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June 27, 2018

Jordy Rosenberg's Playlist for His Novel "Confessions of the Fox"

Confessions of the Fox

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

Jordy Rosenberg's ambitious novel Confessions of the Fox is a raucous, irreverent, and incredibly clever debut.

Booklist wrote of the book:

"Resonant of George Saunders, of Nikolai Gogol, and of nothing that's ever been written before . . . irreverent, erudite, and not to be missed."

In his own words, here is Jordy Rosenberg's Book Notes music playlist for his novel Confessions of the Fox:

Songs Listened to While Composing Confessions of the Fox, as Reported by William Kneebone (1690-1735, approx.), wool draper and, now, non-consensual character in this travesty called a novel.

What satisfaction to report on the absurd goings-on of the author who has summoned me from the restfulness of death to endure years of his daily histrionics, deluded elations, and sniveling sentimentality. It must be a species of sadism that would compel this author (who I refer to as my tormentor) to rouse a long-dead wool draper from merciful slumber in order to be forced to witness, through the befuddling fog of historical distance – not to mention the inscrutable screen to which I am consigned and from which I peer out, horrified – the appalling parade of emotions as he tarries with the stories of those of us who were in point of fact content to moulder quietly in the merciful cool soil.

Some will say that, in life, I was a cruel employer to the person who has become the so-called hero of the novel written by my tormentor – a hero who my tormentor has glorified beyond all reason. I ask, however: does having paid a fair price for the labor of someone who was admittedly a child when he came into my charge, justify the penalty I have now paid in being subject to the clangings, shriekings, and poundings of what I must insist is only nominally music?

So be it! These cruelties were committed unto me and herewith the soundtrack to my misery.

“Nightswimming, “ REM. Dear Lord. The strangled sobs on the part of my tormentor at the lines “they cannot see me naked” still rings in my ears.

“Dreamer,” Livin Joy. This one often occasioned my tormentor’s flingings to and fro in contortions of dancing. Then the dog would rush over. I tell you it was a spectacle.

“There Are Still Secrets,” Prurient. Pure wretchedness. Very very loud thudding. I am frankly concerned that this one has so grated my ears that the very canals are shredded from the inside out. I have repeatedly written to my doctor for advice on this condition and been ignored. I begin to suspect I am being pooh-poohed.

“Lady Cab Driver,” Prince. My tormentor listened to this on his knees. It was shameful.

“Book of Love,” Boy. This is an opaque work. I can make neither heads nor tails of the simultaneously thrilled and melancholy declamations of the vocalist regarding not being “a boy.” Nor of my tormentor’s squawkings-along.

“Mother,” Danzig. I’d rather not relive the leapings-to and fro that accompanied this blast of self-flattering attribution of “dangerousness.” Unquestionably provocative of a creeping rash of skin-ulcers I developed from the sheer noise, although my doctor will neither confirm nor deny the song as the cause.

“Take Your Time (Do It Right),” The S.O.S. Band. Just who does my tormentor think he is? The bouncing he did to this one hurt my head terribly.

“Antipop,” Dreamcrusher. I pleaded with my tormentor for cotton balls during this torrent of sound and was rewarded with a lecture about the greatness of “NIHILIST QUEER REVOLT MUSIK.”(

“Shadows of the Night,” Pat Benatar. God help me I take it that my tormentor believes this song represents a theory of relating to readers.

“Confetti,” Cold Cave. Oh the wailings-along to “I never thought that we wouldn't rule the world/I always think we will I keep my fist clenched still.” My tormentor routinely cried during this one.

“17 Days,” Prince. Also listened to on his knees. No — alternating between knees and the absurd flingings I have come to dread as they jostle me so. That my tormentor is so simultaneously pathetic in himself and cruel to me is an irony I will leave to the philosophers to untangle.

“Drop Out,” Rocket From the Crypt. The franticness accompanying this one is indescribable. Clearly my tormentor fancies himself an underdog. It’s despicable, considering that – between the two of us – he is clearly the one with all the power. Lest you need a reminder, Reader: I am dead!!

“Baby Wants to Ride,” Frankie Knuckles and Jamie Principle. This one my tormentor treated like an anthem. Almost biblical was his devotion to this song. Upon the opening strains, he did neither fling himself nor bend on his knees and sing, but simply listened, rapt, to the tinklings emitted from that hot and surely disease-bestowing little trinket which he is often fondling to what end I cannot imagine.

“Take Me Home Tonight,” Eddie Money. I did hear my tormentor defend his affection for this song to a visitor by delivering a sphinxlike compendium of unfathomable declamations: “Synth-laminated eros!” “the 1980s!,” “I know it’s overly gendered!,” and “but when Ronnie Spector sings ‘baby’. . .”

“Rocks Off,” The Rolling Stones. Hark ye, reader, I did find the complaints issued in this song to be oddly familiar. Indeed, I could not help but wonder if the singer of these lines and I shared a kind of disease of a certain sourness, a – what shall we call it? – an infectious enervation of the joints and also of the – ahem – nether regions. In any case I did beseech my doctor with concerns about “rocks off,” and he once again did not respond. Either he ignores my missives, or. . .I must consider that perhaps he remains as dead as I once was. But here I must point out that it would have been a mercy for my tormentor to, when awakening me, also have awakened from eternal slumber my doctor, who is the only soul on earth who quite understands the particulars of my delicate constitution and case. Alas.

Jordy Rosenberg and Confessions of the Fox links:

the author's website
excerpt from the book
excerpt from the book

Booklist review
Boston Globe review
Kirkus review
Publishers Weekly review

HuffPost profile of the author
INTO profile of the author
Slate interview with the author
Weekend Edition 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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