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October 15, 2018

Tom Bennitt's Playlist for His Novel "Burning Under"

Burning Under

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 Jesmyn Ward, Lauren Groff, Bret Easton Ellis, Celeste Ng, T.C. Boyle, Dana Spiotta, Amy Bloom, Aimee Bender, Heidi Julavits, Hari Kunzru, and many others.

Tom Bennitt's debut novel Burning Under is a smart and fast-paced literary thriller.

John Brandon wrote of the book:

"Burning Under eloquently evokes the landscape and customs of the mining territory along the West Virginia / Pennsylvania border. Like with most great reads, though, it’s the distinct, idiosyncratic, believable characters that carry the load. These are the foot soldiers of a derided Army, with nothing left to fight for but themselves and those they love, and Tom Bennitt knows them inside and out."


In his own words, here is Tom Bennitt's Book Notes music playlist for his debut novel Burning Under:



Most writers I know love music and will passionately defend their favorite bands and songs. I’m no exception. I listen to music – from instrumental to metal, whether for mood or inspiration – while writing, and I believe that my music choices somehow bleed onto the page and influence my work. I love many genres, but this list skews toward classic rock, alt-rock, grunge, and metal, along with a few New Wave, Country, and Rap cuts. The main reason is my novel’s setting, western Pennsylvania: growing up there in the late 80s/early 90s, this music dominated the airwaves. Even today, I find that western Pennsylvanians have an uncanny knowledge and appreciation of classic rock. So, here is the soundtrack to Burning Under.


1. AC/DC – “For Those About to Rock”: AC/DC was huge with my older brother’s crowd, and I love this song’s riff. I’d imagine it playing early in the book, as a prelude to the boxing match or at the Pour House, where Larry and his mining buddies drink.

2. The Clarks – “Cigarette”: An essential nineties tune by Pittsburgh’s best alt-rock band of that decade. And the lyrics capture my novel like nothing else can: In a black and far off corner of my mind there’s a box of something I can’t quite define, and it houses circus freaks, temptation, and the Fayette County Fair.

3. Grateful Dead – “Fire on the Mountain”: Blends two big elements of the novel: the setting and the coal mine fire.

4. Metallica – “Creeping Death”: Such a great tune that would fit many scenes. For example, Larry driving to the Sarver Mine, on the day of the explosion.

5. Devo – “Uncontrollable Urge”: The perfect song for Simon’s nervous tics, playing during his first dinner date with Anita.

6. Explosions in Sky – anything from How Strange, Innocence: I listened to that album so much writing the first draft, I can hear it playing during quiet, cerebral moments.

7. Steve Earle – “Copperhead Road”: Brings to mind Appalachian moonshiners and outlaws. This would play during one of Larry’s flashbacks.

8. Gary Numan – “Cars”: Since the novel has a few extended car/road scenes, I threw this in, one of my favorite '80s/New Wave tunes.

9. The Pixies – “Gigantic”: Reflecting Simon’s “big, big love” for Anita.

10. STP – “Sex Type Thing”: At the bowling alley with Larry, a slightly drunk Denise dances to this tune on the jukebox.

11. David Bowie & Freddie Mercury – “Under Pressure”: Another song that would fit into many scenes.

12. Missing Persons – “Words”: Captures Simon’s frustration when being attacked and mocked, in court, by the coal company’s litigators.

13. Rush – “The Trees”: Thematically, it captures the slow violence of mining (and capitalism) against the environment. And Simon would make this connection.

14. Styx – “Crystal Ball”: Pittsburgh LOVES Styx! WDVE, the classic rock station, has them on heavy rotation. The Steelers play “Renegade” at every home game. And in the novel, Simon sings “Lady” in his car. But “Crystal Ball” is a more underrated Styx tune that captures Simon’s growing paranoia.

15. Wilco – “Handshake Drugs”: Another great tune I could plug into various chapters.

16. U2 – “Red Hill Mining Town”: From U2’s best album, The Joshua Tree, “Red Hill” is so evocative, almost like Bono singing about a coal-mining ancestor: We scorch the earth, set fire to the sky, we stoop so low to reach so high.

17. Wiz Khalifa – “Black & Yellow”: Would play during the Steelers’ game.

18. Maurice Ravel – “Bolero”: playing right after Simon gets abducted by George. My grandfather loved classical music, and I wrote a paper on “Bolero” for a music theory class in college. (I listened to it for hours.) But the repeated melody still has a hypnotic pull on me.

19. Yes – “Heart of the Sunrise”: The greatest (and creepiest) song intro of all time! Would play during the one of the chaotic final scenes, in the woods.


