Discover more from Largehearted Ledger
Coming soon: best books & music of 2023
A playlist of the week's best new albums, interviews with Molly McGhee & Juliet Jacques, Kate Piersen on B-52s songs, an excerpt from Adam Thirlwell's new novel, and more
Barnes and Noble announced their annual best books list on October 12th this year, the earliest I have ever seen a major list posted.
For fifteen years, I have been scouring the web every year from mid-October through the end of January, gathering every online year-end book list into one massive post. By December, I was spending a couple of hours a day searching for and adding “best books” lists to the aggregation (which usually ended up including over 2,000 lists). I did the same for music lists for about ten years.
This year marks the end of an era. In late October, I will launch a list of “essential & interesting” year-end book lists, and adding to it daily. I wish I had time to shout out everyone who takes the time to share their year-end literary loves, but the combination of being a first-year teacher, finishing my MFA, and devoting time to my own writing has left me with barely enough hours to work on Largehearted Boy and sleep.
I may not be aggregating all the year-end book & music lists on Largehearted Boy this year, but I will still be reading as many as possible. These lists are a gift that introduces me to books I’ve missed over the year, and also websites and critics worth following.
What year-end book lists are you looking forward to?
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A Playlist of the Week’s Best New Albums (15 albums, 150 songs, 10 hours and 23 minutes)
This week’s best new music includes albums from Maria BC, Jane Remover, Lost Girls, Katie von Schleicher, Emma Anderson, Reverend Kristin Michael Hayter, Forest Swords, and much more.
khōréō is a quarterly magazine of speculative fiction and migration. We are dedicated to diversity and elevating the voices of immigrant and diaspora authors.
Elizabeth Hand on the works of Shirley Jackson
Jackson’s work has a particularly disturbing resonance today, when our experience of the pandemic and reports of rioters rampaging through the US Capitol and erecting gallows outside are still fresh in the memory. Small–town meetings are routinely interrupted by people spewing hate speech, and rightwing politicians work tirelessly to dismantle women’s rights, setting the clock back 75 years, to when The Lottery first appeared.
A Trip Through the Many Galaxies of Space Disco
The pop culture landscape took a cosmic turn in 1977 when Star Wars ignited a global trend for outer space and science fiction. European dance music had already seen a few disco artists dabbling in interstellar aesthetics, and the sci-fi craze quickly elevated the niche undercurrent to a full-on new genre: space disco.
Kate Pierson on the B-52s biggest hits
“Private Idaho” was one of those early songs that was written alongside “Rock Lobster.” It has a lot of meanings. It could be the actual location you’re in, “Get out of that state.” It’s a metaphor for your state of mind, which is closed off. When we were writing it, Fred came up with the title and said it was a play on words. He wasn’t particularly thinking about Idaho, but it worked as a rhythm: “private eye-daho” like “private eye.” We were in my little love-shack house in Athens and jamming. We had all these potatoes. Fred and I came up with some back-and-forth surrealistic similes about potatoes, pools, and radium. It’s become a catchphrase for someone, somewhere, who’s out of touch.
Bonus link: did you know the B-52s changed the spelling of their name in 2008 because it was grammatically incorrect?
Molly McGhee on writing her magnificent debut novel
I’m going to say something melodramatic: writing nonfiction feels like carving out my soul and trying to live with it outside of my body. I’m a very slow writer when it comes to telling the truth. The truth is a hard thing to capture. It’s much easier to pin down in fiction.
Lol Tulhurst, drummer for the Cure, on his new memoir
I think one thing that being in The Cure taught me overall was to always exceed your own expectations, because nobody else is going to. Nobody else is going to assume that you have other things in you. I’d always wanted to write. So the fact that I had written stuff for The Cure, which I explained in the book, helped me. The fact that we didn’t grow up in the center of the modern music world at the time was a good thing, because we were allowed to just grow at our own pace. There was only one other band in Crawley growing up, and it was a band fronted by Neil Gaiman, the author. Thankfully, he decided to give up. I read an article where he said, “The only other band in our town was The Cure, so we stopped.”
Lydia Davis on writing
I do tend to write down absolutely anything that interests me. I don't write down things that don't interest me. I'm not dutiful about that. So I write down things that interest me, and I write them either in a notebook or just on a piece of paper. Anything that interests me is a good starting point for a possible story. Some are just too slight to make it into print. They may be whimsical or curious, odd, but they just don't have enough substance. So they just remain sort of observations. But others that I think have another dimension, have a certain richness. I think, okay, this can live on its own. It can survive. So then I work on it.