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February 12, 2016

Book Notes - Kathy Page "Frankie Styne and the Silver Man"

Frankie Styne and the Silver Man

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

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

Kathy Page's imaginative and crisply written Frankie Styne and the Silver Man is one of the creepiest novels I have ever read.

Kirkus wrote of the book:

"Exquisite …[Page's] favored themes are here—the stark dichotomies of life, the power of language, the way the social system tries and fails to help people, and how saving grace can come from unseen places … A fierce writer; her relentless imagination and pure writing skills bring a broken, nightmare world fully to life."

Stream this playlist at Spotify.


In her own words, here is Kathy Page's Book Notes music playlist for her novel Frankie Styne and the Silver Man:


"Incubator" by Underworld

Monsters, hybrids and extraordinary beings of all kinds are an abiding interest of mine and so it's only natural that Frankie Styne and the Silver Man, especially in one of its later scenes, pays oblique homage to Mary Shelley's groundbreaking novel about a scientist and his botched creation. Shelley's novel was dramatized soon after its first publication, and the first movie of the book was made as early as 1910; many adaptations have since followed. Not so long ago I was able to watch, in the tiny cinema on the island where I live, a brilliant National Theatre Live production with Benedict Cumberbatch and Johnny Lee Miller. The play begins with the creature emerging from an artificial womb and Underworld's "Incubator," by turns tentative and violent, plays as the audience watches the monster take his first steps.


"Nothing Compares 2U" by Sinead O'Connor

While Frankenstein strives to create artificial life, women create new beings all the time. Pregnancy and birth are often referred to as "miraculous," but there can be a fair amount of horror, suffering and ambivalence involved. Frankie Styne and the Silver Man comes out in North America this year, but I wrote it in back in the UK in 1990, when Sinead O'Connor was launching her career with the heartbreaking "Nothing Compares 2U," a song which because of the powerful simplicity of it's refrain still seems to me to encapsulate the myopic intensity of the bereft lover. My own love life at the time was chaotic and I was years away from being settled enough to have a child, but as is the peculiar way of things I found myself writing about a teenage runaway who becomes the mother of a newborn with special needs. I only experienced, much later, as a mother at the opposite end of the age spectrum, something of what I put this young woman, Liz Meredith, through.


"Papa Don't Preach" by Madonna
"Eat for Two" by 10,000 Maniacs

Liz does not triumphantly chose motherhood – or even chose it at all – and though she'd certainly appreciate the rebellious energy of Madonna's "Papa Don't Preach," "Eat for Two," by 10,000 Maniacs, a brave and honest song about teenage pregnancy, comes far closer to her initial experience, and makes great use of nursery rhymes to convey the shock of finding herself home to another person:

"Well, the egg man fell down off his shelf

All the good King's men with all their help

Struggled 'til the end for a shell they couldn't mend

You know where this will lead

To hush and rock in the nursery
For the kicking one inside of me..."




"Life on Mars?" by David Bowie
"Cardigan Weather" by Meg and Dia

Liz has to find her own way to fall in love with her child. She talks to her baby, as all mothers do, but she doesn't do the ordinary kind of chat. She figures that since she can't be understood, it doesn't so much matter what she says. She has watched a lot of films and TV and has a playful, if sometimes dark, imagination. She likes to avoid thinking about the situation she's in, and so she makes up fantasies about other worlds and extraterrestrial visitors. While it's hard to chose a particular song by the late and spectacular David Bowie, who so frequently mined the space traveller theme, "Life on Mars?" perhaps meshes best with Liz's story. I see her in Bowie's girl with the mousy hair, "hooked to the silver screen" and hungry for a new story. And I know Liz would appreciate Meg & Dia's "Cardigan Weather," which, despite the innocuous title and the perky tone in which it is sung, concerns a revenge killing in which an unfaithful lover is murdered and sewn into a mattress, on top of which his ex proposes to have sex.


"Hope There's Someone" by Antony and the Johnsons

Frankie Styne and the Silver Man plays with genre and with certain archetypical story tropes, such as that moment (maddening, I find) when a young woman foolishly walks into a monster's lair. But ultimately, it is a story about our need for connection and love, and for others to witness our lives, despite all the problems our less-than-perfect relationships sometimes bring. "Hope There's Someone" expresses this perfectly and so far as I'm concerned, there's no other voice like Antony's: so emotional and tender, so perfectly pitched.


Kathy Page and Frankie Styne and the Silver Man links:

the author's website
the author's Wikipedia entry

Kirkus review
Toronto Star review
Vancouver Sun review

The Malahat Review interview with the author


also at Largehearted Boy:

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

Online "Best of 2015" Book Lists

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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February 12, 2016

This Week's Interesting Music Releases - February 12, 2016

Lissie

The two albums I can wholeheartedly recommend this week are Basia Bulat's Good Advice and Lissie's My Wild West.

Archival releases include radio sessions from Talking Heads and Rush.

Reissues include a 2-LP vinyl edition of Sigur Ros's ( ) album.

What new releases can you recommend this week?


This week's interesting music releases:

Amy Winehouse: Frank (reissue) [vinyl]
Basia Bulat: Good Advice
Brandi Carlile: Giving Up the Ghost (reissue) [vinyl]
Breakbot: Still Waters
Bruce Springsteen: Roxy Night
Cloud Cult: The Seeker
The Donkeys: Midnight Palm
Eliot Sumner: Information
Elton John: The Only
Foxes: All I Need
Frank Turner: Ten for Ten
Frank Zappa: The Muffin Man Goes to College (reissue)
Guns 'N' Roses: Acoustic in NY: F.M. Broadcast 1987
James Supercave: Better Strange
The Jezabels: Synthia
Joni Mitchell and Herbie Hancock: Bread & Roses Festival 1978 (reissue)
John Coltrane: A Love Supreme: The Complete Masters (3-LPs) [vinyl]
Lacey Sturm: Life Screams
Lissie: My Wild West
The London Orion Orchestra: Pink Floyd's Wish You Were Here Symphonic
Magrudergrind: II
Nine Inch Nails: We Prick You: Radio Broadcast 1995 Feat. David Bowie
Patti Smith: Bicentenary Blues
Pete Astor: Spilt Milk
Peter Murphy: Wild Birds Live Tour
Pig Destroyer: Phantom Limb (reissue) [vinyl]
Pig Destroyer: Terrifyer (reissue) [vinyl]
Pinegrove: Cardinal
Radiation City: Synesthetica
The Record Company: Give It Back to You
Rokia Traore: Ne So
Rush: Beneath, Between And Behind: F.M. Broadcast 1975
Sigur Ros: ( ) (reissue) [vinyl]
The Skiffle Players: Skifflin'
Steely Dan: Doing It in California
Stephen Kellogg: South, West, North, East
The Suffers: The Suffers
Talking Heads: The Boston Tea Party: 1979 Broadcasts
Thee Oh Sees: Fortress
Various Artists: Vinyl: Music From The HBO Original Series Volume 1
Wynonna and the Big Noise: Wynonna and the Big Noise
You Say Party: You Say Party


also at 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)


Posted by david | Permalink | Comments (View)

Shorties (Cervantes' Influence on Fiction, Bruce Springsteen's Autobiography, and more)

Signature examined the influence of Miguel Cervantes on fiction throughout the years.


