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August 6, 2009

Book Notes - Jessica Shattuck ("Perfect Life")

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

Jessica Shattuck's second novel, Perfect Life, propels its four diverse main characters through bizarre situations with humor, satire, and the discerning prose that drew critical acclaim for the author's debut novel, The Hazards of Good Breeding.

Lately, when I have been asked for book group titles, Perfect Life is the first title that I recommend.

Entertainment Weekly wrote of the book:

"The four main characters are pulled together and spun apart by various dramas (sperm-donor babies, corporate espionage) that could come off as soap-opera-ish in lesser hands, but Perfect is too nuanced to slide into broad archetypes or easy resolutions. With her elegant prose, Shattuck manages to make her characters' stories feel both engrossing and utterly real."

In her own words, here is Jessica Shattuck's Book Notes music playlist for her novel, Perfect Life:

I don't listen to music while I write but here is some of what I was listening to during the year and a half I spent writing this book. With a few perennial favorites that have specific relevance to Perfect Life in my mind…

"While You Were Sleeping," Elvis Perkins

I discovered this song while writing Perfect Life, and could listen to it over and over again, and did.

"Changing Colours," The Great Lake Swimmers

Is this song about dying? I think so.

"Valentine's Day," Bruce Springsteen

"Wuthering Heights," Kate Bush

This song is so easy to make fun of, but also so great.

"The Opposite of Hallelujah," Jens Lekman

"Oxford Comma," Vampire Weekend

"Sound and Vision," David Bowie

"Colours," Donovan

This is just one of my favorite songs and belongs at some point in any love story.

"Gypsy," Susan Vega

Actually, I didn't listen to this because I have no idea what happened to the tape I bought of this in – 1987?-- but the words "arranger of disorder" kept popping into my mind while I was writing about Neil.

"Landslide," Fleetwood Mac

Leibeslied and Leibesfreud, Fritz Kreisler

Jessica Shattuck and Perfect Life links:

the author's website
excerpt from the book

Bookmarks review
The Canadian Press review
Entertainment Weekly review
MostlyFiction Book Reviews review
Publishers Weekly review

also at Largehearted Boy:

other Book Notes submissions (authors create playlists for their book)
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
guest book reviews
musician/author interviews
52 Books, 52 Weeks

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