From Publishers Weekly
Embarking on piano lessons in middle age, environmental journalist Knize sets out on an ancillary quest to find the perfect piano on a limited budget. She scours North America's piano outlets, immerses herself in the colorful online subculture of piano aficionados and grows fluent in the language of keyboard connoisseurship (a thin, shrill, brittle treble, she sniffs at a Steinway). Then she falls in love with Marlene, a Grotrian-Steinweg grand with the sultry and seductive tone of Dietrich herself; she's so smitten that she mortgages her house to buy it. Then disaster strikes: when shipped from the New York showroom to her Montana home, the piano sounds weird and echoey, and its glorious treble is dead. Desperate to restore Marlene's voice, Knize mobilizes an army of eccentric piano technicians (these lowly craftsmen emerge as wild-eyed artists in their own right), delves into the subtle intricacies that influence a piano's sound and ponders the haunting evanescence of music. Sometimes the mysticism—music 'is a way of exiting the petty self and entering the Over-soul... [i]t's about existing at a certain vibration' —gets thick enough to cut with a knife. But Knize writes in a wonderfully evocative, lushly romantic style, and music lovers will resonate to her mad pursuit of a gorgeous sound. (Jan.)
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"Mesmerizing... her gift for sound extends to the printed word."
--The Seattle Times
"Reads at the pace of a mystery and the pitch of a love story.... By the end of the story, when Knize is told she 'fell in love with an illusion,' it has the weight of tragedy."
--The New York Times
"To follow Knize on this crazy-quilt quest is to engage some of the deepest of life's questions... how we respond to beauty, to the world, to each other--and how a soul learns to thrive."
-- The Los Angeles Times
"Lucid yet lyrical, analytical yet deeply affecting."
-- The Washington Post"Exquisite... those who've never touched the keys will find themselves lost in the poetry of the hammers, the strings... the idea of the Schubert concert tuning."
--The Times-Picayune (New Orleans)
"Intimately powerful: It changed the way I look at the world."
"I was hooked from the first page. Add passionate writing to a long metaphor for self-realization, and this book travels beyond the sphere of mere music."
--The Buffalo News
"Knize writes in a wonderfully evocative, lushly romantic style, and music lovers will resonate to her mad pursuit of a gorgeous sound."
-- Publishers Weekly"A well-written, heartfelt, classy paean to a singular instrument."
-- Kirkus Reviews"Knize's writing soars throughout this account.... From first line to last, Grand Obsession maintains a marvelous consistency of tone, never hitting a false note."
--The Freelance Star (Fredericksburg, Virginia)"Knize has crafted a poetic tribute to the piano... Warmly recommended for all collections."
-- Library Journal "The book reads like a detective story, one that will totally pull the reader in.... Anyone who doubts the ability of music to touch and enrich the human spirit will have those doubts erased upon reading Grand Obsession."
--American Music Teacher magazine"So intense, so passionate, so powerfully and cleanly written that it changes the way the reader sees the world."