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June 12, 2014

Book Notes - Shane Jones "Crystal Eaters"

Crystal Eaters

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.

Shane Jones' novel Crystal Eaters is an allegorical wonder, a masterfully told fable for our time.

The Rumpus wrote of the book:

"Crystal Eaters is full of sentences that jump at you like a pop-up book, painting a world that is at some times painfully real, and at others an exercise in vivid hallucinations. Jones is pushing genres here, not unlike George Saunders or Karen Russell. Crystal Eaters grabs your face and pushes it up against a fantastic, sprawling, impressionistic painting of death and family."

Stream a playlist of these songs at Spotify.

In his own words, here is Shane Jones' Book Notes music playlist for his novel, Crystal Eaters:


The chapters in Crystal Eaters start at 40 and end at 0. The page numbers also descend. There's a constant feeling of something leaving and fleeting, moving closer to death, always. So here's a list of ten songs, descending(!), to coincide with some of the characters from the book.

10) Billy Joel "I Go To Extremes"

Sanders: Sanders is a politician lurking behind-the-scenes in the city and his appearances in the book are small and shadowed but extremely important. I imagine him blasting this song inside his office, interns outside the door listening and laughing, Sanders humping the air and grunting while dreaming about owning everything and everyone.

9) Busta Rhymes "Don't Touch Me (Throw Da Water On ‘Em)"

Little Karl: The main security guard stationed outside the city prison, Little Karl's main objective in life is the "get" people by playing practical jokes on them and lying to their faces to see them squirm in the lie. He catalogs all his "gets" by making a slash line in his book of "gets" while head-bobbing to Busta.

8) Deftones "Around The Fur"

Jugba Marzan: Kind of a meathead with anxiety and control issues, Jug is a former football player and current head prison counselor. "Around The Fur" is on his outdated ipod (jet black colored with tons of silver slashes and dents) and has been played 3,693 times. He's listening to it right now and silently screaming along.

7) Flatt & Scruggs "Foggy Mountain Breakdown"

Skip Callahan (Crystal Mine Worker): From the book, "Skip loves the rain. He loves to work. He blasts the radio – a country song picked up via a city signal with lots of banjo and violin – and smokes cigarettes he rolls himself."

6) Gene Vincent "Important Words"

Z. (Leader of Brothers Feast): The man responsible for the ambitious and ultimately absurd "Jailbreak In Reverse," Z. is unstable but I love him for his crazy ways and need to push. I like to think this song, a sort of 1950's root beer float slow dance is playing while he's losing his mind deep inside the mine tunnels while looking for a black crystal.

5) Method Man & Mary J. Blige "I'll Be There For You"

Hundred the Dog: I don't know. Just seems funny that a dog would be listening to this song.

4) The Mamas & The Papas "Words of Love"

Pants McDonovan (AKA, Adam): Currently trapped in the city jail and waiting for Z. and the "Jailbreak In Reverse" to free him, Pants spends most of his time getting high and thinking about Mom and their complicated relationship.

3) Otis Redding "Sittin' On The Dock Of The Bay"

Dad: A firm believer in the "we can't do anything about death so just don't try" trope, Dad spends a lot of his time sitting and waiting, even though internally he's going nuts with what is happening to Mom. Toward the end of the book he goes through a phase of climbing to the roof of his home where he sits and watches the sky. The famous Redding song is fitting and sad.

2) Kate Bush "Wuthering Heights"

Mom: A lot of the major action spins off Mom who is suffering from an illness and drastically losing her crystals. I like to think of her as Kate Bush in the "Wuthering Heights" video when she's at her happiest, sky-high on black crystal and feeling alive.

1) JJ "Ecstasy"

Remy: This plays when she tries black crystal for the first time.


Shane Jones and Crystal Eaters links:

the author's Wikipedia entry
excerpt from the book (at Thought Catalog)
excerpt from the book (at VICE)

Heavy Feather Review review
HTMLGIANT review
LitReactor review
The Rumpus review

Atticus Review interview with the author
Cari Luna interview with the author
Largehearted Boy Book Notes essay by the author for Daniel Fights a Hurricane
Two Dollar Radio 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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