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September 27, 2016

Book Notes - Ben Katchor "Cheap Novelties"

Cheap Novelties

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.

Originally published in 1991 by Art Spiegelman and Françoise Mouly's RAW Comics, Ben Katchor's Cheap Novelties is an early glimpse into the cartoonist's gift for sharing disappearing cityscapes in miniature.

Library Journal wrote of the book:

"A wonderful peek into an old yet new world, Katchor’s work pleasantly combines art and character, opening readers’ eyes and ears to the sights and sounds of this metropolis in a way that is simultaneously relaxing and thought provoking. Recommended for those who enjoy urban history, nostalgia, and social commentary."


In his own words, here is Ben Katchor's Book Notes music playlist for his comics collection Cheap Novelties:


Not a literal soundtrack, as I don't advise people to listen to music while reading, but a list of a few songs I listen to while drawing. All are songs, as I love text-music and text-image mixtures.



The original Folkways recording, by Prince Nazaroff was a truly authentic version of urban folk music - raw, high energy -- not generic Jewish folk music. The recent cover by the great Brothers Nazaroff revives that feeling.

The Happy Prince by the Brothers Nazaroff (Smithsonian Folkways): Ich a Mazeldicker Yid.

My music video for this track is here:

http://www.folkways.si.edu/animated-music-video-for-ich-a-mazeldicker-yid-by-the-brothers-nazaroff/music/video/smithsonian


I've collaborated with musician Mark Mulcahy on a number of music-theater shows. I provide the text, he raises it to poetry by setting it to music. The scenic decor consists of projected drawings and animation. The ultimate luxury text-image art form.

This is one of Mulcahy's songs by his band Miracle Legion, a perfect raising of speech to song.

"You're the One Lee"



Many French chanteurs are in heavy rotation once my writing is finished and I begin to draw. The musicality of the French language as expressed by a great songwriter is overwhelming. Among my favorites:

Jacques Brel: Pardons



Leo Ferre: Les Anarchistes



I've drawn many pictures to sound of Charles Ive's songs. You have to find the right performances, as interpretation is critical.

Charles Ives: Romanzo di Central Park (Dora Ohrenstein performance)



Ben Katchor and Cheap Novelties links:

the author's website
the author's Wikipedia entry

Vulture review

Paste 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

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


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September 27, 2016

Book Notes - Steve Toutonghi "Join"

Join

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.

Steve Toutonghi's dystopian novel Join is a powerful and imaginative debut.

NPR Books wrote of the book:

"[Toutonghi] combines smart, imaginative extrapolation about technology and a deep curiosity about civilization and the human condition. Along the way, he brings up head-spinning questions about individuality, society, ecology, euthanasia, aging, death, immortality, tech industry politics, class, polyamory, and gender identity... It's a chilling observation about the nature of the individual verses the nature of the group, and it lends Join a compelling urgency."


In his own words, here is Steve Toutonghi's Book Notes music playlist for his debut novel Join:


I was working full time in the software industry when I wrote the first draft of my first novel, Join. I wanted the world that the story is set in to feel big, but would go into the office in the early morning and get back in the evening without a lot of energy to go out, to talk with people, to explore. Music helped keep me open and responsive to the world beyond what I encountered from day to day. It challenged me to keep bringing energy to the story.

Join is about an alternate future in which a new technology allows small collectives to form permanent “joins,” individuals with one mind and multiple bodies. I wanted the story to begin with a close focus on the experience of people who had undergone the join procedure, and then open into speculation on how these changes to human identity might affect other things in the world. Music is important in the book. There's no limit to the potential lifespan of a “join”; I’d like to listen to music for at least a few more centuries.



"Chedy-Khan/Seven Kings" - Huun Huur Tu
Huun Huur Tu is a group known for their mastery of traditional Tuvan throat singing. This song is a collaboration with the Russian group Malerija that transforms one of their staples--the folk song "Aa-Shuu Dekei-Oo" into a modern dance mix. The harmonies of the throat singing--multiple voices retaining their individual character in a densely textured unity--lift the track into a sprint that uses modern instrumentation like perfectly fitted cybernetic enhancements.

"Way Down In The Hole" - The Blind Boys of Alabama
Brooding, ominous instrumentation and the urgency of full throated gospel vocals, plus lyrics by Tom Waits. This was the theme for the The Wire, with each season serving up a new cover. Each version was fantastic, and each leaves echoes when I hear any version of the song now. The theme of temptation is important in Join, but that multiplicity of perspectives--the combination of every version sounding in memory as you listen--is a big part of why I picked this song for the list.

"Hung My Head" - Johnny Cash
Actions as small as the twitch of a single finger can have terrible consequences. In this Johnny Cash cover of a Sting song, the heartbreak of lives broken and lost is laid as bare as the merciless lyrics. How many of us are comfortable with "the power of death over life" that we assume casually as a consequence of our place in the world? Cash's voice invests the song with a courage that connects one terrible moment to a universal experience.

"Nardis" - Bill Evans
Nardis was a signature piece for Bill Evans, who died young in 1980. I think Chance, (a character in the book), would have been hooked on hearing the cool, precise and relaxed 1961 recording of Evans interpreting this Miles Davis composition. Chance would have read about the song's history, its innovative moment in jazz history, and over time would have begun to investigate Evans' later interpretations, and I think Chance would have been as enthralled as I am by the wealth of Evans’ irresistible variations.

