29 June 2010

REVIEW: The Soloist by S. Lopez

Title:  The Soloist
Author:  S. Lopez
Genre / Pages:  Nonfiction,  Mental Health/ 304
Publication: Putnam, 2008
Rating:  4th shelf  
Source:  Borrowed from a dear friend
lj's plot in one pot: A gifted and troubled musician's journey, and the friendship with a columnist (Lopez) that changed both their lives.

Normally, I can be a bit of a snob when it comes to people raving about books (especially when these books have been made into movies).  I always feel like the hype overwhelms me and I am usually let down.  So true to form, I hadn't planned on reading, let alone enjoying The Soloist.  A friend lent it to me without a word and it sat on my pile of books to read for about a month.  When I finally made my way to it, I was pleasantly surprised!  

The Soloist takes the reader on a journey, not so much through the world of classical music, but rather through the rabbit hole that is mental illness.  Lopez befriends the musician, Nathaniel (who has schizophrenia) and learns a lot about mental illness, how it looks in daily life, and the grip it takes on everyone surrounding the person who is mentally ill. 

The writing can be lengthy at times, I felt myself skimming sections until the plot picked up (for example, during Nathaniel's various rants) and I found Lopez to carry on too long in his moments of self-reflection. 

"His first offering is a Beethoven cello sonata, and this drab concrete corner of downtown Los Angeles, with its nearby settlement of bug-bitten denizens and moving clouds of noxious vehicle exhaust, is transformed into a place of lilting repose." p.37

For more information on the LAMP program, please click here.  
To help artistically gifted people with mental illness, visit the Nathaniel Anthony Ayers Foundation here.  
The author, Steve Lopez's website can be found here.

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