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June 27, 2008

Book Notes - Roxana Robinson ("Cost")

In the Book Notes series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that is in some way relevant to their recently published books.

I've been a bit obsessed lately with summer reading lists, not only the lists themselves, but also what people consider to be "summer reading." When I read the Wall Street Journal's review of Roxana Robinson's latest novel, COST, and it's line "summer reading of uncommon stature," my curiosity was definitely piqued.

COST is an emotional book dealing with big issues: family, addiction, Alzheimer's, how we express love. As three generations of the family are affected by 22 year-old Jack's heroin addiction, Robinson's talent is evident as the book never lapses into sentimentality, and her characters, though not perfect, are profiled with dignity.

The Wall Street Journal wrote of the book:

"COST is both lyrical and unsentimental, richly honest and humane -- summer reading of uncommon stature."

In her own words, here is Roxana Robinson's Book Notes essay for her novel, Cost:

These are just songs I like to listen to. I don't really listen to music while I write.

Sittin on the Dock of the Bay - Otis Redding
All of Me - Billie Holliday
Tosca - Renata Tebaldi
Blue Kentucky Girl - Emmylou Harris
Angola Bound - Aaron Neville
Don Giovanni - (any recording)
Cosi fan Tutte - (ditto)
The Magic Flute - (ditto)
Walk on By - Dionne Warwick
Anything by the Supremes

How's that for eclectic? I don't think Jack would approve - This would be the music Julia would find on the radio (on their way back from the airport) that Jack would not be able to tolerate. My friend Keith, a bartender and musician in Williamsburg who's also a fan of COST, was kind enough to come up with a playlist for Jack's iPod:

'I'm Waiting for the Man' -- Velvet Underground

'Up Jumped the Devil' -- Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

'Requiem Pour un Con' -- Serge Gainsbourg

'Party All the Time' -- Eddie Murphy

'Avalanche' -- Leonard Cohen

'Why'd You Do It' -- Marianne Faithfull

'What's This Shit Called Love?' -- The Pagans

Roxana Robinson and Cost links:

the author's website
excerpt from the book page for the book

Chicago Tribune review
New York Magazine review
New York Times review
Time Out New York review
Wall Street Journal review

WBUR On Point profile of the author

also at Largehearted Boy:

Previous Book Notes submissions (authors create playlists for their book)
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
guest book reviews
musician/author interviews
directors and actors discuss their film's soundtracks
52 Books, 52 Weeks (2008 Edition)
52 Books, 52 Weeks (2007 Edition)
52 Books, 52 Weeks (2006 Edition)
52 Books, 52 Weeks (2005 Edition)
52 Books, 52 Weeks (2004 Edition)