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September 4, 2012

Book Notes - Emma Straub "Laura Lamont's Life in Pictures"

Laura Lamont's Life in Pictures

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.

Emma Straub's Laura Lamont's Life in Pictures crisply explores themes of identity and family in this unforgettable story of one woman's path from rural Wisconsin to Hollywood. Already a masterful short story writer, Straub proves herself equally impressive with this debut novel.

Jennifer Egan wrote of the book:

"At once iconic and specific, Emma Straub's beautifully observed first novel explores the fraught trajectory of what has become a staple of the American dream: the hunger for stardom and fame. Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures affords an intimate, epic view of how that dream ricochets through one American life."

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 Emma Straub's Book Notes music playlist for her debut novel, Laura Lamont's Life in Pictures:

I love the movies. I love, love, love the movies. That's why it's no big surprise that my first novel, Laura Lamont's Life in Pictures, takes place over there in the land where such things are manufactured, in Hollywood. Old movies, new movies, bad movies, good movies, I don't care. One thing I do care about, however, is the soundtrack. Here is a brief list of my favorite songs that will begin to play after the room is dark and your fist is already halfway into the box of Raisinets.

"Bring on the Dancing Horses," Echo and the Bunnymen, Pretty in Pink Soundtrack

This soundtrack was one of the first albums I ever had, and I could have picked any song on it. This is synth heaven, and features the phrase "breaking your brittle heart," which means that it's perfect to listen to over and over again when you are between the ages of 12 and 24, also known as puberty. Or, you know, now.

"The King of Wishful Thinking," Go West, Pretty Woman Soundtrack

Listen, I never said this was going to be cool. I brought this soundtrack with me (on cassette, obviously) to summer camp, and this was my favorite jam. It is super cheesy, the rhymes are too easy, and I'm pretty sure there's a fake saxophone. Who cares! I will always brake for this song.

"Be My Baby," The Ronettes, Dirty Dancing Soundtrack

Dirty Dancing introduced me to Phil and Ronnie Spector, and for that I will always be grateful. I will also always be grateful for Jennifer Grey's first nose, and Jerry Orbach's loud plaid dinner jackets, and Patrick Swayze's everything.

"These Days," Nico, The Royal Tenenbaums Soundtrack

Wes Anderson is a true genius of the soundtrack. I could have chosen any of his films to include here—each one has an actually perfect soundtrack, each song painstakingly chosen and used in such a perfect moment that the song and the scene become linked in your mind forever. This song makes me want to put on eyeliner and a fur coat.

"I'll Try Anything Once," The Strokes, Somewhere Soundtrack

Sofia Coppola is another real soundtrack wizard. In Somewhere, she uses songs that aren't on the cutting edge, aren't by bands no one has heard of, aren't obscure classics--it's The Police, Gwen Stefani, The Strokes—and somehow (somewhere) makes them transcendent. I believe this is actually Julian Casablancas solo, re-doing his own song. It's good.

"My Sharona," The Knack, Reality Bites Soundtrack

I loved the 90s. I was in the 9th grade when this movie came out, and I went to see it in the movie theater, where I was likely wearing a ringer t-shirt and painter's pants and some sort of kiddie barrette. As the tattoo once read, Winona Forever.

"Let's Hear It For the Boy," Jana Kramer/Deniece Williams, Footloose Soundtrack. (Both versions)

Again, I never promised you this was going to be cool. I would like to go on record saying that I LOVED the Footloose remake. I loved it with every inch of my soul. I loved the Blake Shelton cover of the title track, and the breathy remake of 'Holding Out For a Hero,' and the foot-stomping remake of 'Let's Hear It For the Boy' makes me want to dance like a teenaged Sarah Jessica Parker.

"All I Want to Know," The Magnetic Fields, Pieces of April Soundtrack

This is a sneaky inclusion, for a few reasons. For starters, this song wasn't actually in the movie. It's a brand new Magnetic Fields song that was released on the soundtrack to the very good Peter Hedges movie. It's also maybe a sneaky inclusion because I work for the band, but so what? This is one of my top five Magnetic Fields songs of all time, and not enough people know it. It's sublime.

"In Your Eyes," Peter Gabriel, Say Anything Soundtrack

I wish I could put "Joe Lies," Lili Taylor, on this list, but I can't, so this will have to do.

"Across 110th Street," Bobby Womack, Jackie Brown Soundtrack

This song was actually written for a film by the same name, but I encountered it in Jackie Brown, which is probably my favorite Tarantino movie. Our pal Quentin is known for picking old hits and using them to great effect, and this is a great example of that. The song opens and closes the movie, and along with Pam Grier's amazing face, this song really clinches the whole thing.

Emma Straub and Laura Lamont's Life in Pictures links:

the author's website
the author's Tumblr
excerpt from the book (read by Molly Ringwald)

Booking Mama review
California Literary Review review
Devourer of Books review
Entertainment Weekly review
Literate Housewife review
Publishers Weekly review

CarolineLeavittville interview with the author
Flavorwire interview with the author
Chicago Tribune profile of the author
Largehearted Boy Book Notes essay by the author for Fly-over State
Largehearted Boy Book Notes essay by the author for Other People We Married
The Leonard Lopate Show interview with the author
New York Daily News profile of the author
Other People interview with the author
PowellsBooks.Blog interview with the author
Rookie contributions by the author

also at Largehearted Boy:

Book Notes (2012 - ) (authors create music playlists for their book)
Book Notes (2005 - 2011) (authors create music playlists for their book)
my 11 favorite Book Notes playlist essays

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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