by Sean
Please note: MP3s are only kept online for a short time, and if this entry is from more than a couple of weeks ago, the music probably won't be available to download any more.


Us Conductors, Canadian cover

Today my first novel, Us Conductors, is published all across Canada. I won't be bothering you like this again until it is published in the United States in June. But I wanted to make sure you heard, you out there, old friends and kindred spirits and trespassers who strayed onto this blog looking for "girl legs" or "shi poem". Us Conductors is published by Random House of Canada, and you can order it via its website, or buy it in shops, or on iBooks or in kindletown, or you can come into my front garden and when spring comes I will sit out there with you and try to persuade you to buy it.

Us Conductors is a kind of love story about Lev Sergeyvich Termen, inventor of the theremin, and Clara Rockmore, its greatest player. It's a novel about invention, memory, debt, airships, orchestras, Soviet spies, American ballerinas, Siberian taiga, electric singing, killer kung-fu, blue speakeasies, and responsibility. It's full of lie-seeming truths and true-feeling lies.

I started writing this book in 2009. Its working title was IN WHICH I WIN THE LOVE OF CLARA ROCKMORE, MY ONE TRUE LOVE, FINEST THEREMIN PLAYER THE WORLD WILL EVER KNOW. The book begins with an epigraph by Tennessee Wiliams: "In memory, everything seems to happen to music." There are chapters about the 1929 Crash and the the day Lenin played the theremin. The chapter titles are taken from songs by artists like Kate Bush, Jesus & Mary Chain, and Mark Hollis. There are a few gramophones, but they don't say anything.

Besides tracks by Tim Hecker and the Cocteau Twins, the piece of music that most impacted this book was Clara Rockmore's 1977 performance of Saint-Saëns' "The Swan" (accompanied by her sister, Nadia). It was recorded when Rockmore was in her sixties, well after the events fictionalized in Us Conductors.

Listen to it here: Clara Rockmore - "The Swan (Saint-Saëns)".

I am so tired after a busy few days and so for now all that I will say is: I hope you will buy this book, and maybe come to see me if I visit the place where you live. To learn of book tour dates, subscribe to my newsletter or up-up my Facebook whozit or Twitter whatsit, or just keep reading this site.

Over the next month I will be visiting the Ottawa Writers Fest, talking with Socalled as part of Blue Metropolis, and also hosting a very special Montreal book launch on April 24. But now and foremost, if you dwell in Toronto: please come tonight, Tuesday, April 8, as I launch Us Conductors at your Monarch Tavern. I have the honour of sharing this celebration with Carl Wilson, who launches an expanded version of Let's Talk About Love, one of my favourite books. And we will be joined by wonderful, generous friends: Said the Gramophone's own Daniel Beirne, rapp-battlezin' versus Roger Bainbridge; the thereminist Jeff Bird, playing solo and accompanying the band Snowblink; the writer Liisa Ladouceur; and our splendid DJ, the one and only Sandro Perri. I hope you can join us.

Posted by Sean at April 8, 2014 1:12 AM

congratulations sir! and, as always, thanks for the listening.

Posted by benjamin at April 8, 2014 2:18 AM

Congratulations! Sounds stupendous! Can't wait to read it in America. Do come to Oakland and help us along.

Posted by Darcy at April 8, 2014 2:52 AM

Good on you, Sean!

I very much look forward to reading it.

Posted by shane at April 8, 2014 6:52 AM

I pre-ordered it so my copy is (hopefully) speeding its way to me now. I am greatly looking forward to reading it.
Best of luck with your launch events & book tour.

ps. the Clara Rockmore link is bringing up a 404 error.

Posted by rodney at April 8, 2014 9:46 AM

Congratulations Sean! Can't wait to buy it in the US...

Posted by greg talmage at April 8, 2014 9:26 PM

heart-thumping excitement

Posted by Cynthia at April 9, 2014 4:13 AM

You have given me much happiness through the years. If your book is 1/2 as great, I can't wait. Pre-ordered.

Posted by Sam Lowry at April 9, 2014 3:54 PM

Gefeleciteerd vanuit Amsterdam! Pre-ordered too, can't wait. Thanks for all the words and music.

Posted by Michiel at April 9, 2014 4:45 PM

Congratulations, Sean. That's a fantastic achievement (and it really sounds like a book I'd like to read).

Posted by Eric at April 9, 2014 6:19 PM

Well done, Sean - can't wait to read it!

Posted by Ryan at April 9, 2014 7:18 PM

I haven't checked this site in ages, having been more occupied with books and reading and writing. Today I drop in and what do I find? A post about a book. Which I'm very glad to know about. Congratulations! Also, thanks for the Clara Rockmore sample.

Posted by John Branch at April 10, 2014 12:54 PM

Congratulations Sean! the first-born of what I am sure will be a large brood ;)

Posted by karin at April 13, 2014 7:28 PM

"There are a few gramophones, but they don't say anything." Sean you are too funny. Congratulations on publishing the book!

Posted by Bryan at April 19, 2014 11:08 AM

Congratulations! You guys have introduced me to so much great music over the years that I would check out your book on that basis alone, but knowing it's a love story about I have to read it.

A biography I read of Theremin called Ether Music and Espionage was one of the reasons I chose to study physics in college. Good luck with your tour and come by the SF bay area if you get a chance!

Posted by Daniel at May 25, 2014 2:43 PM

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"And I shall watch the ferry-boats / and they'll get high on a bluer ocean / against tomorrow's sky / and I will never grow so old again."
about the authors
Sean Michaels is the founder of Said the Gramophone. He is a writer, critic and author of the theremin novel Us Conductors. Follow him on Twitter or reach him by email here. Click here to browse his posts.

Emma Healey writes poems and essays in Toronto. She joined Said the Gramophone in 2015. This is her website and email her here.

Jeff Miller is a Montreal-based writer and zinemaker. He is the author of Ghost Pine: All Stories True and a bunch of other stories. He joined Said the Gramophone in 2015. Say hello on Twitter or email.

Mitz Takahashi is originally from Osaka, Japan who now lives and works as a furniture designer/maker in Montreal. English is not his first language so please forgive his glamour grammar mistakes. He is trying. He joined Said the Gramophone in 2015. Reach him by email here.

Site design and header typography by Neale McDavitt-Van Fleet. The header graphic is randomized: this one is by Neale McDavitt-Van Fleet.
Dan Beirne wrote regularly for Said the Gramophone from August 2004 to December 2014. He is an actor and writer living in Toronto. Any claim he makes about his life on here is probably untrue. Click here to browse his posts. Email him here.

Jordan Himelfarb wrote for Said the Gramophone from November 2004 to March 2012. He lives in Toronto. He is an opinion editor at the Toronto Star. Click here to browse his posts. Email him here.
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