January 13, 2014
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.
Danielle Trussoni's Angelopolis is an engaging literary thriller, one that seamlessly melds elements of supernatural, mystery, and historical fiction.
Angelopolis is the follow up to my 2010 novel Angelology. Both books feature supernatural characters, historical mysteries and big treasure hunts unfolding on an international stage. Scholarly investigations and chase scenes abound, and there is more than a little bit of archival digging, and yet the strange love story between Verlaine and Evangeline is at the heart of the story. Angelopolis opens in Paris and moves to Russia, where an evil genius is building a panopticon-esque prison for angels. The following songs echo the ambiance of the book and remind me of certain moments in the story.
1. "Le temps de l'amour," Françoise Hardy
The novel opens in Paris' 7th arrondissement and so it seems apt to have Francois Hardy opening this playlist. Evangeline and Verlaine (heroine and hero of Angelology and Angelopolis) have been separated for ten years and their paths are about to cross. Time for love, indeed.
2. "Initials B.B," Serge Gainsbourg
Like "Le temps de l'amour," this song brings me back to the opening sequence of Angelopolis, when Verlaine finds a corpse in the Champs de Mars, near the Eiffel Tower. Serge Gainsbourg talks over the verses, and this mixture of music and spoken French gives the chaotic impression of the crime scene. BB, as you might already know, also stands for Brigit Bardot with whom Gainsbourg had an affair in 1967.
3. "Sympathy for the Devil," Rolling Stones
Once he's traveled from Paris to Saint Petersburg, and then on to Siberia, Verlaine breaks into the prison of angels called the Angelopolis. At a moment of frustration, when it seems that he might not find Evangeline, he sings this song to himself. Lyrics about the Tsar and the devil speak to elements of the story, and so the song is a kind of joke for Verlaine.
4. "Lullaby," The Cure
Although there is nothing overtly 'Cure' about Angelology and Angelopolis, there is a definite Goth aesthetic to the series. This song is about the feeling that there is always someone or something watching you, even while you sleep. Evangeline, who is under constant surveillance, would get it.
5. "Life on Mars?," David Bowie
Bowie was a big influence on the way I imagined the appearance of the Nephilim. Bowie's look during the period around “Hunky Dory” is nearly identical to villain of Angelology, Percival Grigori, and the twin villains of Angelopolis, Axicore and Armigus Grigori.
6. "Angel in the Snow," Elliott Smith
As far as songs about angels go, this one has always been my favorite.
7. 1812 Overture, Tchaikovsky
This song was commissioned by Tsar Alexander I in 1880 to commemorate the Russians stopping Napoleon's French invasion in 1812, but was never played at the festival because of the assassination of Alexander II. The overture feels emblematic of the Russian imperial family, and so much of the Angelopolis mythology is centered around that history.
8. "Femme Fatale," Velvet Underground
The biggest villain of Angelopolis is an evil female angel called Eno. She's literally a femme fatale, luring angelologists close, having sex with them and then killing them. Let me leave you with a brief description of Eno: Like the rest of her kind, she was tall and willowy, with high cheekbones, full lips and gray skin. She wore heavy black eye makeup, red lipstick and black leather, and often wore her black wings openly, unafraid, daring angelologists to see them. The gesture was considered an act of provocation, but Eno didn't have any intention of hiding. This would be their world soon. The Grigori has promised her this.
Danielle Trussoni and Angelopolis links:
The Agony Column interview with the author
Fade Into Fantasy interview with the author
My Bookish Ways interview with the author
The Nervous Breakdown interview with the author
Your Urban Fantasy interview with the author
also at Largehearted Boy:
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