Tuesday, June 6, 2017

strictly literary: lonesome lies before us by don lee

full disclosure: i took a fiction writing class with don lee while he taught at emerson college. but i don't think i'm biased, more than anything i was feeling trepidatious about reading this.  his class gave me a lot of anxiety that i think remains unresolved. i requested lonesome lies before us because i can't resist fiction written about music, even though i'm not musical at all, i really enjoy how people write about music. in any case, the actual reading of this novel is a pleasure. it's easy to be drawn into yadin's story. it's so easy to read this kind of writing, don lee knows his craft.

but sometimes reading stories like this i wonder, if i read the first 10% and the last 10% will i have missed anything? i'm not sure i would have. contemporary literary fiction often leaves me feeling like this. as if the world were in stasis and where we end up is where we began.

it's not that things don't happen. yadin is a washed out songwriter who has made a decent life for himself out of the ashes of his success. he's got a good job. he's got a girlfriend. he's managing his health. and he's writing music. good music he thinks. and sure he's racing against time to write all the songs he has down. his ménière's disease will take his hearing and with it his songs.

so when he reconnects with his past life, he hovers on the verge of success again, and he has choices to make. what does he really want? fame? fortune? acclaim? could it really be that easy to pick up his life as a celebrity again? doesn't he prefer his life now?

sometimes even if we know the answers we go through the motions of possibilities. but reality, truth is inescapable. yadin finds himself exactly where he needs to be. and if the title of his song, of his album seems like a self-fulfilling prophecy, so be it.

**lonesome lies before us will publish on june 6, 2017. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/w.w. norton & company in exchange for my honest review.

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