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July 17, 2019

Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week - July 17, 2019

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 Nickel Boys

The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead

Among the most anticipated novels of the year, Colson Whitehead’s follow-up to the Pulitzer Prize- and National Book Award-winning The Underground Railroad is a seismic event. Following two boys with conflicting ideals as they are plunged into a hellish reform school, The Nickel Boys is a masterful dramatization of the vast injustices in Jim Crow-era Florida, and more widely across this dark period of American history.


Accommodations

Accommodations by Wioletta Greg

Primarily writing as a poet, Wioletta Greg brings a bite and a polish to each sentence of her latest novel. Swallowing Mercury, her debut novel, followed her experience growing up in Communist Poland, and was met with wide acclaim. Accomodations picks up the lead with a young woman’s move from a small agricultural community to a nearby city, where she bounces between a hostel and a nuns’ convent. This puzzling and delightful book was translated from the Polish by Jennifer Croft.


Knitting the Fog

Knitting the Fog by Claudia D. Hernández

Claudia Hernandez brings the reader into the tumult of her upbringing with this striking memoir. At seven-years-old she had found herself suddenly without her mother, who fled domestic abuse in Guatemala for the pursuit of economic prosperity in the United States. Told in interlocking passages of prose and poetry, Knitting the Fog is a complex and moving account of the immigrant experience and the threads that connect mother and daughter.


Circus

Circus by Wayne Koestenbaum

Praised by the likes of John Waters and Maggie Nelson, one remark about Circus that stands out is from John Ashbery: “If Debussy and Robert Walser had collaborated on an opera, it would sound like this.” Polysexual pianist Theo Mangrove is obsessed with the idea that he must be accompanied by circus star Moira Orfei for his comeback performance. This new edition of a dazzling novel by renowned poet and critic Wayne Koestenbaum includes an introduction by Rachel Kushner.


Aug 9—Fog

Aug 9—Fog by Kathryn Scanlan

Having found an elderly stranger’s diary at an estate auction, Kathryn Scanlan took to its contents in the tradition of erasure poetry. She cut and arranged and rearranged the entries to reveal what is extraordinary in the ordinary, what is remarkable in the humdrum. Mary Ruefle says of Aug 9—Fog: “the ordinary diaries of ordinary people will reassure you that yours is no different than anyone else’s—friends die, flowers come fast.”


Librairie Drawn & Quarterly links:

Librairie Drawn & Quarterly's website
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)






July 17, 2019

Shorties (An Excerpt from Courtney Maum's New Novel, A Summer Modern Yacht Rock Playlist, and more)

Costalegre by Courtney Maum

Literary Hub shared an excerpt from Courtney Maum’s new novel Costalegre.


Gorilla Vs. Bear shared a summer modern yacht rock playlist.


July's best eBook deals.


Stream a new song by Florist.


The Christian Science Monitor recommended July's best books.


Stream a new Joan Shelley song.


African Arguments recommended the best books by African writers so far this year.


Connect Savannah interviewed singer-songwriter Mariee Sioux.


Happy 75th birthday, Alice Walker.


Stream a new song by Mark Lanegan and Not Waiting.


The Millions previewed the most anticipated books from the second half of 2019.


Stream a new Hammered Hull song.


The winners of the 2018 Shirley Jackson Awards have been announced.


Stream a new Chelsea Wolfe song.


Peg Alford Pursell recommended five great books of hybrid forms at Bookmarks.


Stream a new song by Rosenau & Sanborn.


The shortlisted albums for Canada's 2019 Polaris Prize have been announced.



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


July 16, 2019

CJ Hauser's Playlist for Her Novel "Family of Origin"

Family of Origin

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.

CJ Hauser's novel Family of Origin is hilarious, moving, and astonishingly original.

Booklist wrote of the book:

"Reminiscent of the family explorations of Rick Moody, Jennifer Egan, and Lauren Groff, this tragicomic novel explores climate change, family ties, and the millennial generation’s feeling that they have arrived late to the party, that humanity and the environment appear to be declining before their eyes. Full of brilliantly realized characters, Hauser’s latest is profound, often incredibly funny, and captures the times like few other contemporary novels."


In her own words, here is CJ Hauser's Book Notes music playlist for her novel Family of Origin:



Dear You,

I think for a long while I got hung up wondering whether I was writing a funny book or a sad book. Eventually I realized the problem was that everything I love is usually, confusingly, offensively, gloriously both of those things at the same time. In fact, I think I’ve recently put a finger on the aesthetic I’m always searching for in my books, my music, my friends, my lovers... it’s a kind of of cheerful but knowing humor in the face of darkness. I’m not talking about covering anything up or hiding from reality. I’m talking about the first time you read the lyrics to “I Am a Rock” and realized it was a top forty hit about being fucking lonely. I’m talking about how exquisitely sad every person in The Royal Tenenbaums is and yet there they are in a house full of Dalmatian mice laconically saying things like “That’s the last time you stab me.” I’m talking about Patton Oswalt and Tig Notaro. I’m talking about your friend who makes the most inappropriate possible joke when you’re bawling your eyes out and it makes you snort-laugh. It’s the funny/sad one two punch where what’s funny is actually just the unadulterated truth of what’s awful spoken out loud so it feels like relief and healing too. What’s the word for that?

God, it’s the only thing that makes sense to me anymore.

So that’s what Family of Origin is about. It’s about being hopeful versus being real and how on earth we can make both of those things go together. I like to think it’s a book that is funny and sad at the same time. Nolan and Elsa Grey have got down so low they have become ridiculous. And then their father dies and they find out he was part of science-cult who are so sad they believe the world is going backwards and to prove it’s true they spend all their time with an incredibly adorable sea duck called The Undowny Bufflehead. And that’s ridiculous. It’s about embracing this kind of radical honesty and truth and humor and unflinching sadness. It’s about how to buck up for long enough to do some good work in this world. It’s about how being sad doesn’t mean you’re not on the hook for positive action. We all are.

