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I love music, and I love books. Can you suggest some novels that explore the sonic world?
Prescription #24: reading about music
I enjoy the representation of one art form by another, and what they’re each able to reflect on the other. When literature describes music, it invites us to think about how we might compare narrative to melody, or the relationship between lyrics and lyricism. The musician or composer is also a writer and narrator, telling stories like these.
· A concert singer is attacked in the opening pages of Jim Crace’s novel, Melody, a story framed by performances past, future and imagined.
· A cellist from Wellington leaves her London conservatorium for New York, in order to discover her Jewish refugee heritage and along with it her own music, in Sarah Laing’s Dead People’s Music.
· A mathematical genius falls in love with an Australian violinist in Orpheus Lost by Janette Turner Hospital, reimagining the Greek myth with a very modern underworld.
· A young Venetian musicologist delves into the centuries-old papers of a baroque composer and discovers scandal and intrigue in Donna Leon’s novel The Jewels of Paradise
· E Annie Proulx’s book, Accordion Crimes, has as its central protagonist a green, two-row button accordion, and also features the successive hands which play it.
· The Chimes,by Anna Smaill, is set in a society in which music and melody function as memory and identity and life is regulated and orchestrated by a vast musical instrument that renders listeners unable to form new memories.
· A pianist with a secret features in Vikram Seth’s An Equal Music, which demonstrates how a love of music can run like a passionate theme through a life.
· Nicola Barker’s central protagonist is less than H(A)PPY, despite her perfect and perfected community, and music doesn’t always provide the balance and calm she requires.
· A man, his record store, mix-tapes, and the women he has both loved and lost are the top five preoccupations of Hi Fidelity by Nick Hornby.
· The first novel by Michael Ondaatje is Coming Through Slaughter, a fictional account of the life of the New Orleans jazz pioneer, Buddy Bolden, and an exploration of the relationship between creativity and self-destruction.