Bruce Springsteen's autobiography, Born to Run, is coming this fall.


Work in Progress hosted a discussion between authors Garth Greenwell and Hanya Yanagihara.


Tin House interviewed author Brian Evenson.


The Evening Standard profiled the band Foals.


Books about Bernie Sanders.


The Talkhouse debuted a new column on fashion and music.


Literary Hub interviewed Han Kang about her novel The Vegetarian.


Author Mairead Case discussed Simon Joyner's songwriting at the Seattle Review of Books.


Matt Gallagher recommended war novels that transcend war at Off the Shelf.


Stream a new Grant-Lee Phillips song.


Literary Hub features an excerpt from Idra Novey's debut novel Ways to Disappear.


Stream a new Black Mountain song.


Steven Van Zandt talked to Rolling Stone about Bruce Springsteen's 1980 album The River.


Salon interviewed Jarett Kobek about his novel I Hate the Internet.


Stream a new Thao & the Get Down Stay Down song.


Flavorwire interviewed the illustrator of the Folio Editions edition of Vladimir Nabokov's novel Lolita.


Stephen Malkmus will score the new Netflix series Flaked.


Electric Literature interviewed John Wray about his new novel The Lost Time Accidents.


'90s rave artwork.


The Daily Meal recommended graphic novels with food themes.


Stream Jeff Buckley's cover of the Smiths' "I Know It's Over."


Broadly interviewed translator Natasha Wimmer about translating Alvaro Enrigue's novel Sudden Death.


Drowned in Sound interviewed Steve Mason, formerly of the Beta Band.


Men's Journal recommended new books about whiskey.



also at Largehearted Boy:

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

Online "Best of 2015" Book Lists
Essential and Interesting 2015 Year-End Music Lists

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)


Posted by david | Permalink | Comments (View)

February 11, 2016

Book Notes - Jarett Kobek "I Hate the Internet"

I Hate the Internet

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

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

Jarett Kobek has followed up his novella ATTA (one of my favorite books of the 2000s) with the impressive novel I Hate the Internet.

Jonathan Lethem wrote of the book:

"Could we have an American Houellebecq? Jarett Kobek might come close, in the fervor of his assault on sacred cows of our own secretly-Victorian era, even if some of his implicit politics may be the exact reverse of the Frenchman's. I just got an early copy of his newest, I Hate The Internet and devoured it - he's as riotous as Houellebecq, and you don't need a translator, only fireproof gloves for turning the pages."

Stream this playlist at Spotify.


In his own words, here is Jarett Kobek's Book Notes music playlist for his novel I Hate the Internet:


#1 Persia feat. DADDIE$ PLA$TIK – "Google Google Apps Apps"
The raison d'etre of I Hate the Internet. Persia distills not only the horrors of Google and Bay Area gentrification but also makes a thematic link to the desire for racial assimilation and hints that Whiteness can be put on layaway for Christmas. The video's a masterpiece.

#2 Trick Daddy feat. Khia and Tampa Tony – "J.O.D.D."
A filthy song with a chorus that includes a rejoinder from the underrated Khia, who also has an astounding verse. "J.O.D.D." gets to a thing running through I Hate the Internet, which is the thrill of bluntly-stated English without any desire for social politesse, something that's been effaced in serious writing via fifty years of MFA-induced water metaphors. This push-and-pull has been present since at least the Norman Yoke of 1066, with the squares trying to kill off the stout Saxon words. At present, the joy is best found in hip-hop. I tried to put something of this in the novel.

#3 Jarvis Cocker – "Cunts are Still Running the World"
Before anyone breaks out the pitchforks and takes to Twitter, please remember that the world doesn't begin and end at the borders of the contiguous 48, and Cocker's titular cunts are in the British usage, which is fairly synonymous with "dickhead." The farther north you go, the more common its appearance. Eventually you get to Glasgow and it's only punctuation before you realize Irvine Welsh is a bit shit and you should've read Alasdair Gray.

The song is a wonderful expression of a very necessary idea—that no matter what we do, we still end up with horrible people in charge. Crying won't help you. Praying won't do no good. Take a look at the smiling faces and coy social media presence of any Bay Area corporate board and you'll get the gist of things. Google Doodles in extremis and written on the parchment of your soul.

#4 Etta James – "I'd Rather Go Blind"
One of the four songs that I Hate the Internet suggests are God. The other three: (1) Elvis Presley's version of "Long Black Limousine." (2) Abner Jay's "I'm So Depressed." (3) Shirley Collins singing "Lady Margaret and Sweet William." I defy anyone to come up with a better definition of the divine.

#5 Neko Case – "Deep Red Bells"
Inspired by the Green River Killer's victims, Case manages that cold lonely feeling of being in a place that doesn't care about you and won't give two shakes if you end up dead. Which is the exact state of all the communities in San Francisco being obliterated by tech gentrification. There is no protection and no one will save you and you're about to learn a basic lesson of the world, one known by sex workers like Bible writ: when people have more money than you, they use your whole life like a pawn.

#6 Lil' Boosie – "They Dykin"
Lil' Boosie posits a scenario in which I'm sure Jonathan Franzen has found himself—two redbones kissing in his backseat—and then manages several glorious minutes of utterly unredeemable sonic delight.

When I first heard this song, I was under the misapprehension that Lil' Boosie was a sex addled lesbian, which made it really interesting. Then I realized that Lil' Boosie was a man, which made it a lot less interesting. This ambiguity of Lil' Boosie-as-a-lesbian-but-actually-not filtered into I Hate the Internet.