So here: I made you a mixtape. All of these songs do this thing I’m talking about. It’s full of anthems you can listen to when you’re doing whatever the good work is that you do in this world. And maybe it will make you feel good because these songs rock while also not being full of shit. They’re songs you turn up when they come on the radio, but that have something to say about what it means to be living and failing but trying and carrying on too. Have a dance party to these songs. Or have a good cry shouting them out in the car. They are good for both of these things.

XoXo

CJ


The Replacements // Can’t Hardly Wait

See you're high and lonesome
Try and try and try

Cayetana // Am I Dead Yet?

And I'm not dead yet, but this doesn't feel so great
And I'm not dead yet, but I'd like to take a break
Is there a way out of this?
Is there a way out?

Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile // Over Everything

When I'm outside in a real good mood
You could almost forget bout all the other things
Like a big old ominous cloud in my periphery
Don't wanna talk about it
Simultaneous I shout it

Screaming Females // Mothership

The blood of family doesn't help
I put myself back on the shelf
If Mother knows best, then Mother knows why...
You have found the monsters that make us wonder
Who has human skin?
The mistakes born
Make you so very happy
In a dog pile of great men

Lucy Dacus // I Don’t Want to Be Funny Anymore

I don't wanna be funny anymore
Yeah, I'll be the gossip, hear it through the grapevine
Pass it on, she's done with the old times
That funny girl doesn't wanna smile for a while

The Thermals // St. Rosa and the Swallows

how did i fight the flat days and the static nights?

Hop Along // Sister Cities

We came here abandoned
An old brick faced apartment
Rusted swing set in the courtyard, like the one that I was born in
I'm guarded like I'm wounded, my first instinct's always "run"

Laura Stevenson // Runner

To give yourself a little bit of hope's a lie
You said, we're just spinning where we stand
And if you cling to tokens for your life you find
You wind up with imaginary men

Diet Cig // Maid of the Mist

I wanna hold a seance
For every heart I've broken
Put them all in a room
And say "get over it"...
Ooooh
And I am bigger than the outside shell of my body
And if you touch it without asking then you'll be sorry

Neutral Milk Hotel//King of Carrot Flowers 1

When you were young
You were the king of carrot flowers
And how you built a tower tumbling through the trees
In holy rattlesnakes that fell all around your feet

The Nerves //Hanging on the Telephone

Don't leave me hanging on the telephone
It's good to hear your voice, you know it's been so long
If I don't get your call then everything goes wrong
I want to tell you something you've known all along
Don't leave me hanging on the telephone

John Moreland // Tired of the World

Baby let’s go
Head on down the road
I know you’re tired of the world

Against Me! //Thrash Unreal

They don't know nothing about redemption
They don't know nothing about recovery

Martha Wainwright //Bloody Mother Fucking Asshole

Poetry is no place for a heart that's a whore
And I'm young and I'm strong
But I feel old and tired
Over fired..
I will not pretend
I will not put on a smile
I will not say I'm all right for you
When all I wanted was to be good
To do everything in truth


CJ Hauser and Family of Origin links:

the author's website

Booklist review
Kirkus review
Publishers Weekly review


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 Best Cookbooks of the Century So Far, 2019's Essential Post-Punk Albums So Far, and more)

Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat

The New Yorker listed the best cookbooks of the century so far.


Paste recommended the year's essential post-punk albums so far.


July's best eBook deals.

eBook on sale for $1.99 today:

A Cook's Tour by Anthony Bourdain

eBook on sale for $3.99 today:

Theft by Finding by David Sedaris


PopMatters interviewed Morcheeba's Ross Godfrey.


BuzzFeed shared an excerpt from Susan Choi's novel Trust Exercise.


SPIN interviewed singer-songwriter Torres.


Paste shared a reading guide to Colson Whitehead's books.


NYCTaper shared a recent live performance by Wilco.

Stream a new song by the band.


Emily Nussbaum discussed her essay collection, I Like To Watch, with Fresh Air.


The Creative Independent interviewed author Cate Le Bon.


Phoebe Bridgers covered the Cure's "Friday I'm in Love."


Lev Grossman discussed his graphic novel, The Magicians: Alice's Story, with SyFy Wire.


Stream a new song by Automatic.


The New York Times remembered Michael Seidenberg of New York City's Brazenhead Books.


Aquarium Drunkard interviewed members of the band Khruangbin.


Literary Hub interviewed filmmaker John Waters.


Pigeon Pages interviewed author R. O. Kwon.


Vol. 1 Brooklyn interviewed author Leland Cheuk.


GQ interviewed author Paul Tremblay.



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


July 15, 2019

Amanda Lee Koe's Playlist for Her Novel "Delayed Rays of a Star"

Delayed Rays of a Star

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.

Amanda Lee Koe's novel Delayed Rays of a Star is an ambitious and thoroughly rewarding debut.

NPR Books wrote of the book:

"It is hard to summarize a sprawling and ambitious novel like this, so I won't—but it is expertly woven, its characters alive and full-bodied. Blending questions about pop culture, war, and art, Delayed Rays of a Star is that rare book that is neither high- nor low-brow, refusing such facile dichotomies and playing, instead, in the messiness of the grey areas."


In her own words, here is Amanda Lee Koe's Book Notes music playlist for her debut novel Delayed Rays of a Star:



Delayed Rays of a Star is about female ambition, queer desire and fascist ideology as told through the occasionally interconnecting lives of Marlene Dietrich, Anna May Wong and Leni Riefenstahl. The novel skates wildly across time and space—1920s Berlin, 1950s LA, 1980s Paris and Beijing—and I experimented with tone to find a precise register capacious enough to hold all of this non-linearity together.

