The Song is You

The Song is You

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Julian Donahue is in love with his iPod. Each song triggers a memory - there's one for the day when he met his wife-to-be, and another for the day his son was born. But when a tragedy tears his family apart, even music loses its hold on him. Then, one snowy night in Brooklyn, he stumbles into a bar where a young Irish woman with a shock of dark red hair sings with a voice that demands his attention. Though they do not meet, a strange and unlikely love affair is ignited, and his life's soundtrack starts to play again. Cait O'Dwyer's star is on the rise, and from an anonymous distance Julian guides her along the path to fame - and she responds to the one voice who seems to understand her. As their entanglement deepens, they face the prospect of an inevitable, impossible meeting. What follows is a love story and a uniquely heart-breaking dark comedy about obsession and more

Product details

  • Paperback | 272 pages
  • 129 x 198 x 19mm | 186g
  • Gerald Duckworth & Co Ltd
  • London, United Kingdom
  • 0715638734
  • 9780715638736
  • 582,763

About Arthur Phillips

Arthur Phillips was born in Minneapolis and educated at Harvard. He has been a child actor, jazz musician, speechwriter, dismally failed entrepreneur and 5-time Jeopardy champion. His previous novels, "The Egyptologist", "Prague" and "Angelica", are available from Duckworth. He lives in New York more

Review quote

'The whole novel zings with fresh insight and inspired writing... impossible to put down' - New York Times. 'Phillips has a perceptive eye for the precarious nature of vocal genius' - Guardian. 'The story is compelling and lively. Some wonderful descriptve sound-bites... and inventive vocabulary... I shall be searching out his earlier novels' - newbooks. 'Phillips achieves an elaborate, gratifying precision, combining a naturally flamboyant style with neat, observational wit. A beautiful evocation of music's consoling power to blur the borders between art, artist and consumer' - New Yorker. 'Highly contemporary and yet somehow timeless, "The Song is You" is a wise, articulate, stunning novel that eloquently illuminates that mysterious and beautiful junction where love, grief, and pop music intersect' - Jonathan Tropper. 'Gorgeously constructed prose... "The Song is You" showcases Phillips' gift for plumbing the depths of grief and emotional fragility... a writer of enormous talent' - USA Today. 'Phillips blends wit, erudition and eccentricity' - The Times. 'Arthur Phillips is a terrifically talented writer' - George Saunders. 'One of the best writers in America' - Washington Post. 'Neither mawkish nor syrupy Phillips's sentimentality is gossamer light ... [He] skilfully pierces novelistic convention and pat stereotypes to reveal the pathos and humour of flawed humanity' - more

Review Text

A betrayed husband's fascination with a charismatic singer is given several intriguing twists in this subtle fourth novel from the versatile Phillips (Angelica, 2007, etc.).As he did in his widely praised debut novel Prague, Phillips focuses microscopic attention on the intellectual keenness and emotional vulnerability of each of his straying, struggling principal characters. Foremost are reluctantly aging director of TV commercials Julian Donahue, still sunk in grieving over his two-year-old son's death from a mysterious infection; Julian's estranged wife Rachel, whose own sorrows have steered her into promiscuity; and rising musical star Cait O'Dwyer, a bewitching Irish beauty who has become the darling of dimly lit jazz clubs and college campuses, and whose smoky sensuality brings back to Julian the vocal witchcraft practiced by Billie Holiday in her heyday. The simplicity of the tensions thus created is then skillfully complicated, as Phillips juxtaposes Julian's convoluted self-justifying fixation ("He could believe, with Cait in his life, that he could be free and tethered, young and old, joyful and mourning, forgiven") with a trenchant objective analysis of both his conflicted youth (among a loving and judgmental family) and his destroyed marriage. Whenever we expect it to suffocate in solipsism, this novel's scope instead widens. Intriguing parts are played by the footloose members of Cait's touring band, a sinister rock star turned painter (Alec Stamford) and Julian's older brother Aidan, an autodidact underachiever whose many failures are crowned by his embarrassing appearance on Jeopardy (from which, as it happens, author Phillips retired as an undefeated champion). The problem is Cait, whose ostensibly irresistible allure is never fully convincing; no more so, in fact, than is her reputation as a soulful songwriter - who, for example, rhymes "keep your distance...[with] don't leave a witness."Still, the novel's clashing harmonies seduce and fascinate. And Phillips still looks like the best American novelist to have emerged during the present decade. (Kirkus Reviews)show more