The End of Music
The End of Music any good books lately?
[Breakwater Books] is a good book.
If you asked me today —
— I’d answer, “Yes, Jamie Fitzpatrick’s The End of Music.”
I was a wee bit surprised to have liked this novel as much as I did. I couldn’t relate to the cover illustration of band instruments on an empty stage. Sure, I don’t know a Telecaster from a Les Paul.
I read because I liked its heft. I liked the feel of it in my hands. Sometimes touching a book is akin to licking your fingertip and dabbing it on a live wire.
There’s a jolt, eh b’ys?
The story carried me back to my long-gone youth, especially the patchwork pieces I spent in Gander, Newfoundland: Gander, an airport town, once renowned as the Crossroads of the World.
Back in 1960-whatever, en route from the iron ore fields of western Labrador to university in St. John’s, I occasionally spent nights in Gander because St. John’s airport was fogged in. In those days, when flight interruptions occurred, airlines “put you up for the night.”
— it wasn’t unknown for my travelling buddies and I to partake of strong drink and wind up asleep with our feet propped on the radiators of some Gander hotel.
Also, me and Missus spent a honeymoon night at the Gander Holiday Inn before flying into western Labrador to earn some summer wages.
So, yes, reading about Gander brought back memories.
Although Gander is a character in this novel — kinda — the book is more the story of Joyce (Pelley) Carter and her son Herbert Carter, both musicians of sorts.
The author tells the mother and son story in an alternating point of view fashion, a chapter for Joyce, a chapter for Carter. Joyce works with Trans Canada Airlines and also sings with a local band during Gander’s postwar heyday. Carter is a member of “a semi-obscure mid-90s Canadian rock band.” . . . . . .
Chapter one is Carter’s. It answers a universal question Grannies sometimes ask, in speculation, regarding their wayward kin —
We know right away what Joyce — onetime torch singer — comes to.
Carter has returned to Gander from Upalong to help his mother move into Howley Park, a seniors’ home.
Sadly, that sometimes happens at the end of music.
An aside of sorts. You don’t have to be a musician to enjoy
just as you don’t have to be a baseball player — or even like baseball — to enjoy W. P. Kinsella’s novel
I don’t have a note in my noggin and I’m not a baseball fan. Nevertheless, I sing the praises of, and I’d go to bat for, both novels.
That last bit is lame, eh b’ys? Let’s see if I can scribble a synopsis.
Joyce Pelley, a bay-girl from Cape St. Rose, moves to Gander, a town not long out of diapers, so to speak. She works for the airlines and sings in a local band. Blink, blink, blink. Her life zips along and she has a son, Herbert Carter.
Carter grows up, joins a fifteen-minutes-of-fame band, leaves home — like a good Newfoundlander — and moves Upalong. He gets married. He gets divorced. Re-marries and has a son. And so on.
End of synopsis, such as it is, eh b’ys.
I’m scravelling because I want to you to peep in on a crowded wake where there are little boys “who were sent outside whenever someone noticed that they had come back in.”
Those were truly the good old days. Days when youngsters, underfoot and tormenting — Bless their hearts — were simply hustled outdoors without fear of traumatic scarring.
Granny would have said, “T’won’t hurt ‘em a bit.”
I’m always on the lookout for a gem-dandy comparison. Here’s my favourite from
While helping his mother pack, Carter picks up a jewelry box “no
bigger than a meatloaf.”
Runner-up is the best, most heartening image of teenage pimples ever — “His (Jordan’s) pimples are little eruptions of inner vitality.”
Sure, that suggestion of vitality almost makes you want to have your own patch of pimples. Or not.
You won’t be able to put it down. And you’ll be “all sot” to answer when someone asks, “Read any good books lately?”
Thank you for reading.