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Sarah Tomlinson

The Great American Novel, Take Two

Drum roll please: I’ve dared to begin my second novel after eight years spent working on, and obsessing over, my as-yet-unpublished first book “Because the Night.” The fresh start is exhilarating and scary; I’d imagine it feels something akin to dating during a trial separation. I can’t quite let go of the potential of the primary attachment, and yet, the new possibilities are starting to seem pretty enticing, especially following such a long season of frustrated desire. I workshopped the first 30-odd pages in my novel class tonight. What could be better than being compared to “Beautiful Girls,” one of my favorite films, ever? “We all want something beautiful.” Indeed.

But distractions abound. In the immortal words of my main man Marc Bolan, “I try to write my novel, but all I do is play…” Yes, that was me at Tom and Lucinda’s absolutely dynamite housewarming/Valentine’s soiree, doing the voices from my talking Nanny doll with Fran Drescher (in my defense, have you ever met someone whose doll you own?) — “Remember, the bigger the hair, the smaller the hips look.” So true. And she is truly lovely.

Speaking of Beautiful Girls, I just caught Greg doing a solo acoustic set at the Troubadour with Mark Lanegan. It was nice to see him looking and sounding so well. “If I Were Going” — I’m 16 again. Mark’s voice — total wow. Their cover of “I Get a Kick Out of You” — maybe a little, you know, but the kick they got out of it? Infectious.

Charlie Louvin at Spaceland, the night the lights went out in Silverlake. 81-years-old, still smoking his Winstons and charming the hell out of everyone in sight. What a dynamo. It does not get more real deal than his story of playing in a Kentucky parking lot for some miners who’d just gotten off the night shift and wouldn’t take no for an answer. He and Lucinda killed the two songs they sang together. Magic.

My newest favoritest band, Plants and Animals, playing at the Canadian Consulate as part of the Grammy festivities. Look for Laurel and I on CBC (Canadian national television), as they enlisted her to do a comedy bit as we came in the door. There are few bands that would inspire me to brave an hour of traffic for a three-song set. Plants and Animals is that band. “Bye Bye Bye” is as sublime as anything by Queen. Their percussion pineapple is sweet. They sang. We danced. The Canadians get their pride on. No poutine, though. Speaking of, remember the time I wrote a travel article about Quebec for The Boston Globe that said I ate peasant? Yes, as in poor people.