SAINTS AND ANGELS

 

Picking up where events ended in Days Of Madness (a story of love gone awry, excess and sex, and the search through confusion to find meaning and understanding), Saints and Angels tells the story of Charles Karaway and his search for meaning to his life. This search finds him traveling alone across the American continent for the first time, visiting with long lost friends, and indulging in an exploratory dialogue about life and consciousness.

 

Following the death of his father, and still affected by the tumultuous events of lost love and an emotional breakdown, Karaway chooses to go deep within himself by going deep into America. His days and nights are spent in contemplative isolation, exploring national parks and urban centers, as he travels from his New England hometown to the California coast, and back. Along the way, he drops in on friends he once knew only to realize that they no longer have a connection. As he travels, he's driven by two contrasting and compulsive needs, to find a place where he can settle down so that he can continue to write his novel, and the need to move, see and explore the country.

 

On his return trip, Karaway stops to visit with David and Jill, acquaintances of a mutual friend. Over the next three days, they indulge in an extended and exploratory dialogue about life, art, and consciousness.

 

Saints and Angels is a conceptual novel that is uniquely structured. Each section of the book utilizes a particular literary and artistic construct. Presented in two parts, Part One employs the form of a journal or notebook as it is kept by Karaway, and which illustrates his thoughts and interpretations of driving alone across America for the first time in his life. The literary device of a journal or notebook and the intimacy that can be conveyed through this concept has a long-standing literary tradition. This approach is contrasted with Part Two, which utilizes the form of tape transcriptions, a form that was explored and used in more experimental literary times, and which allows the reader a new and different way to experience story and character.

NOTES ON THE SOUNDTRACK:

 

Saints and Angles is a conceptual novel. Each section of the book utilizes a specific literary and artistic construct. The story, or events, of the novel, are based on a road trip I took in the late 1990s, thereby falling into many literary genres from road book to confessional. Part One utilizes the form of a journal or notebook as it is kept by the main character, and illustrates his thoughts and interpretations of driving alone across America for the first time in his life. The literary device of a journal or notebook and the intimacy that can be conveyed through this concept has a long-standing tradition. Part Two utilizes the form of literal tape transcriptions and contrasts Part One. When portable tape recorders became available to people in the early 1960s, tape transcriptions changed the form and approach of magazine interviews and began to be incorporated into numerous literary works, allowing the reader a new and different way to experience a character. While it is not known for books to have soundtracks, which also came into their own with the rise of independent filmmaking in the 1960s, Saints and Angels utilizes a soundtrack as another conceptual device to enhance the experience of the book.

 

When I began to explore jazz music, which was only a year or so before taking the trip on which the novel is based, I had a very particular experience that not only influenced the soundtrack but also influenced the road trip and the book. I had been listening quite extensively to the recordings that Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie had made together. Based on my limited knowledge, this was the sound of Jazz. I loved these recordings. Wanting more, I went to the record store and purchased an album by Miles Davis, whom I knew only by reputation, called Miles Davis At Fillmore: Live At The Fillmore East. I was very disappointed that it wasn’t music like what I had heard from Charlie Parker. Honestly, I didn’t know what to make of the music, or even if I liked it. Regardless, I wanted to understand the music and to educate myself, so I spent time listening to the album. I listened to that album, and the Charlie Parker Verve Jazz Masters 15 album, over and over again, since they were the only two jazz albums I owned.

 

One day while I had been listening to Charlie Parker I had a vision of something like a hummingbird around a small garden patch, and which was a visual representation of his music. His songs were short, and his playing was fast and tight and seemed to dart all over the place, much like a hummingbird. I then put on the Miles Davis album and had a similar vision, except it was something completely different. As a visual representation of the music, I saw large animals, almost like dinosaurs, running across the vast American plain, loping, trudging, moving in great strides, and covering enormous distances. Above the hoard of beasts that ran upon the ground were giant birds that soared in the sky and that moved with them. This contrast of musical styles and approaches, this duality, the small and the intimate accompanied by the large and expansive, seemed to personify a fundamental truth about America. It's this concept that influenced everything.

 

Finally, I wish to make note that the soundtrack, like the book, is separated into two correlating sections. The music of Part One is full of momentum, and this is meant to match the propulsion of driving and being on the road. The music of Part Two is expansive and exploratory, and this is intended to match the wandering and non-linearity of the tape transcription.

 

 

 

SOUNDTRACK: SAINTS AND ANGELS

 

 

PART ONE:

 

1.   Koko (Studio) by Charlie Parker

 Album: The Complete Savoy Recordings

 

2.   Gazzelloni by Eric Dolphy

 Album: Out To Lunch

 

3.   Willie Nelson / The Theme by Miles Davis

 Album: Miles Davis At Fillmore: Live At The Fillmore East

 

4.   Chameleon by Herbie Hancock

 Album: Head Hunters

 

5.  II B.S. - Edit by Charles Mingus

 Album: Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus

 

6.   Spiritual - Live by John Coltrane

 Album: The Complete 1961 Village Vanguard Recordings (Disc 1)

 

7.  Fly With The Wind by McCoy Tyner

 Album: Fly With The Wind

 

PART TWO:

 

8.   The Woods by Chick Corea

 Album: The Mad Hatter

 

9.   Midnight Sunrise (1) by Ornette Coleman

 Album: Dancing In Your Head (reissue)

 

10.  Rain Dance by Herbie Hancock

 Album: Sextant

 

11. Shhh / Peaceful - Miles Davis

 Album: In A Silent Way

 

All Copyright Michael P. Toussaint 2017