Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Soloist: A Lost Dream, an Unlikely Friendship, and the Redemptive Power of Music by Steve Lopez

The Soloist: A Lost Dream, an Unlikely Friendship, and the Redemptive Power of Music
Steve Lopez
Putnam Adult, 2008
288 pages

From Amazon: Starred Review. Scurrying back to his office one day, Lopez, a columnist for the L.A. Times, is stopped short by the ethereal strains of a violin. Searching for the sound, he spots a homeless man coaxing those beautiful sounds from a battered two-string violin. When the man finishes, Lopez compliments him briefly and rushes off to write about his newfound subject, Nathaniel Ayers, the homeless violinist. Over the next few days, Lopez discovers that Nathaniel was once a promising classical bass student at Juilliard, but that various pressures—including being one of a few African-American students and mounting schizophrenia—caused him to drop out. Enlisting the help of doctors, mental health professionals and professional musicians, Lopez attempts to help Nathaniel move off Skid Row, regain his dignity, develop his musical talent and free himself of the demons induced by the schizophrenia (at one point, Lopez arranges to have Ayers take cello lessons with a cellist from the L.A. Symphony). Throughout, Lopez endures disappointments and setbacks with Nathaniel's case, questions his own motives for helping his friend and acknowledges that Nathaniel has taught him about courage and humanity. With self-effacing humor, fast-paced yet elegant prose and unsparing honesty, Lopez tells an inspiring story of heartbreak and hope.


This is one book that I couldn't wait to get posted to my blog. It touched me on so many levels and in so many ways. I won't even attempt to put into words how I feel about this book because honestly I don't have the skills to get my thoughts and feelings across like I'd like to. It made me laugh, cry, believe, have faith and hope. It made me look at myself and those around me. It's one of those stories that I want to shout from the rooftops about. Talk about to everyone I come in contact with. I'm not a wordsmith like Mr. Lopez. I don't have the god-given musical ability of Mr. Ayers. But I do have my blog and I simply want to share it. It's a rare gem in a crowded field. Please read it, share it and pay it forward in any way that you feel is fitting.


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