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January 12, 2012

Book Notes - Leigh Stein "The Fallback Plan"

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

Previous contributors include Bret Easton Ellis, Kate Christensen, Kevin Brockmeier, George Pelecanos, Dana Spiotta, Amy Bloom, David Peace, Myla Goldberg, and many others.

Leigh Stein's debut novel The Fallback Plan is filled with In pitch-perfect language both honest and hilarious, and is as entertaining as it is smart.

ELLE wrote of the book:

"27-year-old former New Yorker staffer Leigh Stein nails the latest postcollegiate trend—moving back in with Mom and Dad… Stein seems poised to become the Lena Dunham of contemporary fiction, given the way The Fallback Plan's storyline deftly bears with it a steady commentary on today’s flat­lining economy and a generation of college grads (an estimated 85 percent of the class of 2011 moved right back home) who have to wonder if we'll ever actually grow up and become real adults."

Stream a Spotify playlist of these tunes. If you don't have Spotify yet, sign up for the free service.


In her own words, here is Leigh Stein's Book Notes music playlist for her debut novel, The Fallback Plan:


Although my first novel, The Fallback Plan, is set in suburban Chicagoland, where I grew up, I wrote most of it 1,300 miles away, in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I moved there in 2007, with my boyfriend Jason, who I'd met while I was living with my parents (for the third time). He said the most romantic thing you can say to a writer: "Let's move somewhere and you can write a book." To a Midwestern girl who'd only ever ventured east, Albuquerque was magic.

This playlist tries to capture what I was listening to at the time, while having an experience that still flickers in my memory like an old film that needs restoration. Jason died in a motorcycle accident this summer, before my book was released, and so in a way, I dedicate everything to him. Every little bittersweet thing.


On the road
On the road


1. "La Grange," ZZ Top

We rented a twenty-two foot truck to move everything we owned to Albuquerque. Jason drove. He didn't trust me, he said. He wanted to spend the night in Texas, so we went 19 hours in that cab together without sleep, and this song was on repeat. This song is what I heard during a meteor shower in southern Illinois, a thunderstorm in St. Louis, and through the dawn heat of Oklahoma, while I watched a parade of cypress trees out the window.


2. "The Story," Brandi Carlile

I listened to this song a lot. It felt like it was written to play in the soundtrack of my life in the southwest: mountain tops and broken rules, finding someone to tell your story to.


What I saw when I wrote
What I saw when I wrote.


3. "I Wasn't Prepared," Eisley

Jason introduced me to this song. A good one to write to. On good days, I was writing 1,000 words, before walking over the highway to go wait tables at a diner, serving green chile cheeseburgers to out-of-towners.


4. "Wildwood Flower," Reese Witherspoon (as June Carter Cash)

Our relationship was pretty volatile, and I often felt like June, singing romantic nonsense (Oh I'll twine with my mingles?), waiting for my happy ending.


I used to call people up and try to describe the sky, but it's impossible
I used to call people up and try to describe the sky, but it's impossible


5. "My Moon My Man," Feist

I learned to drive stick shift in Albuquerque. I have a vivid memory of how much anxiety I had every time I had to go up a hill or in reverse, and this song kept coming on the radio that fall. My moon, my man's a changeable land.


On the road to Santa Fe. I always wanted this to be my author photo, but my eyes are closed.
On the road to Santa Fe. I always wanted this to be my author photo, but my eyes are closed.


6. "Dramamine," Modest Mouse

I quote another Modest Mouse song in my novel ("Missed the Boat"), but this might be my favorite. It's the perfect song to listen to when you've given up, called it a day, thrown in the towel, called it quits, and just want to wash the smell of french fries out of your hair and have a gin and tonic or two.

7. "Hearts and Bones," Paul Simon

This song is about his romance with Carrie Fisher. A friend sent it to me, years after I'd left New Mexico, and it gave me chills. It's a perfect little song about hope and ruin, and how we can't change other people.


8. "We'll Meet Again," Johnny Cash

I'm telling you, it was a very Johnny & June time of my life. I never listened to this song with Jason; again, only heard it years later on American IV: The Man Comes Around, one of my favorite albums ever. It was Johnny's last album, and this song is a kind of Bandaid for me.

Jason, and a dog named Pearl, in White Sands National Park Jason, and a dog named Pearl, in White Sands National Park


Leigh Stein and The Fallback Plan links:

the author's blog
video trailer for the book

Books Matter review
Boston Globe review
DBC Reads review
Nylon review
Oprah.com review
The Outlet review
Publishers Weekly review
The Rumpus review
Tzer Island review

The Faster Times advice column by the author
HTMLGIANT interview with the author
Melville House post by the book's cover designer
The Outlet music playlist by the author
Swenson Book Development Blog interview with the author
Time Out Chicago profile of the author


also at Largehearted Boy:

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

List of Online "Best Books of 2011" Lists
List of 2011 Year-End Online Music Lists

100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads
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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