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Russell discusses a music playlist that relates to Confidence

In his own words, here is Russell Smith’s Book Notes music playlist for his short story collection Confidence:
Confidence is a suite of stories set in a large North American city (it looks like Toronto but it could be a few others too). The people in the stories tend to be educated. They are universally anxious and distracted, and yet also often struck by intimations of poignancy or pangs of yearning. I think their mood is best illustrated by modernist music: sophisticated, witty, but agitated, nervous, with moments of clanging dissonance.

If I’m not listening to this while writing, I tend to listen to minimal techno music – quite hard stuff, mostly – because it blocks the noise of coffee-shop or neighbourly stereo without the distraction of singing and words. Its repetitiveness is a kind of silence, as is white noise. Besides, I just love techno and industrial and used to go to dark clubs and do ecstasy; I loved the otherworldliness of the experience, and I still do an all-nighter about once a year. I DJ myself, in my basement, and put my menacing one-hour mixes online for Europeans to listen to. (Canadians do not like it much.) I don’t listen to any other kind of popular music.

So here are some pieces of music that I think best illuminate the mood of the modern city, and my own esthetic preferences. If I had a theme song, it would be one of these:

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Russell Smith takes a darker turn in new collection

What are you hiding from the loved ones in your life?

This is the question that Toronto writer Russell Smith explores in the stories of his new collection, Confidence. There are hidden sexual yearnings, memories of lost loves and dreams of babies and other lives that could have been lived. Everyone’s got a secret and they’re all struggling to keep those secrets hidden even as their lives fall apart, from a harried father trying to get a sex tape back to an ex-girlfriend before his wife finds out in “Raccoons” to a husband planning an amateur voyeurism site behind his wife’s back in “Gentrification.”

Listen to the podcast here

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Secrets we shouldn’t share with anyone

Everybody is hiding something, says Canadian author Russell Smith. Some secrets are enormous, others just embarrassing — and far too many are a threat to long-term, committed relationships.

For 20 years, the writer has been known for sharp and funny stories about the sex lives and naughty habits of the city’s upper crust. His latest, Confidence, zeroes in on the private lives of the aging downtown Toronto elite.

Smith joins Shad to talk shame, secrecy and his own missteps.

“People want everything at once. They want their domestic life, and they also want their wild life,” he says.

q: Do you harbour a secret that’s easier to keep than to share? Do you agree with Smith that everyone — even the open books among us — have hidden chapters? 

Listen to the podcast here