Nicholas Christopher is the author of six novels, The Soloist, Veronica, A Trip to the Stars, Franklin Flyer, The Bestiary, and Tiger Rag; eight books of poetry, On Tour with Rita, A Short History of the Island of Butterflies, Desperate Characters: A Novella in Verse, In the Year of the Comet, 5 , The Creation of the Night Sky, Atomic Field, and Crossing the Equator: New & Selected Poems, 1972-2004; a nonfiction book, Somewhere in the Night: Film Noir & the American City; and a novel for children, The True Adventures of Nicolo Zen. He lives in New York City.
Suffering a kind of housemaid's knee of the fingers, piano prodigy Max Randal stumbles over the keys trying to recover the virtuosity that for 10 years has made him the toast of the music world and will reaffirm his position when he plays at Carnegie Hall a few months hence. At the moment, however, he seems more involved with wine and women than with song; his first wife dies tragically, his second duns him for thousands in alimony, his third sets him up for re-seduction, and his interim companion goes after him with a knife. In between, his 9-going-on-19-year-old daughter Daphne is thrust upon him while her mother traipses around Europe, disregarding Max's need to practice undisturbed except by sex, speed and Scotch. His best friend, furthermore, flies off on a mysterious mission to (of all places) Albania, which eventually yields not only photographs never before revealed to the outside world, but a hitherto unknown Liszt Hungarian Rhapsody. There's intrigue aplenty, along with some homey scenes of Daphne and Daddy cooking, and a good deal of musical name-dropping and classy partying. These elements will probably charm readers willing to overlook the pretentiousness of the narrator, the improbability of the plot and the flatness of the characters. U.K. rights: Viking Penguin; translation rights: Melanie Jackson Agency. January
"An old-fashioned, romantic, and thoroughly enjoyable story about a
self-obsessed concert pianist... great fun."
"There is an imaginative verve in Christopher's storytelling, which takes the plot on several unexpected turns... The depiction of the world of a virtuoso performer--the tensions and doubts, the rigor and intensive self-scrutiny--ultimately provides Christopher with a potent metaphor for dealing with questions of authenticity and sincerity, intimacy, love, and eroticism. Through this metaphor, the novel achieves a depth and poignancy."
Another novel of midlife crisis. Max Randal, a world-famous concert pianist who hasn't performed in four years, is holed up in Boston, ``a deadbeat city,'' practicing for a comeback tour. Max has problems. He fears his playing has turned mediocre. His current girl friend wants to move in, his illegitimate daughter has been dumped on him for the summer, and his first ex-wife has arrived at a Boston hospital dying from a rare tropical disease. In New York after some steamy sex in a jacuzzi his second ex-wife announces they should remarry. Throughout, Max ponders his capacity for love and the connection between music and the erotic life. At the end, triumphant at Carnegie Hall, he finds himself alone and realizes that in life as in art he is a soloist. A novel that tries hard to be very seriousquoting Byron, Kierkegaard, and even Epicurusbut doesn't succeed. Charles Michaud, Turner Free Lib., Randolph, Mass.