CSMS Magazine » My Basketball Dream: A Student Essay

In the series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates in some way to their recently published book.Previous contributors include , , , , , , , , , , and many others.Kelly Barnhill's is an enchanting and lyrical collection.Publishers Weekly wrote of the book:"Each story is written in intensely poetic language that can exult or disturb, sometimes within the same sentence, and evokes a dreamlike, enchanted mood that lingers in the reader's mind. These tales are made to be reread and savored."
In her own words, here is Kelly Barnhill's music playlist for her collection collection :

My Favorite Writing Music Isn't Music at All
I see them, too—writers at coffee shops or at the library, typing away to the internalized rhythms of whatever music is sliding out of their earbuds. I know writers who have play lists for their books, or specific songs that ground them in the space in their heads from which all writing grows. I know writers whose work drifts down rivers of melody and rhythm, and I have to say I'm envious.I love music—always have. And I'm not bad at it. I have sung in choirs and quartets and used to sing in both churches and in bars to make under-the-table cash when I was a poor exchange student and was barred from working legally (don't tell the authorities). (Also? In case you were wondering: the bars paid better.) I play the piano and the guitar and once tried to learn the oboe, but it didn't go very well. I listen to music when I'm reading or cleaning or cooking dinner, but I absolutely, without question, cannot—cannot—listen to music while I'm writing.And I never actually wondered why until now.I was asked, dear readers, to tell you my playlist for my new book, . Alas. There is none. As a writer who lacks the neural networking for any kind of "visual thinking"—my brain operates almost entirely in language, sound, and other non-visual sensory information—I rely on my own internal voice as I write. I cannot see a story in my head; I can only hear it. So that means, every time, it has to sound right. It has to feel right in the ear and the mouth and the chest. It has to resonate. It has to vibrate in my bones. And because of the particularities of my attunement to the aural sensibilities of each sentence, any music at all when I write becomes a distraction.Which isn't to say that I operate in utter silence. Of course not. There is no such thing as utter silence. The world is noisy. Even when it is quiet. And the noisiness of the quiet world becomes, for me, its own kind of music. Its own playlist. And this is what I write to.I wrote these stories to the music of silence – and because these stories come from a wide range of my writing life (and therefore my actual life), the types of silence that fed these stories has changed over time as well. Here are the highlights of my playlist:"The Wet Mouthed Breathing and Dreamy Sighs of the Baby That Has Finally Napped." Two of these stories were published originally in 2007, but were written two and a half years earlier, when my son was an infant. There is a sound that a sleep-averse baby makes when they have finally drifted into slumber deep enough to keep them still and content. It is a sound that feels like a soap bubble in the hand—so fragile as to make it ungraspable. A thing simply to be wondered at. It is a sound that means that the half-written story in the notebook can, miracle of miracles, get another sentence. And maybe it can live. It was, for a time in my life, my favorite sound in all the universe."The Quiet Gurgles and Creaks of an Only Somewhat Haunted House." I have been lucky, in my life, in the ghost department: my ghost, I think her name is Evelyn, did laundry. This is true. She lived in the basement and smelled like talcum powder and Aquanet and every once in a while gave a derisive snort. And she folded laundry. Maybe because she was bored? It's hard to say. All I know is that I would put clothes in the dryer and would come down later and find them folded in a stack and I was the only one home. I appreciated it, and told her so (she never responded), and I missed her when she finally took her leave of us. But there is nothing that pulls a story along like listening to the rheumy sigh and sidelong murmurs of the joists and lintels of one's elderly home, and knowing that maybe, just maybe, not all of those sounds are due to aging architecture, but rather occur because Evelyn, as per her nature, is feeling busy."The Silent Sound Snow Makes When it Gives Way to Water." I live in Minnesota, which means we live with the seasons. Each transition from this season to that season is written on our skin. Snow, while seemingly inert, is a treasure trove of sound. It squeaks when it is bitter cold. It muffles footsteps and quiets voices when it falls. It holds its breath. It shimmers in the ear. And then, when the weather warms and the crystalline structure begins to collapse, it yawns and sighs like a broken heart, before folding into a silent sob. This was the sound I heard, incidentally, this afternoon, as the temperatures climbed and the snow began to shake. It is, I have to say, the saddest sound I know."The Anticipatory Sound of a Household That Hasn't Yet Woken Up." This is my current favorite sound. When each bed is warm and mounded over and full of sleep. When the wood floor is cold and the tea is warm. When, even from where I sit downstairs, all I hear is breathing. And not just my family members. The floor breathes; the walls breathe; the windows breathe. Everything is present and calm and without needs. Everything in the house simply is."The Scritch Scritch Scritch of the Pen on the Page." There is nothing better than the sound of a story being written by hand. There is a musicality to handwriting—a phrasing and a rhythm and even a harmonic structure. The ink in the cartridge slurps. The knuckles creek. The paper squeaks. The pen attempts at fluid motion and fails. It scratches. With each word. It pulls bits of the paper off with it. It does not apologize.The world we live in is loud. Our machines are loud. Our news is loud. Our government is loud. Writing, for me, is quiet. It is good that it is quiet.
Kelly Barnhill and links:the author's website





