The books we read, the albums we listened to.
Around November we’re releasing a new collection of short stories. Yeah, it took us long enough. We’re also reissuing our first collection, Manananggal Terrorizes Manila, which is now out of print, as an e-book. The stories in the first book were on floppy disks: even if they survived, how would we read them? So we’re scanning the hard copies and proofreading the OCR files—basically rereading stuff we wrote 200 years ago.
It’s a weird feeling, rereading yourself. Sometimes you think, “I wrote this crap? Whoever allowed this to get published should be shot!” Sometimes you think, “Holy crap I was good, where did it go?” You feel like patting yourself on the back and kicking yourself in the head, often at the same time. (Try doing that at home.) And you have to stop yourself from rewriting everything.
While proofreading Portents, which we have posted on the Story page, it occurred to us that we refer to music quite often in our fiction. The hideous love story contains an entire Police song. The bad science-fiction has The Brandenburg Concertos, and the one about the jazz band has Monk and Miles Davis. The title “Kind of Brown” is from Miles’s “Kind of Blue”. And Cosmic Thing by The B-52′s turns up in Portents. In an earthquake!
Before we knew it, we were rooting in a dusty box of ancient cassettes for the music we were listening to while writing Portents:
A lot of Joe Jackson, particularly the stuff from his Look Sharp! album. (And It’s Different For Girls.)
Prefab Sprout, an English band which should have a much larger reputation. They’re probably best known for When Love Breaks Down and Cars and Girls. Our favorite, which we’ve been listening to non-stop since Sunday (Help!) is an odd, lovely song called Wild Horses. The adjective “unfloored”, the line spoken by Jenny Agutter from Logan’s Run, the startling falsetto. It came out the same year as our first book. Which means nothing, we just like to say it.
We’ve been a fan of Rickie Lee Jones since high school, and Pirates is an album we know backwards. Some years ago we were at the Sundance film festival when we got word that Rickie would be playing a set. Small venue, limited seats, first come, first served. We absolutely had to see her, so we dragged Raymond out and lined up in the snow for an hour. Just as our faces were about to freeze off, the doors opened. It was a short set, six songs, most of them from a new movie we hadn’t seen, but it was worth the risk of frostbite. And she sang Satellites, which caused people to burst into tears.
The early movies of Cameron Crowe introduced us to a lot of musicians we love. Singles was our introduction to grunge, Mother Love Bone, Soundgarden. Say Anything led us to The Replacements.
If you read our stories while listening to these songs, they will seem better than they are. In fact you can dispense with the stories altogether and just listen to these.