Sunday, April 27, 2008

I loved this book. The movie stank.

This past Spring (2008) I caught an interview with the author of this book on a Philadelphia NPR station, and KNEW I had to read the book.

"The Soloist: A Lost Dream, an Unlikely Friendship, and the Redemptive Power of Music" by Steve Lopez
This is a musician's book. Any musician or lover of classical music will treasure it. I know I did.

It's about Nathaniel Ayers, a promising musician who went mad (paranoid schitzophrenia) while at Juilliard (on a full scholarship, no less), and ended up on the Los Angeles streets, playing a 2-string violin in the shadow of a statue of Beethoven. It was noted that one of his Juilliard string bass teachers, Gary Karr, was one of the first people who recognized what was happening to Ayers.

I used to play bass myself, and had met Gary Karr, so I felt connected to this story. It often brought tears to my eyes. I ordered the book as soon as I learned about it. A high-budget movie is in production and scheduled to be released in April 2009.

May 1. The book has arrived, and I've gone through 6 chapters. It's very moving. I usually read books very quickly, but not this one.

May 3. I finished the book in four sittings. There were times I got very emotional. The thought of perfect strangers giving violins, cellos and even a piano to a homeless street person with such serious mental issues was heartwarming, to say the least. Lopez spent 2 years with the man, working small miracles, inches at a time. The book ends. Not a happy ending, not a sad ending. It just... ends, and we all know it continues past the last page.

I await the movie. Mind you, I don't LIKE movies, and seldom go. THIS one, I'll see.

April 27, 2009. Well, I saw the movie. If you've read the book, you can skip the flick. It doesn't come close. In a word, the movie stinks.

Better yet, just go read the damn book. it is POWERFUL.

Read a more detailed book review here.

Please leave a comment if you've read this book.

Note 5/11: It's now 24th on the NY Times Best Seller list (nonfiction, hard cover)

Note: 3/22/09: 60 Minutes just ran a segment on Ayres/Lopez. You can read Steve Lopez's L.A. Times articles here .

1 comment:

Linda G said...

I haven't read it, but I definitely will. I've worked with the homeless for the last five years...many of them mentally ill. The kindness of some people is so heartwarming. It overrides the cruelty of others. Thanks for the review.

BTW, your Sunday grid agrees with mine...I choose to think that we're both right : )

Thanks for keeping up this blog. Most often I'm too lazy to enter the answers into the computer to see if there are any errors...sometimes I come here to check, always giving you credit if I've found something wrong (or an answer I just couldn't get).