Tone brings me to music. Music is a big part of my life, and I wasn’t sure if I ought to make a playlist about: a) what I was listening to when I was working on this novel; b) songs that excite my synapses; c) music that appears in the book, because they are all super different.

a) would be pretty straightforward. I wrote this novel listening to Glenn Gould playing Bach, to the point that I could anticipate his notorious unconscious humming. On rare occasions, I’d switch to minimalist 90s electronic dance music.

I decided to make Side 1 & 2 to represent b) & c). The first 5 songs are kind of about how my brain works; the next 5 appear in the novel. Free your mind of arbitrary delineations of time, space, genre, language as you listen to this playlist. We might even get up and dance mentally together.

x
ALK

SIDE 1 (Songs 1 - 5)


1. "Sugar Water" – Cibo Matto
I was born in Singapore and I call New York home now, so I’m hungry for cultural omnivorism. Cibo Matto are two Japanese women who moved to New York to make alt art-pop in the 90s. I adore their surreal lyrics, trip hop melodies, the fact that they sing in unidiomatic English with Japanese accents. This 1995 song opens with the line “The velocity of time turns her voice into… sugaaaa wataaaa”. I don’t know exactly what that means, but I know how it feels in relation to when I am writing. Also, Michel Gondry directed the MTV for "Sugar Water", super lo-fi but super innovative: a split-screen with the same footage—one side going backward, the other forward, meeting in the middle of the song.

2. "You Make Me Like Charity" – The Knife

The Knife for me is sharp, mad, jangly, repetitive, weird, ghostly, sad, euphoric. Most people know them for "Heartbeats," but I really like their stranger, not-as-melodic, lesser known songs. "You Make Me Like Charity" is my favorite The Knife song. I went through a DJ-ing phase in my mid-20s, and once, when I was spinning at Zouk, I dropped "You Make Me Like Charity"… and everyone stopped dancing. It was a horrible feeling, saved only by the one heroically unfazed older man who came up to the console, gyrating his hips, asking me who the artiste was.

3. "Facebook Story" – Frank Ocean

Frank is a genius lyricist, diarist, musician. He knows how to tell a story, how to change gears within the same album effortlessly without breaking a sweat. One moment he’s R&B, a beat later he’s pop, the next he’s avant-garde. Facebook Story doesn’t even feature Frank’s vocals. It’s one minute long, just a recording of his friend Sebastian talking in real life set to minimalist, floaty instrumentals. He’s telling Frank about the time he had a girlfriend way back when, when Facebook had just begun, and the girl wanted Sebastian to accept his friend request. He refused because to him it was just virtual and “I’m in front of you”. The girl broke up with him because she thought he must have been cheating or something. I was very surprised to find out that people took issue with Sebastian’s treatment of his (ex)girlfriend (but also heartened that there’s an entire earnest Reddit thread titled “[SERIOUS] In defense of Facebook Story”). This track is so simple, yet quite profound in a way that’s rare to feel in contemporary music. I have a big crush on Frank’s insouciance, how he makes it all come together without anything feeling over-produced, over-written.

4. "Paris is Burning" – St Vincent

Annie! First up can I just say that I have always had a way of referring to my final work process as “nun-in-garret”, so I was stupidly thrilled when I came across an interview where Annie refers to the stage where she’s finishing an album as “deep nun mode”. Next, I almost fainted when I found out (after the fact, because I am slow like that and I never seem to know what’s going on in the real world… until last year I had no idea who or what the Kardashians were) that Annie and Cara Delevingne were a couple. Though they’re no longer together, Cara’s vocals can be heard on the track "Pills," from St Vincent’s most recent album, i.e. not all lesbian breakups have to be ugly, rejoice! On to the music. Annie is insanely versatile, smart without being snooty, and she’s able to not only retain but channel her weird into engaging aural narratives. I love how Paris is Burning is baroque yet fresh, historical yet glittery. I also really connect with how she seems very down-to-earth as a person, but puts on very deliberate, very outlandish costumes for her shows, which I think, beyond imaging, are a kind of expressive talismanic protection.

5. "SCREAM" – Grimes ft. Aristophanes

How cool that Grimes decided to collab with Aristophanes, a subversive Taiwanese rapper who had absolutely no idea who Grimes was when she first contacted Aristophanes on Soundcloud. In a world of marketing gimmicks it’s pretty damn neat that this all happened based purely on talent, happenstance and personal connection. "SCREAM" is a strange-ass song with Aristophanes rapping in breathy Mandarin to Grimes’s catchy, atmospheric electronics. The song doesn’t fear that Grimes’s audience won’t understand the Chinese lyrics, it’s confident you’ll go with the flow. For me this feels like a trance dream somewhere between an wuxia waterfall grotto and Berghain’s panorama bar (I could live inside of this big mood forever).


SIDE 2 (SONGS 6 - 10)


6. "Blowin’ In the Wind (Bob Dylan cover)" – Marlene Dietrich

It blows my mind that Marlene Dietrich did a cover of a Bob Dylan song, in German. It really doesn’t suit her at all. She’s a rigid glamourpuss, and not in the least folksy, bluesy or country, but this strange discordance is probably what I like best about it because it feels so unlikely.

7. "Nothing To Lose (一无所有)"– Cui Jian

This song still gives me goosebumps. You can find it on page 42 of Delayed Rays of a Star. It’s a 1986 Mandarin xibeifeng anthem, with distinct Western rock elements, which caused a political sensation and became the unofficial anthem for Chinese youth and activists during the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989. The lyrics speak of a narrator asking a girl when she’s going to leave with him, despite the fact that he has nothing, and it connected deeply with the dispossessed youth of the era who were yearning for individual freedom under the regime. Cui Jian has named Bob Dylan and Talking Heads amongst his influences. He also made it a point to distance his musical style the revolutionary songs and proletarian operas made common under Mao’s Cultural Revolution, and undertook deliberate acts such as performing his music louder than 150 decibels, just cos Mao stated that loud music was disruptive to social order.

