cover image Curious Sounds: A Dialogue in Three Movements

Curious Sounds: A Dialogue in Three Movements

Roger Mooking and francesca ekwuyasi. Arsenal Pulp, $23.95 (208p) ISBN 978-1-55152-929-5

Mooking, musician and host of the TV show Man, Fire, Food, and novelist ekwuyasi (Butter Honey Pig Bread) weave together an exuberant multimedia celebration of “being alive,” and of creativity as an “outlet to quell the things that damage,” based on Mooking’s 2023 concept album, SoundBites. The first section unfolds in a loose conversational format, as the authors “shoot the shit and ponder the human condition,” holding forth on the creative process, grief, and intergenerational trauma. In the process they unearth the stories behind each of the album’s songs, including a poignant discussion of “When Words Fail,” which reflects the grief Mooking felt after losing two of his children (the track is “raw with emotion, the kind of wisdom that can only come when you’ve seen some things,” ekwuyasi observes). In later sections each song is paired with a painting and a haiku-like micro-story from Mooking, some animated by an emotional immediacy (“The boulder rolls heavy down the mountain. It splits its head open without a sound”). While the motley mix of lyrics, conversation, narration, art, and story often jumbles together, the unorthodox structure is part of the appeal—there’s a sense of a mind spilled onto the page, with sharp insights scattered throughout. The results are both odd and enchanting. Illus. (Dec.)