Twitter Facebook Tumblr Pinterest Instagram

« older | Main Largehearted Boy Page | newer »

May 6, 2010

Book Notes - Matthew Quick ("Sorta Like a Rock Star")

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

Matthew Quick's debut novel The Silver Linings Playbook met with both critical and popular success, a moving story about a man with mental illness. I was a bit perplexed when I heard his next book was a young adult novel featuring a teenage female protagonist.

Sorta Like a Rock Star is every bit a literary success as The Silver Linings Playbook. Quick's deft portrayal of main character Amber Appleton's life brings both laughter and tears, but more importantly creates an unforgettable character ensconced in the engrossing world that is Sorta Like a Rock Star.

Don't be put off by the "young adult" tag, this is a book for adults as well (or better yet, one to share with your children).

Sara Zarr wrote of the book:

"This special book dares us to embrace audacious hope. Amber Appleton is my hero."

In his own words, here is Matthew Quick's Book Notes music playlist for his novel, Sorta Like a Rock Star:

My new novel, Sorta Like a Rock Star, is about a quirky, homeless young woman who spends most of her time trying to buoy the spirits of senior citizens, freak classmates, Korean ESL students, an abandoned dog, and a Vietnam veteran who is extremely fond of haiku. Despite the fact that she has no iPod or any music player whatsoever, Amber Appleton is a music lover, and there are many songs referenced in the novel, most of which are uplifting. (When you are living in a school bus with your alcoholic mother and positive thinking is your only lifeline, it's probably not a good idea to listen to melancholy Morrissey-type music.)

While writing Rock Star I made an iPod mix, which I titled "Amber's Mix." The mix was comprised of 16 tunes, any one of which could have been Amber Appleton's theme song. I listened to the mix while writing and many of these songs found their way into the manuscript. All songs book-ended by * * are mentioned in the novel at least once.

"Rhine & Courtesan" by Rachel's

The first two minutes of this song are featured in the Sorta Like a Rock Star book trailer, which you can see here. The entire song is fantastic, but the first section—wistful, and yet somehow triumphant—really captures Amber's spirit.

*"O-o-h Child" by The Five Stairsteps*

One of the most uplifting songs ever recorded. Whenever I hear this tune I feel as though good things are definitely coming not only my way, but everyone's way, and we need to get everyone believing it. Like we should all be Ferris Bueller leading a parade or something. "Things are gonna be easier…brighter."

"Live Your Life (feat. Rihanna)" by T.I.

I "ain't got no time for no haters" and I love rap songs that make me feel instantly victorious. "Stop looking at what you ain't got and start being thankful for what you do got."

*"God Is A DJ" by P!nk*

I don't often dance, but when P!nk sings, "Get your ass on the dance floor," I feel absolutely obligated. "Love is a rhythm, you are the music…you get what you're given, it's all how you use it."

*"Think" by Aretha Franklin*

If you don't perk up when you hear those initial funky piano chords, you aren't alive. "Freedom!" It's hard to be against such a refrain.

*"We're Not Alone" by Dinosaur Jr.*

"I wanted you to say, ‘Be around.'" There's a longing in J. Mascis's voice that haunts me in the best of ways.

"I Say A Little Prayer" by Aretha Franklin

The Queen of Soul has excellent taste in inauguration hats and her singing voice makes it easier to believe in possibility.

*"Freak Scene" by Dinosaur Jr.*

SLARS is divided into four sections, each named after a Dinosaur Jr. song. Amber is a huge fan. She's also a self-proclaimed freak. Discounting the Rick James classic, is there a better freak anthem?

*"Let It Be" by Aretha Franklin*

Best Beatles cover…ever.

*"Puke and Cry" by Dinosaur Jr.*

There is a scene in SLARS where Amber listens to this song over and over again until her ears are ringing. Song titles like this are rare. Beautifully honest, simple, true.

*"Workin' My Way Back To You" by The Spinners*

I remember singing this when I was a kid, dancing around the living room. I've always loved this song. Although if you really listen to the lyrics, there's no way any woman should take the lyricist back. Making women cry made him feel like a man inside? Not cool.

*"Respect by Aretha Franklin"*

You've got to have respect to get respect! "Just a little bit. Just a little bit."

*"Feel the Pain" by Dinosaur Jr.*

How can Dinosaur Jr. songs be so simultaneously sad and happy? Ah, the brilliance of J. Mascis.

*"(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman" by Aretha Franklin*

Okay, so I really like Aretha Franklin. Who hasn't felt as though his/her soul was in the lost and found?

*"You Can't Hurry Love" by The Supremes*

Crack cocaine for the soul. Impossible not to smile and dance when this song is playing.

"Are We There Yet" by Ingrid Michaelson

This one references "linings made of silver," a topic I've written about in the past. Ingrid Michaelson manages to be so intimate and emotionally vulnerable on her recordings. This song is about looking for home, and if you read Sorta Like a Rock Star you'll definitely understand why I ended the mix this way.

Please visit me @

Matthew Quick and Sorta Like a Rock Star links:

the author's website
the author's book tour events
the book's video trailer

The Divining Wand review
Library Lines review
Notes from the Bedside Table review
Reading Between the Lines review
Readingjunky's Reading Roost review
The Word O'Wheaton review
Wordbird review

The Debutante Ball guest post by the author
The Fictionistas interview with the author
Largehearted Boy Book Notes music playlist by the author for The Silver Linings Playbook
New Jersey Monthly profile of the author
The TV Book Club interview with the author
Wordbird interview with the author

also at Largehearted Boy:

other Book Notes playlists (authors create music playlists for their book)

52 Books, 52 Weeks (weekly book reviews)
Antiheroines (interviews with up and coming female comics artists)
Atomic Books Comics Preview (weekly highlights of comics & graphic novels)
Daily Downloads (free and legal daily mp3 downloads)
guest book reviews
Largehearted Word (weekly highlights of new books)
musician/author interviews
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Soundtracked (composers and directors discuss their film's soundtracks)
Try It Before You Buy It (mp3s and full album streams from this week's CD releases)
weekly music & DVD release lists

submit to reddit