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Exclusions by Noah Falck

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, Roxane Gay, and many others.

Noah Falck's Exclusions is an inventive and contemplative poetry collection that defines the world by what's not there.

Natalie Shapero wrote of the book:

"Noah Falck's Exclusions purports to leave everything out, and yet somehow this book has everything in it: birth, death, rust, sex, smoking, shadows, floodlights, Olympic mascots, how the sun flattens / into a sort of messy bruise / over the lake. Falck is a deadpan Nostradamus, dispensing fast-hitting predictions and sour flashes of the past. Teenagers can t get drunk / fast enough is what you think of / when you think of home. These poems are fraught machines that crack and fizzle, that think deeply and resist the low ground, that come from a place of uncanny wildness and heft."

In his own words, here is Noah Falck's Book Notes music playlist for his poetry collection Exclusions:

Each of these songs on the playlist I played repeatedly during the writing of my poetry collection, Exclusions (Tupelo Press). Music has always been an integral part of my writing process, in terms of the space it creates from the actual writing, and the emotional energy it provides to dive back in.

“From a Soon-to-Be Ghost Town,” Fruit Bats

I’d say there are almost no “happy” poems in Exclusions. That’s not to say that the poems don’t come from a place of joy, even in their darknesses. This tune, however, is stitched with joy, comes from a place nourished with light, and I immediately felt that upon hearing it. Every time I hear it - the uptempo beat, the dash of piano, the jangly guitar solo, the belting vocals “And you didn’t want to leave / Cause you liked the air,” it always leaves me wanting to hit the repeat button.

“Gwan,” Rostam

I remember getting lost one summer on the backroads in the middle of nowhere Ohio on the way to Kenyon College, and this song came on. Those winding, one lane roads like unmonitored roller coasters where people fly by at 70+ mph. I had this on full blast, windows down, driving past the blur of barns, cows, and those great open fields. It felt like a dream. I love the grace inside this song. The environment it builds. There’s sort of a bedtime story feel to it. The jogging drums. And the cello. Oh damn that cello. It’s a song that creates an instant feeling in me. And I want my poems to do that same thing. Create a space where you can both feel and discover.

“Depreston,” Courtney Barnett

I think Courtney Barnett is a masterful songwriter. Maybe one of the best we have today. I’m excited to be around to see what she does next. This tune feels like a short story. The details dropped in every line. (“I’m saving $23 dollars a week” ... “A garage for two cars to park in” ... “A collection of those canisters for coffee tea and flour.”) The simple, steady guitar riff throughout. The lyrical repetition that fades into the music as the song leaves. As I wrote my book, I returned to this tune often. I think it gave me that sense that you could tell an entire life story in a very short space or at least the sense of one. In addition, I love how she talk sings the word ‘garage.’

“Devil Town,” Daniel Johnston

This early '90s classic two-stanza a cappella tune has always left me in awe. It’s sparingly haunting. Devil Town could be a location in my book. Vampires hanging around the outside of some condemned movie theatre smoking cigarettes, no shadows anywhere. Yep.

“Wintersong,” Blake Mills

What I dig about this song is it feels like 2 songs. It has this slow, soft beginning for the first 2 minutes or so. This beautiful distorted folk rhythm. Then it just jumps tracks around the 2 minute mark. A Neil Young-ish guitar peeks in the window. And the wind slowly picks up, and the female vocals come in with it. For an instant it sounds like Fleetwood Mac as they sing “You don't have to tell me nothing /'Cause you know that you've already shown it.” Just as it’s about to burst open it ends. The whole thing is composed like a poem, and I respect all the choices in its composition.

“The Wild Kindness,” Silver Jews

David Berman has always been a presence in my creative life. I’d gluestick a photo of him to my office wall if I had an office (currently I work out of my dining room). There is a dusty, poetic swagger in everything he does. So much surreal clarity and originality. This song holds my favorite stanzas in all of rock and roll: “Grass grows in the icebox / The year ends in the next room / It is autumn and my camouflage is dying.” These beautifully strange images of time make me shiver, every time I hear them. My exclusion poems want to be in that runoff country of wildness.

“Burning,” The War On Drugs

I think my heart still aches for the midwest (I grew up in Dayton, Ohio), even though Buffalo doesn’t feel that far removed from it. “Burning” by The War On Drugs is a track that feels old and new to me like Ohio. It seems to have cherry picked whatever the best parts of those 1980s rock n roll jams were and brought them together into one sweeping Americana jam. It makes me think of the midwest, perhaps in some of the imagery Granduciel uses, though I know it could be anywhere.

“Teenage Spaceship,” Smog / Bill Callahan

When my daughter was born this tune was the first one I remember that had a calming presence for her. If she was crying uncontrollably I’d throw this track on and sing it to her. She would immediately chill out. I love the lyric: “So large on the horizon / people thought my windows / were stars.” It’s just perfect in so many ways. Thank god for Bill Callahan.

Bonus tracks:

Cotton Jones - “Sail of the Silver Morning”
Nap Habit - “Tightrope”
Ass Ponys - “Last Night It Snowed”
R.E.M. - “Harborcoat”

Noah Falck is an author, poet, and educator. He was born and raised in Dayton, Ohio, and attended the University of Dayton where he received a BS in Education and a Master s in Literacy. He is author of the poetry collections Snowmen Losing Weight as well as several chapbooks including You Are In Nearly Every Future, Celebrity Dream Poems, Life As A Crossword Puzzle, & Measuring Tape for the Midwest. He also co-edited My Next Heart: New Buffalo Poetry (BlazeVOX Books, 2017). He has received fellowships from the Kenyon Review Writers Workshop, The Ohio State University, and Antioch Writers Workshop. His poetry has appeared in Boston Review, Harvard Review, Kenyon Review, Ploughshares,, and has been anthologized in Poem-A-Day 365 Poems for Every Occasion (Abrams Books, 2015). For ten years he taught elementary school, and currently spends his summers mentoring as a faculty member in the Kenyon Review Young Writers Workshop. Now living in Buffalo, New York, he is Education Director at the non-profit Just Buffalo Literary Center and curates the Silo City Reading Series, a multimedia poetry series in a 130-foot abandoned grain elevator.

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The Wild Laughter by Adam Wilson

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, Roxane Gay, and many others.

Caoilinn Hughes' novel The Wild Laughter is a darkly comic family drama.

The Guardian wrote of the book:

"Powerful...darkly adventurous... An Irish Cain and Abel... Hart’s embittered anguish is resplendent throughout; his role in one of the book’s key scenes makes for an outstanding passage of manipulation, misery and culpability. The Wild Laughter’s reckoning is as much concerned with these far-reaching effects of history as with the ongoing brutality of austerity."

In her own words, here is Caoilinn Hughes' Book Notes music playlist for her novel The Wild Laughter:

I wrote a first draft of The Wild Laughter eight years ago when I was living in New Zealand. I rewrote it living in the Netherlands. But it’s a novel set in Ireland’s landlocked midlands about a family who has never left the island, so the extreme Irishness of this soundtrack (7 of the 10 tracks) reflects that: it’s a lock-in! A bit claustrophobic probably, and inebriatingly, romantically nationalist. Personally, I am extremely uncomfortable with nationalism and patriotism: I am happy to celebrate aspects of culture and community, but I believe they can usually be separated from nationality and place. Landscape and its weather can be part of what prompts cultural output, so you might call that the epitome of place/national situation, but I’d rather think of it as geology and meteorology. We can blame the rain for all this cultural output, for having nothing drier to do than putting ink to paper, but the rain isn’t ours. We don’t own the rock, even if paper likes to wrap itself around it. Down with paper flags. Up with culture. Up with general rain, with the ground’s capacity to absorb it. Here we go. A-one-two-three-four…

1. Lakum, “The Wild Rover”

An iconic song from The Dubliners, rewritten here by Lankum. The lyrics are only slightly revised, but the arrangement, instrumentation, tone, and style are totally different. The Dubliners’ version might prompt a listener to slap her knee, as if at the punchline of a great story told. In the original, the speaker thinks of himself as a sort of prodigal son (as does the protagonist of The Wild Laughter), and the final verse promises that the speaker will go home to confess to his parents and beg their pardon and, if they embrace him as before, then he “will play the wild rover no more.” Whereas in the Lankum version, the speaker lists the things he could have paid for with the money wasted on beer. There is such a haunting drive to Lankum’s song, and to my ear it has been musically reembodied uncannily. The speaker’s vow to stop drinking and roving falls not on deaf ears, but on ears who hear the prospect of a customer. The entrapment contained within the composition makes me for one listen on repeat. I love this beautiful, slightly trippy video in which the centre of all the landscapes widen and distort verrrry subtly so as to render the viewer “Gee-eyed.” If not, it draws you in and forward, warping one’s mood and perspective. There’s a medieval quality to the song, the harmonized vocals almost Gregorian chant-like. The instrumentation (Radie Peat on the harmonium) is non-obtrusive to begin with, so we can hear the voices almost as a capella, until the fourth minute when the instruments gather and stampede into strained, glissanding polyphonous chords with texture that has a physical effect on the listener.

