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 Post subject: Third installment of the Book Club
PostPosted: Mon Jul 13, 2009 10:51 pm 
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If anyone wants to read along with Andreas and me, you are certainly welcome. The book we are reading next is titled, "Piano" a novel - by Jean Echenoz.

Here is a bit of information:

Piano : a novel / Jean Echenoz ; translated from the French by Mark Polizzotti.

Max Delmarc, age 50, is a famous concert pianist with two problems: the first is a paralyzing stage fright for which the second, alcohol, is the only treatment. In this unparalleled comedy from the Prix Concourt-winning French novelist Jean Echenoz, we journey with Max, from the trials of his everyday life, through his untimely death, and on into the afterlife.

After a brief stay in purgatory—part luxury hotel, part minimum security prison, under the supervision of deceased celebrities—Max is cast into an alarmingly familiar partition of hell, "the urban zone," a dark and cloudy city much like his native Paris on an eternally bad day. Unable to play his beloved piano or stomach his needed drink, Max engages in a hapless struggle to piece his former life back together while searching in vain for the woman he once loved.

An acclaimed bestseller with 50,000 copies sold in France, Piano is a sly, sardonic evocation of Dante and Sartre for the present day, the playful, daring masterpiece of a novelist at the top of his form.

Author Biography: Jean Echenoz won France's prestigious Prix Goncourt for I'm Gone. He is the author of four previous novels in English translation, including Big Blondes and Cherokee, winner of the Prix Medicis. He lives in Paris. Translator Mark Polizzotti is publications director at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Formerly the editorial director of David R. Godine, Publisher, he has translated works by André Breton, Patrick Chamoiseau, and Marguerite Duras.
******************************

Supposedly, the book is in French, German, and English - maybe other languages too. I think we will begin reading it in a couple days. Feel free to join us! :D

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PostPosted: Sun Jul 19, 2009 1:53 pm 
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Andreas – I know you are busy right now, but like I told you before, I’m going write the initial posting about our new book now. I read chapters 1-3 and need to write things down before I forget them.

I think I am going to like this book very much! For one thing, it is not long, and the chapters are very short. The first three chapters total only 14 pages.

But Andreas – we don’t really need to summarize each chapter like we were doing before. We are both reading the same thing, so in order to save us time, why don’t we just write about what we like or dislike about the story so far. Also of course we should write if we don’t understand something about the characters or plot. Then too it is fine to write about other subjects that stem off of what we are reading – you know – go off on some side-topic, or even off-topic, I don’t care. What do you think about this?

Here is what interests me about chapters 1 through 3: First of all, I can relate to our character Max’s stage-fright issue. But he seems to have it very badly. However, it goes away when he starts playing. That doesn’t happen with me. I stay frightened all the way through a piece! And I like the part at the end of chapter 1 when he sees the “terrible Steinway with its wide white keyboard ready to devour you, those monstrous teeth that would chew you up with the full width of its ivories and all its enamel, waiting to mash you into a pulp..”
Ugh – sort of wish I never read that part!

Chapter 2 is interesting because it talks about how Max plays Chopin’s f-minor concerto. But chapter three leaves us with a mystery as to who is Rose. I think his wife must be Alice who asleep upstairs.

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 20, 2009 6:49 pm 
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Yay!! I finally got my laptop back ...it's a bit wonky yet, but hopefully it'll hold out for a while longer!!! Anyway, I'll start looking for this book as soon as I can, and then I'll start catching up to you two!

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Jul 20, 2009 8:26 pm 
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Hi Nathan. I'm glad you are back. (must have been torture to be without a computer for so long.)

Anyway, this seems to be a fast read so I know you'll have no problem catching up.

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 22, 2009 12:27 am 
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Yipiee, I´m back and I have read the first chapter (in German).
O.k., there is a man, called Max Delmarc, and he is a famous pianist, as we get to know at the end of the first chapter. He has a companion, called Bernie, who is younger. Max is about fifty years old. He is much afraid, because he has to play to a public. This feeling of fear causes him to drink. I think, he is an alcoholic. But Bernie pays attention, that Max doesn´t drink anything so shortly before his concert. They both go through "Parc Monceau" in Paris and the concert takes place in Avenue Hoche no 252. Max Delmarc plays the first movement of Chopins Concerto in f-minor.
At the beginning of the chapter there is said, that Max has only to live 22 days, but that he doesn´t know this, so his fear is caused by stage fright.

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 22, 2009 1:41 pm 
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Glad you are back, Andreas. How did your concert go?

I'm going to go on to chapter 4 today (probably).

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 22, 2009 11:13 pm 
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Quote:
Glad you are back, Andreas. How did your concert go?


