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January 8, 2013

Book Notes - Susan Steinberg "Spectacle"


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.

Susan Steinberg'sSpectacle is innovative in style, smart, and resonant, one of the most impressive short story collections I have read in years.

Publishers Weekly wrote of the book:

"With its literary inventions and sharp storytelling, this is a masterpiece of contemporary short fiction."

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 Susan Steinberg' Book Notes music playlist for her short story collection, Spectacle:

I wrote the stories in Spectacle at artist residencies and in a café in San Francisco where I write on Sundays with the poet Randall Mann. The café plays a kind of country music I don't like, and the artist residencies are mostly silent, so I often listen to loud music when I write, often the same two or three songs over and over. I don't pay a lot of attention to song lyrics, though I think they still get into my head, perhaps even into the work. I guess I'm more into, and affected by, the mood or tone or speed of a song, if that's even the way to say it. I've listed each story in the collection with one of the songs I listened to repeatedly when writing it. Some of the songs are old ones I still wanted to hear, and some I was turned on to while writing the book.

"Superstar" – "Work It" by Missy Elliott (Remix Featuring 50 Cent)

Because I'm into Missy's enthusiasm.

"Underfed" – "Sleep All Day" by Rural Alberta Advantage

A song I love from a mixtape a friend sent me while I was at an artist residency.

"Cowboys" – "Gold Soundz" by Pavement

Reminds me of Baltimore, my hometown, setting of several stories.

"Supernova" – "Moonchild" by Cibo Matto

Because I'm into Cibo Matto's wistfulness.

"Signifier" – "Swimming Pools" by Thao

Another song I love from the mixtape, above.

"Underthings" – "Edmonton" by Rural Alberta Advantage

Song from another mixtape.

"Universe" – "Bright As Yellow" by The Innocence Mission

Reminds me of San Francisco, where I live, the setting of several stories.

"Cowgirl" – "From a Motel 6" by Yo La Tengo

A song I loved years ago and started listening to again.

"Spectacle" – "Got It" by Sebadoh

Same with this one.

"Signified" – "Avalon" by Roxy Music

And this one.

"Spectator" – "Stillness Is the Move" by Dirty Projectors

Because I'm into Dirty Projectors' brilliance.

"Universal" – "Freedom of '76" by Ween

Reminds me of Boston, where I went after leaving Baltimore. Also the setting of several stories.

Susan Steinberg and Spectacle links:

the author's Wikipedia entry
excerpt from the book (the author reading from "Superstar" at Poets and Writers)
excerpt from the book (the title story at Conjunctions)

Book Riot review
Bookslut review
Kirkus Reviews review
New Yorker review
Publishers Weekly review

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

The list of online "best of 2012" book lists
The list of online "best of 2012" 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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