Friday, July 31, 2009

The Soloist.... One Joy From This Book.

It must be that I am living under a rock.  After reading the book The Soloist, I have had several people tell me that have read the book and seen the movie.  I have not noticed either the book or the movie until now.  With some things, it can be said that it is better late than never.  However,  with this book, it barely makes that statement true.  So having said that,  I will keep the blog brief  and just get right to the heart of the matter.
It was a surprise to this reader that the book turned out to be more about the reporter, Steve Lopez than it was about Nathaniel,  the soloist.  In summary, it was the musings of a 50 year old man who is worried about deadlines, mortgages and retirement.  As a side note, he stumbles upon a homeless man who is a musical genius, playing Beethoven on Skid Row.  More than once, the musings turn to complaints about how the reporter's time is consumed by his project, Nathaniel. What should have been the more compelling story, which is Nathaniel, is buried deep in the pages of the book.  If the reader is patient enough and curious enough about Nathaniel, they will read through the musings and find his story.  Mr. Lopez demonstrates how today's reporters are vastly different from the days of old.   In today's world, the reporter puts themselves in the story, thus taking the focus off of the subject and onto them.  This might have something to do with why newspapers circulation has dropped across the country.  But  I digress.
Nathaniel's story has brought this reader some joy.  It has opened up the curiosities about classical music.  Without even hearing Nathaniel play his bass or violin, the story has planted a seed to learn more about the works of Beethoven, Back and the endless list of other composers. When Nathaniel speaks about certain concertos or symphonies  in the book, it has caused me to go search for the music to hear it for myself.   It is a delightful piece of nugget from the story to learn about classical music.  Too bad the same can't be said about homelessness or mental illness. 
As for what to do about the homeless, well, Mr. Lopez was not really interested in that angle enough for the reader to really care or put thought into the matter. Which is sad because after reading the book, one would hope that it would bring inspiration to want to help.  It doesn't.  All that is lost with the author's  personal life. Perhaps with the book and movie deal,  he can relax about retirement and write another book.  This time, taking himself out of the picture, and actually engage the reader's mind  about this age old problem of homelessness and the mentally ill.   
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