The big line on Laura Huntt Foti’s debut novel, The Cusp of Everything is that it is the first book to come with its own soundtrack. The idea is for Kindle Fire, iPad, and other online device readers to simultaneously stream the music from www.cuspofeverything.com while they read the book. It is an intriguing proposition, as music infuses the novel. In fact, to be honest, the references are almost overwhelming. The author says that she got the idea while reading Keith Richards’ autobiography, Life. I understand completely what she is saying, I too found myself putting on various Stones albums while reading his remembrances.
In the interest of full disclosure, I did not read the book as Foti envisioned though. I simply read it as a novel. The book takes place during the year between July, 1975, and July, 1976. Many (but not all) of the songs cited were big radio hits. So, sorry — but since I was close to the age of the protagonist at the time, I was intimately familiar with most of the songs anyway. For example, the very first one mentioned is “Love Will Keep Us Together,” by The Captain and Tennille. I wonder if there a person who was alive in the mid-seventies who does not have that particularly annoying ditty tattooed on their brain?
Evidently Laura Huntt Foti has worked in and around music for most of her professional career, so her choices are pretty hip, where appropriate. It’s kind of like what Steven Van Zandt had to say about the music of The Sopranos. Considering that Tony and Carmela were in high school in the late seventies, early eighties, their classic-rock has to reflect that. Unfortunately, this meant stuff like REO Speedwagon and Journey. Sopranos guru David Chase said that the show had to be true to what (they) would have listened to, and Van Zandt’s response was basically, “Yes, but that means a lot of crappy songs.” As the “Love Will Keep Us Together” citation shows, it was definitely a similar situation in the mid-seventies as well.
So let’s table the music portion of the novel for now, and discuss the story itself. The Cusp of Everything is the perfect title for a book which takes place in the mid-seventies. For those of us coming of age at that time, we really had no idea of the huge societal changes ahead of us. The use of the word “everything” is important though, because the changes ahead are very, very personal as well.