December 4, 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.
Anne Marie Wirth Cauchon's novel Nothing is one of the year's strongest debut, one that brilliantly depicts three damaged, yet fascinating young people amid the wildfires of Montana.
ForeWord Reviews wrote of the book:
"Cauchon's dialogue, marked by fragmentary, stumbling sentences, perfectly expresses the confusion and inner turmoil that keeps her characters from making the decisions that could change their lives for the better. Filled with foreboding from the start, Nothing is like a nightmare in which you know you should run, but can’t. Some may not like Cauchon's generally unsympathetic characters, but her luminous writing makes them linger in the mind, just as the smell of smoke lingers long after a fire is extinguished."
While writing Nothing I made a five disc soundtrack that I listened to until I couldn't stand it anymore. Some of these songs featured in the book itself, and others only played for me. Until now.
I broke this selection into two parts. The first is for black-and-white and the night. The second is for Polaroid and daylight. The first is about despair and disorientation, the second, delusion.
"As High as Wu-Tang Get" ~ Wu-Tang Clan
The opening gunshot.
"Nuttin Like Assasination Day" ~ MF Doom
There's this party in Nothing. And the DJ is in a caged stage. He's playing all sorts of songs while everybody, including the narrator Ruth, gets more and more fucked. The scene starts like this: "Kid in the cage said Nuttin Like Assassination Day, and played it. I'd danced forever, licked my cracked lips, still had my drink."
"Indo Silver Club" ~ Daft Punk
"Kid in the cage said Indo Silver Club, and played it. So I got it, I had it, I could fucking dance; I could dance forever."
"Under the Influence" ~ The Chemical Brothers
"Kid in the cage said Under the Influence, and played it. I dropped the cup I had. I couldn't see the floor."
"Contract on Love" ~ Stevie Wonder
"Kid in the cage said Contract on Love, and played it. Which started with clapping then Wonder sang, baby baby sign right here on this dotted line and you'll be mine till the end of time." (Creepy, right?)
"Girl" ~ Suicide
Lust and a synthesizer. The feeling in "Girl" matched the romances in Nothing. I have to mention: thank you for Suicide, Madeline Grask. I'm sorry we lost your Kenzo shades on Wildhorse Island.
"Devil Got My Woman" ~ Skip James
What a condemnation: "I'd rather be the devil than be that woman's man."
"Lush Life" ~ Johnny Hartman and John Coltrane
Johnny Hartman with a voice of the softest stuff like good gin the morning after. At first you'd call this song smooth, but it's rough, it's tragic. A life lost in bar rooms for a love that was never really reciprocated. I'd drink to that.
Good Vibrations (Early Take) ~ The Beach Boys
I've always thought The Beach Boys: a bit cute, a bit obnoxious. But really this is a horrifying song about mind control and manipulation. I love it.
Heroes ~ Aphex Twin Remix of Phillip Glass and David Bowie (I think)
This song always makes me think of the delusions and self-affirmations that we tell ourselves in order to endure all manner of petty or substantial frustrations and injustices. It was the destructive element of those delusions that I wanted to watch play out in Nothing.
"Goin' Out West" (Live) ~ Tom Waits
The dream of salvation in the West is real even if the West is not.
"Standing on the Highway" From The Witmark Demos ~ Bob Dylan
This one is for James who starts Nothing hitching and waiting to jump a train in the endless plains of the Dakotas.
"Here Come the People in Grey" ~ The Kinks
You can run but you can't hide. Eventually the people in grey will come and take you away. Unless you go out blazing, or die trying.
"Cherry Ball Blues" ~ Jack Owens & Benjamin "Bud" Spires
Lust, love, jealousy, and hate. It's a beautiful song recorded by Alan Lomax on a rickety porch near Bentonia, Mississippi.
"Melody Laughter" ~The Velvet Underground
Maybe this song stands for the wildfire smoke closing in on the Missoula Valley throughout Nothing. Both wildfire smoke and "Melody Laughter" create a pervasive impression of dissociation from consensus reality.
"Alberto Balsalm" ~ Aphex Twin
In Nothing Ruth thinks: "It's a sad song, with the sound of somebody beating the steel bars of his jail cell. And the synth is melancholic, a little sappy even, but Bridget liked it." I wouldn't actually call it sappy. In fact I love its haunting, spare quality.
Anne Marie Wirth Cauchon and Nothing links:
also at Largehearted Boy:
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