Chris Rugeley’s novel Take Creek, For Example is a stunning debut, an art school novel as profound as it is entertaining.
Sara Lippmann wrote of the book:
“Welcome to Take Creek, the country’s number one elite undergraduate art school with a price tag to match, and the larger-than-life setting of Chris Rugeley’s whip-smart and wickedly funny send-up of the campus novel starring a day-glo cast of characters all pondering what kind of artist they want to be. With electric prose that pops with precision and rapid fire dialogue that will have you holding your ribs, Rugeley’s dynamic and assured debut is not one to miss.”
I had been working on this book for a little over a year when the world went quiet in March of 2020. I would finish the first draft of the novel a few months later, in between long walks around San Francisco, aimless drifts up and down the hills. For me, this novel is ultimately a collection of moods set in a woodsy landscape, and these songs all formed the score.
“Quick Canal,” Atlas Sound with Laetita Sadier
I’ve always loved the quirky soundscapes of Stereolab, and Laetita Sadier’s voice seemed to fit the mood of the book. This song, a collaboration with Atlas Sound, almost puts me in a trance. It felt like the perfect place to open a scene, buried in the pines, way upstate.
This song reminds me of watching the sun come up, letting go of everything, and starting anew.
“The Dane,” Nils Frahm
I had this song on repeat for weeks at a time. I couldn’t stop. Everything was split. The pedalwork sounds like a conversation in whispers, like the whole world is aloft on the wind.
Many years ago, I was driving across the Great Smoky Mountains when the sky opened up and started to rain. Everything seemed to disappear in that moment, all of a sudden, burning like a cloudveil through the darkening woods. We would end up listening to this song over and over that day, and it’s been one of my all-time favorites ever since.
“Call,” Julianna Barwick
Julianna Barwick’s loops are truly haunting. The worldhum of this track still splits my ears.
“Straight Line,” Ben Seraten
I wish I could remember where I was when I first heard this song, but I can’t seem to recall a thing. It was on rotation quite frequently while I was working on the book, a dream that was there one day, then gone the next, like a memory of a photograph I could never fully place.
“String Quartet no. 2 ‘Company’: II,” Philip Glass, Dublin Guitar Quartet
In a scene about halfway through the novel, Manning, one of the book’s main characters, talks at length with the narrator about the day jobs of a handful of artists long before they ever became famous. The question posed by Manning: “Did you know that when Toni Morrison was editing textbooks in Syracuse, Richard Serra was starting a furniture moving business in New York? Did you know that Serra employed Philip Glass, who at the time was working as a plumber and a taxi driver? Your country just keeps getting stranger.”
“Just Say This,” Dave Douglas
Dave Douglas and Bill Frisell. Say no more. This is the stuff that keeps all the water still flowing and mixing and free.
“Our Way to Fall,” Yo La Tengo
I feel like I always have Yo La Tengo playing somewhere in the back of my mind. This song hits all the right notes for me, a dream-laced and evocative piece.
“saman,” Olafur Arnalds
Another brief portrait of the young artist, an overcoming, a story of changes slowly revealed.
Panic. Power. Politics. Bloodlust. This is the sound that the world makes when the Dow falls 3,000 points overnight.
“How’s It Gonna End,” Tom Waits
Excellent question, Tom. I’ve been wanting to know the exact same thing.
Chris Rugeley was born in Houston, Texas, and raised in Colorado. He is the author of the novel, Take Creek, For Example, forthcoming from 7.13 Books in October 2023. He has a BA from the University of Montana and an MA from San Francisco State University. His writing has appeared or is forthcoming in The Florida Review and Carve. He currently lives with his wife in San Francisco and Northern New Mexico, where he is at work on his second novel.