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October 2, 2018

Simon Van Booy's Playlist for His Story Collection "The Sadness of Beautiful Things"

The Sadness of Beautiful Things

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.

Simon Van Booy's brilliant short story collection The Sadness of Beautiful Things is empathetic and surprising.

Publishers Weekly wrote of the book:

"Van Booy’s latest is a thoroughly satisfying story collection inspired by personal anecdotes the author has heard from strangers. The sometimes otherworldly tales showcase misery tinged with a silver lining of hope…. [It is] a vivid collection. Fans of heartfelt stories with a hint of science fiction will find much to enjoy."


In his own words, here is Simon Van Booy's Book Notes music playlist for his story collection The Sadness of Beautiful Things:



1. Arvo Pärt: Orient & Occident

This album releases me from any distractions I have with my own life whilst trying to write. It feels like a blend of middle-eastern traditional music and western modernism.

2. Henry Purcell: Dido & Aeneas

This early opera, written for members of a girls' school, connects me to art in a very deep way. If there's such a thing as reincarnation, then this piece of music was a significant part of my previous existence. This opera helps me feel beyond the vicissitudes of daily life.

3. Bach - English Suites/French Suites - Glenn Gould

The perfect timing and ostensibly simple phrasing gives me a sense of precision, beauty, and rhythm--especially for a story like "Playing with Dolls."

4. Bach's Organ Fugues

I listened to these over and over, as I layered the scenes to build the tension in the thriller story, "Not Dying." Fugues are a very strange experience.

5. John Coltrane - A Love Supreme

One of the my all time favorite albums, this piece, which Coltrane saw a direct response to God, looped into one continuous track as I wrote "The Doorman."

6. Soundtrack - Un Homme et Une Femme

For "The Saddest Case of True Love," I needed something dreamy and 1960s. I turned to the soundtrack to the French film, Un Homme er Une Femme--especially "Plus Fort Que Nous." I wanted a sense of true, but doomed love.

7. The Chieftains - Women of Ireland

This song is in my top ten of all time. It was all I needed to listen to for the Irish story in the collection, "Conception." It's one of the finest love songs ever written. It was also used by Stanley Kubrick in one of my favorite films, Barry Lyndon.

8. Oscar D'Leon - Lloraras

I listen to this whilst boxing, as the rhythm is perfect for good footwork. It was the song that helped me add the finishing touches to "The Pigeon," but for the first draft it's a little too fast.


Simon Van Booy and The Sadness of Beautiful Things links:

the author's website
excerpt from the book

Kirkus review
Publishers Weekly review
Shelf Awareness review


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

Antiheroines (interviews with up and coming female comics artists)
Atomic Books Comics Preview (weekly comics highlights)
guest book reviews
Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week (recommended new books, magazines, and comics)
musician/author interviews
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Shorties (daily music, literature, and pop culture links)
Soundtracked (composers and directors discuss their film's soundtracks)
weekly music release lists


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