August 13, 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.
Lucy Corin's new short story collection One Hundred Apocalypses and Other Apocalypses once again showcases this talented writer at the top of her game as she astonishes and entrances with her strange, yet familiar tales.
Publishers Weekly wrote of the book:
"With stories within stories and tiny typeface preceded by two sentence tales, this fulfilling maze, guided by a constant theme, is an eye-opening, enlightening read."
One Hundred Apocalypses and Other Apocalypses has four stories in it. They are all apocalyptic and the final piece, "A Hundred Apocalypses," is made of four sequences of twenty-five tiny apocalyptic stories.
1. "Eyes of Dogs":
I did not hear this song until after I'd written this story, but I can't imagine a better soundtrack, the song and story separate, galloping beside each other, braiding, jockeying for position. Besides just sounding good, dirty, and mean, I only pay attention to lyrics if I really like them and I love these lyrics, a nasty funny turning and tangling game of phrases. My story is a double-retelling of the Hans Christen Anderson tale "The Tinderbox," about a soldier coming home from war and meeting a witch, and the witch introduces him to dogs with giant eyeballs, and in my version the witch reminds him of his mother in a twisted way. "Come on look me in the eye/I'm just like your mother…You blink when you breathe and you breathe when you lie/You blink when you lie…) Creepy and primal, just what I wanted in the story.
(And then, writing this, I watched the video! I hardy ever watch videos. Our guy walking outskirts of trashy suburbs with a gun…this could be a video for my story…I just wish when he's walking away in the end sun would shine thru holes in his body, and then it would be my kind of apocalyptic)
The Decemberists, "The Rake's Song"
There are not too many story-songs that I think are good stories, but this is a good story! It's because of the complexity of the narrator's tone. Here the drums are so aggressive in step with the narrator's bragging cruelty, but there's something in the chorus (all right, all right…) that is believably mournful in a totally self-absorbed way. I think the narrator character evolves through the song in part because of the repetition of those words, which feel different and acquire layers the more he says them.
The Runaways "You Don't Own Me"
The spirit of my girl, here. Proclaiming defiance, absolutely vulnerable, with a gloriously clear sense of justice. One way to think about my "Madman" story is that it's about a 14ish year old girl who falls in love with a manic girl and doesn't get to keep her.
The Fixx "Sign of Fire": this is a song I wore out when I was that age. The unabashed romantic mysticism, the drama, the self-discovery, the cryptic, direct line to the ancient, arms open to the future, the melancholy, tacky, desperate and coy. That's where I go when I try to tune into adolescence. It's also where I try to go when I want to think big as if I deserve to. Before you think you have to earn everything.
3. "Godzilla Versus the Smog Monster"
Blue Oyster Cult "Godzilla"
Naturally. I swear there used to be a version of this song that was not quite so slow and clunky as what I'm finding online. Well, Godzilla is slow and clunky. I remember buying a mix-cassette at a gas station b/c it had this song on it, and it was a sad abbreviated version, so disappointing, threw it into the footwell never to be seen again. This live one's pretty good:
The mood of this song is nothing like the mood of my story, but the story is a lot about not feeling what you think you're supposed to be feeling, so that works out. I wrote the first draft not long after 9-11, about being on the other side of the huge country from a national disaster. The title comes from my protagonist, a 14ish year old boy, trying to imagine why his father has the videocassette of Godzilla Versus the Smog Monster hidden under his sweaters. The dorky earnestness of this song suits him. And it's so catchy! I listened to it every time I went back to working on this story, which I did every year for about 10 years. Go! Go! Finally think I got it for the collection.
Pixies "Into the White"
This story is a transition into the second half of the book, headlong leap through snow to this other sensibility—Go! Go!
4. "A Hundred Apocalypses"
Here are songs that are named or overtly referenced in this 100-story-long story:
(Well, of course, right? The line in the story speaks of "an obvious song by Blondie.")
Britney Spears "Toxic"
I believe that if you ever have an earworm and you sing this song to yourself it will cure you. It's also a very nice description of "our way of life" which my book sees as on its way out, one way or another.
Louis Armstrong and Earl Hines "Saint James Infirmary"
One of my favorite all time tracks of music. This whole record got played a lot while I was growing up and this was my favorite song on it. Best death song, best recording of it I know. I use the phrase "so clean, so cold, so bare" half hoping it'll start playing in the back of the reader's mind. I like this version best:
I really really hate this song, and the video really freaks me out, but it's in the book. If "Toxic" is my idea of a great great pop song, this is my idea of a pop song that makes you want to kill yourself. It's mentioned in the book in relation to its incest-y video.
I don't write with music playing, but I try to immerse myself in a sensibility while I'm revising, try not to disrupt the angles of book while I'm exercising or doing dishes or whatever. So here are a few of those angles. Apocalyptic songs I was listening to while working on this part of the book that suggest to me some of the angles of concern the stories are after: dreamy "fuck it all," angsty lurid desire, blissed-out king of the mountain, dippy dancing in your room by yourself, gapingly stumped in the face of the state of the world, economics, economics, economics abstract and absurd, I'm out of here, defeated suspicion of your own irrelevance, possibly misguided desire for art to do what you are afraid to do, sexual metafiction, madness real and imagined, panting hilarity, the deep abiding suspicion that you are dated, fleeting, already expired, bodiless.
Cadallaca "Out West"
Duran Duran "Planet Earth"
MIA "20 Dollars"
Nirvana "The Man Who Sold the World"
Nas "Get Down"
PJ Harvey "The Letter"
Unkle "May Day"
Le Tigre "The Empty"
The Knife "Girl's Night Out"
Kid Cudi "Pursuit of Happiness"
Cars "Since You're Gone"
Talk Talk "Life's What You Make It"
Lil Wayne (& Eminem) "Drop the World"
Bjork "Come to Me"
Red Rider "Lunatic Fringe"
Cyndi Lauper "Midnight Radio" (from Wig in a Box)
Iron and Wine "Upward over the Mountain"
Garbage "The World is Not Enough"
The Need "Mona Tinsley"
Lucy Corin and One Hundred Apocalypses and Other Apocalypses links:
also at Largehearted Boy:
100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads
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)
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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