Utilizing as a psychological backdrop the architecture of New York City and the monumental landscape of the Rocky Mountains, An Uncertain Modernity explores the strained marriage between an unfaithful couple; Thom, a successful novelist, and his wife Simone, a professional for a law firm.


After visiting with a dying friend, the couple moves to a book signing, where Simone runs into an old lover. Following the signing, their night grows increasingly extreme and jarring when they stop by a private club in the Village. They watch nude performance art, witness the aftermath of murder, and then appear for an after event party (which is as extreme as anything New York has to offer and where they become separated), at a gallery in Chelsea. At dawn, when they have both returned to the hotel, Simone has had an affair, and Thom after wandering drunk through the city has reached an intellectual epiphany when conversing with a homeless man. Emotionally distraught, Simone leaves.


Thom escapes to a villa in the Rockies where, after meeting a model, they go for a drive in the mountains, almost crash into a dead elk, see a raging forest fire, get caught in a sudden downpour, and then have awkward sex in a sports car that’s too small. When they return, the villa has been transformed for a large party. The story follows Thom as he maneuvers through the surreal landscape of the wealthy and privileged. He overhears and participates in extreme conversations and interactions before viewing a performance of a young girl manifesting stigmata. He meets a woman and discovers she is clairvoyant. They speak about existence, and Thom unburdens himself of his many doubts. Thom realizes the trip has been a mistake and leaves. The storm that had been building was quick but destructive, and the party looks like a disaster zone. As he leaves, Thom sees a young girl with whom he spoke earlier in the night, and who for him represents the possibilities and choices everyone has in life.


The story explores the relationship between the characters and their surroundings, and the influence environment can inflict upon choice and action. It explores obsessive sexuality, the uncertainty of emotion, and anxiety regarding the modern world. Since the characters are unable to communicate honestly with themselves, they are unable to communicate or connect honestly with others. This lack of connection perpetuates a consistent need the character’s feel to escape not only their environment but their lives and selves.


Finding its influence from Italian modernist cinema of the 1960s, An Uncertain Modernity is a critique of the modern malaise and contemporary alienation that afflicts both the couple’s relationship and current society.




Books aren’t known for their soundtracks. The concept seems antithetical to how both a book, as well as a soundtrack, function. In cinema, a song is used to enhance specific sequences or series of images. The combination of both visual and audio elements work together to tell a larger, deeper, and complete story than either of the two elements can convey independently. But, because of the nature of how a book is experienced - i.e. it is read, and usually, over a matter of days, if not weeks, or even months - a soundtrack for a book by necessity must function in its unique way.


The foundational premise remains the same; a soundtrack is a collection of musical compositions meant to accompany, work with, and enhance, to create a complete story, than the book can convey on its own.


Some questions one might respectfully present are whether or not the soundtrack was created along with the composition of the novel, or was it conceived after the fact? How much thought was placed into the music chosen and its relevance to the story? And how should one listen to the soundtrack?


Finding its influence from Italian and European modernist cinema of the late 1950s and early 1960s An Uncertain Modernity was always intended to have an accompanying soundtrack since, when writing the novel, it was imagined as a film from that time and in that style.


Very early on, when the novel was its two main characters and a few scenes, I was listening to Luc Ferrari’s Interrupteur, and knew that it was the sound of the novel. From there, as the novel unfolded, so too did the choices for musical compositions. As I did research, the path for the soundtrack took many different routes. When the soundtrack reached its final sequencing, Luc Ferrari’s Interrupteur was the only choice, from the original list of options, which remained. That is because Interrupteur, more than any other music, is the sound of the novel.


The soundtrack can be listened to on its own or while reading, or however one might like. Unlike cinema, no specific song is meant to accompany a specific sequence in the book. Instead, the soundtrack is intended to create mood and atmosphere.








Interrupteur 1 by Luc Ferrari


Interrupteur 2 by Luc Ferrari


Nebula Theory by Matthew Shipp


Das Buch Der Klange III by Hans Otte


De Natura Sonoris II by Krzysztof Penderecki


Mutation V: Automata by Vijay Iyer


Lux Aeterna by Gyorgy Ligeti


L2RC by Asmus Tietchens


Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima by Krzysztof Penderecki


Biotop by Asmus Tietchens


Atmospheres by Gyorgy Ligeti


Das Buch Der Klange I by Hans Otte


All Copyright Michael P. Toussaint 2017