Friday, November 27, 2015

The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto

Title:  The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto
Author:  Mitch Albom
Publication Information:  HarperCollins. 2015. 512 pages.
ISBN:  0062294415 / 978-0062294418

Book Source:  I read this book based on the author's other work.

Opening Sentence:  "I have come to claim my prize."

Favorite Quote:  "Music is in the connection of human souls, speaking a language that needs no words. Everyone joins a band in this life. And what you play always affects someone. Sometimes, it affects the world."

Frankie Presto, a legendary guitarist who disappeared from the public eye, dies. People from all walks of life and from all over the world flock to his funeral. Who truly was Frankie Presto? Does anyone truly know? This book is his story. Sounds like a biography, right? In a way, it is, albeit an entirely fictional one.

This book sneaks up on me and makes me care. Admittedly, at the beginning, I am not sure I am going to like it. It begins at an ending - a funeral. So, of course, it's a reflection back. It's been done before, and I already know how it ends. I am not sure I am going to like it.

On page 2 comes a declaration. "I am Music." The book becomes a first person narrative with Music as the narrator. Now, I am really not sure this is the book for me. It sounds allegorical as Mitch Albom's books often are. It sounds like life lessons are coming as is often the case in his books. Can that narrator work? Will the allegory be too obvious? Will the book be preachy? I am not sure.

Then comes a section that reads like an interview. An actual historical person from the music industry is reflecting back on his experiences with Frankie Presto. The book becomes fiction that is a biography. Again, I question whether or not this is the book for me. I have my musical favorites, but am not knowledgeable enough to know the all the people or all the musical terms used in the book. Will the book be difficult to relate to?

Then, the book travels from time period to time period. Frankie's funeral to his birth and back again. From the Spanish Civil War to Woodstock. From Nashville and the Grand Ole Opry to New Orleans and Hurricane Katrina. From Detroit to Los Angeles. From past to present and back again. Short chapters showing glimpses into different parts of Frankie's life. As a reader, I think. Can I keep the time periods straight? Do I need to? Am I going to be able to follow the story?

Then, most surprising of all comes the fact that I find myself completely lost in the story and deeply involved with Frankie's life. My questions about the book all recede. I care what happened to Frankie in the past and what happens to him next. I know how it ends - he dies. I know the dramatic circumstances of his birth as revealed at the very beginning. I find myself reading the book straight through in one sitting to learn everything in between. Most importantly, I care.

My favorite writing technique of the book is the repeating refrain of "Everyone joins a band in this life." Each facet of Frankie's life is bookended by this statement. Accompanying this statement are simple statements of his life. Bands end. Bands breakup. Some are favorites. Some are wrong. Some get back together. Some bring joy. Some bring sadness. These statements, stark in their simplicity, leave a lasting impression and create the timeline of Frankie Presto's life.

I don't particularly care for one aspect of the story introduced close to the end nor do I see it coming in the rest of the book. However, by that point, it no longer matters. I am so vested in Frankie's story, that it just works into the story. Of course, by the end, the life lesson is also there as in most Mitch Albom books. However, Frankie and his story are clearly the stars of this memorable book.

Please share your thoughts and leave a comment. I would love to "talk" to you.

No comments:

Post a Comment