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April 17, 2015

Book Notes - Sassafras Lowrey "Lost Boi"

Lost Boi

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.

Sassafras Lowrey's Lost Boi is an ingenious and compelling queer and punk reimagining of Peter Pan, cleverly told from the perspective of a young boi in service to Pan.

Michael Thomas Ford wrote of the book:

"Neverland has always been a place of dangers, and in this gritty reimagining, Sassafras Lowrey fearlessly leads us into the dark forests and murky lagoons of desire, longing, and self-discovery. A tale for bois and grrls who know that the greatest adventures happen when we dare to stray from the path."

Stream a playlist of these songs at Spotify.

In her own words, here is Sassafras Lowrey's Book Notes music playlist for her novel Lost Boi:

Creating a Lost Boi playlist is like making a mixed tape for a new lover—one part nervousness, one part excitement, and another a little part of yourself mixed in with songs you stay up all night listening to because the remind you of the other person so much. Lost Boi is a queer and punk retelling of the classic Peter Pan story, set in the Neverland squat and featuring a host of queer characters, from Leather Pirates and a gang of Femme Mermaids to the lost bois who are in service to Pan, the boi who will never grow up. The novel is told from the perspective of Tootles, Pan's best boi, as he grapples with desire, the arrival of Mommy Wendi, and the biggest enemy of all... Growing up.

Lost Boi Playlist:

"Pretty Little Head" (Eliza Rickman): The first time I heard this song, I was smitten and transported to the world of Lost Boi. The lyrics and sound captured the dark, sweet uncertainty of Pan and Wendi's romance, and the hope and possibility that existed when she first arrived in Neverland. "Where's your mother? Fall down dead. Dirty mind, dirty mouth, pretty little head. I wish you were here, I wish you'd make my bed..."

"What The Papers Didn't Say" (Tribe 8): This song is an anthem for the character of Pan. It's his big “fuck you” to heteronormative, grownup, assimilationist society. It's a “screw you “to the world of grownups, and a call-out for all the awful things they do to kids, especially to young queers. If the lost bois were going to a show, it definitely would be a punk show to hear a band like Tribe 8 perform!

"Night After Night" (The Sounds): Tootles narrates Lost Boi, and over the course of the novel readers witness his growing disillusionment with the life that he's built. We see him hunger for a different choice, and explore the associated consequences. This song makes me think of the nights that Tootles spends in his hammock, contemplating the life he's preparing to leave behind. It also reminds me of the mourning that takes place when Tootles must grapple with the ways his new life doesn't necessarily live up to his dreams.

"Out of Range" (Ani Difranco): You can't have a book set (in part) within 90s/early 00s dyke culture without including some Ani. This is definitely a Wendi song, as she leaves Pan and comes to terms with the prisons—literal and metaphorical—that she and her bois are destined for as part of growing up, and what it means to say goodbye to Pan and the home they have built together.

"Oh Bondage Up Yours!" (X-ray Spex): This song probably doesn't need much of an explanation. Sexually and politically, this song would be right at home on a playlist that Wendi, Siren, Kelpie or any of the mermaids would blast at full volume. Some people might think little girls should be seen and not heard… But not any of the grrrls in Lost Boi!

"Here's To Never Growing Up" (Avril Lavigne): It’s little bit cheesy, but I just couldn't resist. This feels like such an example of the way that Peter Pan mythology infuses pop-culture. I think all the characters in Lost Boi (with the possible exception of John Michael) would hate this song, but I really love it. I listened to it on loop for a couple of weeks while editing the novel last summer.

"Best Cock On The Block" (Bitch and Animal): This was such a boi dyke, genderqueer and trans guy anthem in the early 2000's, and it really encapsulates the life of the lost bois before Mommy Wendi arrives in Neverland. Graphic, vulgar and in-your-face, this song is just like Pan's lost bois—figuring out what it means to be gender freaks, exploring intense sexuality, and trying to "make their way in a man’s world."

"I'm not Waiting" (Sleater Kinney): I went to hear Sleater-Kinney on their reunion tour through NYC, and in the weeks leading up to the show I went back and listened to all the Sleater Kinney albums I hadn't played in years. This was also as I was preparing for Lost Boi's release, and when I heard this song again, it made me think about Wendi and her powerful commitment to who she is and what she wanted for herself, her bois, and in her relationships with both Pan and Tootles. There comes a time in the novel where Wendi must take her future into her own hands, and she isn't going to wait for anyone to make it happen.

"Rebel Girl" (Bikini Kill): You can’t create a playlist for a book with kickass femme characters and not include this riot grrrrl anthem. Siren and her gang of femme mermaids are so unapologetic in their femininity and their queerness, I imagine them having a dance party in the middle of The Lagoon blasting an old mixtape. This is a song I can also see Wendi listening to in her bedroom at The Darling's Home for Girls before running away to Neverland, imagining the kind of fierce femmes that were out in the world.

"Burning Bridges" (Chris Pureka): Once, in my late teens and totally heartbroken, I almost tattooed the lyrics "rats in the walls" up my ribcage in homage to this song. I think of it as the ultimate heartbreak song in how it beautifully captures the moments when you know everything has just fallen apart. This song reminds me of Wendi and this particular moment in Lost Boi, when she is sitting on a broken futon in the middle of the Neverland squat and she realizes that Pan will never be able to give her everything she needs and wants. It's that moment she knows the magic is over.

"Brother" (The Organ): This song speaks to the relationships that exist between Nibbs, Tootles, Slightly, and all of the lost bois. It's a song that invokes strong sentiments and intensity that come with brotherhood, the solidarity that holds the lost bois together. I imagine this song playing in the background as the lost bois are running through the city at night, dumpster diving and getting into trouble.

"No Good No More" ( Eleni Mandell): In Lost Boi, Wendi meets Pan while she's living in The Darling's Home For Girls. Wendi gets good grades, acts in school plays, and always does what is expected of her…until she meets Pan and realizes there is more to life than being good all the time. In running away, Wendi is liberated from the expectation of growing up, and meets all kinds of grrrls who have taken control of their sexualities and their lives. This song reminds me of the moment in the novel when, after Wendi runs away, she begins to revel in her power, her queer femininity, and her ability to break the rules.

"Stand and Deliver" (Amy Ray): This is a tough but tender love song that makes me think a lot about the complicated romance between Tootles and Wendi. It’s about brokenness and strength, and it makes me think about Tootles intense devotion to Mommy Wendi: "I can't face another day without the one who breaks my heart and gets to touch the tender parts..."

Sassafras Lowrey and Lost Boi links:

the author's website

Daily Xtra profile of the author
The Feminist Wire 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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