Ridin’ along in my automobile…

On a Saturday morning earlier in the summer I was driving the Ninja to Hoton Lake following the Lyme Lounge and listening to NPR… They were about to interview an author! I perked up. I have come across a few fantastic books by listening to NPR author interviews. “Borne”, “Swamplandia”, and the short story “Arrival”, to name a few.

When they named the author, I’d’ve fallen out of my seat if I hadn’t been strapped in. The author is the older sister of one of my beach urchin’s best friends from elementary school. The family lived (maybe still does) a few blocks from us and their mom and I were also very friendly and that family was responsible for the existence of an important entity in our lives known as Softy Beanbag (who still travels with us all these years later). Okay, I suppose I wasn’t really all that astounded. I had a “heads-up” a few years ago when I encountered a short story of hers in the New Yorker. But still.

The book is “The Vexations”, a novel that imagines the life and times of the impressionist/avant-garde composer Erik Satie in late 19th/early 20th century Paris, his family, and some good friends. I loved this book! I did not love it because I was once acquainted with the author (when she was a child). I loved it because it was a wonderful book with a wonderful story and I had trouble putting it down.

Although there is some discussion of actual music in this book, you don’t have to be a musician to enjoy the book. I *am* a musician and although I was only vaguely familiar with Satie’s music, I understood a lot of the technicalities of music that were touched on. Like when Satie (in the book) tried to orchestrate a ballet score and gave the FLUTE more than one note to play at the same time. I actually burst out laughing because flutes are not built to do that, at least not on demand. (I don’t know if that actually happened but the author clearly knows enough about wind instruments to have *accurately* written about it.)

I said I wasn’t all that familiar with Satie’s music but of course I am. I just didn’t ever study him (except in passing) as a music student. But we have all heard his early Gymnopediés in movies, etc., whether we knew what they were or not. Here’s Gymnopedié 1. And here it is orchestrated by his contemporary, Claude Debussy. Y’all have heard of Debussy, roight? 🐸

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