August 26, 2011
In the Book Notes series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates in some way to their recently published book.
When a book is positively compared to both the early works of Martin Amis and Bret Easton Ellis's American Psycho, my attention is caught.
Henry Sutton's Get Me Out of Here is set in the 2008 English crisis. His narrator, Matt Freeman, is as unreliable as he is vile and fascinating, and his worldview is mesmerizing.
The Guardian wrote of the book:
"This is a crime novel that jangles with the best sort of Highsmithian bug-eyed paranoia, but it's also a savage satire on our over-inflated expectations and sense of entitlement. A dark comedy in the style of early Martin Amis, Get Me Out of Here will have you laughing and flinching at the same time."
Gosh, music, when writing? Music when thinking about writing, when writing and then thinking about music, about what music might add to the mood, the setting, what music might be being beamed from some discreet Bose speakers in the corner of a studio, or a bar, or store in a mall (or a car), or what music a character might want to tune in to, be turned on by, dance to, etc, etc? Really? Different worlds is my instant reaction. Different mediums. And yet . . .
The weird thing is that while I write in silence, while I rarely think about music or particular performing artists while constructing a piece of fiction, while conjuring up characters etc, or cooking for that matter, while I have a truly crap music collection, while indeed I profess to my nearest and dearest and anyone else I want to rankle, that I don't actually like music, that it plays no part in my life, I do, actually. I do like music (now and then very much). And it does feature, one way or another, in my work. For starters, fiction, writing, syntax, to me is all about rhythm. Now just as you don't want to get too enraptured, too embroiled in someone else's prose style, so you don't want to find yourself too hooked on a particular track, or outfit when fashioning a story. It would become, surely, tedious, if not derivative.
Get Me Out of Here began in silence, no words, no characters, no setting, then quite quickly the terrible noise of (or as Neil Diamond would have it, the "Beautiful Noise") of the city began to not just take over but infuriate, particularly my emerging narrator Matt Freeman. Matt Freeman most definitely hates music, and the idea that he could be entranced by, even enjoy something by Neil Diamond, would send him into a brutally murderous rage. Though in a way, and very secretly he does enjoy Neil Diamond, though not especially the track "Beautiful Noise." Matt Freeman prefers "Song Sung Blue," it makes him feel happy for a few seconds, then really cross. How could such a song (with such a stupid title, though "Forever In Blue Jeans" is probably worse), sung by someone so spectacularly un-hip do such a thing to him? Goosebumps? Given the opportunity Matt Freeman would slap Neil Diamond in the face for the affront, for fucking with his style and taste.
What Matt Freeman is happy to admit to liking, loving even (as much as he's capable of loving anything or anyone) is "Wild Horses" by The Rolling Stones. This is the song that he would like to hear as he walks the streets, to calm him, to remind him that childhood living was easy to do, and that the things he wanted were once simply bought for him. Except they weren't really (or not enough) and everything since has pretty much slid right through his hands.
Feeling up, or at least wanting to feel up, such as when he wanders over Battersea Bridge one dawn, his hands ringing from the battering he might have just exacted on his old shag Suze, the song that somehow suddenly begins to flood through his warped mind, as powerfully as the tide, is Chic's "Good Times." To Matt, to me too actually, the greatest disco track ever. It's impossible to feel unmoved by its staggering optimism: those ecstatic female voices, the shear joy of Nile Rogers' looping bass. The chorus. The words. The call to dance.
But Matt is no dancer. And full of contradictions, he's not too comfortable with such a tune, such another blast from what he sees as a deeply unfashionable past (even if he or his poor girlfriend Bobbie were being ironic, which she never gets the chance to be). So just as those girls and Nile try to pull Matt into another soaring refrain, The Damned's "New Rose" smashes it's way into his head. Punk would have been Matt's movement of choice, a bandwagon he wouldn't have been ashamed of leaping on board, had he been a little older (or at least admitted to being a little older). As it is the era we are led to believe he grew up in was that of Rave and House and Trance – the Summer of Love being the climax (oh, the irony now). But he was so off his face for so much of it he can't for the life of him remember a title. Only a softest, mildly itchy thud.
Now, or rather then, for that terrible spree, as he ventured across London exacting revenge (of a sort), the music that came his way, the music that he couldn't but help overhear in shops and malls and coming from every other person's tiny white iPod earphones, or those great, padded Monster Beat headpieces was a dirge, an endless dirge by Beyoncé. Don't ask him which particular number. He wouldn't have a clue (though it was probably "Irreplaceable," or "Beautiful Liar"). It was all horrible to him (he could never see what Jay-Z saw, or heard), which was why he so longed to snip those cords, those lifelines (seemingly) that rise up from people's pockets and one way or another end up stuffed in their ears shutting out that Beautiful Noise rising up from the streets.
Henry Sutton and Get Me Out of Here links:
The Bookbag review
Boston Bibliophile review
Daily Mail review
Financial Times review
His Futile Preoccupations.... review
Kirkus Reviews review
Publishers Weekly review
Reading Matters review
Seeing the World Through Books review
She Is Too Fond of Books... review
Sunday Times review
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