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August 9, 2018

Joshua Mattson's Playlist for His Novel "A Short Film About Disappointment"

A Short Film About Disappointment

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.

Innovatively told through 80 film reviews, Joshua Mattson's novel A Short Film About Disappointment is a witty and thought-provoking debut.

Booklist wrote of the book:

"Mattson’s intelligence, in the form of knife-sharp observations and acrobatic language, takes the novel’s center stage."


In his own words, here is Joshua Mattson's Book Notes music playlist for his debut novel A Short Film About Disappointment:



Don’t Bother, in A Short Film About Disappointment, is a remake of a classic science-fiction comedy, which devolves into nationalist spectacle during the second iteration. Earth receives a signal from a distant star which indicates sentience. The narrator, a film critic, likes the first version.

In the original, the whole film passes in a conference room, where bureaucrats maneuver to wrangle the honor of making first contact with the aliens. After eighty minutes of slapstick, they agree to not contact the aliens, unable to decide which institution should have the honor.

The reboot, loathed by the narrator, is an invasion film, an advertisement for the military.

Logan Broder, the director of the reboot, thought himself to be a visionary filmmaker. He commissioned John Satmost, a janitor on the studio lot, to do the soundtrack to his film, after he heard him practicing scales in a boiler room. Three days later, Logan Broder received his soundtrack, which was one piece of sound, twenty-five and one-half minutes long. Broder used it to score the final act, the slaughter of the enemy. How did Satmost feel about the abuse of his music? Satmost had never seen so much money in his life, and his knees hurt from three decades of polishing banisters. What did it matter if his depiction of numinous experience was paired with a rather tasteless dogfight between seven hundred F-16 fighter planes and a swarm of scintillating orbs that fire indigo lasers? Even a janitor could understand that images have become bankrupt, that they have no meaning at all, that they can be invested with the opposite of the meaning which they allegedly convey.


Joshua Mattson and A Short Film About Disappointment links:

Publishers Weekly review

Literary Hub essay by 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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Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week (recommended new books, magazines, and comics)
musician/author interviews
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Soundtracked (composers and directors discuss their film's soundtracks)
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