also at Largehearted Boy: (authors create music playlists for their book)
(authors create music playlists for their book)
(authors create music playlists for their book)
(interviews with up and coming female comics artists)
(weekly comics highlights)

(recommended new books, magazines, and comics)

(musicians discuss literature)
(writers pair a song with their short story or essay)
(daily music, literature, and pop culture links)
(composers and directors discuss their film's soundtracks)

Basketball has always been my dream since I was a little boy

In the series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates in some way to their recently published book.Previous contributors include , , , , , , , , , , and many others.Douglas Light's novel is a mesmerizing and clever literary thriller.Kirkus wrote of the book:"This sinuous narrative works neatly, both as a gripping novel and a solid meditation on identity."
In his own words, here is Douglas Light's music playlist for his novel :


I wrote between 2008-2011. The years since have been spent revising, deleting, and rewriting. Unlike by Nick Hornsby, by Micah Ling, or by David Byrne, music isn't the living core of . It did play a vital role in its creation, though. The songs in my playlist serve as cairns, landmarks in my life. Hearing one of the songs on the list pulls me back to a specific time and place. These moments are the spaces between notes, the pauses that define. They helped me shape the novel. They helped me create emotional truths.
Pavement, "Summer Babe (Winter Version)"I'd moved to Seattle in August of 1991 with $382 and the dream of becoming a writer. What I became was homeless, first sleeping in the woods south of the city then moving in a homeless shelter when winter came on. Homelessness and unemployment are often conflated. I worked two jobs while in the shelter, the first selling luggage at a store downtown during the day and the second working the overnight shift at a gas station three nights a week. How I came across , I can't recall. It was on cassette tape, I remember, and as I lay on my cot at night in the shelter playing "Summer Babe (Winter Version)" time and again on a Walkman that chew through batteries, I told myself time and again that things would work out. I told myself I'd be okay.
Cat Powers, "Metal Heart" ()The woman ate crabs from a brown paper bag while riding the packed F train south, tossing the legs and shell shrapnel on the floor. I'd been living in New York City for four years. The gleam and excitement of the city had yet to sour—I found episodes like the crab eating woman intriguing, new, and perversely amazing. As the subway doors closed at 14th Street, the woman stood up and announced to the entire car, "Sorry, all!" then lifted her peasant skirt and urinated. A collective groan sounded. People crowded to the far end of train, away from the woman, from the crab shards, from the pooling urine. As we rounded the bend and head into the West 4th Street station, the train braked. The urine raced toward the far end of the train—the end where everyone, watching with horror, huddled. That night, I saw Cat Power for the first time at the Tonic on the Lower East Side. It was 1999. By the time I left NYC in 2016, I'd lost the capacity to create new memories. By the time I left, women eating crabs and urinating on the F train no longer fazed me.
