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March 10, 2020

Leesa Cross-Smith's Playlist for Her Story Collection "So We Can Glow"

So We Can Glow

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, Roxane Gay, and many others.

Leesa Cross-Smith's masterful storytelling is evident in her collection So We Can Glow, the characters crisply written and fully empathetic to the reader.

The New York Times wrote of the book:

"Though the 42 stories here often masquerade as slices of domestic life, the scale of the emotional trajectories is treated with the weight of the epic. They are sexy and sly. The dialogue winks and sparks on the page, making every story feel like a flirt. The collection overloads the senses . . . Cross-Smith's descriptions are filled with equal amounts of violence and tenderness . . . Throughout, characters from earlier stories reappear to nudge us in the ribs, these rewarding inside jokes building depth and resonance. It is the strength of the female characters, though, that truly binds this collection together . . . The woman throughout this collection are constantly being revealed by a powerful inner light."

In her own words, here is Leesa Cross-Smith's Book Notes music playlist for her story collection So We Can Glow:

“California” by Joni Mitchell
“Put Your Records On” by Corinne Bailey Rae
“My Boyfriend’s Back” by The Chiffons
“Run The World (Girls)” by Beyoncé
“These Boots Are Made For Walkin’” by Nancy Sinatra
“Unpretty” by TLC and “No Scrubs” by TLC
“This Is What Makes Us Girls” by Lana Del Rey
“Point of No Return” by Exposé
“Truth Hurts” by Lizzo
“Love is a Battlefield” by Pat Benatar
“Not About Love” by Fiona Apple
“Bossy” by Kelis
“Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)” by Kate Bush
“I’m a Woman” by Koko Taylor
“Naughty Girls (Need Love Too)” by Samantha Fox
“Who Is This God” by Alli Rogers
“Take A Bow” by Rihanna
“Closer” by Tegan and Sara
“Work It” by Missy Elliott
“A Fine Romance” by Marilyn Monroe
“Stay (I Missed You”) by Lisa Loeb

So We Can Glow is a collection of stories I’ve been working on since around 2010 and here we are in 2020! It’s a mix of flash fiction and short stories, some experimental. There is a story written as a hotel receipt and there are text messages and a play/script and emails, too. In the back of the book I include a looong list of inspirations: women, men, stories, books, TV shows, movies, etc that add to the heartbeat of these stories/my book. I’ve selected these tracks to represent a bit of all of that: the stories and the inspirations. My book is soaked in sunshine, summers, nostalgia and girlhood, motherhood, desire. Bad decisions and recklessness and a slow crawl to okay. There’s a lot of 80s/90s-ishness and a lot of California too.

So We Can Glow is Lana Del Rey singing this is what makes us girls and Beyoncé and Nancy Sinatra and Lisa Loeb and Exposé and TLC and Marilyn Monroe and Tegan and Sara and Missy Elliott and Kelis. Fiona Apple singing this is not about love ‘cause I am not in love, in fact I can’t stop falling out. Fiona Apple everything. Women gut-singing their hearts and heartbreaks and triumphs. The whole mess. Even making a playlist like this is nostalgic for me! I loved so many of these songs growing up and now I get to make a mix for you. Reminds me so much of staying up late putting mixes together, making sure songs fit on the tape without running over.

So We Can Glow is Rihanna singing you’re so ugly when you cry in “Take a Bow” and The Chiffons warning you their boyfriend’s back and Alli Rogers singing about God and Samantha Fox singing about naughty girls needing love too. So We Can Glow is Koko Taylor and Kate Bush wailing about being a woman and singing about women running up that hill. So We Can Glow is Pat Benatar and the choreography to “Love is a Battlefield.” So We Can Glow is Joni Mitchell’s sunny, glowy California and Joni asking earnestly, will you take me as I am, strung out on another man? And will you take me as I am over and over again as a question until she finally commands us: take me as I am. So We Can Glow is Lizzo too because truth hurts, needed something more exciting. So We Can Glow is Corinne Bailey Rae singing I hope you get your dreams in “Put Your Records On,” a thread running through all of my work, always, no matter how dark it gets, because hope is a thing with feathers and I hope you get your dreams. I do! So we can glow!

Leesa Cross-Smith is a homemaker and the author of Every Kiss A War and Whiskey & Ribbons. She lives in Kentucky with her husband and children.

also at Largehearted Boy:

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Largehearted Boy playlist by the author for Every Kiss A War
Largehearted Boy playlist by the author for Whiskey & Ribbons

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