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Comment: A readable copy of the book which may include some defects such as highlighting and notes. Cover and pages may be creased and show discolouration.
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The Soloist Hardcover – Import, April 15, 1996

4.2 out of 5 stars 78 customer reviews

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Hardcover, Import, April 15, 1996
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Product Details

  • Series: Pop-up Books
  • Hardcover: 8 pages
  • Publisher: Random Ho.,U.S. (April 15, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307814254
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307814258
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (78 customer reviews)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Grady Harp HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 28, 2002
Format: Paperback
THE SOLOIST is a fine novel, interweaving three stories that all center on the narrator: the rise and fall of a child prodigy cellist, the sole member of a jury at a murder trial who finds meaning in a defendent's case, and a teacher of a budding, gifted young Korean cellist. Each story has its own cast of characters beautifully realized, but most important - each aspect of this tripartite novel is told with such informed authority that imagining the author in anything but an autobiographical mode is next to impossible. Just as in his previous novel LYING AWAKE which dealt with the inner thoughts of a cloistered nun, Salzman here shows us he has a thorough understanding of music, music making, and the sociology and philosophy of our court system and our education system. Not that he stops at reportage. Hardly! It is simply his depth of knowledge about everything he writes make his novels deeply committed and inspiring. The reason for writing THE SOLOIST is probably one of encouraging his readers to live in the moment. But it is the loving manner of relating his tale that gets us there, almost without knowing we've arrived. A fine book to encourage a whole town (Pasadena) to read and share as is the goal here. Well worth anyone's time.
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Format: Paperback
If Mark Salzman published a shopping list I would read it. His writing is magical. The Soloist is deceptive in its simplicity. It would be easy to underestimate this book because Salzman's straightforward, unpretentious writing belies the complexity of the ideas he is communicating. There are three or four different themes expressed in alternating chapters: A cellist crippled by his need for perfection, a trial, zen theory and practice, the relationship between teacher and student. There are several more subthemes going on as well. Salzman weaves them together so skillfully that you barely realize that each theme slowly permeates the others with exquisite subtlety. The Soloist is a book worth reading slowly and with full attention It is a deeply satisfying read, in the same way that a subtly seasoned meal, savored at leisure, leaves one feeling fully nourished. Thanks once again, Mr. Salzman! Well done!
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Format: Paperback
THE SOLOIST was a book that caught me by surprise. I purchased it on impulse, and like many impulse buys, it sat on my bookcase for quite a while until I had time to read it. I finally had the opportunity to read it while snowed in during a major winter storm, and I believe I read it in one sitting. There are so many elements in this book that make it a compelling read. The main character Renne is lonely and isolated. Readers immediately like him, and probably feel sorry for him since he appears to be a washout both musically and personally. Readers will get a sense that he is sad, but not tragic, and has the potential for a fuller life.
In the book, Renne looks back reflectively at major events in his life. Renne was once a child prodigy, studied with a great master of the cello, but his success was fleeting. By the time he reached adulthood, he lost the promise of his youthful musical career. His life is somewhat empty. When he is not teaching cello at a university, he is alone in his apartment. Three things change this drastically: he is a juror in a murder trail, he meets a love interest, and he encounters a young six year old child who may also be a prodigy. In the murder trail, Renne dares to be the lone voice of conscience. His love affair was doomed from the beginning since the woman was married, but it was an important first step for Renne. His tutoring the young potential prodigy is the most powerful aspect of the book. In this relationship, Renne may be facing his own childhood when he sees the young boy who is pressured by immigrant parents much in the same way he was pressured by his Jewish parents who escaped Nazi Germany. The changes that all three bring about happen rather quickly, but it is entirely believable.
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Format: Paperback
This novel is on a trajectory from Salzman's light and humorous Laughing Sutra to his more profound and masterly Lying Awake. He weaves together here some autobiographical elements with a philosophy of the superiority of ordinary real life over the unrealizable extraordinary. When a cello player's need for perfection chokes his art, and the best becomes the enemy of the good, two events intervene. He begins to mentor a young Korean boy with talent like his own and learns, as one does, from his pupil. And he becomes a juror in a case where a Zen student has solved the koan, "If you meet the Buddha kill him," in an arguably correct but unfortunately homicidal fashion. Both cellist and murderer sought perfection, and in solving his own problem, the cellist effectively kills his Buddha. Salzman is a very gifted author with great insight into human nature.
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Format: Paperback
Few books have touched me like this one. It takes on the hard task of the difficult life shift we must all make at some time or another: when you've gone as far as you can with an art and have to turn to the task of sharing what you know with the next generation. But Salzman never moralizes, he puts you into the mind of a child prodigy -- now as an adult -- who must grow beyond the limited spotlight of the stage. Stalzman has a gift for drawing character, and writing so clearly that it goes into you with the rhythm and life of a well-delivered cello solo. Seems I've rarely been able to stay with a book to its end these days, but this one held me from start to finish. I recommend this to anyone who loves music, loves good literature, and wants to enjoy the beauty and clarity that seems to come straight from the author's heart. Thank you, Mark.
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