Tom Bennitt and Burning Under links:

the author's website
excerpt from the book


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

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






October 15, 2018

Shorties (New Anne Carson Fiction, Body/Head's Kim Gordon & Bill Nace on Collaboration, and more)

Body/Head

The New Yorker shared new Anne Carson fiction.


Body/Head's Kim Gordon and Bill Nace talked about collaboration with The Creative Independent.


October's best eBook deals.

eBook on sale for $1.99 today:

Aspects of the Novel by E. M. Forster
Last Night in Twisted River by John Irving
Trout Fishing in America, The Pill versus the Springhill Mine Disaster, and In Watermelon Sugar by Richard Brautigan
Wonder Boys by Michael Chabon


Drowned in Sound interviewed Annika Henderson of the band Exploded View.


Val McDermid talked to the New York Times about judging the Man Booker Prize.


SPIN profiled singer-songwriter Kurt Vile.


Geoff Dyer discussed his favorite photography books and magazines at the Guardian.


Stream a new Soft Streak song.


Paste interviewed cartoonist Jason Lutes.


Paste profiled indie band Jump, Little Children.


All Things Considered profiled poet Natalie Diaz.


Stream a new Cass McCombs song.


PopMatters reconsidered Jeffrey Eugenides' novel The Virgin Suicides.


Rolling Stone profiled singer-songwriter Sharon Van Etten.


RJ Young talked to All Things Considered about his book, Let It Bang.


Stream a new Charly Bliss song.


The Los Angeles Review of Books interviewed author Sarah Schulman.


Literary Hub interviewed author Jen Doll.


CarolineLeavittville interviewed author Anne Lamott.


The Quietus interviewed members of the Posies.


The Los Angeles Review of Books interviewed author Sara Baume.


The Quietus reconsidered Kate Bush's Red Shoes album on its 25th anniversary.


The Washington Square Review interviewed author Diane Williams.


Literary Hub recommended books that defined the 1900s.



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


October 12, 2018

Jean Thompson's Playlist for Her Novel "A Cloud in the Shape of a Girl"

Godsend

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 Jesmyn Ward, Lauren Groff, Bret Easton Ellis, Celeste Ng, T.C. Boyle, Dana Spiotta, Amy Bloom, Aimee Bender, Heidi Julavits, Hari Kunzru, and many others.

Jean Thompson's A Cloud in the Shape of a Girl is a marvelously poignant novel that explores the lives of three generations of Midwestern women.

Publishers Weekly wrote of the book:

"Thompson’s incisive, intricate novel centers on three generations of women living in a small, unnamed Midwestern college town. As Thompson (Who Do You Love) examines the present and past of each of the three generations of women, she adroitly reveals how their life experiences shaped them into being so different from one another. Intense, compassionate, and satisfying, Thompson’s novel is filled with real, complex characters whose destinies are inextricably tied to the women in their lives."


In her own words, here is Jean Thompson's Book Notes music playlist for her novel A Cloud in the Shape of a Girl:



My novel has three generations of women characters, and each of them has a favorite song.

GRANDMOTHER

Evelyn hated her husband’s piano playing. The way he mugged and clowned around, like some kind of vaudeville act. And the songs themselves. No one had taken them seriously for at least forty years. His big number was “The Sweetheart of Sigma Chi”. Swaying back and forth over the keyboard, hamming it up: “Oh the guurl of my dreams is the swee-test guurl. . .”

She had her own taste in music. She liked class and sophistication, actual musicianship, not some jackass noise. Like Ella Fitzgerald singing “Skylark.” Smooth and sad and perfect. No fool amateur could touch it.

MOTHER

Was it silly to think of a song as their song? Not that Laura had ever told him. She was too embarrassed. A secret song to go along with a secret affair. Who would have believed it of her, the world’s most boring wife and mother.

It wasn’t a new song even back then. Had it been on the radio in the bedroom? It was a little bit country, like he was, and a little bit corny, like she was: “Islands In The Stream”, Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton trying to out-sing the other. Dolly lifting up to the high notes on “Oh, sail away.” A song about finding someone and being found, and always having that, even as the river carried everything away.

DAUGHTER

It was an old old blues song but people kept finding it and making it new again, just as Grace had found it and claimed it for her own. “Wild Women Don’t Have The Blues”. Cyndi Lauper sang it. That was how Grace heard it first. A song about being your own woman, and not letting yourself get bent out of shape over some fool man, and being whatever wild meant to you. It was a lot to live up to, and the song didn’t tell you how to do it.


Jean Thompson and A Cloud in the Shape of a Girl links:


Publishers Weekly review

Largehearted Boy Book Notes essay by the author for Do Not Deny Me
Largehearted Boy playlist by the author for She Poured Out Her Heart
Largehearted Boy Book Notes essay by the author for Throw Like a Girl
Largehearted Boy Book Notes essay by the author for The Witch and Other Tales Re-Told


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

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 - October 12, 2018

David Bowie: Loving The Alien 1983-1988

David Bowie's 15-LP box set Loving The Alien 1983-1988 is the highlight of this week's music releases.

