Friday, November 6, 2020

The Last Playlist: What Is It?

Thanks for clicking onto my site and considering my book.

The Last Playlist: A Sonic Epitaph (TLP) is unique in the realm of memoir writing. It combines a music playlist with personal essays for a trans-dimensional reading experience (wow, man) that is sometimes fun, sometimes uplifting, sometimes heartbreaking.

Right at the start here an astute observer might ask—who are you to write a memoir? The short answer, of course, is nobody. But it’s more complicated than that. Writing this book was motivated by the death of my mom. Even though I was in my thirties when she passed I found that I didn’t know her beyond a typical mother/son relationship, which greatly saddened me. I didn’t want that for my own children and since we always bonded over music I thought to write some stories about my life linked to songs I found meaningful. Combined into one package these songs and their corresponding essays make up TLP. Also, when I pass from this world, this playlist—the last playlist—is to be the music at my funeral party. So, it’s music, it’s memoir, but more than that—it’s a love letter to my kids.

TLP is broken up into three sections: Preface, Introduction and Essays (the actual playlist):

In the Preface I give a little history and how to on playlists, which I have been making since the early 80’s when they were called mixtapes. Yes, I’m that guy at a party who drops in his mixtape or hits up the bluetooth speaker and you’re like, “I never heard any of these songs, but OMG, this mix is altering the essence of my being. Please, P.A.Kane, take me home.” To which I’ll respond with a smile, “Thank you sir, but I’m spoken for.” Point is, I know a fair amount of music and know how to put it together into a good mix. So, it’s a little background information.

In the Introduction I give a brief account of my life starting from just after high school to present day. As stated I explain how I was motivated to write the book after my mom passed. Also included is a discussion about the necessity of planning your own death along with instructions about what should occur at my funeral party upon my demise—(*hint* no white wine or white claw). And, finally, I share some of my personal history, as well as my dreams, schemes and a whole lot of other things. More background information—see a trend?

The Essays—and the actual playlist make up the bulk of the book. Here’s where I detail all the episodes that shaped my life. While the songs and the corresponding essays have a “deep track” feel they are mostly artists familiar from the rock era such as: Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young. The biggest hit included in the playlist is the 1973 top ten song by Stevie Wonder—“Living For The City,” which presents some of the bone chilling realities people of color faced in the early seventies. I use the song to explain what I knew about race growing up in my all white neighborhood and what I learned about race when I actually met some black people entering high school in 1976. I use “Cut My Hair,” by The Who to detail my troubled life at home when I was a teen and “There’s Always Someone Cooler Than You,” by Ben Folds as the vehicle to mark those fleeting moments of grace where no one was cooler than me. 

While TLP is set to music it is not necessary to know or like these songs. The essays speak for themselves with the music being an added feature—it’s like a two for Tuesday on your local rock station. But if you are interested in the music you can listen to TLP at my YouTube channel by clicking the link below. 

The Last Playlist

In closingwhile I'm not the typical person who would write a memoir, I found the experience of delving into myself was incredibly valuable and I'm very proud of this book. Sitting here, inch by inch, going through and writing out events from my life has given me great perspective and understanding of who I am. It has made me respect my experience and not be ashamed or afraid of the person I am. Through this process I've also come to believe that anyone and everyone would benefit from sitting down with pen and paper and jumping into themselves. With careful, honest consideration people would find many buried treasures living within.

Again, thank you for considering my book.


November, 2020 



Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Here's what reviewers are saying about Leaving Jackson Wolf . . .

Born Not To Run . . .

Though I had officially called it quits on my day job of nearly three-decades Christmas Eve, January 2, 2020 felt like my first real day of retirement. Two of my kids were still home, one on college break, the other recently graduated and looking for a job. My wife had gone back to work that morning, but before doing so, turned off the lights on the Christmas tree, signaling the holidays were officially over. Over too, was the excitement leading up to my retirement, which made me feel like a between person, a ghost passing through a purgatory of relative being and non-being and coming out the other side a whole person again who, for the first time since his teens, no longer had a job to go to. Now that these things had passed, I was charged with implementing the plan I developed to avoid common post-work mistakes like watching Morning Joe, napping half the day away or pouring myself a drink at noon.

