August 18, 2015
In the Book Notes series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates in some way to their recently published book.
Ottessa Moshfegh's novel Eileen is literary noir at its finest, a dark and unsettling character study brilliantly written.
BookPage wrote of the book:
"If Shirley Jackson and Mary Gaitskill had a literary daughter, it might be Ottessa Moshfegh, whose unnerving debut is sure to garner attention."
Stream a playlist of these songs at Spotify.
Eileen might be about a mousey, miserable young secretary in a boy's prison in 1964, but I think if she and I were hanging out tonight, I'd insist we listen to some raunchy turn-of-the-millennium hip-hop.
"Forget your neurotic battles," I'd tell her. "You're tense. And you know what helps with tension? Getting laid. This is the musical equivalent."
I imagine Eileen would be stupefied at first, maybe even insulted. She'd blush and fidget and wonder if I was trying to humiliate her. I wonder if she'd think I was coming onto her. Probably. I might have to leave the room and watch her through the crack in the door…
Most of us are more Eileen Dunlop than we'd like to think: squeamish about our own perversions, judgmental of people who enjoy life shamelessly. We're all oppressed and fucked up in one way or another. Personally, I don't like feeling oppressed. I don't like feeling neurotic. Those feelings make me angry. And my anger is boring. It produces boring fiction. Boring fiction is just more oppression. So forget that. I'm here to deliver a new experience: "Get into my car, dear reader. I want to take you somewhere. I want to show you something. It may frighten you, but you might like that…" It takes real bravado to pull that off. A lot of people don't like me or my writing, but I'm not afraid of my own arrogance. The alternative—perpetual self-analysis and fear—is utterly depressing and paralyzing. Sometimes it takes a god-complex to disrupt the status quo. I like how these hip-hop artists do it: "I'm the greatest of all time."
My favorite forms of literary art are stand-up comedy and rap music. I'm not great at either (I've tried both!). So I write fiction (and other things). Although my content is often neurotic, I can't be operating from a place of angst and insecurity if I want the reader to go crazy with me. I can't expect the reader to soothe me, or correct me, or fill in the blanks where I'm too afraid to write what I need to. Lame! I like to think that great art offers up a special kind of orgasm. It may not be sexual, but it should blow your mind. When that happens to me, it's a spiritual experience. I think this happens more easily with music than any other art form because listening is not an intellectual exercise. That's one of my beefs with literature—too much brain activity. I often wish I could have been an R&B singer…
Okay, okay… The least sexy thing I can think of is some schmuck who takes herself too damn seriously. So here's my playlist for setting all this thinky shminky to the side for a minute. Tell me this shit doesn't turn you on…
LL COOL J "Doin It"
P. DIDDY, B2K "Bump, Bump, Bump"
JANET JACKSON w BUSTA RHYMES "What's It Gonna Be?"
MISSY ELLIOTT "Hot Boyz"
YO MAJESTY "Club Action"
LIL' KIM "No Matter What They Say"
AALIYA ft. DMX "Come Back In One Piece"
TIMBALAND AND MAGOO ft. SHAUNTA MONTGOMERY + PLAYA "Luv 2 Luv U"
50 CENT "Candy Shop"
EVE ft GWEN STEFANI "Let Me Blow Ya Mind"
BUSTA RHYMES ft. P DIDDY "Pass the Courvoisier Part I"
MISSY ELLIOTT "Get Ur Freak On"
JUVENILE "Slow Motion"
Ottessa Moshfegh and Eileen links:
also at Largehearted Boy:
Book Notes (2015 - ) (authors create music playlists for their book)
Book Notes (2012 - 2014) (authors create music playlists for their book)
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my 11 favorite Book Notes playlist essays
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