"The Candy Man" - Cibo Matto
I think Leap (another character), would love Cibo Matto. I chose this track because the Japanese duo transformed it utterly while somehow leaving its soul intact. They shape the melody with electronic instruments and the distancing wonder of their sensitive, psychedelic vocals, then strain out sentimentality in favor of a hypnotic beat. Theirs isn't the version that was sung live at Disneyland for decades, but it would have sounded really great there.

"Innocent When You Dream" - Tom Waits
What a beautiful idea. Dreaming is an integral part of the book, where it ultimately results in some less than innocent behavior. Tom Waits assures us with a broken and discordant wisdom that no matter its consequences, the dreaming at least--if not the actions that follow--will always be okay. I'm tempted to just quote lyrics here. If Rope (who knows a thing or two about dreaming) were a lyricist, it might have come up with verses very close to these, and certainly would have known and admired them.

"Wall of Death" - Richard and Linda Thompson
In Join, people achieve something close to immortality by both experiencing and paradoxically avoiding death. In this song, death is cast as a carnival ride. Decades ago, when I first heard it, the exuberant refrain terrified me. "Let me ride on the Wall of Death/One more time/You can waste your time on the other rides/this is the nearest to being alive." The fear of death is as deeply automatic as the need for air. But what is it we fear? I may not share his certainty, but I still take some solace from the words of the poet Rabindranath Tagore, who writes, "And because I love this life, I know I shall love death as well."

"Oh! You Pretty Things" — David Bowie
Unbelievably, I almost didn’t include a Bowie song on this list. I was focused on finding songs that resonated with specific feelings or ideas, whereas, it seems to me that Bowie was offering something bigger, his vision of the future. I listened to Hunky Dory, Station to Station and his greatest hits a lot while writing Join. Prophecy and warning, I love the song’s ability to stretch from conversational, piano bar interludes to a rousing, vatic chorus.


Steve Toutonghi and Join links:

the author's website
excerpt from the book

Kirkus review
Library Journal review
NPR Books review
Tor.com review

The Qwillery 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

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


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Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week - September 27, 2016

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.


Cheap Novelties: The Pleasures of Urban Decay

Cheap Novelties: The Pleasures of Urban Decay
by Ben Katchor

This week, Drawn and Quarterly releases a gorgeous new edition of Ben Katchor’s seminal Cheap Novelties: The Pleasures of Urban Decay. The book was originally published in 1991 as an unassuming collection of three-years worth of weekly newspaper comic strips, the format of which allowed readers to approach the work as a continuous, novel-length narrative. This style of graphic-storytelling has become the standard in the golden age of graphic novels in which we reside, with Ben Katchor now recognized as a pioneer. Cheap Novelties is a stark testament to what has been sacrificed through all of our so-called “progress”; a melancholy lamentation of gentrification, globalization, and strip malls.


Intimations

Intimations
by Alexandra Kleeman

Alexandra Kleeman’s debut novel, You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine, received oodles of praise and garnered the young author comparisons to Thomas Pynchon and Don DeLillo. Not lacking pressure, Kleeman has returned with a stunning sophomore effort. Intimations is a collection of a dozen stories that take in broadly the three stages of human existence: birth, life, death. The people who populate these stories are thrust into the bizarre triangulations of our brief period of living. An unnamed woman enters a room with no exit and a ready-made life; dance is used to try and tame a feral child; surviving a house-party comes down to knowing the difference between real and fake blood. This is a frighteningly good collection from one of the best young writers in North America.


Bad Korean

Bad Korean
by Kyung Me

Sardonic inner thoughts caption scenes from a life probably not unlike your own. It’s remarkable in fact just how accurately Me’s drawings depict authentic moments of awkwardness, ego, agony and boredom. Relatable is not even the correct label, it is almost as if Kyung Me has access to a reel of everybody’s most intimate moments. Bad Korean is a funnysad distillation of life in neon-realism, and a favourite of many D+Q staffers.


Inferno

Inferno
by Eileen Myles

Clad with the subtitle “A Poet’s Novel”, Inferno is the story of a young female writer, a loosely veiled version of the author herself, as she forays into the thicket of creativity and sexuality in New York City Bohemia, circa 1968. Structured after Dante’s Divine Comedy, Myles’ chronicle catches the self in an awkward pose: transition. The central character wrangles her past—catholic girl from a small town—into submission, and finds a foothold as both a lesbian and a poet. This book demands an earnest read.


Blackacre

Blackacre
by Monica Youn

The poems in Blackacre are utterly gorgeous. Monica Youn’s voice is nimble and vivid, with the poetic sensibility to fit a planet through a needle-eye. The opening sequence takes stock of, in turn, a hanged man and a hanged woman. The act of a hanging brings with it so many questions of the physical and the abstract, both of which are handled with a ruthless candour. The poems in this book contain a restless lyric energy, whilst maintaining cool narrative composure.


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)


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Shorties (An Interview with Emma Donoghue, A List of the Best Ambient Albums, and more)

The Wonder

Out interviewed author Emma Donoghue about her novel The Wonder.


Pitchfork listed the best ambient albums.


Ebooks on sale for $1.99 today:

Flight by Sherman Alexie
The Kindly Ones by Jonathan Littell
The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy
We're All Damaged by Matthew Norman


eBooks on sale for $2.99 today:

The Elephant's Journey by Jose Saramago
Notes of a Native Son by James Baldwin


Stereogum is streaming Bellows' Fist & Palm album.


Laura Miller examined the fiction of Tana French at the New Yorker.


The Paris Review interviewed author and musician Sjon.


Divedapper interviewed poet Vijay Seshadri.


Stereogum is streaming Itasca's new album Open to Chance.


Literary Hub interviewed Mark Greif about his new essay collection Against Everything.


