July 12, 2013
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.
Lindsay Hunter floored me with her short story collection Daddy's, and her new book Don't Kiss Me is even more impressive. Hunter's stories are powerful, raw, and imbibed with voices both unique and true, she is one of our most talented short story writers.
Publishers Weekly wrote of the book:
"Overall these stories land with a wet slap—messy and confrontational. They demand your horrified attention, and they reward it with exaggerated and irresistible humanity."
"Kiss Me Deadly," Lita Ford
This is the song that inspired the title story in the collection, which I wrote for the Hair Lit Vol. 1 anthology. In the song, Lita opens with "I went to a party on a Saturday night / I didn't get laid / I got in a fight / Uh-huh, it ain't no big thing." I love the idea of a woman who's like eh, I didn't get laid, but I did get in a fight, and regardless, yawn, it's no big deal, but I wanted to write a woman the complete opposite of that, someone fearful of sex, sexuality, human contact, air. And that's how the narrator of "Don't Kiss Me" came to be.
This is the song that's playing when Peggy Paula falls into a dumpster, but I promise you I did not mean for it to be ironic at all. Though now that I'm reading the lyrics ("Here I lie / in a lost and lonely part of town"), maybe that's a lie--maybe, if the title of the story were a neon sign, it'd be TRAGEDY! in shuddering hot pink neon lettering.
I've always liked the BeeGees, who seem(ed) so unapologetically themselves, them-screeching-screech-whispering-feathered-toothy-selves, which is a quality I believe all my characters possess: the inability to be anyone else, no matter how hard they try.
"Wild Heart," Stevie Nicks (this version)
"Don't blame me / blame it on my wild heart" is just the kind of thing any of the characters in this collection could holler out the window of a speeding car. Where do these impulses come from? they might wonder. From me, or are they part of my DNA, are they the motor that keeps me alive? I specified this version as opposed to the album version of the song because it is raw and unpolished, and it's clear Stevie has forgotten the lyrics in one part, and all of this means it's imperfect and totally unique, a moment in time that can never be repeated. Which is how I like to approach storytelling. Get the story out and let it be done.
"That's Not the Issue," Wilco
The lyrics in this song are very simple. They're basically "You're cheating, and I already knew that, and guess what, I'm cheating too, bye bye" but there is that troubling refrain of "That's not the issue." Troubling because the issue is never revealed. I love the juxtaposition of sun and fog here: like hey, listener, look over here at all this crap, ignore the pile of bones in the corner. But you can't help but think of the bones! And think and think. My characters tend to be very forthright about a lot of things, like the lyrics in this song are forthright, but it's what's going on behind the words that sticks with you.
"Let's Kill Saturday Night," Robbie Fulks
Oh, just another song I love about being poor and yearning and full of rage, which are key themes in basically everything I write.
"Law of Moses," Nico Muhly
I firmly believe, were you to make a burr hole in the skulls of the women in either "Candles" or "Don't Kiss Me," this song would trickle out.
"Bulldozers and Dirt," Drive-by Truckers
A masterful song about a manchild who likes to play and work, but mostly likes bulldozers and dirt. And then you discover the song is actually an ode to the 14 year old daughter of his lady. "But something comes over me when you come near / So won't you come over here and sip on this beer." The song is a one-two punch of light and dark: you relate to the manchild, and then you fear him, and then you fear yourself. I try hard to reveal the light and dark in my stories, and "Clocks" is maybe the story that comes closest to the space this song inhabits.
"The Coast," Paul Simon
"This is a lonely life / sorrows everywhere you turn" - I should have used that as an epigraph to the book. But there is also "Summer skies, stars are falling," which I should have used as an antegraph (made that word up, I'm pretty sure). I think people often see the darkness in my writing, it maybe overtakes the light, just as a "lonely life" is > than "summer skies," but the light is there, if you look for it.
Lindsay Hunter and Don't Kiss Me links:
also at Largehearted Boy:
100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads
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