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Scott Alarik

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The Bowed Bookshelf

August 25, 2011

Revival: A Folk Music Novel
        By Scott Alarik -- And Giveaway!
Scott Alarik knows what every good novelist knows: readers want something real. And he delivers. The Boston folk music scene has never been so intimate. Alarik, former folk music critic for the Boston Globe, is a singer/songwriter in his own right, and with this debut, a novelist. We get the inside story on what it feels like to write music critiques for a major newspaper in this new century, but we also get a good sense of what it feels like to be a musician, writing songs, jamming late into the night. And Boston comes across so strongly, we can smell the streets and feel the weather.
This story is told in the voice of a musician whose name is stored in the memory of folk aficionados, but who has not written a song nor toured widely for many years. He is handling open mike night and jam sessions at a neighborhood bar near Harvard Square in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He is remembered for his own songs, but also for his adaptations of old favorites going back through the centuries. He is also remembered, he fears, for the alcohol-induced slackness of the years after his chance to be a big name passed him by. He keeps his life limping along until a shy, young songwriter/musician comes into the bar one season and changes everything.
Alarik doesn’t hold back: he shows us the thrill, the passion, the fear, the dark despair that is every performer’s lot. We hear a musician talking to himself about which music he likes--how and why. We watch a songwriter create songs: we see moments of creation and remember flow. We feel the pain of what it means to be a success—the tour. We learn what kind of person it takes to get to the top, and own the bittersweet regret of looking back on one’s life and wondering “what if.”
A message that comes across strongly in this novel is the solitariness of creation. There is a necessary introspection to the creation of new (or modification of old) art and Alarik’s main character, Nathan, has it in spades. But community is necessary also, and that’s where we come in. We find here a map for creating community, a guide to the people you will meet, and an understanding of the various meanings of success. Alarik’s website gives his tour dates. You’ll want to listen to him after reading this book, I promise you that.
The publisher sent me a copy of this book for review, and is offering one as a giveaway to readers of The Bowed Bookshelf! Leave a comment below with your email address by September 10, 2011 and I will use Random.org to choose a winner. You do not have to be a follower of this blog, but if you win, you will be contacted by email to get your mailing contact info. You will find Revival: A Folk Music Novel a fascinating meditation on music, art, and the meaning of mature love.

       

The Bowed Bookshelf

updated: 4 years ago