Thank you, Monica. My concert was good all in all, but the third Scherzo by Chopin wasn´t too good. I made some little slips here and there, because of some stage fright, I was blocked a bit. Damn, I haven´t still come over this. :evil:
It was too bad for my taste to publish it here or on my youtube-channel. My both versions there, which are recorded at home, are much better. If you like I could send you a private mail with a rapidshare-link to the video of the Scherzo, but I don´t want to publish it. I also played two Nocturnes. I have recorded the Nocturne in c-sharp-minor of my little recital and you can watch it on my youtube-channel, if you like. The Nocturne op. 15, no. 3 I have also played, but not on saturday evening, but on sunday noon at the end of the symposium. It went also well, but I hadn´t my camcorder with me. It was a spontaneous decision, that they asked me to play it the next day. (This is typical for French manner, sweet, isn´t it?)
I have played on a white Yamaha grand-piano, which isn´t too good. It´s very small and the bass is very loud, whereas the high register is quite matt. I have edited my recording with Wavelab, so that the high tones come out better.

Quote:
I'm going to go on to chapter 4 today (probably).


O.k., tomorrow I´ll try to read further. Today it´s too late.

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 23, 2009 1:07 am 
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Oh that damn stage fright! :evil: If I remember correctly from your private message, this was to be a large audience, so it is no wonder you had some stage fright. But Andreas - maybe that Scherzo wasn't as bad as you think. Still, I'm sorry you feel bad about it. And please - go ahead and Rapidshare me, baby! :)

Quote:
(This is typical for French manner, sweet, isn´t it?)

Do you mean that, or are you really saying that it's not sweet at all?

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 23, 2009 1:25 pm 
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Quote:
Oh that damn stage fright! :evil: If I remember correctly from your private message, this was to be a large audience, so it is no wonder you had some stage fright. But Andreas - maybe that Scherzo wasn't as bad as you think. Still, I'm sorry you feel bad about it. And please - go ahead and Rapidshare me, baby! :)


I still have send you the rapidshare-link, my honey, yay. :) :wink: Have you received it? The performance of the Scherzo has exactly 12 places, where are slips or arpeggios, which I have played frowsily. At the end in the Presto-Coda I have rumbled in an octave of g in the bass where it should be a...
If you don´t look at this 12 places it´s not so bad. :lol:

Quote:
Do you mean that, or are you really saying that it's not sweet at all?


No, I mean this like I said it (not ironical). I love the French manner to be more spontaneous than we Germans mostly are. We Germans always want to plan and to fix things. The French people are more spontaneous and open. That´s better for creativity, I think.

O.k., I have read until chapter 4:
This novel is interesting IMO, because we get to know much thoughts and feelings of a piano player, who is a real concert-pianist and has made an international career. We get to know about his thoughts concerning the performance of his pieces, about wrong notes, in which cases they stand out and in which not so. We get to know something about the next concerts of Max Delmarc and a planed recording-session, in which he wants to record the complete work of Chausson (I don´t know this composer, btw). He lives in a soundproof appartment nearby Place du Chateau Rouge and there is a woman, named Alice, who still sleeps, when he comes home. He has a nice grand-piano in his appartment, where he practise at each time, because it´s soundproof. I suppose, Alice is his wife, I can´t remember, if this is said clearly in the third chapter, so what do you think?
But there is also another woman, Marc remembers each day, named Rose. She is a beauty, he has meat 30 years ago in a café, he hasn´t dared to speak to her and she not to him, suddenly she disappeared, after her studies of Cello were finished in Paris.
It´s interesting, that Marc always loses his stage fright after he is playing a while on the stage, isn´t it?
This novel is really interesting for me, because I´m really dealing with the problem of stage fright and playing in public myself at this time again.
So, what are your thoughts to our novel until now?

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 23, 2009 4:10 pm 
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Oh, chapter 4 makes my heart sink! I can't believe that both Max and Rose felt the same exact way about each other but didn't dare do anything about it. How sad! And now she's gone...

Well anyway, yes - Andreas. So far I like this book. And it sure is ironic that it deals with stage fright - something that afflicts us both!

I don't know the composer, Chausson, either. I have seen the name somewhere, but I can't place it.

I think Alice is Max's wife.

On to chapter 5...(maybe 6, 7, and 8 since they are so short?)

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 23, 2009 11:45 pm 
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I have read until chapter 7 (including).
After a concert in Salle de Pleyel Marc goes back with train from Nantes to Paris. There he buys 3 bottles of schnaps (in German it´s the same word, "Schnaps", btw). He nags with his manager, Parisy, because he has ordered a room for handicapped in Nantes. Isn´t it sad, that he and his wife, Alice, have separate bedrooms? They only talk about their daily matters and all seems to be quite superficial, isn´t it?
Back in Paris, Marc has a concert on the evening of the same day. Again his fright (fear) is pointed out. That seems to be his main problem, to live always in fear (for to give concerts). He even feels the fear while practising, until it becomes psychosomatic. He often has stomach pain (in the first chapter he even has to be sick). I think, it´s obvious, that this fear (stage fright) is the reason for his alcoholism. (Huh, the more I read this novel, the more I think, how good it is, that I haven´t become a concert-pianist, who has to live from to give concerts. Don´t you think so, too?)
Just before the concert in the Salle de Gaveau (somehow we know this name, isn´t it?! :wink: ) he convinces Bernard (=Bernie) to go with him to his home for a glass of beer, in which he puts in the half of his bottle of schnaps he has bought in the train. So, there is a funny (but at the bottom tragic) moment, when he goes onto the stage in a drunken state. And when he thinks, that the applause of the beginning means the end of the concert. But nevertheless this concert seems to have gone well.
In chapter 7 he meets again a beautiful woman on the street. This time after a failed attempt he speaks to her. (It´s so sad, because this seems to be his desparated search of his first love, Rose, in reality, I think. :cry: )
The attempt of conversation with this woman sounds indeed so desparated, because he is so lonesome at the bottom of his heart. At this evening he avoids to talk with his wife and goes to bed.
The mysterious thing is, that we always are remembered of the rest-time Max has to live. We do not know, why it is like this. It seems like a destination of destiny.
Is the destiny not prescribed for us all?

