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July 16, 2019

CJ Hauser's Playlist for Her Novel "Family of Origin"

Family of Origin

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.

CJ Hauser's novel Family of Origin is hilarious, moving, and astonishingly original.

Booklist wrote of the book:

"Reminiscent of the family explorations of Rick Moody, Jennifer Egan, and Lauren Groff, this tragicomic novel explores climate change, family ties, and the millennial generation’s feeling that they have arrived late to the party, that humanity and the environment appear to be declining before their eyes. Full of brilliantly realized characters, Hauser’s latest is profound, often incredibly funny, and captures the times like few other contemporary novels."

In her own words, here is CJ Hauser's Book Notes music playlist for her novel Family of Origin:

Dear You,

I think for a long while I got hung up wondering whether I was writing a funny book or a sad book. Eventually I realized the problem was that everything I love is usually, confusingly, offensively, gloriously both of those things at the same time. In fact, I think I’ve recently put a finger on the aesthetic I’m always searching for in my books, my music, my friends, my lovers... it’s a kind of of cheerful but knowing humor in the face of darkness. I’m not talking about covering anything up or hiding from reality. I’m talking about the first time you read the lyrics to “I Am a Rock” and realized it was a top forty hit about being fucking lonely. I’m talking about how exquisitely sad every person in The Royal Tenenbaums is and yet there they are in a house full of Dalmatian mice laconically saying things like “That’s the last time you stab me.” I’m talking about Patton Oswalt and Tig Notaro. I’m talking about your friend who makes the most inappropriate possible joke when you’re bawling your eyes out and it makes you snort-laugh. It’s the funny/sad one two punch where what’s funny is actually just the unadulterated truth of what’s awful spoken out loud so it feels like relief and healing too. What’s the word for that?

God, it’s the only thing that makes sense to me anymore.

So that’s what Family of Origin is about. It’s about being hopeful versus being real and how on earth we can make both of those things go together. I like to think it’s a book that is funny and sad at the same time. Nolan and Elsa Grey have got down so low they have become ridiculous. And then their father dies and they find out he was part of science-cult who are so sad they believe the world is going backwards and to prove it’s true they spend all their time with an incredibly adorable sea duck called The Undowny Bufflehead. And that’s ridiculous. It’s about embracing this kind of radical honesty and truth and humor and unflinching sadness. It’s about how to buck up for long enough to do some good work in this world. It’s about how being sad doesn’t mean you’re not on the hook for positive action. We all are.

So here: I made you a mixtape. All of these songs do this thing I’m talking about. It’s full of anthems you can listen to when you’re doing whatever the good work is that you do in this world. And maybe it will make you feel good because these songs rock while also not being full of shit. They’re songs you turn up when they come on the radio, but that have something to say about what it means to be living and failing but trying and carrying on too. Have a dance party to these songs. Or have a good cry shouting them out in the car. They are good for both of these things.



The Replacements // Can’t Hardly Wait

See you're high and lonesome
Try and try and try

Cayetana // Am I Dead Yet?

And I'm not dead yet, but this doesn't feel so great
And I'm not dead yet, but I'd like to take a break
Is there a way out of this?
Is there a way out?

Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile // Over Everything

When I'm outside in a real good mood
You could almost forget bout all the other things
Like a big old ominous cloud in my periphery
Don't wanna talk about it
Simultaneous I shout it

Screaming Females // Mothership

The blood of family doesn't help
I put myself back on the shelf
If Mother knows best, then Mother knows why...
You have found the monsters that make us wonder
Who has human skin?
The mistakes born
Make you so very happy
In a dog pile of great men

Lucy Dacus // I Don’t Want to Be Funny Anymore

I don't wanna be funny anymore
Yeah, I'll be the gossip, hear it through the grapevine
Pass it on, she's done with the old times
That funny girl doesn't wanna smile for a while

The Thermals // St. Rosa and the Swallows

how did i fight the flat days and the static nights?

Hop Along // Sister Cities

We came here abandoned
An old brick faced apartment
Rusted swing set in the courtyard, like the one that I was born in
I'm guarded like I'm wounded, my first instinct's always "run"

Laura Stevenson // Runner

To give yourself a little bit of hope's a lie
You said, we're just spinning where we stand
And if you cling to tokens for your life you find
You wind up with imaginary men

Diet Cig // Maid of the Mist

I wanna hold a seance
For every heart I've broken
Put them all in a room
And say "get over it"...
And I am bigger than the outside shell of my body
And if you touch it without asking then you'll be sorry

Neutral Milk Hotel//King of Carrot Flowers 1

When you were young
You were the king of carrot flowers
And how you built a tower tumbling through the trees
In holy rattlesnakes that fell all around your feet

The Nerves //Hanging on the Telephone

Don't leave me hanging on the telephone
It's good to hear your voice, you know it's been so long
If I don't get your call then everything goes wrong
I want to tell you something you've known all along
Don't leave me hanging on the telephone

John Moreland // Tired of the World

Baby let’s go
Head on down the road
I know you’re tired of the world

Against Me! //Thrash Unreal

They don't know nothing about redemption
They don't know nothing about recovery

Martha Wainwright //Bloody Mother Fucking Asshole

Poetry is no place for a heart that's a whore
And I'm young and I'm strong
But I feel old and tired
Over fired..
I will not pretend
I will not put on a smile
I will not say I'm all right for you
When all I wanted was to be good
To do everything in truth

CJ Hauser and Family of Origin links:

the author's website

Booklist review
Kirkus review
Publishers Weekly 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

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