2. Lisa O’Neill, “Rock the Machine”

From the County Cavan, Lisa O’Neill writes a brilliant protest song—her iconic “No Train to Cavan” for example. For seven years of her childhood, she played the tin whistle in a marching band, and that context thrums through her music. [Tangent alert! “The Dawning of the Day,” which gets a nod in The Wild Laughter, was the first tune she learned. “The Dawning of the Day” belongs to the poetic genre called the “Aisling” in which Ireland appears in the form of a woman-seer. Sounding deceptively like love songs (to evade British censorship), in an Aisling, the woman/Ireland laments the current state of the nation’s people and predicts an imminent revival of their fortunes (the “dawning of the day”) and Ireland’s deliverance.] O’Neill’s lyrics also mourn livelihoods and cultures lost, but she celebrates resilience and there’s the occasional call to action. In the Ireland O’Neill and I grew up in, most people couldn’t avoid associating music with Sunday mass and school (for Irish dancing) and that social/communal association shines through. This song is about and for the dockers. I would give the whole set of lyrics here if I could, but know that the song is as powerful as any one of its parts. “Machine with the strength of a hundred men / Can’t feed and clothe my children / Can’t greet a sailor coming in / Or know of desperation.” In an era in which the tech overlords have set up their cameras on every dock and port and cul-de-sac, we all feel the absence of greetings (by which I mean UBI/UBS already, ffs; which would surely be “gold enough to win back time”; which would make our “load a mountain lighter” and allow us to move into a new era rather than pine for an old desperate, defeated compromise.) I’m hearing O’Neill’s strong, unadorned, distinctive voice as one hell of a greeting.

3. The Gloaming, “Boy in the Gap/The Lobster”

This reel opens with such a gentle lullaby quality, between the traditional fiddle (Martin Hayes) and the timeless, raindrop-effect piano (Thomas Bartlett); the acoustic guitar (Dennis Cahill) there too is barely audible, and Caoimhin Ó Raghallaigh on the second violin adds lingering tonal chords (almost acting a double bass) for a sort of synth/blue noise effect. It’s not so much that it builds as it gives us a little more of the song as it progresses—as if one is opening all the doors in the house. All the doors are open when the piece moves into its second phase/tune, where the second violin takes the mantle, with rich, harmonic double stopping, and the song adapts into something more venturesome and awakening. Beautifully subdued and familiar to Irish people as the scars on our hands, “Hughie Travers” starts up at minute 4.19—played with the ease of a tune being hummed in the shower, rather than being expressed in full. A second piano adds to the community this medley celebrates. It’s the first piano in particular that keeps this very much in the contemporary realm, with lots of seemingly improvised / gestural syncopation and variance — it adds something non-traditional to the trad palate, and I, for one, am not throwing it out of the pub! The fiddles are the most true-to-tradition here. A little trick for the non-Irish, how you can tell if violins are fiddles—that they’re playing “trad”—is that the players’ wrists tend to follow the wood of the violin; whereas for classical music, the wrist is arched away from the violin’s neck, which allows the player to play vibrato with their fingertips. In trad music, you rarely hear vibrato and the pads of the fingers are used. Essentially, the tension is totally different. It also means trad players have a surer grip of their fiddles, so they can dance around a bit, and their chins are doing less work to hold the instrument, so they can watch one another. There’s a cameraderie in this music, coupled with some child-like simplicity that is consoling, joyful, and expansive.

4. Christy Moore, “Ordinary Man”

A raging classic of Irish folk (replete with bodhrán, not seen in this video), Christy Moore’s album was one of the four cassette tapes we had in the car every time we took the long car journey out to our holiday caravan (years later, a cottage) in Connemara when we were kids. In The Wild Laughter, the family takes such a journey westward, caravan-ward; though no music plays to crackle through the tension. To English friends, I’d describe Moore as an Irish Billy Bragg, but more ardent (and less consistently political); for American friends, Bob Dylan might be the comparison for that magic nexus of great lyrics—great vibe, though no one sounds like Moore and no one sweats like him. Just watch that porous energy his music transfers to the listener! It’s the opposite of socially distanced music. The lyrics of this epochal track are connected to my novel, in that it’s a working-class song of protest against market forces and capitalist interests that enrich and protect the owners of the means of production at the expense of workers and the poor. Its renewed timeliness is a grim fact of neoliberal reality.

I’m very interested in self-admonishment and shame (“I’m an ordinary man, nothing special, nothing grand”) and, in contrast, self-aggrandizement, self-congratulation, and pride—how a person narrating their own story makes a certain pact with themselves, and how that self-portrait differs from the portrait a person fears is the truer portrait, the thread-veined, wide-pored likeness. This song doesn’t go there—that’s not what this song is interested in … but The Wild Laughter does, and this track was part of a collection of urgent voices heckling in the novel’s background.

5. Luke Kelly, “On Raglan Road”

The lyrics of this song are by the Irish poet Patrick Kavanagh (important to me and to The Wild Laughter.) The lyrics are set it to the music of “The Dawning of the Day,” mentioned earlier. It’s a song about the futile but endless pursuit of unrequited love. “I loved too much and by such by such is happiness thrown away.” There is the slightly uncomfortable blame seated on the beloved here: “I saw her first and knew / That her dark hair would weave a snare that I might one day rue./ I saw the danger…. / And I said, let grief be a fallen leaf at the dawning of the day.” Do watch this specific live recording. The song’s story is based on a woman Kavanagh was in love with, but who didn’t reciprocate his feelings. As an excuse to meet with her without the prospect of courting, he often asked her to critique his work. Kavanagh described himself as a “peasant poet” but the woman was not wildly impressed and teased: "Can you not, then, write about anything other than stony grey soil and bogs, Paddy?” The story goes that Kavanagh vowed to immortalize her in poetry, and so he did, in this and other poems. The awkward macho-masculinity of the host and audience members—rendered limp by the unequivocating power of Luke Kelly’s voice and the sincerity of the lyrics makes this recording very much worth watching. (In The Wild Laughter, Doharty Black vows to tell his story at once, and not “wait and watch the tragedy to the last curtain, as Kavanagh would have it,” but Hart has more Kavanagh about him than he can admit.)

6. Roberta Flack, “First Time Ever I Saw Your Face”

Flack won a Record of the Year Grammy Award in 1973 for this goddamn gorgeous, unforced rendition of a timeless, heart-soaring song (written by Ewan MacColl). The live version linked here is quite a lot faster than the official track, which changes the song considerably (the official track has a longing, melancholic quality, rather than this celebratory version), but I enjoy seeing the joy beaming through Flack’s performance here. The fact that she’s playing the piano with closed eyes much of the time is wonderful, and a member of the audience laughs spontaneously at the end. I love where that laugh comes from, which is to say the childish earnestness that’s accommodated here, so uncommon—even in a love song; even with congregants in the round.

7. Barry Douglas playing Ravel’s “Scarbo”

Manic, hand-overlapping, erratic-tempo’d, key-signatureless stuff! It also has the feeling of a chase: a track Hart hears whenever he steps outside… or opens a window.

8. James Blake, “Retrograde”

“You’re on your own, in a world you’ve grown.” A piney, self-flagellating, self-prodigalizing, soul-crooning (great) song about being alone, love-lost, and abandoned by everyone? Yes, Hart will be having that slow beat for inside his tractor, thank you very much.

9. Jóhann Jóhannsson, “A Pile of Dust”

Though the Icelandic artist I listen to frequently is Ásgeir Trausti (and I can’t resist sneaking in a link to his version of the Pixie classic “Where Is My Mind” for the exact same reason as the Blake track), I’ll share a piece by Icelandic composer Jóhann Jóhannsson from the album “Orphée”, played by the Air Lyndhust String Orchestra. In general, when I’m writing I’m listening to either brown noise or instrumental music, as I’ve written about elsewhere. In terms of my preferences, I love genre-blending music, especially contemporary modifications of folk/trad and neo-classical with electronica/synthetic elements. This is a simpler neoclassical piece, that swells a little more than Jóhannsson’s often minimalist music does; it’s quite an emotional score, I think, though (at least to my ear) it isn’t surprising or searching; it doesn’t vault. It’s the sort of music I listen to frequently when reading and writing—especially when reading. I find older classical music too expressly emotive to be able to read/write alongside it. Those strict dynamics interrupt the atmosphere to too great a degree. While this is more emotive than many of Jóhannsson’s scores, I think it’s a lovely example of his style and tone.

10. Radie Peat (Okay, fine it’s Lankum again, but Radie is the artist I listen for. Here’s why.) “Hunting the Wren”

I think it’s the contrast of the languor of her voice and delivery and its downright strength and singularity that draws me to Radie Peat. This song matches that captivating tone with almost atonal instrumentation, a trudging tempo and heavy poetry. The lyrics call on the mythological associations of the wren, “hunting the wren day,” and it ties this metaphor in with the social group of outcast (abused, exploited) women referred to as the Curragh Wrens who lived on the harsh plains of Kildare (source). Some of the lyrics are devastating, as you’ll hear. Wren Day consists of a mock-hunt, of an effigy of a wren, followed by a procession wherein the effigy is hoisted upon a pole. So in the lines: “With cold want and whisky / She soon is run down / Her body paraded / On a staff through the town,” we hear the mourning of victim blaming, of violence towards women, and toxic masculinity. Paying homage to tragedy without romanticizing it is very hard to do, and I think this piece achieves that, with the quality and beauty of a dirge: perhaps a hymn’s opposite. Praise be.

Though this begs for a finale song, I’ll resist that culminative temptation. It’s a timeworn writerly trick to begin at the end, which is to say: when it sounds like an ending, often the story has just begun.

