<$BlogRSDURL$> Spontaneous Things: Karina Sumner-Smith's Blog
Thursday, February 19, 2004
All About Pianos and the Apocalypse Quartet

(Written over the course of yesterday evening.)

Today I was smart enough to not only continue to read In Search of Lost Time but to split it up with another text. (Going slowly crazy, like I was with The Brothers Karamazov, did not seem like a good option.) Specifically, I've been reading The Piano Shop on the Left Bank, a non-fictional book by T. E. Carhart. This is not a book that I would have picked up on my own, I think, nor one that I was particularly anticipating reading (the subtitle, "The Hidden World of a Paris Atelier," was not exactly encouraging) but has proven itself to be a very well paced, intelligent and interesting book.

Actually, I think that the highest praise I can give this book--and it is high praise indeed--is that while I am reading, the subject matter is honestly interesting. I have never been interested in pianos. I've never wanted to play a piano, nor was I forced to take piano lessons. Pianos are somehow linked with my grade school music classes, bringing to mind cold linoleum floors and school recital preparations and repetitions of "do, re, mi, so ..." The tick of that metronome. Though I have heard some beautiful piano pieces, and some excellent performances, the sound of a piano has never been one to which I've been particularly drawn. And yet ...

I can imagine myself wandering among these pianos in the hidden store's back room, fingering keys and lifting highly polished lids to look down upon those hundreds of precisely tuned strings. While I'm reading, I find that part of my mind is wondering what it must be like to put one's fingers on those white and black keys and have them play across their surfaces with the same kind of thoughtless ease with which my fingers are currently typing. Imagining the sound of a piano in my own home.

Of course, I close the book and these things fade and all but vanish. But I am startled, nonetheless, at the kind of writing that it takes to draw one against one's will into another world and kind of love and fascination, and to share it with the reader, if only for a short time. Many books do this to some extent, but few with such ease. It reminds me of that Bryce Courtenay novel, The Power of One, which made me excited about boxing. (Not that I'm inherently anti-boxing or anything of the sort but me ... boxing ... not usually two things you think of together.)

My brain is already offering to have me put this piano knowledge into use. I've recently been pondering writing a companion piece of sorts for "A Laste Taste of Sweetness," which would be a dark apocalypse where "Sweetness" is light. And though I can't exactly fit the pianos nicely into "A Name for the Destruction," I could write yet another companion/apocalypse piece with all this nice piano knowledge. And then since three is a quirky number, I could add a fourth ... you know, for balance. I could have the Apocalypse Quartet! I have to admit, this line of thinking does say interesting things about my stress level right now.

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 12:45 PM


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