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July 25, 2007

Book Notes - Kate Christensen ("The Great Man")

In the Book Notes series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that is in some way relevant to their recently published books.

Kate Christensen has a knack for writing novels filled with exquisitely drawn characters, biting satire, and dark comedy. The Great Man is yet another gem by Christensen, where competing biographers uncover the secret life of a New York city painter though the recollections of the three women central to his life.


In her own words, here is Kate Christensen's Book Notes essay for her novel, The Great Man:


For The Great Man, a novel about a group of fairly bohemian New York women in their 70s and 80s who still crave all the things they used to crave.

1. Louis Prima and Keely Smith, "Those Autumn Leaves"

Keely sings like melted butter, if melted butter can be street-smart and lusty. This is a song that starts out tinged with gentle melancholy and ends on a banshee wail.


2. "Is That All There Is?" by Peggy Lee

Of course.


3. "If There is Something" by Bryan Ferry and Roxy Music

The sound of hot, liquid youthiness.


4. "Sympathy for the Devil," by the Rolling Stones

There's a scene in the novel where two people in their 70s get it on to this song. Perfect geriatric sex soundtrack.


5. "A Love Supreme" by John Coltrane

The great winding-down end-of-the-party last-cigarette two-nightcap album.


6. "Conference of the Birds" by Dave Holland

Joyful, light-filled music to get old to.


7. Beethoven's Late Quartets

Disturbing in the best way.


8. "A Very Good Year," Frank Sinatra

This might be the most hauntingly optimistic song about nostalgia ever written.


9. Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring"

Caused riots when it first debuted, played in the background at water-bong parties when I was in college. Plus ca change...


10. "Enjoy Yourself" by the Specials

It's later than you think.


Kate Christensen and The Great Man links:

Kate Christensen's page at her publisher
the book's page at its publisher

The Brooklyn Paper review

Kate Christensen at NPR's All Things Considered
Kate Christensen interviewed by Beatrice
Kate Christensen interviewed by Bold Type


also at Largehearted Boy:

Previous Book Notes submissions (authors create playlists for their book)

Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
52 Books, 52 Weeks (2007 Edition)
52 Books, 52 Weeks (2006 Edition)
52 Books, 52 Weeks (2005 Edition)
52 Books, 52 Weeks (2004 Edition)

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