Saturday, April 4, 2009
The Soloist by Steve Lopez
This book was so very interesting, so very painful, so very revealing, and gave real insight to the effect of paranoid schizophrenics who live on the streets. Steve Lopez's quick stop one day to listen to an African American homeless man playing violin in a tunnel reverberating with speeding cars, and the sounds of Skid Row, proves to be fortuitous for both men. Lopez's efforts to get this Juilliard trained musician into "safe" housing was met at every turn with Ayer's obstinate will to be "safe" living on the streets. Lopez's compassion, all the people he "meets" after he writes about Nathaniel in his column, are all inspiring only because they get what Nathaniel is like while Steve Lopez tries to defy the odds and work a miracle with this homeless man who becomes his friend while serenading him with Beethoven & Bloch, all the while maniacally cleaning up cigarette butts. I empathized with Lopez's angst, anger,and frustration with himself and the slowness of the mental health system and Nathaniel was just plain suspicious of any attempt at medication. But Lopez's language concerning Nathaniel Ayers' music describes the raw beauty of the notes, chords, and sheet music that kept him living and loving each day to play more and more and more. Such a stirring story about two men who really find so much in happinees each other through their friendship.