Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Music Room

The Music Room by Dennis McFarland
Open Road Media: rerelease 1/28/2014
275 pages
ISBN-13: 9781480465046

Musician Marty Lambert’s life is already falling apart when he receives the phone call that changes everything. His brother, Perry, has killed himself in New York, and Marty—with his marriage on the rocks and his record company sliding into insolvency—decides to leave San Francisco to investigate exactly what went wrong. His trip sends him headlong into the life his only brother left behind—his pleasures and disappointments, his friends, his lovely girlfriend, Jane—and finally, to the home they shared growing up in Virginia. Along the way, through memories and dreams, Marty relives their complicated upbringing as the children of talented, volatile musicians and alcoholics. Through the tragedy, Marty finally faces the demons of his past, ones he pretended he had buried long ago, to emerge on the other side of grief, toward solace and a more hopeful future.

My Thoughts:

The Music Room by Dennis McFarland is a recommended novel that focuses on a dysfunctional family of alcoholics.

Marty Lambert's life is already in shambles when he receives the call informing him that his brother, Perry has committed suicide in NYC. Marty, a record producer in San Francisco, and his wife are divorcing and he has already started to reduce his possessions down to 2 suitcases when he recieves the phone call that sends him to NYC to try and figure what lead his younger brother to apparently commit suicide. When he arrives in NYC, Marty finds no easy answers explaining the reason for Perry suicide. He does meet Perry's girlfriend, Jane Owlcaster, and inherits his dog.

Perry's death leaves Marty with a mystery that he is determined to solve, although he goes about it in a befuddled, self-examination kind of trance rather than face his need for mourning. As Marty seeks answers, along the way he also reminisces about the past and recalls the neglectful, turbulent upbringing he and Perry experienced in a family of alcoholics. As can often be the case some of the answers may be found in the past. Or maybe there are no real answers to be found. Marty must also face his own inherited legacy of alcoholism.

McFarland's beautifully expressive prose carries the novel while the narrative itself can be trying. Reading about a family of wealthy, self-centered alcoholics doesn't usually guarantee any great connection with the characters for me. Although I certainly felt empathy for Marty, I grew weary of him wallowing in his unhappiness as he explored his emotions. That said, there are some very poignant scenes with a keen insight into these deeply flawed characters.

Disclosure: My Kindle edition was courtesy of Open Road Media via Netgalley for review purposes.

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