Caoilinn Hughes is the author of Orchid & the Wasp (Oneworld 2018), which won the Collyer Bristow Prize, was shortlisted for the Hearst Big Book Awards, the Butler Literary Award and longlisted for the Authors' Club Best First Novel Award. Her poetry collection, Gathering Evidence (Carcanet 2014), won the Shine/Strong Award and was shortlisted for four other prizes. Her work has appeared in Granta, POETRY, Tin House, Best British Poetry, BBC Radio 3 and elsewhere. She has a PhD from Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand, and she was recently Visiting Writer at Maastricht University in the Netherlands. For her short fiction, she won The Moth International Short Story Prize 2018 and an O.Henry Prize in 2019.

If you appreciate the work that goes into Largehearted Boy, please consider making a donation.



Sensation Machines by Adam Wilson

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, Roxane Gay, and many others.

Adam Wilson's Sensation Machines is both darkly funny and poignant, a novel that captures the absurdity of our times.

Publishers Weekly wrote of the book:

"Wilson’s observations are often sharp-witted, extracting humor from sources like video game addiction, cryptocurrency, and herd mentality . . . as Michael and Wendy’s marriage fractures, the author carefully braids their individual narratives to a satisfying, if inevitable, crescendo. This feels all too real."

In his own words, here is Adam Wilson's Book Notes music playlist for his novel Sensation Machines:

ultimate rap/g-funk Party Mix

Adam Wilson Playlist

Adam Wilson

The attached archival document—recently unearthed in my parents’ basement—dates back to 1994, which would place me in either 6th or 7th grade when I made my ultimate rap/g-funk party mix. I’d be willing to venture that the dancefloor I imagined it rattling existed exclusively in my own mind.

The larger question of what it means that this music was so formative for my generation of white suburbanites is one that Sensation Machines spends considerable energy grappling with. It’s not a question with a simple or all-inclusive answer. In my case, I’d like to think that alongside whatever else I got from 90s hip-hop—screwed up ideas about sex and gender, an affinity for spending way too much money on sneakers—the music fostered my budding interest in language.

The entirety of the attached track list is culled from four albums: Snoop Doggy Dogg’s Doggystyle, The Above the Rim Soundtrack, K7’s Swing Batta Swing!, and Salt-N-Pepa’s Very Necessary. These were not the only albums I owned at the time—I can think of at least a couple more including Onyx’s Bacdafucup, Dr. Dre’s The Chronic, Boyz II Men’s Cooleyhighharmony, and Wreckx-n-Effect’s Hard Or Smooth, as well as cassette singles of 2Pac’s “I Get Around”, TLC’s “What About Your Friends”, Inner Circle’s “Sweat”, and H-Town’s “Knockin’ Boots”—and judging from the markings next to the song titles, what we’re seeing here is only a partial list, page 1 of what was, or was intended to be, a much longer ultimate party mix.

Of the nineteen songs included, nearly half come from Snoopy Doggy Dogg’s 1993 album Doggystyle. This makes sense; Doggystyle, held pride of place in my collection. It was the first album I remember anticipating before its release. I’d worn out my cassette of The Chronic Rewind/Fast-Forwarding back and forth to Snoop’s contributions, especially “Nuthin But a 'G' Thang”, the lyrics to which I copied out for further study (see exhibit B.) I didn’t get half the references, but I loved Snoop’s laid back flow, the way phrases slithered and curled under his will so that words that didn’t really rhyme somehow did. I remember listening to Jam’n 94.5 for hours, blank tape in the tape deck, finger perched on the record button, awaiting the radio debut of Doggystyle’s first single, “What’s My Name?” I remember, a month later, begging my parents to let me stand in line at Tower Records on Newbury street for the album’s midnight release. They did not let me, but my father, bless his heart, went and stood in line for me and brought home the CD.

A year later I would fall under the spell of Jim Morrison, grow my hair long, start taking guitar lessons, and completely lose interest in rap music, at least for a couple of years. But though most of the songs on my ultimate rap/g-funk party mix aren’t ones I’ve thought much about since—I sing along to “Shoop” or “Regulators” when they pop up on the radio, but I had literally no memory of K7—Doggystyle remained a point of reference.

When I was in college, a band called the Gourds did a bluegrass cover of “Gin & Juice” and I’m embarrassed to say that I performed my own cover of the Gourds cover during many a drunken late-night acoustic guitar dorm room singalong. I went to an East Coast liberal arts college between 2000 and 2004. Quote unquote indie rap was status quo among my crowd—we worshiped Atmosphere and Aesop Rock—but quote unquote gangsta rap could only be enjoyed through a protective layer of irony, à la the Gourds.

I shudder to think of those drunken singalongs, a bunch of mostly white East Coasters shouting “G’s up, hoes down” in faux Southern accents. And yet, especially now, it seems important to acknowledge this double-shot of appropriation.

I’d like to the think that my twelve-year-old self’s relationship to this music was somehow more pure, that despite the obvious chasms of race and class that separated me from Snoop, I admired Doggystyle on some kind of universal human level. But even then, I don’t think this was the case. You might note that on the song list I refrained from spelling out the n-word on track number 5; I understood, at least on some level, that though I loved this music, I had no claim on it. To quote from Sensation Machines:

“If hip-hop gave me an identity during those years, it also provided repeated reminders that it wasn’t intended for people like me. People, that is, with no experiential knowledge of the crack epidemic, or Section 8 housing, or mistreatment at the hands of trigger-happy police. People, that is, with no experiential knowledge of the racial injustice that, I gathered, was a defining component of many American lives. Even before being schooled, at college, in the language of political correctness, I understood my status as a cultural voyeur… I loved hip-hop both in spite of and because of the fact that it wasn’t mine to love."

From Snoop Doggy Dogg’s Doggystyle:

Gin & Juice
Lodi Dodi
What’s My Name
For All My “N’s & B’s”
Ain’t No Fun
Doggy Dogg World
G’z and Hustlas

From the Above the Rim soundtrack:

Big Pimpin’ – The Dogg Pound
Didn’t Mean to Turn You On - 2nd II None
Regulate – Nate Dogg and Warren G
Pour Out a Little Liquor – 2Pac, Thug Life
Afro Puffs – The Lady of Rage
Dogg Pound 4 Life – The Dogg Pound

From K7’s Swing Batta Swing:

Come Baby Come
Zunga Zeng

From Salt-N-Pepa’s Very Necessary:

Whatta Man
Somma Time Man
None of Your Business

Adam Wilson is the author of the novel Flatscreen, which was an Indie Next Pick and a National Jewish Book Award Finalist, as well as the short story collection What's Important Is Feeling. His is the recipient of The Paris Review’s Terry Southern Prize for Humor, and his work has appeared in Harper’s, Tin House, The Paris Review, and The Best American Short Stories, among other publications. Wilson has taught in the creative writing programs at Columbia and NYU. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife and son.

If you appreciate the work that goes into Largehearted Boy, please consider making a donation.


A Saint from Texas by Edmund White

The New York Times profiled author Edmund White.

Weekend Edition broke down the legacy of race in traditional music.

July's best eBook deals.

eBooks on sale for $1.99 today:

Devotions by Mary Oliver
Stony the Road by Henry Louis Gates Jr.

eBooks on sale for $3.99 today:

Arkansas by John Brandon
Every Man a Menace by Patrick Hoffman

Watch David Byrne on the TED Radio Hour.

Catherine Lacey discussed her novel Pew with Electric Literature.

Book Riot recommended intersectional books about the environment.

Paste listed the best David Berman songs.

Kelli Jo Ford talked to Weekend Edition about her novel Crooked Hallelujah.

The first inspiration, for me and what continues to be one of my strongest inspirations is that there were times in my life when I was a little girl that I — like Reney, the book's youngest protagonist, also lived in a household with four generations of Cherokee women. And so growing up with a strong woman, these strong personalities, these really close relationships in, you know, one household? That was just going to stick with me, I think. It was going to probably come out in some way if I was going to make art of any kind.

The Cut profiled singer-songwriter Soko.

If you don’t yet know Soko, née Stephanie Sokolinski, don’t box her in as your typical French actress turned singer-songwriter. As an actress, she’s best known for a few high-brow indie dramas in her native France, where she’s been twice nominated for a Cesar Award (France’s version of the Oscars). Since then she’s launched a career as a musician who makes a moody blend of bedroom pop and The Cure-esque punk, collaborating with artists like Ariel Pink and Spike Jonze. shared an early history of female vampires.

Jacobin examined alternate revenue generating music streaming options.

The music industry bounced back from a seemingly terminal post-Napster crisis, but the profits from streaming go to big companies and a handful of top artists. Can we build an alternative model that encourages more innovative — and more radical — music?

BuzzFeed shared a story from Karen Tei Yamashita's collection Sansei and Sensibility.

BrooklynVegan recommended '90s indie rock and shoegaze concerts to stream.

Shondaland recommended new feminist classics.

Stream a new song by John K. Samson.

The Guardian and Literary Hub interviewed author Adrian Tomine.

Stream a new song by Lala Lala and Baths.

The New York Times offered a guide to Nordic noir.

Stream a new song by Uniform.

The Guardian interviewed author Bryan Washington.

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

The Washington Post interviewed Jarvis Cocker.

CarolineLeavittville interviewed author Laura van den Berg.

Gothamist interviewed Laurie Anderson.

Writers discussed finding a literary agent at The Cut.

BrooklynVegan recommended early Fleetwood Mac songs that featured Peter Green.

