The Booktrope community of authors is pretty damn cool. I’ve had the chance to meet the most fascinating authors. Take Dave O’Leary for example. In Please, Pretty Lights one of the characters is a quirky bass player who lives in Seattle. Imagine my excitement when I heard about O’Leary—a Booktrope author and Seattle-area bass player.
I couldn’t wait to read and review his latest release, The Music Book.
Compelling and real are the words that come to mind when I try to explain The Music Book to friends. I’m recommending it without a doubt, but it is difficult to describe. Art is like that. Dave O’Leary has crafted a multi-faceted, soulful story. I’ve seen my share of bands over the years. I was so curious. Would O’Leary name my favorite venues? Would he capture Seattle’s understated, funky flavor? Not only yes, hell yes. He even references KISW Mens Room Original Red. O’Leary obviously knows his way around the city. He also knows his way around a stage, amp and a bass.
But this isn’t a typical story about the ups and downs of a musician turned writer as I had expected. The protagonist Rob is an exceptionally sympathetic character. He intrigued me from page one. I loved getting his perspective on music and life and longing. His existential journey is insightful. Where would we be without music? Who is a man without affection? Rob doesn’t nail down the answers to all of his questions, which I find honest and human. O’Leary’s use of language is poetic; his flow is melodic. I connected with his characters; their dialog was realistic. I loved this book and was sorry when I got to the last page. Sorry because I want more. It’s that same feeling of longing O’Leary tapped into so thoroughly.
The Music Book
What does music mean? Can it be more than the sum of its notes and melodies? Can it truly change you? Rob, a musician turned reluctant music critic, poses these questions as everything important in his life appears to be fading—memories of lost love, songs from his old bands, even his hearing. He delves into the music of others to find solace and purpose, and discovers that the chords and repeated phrases echo themes that have emerged in his own life. The music sustains him, but can it revive him?
The Music Book is a story of loss, of fear and loneliness, of a mutable past. But most of all it’s about music as a force, as energy, as a creator of possibility. What might come from the sound of an A chord played just so? Rob listens. And among other things, he finds surprising companionship with a cat; another chance at love; and the courage to step on a stage again and finally, fully comprehend the power of sound.
Dave O’Leary is a writer and musician living in Seattle. His second novel, The Music Book (Booktrope, November 2014), is a collection of the writings O’Leary has done about Seattle bands for both Northwest Music Scene (http://www.northwestmusicscene.com/author/davemusic/) and the now defunct Seattle Subsonic. It is a fictional narrative wrapped around and within the actual music, a story about live music in Seattle and, more broadly, about the power of music in our lives. A CD of the music experienced in the book will be released by Seattle indie label, Critical Sun Recordings.