Today: Neko Case.

March 4, 2009 | 5 books mentioned 3

coverMiddle Cyclone, the new album by my favorite redheaded crooner, Neko Case, was released yesterday. At the time of this writing, I’ve listened to the album twice as I worked on my novel, and then I repeated a few songs so that I could dance and swoon around the apartment.

My friend Robin Benway, fellow Neko Case-lover, and author of the music-centric, young adult novel Audrey, Wait!, pointed me to this piece in Paste Magazine: “17 Things I Love, by Neko Case.” In the article, Case lists the books she read while making her record, including Watership Down by Richard Adams, What It Is by Lynda Barry, and Up in the Old Hotel by Joseph Mitchell. I love this literary insight into Case’s gorgeous, passionate music, and the combination of authors does seem to translate into something Neko Case-ish. (Starting with that rabbit world…)

Perhaps when I’m done with my novel, I’ll write a list of the albums I played as I wrote it. I have a feeling Middle Cyclone will make an appearance (along with Case’s previous album, Fox Confessor Brings the Flood.) I’m curious if Neko Case, New Order, Beirut, Songs: Ohia, and silence (lots of silence, actually, as I revise), will reveal anything about my book. Any thoughts? And, for the writers out there, what do you listen to, if anything, as you work?

is a staff writer and contributing editor for The Millions. She is the author of the novella If You're Not Yet Like Me, the New York Times bestselling novel, California, and Woman No. 17. She is the editor of Mothers Before: Stories and Portraits of Our Mothers As We Never Saw Them.


  1. I don't listen to music when I write, but if forced I would pick something complex but unobtrusive…in a word Mozart.

  2. Usually nothing, but since I have found Pandora I've been listening to a channel full of weird dark artists that I've never heard of. Music that you don't recognize is both surprising but intrusive, white noise like an indecipherable foreign language.

    I did actually write a short story recently though at the same time that I listened to npr's early release of Middle Cyclone…

  3. Lately, while writing, I've been listening to The Dirty Three's "Horse Stories." The songs are wordless and wild, and I repeat a few of the songs over and over and over again until I, too, am a horse.

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