American Songwriter interviewed Liam Betson of the band LVL Up.


Merrit Tierce and Anuk Arudpragasam discussed publishing their debut novels at Literary Hub.


David Bazan covered Low's "Long Way Around the Sea."


Bookworm interviewed author Marisa Silver.


The A.V. Club is streaming Peaer's self-titled album.


Annie Proulx discussed her novel Barkskins with the Ottawa Citizen.


Stream a new Beck song.


Cartoonist Jill Thompson discussed reinventing Wonder Woman at Bustle.


Kyle Craft visited World Cafe for an interview and live performance.


The 2016 Giller Prize shortlist has been announced.


New Zealand researchers have restored the first recording of computer-generated music, created in 1951 on a computer built by Alan Turing.


The staff of Jezebel recommended books for back-to-school reading.


Stream a 30-minute concert of duets by Andrew Bird and Fiona Apple.


BBC America recommended books for fans of Douglas Adams.


The Drive-By Truckers visited The Current studio for an interview and live performance.


Newsarama interviewed cartoonist Gene Luen Yang.


All Songs Considered examined the history of campaign endorsement songs.


Catapult interviewed writer Kashana Cauley.


The Creative Independent has launched with an essay by Eileen Myles.



also at 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


Posted by david | Permalink | Comments (View)

September 26, 2016

Book Notes - Christine Sneed "The Virginity of Famous Men"

The Virginity of Famous Men

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.

Christine Sneed's short fiction collection The Virginity of Famous Men shows impressive range, these stories are precisely written and emotionally charged.

Booklist wrote of the book:

"These marvelously precise and lucid stories, so rich in psychological insights, so propulsive, switch from funny to wrenching in a heartbeat. Like Ann Beattie, Amy Hempel, and Edith Pearlman, Sneed, as attuned to our buzzing-hive world as she is, writes timeless stories richly human in their empathy and wit, grace, and toughness."


In her own words, here is Christine Sneed's Book Notes music playlist for her short story collection The Virginity of Famous Men:


The Virginity of Famous Men is a collection of thirteen short stories, written over a period of nine or ten years. In these stories, I was attempting to figure out some of my thoughts about parenthood, adolescence, affluence, monogamy, and the way women are often portrayed by the media (as, in some cases, hysterical, witless objects of desire or scorn, or both).

A friend observed a number of months ago that one topic I frequently write about is what happens when people get the things they most desire. I realized she was right, and some of these stories do focus on the perils of getting what you most long for.

Lastly, although the title story is a self-contained work of fiction, it revisits some of the main characters in my second book, Little Known Facts, and picks up a year and a half after where that novel ends.



1. "Beach Vacation"

"Why Don't You See Me," Concrete Blonde

The main character in this story, Jan, is the mother of a seventeen-year-old boy, Tristan, who she realizes has become someone she finds to be all but unbearable—entitled, selfish, rude. On a trip to Captiva Island, Florida, a vacation she and her husband Steven planned to take together with Tristan, but work intervenes and Steven ultimately can't go, Jan is forced to confront her growing feelings of animosity toward their son.

This great Concrete Blonde song from 1992 sums up some of Jan's strongest feelings about her and her son's relationship.

2. "The First Wife"

"Woman to Woman," Concrete Blonde

The title character of this story is also the first-person POV character, a screenwriter who was married for several years to a globally famous film star who eventually left her for another woman. The story is told in thirteen sections and begins, more or less, with the ending.

Another memorable song by Concrete Blonde from 1992—the album is Walking in London—this one about being the other woman.

3. "The Prettiest Girls"

"The Bad in Each Other," Feist

This story also focuses on the perils of fame and fortune, the male narrator a fifty-something, twice-divorced location manager for various big Hollywood productions. He meets and falls in love with a young Mexican woman, brings her back to Pasadena and hopes, foolishly, for the best.

After a little while, Jim has to face the evidence that his attachment to Elsa brings out the worst in himself (and in her), as Feist sings in this song from Metals, her most recent album.

4. "The Functionary"

"In the Air Tonight," Phil Collins

I wrote this story several years ago, after reading about the murdered women whose bodies were turning up in Mexico, their killers never apprehended—casualties of the drug wars that continue to rage, possibly—this was the most common answer to these still-unsolved murders.

This Collins's song's moodiness fits what I think of as the male point-of-view character's foreboding feelings that's he's hurtling toward personal disaster, due to his empathy for the unidentified, murdered women and his outrage over his employer's (the federal government) lack of interest in their fates.

5. "Words That Once Shocked Us"

"O.P.P.," Naughty by Nature

Adultery! Marcie, the lonely, divorced main character in this story is trying to keep her friend and coworker Rachel from committing it. Marcie's husband left her for someone else and she thinks Rachel is a fool for looking outside of her marriage to the adorable, sweet Ben for a dalliance with an older man she met through the call center for a soap and shampoo company where she and Marcie work.

This song brings me back to late high school/early college years when my friends and I still went to dance clubs, convinced we could have a good time despite being elbowed and stomped on repeatedly by a lot of sweaty, drunk people on the make!

6. "Five Rooms

"Wild Horses," The Rolling Stones

Josephine, the sixteen-year-old girl who narrates this story, which includes a road trip with a blind man she helps out in his home several hours each week, has changed a little by the end of the story, having been forced to witness adult sorrow and disappointed romantic love in a way she previously had either ignored or made fun of—her pretty, divorced mother's own disappointments too close for comfort for Josephine to look upon with sympathy.