Kurt Vile's Bottle It In, St. Vincent's MassEducation, and William Basinski & Lawrence English's Selva Oscura are the new albums I can recommend.

Vinyl reissues include two albums by Fleetwood Mac (The Dance, Say You Will) and two by Genesis (Invisible Touch, We Can't Dance).


This week's interesting music releases:


Atreyu: In Our Wake
Basement: Beside Myself
The Black Queen: Infinite Games
Bloc Party: Silent Alarm (reissue) [vinyl]
The Bottle Rockets: Bit Logic
BRONCHO: Bad Behavior
Calvin Johnson: A Wonderful Beast
Colter Wall: Songs Of The Plains
Connan Mockasin: Jassbusters
Cracker: Kerosene Hat (reissue) [vinyl]
Cypress Hill: Elephants on Acid [vinyl]
Dave Davies: Decade
David Bowie: Loving The Alien 1983-1988 (11-CD box set)
David Bowie: Loving The Alien 1983-1988 (15-LP box set)
Edie Brickell and the New Bohemians: Rocket
Elvis Costello & The Impostors: Look Now
The Dodos: Certainty Waves
Ella Mai: Ella Mai
Eric Clapton: Happy Xmas
Fleetwood Mac: The Dance (reissue) [vinyl]
Fleetwood Mac: Say You Will (reissue) [vinyl]
Genesis: Invisible Touch (reissue) [vinyl]
Genesis: We Can't Dance (reissue) [vinyl]
Graham Parker: Cloud Signals
The Helio Sequence: Keep Your Eyes Ahead (remastered and expanded)
Jaakko Eino Kalevi: Out Of Touch
Joe Strummer: Joe Strummer 001
John Grant: Love is Magic
John Hiatt: The Eclipse Sessions
Justin Courtney Pierre: In The Drink
Kinski: Accustomed to Your Face
Kurt Vile: Bottle It In
L7: L7 (reissue) [vinyl]
Lupe Fiasco: Drogas Wave
Marissa Nadler: For My Crimes [vinyl]
Martin Barre: Roads Less Travelled
Matthew Dear: Bunny
The Monkees: Christmas Party
Nazareth: Tattooed On My Brain
Parcels: Parcels
Peter Holsapple vs. Alex Chilton: The Death of Rock
Phil Collins: The Singles (reissue) [vinyl]
Polyphia: New Levels New Devils
Sister Sparrow: Gold
St. Vincent: MassEducation
System of a Down: Hypnotize (reissue) [vinyl]
System of a Down: Mesmerize (reissue) [vinyl]
System of a Down: Steal This Album (reissue) [vinyl]
System of a Down: System of a Down (reissue) [vinyl]
System of a Down: Toxicity (reissue) [vinyl]
Tom Morello: The Atlas Underground
Valley Maker: Rhododendron
Vince Guaraldi: It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (reissue)
The Watson Twins: DUO
William Basinski and Lawrence English: Selva Oscura
Young the Giant: Mirror Master


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 (An Interview with Gary Shteyngart, Elvis Costello on His New Album, and more)

Elvis Costello

Bookworm interviewed Gary Shteyngart.


Elvis Costello discussed his forthcoming album Look Now with All Things Considered.


October's best eBook deals.

eBook on sale for $1.99 today:

Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream by Doris Kearns Goodwin


Ms. magazine interviewed Amanda Palmer.


Guernica shared an excerpt from Jeff Jackson's new novel Destroy All Monsters.

Work in Progress shared a conversation between Jackson and Laura van den Berg.


The Paris Review interviewed author John Wray.


Stream a new song by HEALTH.


Margaret Atwood praised Neil Gaiman's writing at the Guardian.


Stream a new Brendan Kelly song.


The New York Times recommended haunted house novels to read before watching the new The Haunting of Hill House television series.


The Rumpus interviewed author Susan Orlean.


The Paris Review interviewed author Javier Morias.

Morias talked books and reading with the Guardian.



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


October 11, 2018

Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week - October 11th, 2018

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.


The Vagabond Valise

The Vagabond Valise by Siris

From the founding father of Quebec underground comics is the translation of his renowned French original comic, winner of Quebec’s Graphic Novel of the Year award in 2017. Taking place in post-war, working class Quebec, it follows the author during his erratic childhood, in and out of foster homes, trying to find his footing.


