Adrianne Geffel A fiction

David Hajdu

Book - 2020

"A poignant and hilarious oral history of a (fictitious) musical phenomenon. Celebrated music critic and cultural historian David Hajdu unravels the mystery of a one of-a-kind artist, a pianist with a rare neurological condition that enables her to make music that is nothing less than pure, unmediated emotional expression. Her name is Adrianne Geffel, praised as "the Geyser of Grand Street" and the "Queen of Bleak Chic." Yet despite her renown, she curiously vanished fro...m public life, and her whereabouts remain a mystery to this day. Hajdu pieces together her story through the memories of those who knew her, inspired her, and exploited her-her mother, father, best friend, producer, critics, teachers-in this slyly entertaining work of fiction. Adrianne Geffel is at once a piercing satire, a vividly twisted evocation of New York in the 1970s and '80s, and a strangely moving portrait of a group of characters both utterly familiar and like none we've ever encountered"--

Saved in:

1st Floor Show me where

FICTION/Hajdu David
1 / 1 copies available
Location Call Number   Status
1st Floor FICTION/Hajdu David Checked In
Subjects
Genres
Novels
Published
New York, NY : W. W. Norton & Company [2020]
Edition
First edition
Language
English
Physical Description
pages cm
ISBN
9780393634228
0393634221
Main Author
David Hajdu (author)
Review by Booklist Reviews

Known for his excellent books on music and pop culture, including Love for Sale (2016), Hajdu presents his first novel. Written in the form of an oral history, it presents Adrianne Geffel, a brilliant young pianist and composer who gains fame and accolades for her arrhythmic avant-garde music. She also suffers from a rare neurological disorder. She became so famous that her "name had fallen into common usage" and thus the "lingua franca of American culture." Since she remains an elusive figure, her life and career are revealed through interviews with her family members, romantic partners, music teachers, and musical team. Hajdu has fun name-dropping real-life artists (Sofia Coppola, George Saunders, Susan Sontag, Twyla Tharp) and making light of academia in the satirical mix. This may remind some readers of Rick Moody's work (one of his stories takes the form of liner notes), while the enigmatic Geffel has elements of Bob Dylan, Patti Smith, Laurie Anderson, and Lou Reed. Hajdu has created a weird and strangely wonderful fictional evocation of New York's 1970s and 1980s underground music and art scenes. Copyright 2020 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Music critic for the Nation and author of cultural touchstones like Positively 4th Street, Hajdu dreams up a debut novel about (fictitious) piano genius Adrianne Geffel, who has a rare neurological condition that makes her playing pure, distilled emotion. Hajdu blends satire with a poignant recall of 1970s-1980s New York to provide a portrait of the "Queen of Bleak Chic" and her compatriots. Copyright 2020 Library Journal.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

DEBUT The eponymous heroine of this debut novel from Hajdu (Lush Life), music critic for the Nation, is a pianist of abrasive originality and persuasive power who hears music playing constantly in her head and shares it with the world. Adrianne grows up humming yet reacts violently whenever she hears other music played—it clashes with her own music—and after puzzling family and friends in her small town briefly ends up at Juilliard. Soon, she's downtown New York's "new Queen of Bleak Chic," but emotional reconnection with an old friend who truly cares for her makes her change direction, shocking acolytes, and vanish before a key concert. The story unfolds as oral history, delivered mostly by those who celebrate their stake in her—her clueless parents, a controlling self-styled boyfriend—resulting in a portrait that's as much about the exploitation of the gifted as it is about the gift of music, of the artist's exterior situation as it is of the artist's interior world. Hajdu is excellent at articulating the vitality of Geffel's music while leaving what it actually sounds like to our imagination. VERDICT A reverberant and eye-opening portrait of an artist going her own way and finally saving herself; highly recommended. [See Prepub Alert, 3/11/20.]—Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal Copyright 2020 Library Journal.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Music critic Hajdu (Love for Sale) dissembles with tongue firmly in cheek in his inventive debut novel, which takes as its subject the "Queen of Bleak Chic," a piano phenom who breaks out in the early 1980s after withdrawing from Juilliard. Pianist Adrianne Geffel has a neurological condition that enables her to express her feelings through music. Geffel emerges through an oral history told by her family members who reflect on her troubled childhood (she ran away at nine) and others. Many try to exploit her talent, such as a pompous fellow student at Juilliard who positions himself as her manager, or claim to understand it ("Readers interested in how musical art evolves... will be intrigued to read future pieces by me on Adrianne Geffel's music," writes a critic). After the oral accounts catch up to the height of Geffel's success in the mid-'80s, they turn to her disappearance at the age of 26 and gain greater poignancy. The author establishes Geffel's impact on American popular culture from the very beginning (one can be accused of "only geffelling," "over-geffelling," or "not geffelling enough"), which makes the various accounts of her credible and engaging all the way to the end. Hajdu's vigorous send-up of the late-20th-century music scene sings. (Sept.) Copyright 2020 Publishers Weekly.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

Decades after a music artist with a rare neurological condition transforms American pop culture with her pure sensory masterworks, her surviving loved ones piece together what they have come to understand about her life, work and exploitation by others.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

"A poignant and hilarious oral history of a (fictitious) musical phenomenon. Celebrated music critic and cultural historian David Hajdu unravels the mystery of a one of-a-kind artist, a pianist with a rare neurological condition that enables her to make music that is nothing less than pure, unmediated emotional expression. Her name is Adrianne Geffel, praised as "the Geyser of Grand Street" and the "Queen of Bleak Chic." Yet despite her renown, she curiously vanished from public life, and her whereaboutsremain a mystery to this day. Hajdu pieces together her story through the memories of those who knew her, inspired her, and exploited her-her mother, father, best friend, producer, critics, teachers-in this slyly entertaining work of fiction. Adrianne Geffel is at once a piercing satire, a vividly twisted evocation of New York in the 1970s and '80s, and a strangely moving portrait of a group of characters both utterly familiar and like none we've ever encountered"--

Review by Publisher Summary 3

herDavid Hajdu cuts through the noise to tell, for the first time, the full story of Geffel’s life and work, piecing it together through the memories of those who knew her, inspired her, and exploited her—her parents, teachers, best friend, manager, critics, and lovers. Adrianne Geffel made music so strange, so compelling, so utterly unique that it is simply not to be believed. Hajdu has us believing every note of it in this slyly entertaining work of fiction.Adrianne Geffel

Review by Publisher Summary 4

A poignant and hilarious oral history of a (fictitious) musical phenomenon.