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Tillabooks: Will's Book Blog

Sunday, August 08, 2004

Body & Soul by Frank Conroy. Boston: Houghton Mifflin/Seymour Lawrence, 1993. ISBN: 0-395-51946-2

One of my favorite fiction genres is novels with a musical theme or subtext. Novels about musicians, or that otherwise incorporate music in some significant fashion. Of these, Body & Soul is probably my all-time favorite. This is the only book I can ever recall, in a lifetime of reading, that when I reached the end, I immediately turned back to the first page, and started reading it straight through again. Since then, I've read it several more times, and now, it is so familiar that I rarely bother to read the entire book, but just pop it open to my favorite spots, and read them, when I need cheering up, or want something familiar and enjoyable to read.

Of course, I have no idea if my enjoyment of this particular story translates to others. I don't know if other musicians, let alone other normal human beings, like it as much as I do. So what appeals to me in this book? A combination of factors, I suppose. First, it is the story of a musical prodigy, a musician of great talent. Second, it is the story of a child born into low estate, an urchin, as he is called by his peers at one point in the story, who makes good. And it is the story of a child maturing into a youth, and then an adult while overcoming great difficulties. All of these are favorite themes with me, and the combination of them apparently makes this book irresistible, to me, at least.

So, I highly recommend this book, and would be very interested to know just what others make of it. Give it a try, and let me know what you think! Check it out at your local library.


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