Among his many talents, Daniel Handler is the master of painting the precocious youth in moments of existential peril — his alter ego is Lemony Snicket, after all, though we admit we like his lusciously written books for adults even better. In Handler’s newest novel Why We Broke Up, illustrated by the great Maira Kalman, teenagers Min and Ed have, well, just broken up. And now, “arty” girl Min is writing her basketball-playing ex a novel-length letter as to just exactly why, following the trail of their failed relationship’s trinkets and detritus — sugar bowls, ticket stubs — until she reaches the bitter end. The tale is as simple as it gets, but expertly rendered and, as far as we’re concerned completely true to the teenage experience.
We’ve all been through it, whether we’d like to admit it or not, so to ease the pain, we’ve asked Handler (who in addition to being a successful novelist just happens to be the sometime accordionist for the Magnetic Fields — who would have ever broken up with him?) to put together the ultimate playlist to help you get through any breakup, whether you’re sixteen or sixty. Click through to listen to Handler’s picks and let us know which tracks you count on to heal your own broken hearts in the comments.
The Magnetic Fields, “The Things We Did And Didn’t Do”
Summary Of Song: I am pondering every detail of our broken relationship, including some details I made up.
Sample Lyric: “All the things I knew I didn’t know and didn’t want to know, that you told me just to tell me later that you told me so, come flooding back to me now.”
Further Context: 1/69th of the classic album 69 Love Songs, on which I play accordion.
Suggested Use: Pondering ephemera from prior relationship, as in my novel Why We Broke Up, in stores now.
Internal Monolog Whilst Listening: “It is necessary and therapeutic, not pathetic and obsessive, to fondle this movie stub.”