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February 12, 2015

Book Notes - Seth Greenland "I Regret Everything"

I Regret Everything

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, Jesmyn Ward, Heidi Julavits, Hari Kunzru, and many others.

Seth Greenland's I Regret Everything is an engaging modern love story that touches on NYC's literary life.

Booklist wrote of the book:

"Greenland hits all the right notes…His playful, well-crafted writing captures personality or atmosphere in a few phrases, and the characters' self-assessments reveal the rich inner lives driving their actions. Their love comes from the mind as much as the heart, in a poignant story of dreams and the way they can crash into the reality of the dreamers."

Stream a playlist of these songs at Spotify.


In his own words, here is Seth Greenland's Book Notes music playlist for his novel I Regret Everything:


I Regret Everything is, as the subtitle spells out, a love story, so the mayhem that occurs is mostly emotional in nature. The lovers are Spaulding Simonson, an aspiring young writer who has recently spent time in a mental hospital, and Jeremy Best, a trusts and estates attorney and former poet who has lost his literary mojo. He works for Spaulding's father's law firm and when she shows up at his office in search of a literary mentor, he wants nothing to do with her. The story explores attraction, bad choices, regret and iambic pentameter.

Joy Division, "Disorder" and The Smiths, "Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want"
The previous Christmas, depressed and at wit's end, Spaulding's inept suicide attempt lands her in the Payne-Whitney Clinic. Joy Division's "Disorder," captures her state of agitation and dislocation but she is desperately trying to conjure something positive out of having had her stomach pumped and then being committed to a mental hospital, so instead Ian Curtis' voice is drowned out by Morrissey's singing the Smiths "Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want." It implies that Spaulding actually thinks there's a gambler's chance she might get what she wants, even though "It will be the first time."

Warren Zevon, "Lawyers, Guns and Money"
Jeremy has renounced a promising career as a poet in order to devote his professional life to estate planning for his firm's wealthy clients. His considerable literary skills are now mostly employed in the writing of wills. He is not entirely happy about this. The late, great Warren Zevon wrote a tune called "Lawyers, Guns, and Money" which contains the chorus "Send lawyers, guns, and money/The shit has hit the fan." The shit hits the fan for Jeremy and no lawyer can deliver him from it, but I like the optimism in the request.

Kanye West, "Devil In A New Dress"
Jeremy published one book of poetry and used the pen name Jinx Bell. Spaulding believes she recognizes him from the jacket photo and suggests she knows his dual identity.She's playful but he doesn't want to play. He knows nothing can be allowed to happen between them. And yet, and yet.

Gnarls Barkley, "Crazy"
Spaulding finagles Jeremy into taking her with him to see a client. Rather than staying in the car as she has been asked to do, she dances in the backyard just out of the client's eye line. She is irresistibly drawn to Jeremy and her behavior is out of control.

Alejandro Escovedo, "Sensitive Boys"
Spaulding flees her mother's cat-infested Manhattan apartment and moves in with her father's new family in suburban Connecticut. There, she encounters her twelve-year old half brother Marshall who wonders why she didn't visit last Christmas. When she tells him it's because she was in a mental hospital he reasonably asks her if she'd like to see the grave of the squirrel he's buried in his garden. Marshall is as troubled in his own way as Spaulding is in hers.

Weezer, "Go Away"
Rivers Cuomo of Weezer wrote a great song about two people who can't get on the same page and it fits the scene when Spaulding steals her father's Tesla. She drives it to Jeremy's Brooklyn neighborhood where she intends to apologize to him for the unacceptable way she has acted. Since she can't drive, it doesn't go well. She asks Jeremy to drive her (and the car) back to Connecticut. He suggests she confess to her father that she's stolen his car and take the train.

Big Star, "September Gurls"
There is a spasm of violence that occurs in Connecticut and Jeremy saves Spaulding's life. He is anything but a hero in the traditional sense and is as surprised by his actions as she is. After this, he finds himself deeply attracted to her but fights the urge because he works for her father, because of the age difference, because love hasn't worked for him, because, because, because. "September Gurls" captures the jangly longing that besets him.

Funkadelic, "Maggot Brain"
Jeremy receives a frightening health diagnosis early in the story. Eddie Hazel's blues based guitar solo in Funkadelic's "Maggot Brain" conjures with wide-open psychic spaces in which one can ponder the deepest existential questions.

Danger Mouse and Daniel Luppi, "Roman Blue"
Spaulding and Jeremy fly off to Rome together because that's what lovers do when one of them is given access to a private jet by a grateful rich guy. Their time in Rome is death haunted but the two of them actually manage to enjoy themselves in the short time they are there. I wouldn't say no if at this point you want to hear the evocative "Roman Blue" from the album Rome, a collaboration between Danger Mouse and the Italian composer Daniel Luppi.

Fairport Convention, "Who Knows Where The Time Goes"
One of the major themes of the novel is the velocity of time. When it comes to a musical evocation of deep longing and nearly palpable nostalgia for days now vanished, it's hard to come up with a better song than "Who Knows Where The Time Goes" by the Fairport Convention. The voice of the great Sandy Denny, dead before her time, brings a lump to my throat: "Across the evening sky, all the birds are leaving…"


Seth Greenland and I Regret Everything links:

the author's website

Booklist review
BookPage review
Los Angeles Review of Books review

Largehearted Boy Book Notes essay by the author for The Angry Buddhist


also at Largehearted Boy:

Book Notes (2015 - ) (authors create music playlists for their book)
Book Notes (2012 - 2014) (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
Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week (recommended new books, magazines, and comics)
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
Word Bookstores Books of the Week (weekly new book highlights)


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