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October 15, 2015

Book Notes - Michael J. Seidlinger "The Strangest"

The Strangest

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.

Michael J. Seidlinger's new novel The Strangest is a thoroughly modern and thought provoking reimagining of Albert Camus' The Stranger.

Lidia Yuknavitch wrote of the book:

"Step back Camus, your anti-hero has been fragmented and dispersed via the free-fall of social media. Michael J. Seidlinger's re-visioning enters the anthropocene without apology or oxygen masks, and asks us to take the trip toward self discovery as if the self was moving particles. A kick-ass ride. A beautiful dismemberment."

Stream a playlist of these songs at Spotify.


In his own words, here is Michael J. Seidlinger's Book Notes music playlist for his novel The Strangest:


This is what I'd like to call "a playlist of internet moods," or really a group of tracks that personally exhibit how one may feel while interacting with the online world, specifically social media. How does it relate to the book? It's a strange world, you know, social media, and there's nothing stranger than some of the moods and miseries we feel after having been online, connected, for so long that maybe, just maybe, we start to feel a little… disconnected.

I Killed the Prom Queen – "Sharks in Your Mouth"

Obligatory "-core" track to sort of encapsulates the sense of hype and trend and limited-capacity enthusiasm that seems to exist on social media at all times. Also, the title of this track, you can't tell me that it's a good phrase for comments, tweets, and posts that are exceedingly snarky to the point of being insulting.

Porcupine Tree – "Trains"

To me, the song has always sounded encouraging and listening to it again, after so many years, the feeling hasn't changed. It can often feel encouraging, getting hyped and inspired after a positive conversation on Gmail chat, or on Facebook. "Trains" reminds me of those late nights spent on social media, wasting hours talking about everything from music to the craft of creative writing to how depressing it is that we're wide-awake, on social media, at 3 in the morning.

5ive - "Seasons"

This track encapsulates the sense of scrolling through your newsfeed, the information—links, pics, memes—ceaselessly draining every little bit of energy out of you.

Clams Casino – "I'm God"

The actual track itself has nothing to do with social media; the title, however, take it as literal, "I'm God." We all feel like we're God sometimes, especially at the height of a well received post, tweet, etc.

Napalm Death – "You Suffer"

It never lasts though. One of the shortest songs in metal history and it's here because nothing remains interesting and notable on the internet for more than a moment.

Lamb of God - "Black Label"

People get heated, caught in an internet moment, joining the conversation on some scandal, something in the news, whatever it may be. "Black Label" feels like the beginning of negative social media buzz, heat and fire. The tribal drum beat is icing on the cake; the beginning of something trending.

Explosions in the Sky – "Your Hand in Mine"

But just because a story is trending, it doesn't mean it's something negative. Remember when they announced that same-sex marriage would be legal in the United States, or when the new Star Wars films? Yeah, it doesn't have to be negative.

Skyharbor – "Evolution"

Is social media considered evolutionary? Open-ended question. For those interested, comment below.

Trentemoller – "Miss You"

If social media disappeared tomorrow, the truth is I'd miss it. I would. We all love hating it and often take breaks from it but if it ceased to exist, you bet it would feel like something's missing.


Michael J. Seidlinger and The Strangest links:

the author's website
excerpt from the book

Fictionaut interview with the author
Largehearted Boy Book Notes essay by the author for The Face of Any Other
Largehearted Boy Book Notes essay by the author for The Fun We've Had
Project MUSE Commons 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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