Music Podcast (click to listen) or download http://www.box.net/files#/files/0/f/0/1/f_662849887 (Unfortunately, this second version will not have the music/opera touches we added to the first version.)
In search of signs of spring and sunshine, the Lisas recorded this music themed book show with hopes that the notes and melodies would make them feel warmer — at least on the inside. This quest for writing with a musical theme landed them in the midst of three very different titles: The Bells (2010) by Richard Harvell, Just Kids (2010) by Patti Smith and Bel Canto (2001) by Ann Patchett. Read on for a quick summary of their discussion or just click above to listen to the podcast.
Harvell’s “The Bells” is an atmospheric, historical read set in Switzerland and then Vienna and tells the story of a castrato’s (a castrated male opera singer) life, of a son’s discovery of his father’s story, and the results of secrets and lies. J Lisa C observed that this book almost reads like an opera itself and is speculating (with its blend of tragedy, comedy and drama) if it is actually based on an opera score.
Rocker and musician Patti Smith made a promise to Robert Mapplethorpe before his death from AIDS in 1989 that she would write a book to tell people the story of their very special relationship. Just Kids is the fulfillment of that promise. The two met by chance in New York City in 1967 and the rest is history. Though they both remained under the radar for the next several years, their individual art continued to grow with the support of each other and the influence of the Chelsea Hotel and Beatnik scene in NYC. The scene set by Smith immerses the reader in a bygone era of New York’s Chelsea Hotel and beatnik culture.
And finally, Ann Patchett’s classic “Bel Canto” rounds out this trio of musical works. Set in an unknown South American country, this beautiful piece of fiction (which won the Orange Prize the year it was published) tells about the complex relationships that develop in a vice presidential mansion when the guests are all taken hostage for a prolonged imprisonment. The music part? One of the hostages is a famous opera singer who was performing for guests when they were taken hostage and then takes to practicing every morning while held at the mansion. Music changes everything.
Enjoy the music, the reading and the podcast (check out the opera at the end!).