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April 22, 2015

Book Notes - Emily Schultz "The Blondes"

The Blondes

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, T.C. Boyle, Dana Spiotta, Amy Bloom, Aimee Bender, Jesmyn Ward, Heidi Julavits, Hari Kunzru, and many others.

Emily Schultz's satirical novel The Blondes is both smart and dark, a brilliantly told book.

Booklist wrote of the book:

"Suspenseful, ferociously clever, exceedingly well written, poignant and hilarious."

Stream a playlist of these songs at Spotify.


In her own words, here is Emily Schultz's Book Notes music playlist for her novel The Blondes:


The Blondes, a novel about a rabies-like virus that affects only blonde women, is set in New York City and a remote cabin in winter—yet I wrote most of the book in the Mohave Desert outside of Joshua Tree. Thirty miles from an internet connection, I was listening only to desert silence and the occasional sonic boom from the nearby air force base.

The cabin's owner told me it had previously been rented by the writers for the movie Cowboys & Aliens, which had not yet released at that point. He hoped knowing it had already been a writing retreat would bring me good luck. I remember thinking, good title. Months later, walking the subway platforms in Brooklyn staring at billboards for a movie that was quickly flopping, I hoped my novel, which also shared a mashed-up concept, wouldn't share the same fate.


Christina Aguilera "The Beautiful People"
Goldfrapp "Yellow Halo"
Amy Winehouse "Back to Black"

Okay, there is one fictional music reference in the book, a pop singer named Shelbee Brown who is very Winehouse-like, and who ultimately becomes a victim of the blonde virus. I'm choosing Goldfrapp for the band's dreaminess, and Christina Aguilera because the book, though it is serious, is also a whole lot of fun.

Ladytron "Destroy Everything You Touch"
Claudine Longet "End of the World"

The idea for the novel came about while reading Vanity Fair on an airplane headed to JFK. I encountered a Gucci ad of a group of heavily made-up blonde women in safari wear. They looked both sickly and ready to attack. I liked the idea of a disease stemming from beauty, a kind of lovely destruction, and saw it as a way to get at ideas of feminine power. Ladytron and Longet embody that delicate dance.

Mudhoney "Touch Me I'm Sick"
The Cramps "Fever"

Sexuality and illness seems like a forbidden topic but not in these two songs.

Kate Bush "Breathing"

The main character, Hazel Hayes, narrates the novel by talking to her unborn. Essentially she's telling a horror story in the gentlest voice possible. Bush's song is about a fetus aware of nuclear fallout occurring outside its mother's womb.


Emily Schultz and The Blondes links:

the author's website
the author's Wikipedia entry

Booklist review
Globe and Mail review
Kirkus review
National Post review
Washington Post review
Winnipeg Free Press review

Toronto Star interview with the author


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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