Tuesday, April 12, 2011


SONG #17: "Long Division" by Death Cab for Cutie.

We're four songs from the end, and we've finally hit the first of the VERY IMPORTANT SONGS.

Long Division is one of my favorite songs. I'm sure I'm not the only Death Cab fan who views this as a sequel to "Your Heart is an Empty Room." It's about someone who used to run away all the time who's trying to change. Trying to stay.

This one really could have gone anywhere on the playlist. It's where it is more for mood than anything. It provides a good break between "Little Sparrow" and song #18.

But this song is hugely important, because this song is where Noah came from.

It's no secret that Noah is one of my very favorites of the characters I've written. And that might be because he was the easiest. Being inside Noah's head would have been a nightmare (and a bitch for you to read, because God that kid is angry) but his lines were always the easiest ones to write. I could space out a little while I was writing dialogue with Noah. I would start with one line and then I would just let myself run with it. Noah is smart and poetic and cynical and so incredibly affectionate, and he knows a ton about the outside world and just about nothing about himself.

And in a lot of ways, Invincible Summer is Noah's story. Claudia is the real hero--I will forever maintain that Claudia is the hero--but if the story has a tragic hero, it's absolutely Noah. And the fact that the book is in Chase's head let me have a really fun time writing Noah, because Chase absolutely adores him. I mean, fuck, Chase is sleeping with a girl in attempts to be closer to him. It's fucked-up and crazy and it is all because of this song.

This song is where I got Noah, and Melinda, and the relationship between them. This song is all of that.

So let's have a lot of text today.


His head was a city of paper buildings
And the echoes that remained
Of old friends and lovers, their features bleeding
Together in his brain

And once it'd start, it was harder to
Tell them apart

He was always distracted
By the very mention
Of an open door
'Cause he had sworn not to be what he'd been before
To be a remain remain remain remainder
To be a remain remain remain remainder

The television was snowing softly
As she hunted for her keys
She said she never envisioned him the type of person
capable of such deceit

And they carried on like long division
And it was clear with every page
That they were further away from a solution that would play
Without a remain remain remain remainder


I don't blame Noah for what happened. None of us do. I think, for a while, he was waiting for the other shoe to drop, waiting for us to lose it and finally scream at him that we were so angry and so disappointed and we wished he'd never come home that night. He used to steal my stuff every time he came over. He wouldn't be sneaky about it, and he always took stuff that I'd be sure to notice, like my favorite shirt or my toothbrush. I confronted him about it once, and he kept saying, “Why don't you tell me what you're really mad about? Why don't you tell me what the real problem is?” until I eventually told him to shut up and just stop stealing my shit. It's not as if we're still fighting about that, but that was when he stopped coming over.

I take a deep breath. I'm feeling okay about going back. Quiet, but okay. I'm feeling ready. After all, as Noah and Camus and probably Melinda—though I don't think of her much anymore—would say, "one always finds one's burden again."

--p. 242-243


1) "Turn Up The Sun" by Oasis
2) "Island in the Sun" by Weezer
3) "Just Like Heaven" by Gatsby's American Dream
4) "Bigger Than My Body" by John Mayer
5) "New Soul" by Yael Naim
6) "Across the Universe" by Rufus Wainwright
7) "Boys of Summer" by The Ataris
8) "Slang" by Def Leppard
9) "City Hall" by The Fray
10) "The Worst Part" by Motion City Soundtrack
11) "Time Won't Let Me Go" by The Bravery
12) "Hello Helicopter" by Motion City Soundtrack
13) "No One's Boy" by Marcy Playground
14) "You Can Do Better Than Me" by Death Cab for Cutie
15) "Sorry" by Pushmonkey
16) "Little Sparrow" by David Cook
17) "Long Division" by Death Cab for Cutie


ZoeAlea said...

I think this post made me love Noah even more (if that's possible).
I love this Death Cab song, though I love nearly every Death Cab song- but this one especially.

Nikki (Wicked Awesome Books) said...

This is one of my favorite Death Cab songs ever. I want to be like ZoeAlea above and have even more love for Noah after listening to this and reading your commentary on it, but I've yet to read IS. Soon though. Very soon.

Also, happy birthday!!

hannah said...

Thank you, Nikki!!