#7 Fiona Apple – "Used to Love Him" (leaked version)
Fiona Apple is a person the Internet would destroy if she were starting her career in the 2010s. Genuinely weird, outspoken, radiating self-doubt and willing to make mistakes in public. Put these qualities into a semi-famous woman and watch as the Knights of the Burning Keyboard pierce her with their lances.

#8 Black Randy and the MetroSquad – "San Francisco"
I Hate the Internet offers an accurate summation of San Francisco: the most beautiful city in America filled with the most annoying people in the world. "San Francisco" is a narrative of prowling the city in a search for earnest gay sex and being surrounded by people who want to do the deed in open graves. Finally a guy takes Black Randy home and instead of going to bed, they water some ferns and talk about Chairman Mao. (All of which still sounds like it could happen today. Except for the Chairman Mao. To get that, you'd have to go to Berkeley.)

#9 L7 – "Pretend We're Dead"
Throughout the early aughties, there was an L7 poster in the ground floor window of the building at 656 Valencia in San Francisco. You could walk by that poster, year after year after year, and think about how delightful it was that one of the city's residents still cared enough to tend the flame of a band best remembered for the tampon-throwing of vocalist Donita Sparks. Now the poster's gone, the building's repainted, and Valencia, which lent its name to a novel by the great Michelle Tea, is the main corridor of culturally imperialism. Twenty-one blocks of fine dining, reclaimed materials, Google buses and overpriced denim. (And, it should be said, one really good bookstore. Never die Dog Eared Books!)

#10 Rasheeda – "Got That Good (My Bubble Gum)"
The song centers around a junkfood based double entendre for cunnilingus. In the grand tradition of double entendres, it falls apart if you think too much about it.
There's an appalling food based double entendre in I Hate the Internet, which someone told me is in use amongst the moneyed of Silicon Valley. I don't know if that's true but I ran with it. A good rule of thumb when writing a book called I Hate the Internet: always say the worst things about the moneyed of Silicon Valley.

#11 Neutral Milk Hotel – "Oh Comely"
It took me about 12 years to realize that people weren't wrong about In the Aeroplane Over the Sea. Jeff Magnum's lyric in "Oh Comely" about wishing for a time machine to save Anne Frank is the inspiration for Saving Anne Frank, a Science Fiction novel written by a character in I Hate the Internet. It's about a time-traveler who rescues Anne Frank from the planet of ashes.

#12 Son House – "My Black Mama, Part One"
The first side of a 78 record. The other side was "My Black Mama, Part Two." Everyone remembers the latter. It eventually transformed into "Death Letter Blues." No one talks about the former. A character in I Hate the Internet finds this revelatory of a grotesque social preference: "Part One" is about Black women being beautiful. "Part Two" is about a Black woman being dead. Despite being musically identical, the second became a putative classic, covered by Bonnie Raitt and Jack White. Draw your own inferences about AmeriKKKa.

#13 Avanoslu Selahattin Küçükdağ – "Üzerinde cennet gibi"
The Anatolian Nightingale, Avansolu Selahattin was one of the first recorded practitioners of Türkü, the Turkish rough equivalent of early American folk music. At some point—and I can't quite figure out when it happened or if this is even true—he changed his surname to Küçükdağ, which means "Little Mountain."

One of the characters in I Hate the Internet uses a different name in each language. In Turkish, he calls himself Küçükkutsaldağ, which means "Little Holy Mountain."

#14 Odetta – "No Expectations"
The original is one of those Jagger/Richards compositions where callow youth burbles through the heroin like cut on a hot spoon. When Odetta sings the song, it's the most moving thing you've ever heard. This is long after the folk days, long after the Civil Rights Movement, long after that brief window of righteous time when things made sense. You've never heard anyone sound as sad as Odetta on this track.

This is how everyone should feel in 2016. This is what the Internet has done to you.


Jarett Kobek and I Hate the Internet links:

The Compulsive Reader review
Vol. 1 Brooklyn review

OTHERPPL interview with the author

also at Largehearted Boy:

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

Online "Best of 2015" Book Lists

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 - February 11, 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.


Love & Rockets: New Stories #8

Love & Rockets: New Stories #8
by Hernandez Brothers


Comics Dementia

Comics Dementia
by Gilbert Hernandez

Fans of the Hernandez brothers will be thrilled to see the new release of two of their publications: a collection of brand new work compiled in Love & Rockets: New Stories and Gilbert Hernandez’s best weirdest dispatches from the multigenerational Love & Rockets saga in Comics Dementia. Will not disappoint.


The Happy Reader: Winter 2015

The Happy Reader: Winter 2015

Wonderfully, The Happy Reader is a magazine about reading. Just our style. Beautifully designed and appropriately thoughtful, this fresh magazine offers an in-depth interview offset by several considerations of a major piece of writing. The Winter 2015 issue gives us a great conversation with Grimes and small original essays on Émile Zola’s Au Bonheur des Dames.


Ways to Disappear

Ways to Disappear
by Idra Novey

Novey’s first novel is at once a mystery, a meditation on translation/the translator, and a full-on adventure-romance romp. It follows Emma, unglamourous white American translator of the beloved and enigmatic Brazilian writer Beatriz Yagoda - who has unaccountably climbed into a tree and disappeared. Intrigued?


In Other Words

In Other Words
by Jhumpa Lahiri

Written in both Italian and English, Lahiri’s memoir In Other Words is another great book on translation (see Rachel Cantor’s new Good on Paper if you want even another). Described by the author as an attempt to bump up against a newly acquired language, in this case Italian, it is a fascinating, original, and personal account of belonging (or not), linguistically and otherwise.


Francesca Woodman: On Being an Angel

Francesca Woodman: On Being an Angel

This small posthumous monograph on the Italian artist Francesca Woodman (1958-1981) offers a satisfying glimpse into her extraordinarily prolific photographic practice. Often using her own body as her subject matter, Woodman opens up themes of gender, representation, sexuality and the surreal, all by the brief age of 22. If you can’t see the current exhibition of her original prints up in Amsterdam at the FOAM Museum, then pick up this book!


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:

other Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week

Online "Best Books of 2015" Year-end Lists

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)


Posted by david | Permalink | Comments (View)

Shorties (The Merits of Reading Disturbing Literature, An Interview with Philip Glass, and more)

Hannah Tennant-Moore related the merits of disturbing literature at the Paris Review.


