Thursday, September 03, 2009


Picking Bones from Ash and the Largehearted Boy Playlist

I'm so excited to share the very first ever play list I've ever compiled for my novel, Picking Bones from Ash. David Gutowski, who runs the venerated blog "Largehearted Boy" invited me to compose a post, and I did. Below is a sample, but please do take a look at whole thing over at his site, and then explore. David was the first to ask writers to put together a list of songs that influenced them, or that they see acting as soundtracks to their novels. Others now imitate him, but he's the original.

In my novel, Picking Bones from Ash, youthful characters take advantage of the 1960s jet age to explore the world. Hippies on “vision quests”—mostly men—dive into Eastern mysticism. Young Satomi, a classically trained pianist from the far north of Japan, listens with fascination to jazz in Tokyo, before she departs for Paris. As travel gets easier, so too does the global criss-crossing of art and popular culture.

If you’ve stepped into a chain bookstore today, then you know the international market Japanese anime and manga now command. Japanese pop stars have to master hip hop moves to remain relevant and contemporary; dance studios in New York are filled with kids from Asia perfecting urban moves along their western counterparts. And there seems to be no shortage of young Americans willing to tattoo themselves with Chinese characters. I’m fascinated by the way both “low” and “high” cultures are spreading with the aid of the Internet. I wanted to capture some of this change in my book, and the play list below reflects what my characters listen to, what I listen to, and a few things I hope you might listen to if you have not already.

2. Traditional Shinto music

In my novel, the very American Rumi, finds herself in a snowy mountain town, surrounded by Japanese men dressed as demons and dancing around a bonfire. She’s scared; the locals think her fear is funny. Festivals like these have a rich history in Japan, stemming from Shinto, the indigenous religion, which is animistic, mischievous and fun. I always tell people that if they travel to Japan, they have to catch at least one matsuri to see “the real Japan.” Like Carnival, matsuri allows people to relax, cast of the everyday, drink, dress up, dance and have fun. Spirited Away, the Miyazaki movie, reflects the playful yet frightening aspect of the matsuri and the wild world of the gods.

I went to a very real demon festival in the north of Japan; adults think the demons are funny, the kids are terrified, and the adults think it’s funny that the kids are terrified. Youtube is full of videos of adults scaring kids, and laughing about it.

'Monday, Monday' is by the Mamas and the Papas.
Thanks for telling me! I will try to get it corrected. I love that I made an error where popular culture is concerned . . . it's really not my forte . . .
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