This Stones' song from their 1971 album Sticky Fingers is, I think, a fitting melancholy anthem for Mr. Rasmussen, the lovelorn blind man in this story.

7. "Roger Weber Would Like to Stay"

"Ghost of a Texas Ladies' Man," Concrete Blonde

This is my attempt at both a ghost story and a satire about modern romance; the main character, Melinda, is being haunted by the charismatic title character who is jealous of Brian, her living boyfriend.

More Concrete Blonde—hard to resist. The title of this song probably speaks for itself, though whether Roger was a Texan, when he was still alive, I'm not sure. He might very well have been.

8. "Whatshisname"

"Kiss That Frog," Peter Gabriel

I can't predict how readers will respond to this book, but I'm guessing this will be the story they either like the most or else scratch their heads over. Of the thirteen stories collected here, "Whatshisname" was the one I had the most fun writing. In it, the narrator, Kim, is trying hard to admire and understand her (slightly) brain-damaged boyfriend's largesse: after he wins the Little Lotto, he wants to start an orphanage, but in view of the complexity of such an undertaking, Kim convinces him to donate money to a Catholic charity run by nuns on the north side of Chicago instead.

This upbeat song from Us, Gabriel's solid follow-up to So, strikes the tone I was striving for in this story, much of the time.

9. "The Couplehood Jubilee"

"Money," Pink Floyd

Karen, the main character in this story, figures out one day during a long work meeting that she has spent nearly $25,000 on friends' and family members' weddings over the last several years but she herself hasn't ever gotten married and cashed in. The day has arrived, she tells her longtime boyfriend Glen, for a little payback, and she immediately begins planning their non-marriage ceremony, the jubilee of the title.

This is probably my favorite Pink Floyd song. Karen's attitudes toward money and her married (or divorced) friends have changed somewhat by the end of the story.

10. "Older Sister"

"Sour Times," Portishead

The confusion and shame that victims frequently feel in the aftermath of acquaintance rape, along with college binge-drinking, are the two topics I was most interested in as I wrote this story.

A haunting and beautiful song by a band that we all should send letters to, pleading with them to give us another album, and soon, please.

11. "Clear Conscience"

"Temptation," New Order

Temptation is the prevailing force in this story, along with a little anger and fraternal jealousy. Michael's older brother Jim is married to professionally accomplished and conjugally embittered Sasha, who has lately been flirting with Michael, coaxing him to walk along the edge of the chasm that separates him from moral respectability and his most objectionable desire, i.e. the wish to have a dangerous liaison with his sister-in-law.

This excellent, lesser-known New Order song seems a natural match for this story.

12. "The New, All True CV"

"Bang the Drum All Day," Todd Rundgren

This story is written in the form of a CV and cover letter, with the CV including annotations for each line item and section. I think it becomes clear within the first page or so that, Camille, the job applicant, is not operating with all screws tightly in place.

She does want to work, unlike Todd Rundgren, as he declares in this popular song from 1982 (the chorus: I don't want to work! I want to bang on the drum all day), but Rundgren's joyful nose-thumbing at the workaday grind is similar to Camille's touting of all the rules that govern how to apply for a job.

13. "The Virginity of Famous Men"

"Brothers in Arms," Dire Straits

It's the reflective, melancholy tone of this haunting Dire Straits song that inspired me to choose it as the companion to the final song in my collection, which revisits the father and son, Renn and Will Ivins, who are two of the primary characters in my second book, the novel, Little Known Facts.

Renn and Will Ivins are a little older and wiser now, I think, but still prone to some of the same conflicts.


Christine Sneed and The Virginity of Famous Men links:

the author's website
the author's Wikipedia entry

Chicago Tribune review
Kirkus review
Los Angeles Review of Books review
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel review
New York Times review
Publishers Weekly review

Chicago Magazine interview with the author
Largehearted Boy Book Notes playlist by the author for Little Known Facts
Largehearted Boy Book Notes playlist by the author for Paris, She Said
Midwestern Gothic interview with the author
The National Book Review interview with the author
The Rumpus interview with the author
WGN Radio 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

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


Posted by david | Permalink | Comments (View)

Shorties (Margaret Atwood on Rewriting Shakespeare, Ed Piskor on His Hip Hop Family Tree Books, and more)

Hag-Seed

Margaret Atwood discussed rewriting Shakespeare (her new novel Hag-Seed is a reinterpretation of The Tempest) at the Guardian.


Ed Piskor discussed his Hip Hop Family Tree graphic novels with the Washington Post.


Ebooks on sale for $1.99 today:

Flight by Sherman Alexie
The Kindly Ones by Jonathan Littell
The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy
We're All Damaged by Matthew Norman


eBooks on sale for $2.99 today:

The Elephant's Journey by Jose Saramago
Notes of a Native Son by James Baldwin


TIME and BuzzFeed interviewed poet Claudia Rankine.


Stereogum reconsidered Weezer's Pinkerton album, which was released 20 years ago.


Banned Books Week started yesterday.


Stream We Are Wolves' new album Wrong at BrooklynVegan.


Hyperallergic interviewed poet Eileen Myles.


Morrissey covered the Ramones' "Judy Is a Punk."


Literary Hub hosted a discussion between authors Lily King and Margot Livesy.


PopMatters interviewed The Album Leaf's Jimmy LaValle.


Anuk Arudpragasam discussed his debut novel The Story of a Brief Marriage at The Rumpus.


At SPIN, musicians, authors, and actors shared their first impressions of Nirvana's Nevermind album (released 25 years ago this week).

Rolling Stone listed 10 things you didn't know about the album.


