where lilac trees bloom. Cherise listens to Vic's version on her long walks through the city as she plots the beginnings of her new life, new shoes wearing in, pack of violet mints in her purse. Nat King Cole's version is too syrupy for her taste, a little too slow, borderline maudlin. Dean Martin doesn't take the song seriously enough. On lonely Saturday evenings Cherise plays this song on repeat and memorizes facts about Vic Damone from Wikipedia, which she believes to always be true. Rocco and Mamie, his parents, came to America from Italy, he an electrician, she, a piano teacher.


Selfie: "Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want" by The Smiths

Violet doesn't believe in downloading music. She hasn't even accepted the near obsolete CD yet. It's vinyl for her or nothing at all, Louder Than Bombs in permanent rotation, this song topping the list of her favorite mope rock dirges. In between boyfriends, both alive and undead, she listens to this album while sitting cross-legged in a candlelit room trying to find all the lines Morrissey pilfered from author Elizabeth Smart's prose poetry novel By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept. Violet loves memorizing anapaests while dipping the dregs of broken Pirouette cookies in warm Nutella.


Happy Anniversary: "World Keeps Turning" by Tom Waits

This song makes Thomas cry. It also used to make his wife, Emma, cry before she became Rose, which is a long, complicated story. Emma cut the fat off pork tenderloin before cooking the meat with baby red potatoes in a very expensive round Dutch oven from Le Creuset in the oceanic blue color they call Caribbean. Now Rose listens to Bikini Kill. She likes to say the phrase "old bootlegs." The Dutch oven is collecting dust on a shelf much too high for either of them to reach.


Best of Show: "Fighter" by Christina Aguilera

Tiny Ron's wife plays this song while she secretly works out to old Tae Bo VHS tapes. Sometimes after her workout, if her husband is still filming a commercial or running more lines with a costar anywhere but close to where she sits and sweats, she sips off a bottle of Mike's Hard Pink Lemonade. She throws the cap on the ground and never recycles the bottle. She sees both of these small gestures as steps forward.


Reducing: "I Started a Joke" by the Bee Gees

Veronica and her mother listen to this song on the CD player in her mother's SUV on the way to Starbucks to buy one birthday flavored cake pop to share. When she was pregnant, Veronica's mom listened to this song while she smoked cigarettes and responded to chain letters in hopes of warding off any bad luck to her coming daughter. In high school Veronica's first boyfriend felt her up in the backseat of his car while this song played on an oldies radio station. She cried when she got home that night.


The Line of Fate: "It Ain't What You Do It's the Way That You Do It" by Fun Boy Three featuring Bananarama

After every doll in the house is arranged on Tabitha's kitchen table each morning after her husband goes to work, she plays this song and dances in front of her miniature audience. Each time she checks her pulse, heart rate right in the precise target zone, Tabitha bows to her silent companions. She never gives up hope because dolls never give up hope.


The Unfortunate Act of Falling: "Ladder of Success" by Skeeter Davis

Sometimes is gets lonely in Joan's gourmet kitchen, late at night when Harry and the twins are asleep upstairs and maybe she misses someone she used to know, or even someone she thought she knew. She kills little summer bugs between her manicured fingers while listening to this song on nights like this. It brings a brief respite from middle age creeping up on her, the destiny of such a tiny creature destroyed on Congress Street, though the act of killing something so innocent always leads to other ideas.


Unwound: "Ribbons and Detours" by Silversun Pickups

Lara and her ribbons. Of course she listens to this song on her phone while she picks out ribbons at the fabric store. Most of the time she calls her ribbons "notions," intoxicated by the prospect of a new idea springing up each time she ties one tight around her neck.


The Compromise: "You've Really Got a Hold On Me" by Smokey Robinson and the Miracles

Once, on a dare, Claire and Jack went dancing. Claire loved the way the mirror ball at the Elk's Lodge lit the room in rainbow stars. Jack complained about the price of well drinks. Jack loved the tray of complimentary caprese skewers. Claire wished the event organizer took lactose intolerance into consideration. But the couple danced to this song like no one has ever danced to this song, even on TV. A dance for the ages between two people who don't even know how to dance. Not really, anyway. So this song became their song, to dance to on occasion, to travel with, to plot what to do as they spy on another couple on vacation, so in love they almost don't know what to do with themselves.


The Borrower: "Can't You Hear Me Knocking" by The Rolling Stones

Each time Sheba moves into the cul-de-sac of a new neighborhood in a new town, she blasts this song while watching the movers unload her possessions. She likes it when people notice her listening to music almost too loud to hear herself think. She likes it when they marvel at her velvet cape, her seemingly never ending collection of claw-footed furniture, the way her eyes change color every few minutes, and her hair, too, in the course of one afternoon going from black to red to blonde, having nothing to do with highlights or lowlights or the way the sun hits.


Just the Right Kind of Stranger: "When You Wish Upon a Star" by Cliff Edwards as Jiminy Cricket

This short story collection opens and closes with what I consider to be two of my most optimistic characters, Cherise at the beginning and Irene, with her love of this song, and all things Disney, at the end. This is the song of dreamers, and Irene dreams bigger dreams that maybe all of my other characters combined. Though maybe a lot of you out there reading this list, and my book, might view her dreams as nightmares. So please, as always, proceed with caution.


