Martin Simmonds’ father tells him, “Never trust a musician when he speaks about love.” The advice comes too late. Martin already loves Dovidl Rapoport, an eerily gifted Polish violin prodigy whose parents left him in the Simmonds’s care before they perished in the Holocaust. For a time the two boys are closer than brothers. But on the day he is to make his official debut, Dovidl disappears. Only 40 years later does Martin get his first clue about what happened to him.
In this ravishing novel of music and suspense, Norman Lebrecht unravels the strands of love, envy and exploitation that knot geniuses to their admirers. In doing so he also evokes the fragile bubble of Jewish life in prewar London; the fearful carnival of the Blitz, and the gray new world that emerged from its ashes. Bristling with ideas, lambent with feeling, The Song of Names is a masterful work of the imagination.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
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|Title of Religion eBook: The Song of Names|
|Release Date: 12-18-2007|
|Allowed Countries (hover)|
|Publisher: Knopf Publishing Group|
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The Song of Names
Swimming in a double-breasted suit against the Monday morning incoming tide, I feel a double misfit. The whole working world is flooding into town while I am heading out, and for no good reason. What is more, I am just about the only man on the forecourt in a respectable suit. Times have changed, and chinos are worn to work.
Or whatever they call work. Sitting at a flickering screen, hunting and gathering data, strikes me as a poor substitute for the thrill of the chase, the joy of the kill, the kiss of conquest. There is no romance, no mortal struggle, in digitised so-called work. It is a virtual pursuit, without real vice or virtue. Mine, on the other hand, is a people profession, hence almost obsolescent.
It would not do to enquire too closely into the purpose of my trip. 'Is your journey really necessary?' nagged the railway hoardings during the war. No, not enough to convince the auditors, who will slash my expenses claim on seeing the negligible returns. Nor to satisfy Myrtle, who will raise a quizzical eyebrow and register a connubial debt. There is no pot of gold at the end of my trail nor, truth be told, enough profit to interest a Sunday boot-saler-which is not, of course, what I tell the accountants ('must keep in touch with consumer trends'), or Myrtle ('meeting a familiar face can make all the difference when money's tight'). What matters is that I know why I am going, and I don't have to make excuses to myself. Escape, or the illusion of it, is what keeps me alive and my business more or less solvent.
Survival instinct propels me through the Euston crowds towards a reserved first-class seat on the nine-oh-