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Book Title: Body And Soul|
The author of the book: Frank Conroy
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Reader ratings: 6.1
Edition: Penguin Books Ltd
Date of issue: January 26th 1995
ISBN 13: 9780140171808
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 794 KB
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Reading this evolution of a music prodigy (pianist and eventually a composer) who was born into a seemingly hopeless family situation was an ecstatic experience. The reasons for that are beyond my ability or desire to articulate. But I do want to say that, for some people, this book may be a “magic pill.” There is something healing about reading a story—a fantasy of good luck really—that could so easily be hopeless, turned into something else because of a fantastical parade of good people who actually see a child and intervene for his well-being. This is not to negate the problems of this child-turned-man living two almost opposite experiences of non-nurturance and nurturance. These problems are exquisitely nuanced, played out in the second half (or, more accurately, “movement”) of the book, with a third movement that steps into heaven.
The word “concerto,” Conroy writes, has a double meaning: “to join together, to work in concert, but also, from the Latin, to fight or to contend.” (389) So this book is a magnificent concerto, in all its complexity. A musician’s life told as a concerto.
I have never played piano. I was probably the worst second violin player in the history of my high school orchestra because I never practiced. I’m not a musician and probably have forgotten how to read music. But every detail of this story felt personal to me and mine. How can that be? I don’t know. It just is. Like great music.
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Read information about the authorFrank Conroy was an American author, born in New York, New York to an American father and a Danish mother. He published five books, including the highly acclaimed memoir Stop-Time, published in 1967, which ultimately made Conroy a noted figure in the literary world. The book was nominated for the National Book Award.
Conroy graduated from Haverford College, and was director of the influential Iowa Writers' Workshop at the University of Iowa for 18 years, from 1987 until 2005, where he was also F. Wendell Miller Professor. He was previously the director of the literature program at the National Endowment for the Arts from 1982–1987.
Conroy's published works included: the moving memoir Stop-Time; a collection of short stories, Midair; a novel, Body and Soul, which is regarded as one of the finest evocations of the experience of being a musician; a collection of essays and commentaries, Dogs Bark, but the Caravan Rolls On: Observations Then and Now; and a travelogue, Time and Tide: A Walk Through Nantucket. His fiction and non-fiction appeared in such journals as The New Yorker, Esquire, GQ, Harper's Magazine and Partisan Review. He was named a Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters by the French government.
In addition to writing, Conroy was an accomplished jazz pianist, winning a Grammy Award in 1986. His book Dogs Bark, But the Caravan Rolls On: Observations Then and Now includes articles that describe jamming with Charles Mingus and with Charlie Watts and Bill Wyman. The latter session occurred when Conroy was writing about the Rolling Stones for Esquire. Conroy had arrived at a mansion for the interview, found nobody there, and eventually sat down at a grand piano and began to play. Someone wandered in, sat down at the drums, and joined in with accomplished jazz drumming; then a fine jazz bassist joined in. They turned out to be Watts and Wyman, whom Conroy did not recognize until they introduced themselves after the session.
Conroy died of colon cancer on April 6, 2005, in Iowa City, Iowa, at the age of 69.
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