Treaty 6 Deixis

Treaty 6 Deixis by Christine Stewart

Written on Treaty 6 land, which encompasses most of Central Alberta and Saskatchewan, the poet writes through physical and symbolic questions about what it means to “be here” as a settler. This long poem -- the author’s first book -- investigates the author’s ethical obligations to the place and time in which they are situated, while demonstrating how language can re-situate place and experience.


Things to Make and Break

Things to Make and Break by May-Lan Tan

This debut collection of short stories from the dependable Coffee House Press introduces us to a new voice full of magical, quasi-cinematic darkness. Alexander Chee writes that May-Lan Tan has “an imagination like a haunted carousel and each story here is like a ghost that wants only to talk to you.”


Godsend

Godsend by John Wray

This provocative novel from Whiting award-winning author John Wray is inspired by the true story of John Walker Lindh, the “American Taliban.” In Wray’s novel, however, the protagonist is an eighteen-year-old girl who flees the claustrophobia of her American family home to study Islam in Pakistan, taking on the identity of a militant young man named Suleyman. Praised by authors such as Akhil Sharma and Hari Kunzru, Godsend is a coming-of-age novel like no other. (Jacket design by D&Q artist Adrian Tomine)


The Antifa Comic Book: 100 Years of Fascism and Antifa Movements

The Antifa Comic Book: 100 Years of Fascism and Antifa Movements by Gord Hill

From Indigenous writer, activist, and artist Gord Hill comes a comprehensive chronicle (in comic books form) of 20th- and 21st-century fascism and resistance movements against it around the world, from Nazi Germany and Mussolini’s Italy to Greece, Britain, the Ukraine, the USA, Canada, and beyond. With an introduction from Mark Bray (author of Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook), this is an engaging and accessible guide to the poisonous roots of fascism’s racist ideology and how to fight it today.


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 (A Profile of Karl Ove Knausgaard, John Darnielle on Writing "No Children," and more)

My Struggles

Publishers Weekly profiled author Karl Ove Knausgaard.


John Darnielle talked to American Anthem about writing the Mountain Goats song "No Children."


October's best eBook deals.

eBook on sale for $1.99 today:

A Beautiful Truth by Colin McAdam

eBook on sale for $2.99 today:

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen


Soccer Mommy covered the Dixie Chicks' "Wide Open Spaces."


The Millions interviewed author Lacy M. Johnson.


Stream a new song by Thom Yorke.


Tor.com shared am excerpt from Jeremy C. Shipp's novel Bedfellow.


Kurt Vile covered Tom Petty's "Learning to Fly."


Join Me in the Madhouse interviewed author Autumn Christian.


Drowned in Sound interviewed singer-songwriter S. Carey.


The finalists for the 2018 National Book Awards have been announced.


Stream a new Willie Nelson song, "Vote 'Em Out."


Kathy Bates discussed her favorite books at Vulture.


Spoon covered the Clash's "Clampdown."


Susan Orlean talked books and reading with the New York Times.


Stream a new song by Laura Jean Grace.


Metropolis named the best Japanese novels of 2018.


Stream a new Speedy Ortiz song.


Publishers Weekly interviewed Emily Nemens, editor of the Paris Review.


Stream a new song by Anemone.


The New York Times, the Guardian, and the Independent interviewed Haruki Murakami.


Aquarium Drunkard shared a Halloween mixtape.


OZY recommended books by Mexican authors.


Stream a new song by Miya Folick.


Publishers Weekly shared a conversation between Richard Powers and Barbara Kingsolver.


Stream a new Papercuts song.


The Creative Independent interviewed author Megan Boyle.


Elvis Costello discussed his new album with Rolling Stone.


The OTHERPPL podcast interviewed author Laura van den Berg.


Literary Hub interviewed author Nicole Chung.



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


October 10, 2018

John Wray's Playlist for His Novel "Godsend"

Godsend

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 Jesmyn Ward, Lauren Groff, Bret Easton Ellis, Celeste Ng, T.C. Boyle, Dana Spiotta, Amy Bloom, Aimee Bender, Heidi Julavits, Hari Kunzru, and many others.

John Wray's mesmerizing novel Godsend is one of my favorite books of the year, a profound exploration of faith and extremism.

The New Yorker wrote of the book:

"[Godsend] becomes much stranger and more original after it arrives in Pakistan, discovering within itself a profound understanding of the demands of religious practice―of religious submission, especially―which has eluded almost every serious contemporary American novelist since 9/11. It is not only Wray’s heroine but also his novel that comes of age, steadily deepening and astounding as it develops . . . The novel exhibits the reportorial authority you might expect, with a command of detail, context, and pace reminiscent of a reality-brined adventurer like Graham Greene or Robert Stone. (Hardly a negligible achievement, by the way.) . . . It’s characteristic of this novel’s combination of wise reticence and considerable daring that an event so often at the center of contemporary American fiction, labored over and lingered on, anguished over and analyzed, is here pushed off to the margins like gossip. In the Afghan landscape, what has happened in America is almost as impossible or hypothetical as science fiction; Wray quietly leaves its terrible implications and consequences in the earth, like unexploded ordnance."