Third Coast Review interviewed author Michael Zapata.

The Rumpus interviewed author Carter Sickels.

The OTHERPPL podcast interviewed author Maggie Downs.

Sarah Gerard talked books with Book Marks.

If you appreciate the work that goes into Largehearted Boy, please consider making a donation.



Tertulia by Vincent Toro

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, Roxane Gay, and many others.

Vincent Toro's poetry collection Tertulia illuminates Latinx culture while highlighting the inequalities it faces. A stunning and important book.

The New York Times wrote of the book:

"Toro’s poetry is exuberant and often comic, celebrating Latinx identity and culture in America even as it flags injustice and inequality at every turn."

In his own words, here is Vincent Toro's Book Notes music playlist for his poetry collection Tertulia:

The TERTULIA Mixtape

Listening to (and sometimes reading about or playing) music is an integral part of my writing process. As I start to build momentum working on a particular writing project, my reading and my music listening becomes increasingly voracious. The music I am digesting becomes a palpable part of the work itself. Some poems draw thematically from the music, and sometimes there is a structural or conceptual element that ends up being transferred from vinyl (or CD, or Cassette, or MP3) to the page. The work of the artists in this mix are all circulating in the vascular system of my second collection, Tertulia.

You Ain’t the Problem - Michael Kiwanuka

Back in 2012, my hermano DJ Cliff Morehead bought me Kiwanuka’s first record for my 37th birthday. Kiwanuka’s music has been traveling with me ever since. There is a cinematic quality to his song compositions that are given tenderness by his sweet and solemn voice. His balance of the cinematic or epic with the intimate and the personal is something I aspired to achieve with “Tertulia.” Kiiwanuka’s sound makes me want to write poems that will give readers the sense that we are simpatico. If only we could all be this simultaneously vulnerable and groovy.

Freedom is Free - Chicano Batman

Chicano Batman’s brand of Latinx Soul always sends me back to the Washington Heights of the 1970s where my parents grew up and where I was born. From the tenement windows on Broadway and Dyckman street you could hear harmonies of the Temptations blending with the horns of the Fania All-Stars. There was a genuine and exciting cultural exchange happening between the African American and Latinx communities living together on those upper Manhattan blocks, a bond that was made material by the music that was being played and created there. This synthesis became an entirely new flavor that spawned the Boogaloo and Latin R&B music movements, a sound that is embodied in the 21st century by Chicano Batman. It’s warm party music unafraid to get political on you when necessary.

La Leyenda del Tiempo - Camarón

While constructing this book I was reading a good deal of Federico García Lorca, whose poetry lives inside the guttural howls of Camarón de La Isla. This song from his album of the same name takes its title and some of its lyrics from one of García Lorca’s plays. Camarón’s voice IS the duende that so many poets obsess over. When Camarón is singing I literally get chills in my fingers and toes.

spider/WAVES - Le Butcherettes feat. Jello Biafra

Le Butcherettes’ latest album, bi/MENTAL, chronicles the abusive relationship between frontwoman Teri Gender Bender and her mother, and their eventual estrangement. Beyond the power of the songwriting and musicianship, what makes this record so compelling is Gender Bender’s ability to capture just how difficult it is to sever ties with family members that abuse you. Her lyrics and voice fearlessly grapple with the psychological damage such a relationship causes. “Tertulia” has a cycle of poems dealing with familial abuse. I consider bi/MENTAL to be that cycle’s soundtrack. And Gender Bender’s guitar work here is both dazzling and haunting.

Disparate Youth - Santigold

Santigold is another musician who has helped carry me through the 21st century. Though the lyrics for “Disparate Youth” are painted in broad brush strokes, the references to stormy weather ahead, the cries of resistance against forces trying to hold us back, and the collectivist spirit of the song (she sings using the “we” pronoun) seem to speak directly to our current situation of mass movements fighting both fascist institutions and impending biological/ecological crises. The guitar riff and chorus in this one convinces me that somehow we’ll get through this.

Deathless - Ibeyi featuring Kamasi Washington

This song by the Afro-French-Cuban sisters Lisa-Kaindé and Naomi Diaz (which features the illimitable Kamasi Washington) was spawned after a situation in which the two were harassed by a police officer. Lisa-Kaindé says that she wrote the song "for every minority. For everybody that feels that they are nothing, that feels small, that feels not cared about and I want them to listen to our song and for three minutes feel large, powerful, deathless. I have a huge amount of respect for people who fought for, what I think, are my rights today and if we all sing together 'We are deathless,' they will be living through us into a better world." The dedication page of Tertulia says something quite similar. My aim for the book is to also give folks that have been marginalized and oppressed at least a moment to feel like they are not alone, that they are “deathless.”

World Clique - Deeelite

If Tertulia were a film, “World Clique” would probably be its theme song. I have often said that I would love to write poems that people can dance to, and this book seeks specifically to dismantle hierarchies, injustice, and the “cliques” that are incessantly imposed upon us. Here Deeelite gets the world up on its feet while calling for global unity. It Tertulia doesn’t get you up on your feet, I’m sure this song can do the job.

Chemical Calisthenics - Blackalicious

My poetics is very much a hip-hop poetics. Much of what I love about hip-hop is the commitment to lyricism. Emcees are unafraid to show off their ability to deliver bars with sophistication and flair. I would go so far as to say that their dedication to language as world building tool makes them poetic purists. This is why I was so glad to see Kendrick Lamar win a Pulitzer Prize, because it is a statement serving as evidence that emcees are poets of the first order. The lyrical dimension of my work is driven in part by an aspiration to be as elegant and complex as the rhymes of the finest emcees. If rap (and poetry) is an act of performing verbal gymnastics, then Gift of Gab from the Bay Area hip-hop act Blackalicious is the Simone Biles of hip-hop. If you don’t believe me, listen to what he does in this song. His level of craft will paralyze you with awe.

Hallo Spaceboy - David Bowie

Including Bowie in this mix feels mandatory. Tertulia includes a cento using Bowie’s words (those he wrote, those that Nicolas Roeg wrote for him, and those that Todd Haynes wrote for Jonathan Rhys Meyes pretending to be him). My “strange fascination” with Bowie came a bit late in life, probably because when I was a child he was acting out his middling pop star persona. It was with his 1997 album “Earthling” that I actually became a Bowie head. Casual fans prefer glam Bowie or those 80’s MTV pop star years, but in the late nineties and early 2000s, Bowie’s was revivified and he found a way to synthesize the flash of his Ziggy Stardust work with the experimentalism of his Berlin trilogy while absorbing the industrial, grunge, and drum and bass music of the nineties. By then in his late forties, David Bowie was making music that was both daring and assiduous, which you can feel in this song from his 1995 album, 1. Outside. “Hallo Spaceboy” is considered the third act in an unofficial trilogy of songs starring his Major Tom character (act one being “Space Odyssey” and act two being 1980’s “Ashes to Ashes”). He called this song “the Doors playing heavy metal,” and though it was written 25 years ago, it somehow captures the collective stress and confusion we are all sharing right now.

Oscollo - Elysia Crampton

My first book, Stereo.Island.Mosaic. has a few poems that speak to my obsession with science fiction and space travel. When I began to construct Tertulia there was a real imperative to make the book a work of Latinxfuturism. Throughout the collection, I weave elements of Afrofuturism and Latin American experimental poetry with science fiction works such as Sun Ra’s “Space is the Place” and the Latinx sci-fi film “Sleep Dealer.” The aim was to present Latinx identity as the invention of a cosmic hybrid being. While Tertulia hints at a Latinxfuturist cosmos, Elysia Crampton’s music fully envisions it. The Aymaran trans producer and DJ from Bolivia sculpts sound collages that juxtapose indigenous Andean music with scores from Science Fiction films, cartoon sound effects, television static, and EDM synthesizers. My poem "<Latin/X/futurist> <Electricode/X/otica>" is an attempt to perform in verse the kind of hyper-hybridism that Crampton forges with her soundscapes.

Colors - Black Pumas

This one is a kind of cheat, because the Black Pumas record didn’t come out until after I submitted the final draft of my book. But right now I can’t stop listening to the Black Pumas. Their songs are smooth and full of charm, but also the Black Pumas - a collaboration between African American singer Eric Burton and Mexican musician Adrian Quesada - embody the Black and Brown unity that Tertulia is promoting to readers.

Mi Gente - Hector Lavoe

It’s a Puerto Rican cliche to love Hector Lavoe, so I suppose this is too obvious a choice. But I really don’t think there is a Boricua alive who isn’t touched by “La Voz.” We all grew up hearing his songs in the homes of our tias and abuelas. Nonetheless, I had to include “Mi Gente” because it is pretty much the unofficial anthem of Puerto Ricans, and paired with DeeeLite’s “World Clique,” it serves as the theme music to this collection. The chorus, which proclaims (English translation), “since I am one of you/ I invite you to sing/ with me,” really does lift the spirit in a call for unity that I hope is echoed in the pages of my book.

