02 July 2014

The Soloist by Steve Lopez

The Soloist: A Lost Dream, an Unlikely Friendship, and the Redemptive Power of Music by Steve Lopez  4Stars

I picked this up some time ago, its been saving a place on my shelves. It sounded interesting and I was not disappointed.

Steve Lopez is a columnist for the Los Angeles Times. As a columnist, he has many interests and short attention span. He's always hunting for the next story. He finds it in the Second Street Tunnel, next to the statue of Beethoven. A man is standing there, perfectly calm, playing a violin with only two strings. There had to be a story there! Turns out Mr Nathaniel Anthony Ayers isn't just some old bum down and out, he's a former student of Julliard, and has schizophrenia.

We follow Lopez over two years as he strives to help Ayers off the streets and into a home. This is no mean feat as Ayers tends to fight this all the way. Along the way, Lopez is learning more about himself as he tries to help a man that was once just a column pice, but has become much more than that.

Lopez quickly discovers that the music Ayers plays creates a peace in his head and silences the noise in his head. Lopez, traditionally a rock and roll type guy, starts listening to the classical music that Ayers plays to understand him better and only discovers the calm that Ayers feels as his plays.

This is an amazing story that shows that each of us have the capability to change a life... even if those efforts change ourselves. Perhaps especially so.