In his own words, here is John Wray's Book Notes music playlist for his novel Godsend:



Aden Grace Sawyer may still be a teenager when her story begins, but Godsend is a novel about the mystical experience, about escaping one’s sad little self in search for something larger—something more beautiful, something to live for, and to die for—which makes this list for Largehearted Boy (my fourth!) especially well-stocked with masterpieces. Aside from sexual love and its aftermath, has any subject yielded so many songs of exquisite heartbreak as the attempt to know, or touch, or even catch a fleeting glimpse, of heaven? I’ve always had a thing for spiritual music—which, it could be argued, is all music. As no less an egghead than Albert Einstein once wrote to his wife, music may in fact be the only language humanity has ever found in which to talk to god, and actually have him answer.


ALLA HOO - NUSRAT FATEH ALI KHAN

I’ll start off with the most beautiful song of Muslim devotion I know, since the hero of my story finds her transcendence in Islam, and specifically the Islam practiced in the tribal regions along the Afghan/Pakistani border, not far from where Khan himself lived for much of his life. ‘Alla Hoo’ is a deceptively straightforward song of praise to God, but with each repetition the spell it weaves intensifies, much as movement and rhythm must do for the Sufi dancers known to the Western world as ‘whirling dervishes.’ I played this song on loop for days on end while I was writing Godsend’s first draft.


AFTER FOREVER - BLACK SABBATH

Not many people know that Ozzy’s Black Sabbath put out what is essentially a Christian rock album, and that the album in question, Master of Reality, is arguably the best thing Sabbath ever recorded. Any genre of music can be—and often has been—used to take on the loftiest possible themes, and these coke-addled gents from Birmingham turn out to be naturals at combining theology with smoking, ten-ton riffs. I’ll take ‘After Forever’ over most classical church music any day.


THE GREATEST - CAT POWER

I was fortunate enough to meet Chan Marshall the first day I ever spent in New York City. She wasn’t famous yet, in fact didn’t even have a record out, and I could never have predicted that she, of all the talented and glamorous people drifting more or less aimlessly around the East Village, would end up making music that would outlive that sordid time and place. When I first heard ‘The Greatest,’ it gave me chills to think I’d actually known the human being responsible for music of such excruciating, supernatural beauty. It still gives me chills. Chan is a natural mystic, I think: even when you don’t quite understand what she’s singing about, you know that there’s nothing less at stake than life and death.


ASCENSION - JOHN COLTRANE

Coltrane probably comes to mind at this point because Chan always loved him, placing him (and maybe Bob Dylan) above all other musical and spiritual lodestars. But of course, out of just about every American musician I can think of, John Coltrane most demands pride of place in this list. I could just as easily have picked A Love Supreme, or Soultrane, or any of his other brain-bogglingly transcendent recordings. Coltrane’s instrument was just that for him—a tool in his search for something beyond himself. If you only listen to one track from this list, make it 'Ascension.' (Public Service Announcement: it’s a long one.)


TRANSCENDENCE - ALICE COLTRANE

There’s no John without Alice—or shouldn’t be. I discovered her by way of her more famous husband, like everyone else in the world, but I probably listen to her music more often now than his. Maybe that’s because it’s more human, somehow, and therefore more moving. It’s certainly no less beautiful, or intelligent, or true. In some ways I wish I’d come across Alice first. This is some of the most generous music ever made. It makes me want to be a better person. What could be more spiritual than that? I like to think Godsend's protagonist, Aden Sawyer, would have listened to her too. They have a lot in common.


UP ABOVE MY HEAD - SISTER ROSETTA THARPE


No one’s ever made salvation sound more fun and feasible than Sister Rosetta Tharpe. Not only was she one of American music’s most ass-kicking, fire-licking guitar players, hands-down, she was one of rock and roll’s most central, important creators, though she’s never been granted her due in that regard. Why isn’t Sister Rosetta in the so-called Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? I guess the Eagles must have been given her slot. Storm the gates! Burn the city of Cleveland to the ground! This concludes the political section of this list. What’s a listicle without a rant?


SOUND AND VISION - DAVID BOWIE

A friend of mine with a PhD in Thin White Duke Studies points out that there are any number of Bowie tunes that would qualify for inclusion in a list of spiritual numbers, but I’m picking Sound and Vision for no other reason than the fact that I love it so much. God always lived inside of art for Bowie, and nowhere is that more clear than in this song, which features the Man Himself waiting to be touched by the divine in a small, spare room (that just so happens to be painted electric blue), no differently than Fra Angelico in his meditation cell in Renaissance Florence, or Joan of Arc the night before her execution.