Beirut, "Elephant Gun"Once, in Athens, Greece, I decided to go for a jog. Athens is a city of ruins, both new and old, and isn't the greatest of place to jog. I'm an awful runner, hobbling at a pace slightly faster than a brisk walk. People who run fast impress me. Still, the people of Athens acted like they'd never seen someone out for a run. They'd stop and stare as I passed. Ten minutes into my workout, I felt presence; I was being followed. Turning, I found three feral dogs trotting closely behind. I continued on, hoping they'd grow bored and trail off. Hoping I wouldn't be eaten alive. More joined the procession, and soon I had 12 dogs on my heels. Far from being vicious, they seemed to enjoy the workout. Seemed to enjoy having purpose, a conquest with no kill required. It was only when I stopped running that the teeth were bared and the growls began. "Elephant Gun" is an amazing song. I listened to it often while working on . Why it reminds me of Athens, I can't say.
Liz Phair, "Mesmerizing"I ran into Norman Mailer on the street once near Central Park. Old, he walked with two canes. Still, he had an intimidating strength about him. He had a body of a wrestler who could tangle you to the pavement and bloody your face, all while trash talking you. Passing him, I told myself, "I have to say something to him." I wanted to ask him about writing, about the process, how it was done. What I had to do to succeed. I'd not yet realized that my concept being a writer and the reality of being a writer were distant cousins at best. That the "muse" didn't exist and that 90% of what was put to page would never see the light of day. Circling back around, I approached him. "Excuse me," I said, my brain scrambling to form an intelligent question. Something writerly. What I ended up asking was: Which way is Broadway? He pointed a cane eastward and said, "Funny thing about Broadway" and then went into a detailed history of how Broadway originally was a deer trail that evolved into a path used by the Native Americans of the island, and then eventually became the road it now is. "That's why it doesn't follow the street grid, why it starts on the westside at the top of the Manhattan and meanders its way east as it moves south," he said, then pointed his cane at me. "It travels the way it was destined to travel." The same holds true for Liz Phair's "Mesmerizing."
Modest Mouse, "Trailer Trash"Toward the end of my time in Seattle, I managed a coffee shop. Pete, one of the baristas, was the boyfriend of the founder of Up Records, so we often played pre-released cuts from Built to Spill, Tad, Modest Mouse, and other bands on the label. Pete was an amazing artist, creating creepy ink drawing of monsters and naked humans mingling. Others who worked there: Valerie, the painter who got repped by a hot LA gallery; Carrie, the lead singer of Hammerbox; Chris, the actor who ended up with a speaking role in Titanic. The place was a way station for people on the path to fame. That was some 20 years ago. I have no idea what any of them are doing now.
Douglas Light and links:




also at Largehearted Boy: (authors create music playlists for their book)
(authors create music playlists for their book)
(authors create music playlists for their book)
(interviews with up and coming female comics artists)
(weekly comics highlights)

(recommended new books, magazines, and comics)

(musicians discuss literature)
(writers pair a song with their short story or essay)
(daily music, literature, and pop culture links)
(composers and directors discuss their film's soundtracks)


Engineering Is My Dream - Varsity Tutors Scholarship Essay

My Dream Boy Essay, My Chinese New Year Holiday Essay - My Dream Boy Essay

In the series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates in some way to their recently published book.Previous contributors include , , , , , , , , , , and many others.Kaethe Schwehn's novel is an impressive post-apocalyptic debut.Library Journal wrote of the book:"Schwehn has created a postapocalyptic world in which why is not the main question. The Rending happened; accepting that is the first step toward recovery for the novel's multidimensional characters. This beautifully written story begs to be read again."
In her own words, here is Kaethe Schwehn's music playlist for her novel :


Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing: Sufjan Stevens
Mira, the protagonist of , is a pastor's kid but when the apocalypse occurs and her family disappears so do the last vestiges of her faith. This song is a deeply traditional Christian hymn but Sufjan Stevens infuses it with melancholy and, especially at the beginning, you can almost hear the emptiness that surrounds the spare melody. And lyrics like "wandering from the fold of God" fit Mira's internal landscape at the beginning of the novel exactly.Two Little Feet: Greg Brown
After the apocalyptic event, called the Rending, the sky is perpetually gray, and huge Piles of objects mysteriously appear, scattered across the landscape. Mira's job is to scavenge the Piles for things her community might need. I love this Greg Brown song for it's reference to the "big mountain" with the "Cloud comin' down cloud comin' down cloud comin' down" and to his cultural commentary about materialism: "We have no knowledge and so we have stuff and / Stuff with no knowledge is never enough."The Temptation of Adam: Josh Ritter
Mira is in love but can't quite bring herself to pursue the relationship because she is haunted by so much loss. This tune by Josh Ritter, about a romance in a missile silo, features the singer stuck between beginnings and endings, both personal and global: "We could hold each other close and stay up every night / Looking up into the dark like it's the night sky / And pretend this giant missile is an old oak tree instead / And carve our name in hearts into the warhead."The Riddle Song: Doc Watson
This song is one of the epigraphs of the book and it is sung by the characters at a crucial moment in the story (I won't say where). My sister introduced "The Riddle Song" to me as a lullaby when she was pregnant and so even though in the folk tradition the "love" in the song is romantic, for me the tune has always been about parental attachment. Doc Watson also sings about narratives: "How can there be a story that has no end?" and this echoes the novel's obsession with stories and who controls them.Be My Baby: The Ronettes
The women in begin giving birth to inanimate objects, which they refer to as Babies, so this song is an homage to those Babies and also to the moments of lightness and humor in the book. Plus, there IS a scene where one of the characters references the "nobody puts Baby in a corner" moment in Dirty Dancing. Frances Houseman, as another Baby with a capital "B," this one's for you.At the Zoo: Simon and Garfunkel
About two thirds of the way through the book a few of the characters set off for the Minnesota Zoo where an encampment of survivors has repurposed the animal enclosures in some fairly disturbing ways. Simon and Garfunkel's zoo isn't quite so dark but the animals do behave in rather unpredictable ways: "Zebras are reactionaries /Antelopes are missionaries / Pigeons plot in secrecy /And hamsters turn on frequently."Sapokanikan: Joanna Newsom
A former student of mine introduced me to this song, which Newsom described to NPR as: "a ragtimey encomium to the forces of remembrance, forgetting, accretion, concealment, amendment, erasure, distortion, canonization, obsolescence and immortality." I love the song's refusal to fully explain while also accreting meaning via images like "drums upon a plastic bag" and "parks where pale colonnades arch in marble and steel." There's a similar tension in the novel between accretion and concealment. "The renderer renders," Newsom sings. Yes!Not Dark Yet: Bob Dylan
There's a lot of longing and grief and mystery that infuses this novel. Longing for the Before, grief for those who are gone, and mystery around the Babies and what caused the Rending itself. And then there are the perpetually gray skies. So both the tone of this song and the refrain echo these parts of the novel. But I'd like to think that ultimately the novel ends on the word "yet." There is still a certain kind of light left, and it might be enough for the characters to see by, at least for a little bit longer.
Kaethe Schwehn and links:



also at Largehearted Boy: (authors create music playlists for their book)
(authors create music playlists for their book)
(authors create music playlists for their book)
(interviews with up and coming female comics artists)
(weekly comics highlights)

(recommended new books, magazines, and comics)

(musicians discuss literature)
(writers pair a song with their short story or essay)
(daily music, literature, and pop culture links)
(composers and directors discuss their film's soundtracks)