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August 23, 2011

Book Notes - Myla Goldberg ("The False Friend")

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

Myla Goldberg's The False Friend is a complex and thoughtful exploration of memory and trauma, another literary gem from one of our finest contemporary writers.

Library Journal wrote of the book:

"The term mean girls is elevated to a new level in Goldberg's moody novel...this is a layered, understated novel about the complex, ambiguous nature of memory and its effect on the dynamics of relationships. Great fodder for reading groups."

Stream a Spotify playlist of these tunes. If you don't have Spotify yet, request an invitation.

In her own words, here is Myla Goldberg's Book Notes music playlist for her novel, The False Friend:

"On the Overgrown Path, The barn owl has not flown away," by Leos Janacek

Janacek is my favorite composer, and he was on heavy rotation inside my head and on my stereo during the time I was writing The False Friend. I can't listen to music when I'm writing, so I make up for that by listening to it whenever I'm not. "On the Overgrown Path" is a series of pieces for solo piano, and it's great thinking music – contemplative, expressive, and surprising. It puts pictures in my head whenever I listen. "The barn owl has not flown away" in particular reminds me of driving, and what the world looks like through the window of a moving car. Celia and her dad both love to drive, and when I picture Celia driving up and down Rt. 81 and around her hometown, this music is my internal soundtrack for her.

"Un Poco Loco," by Bud Powell

Bud Powell is the other composer who was on heavy internal and external rotation while I was writing. He was a master of be-bop jazz piano, and I ended up making him the favorite musician of Celia's dad, Warren. "Un Poco Loco" is insistent, dissonant, and beautiful – additional thinking music for me but while Janacek is associative for me, Powell is more aggressive and propulsive. This is what I imagine Warren playing at top volume in his car when he picks Celia up from the airport.

"The Arsonist Story," by Barbara Manning

This is a four-song cycle about a boy who does a very bad thing, told from the perspectives of the boy and his parents. There's no arson in my book, but there are children who do bad things, and families unwilling or unable to confront that. The general mood of these songs--as well as the shifting perspective—expresses the book's themes and the struggles of Celia and her parents.

"P.U.N.K. Girl/Hearts and Crosses/Dig Your Own Grave/So?" by Heavenly

Okay, so I just listed four songs from a five-song EP, but that's because this EP is a pitch-perfect evocation of the sort of yearning and betrayal that lies in the hearts of the five girls in The False Friend. On the surface the songs sound like innocent, light-hearted pop songs, an impression that's helped by Amelia Fletcher's youthful, happy voice, but listen to the lyrics and you discover something very different. The darkness that lies at the center of these pop songs mirrors the darkness that can lie at the center of seemingly innocent childhood friendships. A few of the songs here are specifically about romantic yearning and betrayal, but they also capture the pitch and intensity and seriousness of pre-romantic yearning and betrayal—the kind that occurs between girls in the few years before puberty redirects those impulses elsewhere.

"The Unloved," by The Walking Hellos

I've been a musician for as long as I've been a writer, but my music never directly influenced my writing until now. The story this song tells became the seed for the story of The False Friend. After I wrote it for my band, I realized that I wasn't done with it, and that's when I started writing the book.

Myla Goldberg and The False Friend links:

the author's website
the author's Wikipedia entry
excerpt from the book (the author reading)
excerpt from the book (audiobook excerpt)
by the book at Amazon
buy the book at WORD

Barnes and Noble Review review
Bookreporter review
Dallas Morning News review
Entertainment Weekly review
First Look Books review
Luxury Reading review
Malaysia Star review
The More You Read review
MostlyFiction Book Reviews review
New York Times review
Novel Conversations review
NPR review
San Francisco Chronicle review
Washington Post review

The Diane Rehm Show interview with the author
Fiction Writers Review interview with the author
Goodreads interview with the author
Jewcy interview with the author
The Read on WNC interview with the author
Wall Street Journal essay by the author (on gelato)

also at Largehearted Boy:

other Book Notes playlists (authors create music playlists for their book)

52 Books, 52 Weeks (weekly book reviews)
Antiheroines (interviews with up and coming female comics artists)
Atomic Books Comics Preview (weekly comics highlights)
Daily Downloads (free and legal daily mp3 downloads)
guest book reviews
Largehearted Word (weekly new book highlights)
musician/author interviews
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Shorties (daily music, literature, and pop culture links)
Soundtracked (composers and directors discuss their film's soundtracks)
Try It Before You Buy It (mp3s and full album streams from the week's CD releases)
weekly music & DVD release lists