Noisey interviewed composer Philip Glass.


Jeff Jackson interviewed Gregory Howard about his new novel Hospice at Fanzine.


Noisey shared a playlist of '70s b-sides and hits.


A. O. Scott interviewed himself at Literary Hub about his new book Better Living Through Criticism: How to Think about Art, Pleasure, Beauty, and Truth.


Pitchfork discussed the Animal Collective's legacy with the


Chapter 16 interviewed John Jeremiah Sullivan about writing nonfiction in the digital age.


NoiseTrade is sharing a free Freakwater EP.


Aaron Sorkin is adapting To Kill a Mockingbird for Broadway.


The Quietus interviewed the Manchester band LIINES.


Literary Hub features a new essay by Rebecca Solnit.


Stream a new song from Iron and Wine's Sam Beam and Jesca Hoop.


TED recommended books from its 2016 speakers.


Stream Britta Phillips' cover of Evie Sands' "One Fine Summer Evening."


The Harvard Crimson interviewed cartoonist Adrian Tomine.


SPIN ranked singer-songwriter Ty Segall's releases.


Author Paul Murray shared his love for Daniel Clowes' graphic novel Ghost World at Foyles.


Jesmyn Ward wrote about Beyonce's "Formation" video at Code Switch.


Angela Flournoy talked to the Detroit News about her novel The Turner House.


NPR Music is streaming Carrie Rodriguez's new album Lola.


Men's Journal interviewed Irvine Welsh about his most recent novel A Decent Ride.


Drowned in Sound interviewed John Stanier of the band Battles.


Flavorwire recommended novels about Americans abroad.



also at Largehearted Boy:

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

Online "Best of 2015" Book Lists
Essential and Interesting 2015 Year-End Music Lists

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)


Posted by david | Permalink | Comments (View)

February 10, 2016

Book Notes - Tony Tulathimutte "Private Citizens"

Tony Tulathimutte

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

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

Tony Tulathimutte's novel Private Citizens is an impressive debut, a brilliant satire that brings the San Francisco of 2007 (and its recently graduated Millennials) vividly to life.

Kirkus wrote of the book:

"Witty, unsparing, and unsettlingly precise, Tulathimutte empathizes with his subjects even as he (brilliantly) skewers them. A satirical portrait of privilege and disappointment with striking emotional depth."

Stream this playlist at Spotify.


In his own words, here is Tony Tulathimutte's Book Notes music playlist for his debut novel Private Citizens:


My novel Private Citizens is about four recent college grads living in the Bay Area circa 2007. It's awkward to look back over an interval of five to ten years, too recent for nostalgia and too distant for novelty, so that everything considered fashionable then now tends to give off an fusty stench of co-opted uncool—MySpace, American Apparel, Burning Man, feather earrings.

But the Bay Area is an interesting corner case. Gay marriage was briefly legalized there for a fleeting summer in 2004; Google Maps launched in 2005, Facebook opened to the public in 2006, Twitter and the iPhone came out the next year, AirBnB the next, Uber the next—all from the Bay Area, and patronized mostly by Silicon Valley insiders. Which is to say that, as a petri dish of progressivism and high-end technology, San Francisco is always five to ten years ahead.

So take my fingerless glove in yours and let us journey into the regrettably hip, uncomfortably recent past of our future.

"Hustler" by Simian Mobile Disco

Although the song itself was pretty ubiquitous, I'm more interested in the original video, which, though arguably creepy and probably NSFW, provides a useful cross section of a certain fashion template embraced by my vicious protagonist, Linda. You bet there are MySpace bangs. And harem pants. There are gold necklaces and off-the-shoulder tops. There is a dirndl. There's that headband that goes around the forehead. All that's missing are the gold lamé leggings.


The male counterpart is basically just a red plaid shirt, hoodie, beard, Chuck Taylors, and Wayfarers. No one makes music videos about that.

"Shadows" by Midnight Juggernauts

When I was kickboxing my publisher over the cover for my book, I made a long list of don'ts: no bikes, burritos, beards, skinny jeans, Golden Gate Bridge, or any other obvious token of young-people-in-San-Francisco. After vetoing two covers, they asked me to be more specific, so I thought about the albums people were listening to back then and realized that a lot of their covers had bright neon colors over a black background—M.I.A.'s Kala, Deerhoof's Friend Opportunity, The Arcade Fire's Neon Bible, Justice's , Radiohead's In Rainbows, Of Montreal's Hissing Fauna. (I suspect that this aesthetic comes by figurative association with EDM and rave shows—dark rooms full of strobes and lasers.) The cover of Midnight Juggernauts' Dystopia (also released in 2007) is uncannily close to my book cover, and while I doubt this was intentional, it's not entirely accidental either.

"Jailbreak" by Thin Lizzy

Some advice. When people pick karaoke songs, especially for performance in front of a crowd, they often picture themselves belting the hook. But you need to think the whole song through, or you might just end up forgetting that the bridge of "Jailbreak," for example, is a full minute-long guitar solo which leaves you nothing to do but perform moronic stage antics. A character in my book forgets this important lesson to his lasting regret. Other risky songs include "War Pigs," "Erotic City," "Flashing Lights." Same goes for songs with fast guest rappers—if you're not prepared to rap, then just don't—and songs with no breathers. I once saw a girl literally pass out while doing "Tik Tok" because Ke$ha sings nonstop through the whole thing.

"Emily" by Joanna Newsom

One of the most recurring, least useful debates of the aughts was this supposed war between sincerity and irony, innocent wonder vs. world-weary snark. It was a tension that replicated itself across mediums—McSweeney's vs. N+1, The Believer vs. VICE, Michel Gondry vs. Gaspar Noe, Joanna Newsom vs. Julian Casablancas, David Foster Wallace vs. himself, San Francisco vs. New York. And it was felt keenly by recent college grads like my characters, anxious to be self-sufficient and mature, and equally anxious to have fun. (This perhaps was why nostalgia became such a dominant aesthetic sensibility, being equally available to both sides.)

So when one of the nastier characters in my book refers to Joanna Newsom's first album as "Eine Kleine Vagina," this is a bit of posturing, a performance of hipster contempt that Newsom came in for quite often. But in Ys, released in late 2006, Newsom bridges the gap decisively, singing doggerel about meteorites and meadowlarks over sophisticated orchestral arrangements; in thus she is earnest in content and maturely disciplined (+ arguably ironic) in form.

