- Used Books
- Staff Picks
- Gifts & Gift Cards
- Sell Books
- Stores & Events
- Let's Talk Books
Special Offers see all
More at Powell's
Recently Viewed clear list
This item may be
Check for Availability
As Smart As We Are
Synopses & Reviews
Imagine the finest anthology of writing possible, and then imagine that writing put to music... You're imagining As Smart As We Are, a book-cum-CD, the title of which comes from the opening line from the final track, "Water," by Jonathan Lethem). Many of North America's bestselling and prize-winning authors, have contributed original lyrics (and in some cases their musical skills) to this CD of music by Brooklyn lit-rock band One Ring Zero.
The project began when Michael Hearst of the band One Ring Zero, soon after moving to Manhattan in 2001, sought out a small store he'd heard about that was founded by Dave Eggers, author of A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. The band was invited to perform at McSweeney's events and soon met Rick Moody, who invited them to perform and collaborate with him. Thus began a cascade of authors offering to write songs for the band. Winners of the Booker Prize, MacArthur Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award lined up to provide their song-writing services to the project.
Said Neil Gaiman of the project, "I liked the kind of lineup he [Hearst] was putting together. It was sufficiently odd enough to be interesting. It'll be a great Trivial Pursuit question someday: 'What does Margaret Atwood have in common with, say, Daniel Handler?' It was something like a sort of cabaret version of They Might Be Giants. It's literate. Genuinely funny. And it's odd. It feels like being in a very cool author anthology."
Using instruments ranging from claviola to toy piano, theremin to kitty litter (yes, One Ring Zero find music in the quotidian and the sublime. They acknowledge a wide variety of musical influences, from Hungarian folk to klezmer, to Kurt Weil, and have been described as Nino Rota (the composer for most of Fellini's films) on processed sugar.
"Michael Hearst and Joshua Camp, a pair of musicians with a penchant for eccentric music and truly eclectic instrumentation, are the driving force behind this album, featuring lyrics by 17 established writers, including Margaret Atwood, Paul Auster and Neil Gaiman. Infused with theremin loops and klezmer tonalities, the music sounds like it's being cranked out of a hurdy-gurdy by a carnival freak. Or perhaps like a cross between They Might Be Giants and the Squirrel Nut Zippers at their most difficult. In short, it's not for everyone. But there are times, as in Auster's 'Natty Man Blues,' when the approach comes together without being overbearing. Denis Johnson's Southern-fried 'Blessings' features pointedly ironic lyrics like, 'Bless now/ The cancer of the bone, the last light making/ Beautiful the poisons in the sky.' Myla Goldberg has a bit more fun, with Syd Straw crooning lines like, 'When you're made of clay/ Just avoid the rainy days.' As Fiona Maazel, who writes excellent, jaunty commentaries for each song, muses about Jonathan Lethem's 'Water': 'As smart as we are, we have no idea what this song is about.' Listeners will find that thought a familiar refrain." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Gypsy-klezmer, cartoon-circus-flea music you mainly hear in your dreams." The New Yorker
"A beautiful shebang of literary and aural mischief." Village Voice
"A well-orchestrated booby-trap for music lovers everywhere." Viggo Mortenson
Many of North America's bestselling and prize-winning authors have contributed original lyrics (and in some cases their musical skills) to this book-and-CD of music by Brooklyn lit-rock band One Ring Zero.
Building on a unique project started by the "art rock" band One Ring Zero, this compendium of lyrics written by literary types includes contributions from Paul Auster, Margaret Atwood, Dave Eggers, Neil Gaiman, Rick Moody, Myla Goldberg, Denis Johnson, A. M. Homes, Jonathan Lethem, and Amy Fusselman.
Imagine the finest anthology of writing possible, and then imagine that writing put to music... You¹re imagining As Smart As We Are, a book-cum-CD, the title of which comes from the opening line from the final track, "Water," by Jonathan Lethem. Many of North America¹s bestselling and prize-winning authors, have contributed original lyrics (and in some cases their musical skills) to this CD of music by Brooklyn lit-rock band One Ring Zero. Contributing Authors: Jonathan Ames, Margaret Atwood, Paul Auster, Clay McLeod Chapman, Dave Eggers, Amy Fusselman, Neil Gaiman, Myla Goldberg, Ben Greenman, Daniel Handler, A.M. Homes, Denis Johnson, Lawrence Krauser, Jonathan Lethem, Rick Moody, Aaron Naparstek, and Darin Strauss.
About the Author
One Ring Zero is Michael Hearst and Joshua Camp. Based in New York City, they perform regularly at venues around the city including The Knitting Factory, Galapagos, and Tonic. They recently performed at the Whitney Museum of Art, at Lincoln Center?s Damrosch Park, and at the Central Park Summer Stage with George Plimpton and Paul Auster. One Ring Zero has shared billings with Cibo Matto, Medeski Martin and Wood, Thurston Moore, The Magnetic Fields, and The Roots among others. One Ring Zero has received grants from The Virginia Commission For the Arts and The National Endowment For The Arts. Their music has been featured in dance concerts, films and animations, fashion shows, and NPR programming including This American Life and The Next Big ThingM.
What Our Readers Are Saying