Modest Mouse and modern lit

I had never heard of Modest Mouse, but was gifted “No One’s First, and You’re Next” on December 25th by an aunt1 who’d perused my CD collection and though I’d like them.

She was right, I instantly loved their jangly, up- and off-beat indie rock sound. “The Whale Song” was all she promised it would be, but “Guilty Cocker Spaniels” and especially “Autumn Beds” were the two that stuck in my brain and refused to leave, and which I’d find myself humming and tapping, all a-jangle at inopportune moments.

I ended up buying another of their CDs, an earlier one called “Good News for People Who Love Bad News“, and listening to it realized I’d heard “Float On” before, after all.2 Then suddenly they were everywhere, at least, I suddenly seemed to recognize their presence in a way I hadn’t before.

Reading Zoe Whittall‘s excellent Holding Still for as Long as Possible in January I got excited when one of the characters put on one of their CDs. I know them! I thought it was nifty, but a fluke.

Then they turned up again in the book I just finished reading, A Gate at the Stairs by Lorrie Moore.3 Tassie Kantji is twenty, a student, utterly lost, and also a bassist. She plays (unnamed) Modest Mouse songs quite a bit.

Modest Mouse formed in 1993, which doesn’t seem that long ago,4 but at the same time they’re hardly new. Both of these books were published recently, in late 2009, even so, it seems a little strange that of the books I’ve read this year, two of them would reference this band.

Is it a demographic thing?5 Am I now old?6 Or is it just synchronicity?

  1. She’s actually a step-aunt, as she’s my Grandfather’s wife’s daughter, though she’s only a few months older than me. As such, it seems hilarious to call her “aunt”. “Step-aunt” sounds unnecessarily remote. []
  2. I frequently hear music I like, then promptly forget the name of the band. I need to own CDs, see the case, the CD, the artwork, the lyrics to get the whole gestalt and remember things properly. Perhaps that’s why I’m so attached to books, too. They’re things. Lots of abstract ephemera, but I can remember that Zoe Whitthall wrote Holding Still for as Long as Possible because it has a white dustjacket with splashes of colour and a big red circle…but we’re coming to that. []
  3. Also a gift, and another excellent book. Although Moore overuses exclamation points. Every would-be humorous sentence is exciting! You can get used to it! Or despair! []
  4. It can’t possibly be seventeen years, the math is wrong. Surely? []
  5. In pursuing our refinancing options with a mortgage broker, after comparing housing prices in the area we fell to discussing iPhone apps. My husband later explained that this was because that’s who’s using them: thirty-somethings. Like he was. No longer were we talking to Adults or Authorities. We’d become these people. []
  6. No longer able to cling to the “mid-twenties” as a reasonable age description, I must now check the 25-34 box on forms. I even have grey hair. I’ve seen it. []