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August 17, 2016

Book Notes - Jen Michalski "The Summer She Was Under Water"

The Summer She Was Under Water

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.

Jen Michalski's novel The Summer She Was Under Water is an enthralling and poignant family drama.

Laura van den Berg wrote of the book:

"Jen Michalski has an extraordinary gift for revealing all the crooked tributaries that come together to form the ocean of the self. The Summer She Was Under Water brims with heat and longing and secrets, and yet again Michalski has delivered a story that dazzles and devastates."

In her own words, here is Jen Michalski's Book Notes music playlist for her novel The Summer She Was Under Water:

My second novel, The Summer She Was Under Water, is actually two books: one I started years ago and put away because the themes of family dysfunction (specifically, parents and their adult children spending a weekend at their lake cabin to relax but instead creating a powder keg of built-up grievances) seemed so overdone, and the other a magical realistic novella, called Water Moon, I wrote about a man who discovers he is pregnant. Although completely different in tone and subject matter, they seemed to be speaking to each other, and it was only when I wove them together did I discover the terrible secret hidden in an already broken, blue-collar Baltimore family. (I don't recommend you always plan novels this way, but it seems to work for me.)

I don't remember exactly what I was listening to years ago when I wrote The Summer She Was Under Water or Water Moon, and they were separated by years of other projects, but when I was going over the edits of the final book with Erin McKnight at Queens Ferry Press and seeing the novel fresh again, I viewed it like a movie, and since I love music scores, I wondered how someone would score it, scene by scene. Shane Carruth and Clint Mansell are two of my favorite dreamy, minimalist composers, and they seemed perfect to me to represent the magical realist subplot (these sections are noted in the list below by lowercase roman numbers, same as the book). The rest of the songs here seemed to compliment, whether by mood or their lyrics, each section of the book.

This playlist is meant to be listened to while you're reading the book, so I've separated the songs by section or subchapter in which they should be played:


The Bad in Each Other – Feist


Stirring Them Up as the Keeper of a Menagerie His Wild Beasts – Shane Carruth


Marquee Moon – Television


It's Like It Sings – Shane Carruth


Fairytale Lullaby – Bombay Motorcycle Club


This Must be the Place – Talking Heads

Pick Up If You're There – Mercury Rev


You Make My Dreams Come True – Hall & Oates


Dangerous Territory – Clint Mansell


Burnin' for You – Blue Oyster Cult

Thirteen – Big Star


La Mer – Nine Inch Nails

Chapter 8.

How to Disappear Completely – Radiohead


Trouble – Cat Stevens

The River – Bruce Springsteen

Jen Michalski and The Summer She Was Under Water links:

the author's website
the author's Wikipedia entry

Bmore Art interview with the author
Grab the Lapels interview with the author
Largehearted Boy Book Notes playlist by the author for The Tide King
Largehearted Boy Book Notes playlist by the author for Could You Be with Her
Writer's Digest essay by the author

also at Largehearted Boy:

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Book Notes (2015 - ) (authors create music playlists for their book)
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my 11 favorite Book Notes playlist essays

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