Discussing “intra-mundane transcendence”, as you do…
How To Dress Well

Their Library is pretty simple. We speak to artists we like about the books they like. Here, it’s the turn of How To Dress Well, aka Tom Krell, whose new album ‘What Is This Heart?’ is released on June 23rd. Below, check out the video to ‘Face Again’, taken from said LP.

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How To Dress Well, ‘Face Again’

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What is your favourite book and why?
Right now, my favourite book is Friend Of My Youth by Alice Munro. Beautiful and emotional stories by Munro, about pitiful and pitiable characters. She’s an absolute master of the short story, of compression – like, one eight-word sentence about some tiny little detail about some woman from somewhere in Saskatchewan, deciding whether or not to cheat on her husband, will contain not only everything you need to know to completely understand her character, but will also teach you profound things about our common humanity. I love Alice Munro!

What other authors do you like? 
I love George Saunders right now too – I learn a lot from him about why it’s important to be cynical of the present and where in the fabric of our world to look to locate antidotes to contemporary cynicism. And I really like Emma Donoghue – her (2010 novel) Room killed me and I can't wait to read her new one.

What draws you to certain books?
I'm drawn to books that track the way the very, very personal and little details of a life, and contain a moment of common humanity. I’m interested in literature and movies and TV shows that look into life to find a moment of transcendence in the mundane. This moment can teach us who we want to be and what we ought to care about, who we don’t want to be, and can help train us in that unique and essential human act: sympathy. Intra-mundane transcendence is basically all I care about.

Have you ever discovered a real lost classic? What is it and why?
Oh, The Drop Edge Of Yonder by Rudy Wurlitzer. It’s an insane and amazing mythological origin story about America – every American should read it to understand why our country is so weird. 

Do your literary influences have a direct impact on your songwriting?
Ya, massive. Like, my new album ‘What Is This Heart?’ was influenced so much by Alice Munro – and, as I mentioned, Saunders, but also the Dardenne brothers – maybe even more than any musical influence. Because I write my lyrics through a free-associate, freestyle process, the words I read and the images I see exert a huge influence on my work.

What are you reading at the moment?
Capital In The Twenty First Century by Thomas Piketty.

What is the first book you remember reading as a child?
Mrs. Frisby And The Rats Of NIMH – it blew my mind.

Did you make good use of your library card when you were younger?
Not really. I basically didn’t read until I was older, even though there were always books in the house I grew up in.

Have you ever found a book that you simply couldn’t finish?
I’ve been trying to finish (Cormac McCarthy’s) Blood Meridian for a while, but every 10 pages or so I get so brutally depressed I have to stop for three weeks or so. It’s so anti-human and I’m really allergic to that...

Do you read book reviews?
Ya, I love the NYRB. A good book review is a really great thing to read. 

Would you ever re­read the same book?
I want to say yes, but I'm not sure I've ever done it....

Have you ever identified with a character in a book?
I over-identify with every character.

Do you read one book at a time or more than one?
More than one, typically.

Is there an author or poet you would like to collaborate with?
Fernando Pessoa

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Photo: Zackery Michael

‘What Is This Heart?’ is released on June 23rd through Weird World/Domino. Find How To Dress Well online here

Related: more Their Library features

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