The myth of Joan of Arc just so happens to have been important to the writing of Godsend, which also tells the story of a young woman who dresses as a man to take up arms in a war that she believes is holy.

This song is also the anthem of struggling writers everywhere, whether they know it or not. I will sit right down, wait here for the gift of sound and vision.


VISION CREATION NEWSUN - BOREDOMS

Another piece of music in which the search for god and for artistic inspiration are impossible to tell apart. Before Animal Collective came along and made mysticism hip again, Japan’s Boredoms made outer-limits-of-the-known-universe exploration their prime directive and delivered some of the strangest and most mysterious albums of their age. I could have chosen any one of this LP’s nine separate tracks, each one marked only with a symbol, but really they’re all part of one larger, all-encompassing sonic pilgrimage. Not for the faint of heart!


TOUCH THE HEM OF HIS GARMENT - SAM COOKE & THE SOUL STIRRERS

No list of spiritual music—or transcendent music, or beautiful music, or maybe just music in general—would be complete without the greatest gospel group of all time. Sam Cooke would go on to make ‘worldly music,’ of course, and we all know how extraordinary those profane love songs—'Cupid,' 'You Send Me,' 'Lovable, Wonderful World,' 'Another Saturday Night,' 'Working On the Chain Gang'—would be; but it’s really the ghost of the gospel songs he began with that gives his later hits their soul-stirring power. 'Touch the Hem of His Garment' brings tears to my eyes every time I hear it. Aden’s father used to play a crackly old ’45 of it every Sunday when she was growing up, and when she’s in mortal danger in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan, many years later, this is the song she calls to mind to give herself courage and hope. She needs it desperately, and these days, so do we. As a DJ once famously said, back in 1964, ‘Sam Cooke is yours. He belongs to every one of us. He’ll never die.’


John Wray and Godsend links:

the author's Wikipedia entry

New York Times review
New Yorker review

Largehearted Boy playlist by the author for Lowboy


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

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 (The Books of Haruki Murakami Ranked, The Best Cat Power Cover Songs, and more)

Haruki Murakami

Vulture ranked the books of Haruki Murakami.


Stereogum listed the best cover songs performed by Cat Power.


October's best eBook deals.

eBook on sale for $1.99 today:

The Welsh Girl by Peter Ho Davies

eBook on sale for $3.99 today:

The Man Who Came Uptown by George Pelecanos


Ad Hoc interviewed GABI, a.k.a. composer Gabrielle Herbst.


The shortlist for the 2018 Baillie Gifford Prize for nonfiction has been announced:

Hello World: How to be Human in The Age of The Machine by Hannah Fry
The Spy and the Traitor by Ben Macintyre
Amateur: A True Story About What Makes a Man by Thomas Page McBee
Imperial Twilight: The Opium War and the End of China’s Last Golden Age by Stephen R Platt
Chernobyl: The History of a Nuclear Catastrophe by Serhii Plokhy
She Has Her Mother’s Laugh: The Powers, Perversions and Potential of Heredity by Carl Zimmer


Santigold discussed her favorite albums at The Quietus.


The Guardian recommended books about psychiatry.


Drowned in Sound interviewed Spiritualized's Jason Pierce.


Book Riot recommended books for Mental Health Day and beyond.


Stream a new Deer Tick song.


The Guardian profiled author Barbara Kingsolver.


Paste recommended the best albums to run to.


Town and Country recommended October's best books.


Stream two new Girlpool songs.


BOMB interviewed author Kim Sagwa.


All Songs Considered profiled the band the Glands.


PopMatters profiled singer-songwriter Madeline Kenney.


Stream a new Cloud Nothings song.


The Washington City Paper profiled singer-songwriter Anna Connolly.


Merge Records has announced a 30th anniversary vinyl subscription series.


Stream a new Little Dragon song.


Stream a new song by the Dodos.


Stream a new Buke and Gase song.



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


October 9, 2018

Chaya Bhuvaneswar's Playlist for Her Story Collection "White Dancing Elephants"

White Dancing Elephants

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 Jesmyn Ward, Lauren Groff, Bret Easton Ellis, Celeste Ng, T.C. Boyle, Dana Spiotta, Amy Bloom, Aimee Bender, Heidi Julavits, Hari Kunzru, and many others.

Chaya Bhuvaneswar's brilliant debut collection White Dancing Elephants is filled with stories about diverse women facing violence.

Kirkus wrote of the collection:

"Stunning, evocative, electric...an exuberant collection."


