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July 11, 2018

Paige Cooper's Playlist for Her Short Story Collectionl "Zolitude"


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.

Paige Cooper's collection Zolitude is filled with genre-defying stories that astonish and impress.

The Walrus wrote of the book:

"Each of Zolitude's fourteen stories explores intimacy as a basic need and the ways love can be articulated, perceived, and frustrated. The result is a collection that is often astonishing and occasionally crests the extraordinary."

In her own words, here is Paige Cooper's Book Notes music playlist for her short story collection Zolitude:

1. Grimes / "Genesis"

I’m only exaggerating slightly when I say I wrote this entire book listening to Grimes’ 2012 album Visions on repeat. I’m not that shocked by the Elon/Grimes thing. I don’t like it, but I understand why an artist with an imagination like hers would be drawn to Silicon Valley, where people spend billions of dollars realizing whatever fantasies they want. Like pumping young blood into old bodies so rich people can live forever. Or colonizing Mars so they have somewhere to go. Lately, when I talk about Silicon Valley, I sound like a conspiracy theorist.

2. Preoccupations / "Continental Shelf"

This riff is surfy like the tidal wave that’ll crush the western seaboard one day is surfy. When I say ‘one day,’ seismologists mean ‘soon.’ The same summer I read about “The Really Big One,” the band formerly known as Viet Cong released their eponymous EP and I spent all my time wondering how we live with ourselves when we know exactly what we’ve done, and what’s coming for us. I can’t feel, no, I can’t feel. It’s easier that way, but it’s not better.

3. Sharon Van Etten / "Your Love is Killing Me"

It’s difficult to talk about the chemically addictive nature of being abused.

4. Bruce Springsteen / “State Trooper”

There’s a threat underpinning this song that only exists when it’s sung by a white man. If it was sung by a black man, today in 2018, I think it would pared down to an unambiguous plea: Please don’t stop me. I’m disturbed by how easy I find it to sympathize with power’s violent hand – maybe you got a kid, maybe you got a pretty wife - as if that violence is so far removed from me. But even if it’s because she’s scared, the pretty wife is complicit. Violence scales.

5. Anohni / “4 Degrees”

As a child I hoped that the planet would find a way to destroy us before we destroy it. I’m told this is a hysterical view for an adult. Adults ought to minimize. My go-to dinner party question lately has been, “So, how long do you think civilization will last?” A lot of people, I’ve been surprised to learn, give us another couple of millennia. If I give us a decade, should I bother to compost my avocado rinds? And why am I writing fiction? This album, and this song in particular – vocals, drums, horns, scope, vision, morality – is maximalist in its self-excoriation.

6. 18+ / “Fiction”

I’m not interested in writing explicitly about social media, but I think it both masks and medicates the downward mobility of the cognitariat. Is there a name yet for the class of people who can’t afford to reproduce but can curate perfect mise en scènes of happiness? It’s possible babe to complain with no cause. Spoiled brat you’re rich again. Franco Berardi talks about the senility of the first world, but I think we’re whining about self-infantilization. Death caught on camera. Widen the scope, or don’t.

7. Sonic Youth / "Bull in the Heather"

The day after I moved into a rat hole apartment in Montreal I came home day-drunk to this song blasting my roommate’s amps so loud it gelled the dead humid heat into a dreamscape. It ate the air. Someone had to be having sex. The apartment was tiny. Kim Gordon says this song is about refusing to participate in patriarchy. Tell me that you wanna bore me. This is why girls starfish. It’s confusing, politically, when your only desire is to be desired. Sometimes I buy the idea that all hetero sex is hate-sex. My roommate popped out of his room, buttoned-up and high. No one was having sex. I would’ve.

8. Mas Ysa / “Suffer”

Monstrosity must be sexually transmitted. Break up and find that a person has left the worst of their self in you. I used to love this song because it reassured me I’d cauterized the ugliest wound. Don’t you know I’m gone for good? All my long-lost girlfriends should suffer. But it’s not a wound, it’s a virus.

9. Purity Ring / “Fineshrine”

I’m not into Norse myth, except how some sagas describe the blood eagle sacrifice to Odin: back carved with a broadsword, ribs cut, lungs drawn out into the air. Cut open my sternum and pull my little ribs around you. This is the most accurate love song of all time.

10. Michelle Gurevich / "Left You at the Farm"

I am pretty sure this song is about a woman whose new lover doesn’t like her dog? So the dog gets left at a farm? I can’t actually listen to it, it’s too upsetting. The dogs in my book are treated terribly. People have absurd justifications for their choices. Animals don’t use language. My choices are absolutely absurd, in life and fiction. Sentimentally, uselessly, I dedicated this book to the dog I left behind when I imploded my life a few years ago, which is also when I started writing this book. She is a happy illiterate with a loving family. When I visit she is lukewarm and aloof.

11. Röyksopp, Robyn / “Monument”

This is what I’m controlling. It’s embarrassing to me that my project is love. I try to relax into the obsession. I’ve attacked the various manifestations of one emotion – or maybe a hydra of emotions living under one name - from every appropriate or inappropriate angle. There’s no repetition, says Gertrude Stein, there is only insistence. How banal & profound that when we die the only thing left of us is in other people. A writer might believe they’re a dictator in their own country, but all that really offers is a dictator’s delusion & a dictator’s fear. There’s no control over what happens between the text and the reader. Are you ruling? Eventually it becomes necessary to love more than we are loved.

Paige Cooper and Zolitude links:

Chicago Review of Books review
Kirkus review
Quill & Quire review
Toronto Star review
Winnipeg Free Press review

also at Largehearted Boy:

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