8. "Bizarre Love Triangle" – New Order

If you listen to this back-to-back following "Nothing To Lose," you’ll hear bits of '80s rock tissue between the songs. These sorts of liminal threads are what I live for, to be reminded that whether you’re in China or Europe, we’re all humans living through the same epochs in different ways together. Everyone knows this song, so I’m not going to say more other than that it appears on page 243 of my novel, where the mixed-race gutter-wunderkind boy-child Ibrahim, who idolizes Morrissey, makes a pilgrimage to Manchester only to find out that The Smiths has already broken up, but New Order is having a gig at the Hacienda. As he dances in the club surrounded by packed bodies, all of a sudden he feels completely alone and begins sobbing.

9. "What Do You Have To Say(你怎么说)"– Teresa Teng

The Taishanese immigrant girl character, Bebe, sings this in her head when she is working in a shoe factory in Shanghai, on page 257. Teresa Teng is the virtuous paragon of Chinese womanhood (seeing is believing, watch a video of her performing this song live here), and 你怎么说, or “What Do You Have To Say” was a gentle, sugary Taiwanese pop hit of the 1980s that managed to crossover into China despite the political tension between both countries. I’m fascinated by how Teresa Teng’s voice is a mixture of vulnerable resignation and melancholic sweetness, and I’ve always imagined there to be a streak of repressed sexuality under her innocent femininity.

10. "A Rush and A Push and the Land is Ours" – The Smiths

I don’t want to say more about this song because I want to leave my relationship to it intact, so you can look out for it on page 360, and meanwhile, I’ll just leave my favorite lyrics here:

“I travelled to a mystical time zone / And I missed my bed and I soon came home”


Amanda Lee Koe and Delayed Rays of a Star links:

the author's website

Booklist review
Kirkus review
NPR Books review
Publishers Weekly review

BOMB magazine interview with the author
Yale Daily News 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 (Reconsidering Iris Murdoch's Fiction, Essential Psychedelic Folk Albums, and more)

Iris Murdoch: A Centenary Celebration

The New Yorker reconsidered the work of Iris Murdoch on her 100th birthday.


Treble recommended essential psychedelic folk albums.


July's best eBook deals.

eBook on sale for $3.99 today:

Less by Andrew Sean Greer

eBook on sale for $4.99 today:

Circe by Madeline Miller


Paste recommended the week's best new albums.


Geddy Lee discussed his book, Big Beautiful Book of Bass, with The Tennessean.


Colson Whitehead talked to CBS Sunday Morning about his new novel, The Nickel Boys.


Stream two new Mountain Goats song.


The New Yorker interviewed author Wendell Berry.


Stream a new song by Jay Som.


Rolling Stone talked politics with Stephen King.


Stream a new song by Cornelius.


Kathryn Scanlan discussed her novel, Aug 9—Fog, with Entropy.


Aquarium Drunkard interviewed Timothy Showalter of Strand of Oaks.


Steph Post interviewed author William Boyle.


Sasami covered Big Star's "I'm in Love with a Girl."


Electric Literature recommended books about Bastille Day.


Stream a new Jenny Hval song.


Stream two new Pieta Brown songs.



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


July 12, 2019

Virginia Reeves's Playlist for Her Novel "The Behavior of Love"

Bunny

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.

Virginia Reeves' novel The Behavior of Love is deeply moving and delightfully complex.

Booklist wrote of the book:

"Enhanced by its particular time and place, this unique and uniquely compelling novel explores love, marriage, health, and agency in shifting phases."


In her own words, here is Virginia Reeves' Book Notes music playlist for her novel The Behavior of Love:



Music plays many roles in this book—courtship, apology, entertainment, redemption. My main character, Ed, jumps onto a stage at a bar to sing to the woman who will become his wife. That’s how he gets her. Later, she sings to his guitar around campfires and wood stoves. The loud hallways of the Boulder River School and Hospital where Ed works are filled with a music of sorts, and Penelope—a patient Ed becomes too close to—writes lyrics to the sounds. Poetry is music in the mouths of other patients, and there’s certainly music in the rivers and grasses of Montana, where this book takes place. It was difficult to narrow this list down to a reasonable length, and I found the process of selecting these songs much like the process of writing this book—full of revision, cutting, adding, rearranging. I could spend a year on this, at least, but here’s what I have for now:

“O Montana” by Christy Hays

Christy Hays and I are both connected to Texas and Montana. We met through a mutual musician friend in Austin and then we both separately fell in love with Butte, Montana. This song expresses our shared love of the state, but also the love my main character, Ed, feels. He falls in love with this place, and that love is largely what starts the series of events that comprise this novel. Writing about Montana was one of my favorite parts of writing this book. Montana is full of juxtapositions—beauty alongside hardship; wide-open landscape alongside the claustrophobia of short winter days. There’s a tax to living here, but it’s worth it. Christy sings, “We have debts that we have to pay / Just think of the summer and don’t be afraid.” Like the rest of us Montanans, my characters try to keep those long, golden days in mind as they deal with the dark ones.

“Late Again” by Stealers Wheel

This song is Ed’s through and through. He is—as ever and always—late again. Laura is waiting. Ed is late because “there’s always something there that keeps [him] hanging on.” He loves his wife, but he can’t pull himself away from other things. This book is full of cycles and repetition, and it asks whether behavior really can change. This song says it can’t, and—in this instance, at least—Ed proves he can’t either.

“Reason to Believe” by Bruce Springsteen

I’m going through a bit of a Springsteen phase, and I was thrilled to find this fit. The specific events within this song don’t necessarily reflect the events within the novel, but the sentiment is spot-on. My characters face seemingly unending hardships, yet they find some reason to believe. This song is about hope, and I see that hope reflected in my characters.

