Monday, November 02, 2009

123 (2009 # 48). The Soloist

by Steve Lopez,
read by William Hughes

This nonfiction title was the October selection for my local book club. Author Steve Lopez is a Los Angeles Times columnist, and this book came out of columns he wrote about a homeless black man, Nathaniel Ayers, a former Julliard student with schizophrenia, playing a beat-up violin on the street. Many newspaper readers are moved by Nathaniel's story and donate various musical instruments for him. Lopez tries to help Nathaniel find housing and treatment, but Ayers is resistant. The only thing that really seems to help him is the music he plays.

Lopez writes well. I just couldn't get very excited about the subject matter. I guess I have to read enough work-related and medical nonfiction that I prefer my recreational reading (or listening) to be fiction. I'm also a little turned off by "inspirational" books - which unfortunately, my book club has read three of this year.

I listened to the audiobook read by William Hughes (interestingly, a professor of political science and an accomplished jazz guitarist who's done voice-over work for radio and film). Since the book is written in first person from Lopez' viewpoint, the single narrator works well. The audiobook would have benefited, I think, with excerpts from some of the classical music pieces mentioned in the text being played as background music, or as bridges between chapters or parts, and at the end and beginning of discs.


  1. Is the bases for the movie with Jamie Foxx and Robert Downey Jr. called "The Soloist" I did not know it was based on a true story.

  2. Yes, Tracy, it is the inspiration for that movie, which I haven't seen. Did you see it? Did you like it?