A Memoir of Pain and the Piano

Book - 2017
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Andrea Avery, already a promising and ambitious classical pianist at twelve, was diagnosed with a severe case of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) that threatened not just her musical aspirations but her ability to live a normal life.As Andrea navigates the pain and frustration of coping with RA alongside the usual travails of puberty, college, sex, and just growing-up, she turns to music'specifically Franz Schubert's sonata in B-flat D960, and the one-armed pianist Paul Wittgenstein for strength and inspiration. The heartbreaking story of this mysterious sonata--Schubert's last, and his most elusive and haunting--is the soundtrack of Andrea's story.Sonata is a breathtaking exploration of a "Janus-head miracle"--Andrea's extraordinary talent and even more extraordinary illness. With no cure for her R.A. possible, Andrea must learn to live with this disease while not letting it define her, even though it leaves its mark on everything around her--family, relationships, even the clothes she wears. And in this riveting account, she never loses her wit, humor, or the raw artistry of a true performer.As the goshawk becomes a source of both devotion and frustration for Helen Macdonald in H is for Hawk, so the piano comes to represent both struggle and salvation for Andrea in her extraordinary debut.
Publisher: New York :, Pegasus Books,, 2017
Edition: First Pegasus Books cloth edition
ISBN: 9781681774091
Branch Call Number: ANF 616.722709 AVE
Characteristics: xix, 250 pages ; 24 cm


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Jun 13, 2017

Avery's compelling writing makes a subject many people shy away from easier to relate to. I have read a lot about pain, mostly from a medical perspective, and have chronic pain myself. This is best I have read about the experience of pain, and would be valuable for anyone who has someone dealing with pain in their lives. It is also just a brilliant memoir. The Schubert sonata is a recurring element and provides a compositional structure for the book that is both subtle and engaging.

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