“The Bad Days” by David Ramirez

I see Ed singing this one to Laura. He knows she’s frustrated. He knows he’s always home late. But like Springsteen’s song, he believes in a great tomorrow when everything will fall into place. He recognizes that there are bad days—these ones right now—but he’s asking Laura to hold out hope for the good ones, and he believes those good ones will outweigh the bad. Ed is sure they will carry on. In his mind, Laura will always be his girl.

“Nothing Arrived” by Villagers

This song guts me every time I hear it, and I give it to all three of my main characters—Ed, Laura, and Penelope. They’re all waiting for something, but it doesn’t come, and in its place, nothing arrives—nothing they want—and they’re too distracted to make something of it, to live with what they have. “It’s a funny battle, it’s a constant game / I guess I was busy when nothing came.” They are all too focused on what isn’t to deal with what is.

“Landslide” by Fleetwood Mac

Oh, Stevie Nicks. I love pretty much everything she’s done, but this song is about as perfect as they come. I distinctly remember the first time I heard it in my sister’s boyfriend’s old Datsun. I was in eighth grade, and he gave us rides to school. I had to sit in the back with all his sweaty wrestling gear. I was invisible back there, and here was Stevie Nicks singing to me. “Oh, mirror in the sky / What is love? / Can the child within my heart rise above? / Can I sail through the changing ocean tides? / Can I handle the seasons of my life?” God, what questions to ask an eighth grader! I still have no answers.

Anyway, nostalgia aside, this song speaks to my characters, too. They’ve all built their lives around each other, but those buildings are bound to collapse. I see the love in this book much like Nicks’ landslide—a great heaving mix of trees and boulders and mud rushing downhill, out of control.

“Fare Thee Well (Dink’s Song)” by Oscar Isaac

Where “Landslide” pushes us into inevitable change, this song stands on the shore and waves goodbye to what was. Even when my characters part ways in anger and sadness, I believe they’re still wishing each other well, and they all ultimately believe that “Life ain't worth living without the one you love.”

“Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right” by Bob Dylan

This song could belong to both Laura and Penelope. I could see either of them singing it to Ed. If he doesn’t know what went wrong by now, there’s no use trying to figure it out. And even though this song conveys the exact opposite of its literal message (things are definitely not “all right”), I think both Laura and Penelope send Ed off with the gentleness of this song. “You could have done better but I don't mind / You just kinda wasted my precious time / But don't think twice, it's all right.” They still want to protect him.

“April Come She Will” by Simon and Garfunkel

This was the first song I knew had to be on this list. Ed sings it to Laura in the novel, but it also embodies the changing nature of the characters throughout. Changes come, and they are as inevitable as the seasons. Ed may always be late again, but that behavior will eventually alter the life he’s living. The bad days will outweigh the good. “A love once new has now grown old…”

“All Is Well” by Austin Basham

This song speaks to the deep connection between Laura and Ed and also between Ed and Penelope. They’ve treated each other so poorly, but there is still love there. Pain is part of that love, and that pain is welcomed because it is a reminder of what once was. No one in this book is willing to fully let go.

“Nobody Knows” by The Lumineers

I’m unabashedly in love with the Lumineers even though they’re on every pop station. I think they’re making great music, and their lyrics are beautiful. I was hard-pressed to pick just one of their songs for this list, but I think this is the one. It’s for everyone in the book. Nobody in this novel knows how to say goodbye or how to get back home or how the story will end.

“Long Ride Home” by Patty Griffin

This song is Laura’s, and I see her singing it at the end of the novel. The context is different, but she is experiencing a similar long ride home, and she’s left with similar questions. I love the line: “Ain't nothing left at all in the end of being proud.”

“’Til It’s Gone” by JT & The Clouds

There is no other song to end this playlist or the soundtrack that runs in my head when I replay the events of this book. This is a nod to the Ed we know at the novel’s end. He is an eternal optimist. Every morning of his life is beautiful until it’s gone.


Virginia Reeves and The Behavior of Love links:

the author's website
excerpt from the book

New Yorker review
Publishers Weekly review


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


Ryan Blacketter's Playlist for His Story Collection "Horses All Over Hell"

Horses All Over Hell

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.

Ryan Blacketter's Horses All Over Hell is a mesmerizing collection of interconnected stories.

Mary Clearman Blew wrote of the book:

"The eleven intricately woven short stories of Horses All Over Hell portray a family caught in an ever-deepening spiral of damage and despair while bound together by ties of love in a Western landscape that comes to life on the page. The deep flaws, the beauty, and the bravery of these richly imagined characters will linger with the reader long after the last page"


In his own words, here is Ryan Blacketter's Book Notes music playlist for his story collection Horses All Over Hell:



When I started writing Horses All Over Hell, I ridiculed the father character, Marty, in scenes. In the Lewiston, Idaho of my childhood, my dad was a parole officer, and often nervous and irritable. He loved his family, but it didn’t often come across. Later, when I reimagined him as a more humorous and loveable drunk, a human being finally emerged on the page. At this time the mother, Joanna, became an enigmatic and rebellious woman, despite her depression and religiosity.

“Long Gone Lonesome Blues,” by Hank Williams

My dad’s small record collection included Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Hank Williams, and the Every Which Way But Loose soundtrack. In the first story of Horses All Over Hell, “Starlings,” the boys’ father, Marty, brings home his wife’s sister after the bars close, to try to get her back on booze. They also have a half-baked plan to cure Joanna of religion. To make it a party, he puts on Hank Williams and directs the boys to dance on Joanna’s bed while she’s asleep. Joanna sits up and talks to them. She tells them she was suicidal when she was drinking. She says the river wanted her dead back then. She doesn’t wish to return to that. Nobody seems to get the seriousness of her words except for the boys, who at this moment are listening outside the door, after their father told them to go to bed. Matt leans his head on his big brother Cory’s arm.

