The title of this article is exactly what you’re getting here. Have you heard of musicians? Have you heard of books? What happens when the two collide? Sometimes magic happens, and sometimes Morrissey happens. Got it? Great! Let’s dig in…
8. Nick Cave
Nick Cave writes the kind of lyrics most people only emotionally experience after binge-drinking for three days and deciding to play chicken with traffic. A good majority of the Bad Seeds’s discography is what I imagine getting punched directly in the heart feels like. Your Funeral…My Trial and Let Love In alone oughta qualify for Most Emotionally Brutal Albums Ever Recorded, and it’s amazing Murder Ballads hasn’t been made illegal yet. I once let my nephew listen to Murder Ballads and the next day he started smoking big cigars and challenging drifters to arm wrestling competitions. Now he’s in prison. Thanks a lot, Nick Cave. Fans of this guy’s music probably already know this, but I feel obligated to remind our readers here that, in addition to brilliant music, Cave has also penned two full-length novels. And the Ass Saw the Angel (1989), a southern gothic tale about a mute boy Going Through Some Shit, and The Death of Bunny Munro (2009), AKA one of the horniest books ever published. Some of the books on this list I can only recommend for true completionists of the musician’s work. In the case of Nick Cave, however, I will say there’s a very good reason he is considered one of the best lyricists of our time. Go read his novels. Listen to his music. Worship at the Church of Cave forever.
7. Keith Buckley
Keith Buckley is known for having a particularly unique voice. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, simply go listen to either of his bands—Every Time I Die or The Damned Things—and you’ll know exactly what I am talking about. In addition to his music, Buckley has also penned two novels: Scale (2015) and Watch (2018). Watchis definitely a unique take on how memory can work in a narrative. Buckley clearly has an established voice, both off and on the page.
6. Colin Meloy
The Decemberists is a band that exists. According to lore, several people have even purchased their albums. According to my iTunes history, I might have once been one of those people (even I was not cynical enough in 2009 to skip The Hazards of Love). Look, we’ve all gone through dark stages, okay? Regardless, here’s the least surprising sentence I’ve ever typed in my life: The frontman of The Decemberists, Colin Meloy, is also the author of a fantasy trilogy for children called Wildwood about “two seventh-graders who are drawn into a hidden, magical forest, while trying to rescue a baby kidnapped by crows.” I should note, and this is absolutely true, this is almost the same exact plot of the first short story I ever wrote when I was seven years old, except instead of a crow kidnapping a baby in my story I had a fox kidnapping a dog. Unlike Meloy’s work, nobody ever published my short story, and it was eventually destroyed by ultra-religious neighbors. Also, there is no money in the world that would convince me Colin Meloy didn’t personally write the Wikipedia pages for these books.
5. Kasey Lansdale
If you’re a fan of country music in East Texas there’s a very good chance you’re already aware of Kasey Lansale. If she’s somehow stayed off your radar up until now, stop what you’re doing and go order her debut full-length album, Restless (2013). Then, after that, definitely check out her recent collection of “supernatural sleuthing,” Terror is Our Business: Dana Roberts’ Casebook of Horrors (2018), cowritten with her dad, Joe R. Lansdale.
4. Leonard Cohen
Most of the entries on this list feature already-established musicians who then went on to publish fiction. However, in my research for this article, I discovered Leonard Cohen published two experimental novels back in the ’60s before realizing there’s no money in novels and deciding to change careers by becoming a singer/songwriter. That doesn’t mean you can’t still seek out both of his books, which are obviously still in print: The Favorite Game (1963) and Beautiful Losers (1966).
3. Josh Malerman
The High Strung might perhaps be most well-known for creating the theme song for Showtime’s Shameless, but folks who investigate deeper into this Detroit band’s discography will quickly discover an abundance of killer records (Moxie Bravo, Dragon Dicks, ¿Posible o’ Imposible?, etc). At this point, it shouldn’t be no secret that the High Strung’s singer/songwriter, Josh Malerman, is one of the coolest goddamn new horror writers to pop up in recent years. His debut novel, Bird Box (2014), became the talk of the entire planet after Netflix premiered Susanne Bier’s adaptation. His other published work—Black Mad Wheel, Goblin, Unbury Carol, Inspection, Malorie, etc—have cemented his status as one of those authors whose new titles you pre-order the moment the option’s available.
2. John Darnielle
Either you love The Mountain Goats or you’ve never heard of them. There is no in-between. The founder of The Mountain Goats, John Darnielle, is also the author of several incredible novels. I do not use “incredible” lightly, either! Especially when it comes to his second book, Wolf in White Van—which, honestly, oughta be taught in schools. His other two books, Master of Reality and Universal Harvester, are also well worth anyone’s time. I guess I don’t have much else to say about Darnielle’s fiction other than it means a lot to me and I think Wolf in White Van has the potential to really impact young lives. Please seek it out as soon as possible.
2015 was perhaps the last decent year on planet Earth, largely thanks to Morrissey. Does that last sentence sound like a prank? Yes. Is it? I mean, it’s not not a prank. Look, I’m not going to waste my time or your time explaining who or what Morrissey is. Either you already know or you live a blessed, beautiful life. Before I continue any further, this is the part of the article where I amid to loving The Smiths. I have a complicated relationship with Morrissey, like many Smiths fans, but I will never hesitate when it comes to cracking jokes. Making fun of Morrissey is like washing your hands during a pandemic: it’s both refreshing and necessary to ensure the survival of humanity.
Anyway, back to 2015, when Morrissey released his debut novel, List of the Lost. Do you remember that book? What about the cover, which featured an athletic runner drowning in a sea of orange? Or the fucking insane plot description? Did you forget about that? That’s okay. So did I, for a brief moment, but the Internet is forever, so here ya go:
“Beware the novelist . . . intimate and indiscreet . . . pompous, prophetic airs . . . here is the fact of fiction . . . an American tale where, naturally, evil conquers good, and none live happily ever after, for the complicated pangs of the empty experiences of flesh-and-blood human figures are the reason why nothing can ever be enough. To read a book is to let a root sink down. List of the Lost is the reality of what is true battling against what is permitted to be true.”
That is the official book description listed on all distributor websites. “To read a book is to let a root sink down.” Nobody on this planet could have written a sentence like that except for Morrissey, and I do not, under any circumstances, mean that as a compliment.
I obviously cannot end this article without also bringing up the fact that this novel actually won an award: Literary Review’s Bad Sex in Fiction Award. Past winners include folks like James Frey, Tom Wolfe, and Norman Mailer. I’m also sure you’re dying to read the sex scene that won Morrissey his most-prestigious award. Thankfully, you do not have to waste money on buying a copy, as I’ve done you a solid and copy/pasted it below. Enjoy!
“At this, Eliza and Ezra rolled together into one giggling snowball of full-figured copulation, screaming and shouting as they playfully bit and pulled at each other in a dangerous and clamorous rollercoaster coil of sexually violent rotation with Eliza’s breasts barrel-rolled across Ezra’s howling mouth and the pained frenzy of his bulbous salutation extenuating his excitement as it whacked and smacked its way into every muscle of Eliza’s body except for the otherwise central zone.”
BIO: Max Booth III is the Editor-in-Chief of Perpetual Motion Machine, the Managing Editor of Dark Moon Digest, and the host of two podcasts: Ghoulish and Castle Rock Radio. He’s the author of Touch the Night, Carnivorous Lunar Activities, and several other novels. Follow him on Twitter @GiveMeYourTeeth or visit him at www.TalesFromTheBooth.com. He lives in Texas.
More from Max Booth: 6 Crime Novels that Need to Be Adapted ASAP.
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