I awoke a bit before 4 a.m. which was a shade later than the time I got up during my working days. I made coffee, fed animals and engaged in a bit of self-loathing for wasting time scrolling through meaningless social media posts. Eventually, about 4:45am, I got going on what would fill many of my post-work hours—writing. I am the author of two novels and currently have a book of essays in search of a home. So I got to work on my highest priority piece, a novel that had been shelved for some time because of the day job and other projects—I always seem to have twenty things going at once. Part of my plan was to prioritize these projects into a hierarchical order. The most important, hardest writing would come in the earliest part of the day, when the caffeine circulating through my system would synchronize with my fresh, well rested mind. Other writing and tasks would follow according to importance.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

The Snowy Accident

         Many authors on the margins like me have marketing strategies that often include newsletters, where they tell you about works in progress (that’s wip for you non-authors), offer giveaways and provide the details about the hummus sandwich they had for lunch. Anything to keep a precious reader connected and interested. I rarely write about writing or my life as an author because quite frankly—it’s boring as shit. It would just be a lot of conversation about getting up early and sitting in front of a laptop, the tyranny of the day job, complaints about having to workout, bourbon and why U2 sucks. 
     So, I don’t write about writing. But, the other day as I was up early sitting in front of my laptop I stumbled upon something in my writing that I want to talk about, and it doesn’t include anything about the tyranny of the dayjob, working out, bourbon or goddamn U2.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Interview With Book Blogger/Writer Anthony Avina

1)Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?
 I grew up in a small three bedroom/one bathroom house with my parents and nine siblings in Buffalo, New York. Presently, I live in a suburb of Buffalo with my wife and three college age children, who are never going to leave.

As far as how I started to write. I went through a pretty aimless period after high school where I couldn’t figure out what I wanted to do and was in and out of college.  Finally, in my early twenties I started read in a pretty serious way—stuff like Kerouac, Philip Roth, the poetry of Anne Sexton—which led me to want to give writing a shot. Problem was by the time I was all read up I was in my late twenties and had the pressure of trying to keep a roof over my head and a pretty serious girlfriend, whom I would eventually marry and have children with, so I had to shelve the writing thing. But when the kids got older and needed me less, I started to get up before work (really the middle of the night) make some coffee and write for a few hours. Few years later I have two published novels and a book of essays on the way, plus a million other ideas for books.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Indie Music and Leaving Jackson Wolf . . .

     In  Leaving Jack Wolf  available November 2, 2018 on Amazon and other on-line retailers we find the main characters: Jackson, McDougal, Lexi and Syd to be huge fans of cutting edge indie music. From the end of Chapter 1, this is McDougal listening to his favorite new song by Mitski. Of Mitski, rock legend Iggy Pop said: ". . . probably the most advanced American songwriter I know . . .  she can do whatever she wants- she writes and sings and she plays too."

From Leaving Jackson Wolf . . .
“This is Mitski. She’s my favorite.”
And from the mini Bose poured a voice with that rainy-afternoon vibe similar to Lana Del Rey’s, backed though by a broader range of instruments that included some ass-kicking guitar. The arrangements and Mitski’s voice also had more range. Sometimes it was apathetic, sometimes it was desperate and it ticked both up and down. Whatever it was, it was really good, and you could see McDougal totally lose himself in it. We all had stuff we got lost in, but McDougal brought it to another level under that ominous gray sky when “Your Best American Girl” started to play.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

The Origin of O'Malley

In the midst of the Great Depression, on a hot summer night in 1931, a girl barely twenty years old of dubious eastern European origins and reputation enters a northwestern Pennsylvania hospital. Anxious and scared, accompanied only by her stern, disapproving mother, she gives birth to a son, whom she will call William.
     William is the result of an unholy union between the young woman and a local business owner’s son of German descent. The exacting business owner forbids his son from having anything to do with the woman or her son and thus young William begins life with the shame and illegitimacy of a bastard child. But, not being acknowledged by his father was only part of it. Within a few years young William will be rejected again, this time by his mother when she meets an Irish man named O’Malley and follows him to Buffalo, NY. There, she starts a family proper, while young William anguishes with his grandmother in their ethnic enclave in Pennsylvania.
     Though wanting to be with his mother very badly William thrives as people rally around him in the tightly knit community. He does well academically, is a good athlete and is the star of school plays.
     In his mid-teens his grandmother becomes ill and William is sent to Buffalo to finally be with his mother. On the long train ride to Buffalo not only does he bring the shame of his illegitimacy, he also brings a strange eastern European name and a funny Pennsylvania accent for which he is mocked and derided. Sheltered in his ethnic enclave his entire life, William isn’t prepared for these these verbal assaults and is hurt by them. But, he fights back and eventually loses the accent, takes the name O’Malley as his own and acclimates to his Irish/Catholic neighborhood.