The Porcupine of Truth – The Playlist

When I want to feel closer to Carson and Aisha, I play this playlist, which tells the story of The Porcupine of Truth pretty nicely. The retro feel of this is pretty much in line with Carson and Aisha’s eclectic tastes, and a couple of the songs are actually featured in the novel.

1. I Am a Rock – Simon & Garfunkel

“I am a rock, I am an island.”

As the book starts, Carson is a rock. He opens himself up to nothing, and he protects himself from every sort of pain, mostly through humor.

2. Out of My League – Fitz & The Tantrums

“Forty days and forty nights/I’ve waited for a girl like you to come and safe my life.”

Then Carson meets Aisha, who is, in fact, a bit out of his league. He has trouble believing that she would even have the time of day for someone like him.

3. Cats in the Cradle – Harry Chapin

“When you comin’ home, son, I don’t know when, but we’ll get together then.”

Carson meets his father for the first time in 14 years, and it doesn’t go well.

4. Humpty Dumpty – Aimee Mann

“Better take the keys and drive forever/Staying won’t put these pieces back together/All the perfect drugs, and superheroes/Wouldn’t be enough to bring me up to zero.”

Carson’s dad is a hopeless addict, and he doesn’t have the skills or filter to reconcile with the son he abandoned all those years ago.

5. Center of Attention – Guster

“My own little world is what I deserve/’Cause I am the only child there is.”

Carson constructs his own little world to defend against all the things that hurt him.

6. The Way – Me’Shell Ndegeocello

“They say you’re the way, the light/The light so blinding/Your followers condemn me, your words used to enslave me.”

Aisha tells Carson the story of her religious father kicking her out of the house for being a lesbian. She’s lost her faith.

7. Diversity – Family of the Year

“I can’t believe no one’s started yelling at me yet.”

Carson can’t believe that his family is so willing to allow him to bring Aisha home to stay with them. He sees it as a lack of caring.

8. The Way – Fastball

“Where were they going without ever knowing the way?”

Carson and Aisha set off to solve a 30-year-old family mystery.

9. Ol’ 55 – Sarah McLaughlin

“Freeway’s causing trust.”

The highways first bring conflict to the two, but soon Carson and Aisha begin to bond even closer than they already had.

10. Q.U.E.E.N. – Janelle Monae

“Hey brother can you save my soul from the devil? And is it weird to like the way she wear her tights?”

Aisha comes face to face with homophobia, something Carson had never dealt with before.

11. Changes – David Bowie

“And these children that you spit on as they try to change their worlds/Are immune to your consultations/They’re quite aware what they’re going through.”

Carson and Aisha experience Western America for themselves and come to question the world in which they live.

12. Call and Answer – Barenaked Ladies

“If you call, I will answer/And if you fall, I’ll pick you up.”

Carson gets a call from his father, who begins to make amends for all the lost years.

13. Still Fighting It – Ben Folds

“You’re so much like me. I’m sorry.”

Carson begins to understand the ways in which he is like his father and grandfather, and he worries about what that means for his own life.

14. Won’t Give In – Finn Brothers

“What does it mean when you belong to someone/When you’re born with a name and you carry it on? It means that I won’t give in, won’t give in, won’t give in. ‘Cause everyone I love is here.”

Carson begins to see the good that goes with the bad of having his father’s (and grandfather’s) blood.

15. Laughing With – Regina Spektor

“No one laughs at God in a hospital, no one laughs at God in a war.”

Carson and Aisha find themselves in danger on the streets of Reno, Nevada, with no money and no way to get help.

16. The Last Song – Elton John

“I guess I misjudged love, between a father and his son.”

Carson finds his grandfather, and all of the mysteries and the gulfs between the two fathers and their sons become more clear.

17. The Story – Brandi Carlile

“All of these lines across my face/tell you the story of who I am.”

A new character emerges, helping Carson and Aisha understand the past as well as the present in a new way.

18. House of Love – Amy Grant

“You think you’re in your darkest hour/When the lights are coming on in the house of love.”

Aisha faces her biggest fears, and new possibilities emerge.

19. You’re My Best Friend – Queen

“Ooh, you make me live.”

The power of true friendship has transformed the lives of Carson, Aisha, and those around them.