Hazlitt interviewed Nicholson Baker about his new book Substitute: Going to School With a Thousand Kids.


Salon interviewed Mike Cooley and Patterson Hood of the Drive-By Truckers about the band's new album American Band.

Cooley discussed the album with the Georgia Straight.


Literary Hub hosted a discussion between authors Roxane Gay and Rion Amilcar Scott.


The Verge interviewed Tom Krell of Wow To Dress Well.


Literary Hub shared an excerpt from Emma Donoghue's novel The Wonder.


On Milwaukee interviewed John Darnielle of the Mountain Goats.


The Houston Chronicle recommended intriguing fall books.


Stream a song from Jim James' forthcoming solo album.


The Bullseye podcast interviewed author Margaret Wappler.


The A.V. Club looked back on 30 years of music in the Castlevania videogame series.


Neil deGrasse Tyson discussed his favorite books at The Week.


Weekend Edition interviewed Luz Elena Mendoza of the band Y La Bamba.


Pacific Standard examined the new wave of nature novels written by women.


Noisey interviewed Born Against's Sam McPheeters about his new novel.


The Oxford American shared an excerpt from J. Drew Lanham's book The Home Place: Memoirs of a Colored Man’s Love Affair with Nature.


Haley Bonar visited The Current studio for an interview and live performance.


Vox examined how cartoonist Gene Luen yang has changed comics.


Drowned in Sound interviewed members of Warpaint about the band's new album Heads Up.



also at 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


Posted by david | Permalink | Comments (View)

September 25, 2016

Largehearted Boy Weekly Wrap-Up - September 26, 2016

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


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

Brendan Kiely for his novel The Last True Love Story
Ishion Hutchinson for his poetry collection House of Lords and Commons
James Boice for his novel The Shooting
Kathleen Rooney for her book René Magritte: Selected Writings
Tobias Carroll for his short story collection Transitory
William Luvaas for his novel Beneath the Coyote Hills


Weekly New Book Recommendations:

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


New Music Recommendations:

The Week's Interesting Music Releases


And of course, the daily literature and music news and link posts:

Shorties (news & links from the worlds of music, books, and pop culture)


also at Largehearted Boy:

Support the Largehearted Boy website

Antiheroines
Atomic Books Comics Preview
Book Notes
Cover Song Collections
Lists
weekly music release lists
musician/author Interviews
Note Books
Soundtracked
WORD Bookstores Books of the Week


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September 24, 2016

Book Notes - Tobias Carroll "Transitory"

Transitory

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.

Tobias Carroll's Transitory impresses with its range and poignancy, and is one of the year's finest short story collections.

Carroll's debut novel Reel will be published next month.

Laura van den Berg wrote of the book:

"Ingenious and mysterious, the stories of Tobias Carroll are spun with quiet loneliness and wild surprise. Transitory is that rare kind of collection where each story stands shining alone and, in the end, forms a beautifully melancholic whole. Tobias Carroll is an original and deeply exciting talent."


In his own words, here is Tobias Carroll's Book Notes music playlist for his short story collection Transitory:


The stories in my collection Transitory were written over the course of about ten years. In them, you'll find unearthly creatures walking down a city's streets at night, low-budget films of unknown origin, and a group dedicated to reversing time for an easier daily commute; you'll also find subdued conversations in train station bars, several years in the life of a man obsessed with a painting hanging in his parents' house, and one man's search to right the wrongs of his younger self. Alternately: some of the stories are grounded in the everyday; others are more surreal or fantastical.

Putting together a short story collection, for me, wasn't too different from assembling a mix for someone. Balance was critical: shorter stories versus longer ones, realistic ones in tandem with weirder fiction. So putting together a playlist for the book is a kind of meta-mix, at least in my mind. It seemed fitting to do one song for each story—some of the choices innate to the stories, others less so.



"Winter Montage, Hoboken Station": Carissa's Wierd, "Low Budget Slow Motion Soundtrack Song For The Leaving Scene"
Songs used to score montages in films and television are pretty much ubiquitous at this point; you could start a new genre around them. The great Carissa's Wierd understood this years before most, and gave this sad and beautiful song a title that was more than a little self-aware. Admittedly, if someone ever wanted to turn this story into a short film, this would fit perfectly at the very end–on both an emotional and an intellectual level.

"The Wenceslas Men": Pale Sketcher, "Playgrounds Are Empty (Slumber Mix)"
I'd been tempted to put Protomartyr's "Feast of Stephen" here for the sake of symmetry, but as much as I'd have liked to have done that, the mood of the story and the mood of the song don't really line up. So instead, I'll go with music from Justin K. Broadrick's Pale Sketcher project. Specifically, a song that's uncanny, monumental, and just a bit ominous–all qualities that suit this story well.

"Airport Hotel Ghost Tour": King Midas Sound, "Earth A Kill Ya"
One of the key things, for me, as I worked on "Airport Hotel Ghost Tour" was creating a sense of sustained tension and a fundamental wrongness as the tour builds towards its conclusion. I wanted there to be a stillness and a sense of the familiar juxtaposed with something lurking in the background. Thus King Midas Sound: booming, textured, and quietly intimate, with a sense of the unearthly running throughout.

"A Record Called ‘American Woodworking'": Policy of 3, "Canyon"
This should probably be this band's "Nine Years Old," but this is already off to a very sad start, so instead, this more upbeat number will do. Both of them can be found on a seven inch by this New Jersey band called, well, American Woodworking. It's a record that's eternally associated in my mind with the period of my life that ended up inspiring this story; it's also a record that's held up quite well in the nearly twenty years since I first heard it.

