In a novel of delicacy and strength, Bernard Mac Laverty presents a harmonious vision of one woman’s life, as passionate composer, anguished mother, tortured lover and troubled daughter.
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Composer Catherine McKenna has more of a gift for music than happiness, but she has long since been driven beyond harmonies (musical and personal) that her Belfast family can comprehend. Bernard MacLaverty renders both sides of the equation: Catherine's feminist and aesthetic striving and her mother's more traditional grasp--it's hard not to sympathize with Mrs McKenna's impatient rejoinder, "You don't cope with music, you listen to it."
Grace Notes, MacLaverty's first novel since Cal, is as much about Irish identity-- and possibility--as it is about art. Catherine's newest piece, a mass, includes the huge drums Protestants play in parades. "It was a scary sound--like thunder. Like the town was under a canopy of dark noise." Though her fellow Catholics see the drums as instruments of threat, Catherine is determined to integrate them into her composition.
Her return to Belfast for her father's funeral brings back several ghosts, among them an influential professor who spoke of grace notes--"the notes between the notes". This novel is full of such instances, wry snatches of conversation and unforgettable observations: the new Chinese restaurant that has had to offer chips to stay in business, or the pub that's "on a slight hill. When dogs pissed at the door the dark lines ran diagonally to the gutter." These transcend the occasional passage in which MacLaverty tries too hard to see into the life and rhythms of a female artist. The final section, however, a live radio concert of Catherine's piece, is a triumph for both woman composer and male author.From the Back Cover:
With superb artistry and startling intimacy, the celebrated Irish writer Bernard Mac Laverty brings us into the life of Catherine McKenna – estranged daughter, Vexed lover, new mother and a woman composer making her mark in a male-dominated field. On the remote island of Islay she struggles for her artistic life in the midst of a relationship gone dangerously wrong. In Glasgow she gives birth to a child – and receives a career-making BBC commission. And in her home town in Northern Ireland she returns to bury a difficult father, forge a tentative peace with her mother and confront the ghosts of a constricting past. Through it all she strives to maintain the habit of art, in the face of depression, privation and misunderstanding.
In 'Grace Notes' the music of Bernard Mac Laverty's prose and his harmonious vision of one woman's life combine to create work of great delicacy and tensile strength. Mac Laverty has written a compact and luminous masterpiece.
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Book Description SMD SCHOTT MUSIC. Rústica. Book Condition: NUEVO. Bookseller Inventory # 9780001054875