September 9, 2010
In the Book Notes series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates in some way to their recently published book.
Rosecrans Baldwin's debut novel You Lost Me There is a witty, profound, and heartbreaking examination of memory, loss, and love, and easily one of my favorite books of the year.
At NPR, MIchael Schaub wrote of the book:
"The 33-year-old writer — a magazine editor and former EMT and rock-climbing teacher — is uncannily perceptive when it comes to the complicated and fraught issues of marriage, death and sexual desire, and his dialogue is naturalistic and unforced. Perhaps most impressive, though, is the author's artistic and emotional maturity — You Lost Me There is, finally, a wise book, the kind that eludes many authors twice Baldwin's age. Words, of course, really can be lifelines, especially in the aftermath of loss. It's not always easy to find beauty in pain, but that's what Baldwin has done, and the result is affecting, profound and true."
My book's narrator, a scientist named Victor Aaron, sleeps at night inside a music room, a study he's built solely for the purpose of listening to music. It's a fantasy of mine that I got to play out in the book, though Victor's and my tastes in music differ (he's not much of a rap fan).
Inspired by Alex Ross's stupendous online companion to his book, The Rest is Noise, I created a Tumblr for collecting online samples of some of the songs and composers that are mentioned in You Lost Me There. Here are footnotes for a few of them, which I guess makes this "Book Notes” a companion to the companion.
"Awaiting on You All,” George Harrison
There's a moment late in the story when Victor's world is crashing around him. He's out gardening while listening to Harrison on his iPod and this is the song I had in mind. Rowdy, emotional, ra-ra fun, but a bigger message underneath. Victor wouldn't be paying close attention to the lyrics. "You don't need a horoscope or a microscope / to see the mess that you're in.”
"If That a Sinner's Sighs,” John Dowland
The same friend in college who introduced me to The Verve introduced me to John Dowland. Dowland, a 16th-century composer and lutenist, isn't quite the Richard Ashcroft model of a musical honey trap, but his melancholy songs are lovely. Victor keeps a Dowland CD in his car to listen to when it matches his mood. It's an easily entered campground for the dismayed.
"Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes,” Paul Simon
In the book, Victor falls asleep listening to Paul Simon, remembering his dead wife, Sara, who used to decorate her high heels with costume jewelry. I've never gotten tired of Graceland. Sometime in the late ‘90s, I remember reading an interview with the painter Chuck Close who said Graceland was the closest thing to a perfect pop album that he could imagine. I'm down with that.
"Music for 18 Musicians,” Steve Reich
Victor is a classical music fan first, a specialist, though one who's given up the need to collect every recording of his favorite pieces. When his dreadlocked, techno-head goddaughter comes to live with him for the summer, he plays her Steve Reich, thinking it will appeal to her drum-circle leanings.
"And Then I Knew ‘Twas Wind," Tōru Takemitsu
Takemitsu doesn't actually appear in You Lost Me There, but this was the first song I included on the Tumblr. Takemitsu evokes the aerospace of the novel as I imagined it, an air of tension and sweetness that I wanted to create A friend in college once said that Haruki Murakami's novels sounded to her like "Song of India” by Telecaster master Danny Gatton, from the album Redneck Jazz Explosion. To my ear, she nailed it.
Rosecrans Baldwin and You Lost Me There links:
A.V. Club review
The Black Sheep Dances review
Booking Mama review
Chicago Tribune review
Entertainment Weekly review
Everyday I Write the Book review
It's Either Sadness or Euphoria... review
Louisville Courier-Journal review
The Nervous Breakdown author self-interview
New York Times review
Three Guys One Book review
Time Out Chicago review
BlackBook interview with the author
BookPage interview with the author
Chapel Hill News profile of the author
Durham Herald Sun profile of the author
Huffington Post guest posts by the author
Independent Weekly profile of the author
Jacket Copy guest post by the author
Paper Cuts essay by the author
Writers on Process interview with the author
WUNC 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 comics highlights)
Daily Downloads (free and legal daily mp3 downloads)
guest book reviews
Largehearted Word (weekly new book highlights)
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Shorties (daily music, literature, and pop culture links)
Soundtracked (composers and directors discuss their film's soundtracks)
Try It Before You Buy It (mp3s and full album streams from the week's CD releases)
weekly music & DVD release lists