Hurricane - Grace Jones

This one is included because… well… because it’s Grace effin’ Jones! Grace Jones’s creative power appears to be boundless and unstoppable, a feeling suffused in her performance of this song which she recorded at the age of 60! Jones lives the Caribbean poetics of expanse and fusion as articulated by Édouard Glissant in his “Poetics of Relation.” She has modeled, acted, made music and visual art, knows several languages, and moves seemingly effortlessly into and out of different worlds and identity, completely owning them all. In this song she dons the persona of a calamitous environmental condition: the hurricane. The word hurricane derives from the Taíno “huracán,” which was their name for the god of wind and storms. Hurricanes, like Maria in 2017, have brought devastation to the islands of the Caribbean for centuries. But where the people of the islands are at the mercy of the hurricane, here Jones declares herself the hurricane itself (in the chorus: “I am the hurricane.”). It’s such a badass (and Caribeño) thing to do, and the way she performs it one can’t help but be convinced that she is, in fact, the hurricane. If my poem (in this book) “Anthropomorphic Study of the Antilles” were a film, Grace Jones could very well be cast in the lead, and she’d slay in the role!

Golden Age - TV on the Radio

Whereas my life in the 20th century was lit by my fervor for The Doors, my life in the 21st century has been enhanced by an implacable zeal for TV on the Radio. This Brooklyn band has distilled through sound the early part of this millennium’s condition of relentless flux, and all the anxieties and gifts that it has wrought. In their music I hear the artist’s attempt to make sense (and a little magic) of the rapid technological change, the brutality of systemic injustice, the evolution of human identity, the weight of ecological collapse, the dissolution of infrastructures and institutions, and the search for connection in a world that seems to be growing increasingly splintered. What I love about their work is that they grapple with all this (in their lyrics and in their instrumental arrangements) with an undying sense of wonder and hope, a hope that is in abundance on this track from their 2008 record, Dear Science. The album was composed and released on the cusp of Barack Obama’s Presidential election, “Golden Age” envelopes the listener in a dreamy kind of optimism that we could all use a little of right now.

Pa’Lante - Hurray for the Riff Raff

You know this just has to conclude with a queer Boricua from the Boogie Down Bronx. After the 2016 election, I existed in a state of perpetual despair for a good eight or nine months. Just as I was starting to find a way out of my malaise, I discovered Hurray for the Riff Raff’s album The Navigator. It felt like this record was crooning directly into my “Alternatino”* marrow. The song structures are “Americano,” grounded in folk, rock, and blues. But they are flavored with Latin percussion, and the narratives in Alynda Segarra’s lyrics are about the urban Latinx experience. To make the Nuyorican heart of Segarra’s music clear, “Pa’Lante” even samples “Puerto Rican Obituary,” a seminal Nuyorican poem by Reverendo Pedro Pietri (the first Puerto Rican poet I ever read). Its title, which is short for “para adelante,” meaning “go for it,” is a phrase that became ubiquitous among Puerto Ricans during the social movements of the sixties and seventies. The activist group The Young Lords even named their community newspaper “Pa’Lante!” By sampling Pietri and naming the song as such, Segarra is staking her position and her intention. “The Navigator” is a both document of injustice against Latinx (and all poor and marginalized) people and a mellifluous call to action. Also, in the tradition of rock opuses like Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars and Pink Floyd’s The Wall, The Navigator tells the story of Segarra’s alter-ego Navita Milagros Negrón, stranded in a post-apocalyptic New York that has been completely destroyed by environmental havoc, militarization, and (even more) extreme segregation. So it can also be said that Hurray for the Riff Raff is also Latinxfuturist. This, the album’s penultimate track, is a musical act of resistance, a call to action to people of color to confront oppression and claim our own space, to “go for it.”

“Pa’Lante” has become somewhat of a personal anthem. It’s made me weep on more than one occasion, and when I am just feeling like I absolutely can’t go on, I put this one on my turntable. It reboots me every time, without fail, which I think makes it the perfect end track for the “Tertulia” mix.

*“Alternatino” is a term coined by Arturo Castro on his show of the same name, meaning an “alternative” Latino.

Vincent Toro's debut poetry collection, STEREO.ISLAND.MOSAIC., was awarded the Poetry Society of America's Norma Farber First Book Award and the Sawtooth Poetry Prize. He is also a Poet's House Emerging Poets Fellow, a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellow in Poetry, and winner of The Caribbean Writer's Cecile De Jongh Poetry Prize and Repertorio Español's Nuestras Voces Playwriting Award. Vincent is a professor at Bronx Community College, is poet in the schools for Dreamyard and the Dodge Poetry Foundation, is writing liaison for The Cooper Union's Saturday Program, and is a contributing editor at Kweli Literary Journal.

If you appreciate the work that goes into Largehearted Boy, please consider making a donation.


Heartland Calamitous by Michael Credico

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, Roxane Gay, and many others.

The stories in Michael Credico's collection Heartland Calamitous are brief but absurd and filled with surprise and wonder.

Foreword Reviews wrote of the book:

"In his compelling collection of stories—most only a few pages long—Michael Credico marshals bold, creative images to depict a grim Midwest dominated by slaughterhouses and fast food restaurants. . . . Echoing the work of Franz Kafka and Joseph Heller, the intense, slippery images animating these powerful stories bring to life alienated characters and are challenging and surprising at every turn."

In his own words, here is Michael Credico's Book Notes music playlist for his story collection Heartland Calamitous:

I spent my teens driving around Northeast Ohio, especially the hillier, rural areas, listening to music. My first three cars—a Sunbird, Celebrity, and Avenger—did not have a CD player. I used a cassette tape converter you could plug a Walkman into. The problem with that was any slight bump caused the CD to skip. Still, I spent thousands of miles inside those cars listening and driving in circles, believing in the road and the possibility of escape. I was always raring to go. I did not know how to go. I first crossed a state line in my late twenties. I have never been outside of America. My fourth car had no tape deck and just barely a radio, meaning the weather had to be nice. I started driving in silence. It was an old car you needed to listen to because who knows what it was trying to say and where you would end up or not because of it. Today, I drive a Honda Civic. I can stream any band, song, or album I can think of, but I do not. I like the sound of the windows rolled down.

“Redford (for Yia-Yia & Pappou)” – Sufjan Stevens

He opened with this instrumental when I saw him in Pittsburgh in 2015. I was experiencing serious change in my life, personally. As a writer, I had scrapped most of my manuscript-in-process and began what would become Heartland Calamitous. When I hear this song, I think of starting over.

“Like Like The The The Death” – Silver Jews

If the collection had an epigraph, it would be “Folks who’ve watched their mother kill an animal know / that their home is surrounded by places to go.”

“Grievances” – Daniel Johnston

For every misfit in the collection—the girl born covered in wool, the bear adopted by the parents of the boy it has eaten, the woman who turns into an eyeball, the man swallowed by a wolf, the woodsman with a fetish for having knives thrown at him as he runs naked through the trees—and their awkward, mostly difficult interactions with a world that is always letting them down. “And I saw you at the funeral / you were standing there like a temple / I said, “Hi, how are you? Hello” / And I pulled up a casket and crawled in.”

“Get It Up” – The Time

There is only one explicit sex scene in Heartland Calamitous and it goes nothing like this song!

“Everything Flows” – Teenage Fanclub

Work is an important part of my fiction, probably because I will always have to. My experience in manufacturing, especially entry-level quality assurance, and my sometimes-difficulty separating self-worth from occupation had a significant influence on these stories. The mornings filled with anxiety and dread. The years suddenly disappearing. I remember asking myself, “Where have you been?” I was offended. I had no answer.

“Hyperballad” – Björk

I have been listening to Björk since I was really young. The words to “Hyperballad” are probably the first short story I fell in love with. It is about walking to the edge of a cliff every morning to imagine jumping off it and experiencing a violent death, then returning to your lover to feel happy and safe. I think in “Sister,” when the girl born covered with wool shears herself as an act of performance art, this is playing in the background.

“Teenage Spaceship” – Smog

Two stories in the collection are linked by the presence of a rocket ship: “Postwar: Apiary, Aviary,” and “Snuff Film.” In “Snuff Film,” the rocket ship takes off and drags the world behind it. As the world hurtles through the universe, people begin deciding between holding on and facing whatever comes next or letting go and peacefully floating away. The next story, “Commuter,” is about returning to a world that has moved on without you. This song is a reminder that there is also beauty in being out of step with everything and everybody else.

“Changes” – Sugar

For every moment of upheaval: People morphing into animals. Babies appearing out of nowhere. Landscapes in a constant state of decay, quaking and exploding. The car crashes, the planes crashes, and the mob of cowboy zombies. The runaway trains. The escaped tigers and packs of wild dogs floating in the sky.

“Diggin’ Holes” – Ugly Casanova

For when the members of the death cult in “Heartland Wilds” bury themselves alive near the river.

“That’s Us / Wild Combination” – Arthur Russell

Eight of the 24 stories deal with the narrator’s relationship with K. In “Baby,” they unexpectedly become parents after catching a baby in a glue trap meant for bugs. In “Postwar: Lake Michigan,” their suburban idyll is disrupted when they find a decomposing body in their swimming pool. In “Animals,” the narrator attempts to ease K.’s dread-induced insomnia by constructing a mobile from animals he catches in their backyard. This song is my romcom theme.

“I Was a Landscape in Your Dream” – of Montreal

The penultimate story in the collection is called “The Water is the Last Thing.” It follows a man, a woman, and the animal on a journey from Ohio to the West Coast by freighthopping, and their conversations on love, death, god, and the body, told in 99 fragments. When they run out of things to say, they stare through the slits in the train walls and watch “time pass in the shape of landscapes” before plunging into the ocean.

