Friday, January 14, 2011

Novel 1: An Equal Music by Vikram Seth

1. Vikram Seth.

An Equal Music was the first work of Sethian fiction I've read, although last year I read his very nice From Heaven Lake, a travelogue he wrote as a young student in the early 1980s journeying through western China.

I am aware that out there lurks an extremely long and very well-known Seth novel called A Suitable Boy. My wife says it's excellent.

I'm ready to start hunting for it now that I've had a taste of Seth's fiction. As my wife has observed, there really are no absolute good guys or bad guys in An Equal Music, only beautifully drawn human beings with their own motives. I like it when I can read fiction purely for the pleasure of watching the characters interact.

2. Classical music.

My relationship to classical music has been something of a tangential one. I played the trombone in various school bands and music classes in high school and university, including a single semester in university orchestra. In addition, I played the piano for a few years as a kid, as well as (very briefly) the violin. If I took up the piano or the trombone again now, and began practicing again, and kept at it for a good long time, I think I could use brute force to bring myself up to a semi-respectable level of skill. But I've proven to myself that I don't have any special natural talent for music.

I belong to that segment of the public that, as Benjamin Zander says in one of the most deservedly popular TED talks of all time, "doesn't mind" classical music.

In short, I like classical music well enough, and I have some Bach and Beethoven on my iPod, but to tell the truth there are few classical pieces that, if I heard them, I could correctly identify by name.

That's too bad.

3. The plot.

I'm not going to talk about the plot. What is this, a junior high book report?

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