“Heartbreak Town,” by the Dixie Chicks

It’s Lewiston, Idaho, in the 90s, and Christians are everywhere. Despite Joanna’s sincere faith, the social obligation of Christianity is often a source of stress for her. In “Sending Those People Home,” a church family invades the Shane’s house, neglecting to conceal their disturbance about how dirty the place is. In “Convent Boys,” while church families pick blackberries, she grows “tired of all this smiling.” She’s exhausted by the need to perform, to seem perfect, by the gossip directed at her family. She prefers to lie in bed, with her Bible, her books, and her depression.

“The Girl from Ipanema,” by Astrud Gilberto, Joao Gilberto, and Stan Getz

In “They Work at Night,” Joanna seeks out the friendship of Lucy, a Native American painter who is also a former drinker. Joanna is awake in this friendship, finally out of bed. Cory has noticed the way his mom looks at Lucy, with palpable attraction. While Marty gets drunk with his brother one day, Joanna and her new friend crash the state fair with Cory and Matt. At the fair Cory follows them but stays well behind, as if he’s frightened the other fairgoers will see what he sees.

“Puff The Magic Dragon,” by Peter, Paul & Mary

It’s not news to say children speak, think, and move differently than adults, but I had a difficult time rendering these differences. Kids live inside their imaginations. They inhabit a deep woods of odd perception. In “They Work at Night,” Cory has fled Lucy’s house in the country where he was visiting with his mom and brother. He’s worried that his father is too drunk at home to coach his game, and must walk the few miles and wake him up. He thinks a horse on the road is judging him, and yells at it. When he notices that Lucy has seen his outburst, “He ran away on weird legs.” After this story I felt as though I could write about children if I kept at it.


Ryan Blacketter and Horses All Over Hell links:

the author's website

Largehearted Boy playlist by the author for Down in the River


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


July 11, 2019

Julie Zuckerman's Playlist for Her Novel "The Book of Jeremiah"

The Book of Jeremiah

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.

Julie Zuckerman's novel-in-stories The Book of Jeremiah is a poignant, endearing, and unforgettable debut.

Anna Solomon wrote of the book:

"Jeremiah Gerstler delighted, enraged, and moved me, sometimes all at once. In The Book of Jeremiah, Julie Zuckerman has created nothing less than a life. These stories shimmer with tenderness and truth."


In her own words, here is Julie Zuckerman's Book Notes music playlist for her debut novel The Book of Jeremiah:



In my current day job, I have the dubious pleasure of sitting in open space. Between the work-related conversations and the side chit-chats / gossip / jokes, I can’t make it through the day (or get anything accomplished) without tuning into a playlist. The playlist depends on my mood – anything from “Chill Classic Rock” to “Dave Matthews Band and More” to “50 Most Played Songs.”

When it comes to writing, I prefer cafes and libraries over sitting at home. In addition, often try to use my 35-minute commute on the train for writing. As I can never be sure of the reception on the train, I’ve purchased some of my favorite songs and created my own playlist on my phone, which I call “Writing Zone.” I start it with Tom Petty’s "Wildflowers." Always. I must have listened to Wildflowers thousands of times, and – no surprise – many of my recent stories feature wildflowers. Supertramp’s "Even in the Quietest Moments" often comes second. Once I’ve heard those songs, I’m in the zone, away from the people around me and back with my characters.

Mother Child Reunion – Paul Simon (Story 1: A Strong Hand and an Outstretched Arm)

We meet Jeremiah Gerstler for the first time at age 11, when his misbehavior threatens to unravel the achievements of his immigrant parents and even tests the strength of their marital accord. His mother, Rikki, is easily exasperated by him, constantly questioning her parenting skills and decisions. A better relationship for the two of them is “only a motion away.”

Even in the Quietest Moments – Supertramp (Story 2: The Book of Jeremiah)

The book’s title story shows Jeremiah at the culmination of his career as he contemplates whether he’s “done enough” and whether his father would approve of his life. In a 1977 interview with Supertramp, singer-guitarist-pianist Roger Hodgson said the song is about “a guy who’s searching,” which is what Jeremiah does throughout the novel and in this story, in particular.

Free Will – Rush (Story 3: Clandestiny)

Clandestiny is a word I made up. In this story, Jeremiah is in his mid-twenties, and despite trying to “choose free will” about the course of his life, there are “powers [he] cannot perceive, the stars aren’t aligned, or the gods are malign.” At the end of this story, one door has closed for him, but another, perhaps better one, has opened.

I Feel the Earth Move – Carole King (Story 4: Birthday Bash)

Jeremiah’s wife, Molly, is a piano teacher and musician. Shortly before turning 60, she gets an electric guitar; the family is aghast. Who is this person they thought they knew? They’d always thought of Molly as a fan of Carole King and other singer/songwriters, and now she’s strapping on a Gibson Les Paul guitar and jamming. The specific references to Carole King songs didn’t make it into the final draft of the story, but not before I’d purchased the entire “Carole King and James Taylor Live at the Troubadour” album and added it to my “Writing Zone” playlist.

“Hey Brother” – Avicii (Story 5: Signals)

It’s July 1945, Jeremiah’s 19th birthday, and he’s on leave from his unit in the U.S. Signal Corps. The mood is festive in liberated Paris, but Jeremiah feels no joie de vivre. Enter his brother’s wartime girlfriend, and Jeremiah, far from home, feels his sky “falling down.”

Glory Days – Bruce Springsteen (Story 6: Three Strikes)

Lenny, Jeremiah’s older brother, is a baseball nut, the type of kid who knows all the box scores, who can recite the batting averages of the entire New York Yankees lineup. There is no greater glory for him when his beloved Yankees sweep the Series.

Fortunate Son - Creedence Clearwater Revival (Story 7: Gerstler’s Triumpant Return)

At the tail end of the Vietnam War, Jeremiah understands he’s been a chump, “fallible in his raw human need for hope.” His propels himself into action, despite knowing deep down it may thwart one of his dreams.