“Long, Long Day” – Paul Simon

A song about the end of a tour, and wondering what was it for, even? From the stolen Eldorado that hits a deer in Cairo, Illinois in the “Western,” to the narrator being shot at as he runs down an endless country road in “The Man with a Fish in His Heart,” “I sure could use a friend / Don’t know what else to say / It’s been a long, long day.” My favorite version of this song was recorded live in Cleveland, and appears in the film One Trick Pony, but not the album.

Michael Credico is the author of Heartland Calamitous (Autumn House Press, 2020). His fiction has appeared in Black Warrior Review, Denver Quarterly, DIAGRAM, New Ohio Review, Puerto del Sol, and others. He lives in Cleveland, Ohio.

If you appreciate the work that goes into Largehearted Boy, please consider making a donation.


Summerlings by Lisa Howorth

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, Roxane Gay, and many others.

Lisa Howorth's novel Summerlings is an impressive Cold War coming of age story.

Kirkus wrote of the book:

"An engaging coming-of-age story focused on the unraveling of truths hidden just beneath the surface…Howorth has a gift for crafting memorable characters and an authentic sense of place."

In her own words, here is Lisa Howorth's Book Notes music playlist for her novel Summerlings:

In trying to write a historical novel, it's so important to be able to re-create a time and place, and nothing gets you there faster and more accurately than tapping into the popular culture: films and TV, vernacular speech, clothing, food, political and social issues, kids' games, advertising, cars, and music--all of that. If I read a novel where I can't get my bearings, I'm not going to engage. These things seemed particularly important to me for evoking the1950s, when America was changing so fast post-World War II. And nothing was changing more thrillingly than the music of that time--pop music became the soundtrack for every day! Since Summerlings is set in the Washington, D.C.area in1959, I wanted to use D.C. music where I could. I came away from researching this list thinking, if D.C. had had a Sam Phillips, it might have been another Memphis, where so much quintessentially American music was born. Like Memphis, D.C. had a vibrant gospel scene, and blues and jazz musicians from its large African American population, as well as bluegrass, country and rockabilly musicians coming in from nearby southern mountain states, the sounds and styles often influencing each other. I guess that goes for American music in general, as you can see from some of the choices in this playlist.

p. 51. Theme from Bridge on the River Kwai, 1957 film. Although it's 1959, the neighborhood in the novel still has a WWII hangover. Boys are fond of battle reenactments. and this is a favorite. The captured "allies" whistle this song defiantly, pissing off their "captors." The tune, originally "Colonel Bogey's March," was composed in 1914 by British bandmaster Lt. F.J. Ricketts, and became a tribute to the 15,000 POWs who died during construction of the Death Railway through Thailand and Burma. Rolling Stone lists the march as one of the 15 best whistling songs.

p.75. The Knife Sharpener's Song. I made this one up. As the narrator, John, and his family celebrate his mother's short visit home from the sanitarium, the melodious song is suddenly heard from the street. It's the voice of James, an itinerant Jamaican knife sharpener, offering his services from his truck. His song disrupts the happy dinner, upsetting the adults, which confuses John. He'll understand later.

p. 85. "Ooby Dooby," 1956. Written by Wade Lee Moore and Dick Penner, the rockabilly song was first recorded by The Wink Westerners, Roy Orbison's high school band, in 1955. Orbison made it a hit for Sun Records in 1956. But I had in mind the rockin' cover by Janis Martin, a 16 year old girl from Sutherlin, Virginia, dubbed "The Female Elvis," who also recorded "Ooby Dooby" in '56. It was a popular song in the Washington area. The song blasts from the Olds '88 convertible of Leonardo, a local hood, who stops to break up a fight between Ivan, Max, and John, and a neighborhood bully, Slutcheon.

p. 87. "Three Cool Cats," The Coasters, 1959. Written by Leiber and Stoller. As kids, we were obsessed with all the Coasters' songs because they were so funny and singable. "Three Cool Cats" was the flip side to the hit, "Charlie Brown" and the aforementioned three boys adopt it as their theme song. In this case, they sing it with bravado after Leonardo runs off Slutcheon, who had started an unsettling conversation about seeing Elena, Ivan's Ukrainian aunt and the neighborhood goddess, naked, as they march down the street, arms entwined in relieved brotherhood. It cost me a lot o' dough to use a few lyrics from this song, but I gotta have my music in anything I write, and the tunes are a big part of this novel. Thanks to Tim Kosel at for his help.

p. 108. "Bony Moronie," Larry Williams, 1957. Pianist Williams' songs were recorded by the Beatles, the Stones, Simon and Garfunkel, and Little Richard, who was a life-long friend, although Williams did once threaten LR with a gun over a drug debt. He led a wild life--he was a New Orleanian--and died of a gunshot to the head, supposedly a suicide. John tries to sing this song with his estranged dad and his pre-teen sister Liz as they head to Rehoboth Beach in an MG TD, John crammed in the tiny luggage space.

p. 108. "Bye Bye Love," The Everly Brothers, 1957. Man, do I love me some Everly Brothers! Written by the renowned Felice and Boudleaux Bryant, and Chet Atkins plays lead guitar. This was the first song Paul McCartney ever performed on stage, and has been covered by Conway Twitty and Loretta Lynn, David Lindley, and Ray Charles in that crazy country and western album he put out in 1962. Also sung as the MG whips down the road toward the beach, and disaster for John.

p. 113. "Enchanted Sea," The Islanders, 1959. I adored this eerie instrumental, its "buoy bells, lapping waves, high-lonesome whistling and mournful guitar" evoking the Chesapeake Bay and the wonderful times I had there growing up. It was a weird hit for the same summer as "What'd I Say" and ('Til) I Kissed You," but it works as a great make-out and slow-dance song, as in the beach party scene in the novel. I love rock trivia: the guitarist, Randy Starr, was a dentist in the Bronx.

p.116. "Stagger Lee," Lloyd Price, 1958. This much-covered number was originally a folk song about the 1895 murder by a pimp of a business rival in St. Louis. The song comes on the record player at the beach party, just after John has gotten into trouble with his dad and his friend, the real-life Lt. Jacob Beser, the only man to have been on both atomic bombing missions over Japan.

p. 128. Theme music from Peter Gunn TV show, Henry Mancini, 1959. This menacing, noir theme won Mancini an Emmy and two Grammys. John and his grandfather, Brickie, are waiting for the show to come on as they both drink scotch, eat Honeymoon ice cream, and discuss Russia, America, and war.

p. 129, 197. Flamenco number, Laurindo Almeida, 1959. The famous Brazilian guitarist and composer appears in a club scene in the Peter Gunn episode, "Skin Deep," exciting Brickie, a huge jazz fan, whose sketchy State Department job allowed him to help put together the Jazz Ambassadors program bringing top African American musicians to Europe and Russia. Almeida was a creator of bossa nova, and also played with the Modern Jazz Quartet.

p. 135, "Rumble," Link Wray and the Ray Men, 1958. Link Wray! Jesus god! One of my all-time favorites. A North Carolina guy of Native American descent, his distinctive power chord changed rock. "Rumble" was the only instrumental ever banned in the U.S. because its scary, malevolent sound might have inspired juvenile delinquency. (Giant eye roll.) It certainly deeply inspired many musicians like Iggy Pop and Jimmy Page, and is used in quite a few film soundtracks. "Rumble" "twangs darkly from the car radio" as the hood Leonardo pulls up in a nasty scenario involving his "scag slut" girlfriend, Dawn, Tim, the goodhearted Good Humor man, and a rubber.

p. 139. "Ride of the Valkyries," Richard Wagner, 1856. The three cool cats are hanging out, hatching a plan to break into a museum for nefarious purposes. Max is humming this ominous tune from a favorite Merrie Melodies cartoon featuring Elmer Fudd killing Bugs Bunny. Wagner is "verboten" in Max's Jewish home because of Wagner's anti-semitic writing and the Nazi association with his music, played at Nazi events, and Dachau.

p. 150. "The Battle of New Orleans," Johnny Horton, 1959. Written by Jimmy Driftwood and based on a fiddle tune, "The 8th of January," the date in 1815 when we kicked British ass, the song went to #1 in 1959. Naturally, kids loved it. The boys listen to it on Max's transistor radio late at night to psych themselves up for The Heist. Ivan the Tenderhearted doesn't want to hear it because the part about using the alligator as a cannon is so cruel to the gator.

p. 157. "On My Way (Home)," African American gospel tune, maybe sung by Lucille Banks Robinson Miller. Madame Robinson was D.C.'s second female gospel radio announcer, performing and promoting a flourishing gospel scene in the city on WOOK, WUST, WOL, and WYCB. She was also an accompanist to Mahalia Jackson, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, and Thomas A. Dorsey. For her religious work and service to her community, she was invited for an audience with the Pope. In the novel, the real-life James Hampton, a Black veteran and one of America's greatest artists, is listening to this song on his truck radio as he goes about his late-night janitorial duties at one of D.C.'s museums while the boys wait for an opportunity to break in.

p. 192. Kind of Blue, Miles Davis, 1959. This experimental album by the legendary composer and trumpeter is one of the greatest jazz records of all time, influencing jazz, rock and classical music. The composition was based on modality, not chord progression, which Davis believed gave the musician more freedom. Brickie is very excited about the new record, and plays it first to show it off to the neighbors at the Fabulous Family Fiesta, organized to improve relations in the international neighborhood. John is worried that Brickie won't play any R&B or rock 'n' roll, thinking, "Nobody normal can dance" to Kind of Blue.

