THE SOLOIST – “Talking to Books”

January 20, 2012

The Soloist by Mark Salzman, 1995

Vintage, 284 pages, $15

I often sit around and talk to my TV, so I thought why not talk to the books I read too. Their content might even answer:

JOHN: Here’s a book that’s kind of Steve Martin’s The Lonely Guy meets 12 Angry Men. Why should I care about a cellist who can’t perform, the jury trial of a Buddhist who kills his guru, a forty-year-old guy virgin who is clueless around women?

THE SOLOIST: Because I pull you into music by having the narrator teach a young Korean boy (and you) something about it, because the murder (the narrator is on the jury) mirrors the psychological state of the cellist and because most guys reading a book a book at night are clueless around women.

JOHN: Can you give me a specific example of how this works.

THE SOLOIST: Listen to this and see if Renne doesn’t ask questions a reader wants answers to that stand up outside the story:

“Maybe if you starve yourself and don’t talk or move for a long time you do go into some kind of trance, but what would the point be? Sleeping is an even better trance because you disappear completely for a few hours. We all do that every night, so why try so hard to do it in the daytime? Then there’s the fact that we all die anyway; no matter what we do, we’re all going to experience the ultimate trance, so what’s the rust to imitate it? You don’t see animals forcing themselves into unnatural postures and then trying not to move for hours.”

JOHN: So how can this book (no matter how enjoyable) come to some kind of resolution?

THE SOLOIST: With the cellist playing for his new cat in the dark each night. Who cares if it makes sense, isn’t that a wonderful image.

Buy this directly from Amazon for $14.35: The Soloist


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