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May 23, 2016

Book Notes - Melissa Broder "So Sad Today"

So Sad Today

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

Melissa Broder's essay collection So Sad Today resounds with honesty and clarity.

Kirkus wrote of the book:

"Vividly rendered and outspokenly delivered essays...Sordid, compulsively readable entries that lay bare a troubled soul painstakingly on the mend."

In her own words, here is Melissa Broder's Book Notes music playlist for her essay collection So Sad Today:

I don't know how to just "do stuff casually" or "for fun." Anything that's fun I get addicted to and then have to quit (or, I never engage with in the first place, particularly if the hordes are saying "it's so amazing," because no).

In keeping, I was not able to create this playlist whimsically: as a disparate group of songs that lyrically or chronologically mirror each of the essays in So Sad Today. Consumed by worry, I sojourned to my safe space, the 7-11 parking lot, to obsess over what to do, consuming a green apple Perrier, a caffeine free Diet Coke and two Quest bars (chocolate brownie and chocolate chunk), until a voice spoke from within:

"Make the entire playlist electronic," it said. "A collection of (largely ambient) songs that you love, which loosely, subconsciously and/or ekphrastically reflect each of the essays. But don't torture yourself with being narrative or linear. No one really cares."

Yes. This was the way.

It is my hope that out of my flaws--anxiety, perfectionism, self-obsession--I have created a playlist that will provide you with a few moments of comfort in your own self-torture. Such is my hope for So Sad Today, the book, as well.

Extent – Arca

This is what is sounds like in the womb, obvi. No shitty techno, no new age guide, just you and the infinite. Why would you ever leave the womb? Idk. I stayed in there three weeks extra till I was evicted without my consent. Bringing a child into the world without its consent seems unethical. But what do I know?

PAPAT4 [155][pineal mix] – Aphex Twin

When I set out for San Francisco in my youth, fancying myself as a Jack Kerouac or other widely-fetishized-dude-figure, I was searching for inner peace, my true self, the great oneness, my pineal gland. What I found instead was Charles Manson and, like, a boss who got naked at board meetings, but it's fine.

Be Brave, Clench Fists – Leon Vynehall

Songs I've definitely binge eaten to: Iesha by Another Bad Creation; I'd Die Without You by P.M. Dawn, Informer by Snow; Here Come the Hotstepper by Ine Kamoze; Hip Hop Hooray by Naughty by Nature; Jump by Kriss Kross; It's So Hard To Say Goodbye to Yesterday by Boyz II Men; I Got a Man by Positive K; Two Princes by The Spin Doctors; Walk On the Ocean by Toad the Wet Sprocket; When I Come Around by Green Day; Found Out About You by The Gin Blossoms; Far Behind by Candlebox; School by Nirvana; Sex and Candy by Marcy Playground; No Self-Esteem by The Offspring; Semi Charmed Life by Third Eye Blind; Butterfly by Crazy Town; Ride Wit Me by Nelly

Songs I would definitely want to hear in the club if I was still using MDMA and ephedrine as appetite suppressants: Be Brave, Clench Fists by Leon Vynehall.

2 B Luvd – Machinedrum

I want to be loved (when I can control the narrative and am definitely given a lot of space) but mostly I want 2 B LUVD in a fantasy way, largely based on distance and then coming together. My perception and dream of what love should feel like (dopamine) is probably ultimately less about love and more about luv. But we keep growing maybe.

Cold Sand – Teen Daze

In this essay I get my pussy eaten for the entirety of the Teen Daze album All of Us, Together. This is my favorite song from that album. (Note: It might have actually been the album Glacier or The Inner Mansions, but whatev). Brooklyn Sunburn is also a really good song from this album, in a chillwave-it's-never-too-late-to-have-a-happy-childhood way.

Adrift (Shigeto's Adrift a Dream Remix) – Tycho

When the committee in my head stops telling me I'm a piece of shit for, like, five seconds a day, it's nice. This usually doesn't happen until the last minute of my morning meditation. But I really love that silence once I am in it. This song is like that silence only with music.

Fight – Nicholas Jaar

This song has nothing to do with internet addiction, but it's beautiful and amazing so I wanted to put it in. Also, maybe it does? It's sort of infinite and fucked like the internet.

Arterial – Lusine

This song reminds me of my relationship with my body. An artery is a living, fleshy thing that needs gentleness and organic surroundings, but the song itself is very glitchy and tech-ified. Similarly, my body is a breathing thing that would like to be treated compassionately and naturally, but sorry, no, I have no use for it. Bring on the Sephora, porn and artificial sweetener. Get me out of here.