"Yannick's Swiss Army": John Cale, "Pablo Picasso"
Writing "Yannick's Swiss Army" was a strange process, in part because I threw in a couple of conceptual jokes and references that approximately three people would find funny. Among the conceptual jokes: there are quite a few references to the Modern Lovers song "Pablo Picasso" in this story, along with my circa-2013/14 habit of showing up late to watch Tottenham Hotspur games. The first time I heard "Pablo Picasso" was via John Cale's cover of it, and thus, that's why it's here.

"You In Reverse": Built to Spill, "Goin' Against Your Mind"
This one was an easy choice: I borrowed the title of a Built to Spill album for this story, so it seemed fitting to use the first song on that record right here. Also, it's a really good song.

"An Old Songwriter's Trick": dälek, "Megaton (Deadverse Remix)"
For a story that deals with a long-running friendship, I wanted to choose a song from an artist whose music I've followed for many years. That would be the experimental hip-hop group dälek, whose music I've been listening to for nearly 20 years. It doesn't hurt that the line "I pray for the day of the megaton" is one of my favorite lyrics in any song, ever. And the sense of frustration and growing discontent imparted by this song mirrors the tension that grows over the course of the story.

"Party Able Model": Joan of Arc, "A Party Able Model Of"
This is one of two stories in here originally written for THE2NDHAND's Mixtape series of readings of stories inspired by songs. Reading this in Chicago in 2007 while the band Big Time played a variation of the Joan of Arc song behind me was probably the closest I'll come to singing for a rock band, and it was pretty cool. I still have very warm feelings about this song, too.

"Dulcimers Played, Strings Played": Labradford, "Dulcimers Played By Peter Neff, Strings Played"
I was listening to this song a lot as I worked on this story of one man's return to Asheville and the personal drama that hasn't entirely died down. And for a story with an abundant sense of place, the slightly skewed ambience of this song seemed very appropriate.

"Why I Was Not In New Jersey For Christmas In 1997": Olivia Tremor Control, "A Sleepy Company"
This story was inspired in part by a vivid dream I had one night, and in part on an experience that I had when I had a particularly bad 24-hour bug in college. (The first half of this story is, for all intents and purposes, nonfiction.) And this Olivia Tremor Control song evokes a similar sort of delirium for me–a kind of primal pop classic that abruptly shatters its template.

"Western Bridges": Spinanes, "Winter On Ice"
This would be the other story written for a THE2NDHAND Mixtape event—this one held in Brooklyn, at the first location of a record store called Sound Fix, which hosted some amazing events in its day. (One of which was an acoustic Scritti Politti set, which I really wish I had a recording from.) In the back of Transitory, there are short pieces of writing about each of the stories; for this song, it's basically me talking about how the second Spinanes album Strand is one of a very small number of records that I'd call "life-changing." This was also, I believe, the first time I wrote something set in the Pacific Northwest; maybe it was a dry run for my novel Reel. Maybe not.

"Twenty Minutes' Road": No Age, "Every Artist Needs a Tragedy"
This story let me channel a whole lot of images and scenes that had been rattling around inside my head for a long time–and it let me poke at the idea of what happens when your inspiration for something major in life turns out to be thoroughly flawed. (I have a drawer novel that also deals with this at length.) The title of this No Age song struck me as a good counterpoint to that.

"Spencer Hangs Over Newark": Boo Radleys, "I Hang Suspended"
To a large extent, the music of Brian Eno served as a stylistic inspiration for this story: Music for Airports for the first half, and his work with Talking Heads for the second. But I think my inspiration for the title goes even further back–to the mid-90s, when I was listening to a whole lot of shoegaze on WHTG and buying nearly everything English with ecstatic guitars at the local record stores. The Boo Radleys didn't quite fit into the same template that a lot of other groups of the era did, but their album Giant Steps has improved for me with age—a wonderfully strange exploration of sounds that sounds like something out of time. Which, in its own way, seems very appropriate for the themes of this story.

"Stanton Stands, Sees, Stares": The Gun Club, "My Dreams"
It's a Los Angeles story, so throwing a great song by the Gun Club in here seemed entirely appropriate. And it also lets me confirm my theory that this song and "Goin' Against Your Mind" are secretly the same song.

"The Independence Shipping Company": Múm, "The Land Between Solar Systems"
Sometime between 2000 and 2002, I went to the Brooklyn Lyceum to see the Icelandic band Múm perform a live soundtrack to Battleship Potemkin. And, like a baby duck seeing the first adult animal near it and believing it to be its mother, I found myself associating the band's music with scenes set on the water from that point onwards.

"Some Things I Botched": Collections of Colonies of Bees, "Flocks III"
This seemed like a good song to end things on–a surreal and bittersweet song to partner with a surreal and bittersweet story. Do I find pairing an eleven-minute song with one of the shortest stories in the collection to be odd? Maybe. But strange connections are half the fun (for me, anyway) of writing fiction.


Tobias Carroll and Transitory links:

the author's website
the author's blog

San Diego CityBeat review

The Catapult 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

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


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September 23, 2016

This Week's Interesting Music Releases - September 23, 2016

Bruce Springsteen

Bruce Springsteen's Chapter And Verse, the companion album to his memoir Born To Run, is out this week.

Beach Slang's A Loud Bash Of Teenage Feelings, If You See Me, Say Yes from Jenn Wasner's side project Flock of Dimes, and Warpaint's Heads Up are new albums I can recommend.

