By Mark Grube ~ Posted Tue, 07/15/2008 - 9:18am
Movies have 'em. Why not books?
I was already sold on Willy Vlautin's "Northline." Something about the black and white cover shot got me. But then I saw a CD in the back. The novel comes with its own soundtrack.
The story is bleak, with damaged characters and sparse writing. The music fits. It has the same feel as Ry Cooder's soundtrack for the terrific Wim Wenders film "Paris, Texas." There are lots of parallels between the two stories. In each, a woman escapes a bad relationship and tries to establish a new life for herself, and a man holds the title location in his heart as a place where everything might work out someday.
In the back of the book, Vlautin explains how the soundtrack idea came about. He began to really like his main character. He worried about her and when bad stuff happened to her he'd get depressed. So he took breaks from writing and played guitar. After a while he realized he was still thinking about the story. The tunes were about "Northline," too. So he recorded them with members of his band, Richmond Fontaine. Their last record has a similar sound, except with vocals (and help from Neko Case and members of Calexico). Anyway, Willy sums up his thoughts about the soundtrack with this: "Maybe the music will help the novel stay alive a bit longer."
Music can do that...help things stay alive.