Mother, Father – Journey (Story 8: Transcendental)

Jeremiah becomes a bit unhinged as his daughter’s wedding approaches. The unlikeliest member of the family – Jeremiah and Molly’s son, Stuart – is dispatched to deal with his father, despite their fractious relationship. The message Stuart is trying to get across to his father are like the lyrics in this song: “Don’t you know that I’m alive for you?”

I Belong to You – Lenny Kravitz (Story 9: Tough Day for LBJ)

Jeremiah is confident his career shift to academia is a good one, but then comments and chatter at the welcome cocktail derail his certainty. The only thing he’s sure of at the end of the story is that Molly is his rock, his grounding.

Don’t You (Forget About Me) – Simple Minds (Story 10: Emeritus)

In “Emeritus” as in other stories once Jeremiah hits his 70s, he’s burdened by the fear that he’s becoming invisible, an “an obstacle in some younger person’s way.” Unrelated to my writing or to this story: as a teenager I was obsessed with The Breakfast Club. I watched it too many times to count and could recite most of the lines by heart. Still can.

Something Just Like This – Coldplay & The Chainsmokers (Story 11: The Dutiful Daughter)

Hannah, Jeremiah’s daughter, is taken by surprise during a trip with her parents when she’s in her forties. She takes in the scenery and the people – the “legends and the myths” – with a sense of wonderment; it’s the first time she understands she’s been searching for “something just like this.”

Romeo and Juliet – Dire Straits (Story 12: Awakening)

In “Awakening,” Jeremiah and Molly go through a major crisis, causing Jeremiah to realize he’s been a lovestruck Romeo for most of their relationship. All he does is miss her and the way they used to be.

One – U2 (Story 13: MixMaster)

MixMaster is the final story in the collection, though it’s the one I wrote first. The lyrics in One mirror much of what Jeremiah is feeling in the final story of the collection. Has he “come here for forgiveness?” or “come to raise the dead?” At 82, he’s still full of life, holding fast to his belief that “love is a temple, love is a higher law.”


Julie Zuckerman and The Book of Jeremiah links:

the author's website
excerpt from the book

Deborah Kalb interview with the author
Fiction Writers Review interview with the author
The Lit Pub interview with the author
Monkeybicycle essay by 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


July 10, 2019

Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week - July 10, 2019

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.


So Real It Hurts

So Real It Hurts by Lydia Lunch

This new collection of transgressive punk fiction and essays from legendary no-wave music/film/art/writing luminary Lydia Lunch includes rants, recollections, and stories that date from the late 90s to the present. Lunch celebrates her own exploits without apology, indulges in visceral revenge fantasies against misogynistic men, and offers unromanticized histories of her no-wave years along with scathing reflections on the commodification of counterculture. Introduction by the late Anthony Bourdain!


Notes from the Fog

Notes from the Fog by Ben Marcus

This latest collection of stories by Ben Marcus is now out in paperback! From his 1995 debut, The Age of Wire and String, to his epic 2012 novel, The Flame Alphabet, Marcus has been a torchbearer for unsettling visions of alienated contemporary life. These stories include a hapless corporate drone finding love after being disfigured by tests for a new nutrition supplement; two architects in a failing marriage pondering the ethics of artificially inciting emotion as they construct a memorial to a terrorist attack; and a father beginning to worry that his precocious son may be hiding something sinister.


The Need

The Need by Helen Phillips

Writing at the intersection of speculative fiction and psychological realism, Helen Phillips has been compared to Borges, Calvino, and Saramago. Her debut novel, The Beautiful Bureaucrat, won numerous accolades for its existential surrealism. Her new novel, The Need, is both a taut thriller, a meditation on the nature of reality, and a primal investigation of motherhood.


The End We Start From

The End We Start From by Megan Hunter

This debut novel from White Review and TLS contributor Megan Hunter -- already a breakaway bestselling hit in the UK -- is an ambitious climate-fiction dystopia. As floodwaters threaten to consume London, a woman must take her newborn son on the road to safety. Comparing The End We Start From to Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, one critic wrote that this book “feels like the other half of the story.”


The Jungle

The Jungle by Upton Sinclair, adapted and illustrated by Kristina Gehrmann

This new graphic adaptation of Upton Sinclair’s classic protest novel brings to life the harsh conditions and exploited lives of immigrants in the United States in Chicago and similar industrialized cities at the turn of the century. The novel’s original publication spurred real social change, prompting the passage of the 1906 Pure Food and Drug Act in the USA. Today, Gehrmann’s adaptation resonates with a revived interest in union activism and labour rights.


Librairie Drawn & Quarterly links:

Librairie Drawn & Quarterly's website
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 (The Best Books of 2019's Second Half, Spring's Great Albums You May Have Missed, and more)

Inland by Tea Obreht

Literary Hub listed the most anticipated books of 2019's second half.


Pitchfork recommended spring's great albums you might have missed.


July's best eBook deals.

eBook on sale for $1.99 today:

The Confessions of Nat Turner by William Styron


Noisey profiled the band Doll Skin.


Vanity Fair listed the best books of the year so far.


Dude York shared a new song.


The Los Angeles Review of Books interviewed author Samuel R. Delany.


Stream a new Lower Dens song.


The Oxford American features a new Kiese Laymon essay.


Routenote recommended music podcasts.


Madeline ffitch wrote about conflict in modern fiction at Literary Hub.


Stream a new song by Lusine that features Jenn Champion.


Lesley Nneka Arimah has been awarded the 2019 Caine Prize for African writers.


Cy Dune shared five cover songs at Aquarium Drunkard.


The Nervous Breakdown shared an excerpt from Shane Jones' new novel Vincent and Alice and Alice.


Vulture profiled author Helen Phillips.