Archival releases include the 12-CD (or 13-LP) David Bowie: Who Can I Be Now? (1974 to 1976) and a 5-disc (3-CD, LP, DVD) remastered and expanded edition of Fleetwood Mac's Mirage album.

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


This week's interesting music releases:

Beach Slang: A Loud Bash Of Teenage Feelings
Billie Marten: Writing of Blues and Yellows
Billy Bragg and Joe Henry: Shine A Light: Field Recordings From The Great American Railroad
The Black Keys: Chulahoma (Pink Vinyl) [vinyl]
Boxed In: Melt
Bruce Springsteen: Chapter And Verse
Courtney Barnett: Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just (Pink Vinyl) [vinyl]
Crystal Castles: Amnesty (I) [vinyl]
David Bowie: Who Can I Be Now? (1974 to 1976) (12-CD or 13-LP box set)
The Dear Hunter: Act V: Hymns With the Devil In Confessional [vinyl]
Devendra Banhart: Ape In Pink Marble
Dwight Yoakam: Swimmin' Pools, Movie Stars
Every Time I Die: Low Teens
Flock Of Dimes: If You See Me, Say Yes
Fleetwood Mac: Mirage (3-CD, LP, DVD box set) (remastered and expanded)
Forma: Physicalist
Frank Zappa: ZAPPAtite - Frank Zappa's Tastiest Tracks
God Damn: Everything Ever
Greensky Bluegrass: Shouted, Written Down & Quoted
Hamilton Leithauser and Rostam Batmanglij: I Had A Dream That You Were Mine
How to Dress Well: Care
Idina Menzel: Idina.
Kristin Chenoweth: The Art Of Elegance
Lee "Scratch" Perry: Must Be Free
LVL UP: Return To Love
Merchandise: A Corpse Wired For Sound
Mick Jenkins: The Healing Component
Neurosis: Fires Within Fires
Paper Route: Real Emotion
Passenger: Young As The Morning Old As The Sea
Pet Shop Boys: Say It To Me
Pink Floyd: Atom Heart Mother (reissue) [vinyl]
Pink Floyd: Meddle (reissue) [vinyl]
Pink Floyd: Obscured By Clouds (reissue) [vinyl]
Prince: Lotus Flow3r (reissue) [vinyl]
Rachael Yamagata: Tightrope Walker
Randy Newman: The Randy Newman Songbook (4-LP box set) [vinyl]
Randy Newman: The Randy Newman Songbook Vol. 3
Ray Charles: The Atlantic Studio Albums In Mono (7-LP box set) [vinyl]
Reckless Kelly: Sunset Motel
Red Hot Chili Peppers: The Getaway (2-LP Limited Edition Pink Vinyl) [vinyl]
Sex Pistols: Live '76 (4-LP box set) [vinyl]
Shawn Mendes: Illuminate
Skylar Gray: Natural Causes
The Sword: Low Country
Vangelis: Rosetta
Various Artists: The Man Who Fell To Earth
The Verve: A Northen Soul (reissued and expanded 3-CD box set)
Warpaint: Heads Up


also at Largehearted Boy:

Support Largehearted Boy

weekly music release lists

Essential and Interesting 2015 Year-End Music Lists

100 online sources for free and legal music downloads
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)
Soundtracked (composers and directors discuss their film's soundtracks)


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Atomic Books Comics Preview - September 23, 2016

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

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

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


I Feel Weird #2

I Feel Weird #2
by Haleigh Buck

Former Atomic Books staffer Haleigh continues to document, in comic form, her ongoing mental health battles. This time she deals with a creepy therapist.


All Black Cats Are Not Alike

All Black Cats Are Not Alike
by Amy Goldwasser / Peter Arkle

Sure, it's a cat book, but with Halloween just around the corner, you may want to hone your black cat identifying skills.


Comfort Eating with Nick Cave: Vegan Recipes to Get Deep Inside of You

Comfort Eating with Nick Cave: Vegan Recipes to Get Deep Inside of You
by Automne Zingg / Joshua Ploeg


Defensive Eating with Morrissey: Vegan Recipes from the One You Left Behind

Defensive Eating with Morrissey: Vegan Recipes from the One You Left Behind
by Automne Zingg / Joshua Ploeg

These hardcover vegan cookbooks have themed recipe collections - one Nick Cave-based and one Morrissey-based. Get 'em now, before the "Cease and Desist" letters are delivered. Quality, accessible recipes and lots of fun illustrations.


Fluke #13

Fluke #13
by Matthew Thompson

This issue of Fluke focuses on the Little Rock, Arkansas punk rock scene of the early '90s. Didn't know Little Rock had a decent punk rock scene in the early '90s? Then you need Fluke.


Warpwish Comix #1

Warpwish Comix #1
by Nathan Ward

Nathan's Warpwish Comix is some crazy, intense art the brings to mind the best of Raw-era comics, except here he one-ups that and runs his comics in full color.


Red Star over Russia: A Visual History of the Soviet Union from 1917 to the Death of Stalin

Red Star over Russia: A Visual History of the Soviet Union from 1917 to the Death of Stalin
by David King

This is a rich visual history of the rise and fall of the Soviet Union, loaded with photos, illustrations, propaganda posters and more.


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


Atomic Books & Benn Ray links:

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


also at Largehearted Boy:

Support the Largehearted Boy website

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

Online "Best of 2015" Book Lists

Antiheroines (interviews with up and coming female comics artists)
Book Notes (authors create music playlists for their book)
Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week (recommended new books, magazines, and comics)
musician/author interviews
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Short Cuts (writers pair a song with their short story or essay)
WORD Bookstores Books of the Week (weekly new book highlights)


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Shorties (Michael Chabon on the Photos That Inspired His New Novel, Stream the New Drive-By Truckers Album, and more)

At Entertainment Weekly, Michael Chabon shared the photographs that inspired his new novel Moonglow and announced his book tour.


