About Me

My photo
Hello, my name is Valorie. I have a Master's Degree in History and a license to teach-- I have been both university professor and public school teacher. Currently, I am a middle school social studies teacher. I love horror movies and spooky things. Every day is Halloween. I am also a passionate book blogger.

Featured Post

Book Review: 23:27 by H.L. Roberts

Friday, May 8, 2009

Book Review: The Wonder Singer by George Rabasa

Title: The Wonder Singer

Author(s): Georage Rabasa
Genre: Fiction - Memoir
Finished: May 8, 2009

Mark Lockwood, an author popularly known for his writings on how to talk to teens about a number of real life issues, has been assigned the task of acting as ghostwriter to pen and publish the biography of opera diva Merce Casals. Hours are spent listening to her talk of her life, which is daunting in and of itself, until one day Senorita Casals dies in the bathtub with the project unfinished. With a high profile book in the works, Mark's agent Hollywood Hank now wants to assign the book to a more well-known author. Only Mark is committed to the project and not willing to give up his hours of tapes despite their harassment and snooping. As Mark sees it, the book is his to write, the words entrusted to him by Senorita Casals and no one else. At the risk of his health, his sanity, and his marriage, Mark must write this book. It is a race against time to finish his book before Hollywood Hank and his new star author finish theirs. With the help of Senorita Casals' former nurse Perla, drag Queen and Casals' number one fan Orson, and Senorita Casals' husband Nolan, Mark protects his tapes and writes his book, becoming increasingly invested in not only the book but the life of the diva herself. The connection he has with Senorita Casals and her words is an intimate one. It almost seemed to me as if he were falling in a sort of platonic love with Merce, or becoming obsessed with her life and her words. Maybe the obsession was in the book and his love for her made him love her story, but he definitely connected with the book on a very personal level. The book weaves two stories in one: Mark's journey through his book writing and Senorita Casals personal story. Injected here and there are "snippets" from the autobiographical work by Mark. We learn of Merce's childhood, her abandonment by her father, her life as a rising star, her marriage, her marriage troubles, and all of her career difficulties. Through these snippets, we are better able to understand Merce and her complicated life. She becomes less a diva and more a real person who experiences pain and conflict. It is often times hard to see "privileged" people as anything but glitz and glamour, but such is far from the truth in the case of Merce. The strength that Merce displays throughout her life is truly impressive and inspiring.

Of course, I wish that Mark had developed more as a character-- rather, grew in his own maturity, not developed in a writing sense. He never really seems to take responsibility for what he is doing wrong to other people, namely his wife. It was sad to me to see that though he wishes to resolve this, he never really expresses regret until the end.

Throughout the book, as he apologizes to his wife and says he loves her, he is still lusting after the nurse without the slightest hint of shame. I have to say, I quite disliked him for this, but his character was human enough in every regard that I found myself also sympathizing with him. I think this is a testament to Rabasa's writing style and talent that he can make a character that anyone can sympathize with and understand even when he does things that are upsetting. My favorite parts were the parts of Merce Casals life. I wish that there really was a biography about her out! She told a lot of very interesting and emotional stories. Mr. Rabasa created a fascinating character when he created her. I found myself enamored with her and excusing everything she did wrong, which I guess makes me a lot like Mark. The entire story is told in a smooth, sophisticated tone. Rabasa is an impeccable writer with a talent for making characters that are believable and complicated. The all too human experiences endured by the characters give the story a sublime and impossible to escape from charm. Arias rise and fall, suffused with a catalog of emotions, which capture the heart. This is, of course, the life of Merce Casals-- a grand aria told in spoken language. For more information about the blog tour, go here. If you'd like to read my interview with George Rabasa, go here.

No comments:

Post a Comment