May 18, 2012
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, Heidi Julavits, Hari Kunzru, and many others.
With his latest short fiction collection Windeye, Brian Evenson once again proves himself a master at creating suspenseful, literary horror.
Booklist wrote of the book:
"All the stories in this collection are hard-edged, tinged with emotional or physical violence and capped by shock or outright horror. Characterized by building suspense and dread, these tales often have a folkloric feel far removed from the commonplace."
Windeye is filled with vanishing sisters, transient realities, and claustrophobic spaces. There is a sense of things being ephemeral and too soon gone. Several of the stories owe a great deal to ghost stories—Windeye contains my most haunting, and haunted, writing. Even at moments where the stories turn toward philosophical problems and questions, they do so in a way that opens up to uncertainty and emptiness, trying to answer the question of how, once we begin to feel that the world around us is uncertain, do we manage to go on with our lives?
I listen obsessively to music, and often listen to music when I write. Below, I've tried to put together a soundtrack for the collection. I've skipped a few stories, but I'd be happy to take suggestions for those (or alternate suggestions for these).
1. "Windeye " / Mark Hollis, "The Color of Spring"
This one is more about capturing a particular mood. This song has a beautiful and mournful quality to it that I find, too, in the ending of the collection's title story. Hollis's solo version of it is really marvelous.
2. "The Second Boy" / Coil, "Driftmix" & The Rolling Stones, "Gimme Shelter"
Ideally, you'd listen to "Driftmix" (from the Snow ep) in one headphone and "Gimme Shelter" in the other as Leppin wanders through the snow, looking for shelter but turning in circles.
3. "The Process" / Gilles Fournier, "Zai Na Yao Yuan De Di Fang"
From the Pola X soundtrack, this piece starts out with dogs barking, then moves to a drone and then develops crazily to provide a serious sense of aggression. It strikes me as the kind of piece that someone might listen to who has a wall covered with teeth.
4. "A History of the Human Voice" / Faust, "Stimmen"
This track suggests how your voice might sound if your vocal chords were bee-ridden. Perfect choice for a story about the secret communication compact between bees and humans.
5. "Dapplegrim" / Thrones, "Black Blade"
This reworking of the Blue Oyster Cult song captures nicely for me what happens when a man lets himself be led into slaughter and mayhem by his horse.
6. "Angel of Death " / Sunburned Hand of the Man, "Wishbone"
I like the patterns of repetition of this simple track, which for me flow well with the idea of a series of individuals walking through their own deaths. I still can't get enough of Sunburned Hand of the Man.
7. "The Dismal Mirror" / Johnny Cash, "Hung My Head"
I think the mood and sense of loss in this song goes well with this story of a vanished and perhaps dead sister. It strikes me too as the kind of music the main character might gravitate towards.
8. "Legion" / Daftpunk, "Rollin' & Scratchin'"
In a world in which machines are getting a taste of human perception, Daft Punk seems the perfect choice.
9. "The Moldau Case" / Hood, "They Removed All Trace that Anything Had Ever Happened There"
The title says it all, and serves as a kind of cold appreciation of what is likely to happen at the end of the story, after all the disappearances and the abandoned reports.
10. "The Sladen Suit" / Joy Division, "Dead Souls"
This is one of the strangest stories in a somewhat strange collection, combining as it does a ghost ship narrative with the idea of an old diving costume that seems to either open up onto another dimension or into nowhere. Alternately, a sea chanty might do…
11. "Hurlock's Law" / He Said Omala, "Post Code Orange"
A slightly eerie song by a former Wire member as a way of capturing a failed mission, another vanishing that cannot be prevented.
12. "Discrepancy" / Low, "Try to Sleep" versus The Dandy Warhols, "Sleep"
In the (imagined) film of this story, ideally one or the other of these songs would be playing as the story ends with the female protagonist in bed, all the lost sounds of betrayal rushing at her. Two extremely lovely songs that I'd be hard pressed to chose between and that provide a nice counterpoint to one another.
13. "Baby or Doll" / Holy F*ck, "Super Inuit"
Aggravated and crazed Canadian madness, with a wonderful speed to it that captures this story's main character's confusion and panic while under hypnosis.
14. "The Tunnel" / Ride, "Nowhere"
This is one of several stories in the collection that provide contrasting models of a reality, where we get a sense of different paths diverging for different characters without one being allowed to resolve itself. I like the dreamy slowness of this song combined with the whirr that backs it. Of all the Ride songs I know, it's the one that sounds most like it takes place underground.
15. "South of the Beast" / Harvey Milk, "War"
If the only Harvey Milk you know is the politician of the same name, you have a surprise waiting for you. Great slow and sludgy metal that metaphorically captures aspects of this strange story.
16. "The Absent Eye" / Nick Drake "Black Eyed Dog"
As for "Discrepancy", this is a song that I see coming at the end of the imagined film of the story. "I'm growing old and I don't want to know…"
17. "Bon Scott: The Choir Years" / The Dandy Warhols, "Hells Bells"
I went through a break-up last year and for a while seemed only to listen to the Dandy Warhols, probably because they were what were in my car CD player at the time. This is a wonderful remake of the AC/DC song, and in the spirit of my own insertion of Bon Scott into the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
18. "Tapadera" / Goatsnake, "Flower of Disease"
"Death is standing right outside the door…" Need I say more?
19. "The Other Ear" / Sunburned Hand of the Man, "The Wind Has Ears"
Slightly over fifteen minutes long, you can probably synchronize the song with a reading of this story. The title's important here, but I like the slow development as well as the very strange spaces the song gets to in the last five minutes or so.
20. "They" / The Gun Club, "Death Party"
An old classic. Nothing like a death party, particularly when the dead keep being brought back to life with their memories less than intact.
21. "The Oxygen Protocol" / Gorillaz, "Every Planet We Reach Is Dead"
There's something about this song that makes it sound deliberately decelerated to me, a weird dreamy, slow motion quality that feels like running out of air.
22. "Grottor" / Einsturzende Neubauten, "Sie"
There's something creepy, at least for an American listener, about disembodied voices whispering/speaking over one another in German in German. This song was important to me when I was working on Dark Property as well, but it's something I come back to every few years and it quietly captures for me the dark mood of this very dark story in which the main character has a very difficult time grasping what is actually happening, or doing anything to stop it from happening.
23. "Anskan House" / Low, "Monkey"
"Oh, my my, little while lie." Certain lines of this song really do seem like they could be written for this story, and it's probably no coincidence that I was listening to a lot of Low when I wrote this. Excellent version by Robert Plant's Band of Joy as well.
Brian Evenson and Windeye links:
also at Largehearted Boy:
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