In her own words, here is Chaya Bhuvaneswar's Book Notes music playlist for her story collection White Dancing Elephants:



My debut story collection, White Dancing Elephants was written over several years – so music was definitely a major thread. In the hospital, where I practice as a doctor, music is essential – whether blaring from a janitor’s iPod (I still actually have a mix-tape of Regina Belle that a janitor once gave me in a hospital cafeteria) – or playing in my car on the way to work, when I listen to songs and sometimes record a sentence or two that comes into my head with tunes in the background.

Recently I told a friend whose musical taste runs to the passionate: my stories are about people who are unexpectedly aroused to fury. While writing, I listened to proud, assertive women pioneers of rock; but it has also been important to listen to songs from Indians in Uganda, the Caribbean, New England, even Portugal, because these are voices from our diaspora, and these voices tell the stories in my book as well. And running alongside the narrative engine of instances of violence are loss and betrayal – like two dark figures racing each other. I search around for them in songs.

White Dancing Elephants
A story about a woman at the London Zoo, on the grass near Magdalen Park, a woman trying to go anywhere, away from her grief. "Ever So Lonely," by the wonderful British-Asian vocalist Sheila Chandra is the song I’d set to this story, all the more so because of how transient the beauty of that voice is, how perfect and fleeting, with Chandra no longer able to sing now because of vocal cord paralysis. A story and song both inadvertently on loss.

The Story of the Woman Who Fell in Love with Death
Would have to be "Learning to Fly" by the late, great Tom Petty, whose voice I imagine as being in the thoughts of the young boy learning how to live without his beloved sister.

Talinda
Since this story juxtaposes the deep, abiding intimacy between a Korean-American and Indian-American woman with Bette Davis movies, I feel like I’m entitled to be a little nostalgic and pick Kim Carnes' "She’s Got Bette Davis Eyes," which also speaks to the fascination that the title character, Talinda, has for the narrator, Narika.

A Shaker Chair
There might be such a thing as a perfect song, independent of whatever story it’s attached to, though I can almost hear the heartstrings being plucked of the main character in this story, by Joan Armatrading singing "The Weakness in Me." “I have a lover/ Who loves me/ How could I be such a fool? But still you’ve got my attention” as the song sways into erotic inevitability, regret, a ruin that really satisfies.

Jagatishwaran
A story about a painter with his masks on the walls, the dancers in his head and in his dreams, the shadowy paid lovers he visits. What helped: the stunning Ravi Shankar score of the black and white dance movie, Anuradha, based on a Bengali short story inspired by Madame Bovary. Lots of my friends’ parents know the song that starts “Kaise din”, the English translation of which starts,” How I spent my nights and days, My beloved has no idea.”

The Bang Bang
Mainly because the father-poet character in this story draws on Sanskrit of his childhood – I listened (or should have listened more) to the religious classical singer, MS Subhalakshmi singing “Kamakshi Suprabhatam,” good morning to the mother goddess. Sung in Sanskrit, in her uniquely heavy, pious, joyous, piercing voice. It’s like no other experience.

Orange Popsicles
In this story, there is one sweet thing for a character who survives violence and rape. Hint: it’s not a popsicle. Hence that song from years ago by the amazing Mary J. Blige – "Sweet Thing," her glorious cover of a Chaka Khan song, and those lines, which in this story apply to the heroine’s artwork and not a person: “You are my heat/ You are my fire/ You make me burn with soft desire.”

Neela
Bhopal 1984. Told from the perspective of a child looking into a mirror, a child traumatized by the chemical gas leak that killed thousands in India exposed to a Union Carbide pesticide factory, the story made me think of children’s songs, like Peter, Paul and Mary singing "Puff the Magic Dragon."

Chronicle of a Marriage, Foretold
The push and pull of this story, between male and female will, between the animate and paralyzed, got summed up by this song by Bonnie Raitt that I favor during any karaoke outing: " I Can’t Make You Love Me." What can any of us make any other person do, ever?

Heitor
I swear I couldn’t possibly have written this story if it weren’t for the soundtrack of the movie Inside Man, where Spike Lee appropriated A.R. Rahman’s score for the Bollywood movie Dil se, particularly the fast moving, celebration "Chaiyya, Chaiyaa," which despite being spelled differently, is actually my name. I’ve watched that movie, Inside Man, about a million times (not the least for a killer seductive Jodie Foster, OMG…AND an almost as seductive Clive Owen, at his most-est when interacting with the little boy he’s pretended to kidnap) – I’m positive it seeped into my brain and got transmogrified when I wrote this super short twister of a heist story about Indian-Portuguese slaves in the 16th century.

Newberry
All I’ll say about this second heist story is that in the getaway car, Vinita is listening to Britney Spears’ song, "Toxic." As I must confess I myself do at least three or four times a week.

