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December 8, 2011

Book Notes - Sara Levine "Treasure Island!!!"

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

Previous contributors include Bret Easton Ellis, Kate Christensen, Kevin Brockmeier, George Pelecanos, Dana Spiotta, Amy Bloom, David Peace, Myla Goldberg, and many others.

Sara Levine's debut novel Treasure Island!!! is one of the funniest books of the year, and its unreliable narrator one of the year's most memorable protagonists. Post-college and stuck in a series of dead-end jobs, she adopts Robert Louis Stevenson's classic Treasure Island as her self-help guide to madcap consequences.

This book deserves more exclamation points in its title.

Adam Levin wrote of the book:

"Had Grace Paley spent her youth hanging out with Larry David, listening to the Ramones, and reading Stanley Elkin, she'd have probably written something like Treasure Island!!! It's fast-paced and intimate, as warm at its center as its surface is mean, and funny, funny, funny. I love it. By the end of next week, I'll have read it three times."

Stream a Spotify playlist of these tunes. If you don't have Spotify yet, sign up for the free service.

In her own words, here is Sara Levine's Book Notes music playlist for her debut novel, Treasure Island!!!:

My novel Treasure Island!!! feeds the calm, considered, objective voice of prose realism to the dogs. (Specifically, the poodles.) The book is about a 25-year-old woman who works in a Pet Library, renting lackluster animals to people who can't commit full-time to a pet. She's the underachiever in her family and unsure of where she's headed. When Robert Louis Stevenson's juvenile classic falls into her lap, she thinks she's found her compass. When had she ever dreamed a scheme? When had she ever done a foolish, over-bold act? When had she ever, like Jim Hawkins, broke from her friends, raced for the beach, stolen a boat, killed a man, or eliminated an obstacle that stood in the way of her getting a hunk of gold? Lit up by the novel, the protagonist aims to become a hero of her own life. Where she had been timid, she will be bold; where she had been parasitic, she will be independent; where she had been modest, she will blow her own horn. It wouldn't be the worst game plan, if she were in any way capable of differentiating boldness from flaming aggression.

My song list mirrors the novel's tones: satirical, nostalgic, girly, manic, entertaining, campy, and over the top. It's no accident that I feature women singing solo; the novel is a giddy performance of self, a meditation on nihilistic wiles of the self-insulating ego. And did I mention, it's a comedy?

Kate Bush: "Sat in Your Lap"

Wouldn't it be nice if knowledge just sat in your lap? I also like the video featuring dunces, jesters, and Bush in a satin white tutu.

Blondie: "Rip Her To Shreds"

Attitude. Because while we aspire to sisterhood, we don't always come up to the mark.

Nina Simone: "My Baby Just Cares For Me"

For the brief stint of happiness when the narrator moves into her boyfriend's apartment. This is after the acquisition of the parrot, but before the credit card trouble. If only such love could last...

Bette Midler: "Leader of the Pack"

I am fascinated by covers in general, but where do I begin? This is the Shangri-Las' song on steroids.

Jennifer Holliday: "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going"

Determination, strength, and bulldozer-like desperation. Please substitute “book" for "man” in the lyric: "You're the best man I've ever known." This song moves me every time I hear it.

Patsy Cline: "Your Cheating Heart"

Intimate, ravishing, impeccably controlled. And incidentally, it's all his fault.

Lotte Lenya: "Pirate Jenny"

No sea shanties. No nautical tunes. But a woman's contempt, rage, and homicidal impulses cross-dressed as a pirate plot? Absolutely.

Sara Levine and Treasure Island!!! links:

the author's website

Bibliophile By the Sea review
DBC Reads review
Kirkus Reviews review
Library Journal review
Muse at Highway Speeds review

Chicago Sun-Times interview with the author

also at Largehearted Boy:

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

List of Online "Best Books of 2011" Lists
List of 2011 Year-End Online Music Lists

100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads
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