NPR Music is streaming the new Drive-By Truckers album American Band.


Ebooks on sale for $1.99 today:

Flight by Sherman Alexie
The Kindly Ones by Jonathan Littell
The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy
We're All Damaged by Matthew Norman


eBooks on sale for $2.99 today:

The Elephant's Journey by Jose Saramago
Notes of a Native Son by James Baldwin


Stream a new Dirty Projectors song.


At Google Play, Tobias Carroll examined four recent novels where bad decisions were the crux.


NPR Music is streaming the new John Prine album For Better, or Worse.


Electric Literature interviewed Jane Alison about her novel Nine Island.


PopMatters interviewed singer-songwriter Lucy Dacus.


The New Yorker profiled author Sharon Olds.


NPR Music is streaming the new Jenny Hval album Blood Bitch.


Patrick Ryan offered short story writing advice at Signature.


Minneapolis City Pages interviewed singer-songwriter Lydia Loveless.


Shaun Tan talked to the Guardian about finishing Mel Tregonning's graphic novel Small Things after her suicide.


NPR Music is streaming the new Pixies album Head Carrier.


discussed her writing class experiences with Tin House.


Rolling Stone profiled the band Sleigh Bells.


The Rumpus interviewed author Rachel Hall.


Salon interviewed Dawes frontman Taylor Goldsmith.


Paste interviewed cartoonist Tom Gauld.


Drowned in Sound discussed worthwhile albums released 25 years ago.


Flavorwire interviewed Danielle Dutton about writing her novel Margaret the First.


Warpaint visited The Current studio for an interview and live performance.


Huffington Post Canada and Coastal Living recommended fall's best new books.


At Drowned in Sound, Jenn Wasner offered a track-by-track breakdown of the new Flock of Dimes album, If You See Me, Say Yes.



also at 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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September 22, 2016

Book Notes - Kathleen Rooney "René Magritte: Selected Writings"

René Magritte: Selected Writings

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.

René Magritte: Selected Writings collects letters, poems, film scripts, and more to present an insightful portrait of the artist.

The Spectator wrote of the book:

"Selected Writings is nicely presented, properly scholarly and dense with interest. It is good value too. Of course, as a collection covering more than 40 years, it is inevitably repetitive and fragmentary, but there is an irrefragable sense of intellectual and artistic quality throughout."


In her own words, here is Kathleen Rooney's Book Notes music playlist for the book she edited René Magritte: Selected Writings:


In his essay "About 'the Universe of Sound'" the Belgian Surrealist painter Réne Magritte writes:

I am not in the least curious about the enigmas of acoustics: my "Universe of Sound" scarcely exists, it could hardly entertain or disturb anyone. I listen and I hear indeed, without the intervention of any other universe. I listen preferably to delightful and benign things, and I wish to listen to and to see what can evoke their mystery.

Perhaps unsurprisingly there are not a lot of images of sound, per se, in his paintings, but in his 1927 The Menaced Assassin, the assassin of the title is depicted as pausing at the crime scene—freshly murdered corpse behind him, detectives outside the door waiting to catch him—to listen transfixed to a phonograph on the table. What's this killer listening to?



For the first song on the playlist, let's suggest that the phonograph is playing the popular 1920s standard, "Bye Bye Blackbird," performed by the singer Evelyne Brélia, a friend of André Breton and his Surrealist circle, of which Magritte was briefly a part. Sadly, there's no recording of a Brélia version (though it's likely she would have known the piece), but it's best to imagine her as the performer because in 1923, she was the subject and purchaser of the first painting that Magritte ever sold.

Elsewhere in his Selected Writings, Magritte writes that, "In music, I don't go further than Debussy and Ravel," but that he "sometimes asks Georgette: 'Play me Satie's Gymnopédies'." So for Debussy, let's include "Clair de Lune," the third movement of Suite bergamesque, his piano rendition of a Paul Verlaine poem.

For Ravel, let's include Gaspard de la nuit: Trois poèmes pour piano d'après Aloysius Bertrand, a set of piano pieces inspired by the prose poetry of Aloysius Bertrand. Magritte himself has a painting called Gaspard de la nuit, and also wrote several prose poems which are included in his Selected Writings.

And, of course, let's add all three of Satie's Gymnopédies, pretty and grave.

In a letter to his fellow painter and admirer, the artist and art historian Suzi Gablik, Magritte recommends a "magnificent record. Mozart's Maurerische Trauermusik." So we'll include that too.

Finally, because René and his wife and model Georgette really were quite devoted to their series of Pomeranian dogs, all called Loulou (the Belgian-French equivalent of naming a Pomeranian "Pom" in English), let's add "René and Georgette Magritte with their Dog After the War" by Paul Simon. Here the Magrittes are, all three of them, in one of the photographs that may have inspired the song.

The Magrittes


Kathleen Rooney and René Magritte: Selected Writings links:

the author's website

The Spectator review

Chicago Book Review interview with the author
Chicago Reader profile of the author
Largehearted Boy Book Notes essay by the author for Live Nude Girl
Largehearted Boy Book Notes playlist by the author for O, Democracy
Largehearted Boy Book Notes essay by the author for Oneiromance
Largehearted Boy Book Notes essay by the author for Robinson Alone
Poetry Society of America essay by the author
The Volga 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

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


Posted by david | Permalink | Comments (View)

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