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February 22, 2013

Book Notes - Andrew Shaffer "Literary Rogues: A Scandalous History of Wayward Authors"

Literary Rogues

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, Aimee Bender, Myla Goldberg, Heidi Julavits, Hari Kunzru, and many others.

Andrew Shaffer shares the shocking behavior of some of Western literature's biggest names in the always entertaining Literary Rogues: A Scandalous History of Wayward Authors.

Publishers Weekly wrote of the book:

"In this rollicking romp through a gallery of writers whose genius came with a price (alcoholism, drug addiction, depression, and other troubles), Shaffer offers a terrific blend of literary history, biography, and witty commentary."

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


In his own words, here is Andrew Shaffer's Book Notes music playlist for his book, Literary Rogues: A Scandalous History of Wayward Authors:


Music plays the role of the villain in Literary Rogues. In the preface, I describe meeting my first real author in the flesh when I was twelve (a comic book writer), and my subsequent disappointment that he wasn't as cool as the rock stars on MTV. He was just an ordinary guy, just someone's geeky dad. Up to that point, I was certain I was going to be a writer when I grew up. Suddenly, I wasn't so sure if that was the path I wanted to take. Did writers even get laid? It didn't seem too likely. For a few years, I entertained the idea of being a musician instead. Thankfully, literary rogues like Bret Easton Ellis and Hunter S. Thompson eventually seduced me back into literature. Literary Rogues is my tribute to the outlaw writers who lived and wrote on the margins of society.


"It's So Easy" by Guns ‘n' Roses

Nothing says "Sunset Strip in the eighties" like "It's So Easy." Drinking and driving, sleeping with your sister—what an awful, unapologetic song! If only writers could be this badass, I thought as a teenager. Probably not as cool in retrospect, but what a great bass line.


"You Belong to Me" by Bob Dylan

Dylan and his fellow singer-songwriters co-opted a large part of the audience for confessional poetry in the sixties and seventies, and poetry has never really returned to the national stage. Poet John Berryman didn't much care for Dylan, who he never forgave for "stealing" his friend Dylan Thomas's name. The hauntingly sparse "You Belong to Me" was maybe the first Bob Dylan song I ever heard, or at least remember liking—it was on the Natural Born Killers soundtrack.


"Woman With Girdle" by Anne Sexton and Her Kind

Some poets saw the writing on the wall. Anne Sexton fronted her own experimental rock group, Her Kind. Although they never officially released any recordings, you can hear this live track on YouTube.


"Hello" by Poe

I was looking over Bret Easton Ellis's "Book Notes," and saw he'd included Poe's "Haunted." I'm especially fond of her first record, Hello—especially the title track's ethereal dance beat. By the way, is there a more literary pop singer out there? Her name is derived from literary rogue Edgar Allan Poe, and her brother is New York Times bestseller Mark Z. Danielewski (House of Leaves).


"I Hate Myself and Want to Die" by Nirvana

In past generations, you can point to a novel that encapsulated the generational zeitgeist. In the twenties, that book was Fitzgerald's This Side of Paradise. In the eighties, Ellis's Less Than Zero. By the nineties, however, it seems that music had completely eclipsed literature in that respect—Nirvana's Nevermind played that cultural role for Generation X. This track, originally released on The Beavis and Butt-head Experience, was always one of my favorites. On a side note, "I Hate Myself and Want to Die" was also the working title for literary rogue Elizabeth Wurtzel's memoir, Prozac Nation: Young and Depressed In America.


"No Church In the Wild" by Kanye West and Jay-Z

Sometimes I wish novelists shouted out their own names in their books like rappers. "Fitzgerald!" "Plath!" No? Okay, that's probably a stupid idea. I love that "No Church In the Wild" was used in one of the Great Gatsby 3D trailers. Kanye West, Jay-Z, and Beyonce are the 21st century Hemingway and F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald.


"Marilyn" by Dan Bern

A catchy, fun song about Marilyn Monroe marrying literary rogue Henry Miller instead of Arthur Miller. In Bern's alternate history, Monroe would have dyed her hair blue, smoked opium in Paris, and might still be alive today.


"The Flowers of Evil" by Marilyn Manson

This is one of several tracks inspired by literary rogue Charles Baudelaire on Manson's new album, Born Villain. I listened to the album on repeat while editing Literary Rogues. Born Villain is as close as Manson has sounded to his Antichrist Superstar self in years, a real return to (creepy) form. I met Manson last year after one of his concerts and gave him an advance copy of the book. We also took a picture together of him simulating sodomizing me; I'll save you the therapy and not post it here.


Andrew Shaffer and Literary Rogues: A Scandalous History of Wayward Authors links:

the author's website
publisher's page for the book
excerpt from the book (the first chapter)

Devourer of Books review
Kirkus Reviews review
New York Journal of Books review

AmyBeth Inverness interview with the author
The Bat Segundo Show interview with the author
The Daily Beast article by the author (top 10 misbehaving literary rogues)
Huffington Post contributions by the author
Monkey See profile of 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

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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