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June 28, 2016

Book Notes - Alice Adams "Invincible Summer"

Invincible Summer

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.

Alice Adams' remarkable debut Invincible Summer is both smart and readable, a great choice for summer reading and/or book clubs.

Kirkus wrote of the book:

"[Adams'] characters are nearly impossible not to root for, and she captures their often troubled dynamics with tremendous empathy and charming wit.... Breezy with substance; an absorbing summer read."


In her own words, here is Alice Adams's Book Notes music playlist for her debut novel Invincible Summer:


The individual song titles are linked to the tracks in various different places, because some have decent videos and for others the version I wanted wasn’t on Spotify. I’ve tried to make sure I’ve only linked to official - not pirated - tracks. If you discover some new music you like from this, please support the artists by buying it.


It’s been a surprisingly emotional process putting together a playlist for Invincible Summer. Music transports like nothing else on earth, sends you flying back through space and time into days so bright they scorched themselves onto your retinas… here goes…



‘Forbidden’ - Iain Woods (scroll down on linked page)

Underwater, smoky café
On a Saturday with you,
It is summer and,
We are summer,
We are summer through and through…

I picked this beautiful and wistful song as the soundtrack to Benedict's feelings for Eva. According to iTunes I have listened to it over 452 times in the last two months (I listen to music in much the same way as I write and think, retreading the same ground over and over to explore every nuance.)

‘Down in the Valley’ - The Head & the Heart

The soundtrack to walking through the eucalyptus forest on the Camino de Santiago de Compostela.

‘Jubel’ - Klingande

An utterly joyful track that just epitomises the hazy days and crazy nights of summer for me.

‘Perpetuum Mobile’ - Penguin Café Orchestra

This piece of music is irrevocably associated with my time working in the City. My boss at the time, a musician and composer when he wasn't crunching numbers, heard me listening to it and started talking to me about it in a way I'd never heard anyone speak about music before, about things like the repetition and patterns within it. It had never occurred to me before that music is in some ways very mathematical, and there exists a language with which you can describe and analyse it. This track will always take me back to emerging blinking into the light at Liverpool Street station at 7am on a sunny summer’s morning.

‘O Euchari’ - Gothic Voices, Christopher Page & Emily van Evera

(excerpt starting at 3:01 on the linked video – full track available to buy on iTunes. The one on the playlist is not as good but this version is not on Spotify.)

This is the most beautiful arrangment of Hildegard von Bingen's O Euchari in Via Leta. Hildegard von Bingen (b 1098 – d 1179) was a German Benedictine abbess, writer, composer, philosopher, Christian mystic, visionary, and polymath. She is considered to be the founder of scientific natural history in Germany. Sickly from birth, Hildegard experienced what she considered to be visions from God from a very young age.

It’s been fascinating the way some people reading the novel found the religious themes very prominent and others thought they were hardly noticeable. I guess in the same way you never step into the same river twice, no two people ever read quite the same novel.

‘Paradice Circus’ - Massive Attack

The melancholy soundtrack to Sylvie's dark days at the bottom of a bottle. No playlist for a book featuring Bristol in the nineties would be complete without a song by Massive Attack, who provided a backdrop to my own university years.

‘Nicotine Love’ (French) - Tricky feat. Ajeya

(This links to the French version, which is the one I was after and which isn’t on Spotify)

Tricky was a founder member of Massive Attack in Bristol, and has made a lot of incredible music in his solo career since. So many tracks to choose from but I love this relatively recent one, which with its dark sensuousness captures for me the feeling of being drawn to something that does you damage.

‘Once in a Lifetime’ - Talking Heads

Is this my beautiful house? Is this my beautiful wife? How did I get here?

The timeless anthem for those moments when you look around and say, 'What the hell happened to my life? How did I even end up here?' It perfectly communicates the sensation I imagine Sylvie having as she unpacks her box of belongings and wonders how she found herself in the life she’s suddenly inhabiting.

‘This Woman's Work’ - Kate Bush

A song for Allegra's arrival into the world. I will leave it to speak for itself.

‘Heartbeats’ - Jose Gonzalez

The soundtrack to Eva’s walks around the streets of London.

‘Above the Clouds of Pompeii’ - Bear's Den

A song for the people who hold our hands and give us someone to look up to, and for the understanding we gain as we grow of the inherent beauty and tragedy of life. Don’t cry, hold your head up high…

‘Atlas Song’ – Jonsi & Alex (scroll down and hit ‘play’)

An exquisite accompaniment to the final scene in the sea.


Alice Adams and Invincible Summer links:

excerpt from the book

Kirkus review
Publishers Weekly review

Bustle profile of the author
etcetera profile of the author


also at Largehearted Boy:

Support the Largehearted Boy website

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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