"The Hollows" by Why?

While the prevailing winds of indie lyricism were blowing toward stylized fantasy (Animal Collective, The Arcade Fire, The Flaming Lips, Of Montreal), Yoni Wolf was writing one album after another of autobiographical, self-loathing, often deeply off-putting lyrical realism that many of my characters would find familiar. Wolf is also another Bay Area native, and I occasionally saw him haunting San Francisco right around when my book takes place. (I think it was him. The mustache-curly-undercut was as common then as the manbun is now.)

"Bine" by Autechre

In one scene, two characters, Cory and Linda, try to nonaggressively disperse a large crowd of people, so I thought about what the least pleasant music to hear at high volume would be, and of course it's Autechre—Cory describes it as sounding "like a shattering chain of transformer explosions." Inorganic, punishingly arrhythmic, it sounds like a thousand error messages going off at once.

"Tell Me When to Go" by E-40

Hyphy, both as a genre and as a word that people actually said aloud, came up and hit its zenith in the 2000s, and one thing I love about it is how insistent its practitioners are on defining and deploying its slang. It's part of the Bay Area's broader tendency to proclaim its own countercultural uniqueness and exceptionalism against other cities, and to export it aggressively, right down to the vocab—"I'm from the Bay where we hyphy and go dumb / from the soil where them other rappers be getting their lingo from."

The bridge of his marquee single contains a full minute-long call-and-response glossary, making it a good hyphy primer before moving on to Too $hort, Mistah Fab (who does an incredible take on the Ghostbusters theme), Keak da Sneak, Mac Dre, The Federation, et al.

"DVNO" by Justice

You could not get away from † in 2007. It was dispersed in the air in chem trails and house parties and Urban Outfitters. And if it wasn't this album then it'd be one of the dozens of tracks they remixed—Simian, Mystery Jets, MGMT, etc. I find it very generationally fitting that before Justice went into music, they were graphic designers, and their talents lay in remixing and curating ("We are not great musicians. We are not great producers. We are not great songwriters"). A staple of Richie Panic and Jefrodisiac's Frisco Disco night at the Arrow Bar, back when any of those words meant anything.

"Young Folks" by Peter, Bjorn, and John

A song I'm not in love with but which still relates to my book, or its setting anyway. The jukebox at my favorite dive bar seemed to play this song every night, usually in close succession with "Bela Lugosi's Dead." Smoking used to be allowed in that bar, but I've heard a rumor that smoking was banned after Mark Zuckerberg rolled up one night and someone in Team Zuck took pictures, naturally uploading them to Facebook; someone narced and smoking was banned ever since.

"I Do What I Want When I Want" by Xiu Xiu

Still one of my favorite Bay Area bands, and one whose sense of humor often goes overlooked beneath their lucid-nightmare soundscaping. Its members were also delightful Bay Area gadflies; the other day I was browsing through old party photos, and not only did I stumble across a photo of Jamie Stewart wearing only a comforter, it seems he also borrowed my camera and took a genital selfie from a gruesomely unflattering angle.

"Democracy" by Leonard Cohen

No spoiler—in the book's final scene, a character is playing unnamed Leonard Cohen and Joan Baez records. I'm not sure why I left them deliberately vague; possibly because I wanted the readers project their own favorites onto the ending. (Everyone has a clear favorite Leonard Cohen song.) Nevertheless, "Democracy" is definitely the one I had in my mind and on my playlist. Though it's not explicitly addressed, the novel ends just before the massive financial implosion of 2008, one of the regularly scheduled crises of unfettered capitalism, when the abuse of the virtual hemorrhaged into the actual: "It's coming from the feel / that this ain't exactly real / or it's real, but it ain't exactly there."

The Baez song I had in mind, a retrospective hymn to complement Cohen's forward-facing ode, is "Here's to You": "The last and final moment is yours / That agony is your triumph."


Tony Tulathimutte and Private Citizens links:

the author's website

Kirkus review
Publishers Weekly review

Ploughshares interview with the author
Tin House interview with the author
VICE essays by the author


also at Largehearted Boy:

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

Online "Best of 2015" Book Lists

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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Websites to Read in 2016

My sixth yearly list of favorite websites (and first since 2013), these are the sites (not mentioned in previous years) I have most recommended to friends family, and Largehearted Boy readers over the past year.

See also:

the 2013 list
the 2012 list
the 2011 list
the 2010 list
the 2009 list


0s & 1s Reads

0s & 1s Reads is an online bookstore that also hosts a variety of interviews with authors as well as essays on writing and literature.

notable posts:

"What a feminist mouthful" featuring Megan Mayhew Bergman and Wendy C. Ortiz
"A misunderstanding of what books can do" featuring Molly Antopol and Sophie McManus


Books & Authors with Cary Barbour

Books & Authors with Cary Barbor is a podcast that features interviews with authors and publishing professionals.

notable posts:

Dinaw Mengestu, The Beautiful Things that Heaven Bears
Anne Enright, The Green Road


Divedapper

Divedapper does one thing, and does it extremely well: fascinating and smart interviews with poets.

notable posts:

Sharon Olds
Mary Ruefle


Literary Hub

Literary Hub may be the best literary site on the planet, featuring author interviews, excerpts, essays and daily news from the world of publishing.

notable posts:

Jhumpa Lahiri: On Family, Banality, and the Art of Conversation
Sunil Yapa: "Empathy is a Radical Act"


Music & Literature

Music & Literature features underrepresented artists (musicians, writers, and visual artists) from all over the world.

notable posts:

Medardo Fraile Introduced by Ali Smith
Henryk Gorecki’s Loud Silence


Talkhouse Music

Musicians write about music at Talkhouse Music.

notable posts:

Buzz Osborne (the Melvins) Talks the HBO Documentary Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck
Annie Clark (St. Vincent) Talks Arcade Fire’s Reflektor


Turntable Kitchen

The combination of food, music, and cocktails make Turntable Kitchen an everyday read. The mixtapes are the perfect accompaniment to meal preparation.

notable posts:

Turntable Kitchen’s Winter 2016 Mixtape
Matcha Crepes with Whipped Cream, Berries, and Cacao Nibs


Vol. 1 Brooklyn

Vol. 1 Brooklyn shares daily music and books news, book reviews, author interviews, short fiction, and essays.

notable posts:

