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November 20, 2018

Laura Adamczyk's Playlist for Her Story Collection "Hardly Children"

Hardly Children

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.

Laura Adamczyk's story collection Hardly Children is a haunting and auspicious debut from a writer to watch.

The New York Times wrote of the book:

"The stories are achingly open to the vulnerability that comes with forming attachments and the surprising difficulty of breaking them."

In her own words, here is Laura Adamczyk's Book Notes music playlist for her story collection Hardly Children:

Here are 12 songs, one for each short story in my collection, with varying degrees of relation between them.

1. “La femme d’argent” by Air (“WANTED”)
I can’t really listen to music while I write. I find anything too melodic distracting, and you can forget about songs with lyrics. When I was in grad school in Champaign, Illinois, I’d write in my quiet apartment until I’d hit a wall, then I’d walk to a coffee shop downtown. It was often noisy there, and I’d turn this song up in my headphones as loud as was comfortable. I’d listen to it and the next song on the album before the lyrics would kick in on the third, then I’d go back to the beginning. I’ve listened to this song many, many times, and at least a dozen while writing this story.

2. “Pyramids” by Frank Ocean (“Girls”)
I started writing “Girls” the summer Channel Orange came out. I listened to that album quite a bit that summer and into the fall. That’s about as far as this particular connection goes.

3. “Controversy” by Prince (“Too Much a Child”)
The bar near my apartment used to play this song all the time. I went there one night while I was writing “Too Much a Child,” and they were showing some horror B-movie with people freaking out in cabins and reptile-like beasts disappearing beneath beds, and I ended up putting the movie (as a book adapted from a movie) in the story. This is my favorite Prince song.

4. “Powderfinger” by Neil Young (“Gun Control”)
One of the best weddings I ever attended was in this old church in Chicago that had been stripped of most of its religious markers and made into a more general gathering space. The ceremony lasted about two minutes, with everyone standing around in a loose circle. They served a Mexican buffet, then later vodka and pickles. Some of the groom’s musician friends made up the band, and for the first song they played this song, the groom pulling his new wife around the room in a kind of running dance while she giggled uncontrollably. As we all watched them, a friend, who was going through some shit with his wife at the time, sighed and said, “I think I believe in love again.”

5. “Anything Could Happen” by The Clean (“Wine Is Mostly Water”)
A slender piece of this story comes from an old boyfriend, who introduced me to The Clean.

6. “Sister” by Angel Olsen (“Danny Girl”)
“Danny Girl” is the last story in the collection I wrote. I got a couple weeks off from work around Christmas 2016, and I spent my days doing little more than writing and taking baths and listening to My Woman.

7. “Strange Magic” by Electric Light Orchestra (“Intermission”)
It was a bit of a wink to myself to get the phrase “strange magic” into a short story and have it make sense. I’d like to listen to this song on an old car radio.

8. “Wave of Mutilation” by the Pixies (“Here Comes Your Man”)
A double dose of Pixies in this one! It took a great deal of self-control not to draw out the spelling in “wave” in this one sentence in the story—“I put up my hand and wave”—the way Frank Black sings it in the song.

9. “Carry the Zero” by Built to Spill (“Give and Go”)
For a very short time while living in Champaign, I played basketball with a group of sarcastic shit-talking dudes, who served as partial inspiration for this story. Around this time I was also listening to Keep It like a Secret quite a bit. “Carry the Zero” is my favorite song on that album. I love when Built really wail, and I love where Doug Martsch puts the stresses in this line: “You’re so occupied with what / Other persons are / Occupied with / And vice versa.”

10. “Fantastic Man” by William Onyeabor (“Needless to Say”)
Listening to this song, I feel the same kind of giddy, untethered feeling I get when goofing around with my sisters.

11. “The Letter” by Joe Cocker (“The Summer Father”)
My parents listened nearly exclusively to classic rock while I was growing up, and as a result I’ve heard those songs so many times that many have since lost their meaning for me. But my dad loved Joe Cocker so much, and for a musician who’s known for singing covers, this one is probably his best.

12. “Heaven” by Talking Heads (“Black Box”)
Imagining her eventual demise, the narrator of this story insists that any songs sung on her deathbed reflect her actual tastes, and not those of any possible religious followers in attendance. Would this song be a pretty on-the-nose choice? You bet it would.

Laura Adamczyk and Hardly Children links:

the author's website

Booklist review
Kirkus review
Publishers Weekly review

Chicago Tribune interview with the author

also at Largehearted Boy:

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Largehearted Boy List of Online "Best Books of 2018" Lists

Book Notes (2015 - ) (authors create music playlists for their book)
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