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


July 9, 2019

Juliet Escoria's Playlist for Her Novel "Juliet the Maniac"

Juliet the Maniac

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.

Juliet Escoria continues to impress with her debut novel, Juliet the Maniac, a brilliantly written tale of mental illness and coming of age.

The New York Times wrote of the book:

"For fans of Ottessa Moshfegh, Juliet the Maniac is a worthy new entry in that pantheon of deconstruction... Dazzling."


In her own words, here is Juliet Escoria's Book Notes music playlist for her debut novel Juliet the Maniac:



I wouldn’t consider Juliet the Maniac to be a “drug book.” If anything, it’s a “mental illness book,” but, admittedly, it contains a lot of drugs, both illicit and prescribed. The following is a list of most of the mind-altering substances the character Juliet consumes in the book, along with a paired song that evokes (at least for me) the drug itself. I tried not to be obvious as much as possible, so you will not see “Cocaine” by Eric Clapton in this list. Sorry, Eric Clapton fans!!

Despite the fact that drugs are fun, they are generally bad for you and it’s best to avoid them. Drugs aren’t cool, stay in school.

Mushrooms: “A Minha Menina” – Os Mutantes

Most recreational drugs have a turn to them, where they stop being fun and start to feel ominous instead. Mushrooms, however, always felt benevolent to me. I thought for a while that Os Mutantes had been on Sesame Street, but according to the internet this never happened and I have no idea where I got this idea from.

Ativan: “Close Another Door” – Bee Gees

Ativan always caused me to have strange memory blackouts, a side effect that is concerning considering how often it’s dispensed at hospitals. It seems too easy to forget that the Bee Gees were actually a really great band before they turned disco.

Cocaine: “Rich Girl” – Hall & Oates

Nothing embodies like the cocaine-twisted, metallic, mostly soulless ‘70s sound quite as much as Hall & Oates.

Acid: “Cheree” – Suicide

This song feels “shimmery” to me.

Ketamine: “Ganges a Go-Go” – Dan the Automator

The real era of ketamine in my life wasn’t during my teen years, but in my early twenties. My boyfriend and I would do ketamine and listen to this album over and over.

Somas: “Always See Your Face” – Love

There is a warmth to Somas, and a warmth to this song, which has been recently featured in a (really bleak) Volkswagen commercial. The A&E app has been forcing me to watch this commercial approximately 3-6 times per The First 48 episode. Normally I am against commercials using great songs because they tend to ruin them, but I love this song so much that I’m happy to hear it, every damn time.

Zyprexa: “wish you were gay” – Billie Eilish

Apparently in the ‘90s, Zyprexa was marketed as some kind of new miracle drug, for not just schizophrenia but also bipolar mania, depression, dementia, and everyday childhood behavioral problems, despite the fact that it caused rapid weight gain and a slew of other health problems. I really like Billie Eilish, but still, it feels like she’s being forced on us by people who desperately want a best-seller.

Trazodone: “Honey” – Mariah Carey

If you take Trazodone and stay up instead of going to bed once it kicks in, it sort of feels like being on a boat. I like Mariah Carey in a bikini on a boat with a bunch of sexy dancers. It’s weird that the sepia tint was a thing for a minute in late ‘90s music videos.

Tegretol: “Monolith” – T. Rex

My memories of Tegretol involve it making me dizzy, and getting caught in my throat when I tried to swallow it; it came in a big flat pill with no coating. T. Rex sounds “guttural,” in a good way.

Marijuana topped with red rock opium: “Ain’t Got No – I Got Life” – Nina Simone

“Red rock opium” was popular in the late ‘90s and early ‘00s. I remember smoking a fair amount of it, thinking it amplified the effects of marijuana, making me feel more calm and less paranoid. But it turns out this was all a lie. While heroin may have occasionally been mixed in, most likely I was smoking dragon’s blood, a type of incense made from plant resin, and the high I thought I felt was only the placebo effect. The mind is a hell of a drug.

It might be a cruel, terrible world, but if you remind yourself: Hell yeah, I got my liver and my boobies, then suddenly for a moment everything feels okay.

Zoloft: “Grinding Halt” – The Cure

Zoloft gave me chronic diarrhea. This song has the jittery urgency of diarrhea.

Buspar: “Don’t Be Angry” – Ros Serey Sothea

I love the warm, wistful sound of ‘60s & ‘70s psychedelic Cambodian rock music, but you can really feel the threat of death under the surface. Ros Serey Sothea disappeared under the Khmer Rouge regime and nobody knows what happened to her. It’s been a long time since I took Buspar, but from what I remember, it made me feel calm but dead inside.

Alcohol: “Swinging Doors” – Merle Haggard

Drunk driving is very bad on numerous levels and you should never do it. However, it is enjoyable to drink and drive while listening to Merle Haggard.

Percocet: “Ladies and Gentleman We Are Floating in Space” – Spiritualized

Percocet is one of the most fun variants of synthetic opioids. It feels floaty, without the harshness of straight Oxycodone. I will use any opportunity to put this song on a mixtape.

Ecstasy: “Ecstasy” – Rob Gee

I promised I wouldn’t be obvious with my song choices, whoopsie! This song is so annoying and I love it dearly. Purposely annoying people is a hobby of mine so I couldn’t resist.

Depakote: “Man is Too Ignorant to Exist” – Eyehategod

I took Depakote for twelve years and I really, really hate it. Twelve years of stupid pink pills, making me feel sluggish and achy and nauseous. Fuck Depakote. I considered putting a song I hate here but instead I put one that I am now too old for; I still like Eyehategod but they make me feel too stressed out to actually listen to them.


Juliet Escoria and Juliet the Maniac links:

the author's website
the author's Wikipedia entry

New York Times review
NPR Books review
Washington Post review

Largehearted Boy playlist by the author for Black Cloud
Largehearted Boy playlist by the author for Witch Hunt


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


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