"At Every Point, the Book Was Really a Surprise To Me": An Interview With Garth Greenwell
"Both the Musician and the Instrument": An Interview With Alexander Chee


also at Largehearted Boy:

Blogs to Read in 2012
Blogs to Read in 2011
Blogs to Read in 2010
Bloggers to Read in 2009

52 Books, 52 Weeks (weekly book reviews)
Antiheroines (interviews with up and coming female comics artists)
Atomic Books Comics Preview (weekly comics highlights)
Book Notes playlists (authors create music playlists for their book)
Daily Downloads (free and legal daily mp3 downloads)
guest book reviews
Largehearted Word (weekly new book highlights)
lists
musician/author interviews
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Soundtracked (composers and directors discuss their film's soundtracks)
Try It Before You Buy It (mp3s and full album streams from the week's CD releases)
weekly music & DVD release lists


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Shorties (Elena Ferrante's Neapolitan Novels on TV, A Julia Holter Live Performance, and more)

Elena Ferrante's Neapolitan novels are being adapted into a television series.


Singer-songwriter Julia Holter visited World Cafe for an interview and live performance.


eBook on sale for 99 cents today: Stephen King's novel Joyland.


BrooklynVegan ranked the Beach Boys' albums.


Hazlitt and Electric Literature interviewed A. O. Scott about his new book Better Living Through Criticism: How to Think about Art, Pleasure, Beauty, and Truth.


Stream a new TEEN song.


The shortlist for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction has been announced.


Stream Craig Finn's recent Mountain Stage performance.


Literary Hub interviewed Idra Novey about her debut novel Ways to Disappear.


Alexander Chee talked to the Guardian about his novel The Queen of the Night.


Ebony examined the legacy of J Dilla.


Indianapolis Monthly interviewed Garth Greenwell about his debut novel What Belongs to You.


Mike Cooley talked to Flagpole about the future of his band, the Drive-By Truckers.


Author Tony Tulathimutte shared how he named the characters in his novel Private Citizens at the Paris Review.


How Moby-Dick inspired the sound design of the film Mad Max: Fury Road.


Bookworm interviewed Ryan Gattis about his novel All Involved.


Clash profiled the band Liima.

"The whole idea of Liima is a challenge. It’s the willingness to take a risk, the almost performance art aspect and the desire to make new music a step away from what they’d created before that forms its soul. Even the band’s name translates as glue – they’re held together with a mutual understanding that this is an experiment. That and the fact they’re all incredibly nice. Liima is not only a concept, but a sort of a musical democracy built on equality. Some of our home grown musicians could probably learn a bit from their approach."


The Washington Post previewed February's best poetry books.


Paste profiled singer-songwriter Lapsley.

"I wanted to make the music that I liked," says the performer of her aesthetic style. "And I was really interested in experimental electronic music, but then I also had this passion for good songwriting and classical music. So I just felt like I was somewhere in the middle – the music I made had an appreciation for all those things. And I also have a lot of appreciation for space, and the composition of a song. And I always think that synths are the new instruments – back in the day, violins and flutes were the modern ones, but now we have so many different new means of making sound. It’s an interesting shift."


Alvaro Enrigue talked to All Things Considered/a> about his new novel Sudden Death.


The Oxford American profiled legendary blues guitarist Beverly "Guitar" Watkins.


The Literary Hub podcast interviewed author Jhumpa Lahiri about her new memoir In Other Words.


Paste ranked musical performances from the British comedy series The Young Ones.


Author John Wray shared an essay about creating art at BuzzFeed.



also at Largehearted Boy:

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

Online "Best of 2015" Book Lists
Essential and Interesting 2015 Year-End Music Lists

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)


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February 9, 2016

Book Notes - Amy Gustine "You Should Pity Us Instead"

You Should Pity Us Instead

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

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

Amy Gustine's You Should Pity Us Instead is a outstanding debut story collection, one that draws stunning portraits of everyday people facing difficult predicaments.

Publishers Weekly wrote of the book:

"In this dazzling debut collection, Gustine shows tremendous range, empathy, and spark….Gustine’s language is uniformly remarkable for its clarity and forthrightness."

Stream a playlist of these songs at Spotify.


In her own words, here is Amy Gustine's Book Notes music playlist for her short story collection You Should Pity Us Instead:


I don't know that any art form can elicit emotion as reliably and strongly as songs. When I'm having trouble getting into the mind and heart of a character, I listen to a song that matches the mood of the story.

"Dear Father" by Colin Hay
You Should Pity Us Instead is mainly about the relationship between parents and children, and many stories deal with how it feels for one to lose the other—a beloved grandfather nears the end of his life, a daughter commits suicide, a mother drowns. Here's a song that speaks to the longing for our parents, the comfort of having pictures of them and the confusion over unresolvable anger that so often lingers long after their deaths.

"In My Solitude" (sung by Billie Holiday among others)
This jazz piece is from the 1930's. I imagine Caroline in "The River Warta" sitting in her spotless living room during The Great Depression, listening to it on the phonograph, thinking of her dead husband, Frederick.

"Remind Me Who I Am" by Jason Gray
This song reminds me of Lawan in "AKA Juan." A man with an uncertain identity, as the song and story titles both suggest, Lawan straddles two worlds, with two mothers, two families, two histories, two cultures. This is a lonely place to be. We're not made for it. We're made for belonging. For the rest of his life Lawan will work to shape an authentic identity and find somewhere he belongs. He's starting to look, though, and that's something.

"Welcome to the Cruel World" by Ben Harper
Harper's earthy voice can put you in a trance. A trance is the state I like best when I listen to music. I'm not a dancer; I'm a swayer. This song's slow tempo and sentiment—it's a cruel world, but try to enjoy your stay—could be the background tune for many of my stories.

"For a Dancer" by Jackson Browne
Apparently, Browne wrote this for a friend who died in a house fire. It's a favorite of mine about death because the song manages to exist in contradiction—simultaneously sad and joyful—and I'm a big fan of contradiction. I think it's the closest thing to truth we can access.

"Better Place To Be" by Harry Chapin
Several characters in You Should Pity Us Instead suffer from an abiding loneliness and this Chapin song is always the first one I think of when I think about loneliness—as a state, as a life, as an inescapable part of the human condition. I think it's the price we pay for being individuals. For having a mind that no one else can penetrate. Ultimately, we are trapped in there, alone.

