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April 25, 2014

Book Notes - Juliet Escoria "Black Cloud"

Black Cloud

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.

Poetically told and brutally honest, Juliet Escoria's Black Cloud is one of the year's most impressive short story collections.

San Diego CityBeat wrote of the book:

"Juliet Escoria has a poet's knack for knowing when to tie off a paragraph for thunderous effect and displays enormous empathy for the damaged souls that populate her stories."

Stream a playlist of these songs at Spotify.

In her own words, here is Juliet Escoria's Book Notes music playlist for her short story collection, Black Cloud:


There are twelve stories in Black Cloud, and each story is paired with a corresponding emotion. The emotions are all negative. I felt like it would make sense to pick a song for each emotion, but sometimes I got off track and picked a song for the story instead.

RESENTMENT (for "Fuck California"): "California" by EMA
The first two words of this song are "Fuck California." I resented California a whole lot from the ages of ~13-20 because I was deeply unhappy and California is very sunny and the people are very smiley.

CONFUSION (for "The Other Kind of Magic"): "Moves Like Jagger" by Maroon 5
I briefly worked in a nightclub. This story is about working in a nightclub. They used to play this song a lot while I was working. I really hated it when they did that, because all the stupid drunk people would sing along and they were annoying. I got so sick of hearing this song. I got so sick of hearing drunk people scream-singing "Moooo-oooo-ooo-ooo-ooves like Jagger." Now I am kind of confused about it, because this is a terrible song and I used to hate it so much, but now I kind of like it?

APATHY (for "Reduction"): "Ganges a Go-Go" off of Bombay the Hard Way
This story talks about doing a lot of Ketamine. I did a lot of Ketamine for a brief period in the early ‘00s. Dan the Automator made this album in the late ‘90s. I listened to this album a lot during my Ketamine phase. Ketamine makes you feel numb/dumb on the inside, which is a feeling similar to apathy.

GUILT (for "Heroin Story"): "Every Shitty Thing" by the Murder City Devils
This song is really good to listen to if you did something bad and would rather feel sorry for yourself than correct your mistake(s).

DISGUST (for "The Sharpest Part of Her"): "How Will I Know" by Whitney Houston
There is a crack-smoking mom in this story. Whitney Houston supposedly smoked crack. I remember my mom owned this cassette tape and she listened to it a lot, but not as much as she listened to the soundtrack to The Bodyguard. I didn't pick a song off The Bodyguard because that album is not very good and her self-titled is.

SPITE (for "Glass, Distilled"): "Into the Sun" by Diplo (Ft. Martina Topley-Bird)
In a former life, I remember staying up all night and then in the morning driving around downtown smoking meth by myself and it was very sunny and warm and beautiful and I was listening to this song and the air felt like something you could ride and I went to the 7/11 and bought a Slurpee and a new pack of cigarettes and everything was glorious.

REVENGE (for "Hurricane Season"): "Rid of Me" by PJ Harvey (4-Track Demo version)
I would be afraid of Ms. Polly Jean's wrath on any day, but this song makes me imagine showing up on someone's doorstep unannounced very late at night with shaking hands and glinty eyes and it all makes you feel afraid and want to hide anything that could potentially be made into a weapon.

FEAR (for "Mental Illness on a Weekday"): "Quadrospazzed '09" by Thee Oh Sees
One thing I miss and don't miss about living in New York is riding on the subways. I used to often feel afraid about what I could do to myself – with the combined deadliness of the people and the third rail and the trains themselves – or what I could do to somebody else, or what somebody else could do to me, or what could happen by accident, or I'd just wonder about how it erodes a person when one is around that many other people that often. (I admit that I wasn't exactly mentally stable when I had these thoughts.) To protect myself, I would listen to loud music and imagine kicking and punching people away from me as I walked. This song is perfect for doing this. It helps that the song is ten minutes long.

POWERLESSNESS (for "I Do Not Question It"): "I'm Alive" by ELO
This song reminds me of driving home from the mental hospital.

ENVY (for "Here is a Ghost Story"): "Lowtide" by o'death
Nothing more jealousy-inducing than a dead girl.

SELF-LOATHING (for "Grunion Run"): "The Witch" by The Sonics
The self-loathing in this story is specifically about feeling like you're tainted on the inside, like there's something evil inside of you that you can't kill or exorcise, and the fear that it might contaminate everything you touch.

SHAME (for "Trouble and Troubledness"): "Last Call" by Elliott Smith
This song is depressing as fuck.


Juliet Escoria and Black Cloud links:

the author's website
excerpt from the book (at Vol. 1 Brooklyn)
excerpt from the book (at What Weekly)
video trailer for the book
videos for the book

Atticus Review review
Black Sloth review
Electric Literature review
San Diego CityBeat review
thatlitsite review

Atticus Review interview with the author
Edge-Lit interview with the author
Electric Literature music mix by the author
Hobart interview with the author
The Quietus interview with the author
Women of Note 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

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)
Short Cuts (writers pair a song with their short story or essay)
Shorties (daily music, literature, and pop culture links)
Soundtracked (composers and directors discuss their film's soundtracks)
weekly music release lists


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