September 8, 2011
In the Book Notes series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates in some way to their recently published book.
Drew Magary's debut novel The Postmortal works on many levels. This dystopian story explores what would happen if a cure for aging was developed and people stopped dying. Thought-provoking, dark, and funny, this is an impressive work of speculative fiction.
I had a definitive bunch of songs in my head when I was writing this book, and there are two reasons why that was the case. First off, I totally plan on having the book be adapted into a feature film that ends up grossing $800 million domestically and makes me filthy rich. I even directed the trailer in my head. IT'S AWESOME. So these songs represent that ideal soundtrack for that movie, one I will demand before the studio pushes me out of power and hands music supervisor duties to some loser who will pick a bunch of Smashmouth songs. I hate this imaginary music supervisor already.
Secondly, this soundtrack served as a kind of idea fuel for the writing of the book. I listened to these songs a lot when I wasn't writing, and that music put a lot of the images from the book into my head. The whole point of this novel is to feel like the world is detonating in your hands as you read it, and these are the songs that fed into that for me. These are the songs I'd listen to if I was looking outside my window to witness the apocalypse. As you might have guessed, there isn't any Cat Stevens on this playlist.
"The Last Baron," by Mastodon
A lyric from this song serves as the opening epigram of the book. Really, the entire Crack the Skye album inspired the story, but in a very loose fashion. The album itself is a concept album about a blind, paralyzed boy who somehow travels into the body of Rasputin and somehow… you know what? They were on acid when they wrote it, so I'm not really sure. But that's the beauty of music: You can take bits and pieces from songs and give them your own meaning. This book, obviously, isn't about a blind paralyzed boy who travels into Rasputin's body. But it's meant to echo the feel of that music, if that's at all possible. It probably isn't. Unless you're on acid.
"Falling Down," by Oasis
It's one of the darker songs that Oasis ever did, and to me it's a song about watching your own downfall, wishing you could have done something to stop it but knowing you probably wouldn't have. Although it's probably about Noel wanting to punch Liam in the face. They were testy like that.
"Gideon," by My Morning Jacket
Every movie trailer should deploy this song. It could be a Jim Varney movie and this song would still make it feel fucking EPIC. ERNEST GOES TO NAM.
"Bodysnatchers," by Radiohead
"I'm trapped in this body and can't get out." That's the lyric I glommed onto, the idea being that if your age was frozen in time, you might grow to resent your body's stubborn refusal to change, to grow, to mature. You might begin to feel like a living fraud. There's this urgent need to break free of your own dread and paranoia in the song, and that's why I keep going back to it. Oh, and because it fucking rocks.
"The Lightning Strike," by Snow Patrol
I'm well aware that Snow Patrol is a lame band, a gateway drug to liking Coldplay. But the first five minutes of this song are just massive. The remaining twelve minutes are Grey's Anatomy soundtrack bullshit. But the opening piano riff? DEVASTATING. Like watching a tsunami roll in.
"All Secrets Known," by Alice in Chains
The entire Black Gives Way To Blue album also inspired the book. This was the album Alice in Chains recorded over a decade after original lead vocalist Layne Staley died of a heroin overdose. But they layered the vocals on this record such that it totally sounds like he's STILL ALIVE AND SINGING FOR THEM. It's a masterpiece of musical resurrection.
Here are four songs that round out the soundtrack. I always feel like an idiot writing about music, so I'll just note that the reason these songs inspired the book was because they're incredibly good.
"Now You're Gone," by Secret Machines
"Snakes for the Divine," by High on Fire
"House of Mirrors," by Doves
"A Song for the Deaf," by Queens of the Stone Age
Drew Magary and The Postmortal links:
Birdbrain(ed) Book Blog review
Boing Boing review
The Book Smugglers review
Graeme's Fantasy Book Review review
The Happy Booker review
Kay's Bookshelf review
Kirkus Reviews review
My Bookish Ways review
Popcorn Reads review
Publishers Weekly review
Topless Robot 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