This is the story of Marjane’s great uncle, a famous musician. When his instrument is damaged, he searches unsuccessfully for a replacement. Depressed, he gives up the search and decides to die.
In the eight days between his loss and his death, Marjane’s wonderful illustrations travel back through his disappointing life. The only pleasure left to him is a favorite dish, chicken with plums.
Although I loved her illustrations, the story left me cold. This man cared nothing for his wife or children, only his instrument. If he couldn’t have it, he decided to die and did. What selfishness!
This is a weird double-minded look at classical music and the people who make it. Tindal stops in the middle of her own story to write boring accounts of the economics of maintaining a symphony orchestra or opera, and the drain it puts on a city. When the funds were flowing from the National Endowment for the Arts, operas and music organizations acted as if the money would last forever. Then when the funds dry up, the musicians suffer.
If you can tolerate this double vision, the book is interesting and entertaining. Graduating from a college that teaches her to play the oboe and little else, Blair heads for New York to embark on a career as a professional musician. Unfortunately for her, the reality of getting gigs and making enough money to live on, give her a jaundiced view of the life.
Finally she abandons her career, and takes a scholarship at Stanford to switch to journalism. I’d like to know more about how she landed that scholarship and began a new career. To read her book, you’re asked to believe that the tooth fairy just dropped it into her lap.