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May 30, 2014

Book Notes - Steve Brezenoff "Guy in Real Life"

Guy in Real Life

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.

Steve Brezenoff's new YA novel Guy in Real Life resonates with its authentic characters and insights into gender identity, truly a book for all ages to enjoy.

Kirkus wrote of the book:

"The juxtaposition of live, real-time role-playing games like Dungeons and Dragons against the detached anonymity of MMORPGs, plus a playfully thoughtful exploration of gender identity and politics, gives the novel depth and heart that will appeal to audiences beyond the gaming set."

Stream a playlist of these songs at Spotify.

In his own words, here is Steve Brezenoff's Book Notes music playlist for his novel, Guy in Real Life:


The soundtrack to Guy in Real Life is different from that of my previous two novels because while I wrote those two to music I already knew and loved, more than half of G.I.R.L. required a very open mind and ear. One of the narrating protagonists, Lesh Tungsten, is a metal head of the purest order, and while I've often enjoyed music as heavy and metal-influences as Mastodon, I've never gone much deeper into the genre. The truth is, blast beats and Cookie Monster vocals didn't appeal to me, and I saw no reason to change that—until I met Lesh.

I started with as much Mastodon's Leviathan as I could handle, and gradually mixed in some old-school metal, like Iron Maiden's Piece of Mind. The 1970s and '80s metal was surprisingly enjoyable, and I found myself wishing I'd given the whole genre more of a chance back then. Soon I had to move on from that, though, for although Lesh tolerated and even respected the old guard, his real love was modern metal—things out of subgenres with names like grindcore and deathcore and deathgrind. By jumping into YouTube and Wikipedia holes, I discovered bands like Salt the Wound and The Red Chord, whose respective tracks "Mutations" and "Fixation on Plastics" became Lesh chapter theme songs before long.

Then there was Svetlana Allegheny, Guy in Real Life's second narrator and protagonist. For her, I dug out my old and vast collection of Bjork, most often Debut, Post, and Homogenic. Svetlana—who often goes by Lana in the novel—is an obsessive fan, so the bulk of her soundtrack came from those three LPs, including her phone's ringtone: "Alarm Call," off Homogenic, which also gives us "Pluto," a song Lana’s father called "the most grating piece of supposed music he'd ever been exposed to, and "Hunter," a track's whose finale puts Lesh in quite a state as he imagines first the Icelander and then Lana herself naked under an onslaught of crashing ocean waves.

But Svetlana is nothing if not diverse in her likes and loves, and this is where I was forced to open my musical mind once more. She waxes poetical on Hector Berlioz’s Symphanie fantastique, even narrating for Lesh—with great enthusiasm—the famous story of "March au supplice." She DMs her own tabletop roleplaying game, usually to a soundtrack of Berlioz, or to Arrigo Boito’s opera Mefistofele. Cosi bello. Lana has one more great love, and she keeps it hidden deep inside her iTunes: the best-selling single of 1975 and Grammy-winning "Love Will Keep Us Together," by Captain & Tennille.


Steve Brezenoff and Guy in Real Life links:

the author's website

Kirkus review
Publishers Weekly review

Largehearted Boy Book Notes essay by the author for The Absolute Value of -1
Largehearted Boy Book Notes essay by the author for Brooklyn, Burning
RPGamer interview with the author
Sara Zarr 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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