The Book Playlist

Last week at AWP, I attended the Don Delillo and Dana Spiotta panel and talk. I immediately snapped up EAT THE DOCUMENT, which got me to thinking about (among other things) the intersections between music and books. I’ve always loved to read about music (A Visit from the Goon Squad, Great Jones Street, Coming Through Slaughter, hell, even “Sonny’s Blues”), and when I asked myself why I couldn’t figure it out. I guess it’s that I’ve always fantasized about becoming a professional soundtrack maker (I don’t know if there’s, like, a more technical word for that? I’m sure there is). In my car, I think about wedding playlists and funeral playlists and playlists that correspond to embarrassing moments and missed opportunities and, shit, job interviews. There’s one soundtrack I’ve never really considered till now, and that’s the one for my book:

Here ya go:

  1. “The Mother We Share” Churches
  2. “Kill for Love” The Chromatics
  3. “Grand Canyon” The Magnetic Fields
  4. “I’m Not a Robot” Marina and the Diamonds
  5. “Bird Girl” Anthony and the Johnson’s
  6. “Us” Regina Spektor
  7. “Until We Bleed” Lykke Li
  8. “My Body is a Cage” The Arcade Fire
  9. “Pumped Up Kicks” Foster the People
  10. “Gun Has No Trigger” The Dirty Projectors
  11. “Song for Zula” Phosphorescent

Check it out on YouTube:

What’s the soundtrack to your book??

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The Next Big Thing

I’ve decided to give blogging another go-round.

Largely because I was recently asked to participate in a project that relies on the “pay it forward” idea – helping each other out with connections and community in the writing world.

The Next Big Thing Blog series is an author’s work-in-progress project from She Writes and a chance for authors to tell you what they’re working on. The author answers 10 questions about their next book, and tags the person who first tagged them, plus at least 5 other authors.

Thanks to Karin C. Davidson, who’s writing a novel I can’t wait to read, and my lovely precious Bread Loaf Writing Conference roomie and divine poet, Sara Burnett, for tagging me.

So here goes ….

Q: What is your working title of your book?

A: Love Is Our Poison

Q: What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? (Read the full-length synopsis here.)

A: Wifey gets fat; Hubby gets rat poison.

Q: Where did the idea come from for the book?

A: I was in New York City and I saw this massive woman – she was beautiful, but huge – sitting on a bench and taking up nearly the whole thing. She was the kind of woman that a woman like me (i.e. on the plumper side of pleasantly plump) not only fears but toys with becoming.

Anyway, she got a call on her phone and started speaking in French and my brain just went, “the only fat woman from France.” So I came home and wrote a really awful story about that. A story that ended with said fat woman going to live in a tree until, finally, under the heft of her, it fell.

I threw it out, but the idea stayed with me. I couldn’t stop envisioning that woman. Had she ever been in love? What was that man (or woman) like? Did they have sex? What was that like? What did she like to eat? Where had she found that boat neck purple shirt she’d been wearing? Eventually, she became Camille and this man who loved her in this poisonous-passionate way I’d imagined became Benjamin and they had a baby and she became Hazel and then, forty-seven million years later, I had a book.

Q: What genre does your book fall under?

A: Novel, literary-with-talking-disembodied-dead-baby-voices-and-fat-ladies

Q: Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

A: Well, that’s tricky. Camille weighs, well, easily four times the average starlet. So I’d have to discover someone and she’d have to look like a lady from a vintage circus freaks poster, she’d need to stunningly beautiful, a little sad, day-dreamy and wickedly funny with an almost imperceptible French accent.


Q: Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

A: My book, god willing and the creek don’t rise, will at some point be published by somebody, somewhere. It’s ready to be shipped out and shown in hopes of locating said somebody, somewhere.

Q: How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

A: Approximately three days longer than forever or: three years, six months, and 18 days.

Q: What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

A: Middlesex meets The Middlesteins meets An Invisible Sign of My Own.

Q: Who or what inspired you to write this book?

A: The weight-obsessed state of the world. Overeaters Anonymous/Weight Watcher/Jenny Craig/South Beach/Atkins/Skinny Girl, etc., etc., etc. French Women Don’t Get Fat. My grandmother. That voice in my head that said, “Tell this story.” My mentors who all said some variation of: “Listen to that voice even though that voice be crrr-azy.” My desire to explore what it’s like to feel huge, but, perhaps more importantly, what it’s like to feel small.

Q: What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

A: This is really a story about how a person’s body can become a cage of sorts. It’s about how love – particularly dysfunctional love but, hell, all love – is disfiguring. It’s about being powerless over your own feelings and powerful over another’s. It’s for anyone who’s ever sat in denial and watched something grow like a metaphorical tumor until it got so ugly it was beautiful.

This is not a quiet story. This is not your “grandma’s novel.” It’s funny and graphic and odd so, if you find quirk appealing, those are probably the book’s biggest selling points. Well, that and, frankly, the gratuitous amount of outside-the-norm sex.

Thanks for reading and thanks again, Karin and Sara, for the tag.

I’m tagging the following people:

  1. The lovely and talented, Benjamin Roesch, my dear friend from Bread Loaf. I’ve had the pleasure of reading his novel-in-progress and it’s fabulous.
  2. The amazing Stephanie Austin, who’s been my go-to writing buddy for years. She’s a kickass blogger and laugh out loud funny. Her novel features a puppeteer, basement absinthe, and an “emotional garage sale.” How could you not want to read that?
  3. The truly gifted Kimi Eisele, a friend from my Tucson days. I heard her read from her novel at an event, gosh, maybe five years ago? And I was hooked and it has stuck with me ever since.
  4. Fellow Bostonian, Adam Olenn, who’s another awesome Bread Loaf buddy and member of my novel-writing group.
  5. A few other fine folks as soon as I get their info!