Photo by Pete Lacker.

Arts & Entertainment

Wild Detectives Picks Five Books to Pair With Five Records

What you should be reading and what to listen to while reading it.

Wild Detectives isn’t just a small bookstore in Oak Cliff. It is a place to grab a book, a coffee, a cocktail, and lounge an evening away. The independent bookstore in Oak Cliff has been peddling novels, drinks, records, and light bites since February of 2014 under the careful guidance of Spanish owners Javier Garcia de Moral and Paco Vique.

The civil engineers-turned indie bookshop owners have always sought to bring literature and culture to the surrounding community by providing an atmosphere people want to be a part of. On a sunny afternoon, you might see people lazing on the patio, talking over a table littered with books, espresso cups, and Spanish gin and tonics.

During the pandemic, Wild Detectives launched a virtual book club, and now the store has another collaboration to bring a slice of the experience into our homes.

Though Wild Detectives hopes to bring back live music programming in the near future, for now, Garcia de Moral and staff-member Ernesto Montiel have put together a list of what you should be reading and what to listen to while reading it. Pour a coffee, mix a drink, and use their selections to recapture some of that atmosphere for yourself, on your own patio. 

Read James Baldwin’s Essays and Listen to The Oracle

This pairing entwines two Black voices and experiences: composer Angel Bat Dawid and American novelist James Baldwin. The Oracle is Angel Bat Dawid’s debut album, which Montiel refers to as a “heartfelt, spiritual and exuberant musical document of contemporary Black life experience.” Dawid is a Chicago-based clarinetist and composer whose journey with free jazz is passionately documented in The Oracle. The piece “What Should I Tell My Children Who Are Black,” tinged with gospel influence, provides a powerful backdrop to Baldwin’s comprehensive collection of essays. Baldwin, one of the literary voices of the Civil Rights Movement, penned novels like If Beale Street Could Talk. This collection of Baldwin’s essays is the most comprehensive assortment of his published works and explores the intricacies of race, sexuality, and class that are prominent in Dawid’s contemporary compositions.

Read Eartheater and Listen to La Yegros

Argentinian author Dolores Reyes’ novel Eartheater is a surreal tale of a young woman whose inclination to eat earth yields visions of women’s deaths. The surreal and captivating novel operates against a grim background of death and violence against women in the impoverished areas of Buenos Aires. It seems appropriate, then, to listen to a female artist from the same region, Mariana Yegros. Yegros, known as La Yegros, is from an area in northeast Argentina that collides with Brazil and Paraguay in an “amalgam of jungle roots and deep rural stories,” says Montiel. La Yegros’ is called “The Lady of Electro Cumbia” for her dancehall spin on traditional Latin American folk music, cumbia. Both works are an exaltation of the nuance of Argentinian culture, with Yegros utilizing her musical voice and Dolores directing attention toward those who were silenced.

Read Mark Fisher’s Capitalist Realism and Listen to Moor Mother

Moor Mother’s soundwork and Mark Fisher’s Capitalist Realism are a study in harsh surroundings. As a respected music writer and theorist, Fisher tackles capitalism from an ideological perspective, examining how the structure allowed for inequality and oppression inside a system that touts freedom as a defining principle. As a complement to the novel, Moor Mother’s soundscapes provide a similarly complex story, with themes of social and racial oppression at their heart. Moor Mother, the Philadelphia-based musician and activist known as Camae Aweya, operates at the intersection of free punk, jazz, and rap. Through layers of spoken word, samples, and electronic loops, Moor Mother paints a sonically dense landscape in which oppression exists at every turn. In this pairing, each informs the other, providing context for how systems fail as well as who they fail.

Read Pilar Quintanas’ La Perra and Listen to Canalón de Timbiqui

Try Pilar Quintanas’ La Perra while listening to the Afro-Colombian stylings of Canalón de Timbiqui for a study on the Pacific coast of Colombia. Quintana’s novel introduces a Colombian woman on the coast, one of the most biologically diverse and poorest regions in Colombia. The woman and her husband, both Afro-descendants, struggle against the violence and isolation that can be traced back to a history of structural racism against indigenous people in Colombia. La Perra is Quintana’s most recent novel and the first to be translated into English. When paired with Canalón de Timbiqui’s ancestral sound, the two recreate the vibrant and deep-rooted tradition of the region. The intergenerational collective focuses on a range of percussive instruments and their lyrics reference rivers and jungles in the towns they hail from. The rich history and cultural nuance of the Afro-Colombia Pacific Coast are captured within Quintana’s words and the chanting voices of Canalón de Timbiqui.

Read Ted Chiang’s Exhalation and Listen to Arca

Ted Chiang’s second collection of short stories is chock-full of revelatory ideas best explored while immersed in Venezuelan musician Arca’s powerful post-club electronic music. Both artists are boundary-breakers, exploring humankind’s place in the universe by asking questions about free will and ethics. Chiang, whose work has won multiple Nebula and Hugo awards and whose short story “The Story of our Lives” became the premise for the 2016 film Arrival, is known for his soulful approach to science fiction. Exhalation utilizes the present day to frame complicated philosophical and ethical questions just as Arca uses contemporary party music to challenge societal constraints. Arca, whose birth name is Alejandra Ghersi, is the “embodiment of both the ever-mutating possibilities of post-club electronic music,” according to Garcia de Moral and Montiel.

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