Sloane Crosley Made Us a Playlist Paired With Her New Novel
Hrishikesh Hirway is the Los Angeles composer and musician behind the podcast Song Exploder (which can also be found at WIRED). In a new series, Imaginary Soundtracks, he’ll speak to notable creators—writers, filmmakers, and artists—about the music that, in their minds, goes along with their work.
After two collections of essays, both New York Times bestsellers, Sloane Crosley has written her first novel, The Clasp. I asked her about the book, and which songs she would choose to go along with it.
What’s your version of the book’s synopsis?
It’s a story about a group of three friends who reunite at a wedding after being estranged for about ten years post-college. One of them, Victor, the most sort of Job- and Eeyore-like amongst them, falls asleep drunk on the mother of the groom’s bed, and wakes up to the mother of the groom telling him this crazy story about a missing necklace. He ends up becoming obsessed with the idea of hunting down this piece of missing jewelry. That takes these three friends—two guys and a girl, who are also in a love triangle—from Miami to LA to New York to Paris, and eventually all converging around a certain spot in Normandy, France. So it’s a like comedy of manners! [Laughs.] But it’s funny!
If the book had a mixtape, What’s the song that plays when you first start reading? What’s the music for the opening scene?
The opening scene takes place at a very over-the-top lavish wedding in Miami, and so unfortunately, the music is probably gonna be like “Brown-Eyed Girl” or, like… I don’t know what people play at weddings. [Laughs.] Not something good. Not that “Brown-Eyed Girl” is bad, but I think we all get the point by now.
But, what’s going on through the main character’s mind while this music is playing is probably “Cat People” by David Bowie.
Why is that?
I’m thinking of the lyric, “I’ve been putting out the fire with gasoline.” There’s something sort of menacing about it. He’s sort of depressed; he feels like he’s on the edge, or on the outside, and he’s sort of on the verge of revolting from that role. He doesn’t want to be everyone’s punching bag anymore, and the seeds of that are being planted in the beginning of the scene, in the beginning of the book.
I don’t really see him as a Bowie fan, but anyway. So there’s Victor. And there’s Nathaniel, who is a very good-looking screenwriter in LA, and then there’s Kezia, and she is second-in-command to a sort of madwoman jewelry designer in Manhattan.
And so what songs would you assign to the two of them?
Maybe “Fuck and Run” by Liz Phair. [Laughs.] To Nathaniel. Yeah. I’m giving him “Fuck and Run.”
Is he a Lothario?
Uhh, yeah. [Laughs.] Also, there’s a moment in his introductory chapter where he says something about, “You’ve never loved a member of the opposite sex in approximately ever.” And I think of that line, you know: “I can feel it in my bones / I’m gonna spend my whole life alone.”
I want to give [Kezia] something that is so wonderful. There’s something very upbeat about her. But I’m going to give her “A Case of You” by Joni Mitchell. I feel like that’s who she is inside, especially since she’s in love with Nathaniel. And she knows he’s going to hurt her, he might hurt her. She knows all the stuff about him, but she’s still willingly is sort of in love with him, which is very much I think what “A Case of You” is about.
Without spoilers, what’s the music for the closing scene?
I think “Book of Love” by Magnetic Fields. There’s a line, you know “The book of love is long and boring,” and “Some of it is just transcendental / some of it is just really dumb.” There’s something in the tone of that, about this combination of hope and realism, that I think matches the end of the novel pretty well.
The Clasp comes out Oct. 6. You can read an excerpt of it of Medium, and you can listen to all the songs discussed below in a Spotify playlist.