The Stand by Stephen King / “Red Right Hand” by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
Stephen King is a notorious music aficionado, and he often adds soundtracks to his books in the form of music within the story. However, even when he doesn’t, his dark, evocative tales of terror inspire certain moods. The Stand is the tale of a plague and the supernatural threat that follows in the form of Randall Flagg, embodiment of all human evil. Flagg is a master at convincing mortals to bargain away their souls in exchange for luxuries or security, and as such, strongly evokes the haunting melody “Red Right Hand” by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. Listen and tremble.
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath / “Where Is My Mind” by the Pixies
“Where Is My Mind” is best known for being the theme song to Fight Club, the nineties movie about men fighting masculinity by fighting other men and…yeah, it kind of breaks down once you start to think about it. Personally, I think it would have been a much better pairing with The Bell Jar, where Plath’s protagonist struggles against her own looming insanity.
Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood / “Evelyn” by Kim Tillman and Silent Film
Chronicling both the aftermath of a disaster and a twisted love triangle involving genetic engineering, Oryx and Crake will rock you a little. What does it mean to be human when humanity can build itself better? Can we engineer away our baser urges and destructive instincts? Protagonist Crake thinks so, but, of course, the reader – and Kim Tillman – may be less optimistic by the end.
The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon / “Viva la Vida” by Coldplay
Most people don’t read Decline these days unless they have to for a class, and that’s a shame. There’s a reason it’s a classic! Rome was the original blueprint for Western society, and we basically still follow their model. Reading about it can be…well, a little spooky. “Viva la Vida” could broadly apply to French, British, or American imperial ambitions, but it all comes down to Rome in the end.