"Where Will I Be?" by Graham Nash & David Crosby
This short song is a lamentation and has a lowing vocal quality. The lyrics make me think of Fredek and The Old Loaf in "Goldene Medene." Polish immigrants at Ellis Island, they are coming "home" to a strange land and have no idea who they'll be or what they'll do when they get there.

"Amazing Grace" as sung by Judy Collins
I grew up Catholic and certain songs bring back that feeling Jesus provoked in me when I was a child—the feeling of being loved perfectly, of being held in enormous, invisible, benevolent hands. In "You Should Pity Us Instead" Molly longs for that, but can't recapture the belief in it. She might listen to this song while lying on her musty futon, looking at the weeds in her yard she can't control. And whose heart doesn't soar at Collins' rendition?

"Arms Around My Life" By Janis Ian
A true prodigy, Ian was writing publishable songs in her early teens. She has wonderful range—from bell to a resonant, rich gravel. This song makes me think of Lavinia in "An Uncontaminated Soul" –the broken promises, shattered dreams, ache and loneliness that hides inside of her. That she longs to have set free. There's those cradling hands again—husband's mother's, father's, God's. Or Lavinia cradling one of h one of er 54 cats. And what it's like when she can't feel them. (Hint: This song is not on Spotify, but you can listen to it on Ian's website at JanisIan.com on her album Unreleased 2: Take No Prisoners.)

"Wars for Nothing" by Boggie
A soulful song about war from a Hungarian singer, Boglarka Csemer (known as "Boggie"), this would make a good soundtrack for "All the Sons of Cain," a story about the price of war, especially for women and children.

"Gun Shy" by 10,000 Maniacs
Here's a war song about the soldier from the point of view of his sister. It isn't so much a classic protest lyric as it is a personal narrative. You can feel the whole family situation here, the personalities, the tensions. Not surprisingly, I have a particular fondness for songs that tell a story.

"I Will Always Love You" by Whitney Houston
This one made the list because it's the song that Joanne and Tina sing about the boy they have a crush on in "Unattended." It's a song that professes great love, but the singer is leaving her lover. In "Unattended" most of the parents have gone AWOL and I imagine that this is how they feel—they will always love their kids, but they're leaving anyway. We like to perpetuate the myth that parental love is easy and complete. In truth it's often hard and fragmentary. Sometimes it demands sacrifice that people aren't willing or able to give. Sometimes it completely fails.

"Loves Me Like A Rock" by Paul Simon
The antithesis of ambiguity and difficulty, this song is about mother-love being the strongest thing that exists. It doesn't change. It can't be worn down. It's always there to sit on, lean on, stand on. I think of Cory in "Coyote" when I hear this song. She loves her boy like a rock, and that kind of love can drive you a little (or a lot) crazy.

"Skyline Pigeon" by Elton John (Harpsichord Version)
I imagine Sarah singing this song to Bea during their daily "song time" in "Half-Life." There's a great mixture of longing, of freedom and of being trapped in this song. The harpsichord version is the best. It's that tinkling sound —it reminds me of those silver triangles they give you to play in elementary school music class. There's a fantastic thing the song does by being both very adult and still invoking a feeling of innocence, by being both melancholy and hopeful, which maybe is the thing birds can pull off that the rest of us admire. Their delicacy is what allows them to fly, and their delicacy is what makes them terribly vulnerable. That's how Sarah is: strong and vulnerable. There are so many lines in the song that seem perfectly suited for her. That her eyes are like mirrors of the world outside, "thinking of the way the wind can turn the tide," and flying "away towards the dreams you've left so very far behind." Sarah has to go into the future to find the dreams she lost when she lost her mother. She longs for a family, and the only way she is going to get one is to create her own. In a sense, she has no past, but she has a future. That's why I put this story at the end of You Should Pity Us Instead—because having a future is hopeful and I wanted to end the collection on possibility.


Amy Gustine and You Should Pity Us Instead links:

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

Booklist review
Kirkus review
Publishers Weekly review

Publishers Weekly interview with the author


also at Largehearted Boy:

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

Online "Best of 2015" Book Lists

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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Book Notes - Rob Roberge "Liar"

Liar

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

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

Rob Roberge's Liar is an intense memoir innovatively told in the second person, a poignant story of the author's addiction, mental illness, and recovery.

Publishers Weekly wrote of the book:

"In this absorbing memoir, novelist Roberge (The Cost of Living) shifts among memories of his youth, drug-fueled episodes from his young adulthood, and recent relapses into addiction that threaten his marriage and his work as a college professor…The sense of urgency in Roberge's writing is increased by his effective use of the second person…The rapid back-and-forth mirrors to some degree the diagnosis of bipolar disorder with rapid cycling, which he first received in the 1980s. But it is also the way Roberge is best able to try and make sense of his world and his experiences."

Stream this playlist at Spotify.


In his own words, here is Rob Roberge's Book Notes music playlist for his memoir Liar:


This one's a little hard because there so much music actually in the book that it would take forever to cover it all. So, I'll just go with some of the highlights.

Music to listen to after you've been dumped:

Bob Dylan's Blood On the Tracks. When my freshman year girlfriend dumped me, I ended up listening repeatedly to this album on my Walkman (how's that for dating myself?)…letting one side play, then flipping to the other when the tape reached the end. I drank beer and chain-smoked alone in my dorm room. Well, as alone as I could be with a roommate. At the time, in my self-wallowing pity, I thought I was the only person on earth who could feel as much pain as I was feeling. No one had ever felt the pain I was feeling. Except, of course, Bob Dylan.

A couple of years later, after another relationship had gone south, I spent all my time listening to Joni Mitchell's Blue. It was painfully clear to me, as I fell in and out of a opiate and alcohol haze, that Joni Mitchell would totally understand the pain I was in and would empathize like no one else. Well, except for Bob Dylan. Only Joni Mitchell and Bob Dylan could possible get it.

Another year later, another breakup. At this point, I'd been kicked out of my girlfriend's apartment and was staying in a closet in my friend Jay's enormous rehearsal space. I'd tried to sleep in the equipment room, but it was too close to the rehearsal rooms, and the bass and drums would keep me up at night. So, I went with sleeping in the closet and listening to Richard and Linda Thompson's Shoot Out the Lights. An album filled with songs about the end of a love affair, recorded by a couple who were breaking up during the recording. After repeated listenings, high or drunk on whatever I could get my hands on, it struck me that several of the songs didn't end on their root note. Richard Thompson had written a record about things ending with no obvious resolve, and the music reflected that. I thought he was a genius for doing this. I thought I was something of a genius for noticing it. John Cage once wrote that the human ear would listen to any amount of noise, so long as it ended melodically. They would think it was musical. Yet, take a piece of melodic music that ends in noise, or without resolve, and people won't find it musical. I sat in that closet night after night, thinking about the lack of resolve from my latest relationship, painfully aware of the fact that how things ended changed everything that came before. And, of course, I wallowed in the fact that only Richard Thompson could understand the pain I was in. Well, Richard Thompson, Joni Mitchell and Bob Dylan, of course.

