After finishing Johanna Hedva’s Your Love is Not Good, I immediately sought out (and read) her other books, it’s that good. This novel is skillfully put together and imaginatively haunting.
I chose the favorite songs of my characters.
The Narrator — Closer by Nine Inch Nails
My joke about writing this novel is that I spent eight years googling “what is a plot?” and I still don’t know. One definition I read said that in a three-part dramatic structure, you need to have three battle scenes; in the first two, your hero loses, and in the final one, they win. So I thought it would be fun and seditious to write my three battle scenes as sex scenes. How can you win or lose a sex scene? I wanted each scene to feel like maybe losing could also be winning and it’s this sticky murk that hurts that can also feel good. No other song gets that feeling like this one. The Narrator’s main problem is that she’s infested with life. The Narrator is, obviously, a Scorpio.
Marina — Piece of My Heart by Janis Joplin
As she will instill in her daughter, Marina understands her self by how much of it she is willing to give away. She knows something is meaningful to her by how completely it can eclipse her, how much it makes her lose. Her tragedy is that she chooses the wrong thing to surrender to. She chases beauty only to find ruin, so that beauty and ruin become conflated, what really is the difference? Come on and take another little piece of her heart. Marina is a Pisces.
Some part of Yves wants to be on the front lines of the political battle, and another part wants to follow his ambition to prove himself up to a peak of public recognition, but he’s a Pisces, which means he’s very tired and very beautiful and soft and not depressed exactly but sweetly suffering from a grief about the ache of living and the primary methodology of how he gets through each day has been to learn to slouch toward the total pain of what happens when desire becomes a devotion to be renounced and so he is not necessarily a person with intention and a trajectory but more like a fog that things move in and out of and there is no ending because there is no beginning and it’s at once very shallow and abyssally deep and he is the allness of the nothingness of everything everywhere and he also loves to sing. Isn’t it a pity.
Hanne — Farewell Mona Lisa by The Dillinger Escape Plan
Hanne likes it rough. Hanne’s a Sagittarius.
Iris Wells — It’ll All Be Over by Supreme Jubilees
I think of Iris as someone whose god has failed her, and this is a very heavy thing to carry around, because maybe her god was herself. The blade of “It’ll All Be Over” cuts both ways, because what is the “it” exactly? Iris is a kind of Sisyphus. She’s a Capricorn.
Zinat’s pretty basic. She’s very fun to party with. She’s a Leo.
One of Cal’s favorite things to talk about on first dates is how the live version of this song is better than the album version. Like, dude, the overall time-signature wonkery of 4/4 into 13/8 back to 4/4 and then 15/8. He’s an Aquarius.
Alexandra Nakamura Spector — Sweet Child O’ Mine by Guns N’ Roses
At parties, if it’s late enough, and she’s drunk enough, and this song comes on, Alexandra will summon when she was young in the 1980s by singing along and shimmying her hips and snaking her arms above her head and it won’t look good at all but it will be kind of cringely adorable. During the guitar solo she will air-guitar with abandon because Slash has always been her favorite. She’s a Libra.
I wanted The Devil to appear in my novel—the Faustian sort who wants to make a deal. He is unnamed as The Devil but he should be recognizable as the pagan archetype of the epicurean, elegant, charismatic man in expensive, well-tailored clothes who offers you something immaterial in exchange for something material and it’s irresistible. The trick with these types is always that the vibe is no, no, no, I should not want this, and yes, yes, yes, I want it so bad. Jonah’s a Taurus.
Joan Raíz — Legend In My Living Room by Annie Lennox
Joan always dreamed big but she’s had nothing but work to do. Joan’s a Virgo.