THE MELODY

The Gulf Today - Panorama - - BOOKS - By Jim Crace

At first blush, The Melody by Jim Crace is a sim­ple, bit­ter­sweet tale of an ag­ing crooner near­ing the end of his il­lus­tri­ous ca­reer. But by the time you’re a few pages into this slim vol­ume, you re­alise it’s more than a sim­ple tale — it’s a haunt­ing story of love and loss, em­pa­thy and in­equity and the gal­vanis­ing power of mem­ory, hunger and fear, “the time­less, uni­ver­sal fear of any­one less lucky than our­selves.” While it’s an easy read, it isn’t a book you’ll eas­ily for­get. When we meet Al­fred Busi (af­fec­tion­ately known as Mis­ter Al), he’s only oc­ca­sion­ally singing his clas­sics in small venues in the un­named Mediter­ranean town where he’s lived all his life.

On the eve of what is likely his last big con­cert, he’s at­tacked in his home. By what, it isn’t clear.

The Melody leaves you with more ques­tions than an­swers. Those an­swers can’t be found in the book it­self, which will linger in your mind, like a song you can’t get out of your head. A song with a tune you clearly re­mem­ber, that you can hum to your­self — but you can never quite re­mem­ber the words.

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