Best music to listen to while nodding on Dilaudid for a solid month:

A tape with The Velvet Underground's third album on one side and The Dream Syndicate's debut, The Days of Wine and Roses on the other side. Luckily, by this time, I had a tape player on the stereo that automatically flipped the cassette, so neither I nor my girlfriend had to get up.

Music that proved, to my nine year old chagrin, that my father had good taste in music:

I'd bought Springsteen's Born to Run at the local Sam Goody record shop and my father—a narcotics agent—had said that Springsteen looked like "a homeless fucking hippy" on the cover. Later, listening to the sax solo on "Jungleland" as loud as my mother would allow, my father stood there listening for a moment, and then said, "This guy sounds a lot like King Curtis. Or the sax player in Duane Eddy's band."

I said, "I don't think so," thinking my dad—the narc—could never know cool music at all. He went downstairs and got the two albums. And he was right. Bruce Springsteen's sax player sounded a lot like the guys he mentioned. Guys in his record collection.

I put on Eddy's "Rebel Rouser" as soon as it ended, listening to it at least five times through. It was, at that point, the greatest sound I had ever heard. How could my father the narc know anything about anything that sounded this good?

Record albums of my parent's I never listened to, but jerked off to while looking at the covers:

Carly Simon's No Secrets, and, especially, Playing Possum.

Best unknown Boston band mentioned in the book:

Dumptruck's D Is For Dumptruck. A great Boston band from the 80's who should have made it big. An album worth looking for.

Another great unknown Boston band who should have been mentioned in the book:

Scruffy the Cat, whose "My Fate" would have been a huge hit in a just world.

Song that was playing when I was robbed at gunpoint while working at an ice cream pallor:

Dire Straights' "Telegraph Road." The robber had me and a co-worker on our knees facing away from him as he asked for the combination to the safe, which neither of us knew. I thought, surprisingly calmly, so this is how I'm going to die. But, for some reason, he didn't shoot either of us, even though we had no idea what the combination to the safe was. I was wearing shorts. When I got up, I saw the indentations from the one-inch tiles on my knees and started to shake.

More evidence my parents had better taste in music than anyone else's parents in the neighborhood:

Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Pete Seeger, Eric Anderson, Tom Paxton. Heavy on the folk side, to be sure, but worlds better than the Jerry Vale and Perry Como records my friends' parents listened to.

Music I listened to on repeat while writing the book:

An absolute ton of The Brian Jonestown Massacre on repeat. Which is not as annoying to others in the house as it may sound, because they have over twenty albums, so even listening to them over and over takes a bit of time to cycle through. Also played on repeat and shuffle, so I never knew what was coming next, The Ike Reilly Assassination. Some Jay Bennett. A bunch of The Dream Syndicate (who also happen to be the most frequently mentioned band in the book). A mix from the Nugget's CD's. And then, probably more Brian Jonestown Massacre. Maybe it did start to annoy people in the house.


Rob Roberge and Liar links:

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

Kirkus review
Publishers Weekly review

CarolineLeavittville interview with the author
Fiction Advocate interview with the author
Largehearted Boy Book Notes essay by the author for The Cost of Living
Largehearted Boy Book Notes essay by the author for Working Backwards from the Worst Moment of My Life
Los Angeles Review of Books interview with the author


also at Largehearted Boy:

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

Online "Best of 2015" Book Lists

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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Shorties (William Gibson on Paul Bowles, J Dilla as Jazz Innovator, and more)

William Gibson shared his adoration for Paul Bowles' novel The Sheltering Sky at PopMatters.


A Blog Supreme on J Dilla as jazz innovator.


Literary Hub interviewed Tony Tulathimutte about his debut novel Private Citizens.


The band Giant Sand is breaking up.


Literary Hub shared an excerpt from Han Kang's novel The Vegetarian.


Stream a new Shonen Knife song.


Stream a conversation between authors Jeanette Winterson and John Irving.


Car Seat Headrest played a Tiny Desk Concert.


Rob Roberge discussed how his memoir Liar was edited at Signature.

The Rumpus shared an excerpt from the book.


Stream a new Rogue Wave song.


The longlist for the 2016 Stella Prize (best novel by an Australian woman) has been announced.


Vanyaland interviewed the members of the Prettiots.


The Advocate profiled author Eileen Myles.

Myles on love at The Cut.


Blurt reviewed the new shoegaze box set Still in a Dream: A Story of Shoegaze 1988-1995.


Publishers Weekly interviewed Peter Straub about his new short story collection Interior Darkness.


Noisey profiled Ithaca's thriving all-ages DIY music scene.


VICE interviewed author Alvaro Enrigue.

The Los Angeles Times reviewed his new novel Sudden Death.


Bryce Dessner discussed scoring ballet and the next National album with Rolling Stone.


Vol. 1 Brooklyn interviewed Brian Chippendale about his new graphic novel Puke Force.


Weekend Edition profiled singer-songwriter Ane Brun.


Cultured Vultures recommended small presses to check out in 2016.


Composer Carter Burwell talked to Weekend Edition about scoring the Coen brothers' films.


The Guardian recommended February's best new books to read in honor of Black History Month.


Jenny Lewis discussed her solo debut Rabbit Fur Coat with Paste, 10 years after its release.


Alexander Chee offered tios on writing an autobiographical novel at BuzzFeed.


Lucinda Williams talked to Morning Edition about her new album Ghosts of Highway 20.

"You know, I have my moments of being comfortable, but I'm driven," she says, "and I have pain, I have sadness. And, of course, the older you get, the more loss you experience. The more loss and pain you experience, the more you need your art."


Jhumpa Lahiri talked to All Things Considered about her new memoir In Other Words.



also at Largehearted Boy:

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

Online "Best of 2015" Book Lists
Essential and Interesting 2015 Year-End Music Lists

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)


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