Top positive review
One person found this helpful
A song is not a person
on November 21, 2013
In this rather opaque novel, Julian Donahue, a divorced, forty-something producer of television commercials, is representative of many of the post-1980s generation in their insistence that music be present 24/7 whether via a Walkman, iPod player, etc. Julian sees and understands life as inextricably connected to music, whether it be his now defunct marriage, the loss of his young son, etc. From this perspective, music is hardly simply entertainment; in this novel, for Julian, music is psychologically restorative.
Julian's loss of enthusiasm for life suddenly takes an upturn when he happens into a small NYC nightclub and witnesses the beguiling, twenty-something Cait O'Dwyer with her rock band singing with off-the-charts sensuality and meaningfulness. He refuses to be a stereotypical, adoring fan, but communicates with her through ten drawings he does on bar coasters given to her by the bartender. He plays her demo CD endlessly, while she responds with a new song: "Bleaker and Obliquer," which obviously refers to him. And so starts a distant relationship where communication is via such forms as email, phone, clandestine notes, lyrics, and the like, except for actual face-to-face meetings. Both anticipate a "right" time to meet, but the tentativeness of their connection seems to continually find a way to undermine that possibility.
It is an intriguing novel, especially the character Cait, but Julian's introspective doubts and the constant circling of each other are quite drawn out. The writing is impressive and insightful, but word choices and phraseology can make the book somewhat difficult. It is mildly disappointing that Julian and Cait, both quite smart, cannot get past inadequate communications. Music is not a substitute for life and interacting with real persons.