O.k., tomorrow I have to pack my things and I don´t know, if I find any time to read further. Please, see my last private mail for my suggestions. At length we will continue, when I´m back from my vacations. Tomorrow in the evening I´ll log in once more in every case.

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 24, 2009 2:01 pm 
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musicusblau wrote:
Is the destiny not prescribed for us all?


Probably, but I don't want to know my destiny. Well, yes I do. No I don't. Yes I do.... :wink:


Do all Germans drink Schnapps? When I was there, I went with my cousin and aunt and uncle on a train ride in the Hartz mountains, and my cousin first bought us all some little bottles of Schnapps to drink on the train. That is something we don't do here, but it was nice. Except I think it made me even more 'loopy' than usual, because of being in higher altitudes and drinking alcohol at the same time.

Yes, that part about Max walking out onto the stage at the beginning of the concert but thinking it was the end is pretty funny.

But Andreas - we are wrong about Alice. I just read Chapter 8. (If you don't want to know this, then stop reading right now)







Alice is Max's sister!

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 24, 2009 10:24 pm 
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[/quote]Probably, but I don't want to know my destiny. Well, yes I do. No I don't. Yes I do.... :wink: [/quote]

I definitively don´t want to know my destiny and it´s waste of time to speculate about it, I think.


Quote:
Do all Germans drink Schnapps?


Do all Americans eat hamburgers and hot dogs? No, I don´t think, all Germans drink Schaps, there are many of them, who drink it and many who don´t drink it. I personally drink it very rarely.

Quote:
Alice is Max's sister!


Oh, that´s interesting. So at least we have not the story of an unhappy marriage here. :lol:
Monica, I have to admit, that I found absolutely no time to read further today, because there was so much to do today. I hope you don´t mind it.

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PostPosted: Sat Jul 25, 2009 5:03 am 
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I wrote:
Probably, but I don't want to know my destiny. Well, yes I do. No I don't. Yes I do.... :wink:


Andreas wrote:
I definitively don´t want to know my destiny and it´s waste of time to speculate about it, I think.


I agree with that. Thinking about things that you have absolutely no control over is a huge waste of time!

Andreas wrote:
Monica, I have to admit, that I found absolutely no time to read further today, because there was so much to do today. I hope you don´t mind it.


I don't mind a bit. I didn't read the book today either. Like we discussed, I will comment on chapters that I read, and you will comment when you are able to, whether it is during your vacation time or when you get back home.

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PostPosted: Sun Jul 26, 2009 9:52 pm 
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Hi Monica,
I have read until chapter 12 (including). Now Max is dead. Before he has searched Rose, because he believed to have seen her.
Interesting was the concert, which began with noise by the audition and at the end all listened with great interest.
So, let's go to chapter 13.

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 27, 2009 10:38 pm 
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I have read 23 today. Max is in his afterlife and he is in Paris with a new identity. Its a strange story from part two on. I think he is reincarnated, don't you think so? Interesting is, that he has to live a complete other life than before. He is a waiter now.
I hope its o.k., that I have commented so far. I'm quite handicapped because of my little touchscreen, so my comment is quite short.

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PostPosted: Sat Aug 01, 2009 4:13 pm 
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Ok, Andreas – I finished the book several days ago too, but since I know that you are currently not able to check in daily, I have been dragging my feet in commenting here.

So…. wasn’t that a strange ending? I don’t really know what to make of it. Not sure I like it, either. In fact, I liked the first half of the book when Max was alive, better than the second half when he was dead. I don’t like that the dead people could not do what they used to do like play piano, or sing, etc…and kind of funny the part about Dean Martin and Peggy Lee.

Is it reincarnation? Not sure about that, because I always believed to be reincarnated meant to be born again as a different person. Max was not born again, but he was put back onto earth with a slightly altered appearance, so maybe it is reincarnation. I dunno…. Kind of a strange book, wasn’t it?

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 02, 2009 11:50 pm 
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Hi Monica,
I will answer at length when I will be back, because its the third attempt to write something here, the first two failed and I have lost my texts twice. I agree to all your points. I didn't like the second part, but the first was more interesting because of its stage fright subject. I think the author plays with the probability and the possibilities of narrating, so this novel has a much more modern character than the two we have read before. Destiny seems more absurd and hazard than to have a final or even higher sense. I think its not a real reincarnation the author lets experience Max. I believe in reality in most cases there is much more time between the two lifes and indeed we are reborn as another person. But our microcosm takes the experiences of the former lifes with him. Normally we aren't conscious about that.

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