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June 4, 2019

David Huddle's Playlist for His Novel "Hazel"


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 Jesmyn Ward, Lauren Groff, Bret Easton Ellis, Celeste Ng, T.C. Boyle, Dana Spiotta, Amy Bloom, Aimee Bender, Heidi Julavits, Hari Kunzru, and many others.

David Huddle's novel Hazel is a multi-faceted and fascinating glimpse of one woman's life.

In his own words, here is David Huddle's Book Notes music playlist for his novel Hazel:

“The Star Spangled Banner”
Vivaldi’s Concerto for Two Trumpets
Martha & the Vandellas’ “Dancing in the Streets”
Paul Simon’s “The Boxer”
A quick-spinning little jig out on a meadow to no music whatsoever

The opening chapter of Hazel has the protagonist, at age 15, witnessing an equally youthful singer finding her confidence in singing the national anthem at a local Golden Gloves Boxing event. Without realizing it at the time, Hazel nevertheless begins the ongoing project of figuring out who she is. Hazel’s identity is essentially the major issue of Hazel’s life throughout the novel.

An early chapter in Hazel is “Concerto,” which is about a high school boy and girl being assigned to play Vivaldi’s Concerto for Two Trumpets for their band’s recital occasion. Though they’re both members of the band, Hazel and Carter are diametrical opposites when it comes to personality and their social positions in their high school. Hazel is quiet and shy and keeps a low profile, whereas Carter is a personable, ambitious, and somewhat conceited boy who imagines that he has a bright future ahead of him. Their rehearsals of the Vivaldi piece require them to spend several hours by themselves in a soundproof practice room, which situation causes them both to experience life-changing aspects of themselves and each other.

A crucial scene in the chapter titled “How Hazel Killed the One Good Thing” is that of Hazel witnessing Forrest Garrison, her lover, dancing with two young women to “Dancing in the Streets” in the West End, a bar on the Upper West Side of New York. Hazel is so disturbed by the sight that she tries to break up with Forrest by persuading him that she is a horrible person--which conversation compels him to blurt, “You do realize that I love you, don’t you?!”

In “Ms. Hicks in Hell,” Hazel is struggling with her misery and isolation after she and Forrest break up, and the lyrics that describe her hopelessness are these lines from Paul Simon’s “The Boxer”: “I come lookin' for a job, / But I get no offers, / Just a come-on from the whores on 7th Avenue. / I do declare, there were times when I was so lonesome / I took some comfort there.” Hazel commits a startling act that on the surface of it appears to be destructive but that actually helps her make her escape from her personal “hell.”

The final chapter of Hazel ends with nine-year-old Hazel dancing a quick jig out on a meadow with her sixteen-year- old camp craft teacher. There’s no audible music in this scene, but the little dance they do is a silent articulation of their interior joy that asserts itself by way Hazel Hicks and Claire Wilson’s dance.

David Huddle and Hazel links:

excerpt from the book
excerpt from the book

also at Largehearted Boy:

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Book Notes (2015 - ) (authors create music playlists for their book)
Book Notes (2012 - 2014) (authors create music playlists for their book)
Book Notes (2005 - 2011) (authors create music playlists for their book)
my 11 favorite Book Notes playlist essays

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