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October 1, 2010

Book Notes - Tina Hall ("The Physics of Imaginary Objects")

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

Tina Hall's short fiction collection The Physics of Imaginary Objects is filled with lyrical and surreal stories. Hall's background as a poet serves her fiction well.

Publishers Weekly wrote of the book:

"This enigmatic collection by Hall comprises curious musings on the convergence of the natural and human worlds. In "Visitations," dead squirrels are trapped in the wall of a pregnant woman's kitchen while the father of her baby is away. The smell of decay leads to paranoia and the suspicion that the father has cursed the house. "Skinny Girls' Constitution and Bylaws" is a humorously chilling list of girls whose "knees are castanets," who "chant Plath at school assemblies," and whose "job is to fasten ties around men's necks." "All the Day's Sad Stories," a novella, is about a superstitious married couple, Mercy and Jake, trying to conceive despite omens such as Jake's cookie lacking a fortune. Many of these selections, such as "By the Gleam of Her Teeth, She Will Light the Path Before Her," have quirky titles that deliver atmospheric and dreamlike stories sure to fascinate."

In her own words, here is Tina Hall's Book Notes music playlist for her short fiction collection, The Physics of Imaginary Objects:

I never listen to music anymore when I write. Some years ago, when I was in college and sharing a room in a poorly insulated cinderblock apartment, I always had headphones on when I wrote. I'm embarrassed to say that my music of choice was histrionic electronica—not good electronica, but stuff like operas or Gregorian chants set to a synthesized beat. Remember Enigma? Man, I wrote some melodramatic stories while listening to "Sadeness" on repeat.

"What Is This Thing Called Love" by Billie Holiday

At one point the narrator of the novella describes two characters making dinner, listening to Billie Holiday, and says "A little sadness makes the water boil faster." This is the song I always envision. Those first few bars and the almost nasal tone in the way she sings "is." Perfection!

"American Pie" by Don McLean

This song shows up in a deserted grocery store in the middle of the night. There is just something strange and elegiac about grocery stores after midnight with their fluorescent lights and the music which keeps playing to the rows of boxes and cans.

"Hurt" by Johnny Cash

I love his voice and all the old songs best, but have to admit to being a fan of this cover of the Nine Inch Nails song. I like what the age of his voice does to the lyrics and I'm always game for seeing what happens when you slow something down.

"Hole in the River" by Crowded House

Pure carnival. I could listen to this all song a dozen times in a row and still get chills. A great combination of a kind of wildness mixed with gloom.

"A Perfect Day Elise" by PJ Harvey

Another great voice. This whole album (Is This Desire?) could be a soundtrack for the book. I love how she telegraphs longing and angry strength at the same time.

"Dinosaur, Dinosaur" by Sandra Boynton

One of my three-year-old son's favorite songs and thus it was stuck in my head throughout the revisions of these stories. Along with other favorites such as "Elmo's Song," "The Lonely Goatherd" (from The Sound of Music—if you haven't heard it, don't look it up; it will never leave you), "Day-O (The Banana Boat Song)," and Aimee Mann's "Freeway" ( for some reason the only song my son consistently sings along with in the car despite the vast quantities of Pet Shop Boys, Beatles, and Neko Case my husband and I expose him to in transit). Ah, how far I've come since the days of "Sadeness."

Tina Hall and The Physics of Imaginary Objects links:

Publishers Weekly review

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette profile of 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)
musician/author interviews
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

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