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August 1, 2017

Book Notes - Danya Kukafka "Girl in Snow"

Girl in Snow

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.

Danya Kukafka's debut novel Girl in Snow is a dark and lyrical literary thriller.

Booklist wrote of the book:

"This brooding and intense thriller will plunge readers into a dark world they may not want to enter—but they may be unable to tear themselves free…This unlikely trio of narrators gives readers a different look into the idyllic, small-town life, and how not everything is as it appears on the surface."


In her own words, here is Danya Kukafka's Book Notes music playlist for her debut novel Girl in Snow:



I listen to music when I write, and it helps me so much with tone and atmosphere. When I'm working on a project, I'll usually pick a few songs and listen to them on loop every time I sit down to work. That way, writing has a specific sound, separate from the outside world. My playlists aren't really about the content of the songs—more about how each character feels to me, and how music enhances that feeling. I wrote Girl in Snow in three distinct parts, following my three characters: Cameron came first, then Jade, then Russ. Each character had his/her own playlist. I'm not very cool, or in tune with a particular music scene, but here are some of my favorites.

CAMERON

"The Blower's Daughter," Damien Rice
If there is one song that sums up Girl in Snow for me, it's "The Blower's Daughter" by Damien Rice, which is wildly, wildly sad. There is a story floating around about it— I'm not sure if it's true. But I've heard the song is about a young girl that the singer meets over the phone during his job as a telemarketer. They start a relationship over the phone, and he falls in love with her voice. One day, he sits outside her house, hoping to see her. She comes out wearing a school uniform, and he's horrified with himself. Another opinion argues that it's about his clarinet teacher's daughter. Either way, the song seems to be about a distant, forbidden love, possibly even a slightly perverted love. This worked as a perfect axis for Cameron's character.

"A Little Piece," the Jezabels
I love the beat of this song—it's urgent and beautiful and very intense. The lyrics also conjure the image of a couple separated by an ocean, and because I listened to it while writing, there are a couple of references to water when Cameron is thinking about Lucinda's death.

"Here Comes the Sun," The Beatles
Every dark book needs a little light, right? I wrote a few scenes where Cameron refers to this song when he thinks of Lucinda— she is bright, golden— though these scenes were all cut early in the revision process.

JADE

"Jesus of Suburbia," Green Day
When I was fourteen, I listened obsessively to Green Day's American Idiot album. I wore fishnet sleeves and begged my parents for a skateboard. A part of this young self made its way into Jade's character, and she loves the same music I did back then.

"Hands Down," Dashboard Confessional
The intoxication of young love—what it promises and what it refuses to give—is a huge part of Jade's character. When I was writing Jade, I got to indulge in some serious early 2000's nostalgia.

"Ribs," Lorde
This song feels like being a teenage girl at a party, where you're equal parts horrified by your own body and recklessly confident in it. These moments are rare, but precious for Jade.

RUSS

"I Need My Girl," The National
Russ's playlist is the quietest of the three. There is something subtly devastating about his character for me, and the sound of The National just feels right. When I sat down to write Russ's sections, I often started with this song to get myself in the right emotional state.

"Videogames," Lana del Rey covered by Ben Howard
I listened to this song when I was thinking about Russ's nostalgia for his lost love—his old partner on the police force, Lee. That context brought a real air of tragedy to the song for me, but if you haven't noticed, that's kind of my jam.

"Humiliation," The National
This is one of The National's more upbeat songs. Well, maybe not the lyrics. But it's faster, and has a bit of a bop to it. There was a point where Russ's storyline veered into hopelessness, and I used this song to pull him, and myself, into the light.


Danya Kukafka and Girl in Snow links:

the author's website
excerpt from the audiobook

Publishers Weekly review

Riverhead Books interview with the author
Shelf Awareness interview with the author


also at Largehearted Boy:

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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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