Drawing on themes from her debut EP, the Brooklyn-based musician selects four texts that illustrate the humor and the beauty of everyday experiences
Released under the moniker sadie, the debut EP of Brooklyn-based producer and songwriter Anna Schwab is both lyrically and sonically a product of the digital age. On Nowhere, the small moments of euphoria and agony in everyday experiences are exaggerated into computer-warped hyperpop songs: “Think I’ll get it all right / Then it’s over,” she sings on the EP’s titular track, imagining the art of 21st-century romance as a form of gameplay.
Equally a product of the era of computerized music and of the historic ‘sad girl’ pop of Kate Bush and SOPHIE, sadie’s autotuned hooks, twitchy double time, and distorted basses create melancholic dance tracks suitable for both tearful bedside introspections and the joie de vivre of car ride screamalongs.
For Document, the musician curates a selection of books that similarly lean into the awe of the ordinary, finding the humor and beauty of passing moments.
Speedboat by Renata Adler
“Adler’s prose is fast and sharp and reading Speedboat is one long head rush. Written through the eyes of Jen Fain, a journalist living in New York City, the book is an elliptical collage of her wry, idiosyncratic observations of the world. For me, reading it is a chance to chuckle at life’s strangeness and absurdity.”
The Scent of Buenos Aires by Hebe Uhart
“When I read Uhart, I feel a renewed sense of awe in the ordinary, and of the people around me. Whether she’s describing the particular way ivy climbs up a wall, a talking parrot, or a homeowners association meeting, Uhart’s gaze is piercing and eccentric. The Paris Review sums it up better than I can: ‘Hebe Uhart trains her eye on the things we witness so often that eventually we stop seeing them… How we move, how we walk, how we keep quiet: that is what Uhart observes in each of us. But also how we pause, how we sneeze, what onomatopoeias we use, how our being is revealed through everyday gestures that at times can contradict the ideas we claim to hold.’”
Enormous Changes at the Last Minute by Grace Paley
“These are lyrical, profound stories of the everyday lives of mothers, husbands and wives, and families. I will always return to these stories. They are so beautifully human. Paley says so much in such a short space; her prose packs a real punch. She can sum up a life, a relationship, a marriage, in just one sentence. She’s truly remarkable.”
Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders
“A bizarre, wonderful, achingly profound book. In part, it’s a portrait of Abraham Lincoln as he grieves for his son Willie, who has died of typhoid fever. After spending one night in a Georgetown cemetery, Lincoln returns to the crypt to hold his son’s body one last time. What makes this book truly special is its chorus of ghosts that guides us through the graveyard. They’re all stuck in the ‘Bardo,’ the liminal space between life and death, because they’re unable to let go of their regrets, guilt, and anxieties—the things that made them miserable while alive. For me, the ghosts’ proclivity for misery is instructional, serving as a reminder of how easily everyday life is eclipsed by our worries, desires, and preoccupations. At the risk of sounding cheesy, the book is ultimately a powerful and painful reminder of our own limited, precious time on this earth and the way choose to spend it.”