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November 15, 2016

Book Notes - MB Caschetta "Pretend I'm Your Friend"

Pretend I'm Your Friend

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.

MB Caschetta's brilliant Pretend I'm Your Friend is one of the year's finest short story collections.

Kirkus wrote of the book:

"The confrontations and losses can be gutting, but the ways they tie to one another create a strengthened bond among the survivors; there’s hope amid the ruins created here."


In her own words, here is MB Caschetta's Book Notes music playlist for her story collection Pretend I'm Your Friend:



A few years ago, I was asked to create a playlist to represent my first novel Miracle Girls (Engine Books, 2014). I listened to the selected songs for the better part of two years, mostly in the car, so I know from experience, durable songs are key. Matching a track with each story in Pretend I’m Your Friend (Engine Books, 2016) similarly provided hours of entertainment and exploration, and I have come up with a playlist that will be blaring from Honda for years to come. The only problem is that now I have to hurry up and finish writing my next book (see article), so I can do it again in another couple of years.

Meanwhile, here are some awesome tracks for Pretend I'm Your Friend; enjoy:

"Somebody to Love" by Jefferson Airplane
In “Hands of God,” an adolescent Alice-James (AJ) flies to Italy with her best friend and discovers a thing or two about sex, art, and street urchins.
• A trippy song for two would-be flower-children who walk around stoned…a lot

"You Learn" by Alanis Morissette
In “Sorry Mrs. Robinson,” Mary-Kay gets disturbing news, but her effort to search her soul goes hopelessly awry.
• Lyrics to excuse the worst things you have ever thought, said, or done

"We Don't Know" by The Strumbellas
In “Pretend I’m Your Friend,” bisexual Marie has an affair at work; David, her boyfriend, accidentally shoots himself; and only the cat knows what happened. After that, as you may imagine, everything is kind of fucked up.
• An anthem for the young and the lost

"Fix You" by Coldplay
In “People Say Thank You,” Violet Stern has a psychic prediction about her own future, which results in losing her husband and planning her escape.
• A haunting tune for the down and out

"Rise Up" by Andra Day
In, “Alice James’s Cuban Garlic,” AJ’s family crosses state lines in a borrowed school bus to attend a brother’s gay wedding, after encountering a little problem with a brother-in-law’s brain tumor. Since when has that ever stopped anybody?
• An inspiring track about overcoming obstacles

"Satisfaction (I Can't Get No)" by Otis Redding
In “A Line of E.L. Doctorow,” an au pair gets caught in the competitive sexual snares of a cunning Connecticut couple.
• No explanation needed: Redding reinterprets the classic

"Can't Take My Eyes Off of You" by Lauren Hill
In “Wonderful You,” a young man falls in unlikely love with Violet Stern, a middle-aged stranger from New Jersey, while in Barcelona on a bus tour. After a stolen kiss, each has a pivotal realization.
• Arousing vocals about love—right, wrong, or just plain incidental

"Turn, Turn, Turn (Live)" by Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band
In “What’s Not My Fault?” two daughters struggle to accept Mary-Kay Robinson’s final hours, which pass more gracefully than anyone thought possible, including Mary-Kay herself.
• The Boss takes on The Byrds, (the bees,) and the Bible

"Take Me to Church" by Hozier
In “Marry Me Quickly,” surprises abound for a soon to be gay-married husband when his in-laws show up late and interrupt the wedding ceremony.
• A catchy, yet dirge-like, devotional hymn…(Can I get an “Amen”?)

"F**king Perfect" by Pink
In “First in Line,” 5-year-old Miss LeChance—Mary-Kay Robinson’s granddaughter—is going to have a rough life, isn’t she?
• This girl will need to listen to Pink’s empowering mantra on repeat until she makes it out of childhood, puberty, and possibly beyond

"Fight Song" (Acoustic) by Rachel Platten
In “Imogene’s Island of Fire,” a woman in her 40s strikes out from a small town in Ohio to find her people at the Ocean’s edge. Moral of the story: it’s never, ever too late for anyone, not even you.
• A lone voice croons triumphantly into the wind


MB Caschetta and Pretend I'm Your Friend links:

the author's website
the author's Wikipedia entry
video trailer for the book

Kirkus review

Largehearted Boy Book Notes playlist by the author for Miracle Girls


also at Largehearted Boy:

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List of Online "Best Books of 2016" Lists

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

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