Asha in Allston
Imagining the wife in the garage with an android – can’t help but thinking of Carrie Underwood singing that song I like enough to put aside her (possible red state) politics: "Before He Cheats," the one where she uses a Louisville slugger on the guy’s doomed headlights.

The Life You Save Isn't Your Own
Because there’s so much hope and light in this story, because it involves a ferry and Sausalito and because I love Vienna Tang – a song my partner hates because it’s a “chick song” – "Harbor." “The light in me will guide you home.” I sang that song over the phone to my partner many, many times while I was writing these stories. Many.

The Orphan Handler
This story, narrated by someone whose cynicism is cracked a bit by the unusual orphans she encounters, had Elvis Costello (sexiest cynical voice I know) in the background, invisible, "Watching the Detectives" – even though, sadly, there are no detectives anywhere to save the girls in this story.

In Allegheny
“I’m in so deep/ You know I’m such a fool for you/ You got me wrapped around your finger…” is probably the line that the heroine, Michelle, sings while she’s driving up the Allegheny Mountains, toward a distinguished-looking Hindu temple next to a Hooters bar. I love "Linger" - R.I.P. Dolores O’Riordan, of the Cranberries.

The Goddess of Beauty Goes Bowling
If the girl in this story could sing along to this song she would: "Cool like dat" by digable planets. There are a million good songs on that album, their debut, including appointment at the fat clinic just based on titles alone, but that song “We zoom like dat/ We out” is so comforting, and would be to the title character, the lonely girl so radically without a ‘we’, except for the ‘we’ her father feels she stole from him, the ‘we’ of this girl and her mother.

Adristakama
Since this story is about two women who break each other’s hearts a million different ways, and yet like the breaking and rejoining enough to never ever stop craving it, that heartbreak unique to what each of them can do to each other, there’s really no other song to sing but "Constant Craving" by k.d. lang, and yes, go to karaoke with me and I’ll show you how it’s done.


Chaya Bhuvaneswar and White Dancing Elephants links:

excerpt from the book
excerpt from the book

Foreword review
Kirkus review
Publishers Weekly review

formercactus 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

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 (The Rise of Feminist Dystopian Fiction, An Interview with Kevin Shields, and more)

The Water Cure

The New York Times examined the rise of feminist dystopian fiction.


The Creative Independent interviewed My Bloody Valentine's Kevin Shields.


October's best eBook deals.


Tom Piazza profiled John Prine at the Oxford American.


Catapult features new fiction by Randa Jarrar.


Singer-songwriter Adrienne Lenker played DJ at All Songs Considered.


The Brooklyn Rail interviewed author Matthew Vollmer.


Aquarium Drunkard interviewed singer-songwriter Nathan Bowles.


The Guardian explored modern experimental fiction.


Stream an excerpt from Hence, Oren Ambarchi & Jim O’Rourke’s new album with U-zhaan.


The Creative Independent interviewed writer Marcus J. Moore.


Stream a new Longwave song.


VICE interviewed filmmaker John Waters.


Stream video of CHVRCHES' Austin City Limits Festival performance.


Simon Van Booy recommended books on the sadness of love at BookMarks.


Stream a new song by Esperanza Spalding.


Book Riot recommended atmospheric books to read in October.


Gruff Rhys shared his touring music with BrooklynVegan.



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


October 8, 2018

Shorties (2018's Best True Crime Books, An Oral History of Uncle Tupelo's Anodyne Album, and more)

Anodyne

Elle Australia listed 2018's best true crime books.


Rolling Stone shared an oral history of Uncle Tupelo's Anodyne album on its 25th anniversary.


October's best eBook deals.

eBook on sale for $1.99 today:

Alif the Unseen by G. Willow Wilson
The Bottle Factory Opening by Beryl Bainbridge
Lucky Us by Beryl Bainbridge


Vulture profiled author John Wray.


Mark Lanegan covered Pink Floyd's "Nobody Home."


Longreads shared an excerpt from Nicole Chung's memoir All You Can Ever Know.


Rolling Stone and Paste profiled singer-songwriter Kurt Vile.


The longlists for the 2018 Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence have been announced.


Weekend Edition interviewed Cat Power's Chan Marshall.


Signature recommended books that show the cost of discrimination.


Stream St. Vincent's Austin City Limits episode.


WIRED listed its all-time favorite books.


NYCTaper shared a recent Luna live performance.


Kevin Barry talked to the New Yorker about his short story in this week's issue, "The Coast of Leitrim."


Stream FADE's debut EP Fall in Love at Hype Machine.


Alice Walker discussed her new poetry collection with Weekend Edition.


Bedford + Bowery profiled cartoonist Matthew Thurber.



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


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