Mix-Tape Mondays: It’s All an Illusion

I’m not really sure why I keep posting the


playlist for a book before I’ve reviewed it, but I have two theories:

a) Making a mix-tape for a novel helps me process my thoughts so that I’m able to write about it coherently. A lot of the books I have trouble making a mix-tape for, that I didn’t hate outright, end up never getting reviewed here. I have a solid backlog of unwritten reviews in my drafts.

b) A novelist gets a whole book to create a feeling. It’s easier for me to accurately express the feelings a novel gave me in a playlist than in a 500-word blurb.

It’s probably a little bit of both. In any case, the subject of this Mix-Tape Monday is a novel that gave me lots of complex feelings.

Museum of Intangible Things

1. “Leaving Town” – Chicane

An atmospheric electronic track that captures Hannah’s feelings of attachment and ambivalence toward her hometown. Some part of her knows she won’t have anything good unless she leaves, the rest of her keeps shooting out roots.

2. “Of the Night” – Bastille

Early on best friends Hannah and Zoe attend a party at which they are out of their element. This distorted cover of a 90s party anthem touches both the surreality and underlying ugliness of the scene.

3. “Holding on for Life” – Broken Bells

At first blush Zoe appears to be the glamorous, uninhibited, sometimes careless friend that dazzles responsibility-burdened Hannah into dreaming bigger and reaching higher. Sometimes bland literary girls have Manic Pixie Dream Girls for friends, but this is not that. Hannah is not bland, and Zoe has her own burdens.

4. “Intriguing Possibilities” – Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross

Zoe’s situation has become critical. Something is going to give, either the girls will make a move or it will be made for them.

5. “This Head I Hold” – Electric Guest

The beginning of their grand adventure, careening around New York practicing intangible qualities.

6. “PONPONPON” – Kyary Pamu Pamu

I picked a Japanese song because Hannah is out of her depth. She can’t keep up or even fathom what’s going on with Zoe, but she’s sticking with her. This song is an intentionally childish-sounding tune about looking at the world with wonderment, what Zoe is trying to cultivate in Hannah in between dealing with her own careening mind.

7. “She’s Not There” – The Zombies

There comes a point at which Hannah realizes she can’t change the course of what’s happening. It’s beyond her experience, and beyond her control. All she can do is love her friend. This song has a bit of a forlorn sound that I associate with driving through the desert at night.

8. “What Was I Thinkin” – Dierks Bentley

Dakota to Vegas and the moment Hannah finally breaks loose.

9. “I Will Follow You Into the Dark” – Death Cab for Cutie

A song for friendship.

10. “The Lightning Strike” – Snow Patrol

The denouement


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