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Book 20

  1. Matheson, Richard — I Am Legend (161 pages)
  2. McCarthy, Cormac — No Country for Old Men (307 pages)
  3. Dexter, Gary — Why Not Catch 21?: The Stories Behind the Titles (213 pages)
  4. Ryman, Geoff — 253 (366 pages)
  5. Wyndham, John — The Day of the Triffids (267 pages)
  6. Kurkov, Andrey — Death and the Penguin (228 pages)
  7. Chesterton, G.K. — Orthodoxy (183 pages)
  8. Gibbs, Christopher H., ed. — The Cambridge Companion to Schubert (334 pages)
  9. Sendak, Maurice — Where the Wild Things Are (48 pages — though only 1 page will count towards my tally)
  10. Hurston, Zora Neale — Their Eyes Were Watching God (215 pages)
  11. Clarke, Arthur C. — Rendezvous With Rama (245 pages)
  12. Clarke, Arthur C. — The City and the Stars (246 pages)
  13. Chesterton, G.K. — The Man Who Was Thursday: A Nightmare (205 pages)
  14. Tepper, Sheri S. — Beauty (468 pages)
  15. Slawson, Douglas J. — Ambition and Arrogance: Cardinal William O'Connell of Boston and the American Catholic Church (186 pages)
  16. Belloc, Hilaire — The Great Heresies (166 pages)
  17. Waugh, Evelyn — Brideshead Revisited (326 pages)
  18. Rawicz, Slavomir — The Long Walk: The True Story of a Trek to Freedom (278 pages)
  19. Junger, Sebastian — The Perfect Storm: A True Story of Men Against the Sea (309 pages)
  20. Seth, Vikram — An Equal Music (486 pages)

Page count: 4995.

I think it's obvious why I was attracted to this book, described by one as, "The finest novel about music ever written in English." At first that seems a lofty claim, but then I can't think of too many novels written about music. Regardless, the idea appealed to me.

An Equal Music is a love story of sorts. But it isn't simply romance between two people: the narrative explores the protagonists love for music, his old violin, his professional affiliations, his family, the countryside, birds and their song, Vienna, Venice, swimming in the Serpentine, and other things.

At times, especially near the beginning, I felt Seth was trying to show off how much he knows about music. Truly, there are passages that couldn't possibly be of interest to anyone but musicians and much that requires more than a superficial knowledge of classical music and composers. However, I also felt that music (and particularly the fugue, to which so much attention is given) is an apt metaphor for much of what transpired in the novel. I also felt some of the writing about playing music, about what goes through a musician's mind, and paralleling the protagonists mental state and his ability to make music were sheer brilliance.

I enjoyed An Equal Music very much. But then, I'm a musician, I know the fugue and the string quartet, I know Schubert and Bach and Brahms and Haydn and Beethoven and others quite well and understand why a musician might find one tedious, another a joy, another a rewarding challenge. My familiarity with all of the composers and most of the music discussed definitely enhanced my enjoyment of the book. Does that mean one wouldn't enjoy it if one didn't know classical music as well? I don't know. I think the plot would work, the non-musical elements would stand on their own, but music is such a central figure.

Comments

( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
rsc
Jul. 29th, 2008 04:41 pm (UTC)
Hmm. That sounds like a book I might enjoy. (The only Vikram Seth I've read was Golden Gate, years ago, and I liked it pretty well, although it's something of a tour de force.)
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )

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