p. 193. Melody's Bar, album, Don Barreto and His Cuban Orchestra, 1932-1946. Don Barreto was born in Havana but spent most of his musical career in Spain and Paris. He played jazz violin, guitar and banjo, mostly appearing at Melody's Bar. I could find no evidence that he played in the U.S., or that he returned to Havana, but I've decided that Brickie, who traveled a good bit as a young army linguist, had seen him perform in Paris.(I'm playing the fiction card here). Anyway, a Cha Cha number on this album is Brickie's choice, but one that everybody can dance to, and they all do.

p. 195. Duke Ellington, "Take the A Train," 1953. James Edward Ellington, grandson of a former slave, was born in Washington where his family lived at 2129 Ward Place, NW. His band played everywhere around the city, from pool halls to embassy parties, and it's likely that Brickie heard him play at the popular club, Bohemian Caverns, at the intersection of 11th and U Streets NW. Eventually Duke landed in NYC at the Cotton Club and became an international sensation featured in several films. Duke was awarded a Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1969 and the French Legion d'honneur in 1973. Check out the tribute songs to him by Brubeck, Miles Davis, Mingus, and Stevie Wonder. "A Train" was composed by Billy Strayhorn in 1939 but became the signature tune of the Duke Ellington Orchestra.

p. 196. "The Stroll," The Diamonds, 1957. This hit, recorded by the Canadian band that also had a second 1957 hit, "Little Darlin'", was written by Clyde Otis, a Mississippi native--Huzzah!-- who was one of the first African American A&R executives. At the Fiesta, Brickie finally plays a number the kids love, although only the pre-teens Liz and Maari can properly perform the Virginia reel-like Stroll line dance, and teach everybody else. The song and dance were standard on American Bandstand and later, Soul Train, where Don Cornelius proclaimed it "The Soul Train Line."

p. 198. "Reet, Petite, and Gone," Louis Jordan and His Tympany Five, 1947. Love Louis Jordan! So does my mom, and his crazy, raucous songs were family themes in our house. The adults at the party are thrilled to hear it, and serious jitterbugging begins. Jitterbug, akin to swing and the Lindy Hop, was first popularized by African Americans and by Cab Calloway's movies like Call of the Jitterbug in 1934, and Cab Calloway's Jitterbug Party the next year.

p. 202. "Me Rock-a-Hula," Bill Haley and His Comets, 1958. Written by Haley, Milt Gabler, Rusty Keefer and Catherine Cafra, this is classic Bill Haley, but with Hawaiian guitar and jungle drums. Beatriz, Brazilian tomboy, spectacularly hula-hoops to this song at the Fiesta in honor of the new fiftieth state. The guys are wowed.

p. 203. "Hey! Bo Diddley," Mississippian (Huzzah again!) Elias McDaniel backed by Peggy Jones and The Flamingos. The jumpingest party music ever. Bo Diddley took his name from the diddley bow, a one-string instrument that was of West African origin and popular in the deep south. Bo Diddley came to D.C. from Chicago and had a home studio at 2614 Rhode Island Avenue, NW. (Marvin Gaye sang there and was his valet!) They played with every cool act in the world and influenced everybody. In England, teenagers were forbidden to stand up and dance (how could you not?) so they danced with their hands, hence the Hand-Jive, probably derived from juba or hambone slap beats, and children's clap-slap rhyming games. Liz and Maari do it at the Fiesta. Weirdly, Eric Clapton did a slow version of this song in 1974, and other surprising covers are by Levon Helm and the Grateful Dead, and Van Morrison and Buddy Holly are two of many artists to use the Diddley beat. I once saw Bo Diddley play here at an Oxford bar--a wild scene--and Wynton Marsalis and his band, who had finished playing on campus, rushed in to catch his show.

p. 203. "Reet Petite," Jackie Wilson, 1957. Mr. Excitement! Wilson borrowed the Louis Jordan title, but it's not the same song, and this is the "Reet Petite" the kids at the Fiesta want to hear, having been taken to see Go, Johnny, Go by their idol, Elena--Wilson is featured singing "You Better Know It." A Detroit guy with Mississippi roots, Wilson was instrumental in the evolution from R&B to Motown soul. The song ratchets up the frenzied Fiesta dancing, and all sing the Oh, oh,oh,oh, A-oh, oh, oh refrain. Ever popular, the Reet Petite album was re-issued in 1986.

p. 205. "You Send Me," Sam Cooke, 1957. Born in Clarksdale, Mississippi (ok, I won't say it), Cooke's family took that old Great Migration route to Chicago, as so many African Americans continued to do. He developed his lovely voice singing gospel when he was young. Cooke was a civil rights activist, and his iconic 1964 song, "A Change is Gonna Come" has always been a part of the movement, and no doubt will be heard even more universally now. Sadly, like Jackie Wilson, Cooke died way too young, shot by a female motel manager under murky circumstances. The Fiesta crowd, exhausted from rum and beer, dancing and summer heat, all fall into bearhug swaying while Brickie will play one slow song after another.

p. 205. "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes," The Platters, 1959. Originally composed and recorded by Jerome Kern and Otto Harbach for a 1933 musical, the song has been recorded by generations of musicians, but you can't beat The Platters' version, sung by Tony Williams.

P. 205. "Mona Lisa," Nat King Cole, 1950. This beautiful ballad was written by Ray Evans and Jay Livingston for the film Captain Carey, U.S.A. in 1950. My very young parents loved the song so much they named me for it! Chicagoan Cole recorded over 100 songs that became hits, and was the first African American to host a TV series. His enormous popularity with white audiences riled racists, and the KKK, active in Los Angeles in the fifties, burned a cross on his front lawn, and in Birmingham, Alabama, he was attacked onstage by a group of men intending to kidnap him. For the same reason, and that he played venues that barred African Americans, the Black press labelled him a "traitor." Cole then became active in civil rights efforts for the rest of his life. Brickie is very fond of Nat King Cole, and saw him perform at the Tropicana nightclub in Havana, before the revolution. He happily slow-dances with Elena, and John doesn't get it because Brickie has reservations about the formerly Soviet Elena.

p. 205. "Twelfth of Never," Johnny Mathis, 1957. Written by Jerry Livingston and Paul Francis Webster, this dreamy love song is borrowed from a traditional ballad known in Appalachia and 15th century England as either "The Riddle" or "I Gave My Love A Cherry." The charismatic Elena, sitting on the grass with the boys as the Fiesta winds down, is caught up by the song and Mathis' "honeyed voice" and sings along, (I paid more bucks to use lyrics) though Max chides her because it's "kind of corny.' The song is still playing, everyone in "a sweaty reverie," when the Fiesta erupts in terror and comes to a shocking end.

p.212. "Taps," 1862. Originally created by U.S General Daniel Butterfield, the song's official name was "Extinguish Lights." It came to be used by Union and Confederate forces at dusk to signal bedtime. The mournful bugle call is standard at military funerals and memorial ceremonies. Max, devastated by events at the end of the novel, attempts to hum the tune, but doesn't get far before the song chokes in his throat.

Thanks to google, wiki, and the many other sources consulted. Rave on! LH

Lisa Howorth was born in Washington, D.C., where her family has lived for four generations. She is a former librarian and the author of the novel Flying Shoes. She has written on art, travel, dogs, and music for the Oxford American and Garden & Gun, among other publications. Howorth lives in Oxford, Mississippi, where she and her husband, Richard, founded Square Books in 1979

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Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison

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The Heart and Other Monsters by Rose Andersen

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, Roxane Gay, and many others.

Rose Andersen's memoir The Heart and Other Monsters is one of the most poignant books of the year, a book both memoir and murder mystery.

Kirkus wrote of the book:

"Combining the agonizing emotional intensity typical of narratives about losing a sibling with the memoiristic style of a murder investigation successfully complicates the reading experience. A literary grief memoir combined with a skillfully unfolded murder mystery."

In her own words, here is Rose Andersen's Book Notes music playlist for her memoir The Heart and Other Monsters:

The Heart and Other Monsters is a memoir about my younger sister, Sarah, who died of a suspicious overdose in 2013 when she was twenty-four years old. The book serves as a love letter to her life and an investigation of her death. I explore our childhoods and what led us each to seek out drugs and alcohol, how and why I turned to sobriety, and the grief of losing a sister.

My sister liked to drive around with the windows down in her big truck, drinking a Red Bull and smoking a cigarette while blasting music. When I am having a hard day, I take a drive and play music she loved, let the wind whip around the car and let the noise and air drown out the grief.

I listen to music when I write, put on headphones and disappear into words and other worlds. I have different playlists depending on the mood of the scene I am writing.

“Ophelia”- The Lumineers

There’s an interesting friction between the upbeat feel to this song and its melancholy lyrics that has always resonated with me. It opens with “Oh, oh, when I was younger, oh, oh, should have known better,” a feeling I often have when reflecting on my early life as an addict. Sarah and I both struggled with addiction but only one of us made it out.

“Lying Beast” Run River North

There is a chapter in the memoir titled “The Liar Gene” where I write about our father’s pathological lying and his influence on Sarah and I. Do we inherit these behaviors? Are we born bad people? Before I was sober, lying came easily to me. My sister was the same. I listened to this song a lot when grappling with this section of the book, trying to understand where my father’s personality ended and where mine began.