004 – HWLS

This is the theme song to my addiction to Nicotine gum. It really isn't, but I like this song. Don't ask questions. It's fine.

Galaxy in Janaki – Flying Lotus

While I'd never consider myself as creative as FlyLo, I will say that the creation of the @sosadtoday Twitter account makes me feel proud of my creativity. I love that I created it out of nothing but my own need for it in a time of anxiety and darkness. Also, throughout my life, I've always been a weirdo. I've never really worn a "weirdo" costume but under the surface shit is fucking strange. This song is creative and weird. The chapter this song corresponds to is about my vomit fetish. My vomit fetish is a result of being nurtured as a child when I was sick. While I don't actually want to vomit or see others vomiting IRL, it's a major turn-on in my head, because it represents being cared for at your ultimate grossness—loved and embraced at your most vile. For someone with low self-esteem that's amazing. I don't talk about this stuff to seem "edgy" or "outré" or whatev. I talk about it from a place of trying to heal (not to change the vomit fetish but accept it). Putting your darkest stuff out there can be very healing if you find that the world still is cool with you being in it. This was the scariest chapter to write and I ultimately wanted to cut it out of the book at the last minute, but my friends, the writers Mira Gonzalez, Blake Butler, Kristen Iskandrian, Lorian Long, Ryan Britt and Jason Diamond said to keep it in. So I did, because I trust these people. Still, it's the chapter that, when my aunt says she got the book, I'm like, fuck no.

Candles – Jon Hopkins

Ok, one time I was having an affair with this dude and then we were supposed to hang out and we didn't, but I knew where he was, and I really wanted to go find him. Instead I made a beautiful, nurturing, ambient playlist called "Angels" and put on a sleep mask, lit a candle and applied lavender oil. It was a good choice. This was the first song of that playlist. Anyway, this chapter "One Text Is Too Many and 1000 Are Never Enough" isn't about that dude. But it's about another dude, and the heartbreak of that romantic obsession and sext compulsion, which was pretty much the same. They're all pretty interchangeable anyway. The common denominator is me.

Maliblue – Darius

I lived in NYC for ten years and never considered getting botox. I move to LA and two minutes later it's like: let's freeze time.

Your Love Will Set You Free – Caribou

I've gone through a lot of phases with a higher power, or what people might call god, as any longterm relationship goes through many faces. As of now, that higher self isa still, small voice within. But there was a period of time in my life where I envisioned my higher power as a cosmic lover, the way that the poet Hafiz sometimes describes his god. If god was my lover, I think it would feel like this song. This whole album is kind of one of the best of the past five years or ever.

Custom Hype (Slava Remix) – Chits

Last year, after having been on Effexor for 12 years, my psychiatrist and I decided to change my meds, because I felt like it wasn't working anymore. I didn't suffer any withdrawal symptoms as we gradually reduced the Effexor and introduced Prozac, but two days after I was completely off the Effexor, I had a panic attack (and then a resulting series of them) that felt like my mind had no bottom. This song has that vibe.

Anything – Chad Valley

This song is like the ultimate in 2010 chillwave, which was also the era when I became obsessed with time, aging and attempting to live out the fantasy of a teenhood I never had. One of those fantasies was romance. Chillwave is that imaginary youth—and the longing for that youth— embodied in sound. Being real hurts.

Ezra – Oneohtrix Point Never

OPN's work is always a major inspiration to me and captures the anxiety of existence perfectly. When I'm in the throes of existential anxiety, and I feel confused that no one is talking about how weird it is both that we are alive and going to die, I feel like OPN gets it.

Marriage (Baths remix) – Gold Panda

This is the essay about my husband, his illness and our marriage: both open and monogamous. You can read it here. I fucking love Gold Panda.

Ethereal Slap – Odd Nosdam

What can I say? Life is a mystery, everyone must stand alone. But sometimes you get a little wink from the universe and it feels like a chill dance party. I didn't ask to be born. Shit has not been easy in this mind and body. But here I am.

Melissa Broder and So Sad Today links:

the author's website

Full Stop review
Globe and Mail review
Kirkus review
New Yorker review
Publishers Weekly review
Slate review

Complex interview with the author
The Cut interview with the author
Elle profile of the author
Fader interview with the author
The Frisky interview with the author
Guardian interview with the author
Lit Up interview with the author
National Post profile of the author
Nylon interview with the author
Refinery29 interview with the author
Vanity Fair interview with the author

also at Largehearted Boy:

Largehearted Boy's 2016 Fundraiser

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)
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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