It doesn't take long to realise that Lucy Dacus has a literary bent.
An eloquent songwriter, her effective use of language is both innate and refined, matching a keen narrative sense to some remarkably personal observations.
2016 album 'Burden' became her breakout moment, a beautifully composed record that glowed with potential.
New record 'Historian' is a distinctly assured affair, with Lucy Dacus impacting her own voice over 10 wonderful songs.
Regularly making book recommendations to fans, Clash caught up with Lucy Dacus to find out a little more about the contents of her bookshelves…
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What is your favourite book and why?
The most difficult question! I might have to say House Of Leaves by Mark Danielewski because it broke my understanding of books and what they can achieve. It's hardly a book at all, it's more like a sculpture with paper, words, and plot. I wouldn't want to describe it any more than that.
What other authors do you like?
Recently I've come to love Elena Ferrante, Maggie Nelson, Siri Hustvedt, James Baldwin, Nancy Milford, Karl Ove Knausgaard, and Leo Tolstoy. I used to love Fitzgerald but I recently read a biography of Zelda Fitzgerald that makes me cringe about F. Scott as a person.
What draws you to certain books?
Recommendations from trusted friends. Reading is a solitary activity but I'm most happy when it can further connect me to the people around me. When someone loves a book, you can find out a lot about them by reading that book.
Have you ever discovered a real lost classic? What is it and why?
Reach by Don Bajema. I can't even remember how I acquired it, but it's a favorite of Henry Rollins and feels like it would be a hit amongst Beat Generation fans. I'm not usually into violent subject matter, but Bajema writes beautiful stories about a man and his various bouts with violence throughout his life.
Do your literary influences have a direct impact on your songwriting?
Not consciously, but I have learned a lot from eloquent writers and well-said words. I aspire to be as evocative as the books that have shaped me, but I don't look to books for material.
What are you reading at the moment?
Right now I'm finishing Dead Souls by Nikolai Gogol, the second book in Karl Von Knausgaard's My Struggle series, No Is Not Enough by Naomi Klein, Arabian Nights, and Bark by Lorrie Moore.
What is the first book you remember reading as a child?
My parents used to read Let's Talk About Adoption by Fred Rogers (a.k.a. the legendary Mr. Rogers) to explain to me that I was adopted. I always liked reading it and having it read to me before bed because the books makes a point to communicate that my parents loved me very much and chose me to be a part of their family.
Did you make good use of your library card as a child / teenager?
Definitely as a child in the school library. I still use my elementary library card as a bookmark. But I was sort of grossed out by public libraries. My parents always used to rent me books when I was sick, so I imagined that other sick kids had been sneezing and drooling on the very books I was holding.
Have you ever found a book that you simply couldn’t finish?
I always pick up The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen and put it back down. Not because I don't like it, but because I know the subject matter will matter more and hit harder once I'm older. Every now and then I check to see if it sits well yet, but the time hasn't come.
Do you read book reviews?
No, I hate knowing what anyone thinks of a book before I pick it up.
Would you ever re-read the same book?
I would, but I've only done it occasionally. I used to read Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt once a year. I've read A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L'Engle plenty of times as well. I've read The Great Gatsby by Fitzgerald probably ten times, but I think I won't revisit it for a while. If I ever raise someone, I'm going to enjoy revisiting the children's books and young adult novel series that I loved.
Have you ever identified with a character in a book? Which one and why?
I want to say yes, but I can't think of anyone specific at the moment. There are facet of characters in every book that I resonate with, but I don't think I've found myself totally in someone else's words. That might be why I feel so compelled to write still.
Do you read one book at a time or more than one?
Definitely more than one. I usually allow myself one contemporary fiction, one classic fiction, one non-fiction, one short story book, one memoir or biography, one book of poetry, and one philosophy or spiritual text.
Is there an author / poet you would like to collaborate with?
I can imagine collaborating with Miranda July because not only is she an author, she's an artist, actress, director, journalist, and all around creative person. I've always felt like we share similar goals as writers. She tends to communicate a sense of belonging and honesty despite abnormality. Her work is fun and odd and always comforting to me.
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'Historian' will be released on March 2nd. Catch Lucy Dacus at the following shows:
19 Leeds Belgrave Music Hall
20 Glasgow The Hug and Pint
21 Manchester Gullivers
22 Birmingham Hare and Hounds 2
24 Bristol Louisiana
25 London Omeara
26 Brighton The Hope and Ruin
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