Suzanne Burns and The Veneration of Monsters links:

Kirkus review


also at Largehearted Boy:

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Book Notes (2015 - ) (authors create music playlists for their book)
Book Notes (2012 - 2014) (authors create music playlists for their book)
Book Notes (2005 - 2011) (authors create music playlists for their book)
my 11 favorite Book Notes playlist essays

Largehearted Boy's 2017 Summer Reading Suggestions

100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads
Antiheroines (interviews with up and coming female comics artists)
Atomic Books Comics Preview (weekly comics highlights)
guest book reviews
Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week (recommended new books, magazines, and comics)
musician/author interviews
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Short Cuts (writers pair a song with their short story or essay)
Shorties (daily music, literature, and pop culture links)
Soundtracked (composers and directors discuss their film's soundtracks)
weekly music release lists


This Week's Interesting Music Releases - August 11, 2017

David Rawlings

David Rawlings' Poor David's Almanack and
\Frankie Rose's Cage Tropical are albums I can wholeheartedly recommend this week.

Guided By Voices's How Do You Spell Heaven is also available to stream and in stores.

Reissues include remastered editions of three Peter Gabriel albums (Birdy, Long Walk Home, Passion).

What new music are you looking forward to or enjoying this week?


This week's interesting music releases:

5 Billion In Diamonds: 5 Billion In Diamonds
And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead: Source Tags & Codes (reissue) [vinyl]
Ben Sollee and Kentucky Native: Ben Sollee and Kentucky Native
The Cribs: 24-7 Rock Star Shit
Cypress Hill: Black Sunday (reissue) [vinyl]
David Rawlings: Poor David's Almanack
Def Leppard: Hysteria: 30th Anniversary (7-disc box set)
The Districts: Popular Manipulations
Downtown Boys: Cost Of Living
Foster the People: Sacred Hearts Club [vinyl]
Frankie Rose: Cage Tropical
Guided By Voices: How Do You Spell Heaven
Hamell on Trial: Tackle Box
Keane: Hopes and Fears (reissue) [vinyl]
Kesha: Rainbow
Mark Bryan: Songs Of The Fortnight
matt pond PA: Still Summer
Oneohtrix Point Never: The Good Time (soundtrack)
Paul Kelly: Life Is Fine
Peter Gabriel: Birdy - 45 RPM Half Speed Edition (2-LPs) (remastered)
Peter Gabriel: Long Walk Home - 45 RPM Half Speed Edition (2-LPs) (remastered)
Peter Gabriel: Passion - 45 RPM Half Speed Edition (3-LPs) (remastered)
Portugal. The Man: Woodstock [vinyl]
Prince: Partyman [vinyl]
Prince: Pop Life [vinyl]
Prince: Transmission Impossible
Richard Thompson: Rumor & Sigh (reissue) [vinyl]
Sheer Mag: Need To Feel Your Love
The Slits: Return of the Giant Slits (remastered)
So Much Light: Oh, Yuck
Steve Howe: Anthology 2: Groups & Collaborations (3-CD box set)
Sun Ra: My Brother The Wind, Vol. I Expanded Edition
Various Artists: 13 Reasons Why - A Netflix Original Series Soundtrack [vinyl]
Various Artists: Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2: Awesome Mix Vol. 2 [vinyl]
Various Artists: The Music of Nashville Season 5, Vol 3
Washed Out: Mister Mellow [vinyl]
Will Hoge: Anchors


also at Largehearted Boy:

Support Largehearted Boy

weekly music release lists

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


Shorties (Dennis Cooper on Filmmaking, Matt Sweeney on Glen Campbell, and more)

Dennis Cooper talked to Vulture about his foray into filmmaking.


Guitarist Matt Sweeney discussed Glen Campbell's influence on his career at The Record.


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


The Oxford American shared an essay by singer-songwriter Tift Merritt.


The White Review interviewed author Ottessa Moshfegh.


Stream a new Chain and the Gang song.


NY Tyrant shared an unpublished chapter from Annie DeWitt's novel White Nights in Split Town City.


Stream Julia Jacklin's Newport Folk Festival performance.


Electric Literature interviewed author Lidia Yucnavitch.


Tristen visited World Cafe for a live performance and interview.


The Quietus recommended August's best comics.


The Blow covered Whitney Houston's "Greatest Love of All."


Southwest Journal profiled author Peter Geye.


Stream a new Lo Moon song.


Literary Hub examined the rise of Scandinavian crime fiction.


Stream a new Alice Glass song.


Danya Kukafka discussed writing and pickles at Literary Hub.


Stream a new Exit Someone song.


The Rumpus interviewed author Blake Nelson.


Stream a new King Khan song.


eBooks on sale for $0.99 today:

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

eBooks on sale for $1.99 today:

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

eBooks on sale for $2.99 today:

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


eBooks on sale for $3.99 today:

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


also at Largehearted Boy:

Support Largehearted Boy

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

Atomic Books Comics Preview (the week's best new comics and graphic novels)
Book Notes (authors create playlists for their book)
Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week (recommended new books, magazines, and comics)
musician/author interviews
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Short Cuts (writers pair a song with their short story or essay)
weekly music release lists
WORD Bookstores Books of the Week (recommended new books)
weekly music release lists


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