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December 10, 2013

Book Notes - Eugene Lim "The Strangers"

The Strangers

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.

Eugene Lim's The Strangers is a fascinating novel rich in language, both fascinating and surprising.

Review of Contemporary Fiction wrote of the book:

"To place the storytelling act at the center of a novel is a risky strategy: the stories must fascinate. Lim’s stories do (except those few that he deliberately effaces as if to give a graphic representation of self-erasure). They have the exoticism, emotional authenticity, and intellectual depth to ensure that the reader will be enthralled. "

Stream a playlist of these songs at Spotify.


In his own words, here is Eugene Lim's Book Notes music playlist for his novel, The Strangers:

The Strangers is about several sets of separated twins. I think it's in this world because of those uncanny moments when you're standing in a crowd and you see the familiar in an unfamiliar face. For me this usually happens when I'm commuting. Walking through a subway station at rush hour, I'll see my mom when she was a teenager or some reproduction of Ravi the class clown from junior high (still mugging for his mates) or the long dead reading off her phone or myself of just a few skewed different choices. How interdependent and repeating one/we is/are! Here's some accompaniment:

"Shadows of Tomorrow" by Madvillain
Madlib tells a once-upon-a-time tale where Sun Ra is lonely and has no one to talk to. But all's well that ends well.

"The Passenger" by Iggy Pop
A driving driving song. The ride. You, me and Iggy just on it.

"You Are Wherever Your Thoughts Are" by Steve Reich
Reich says this is a good "description of how we listen to music. As the music goes, so we go..." James Bridle calls music "portable context'. So where's that leave you?

"I'm This, I'm That" by Moondog
The fashion forward Viking crystallizes our theme.

"Boone & Jocko" by Michael Hurley
"Jocko, you jack off too much. You'll wear the bone to a frazzle." I'm not really sure if this is on an album, but I love the laid back feel of this song. I found some live performances of it here and here and a good one here.

String Quartet no.1. ("Between the National and the Bristol") by Gavin Bryars
Missed connections. About the subtitle Bryars writes that one "night in 1906, unknown to each of them, the three most famous dancers of the period were staying in Vienna. Maud Allan was at the National, Mata Hari was at the Hotel Bristol, and Isadora Duncan, another reference within the quartet, was staying in a hotel 'somewhere between the National and the Bristol.'"

"Ain't Got No, I Got Life" by Nina Simone
Professor Simone answers a list poem with a list poem in order to keep it real.

"In the Aeroplane Over the Sea" by Neutral Milk Hotel
"Can't believe how strange it is to be anything at all." Yup.

"Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell" by Das Racist
More missed connections. The Strangers is also a book about these and mashups. DR tackles both locating themselves in a trivial and profound conflation.

Theme song to Doctor Who by Ron Grainer and Delia Derbyshire
Can't say I've watched much of the show, but this makes great apartment exit music.


Eugene Lim and The Strangers links:

the author's website
excerpt from the book

Paris Review review
Publishers Weekly review
Review of Contemporary Fiction review

Vol. 1 Brooklyn interview with 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

Online "Best of 2013" Book Lists
2013 Year-End Online Music Lists

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)
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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