“Whole Wide World” Big Tree

Big Tree was a college band from my undergrad, Sarah Lawrence College. I obsessively listened to them in the year after I got sober and went back to finish my degree. When I listen to them, I can smell snow, feel the chill of the first big storm, see the blanket of white that covered the campus that first winter back. It was like all my senses were crackling, coming awake after years of numbing them with alcohol and drugs. I would take long, anxious walks listening to Big Tree as loudly as I could handle and repeat the mantra you can do this, you can do this.

“Please Speak Well of Me” The Weepies

I have a deep affection for The Weepies and their Indie-Pop aesthetic. Here, The Weepies sing, “Looking back now, I only wish I had been kinder.” My sister and I were estranged when she died, the last time I had seen her was at a failed intervention for her about six months prior to her death. There are many regrets when someone dies, and none so more for me than wishing I had been more empathic and less critical to Sarah. My fear turned into anger and that is something I can never undo.

“No Children” The Mountain Goats

If there was ever a song that accurately represents the despair, shame and inner conflicts of an alcoholic, it is this one. Did I listen to this on repeat while secretly drinking whiskey I had hidden in my closest and doing lines of coke until my vision was blurred? I wish I could remember! But really, if I needed to tap back into those feelings while writing, I turned on this jaunty, dark song.

“Paint” The Paper Kites

This is a song for everything that could have been. “I’m always wishing I was walking that road,” Sam Bentley sings, which is how so much of grieving has felt. I like to believe there are alternate universes where Sarah is still alive, where she knows how much I loved her, where I don’t put this song on and quietly weep.

“Long Time Traveller” The Wailin’ Jennys

An elegy for the dead, a farewell hymn, a song to provide solace. I wrote four versions of my sister’s death, trying to understand what happened to her. I will never know definitively the circumstances that lead to her death. I became obsessed with uncovering the details surrounding her overdose. It gave my grief my purpose, a direction, a task. But the fact is, she is gone and no amount of investigation will undo that. This song reminds me to live in the known, the sadness, the finality.

“Sea of Love” Cat Power

The song my spouse and I danced to at our wedding, one of the bright spots of joy in an otherwise dark story. We got married on the edge of the bay in a grove of Eucalyptus trees. We had one of our favorite couples officiate the ceremony. The fog rolled in on what was supposed to be the warmest day of the year and I have never been colder or happier. I had been supposed to get married at the courthouse on what ended being the day we scattered my sister’s ashes. That relationship fell apart and years later a joy of a person came into my life. The hurt never really goes away but being able to build light around that pain has been the only way for me to move forward.

Rose Andersen received her MFA in writing at California Institute of the Arts, where she was awarded the Emi Kuriyama Thesis Prize. Her essays have appeared in The Cut, Glamour, and elsewhere. She lives in LA with her spouse, Josh, and their dog, Charlotte.

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Accidentals by Susan M. Gaines

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, Roxane Gay, and many others.

Political and personal, Susan Gaines' novel Accidentals is a profound book that brims with Uruguayan life, science, and birds.

Publishers Weekly wrote of the book:

"Gaines' melding of sensual landscapes with ruminations on political history and environmental devastation will be a treat for conservationists, and her critique of globalization and portrayal of sibling rivalry are particularly well rendered. Barbara Kingsolver fans will want to take a look."

In her own words, here is Susan M. Gaines' Book Notes music playlist for her novel Accidentals:

As I select the music for this playlist, I’m caught in a maelstrom of nostalgia, grief, sadness, and joy—much like the returning emigrant Uruguayans in Accidentals, though I didn’t grow up there. Nostalgia, because these rhythms and melodies evoke times and places and friends who are now beyond reach. Grief, because the world—most notably my own native land—has only pedaled backwards since these hopeful Latin American protest songs were written in the 1960s and seventies. Sadness, because the love songs conjure the ghosts of lost lovers. And joy at the sheer exuberance and inventiveness of Uruguay’s blend of tango, milonga, candombe, murga, jazz, and rock.

Accidentals is the story of a young Californian who accompanies his mother back to her native Uruguay, where he falls in love, discovers a new species of bird—and is forced to confront both the environmental cataclysm of his future, and the dark legacy of his family’s past. My playlist includes songs by Uruguayan musicians who were active from the 1960s through the mid-2000s. This is the music of Gabriel’s mother’s and uncles’ youth—which I myself listened to with my friend Sofia in California in the 1980s, decades before I imagined writing Accidentals—and it’s the music I discovered when I lived in Uruguay in the 2000s, which then accompanied me halfway around the world to Germany, where I found myself living when I finally finished this book so many years after beginning it.

A desalambrar
Daniel Viglietti

One of the most iconic protest songs of South America throughout the 1960s and seventies, with its dreams of a world without fences, where the land and its bounty is shared by those who work it—the sort of idealism that infected Gabriel’s parents’ generation, but which he cannot fathom, as a young man in 1999. Daniel Viglietti was among the founders of the Uruguayan musical movement that came to be known as “canto popular.”


A la ciudad de Montevideo
Daniel Amaro, based on a poem by Carlos Maggi (1976)

A tango full of yearning and nostalgia for a city that Gabriel knows mostly from his mother, who left Montevideo when she was eighteen. Here, he is walking home from a pre-election rally in 1999 with his newly repatriated, somewhat inebriated Tio Rubén, who sings,

“‘Naciste en Montevideo, junto a un río como mar, no busques lugar más bello, porque no lo encontrará . . .’

Prettier places I knew in plenty, but strolling along the Rambla in the dreamy light of a half moon, with the beach trash invisible in the penumbra and the wall of high-rise apartments blending into the night sky, it wasn’t hard to envision this glorious city of the past—which, from the smiles my singing uncle drew, seemed to live on in the mind’s eye of some good measure of the population.”


Alfredo Zitarrosa

Accidentals is both a love story and a family saga about emigrants and exiles, and this beautiful zamba from Zitarrosa captures both. Zitarrosa was another icon of Uruguayan popular music, rejuvenating and adapting many of the traditional rhythms of the Rio de la Plata.


Este es mi pueblo
Los Olimareños, written by Carlos Puebla

A song about returning to a country in ruins, written by the Cuban Carlos Puebla in the fifties, and sung by Los Olimareños—whose music was banned by the Uruguayan dictatorship—at a packed homecoming concert when they returned from exile in 1984. It breaks my heart now, as I listen to it in 2020, after returning to the US where decades of neoliberal rule, four years of government dysfunction, and a democracy in ruins are apparent in every facet of life.


Botija para mi pais
Ruben Rada (el Negro Rada)

And now to cheer things up we need some candombe, from the master himself. The rhythms of candombe bring me back to my friend Pepe’s Montevideo printing company, where I wrote some of the first fragments of Accidentals. The imprenta was in a cavernous old factory building in Barrio Sur, and for a few months in those cash-strapped years I lived on a little platform in the corner, suspended above the printing presses, high on solvent fumes. I moved out as soon as I could, but the imprenta was along the route of the desfile de llamadas, so at the beginning of Carnaval every year, we would gathered there with Pepe’s family and friends, hanging out the windows to watch the thousands of candombe drummers and dancers parade down the street.

Rubén Rada with the band Totem

Rada is one of the most inventive, diverse, and cosmopolitan musicians on this list, with work spanning the full spectrum of popular music, from his signature candombes, murga, milonga to jazz and rock, and every possible mix thereof. I could happily have filled this whole playlist with his songs, but “Dedos” will have to suffice to give a sense some of his other sounds. I’m dedicating it to the mothers in Accidentals, Lili and Eva, Elsa, and Abuela.


Milonga de los ojos dorados
Alfredo Zitarrosa

There is more than one love story in Accidentals. This beautiful milonga is for Rubén.


Canto de barrio y barrio
Falta y Resto

Murga is an idiosyncratic form of musical theater that relies on a traditionally male (though that has changed in the last decade) chorus, incredible percussionists, absurd costumes, and lyrics that usually tell some sort of story and have you laughing, crying, and scratching your head at the same time. It’s one of the signature musical forms of Uruguay’s Carnaval, and one really has to see it in that context, but I couldn’t find any good videos so here is one of Falta y Resto performing in the TV studio, just to give an idea of the show.



Like most of the musicians on this list, Jaime Roos has been around since the sixties, and like Ruben Rada he continued to compose and experiment for decades. But he remains one of Uruguay’s finest composers of murga. And I love this one.


El beso que te di
Los Olimareños

I can’t leave without this love song from Los Olimarenos. It’s from their first album--from Lili’s generation--so I’ll make it her closing gift to her son and Alejandra.


Susan M. Gaines is the author of the novel Carbon Dreams and of the science narrative, Echoes of Life: What Fossil Molecules Reveal About Earth History. Her short stories have appeared in numerous literary journals and been selected for the Best of the West anthology and nominated for the Pushcart Prize. Gaines's fiction is informed by a youth spent hiking and birding California's mountains and coastline, and by her education in chemistry and oceanography. She is the recipient of an Art in Science Fellowship at the Hanse Institute for Advanced Study, as well as the 2018 Suffrage Science Award. Currently at work on another novel, Gaines divides her time between her native California, Uruguay, and Germany, where she co–directs the Fiction Meets Science research and fellowship program

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Larger Than Life: A History of Boy Bands from NKOTB to BTS by Maria Sherman

The longlist for The Center For Fiction First Novel Prize for 2020 has been announced.

Congratulations to Largehearted Boy Book Notes contributors Kelli Jo Ford, Clare Beams, Amina Cain, and Bryan Washington

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