Us Conductors

Us Conductors

3.67 (3,771 ratings by Goodreads)
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3.67 (3,771 ratings by Goodreads)

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Locked in a cabin aboard a ship bearing him back to Russia and away from the love of his life, Lev Sergeyvich Termen begins to type his story: a tale of electricity, romance and the invention of the world's strangest instrument, the theremin. He recollects his early years as a scientist forging breakthroughs during the Bolshevik Revolution and his decade as a Manhattan celebrity and reluctant Soviet spy. Against the backdrop of Prohibition and the 1929 Crash, Termen spends his days in his workshop, devising inventions, and his nights in Harlem clubs, jostling with famous bandleaders and falling in love with the young violinist Clara Reisenberg. When the boat reaches his homeland, Termen finds it is not the Russia he remembers. He is imprisoned in the Gulag system, sent first to a Siberian work camp and then to a secret laboratory. In the face of all this, his love for Clara remains constant, passing through the ether like the theremin's song. Steeped in beauty, wonder, and looping heartbreak, Sean Michaels's debut novel explores the lies we tell, the truths we imagine, and the lengths we go to survive.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 464 pages
  • 130 x 196 x 33mm | 454g
  • Portland, United States
  • English
  • 1935639811
  • 9781935639817
  • 366,503

Review quote

*Winner of the 2014 Giller Prize
*"Us Conductors" makes "NPR's" 2014 Best of the Year list
*Chosen as an Indies Introduce pick
*"Flavorwire" picks "US Conductors" as one of the 50 best independent fiction and poetry books of 2014
""Us Conductors" is an impressive debut, a novel as somber and haunting as the voice of the theremin itself."
Friends of Atticus
"Both the voice and the stories it tells transcend the dusty contrivances of much historical fiction, resulting in a novel that feels both fresh and timeless."
Kirkus Starred Review
""Us Conductors" stretches its arms to encompass nearly everything it is an immigrant tale, an epic, a spy intrigue, a prison confession, an inventor's manual, a creation myth, and an obituarybut the electric current humming through its heart is an achingly resonant love story. Sean Michaels orchestrates his first novel like a virtuoso."
Anthony Marra, author of "A Constellation of Vital Phenomena"
A fascinating novel! Told with grace and confidence, and in a finely wrought voice, "Us Conductors" kept surprising me to the end. I was swept from the speakeasies and artistic fervor of 1930s Manhattan to bleak, secretive Soviet Union prisons, and never once was the illusion shattered. Throughout the story, the themes of love and music sing like the pure, ethereal notes of the theremin.
Eowyn Ivey, author of the "New York Times" bestseller "The Snow Child"
DZEEEEOOOoo! Just as hard as it is to make a theremin sing so it is hard to pull off a novel like this. But Sean Michaels does it. "Us Conductors" bridges body and soul, science and art, and like theremin music, it s of this world and magical at the same time.
Ismet Prcic, author of "Shards"
I ve been awaiting a book by Sean Michaels for a decade, ever since he helped create not only the online MP3 blog but his own form of criticismimaginative, bird-like devices of prose that soar in and out of the paths of songs. In his novel, "Us Conductors," Michaels finds his ideal subject in another inventor, the enigmatic Leon Termen, who with softly lit-up wisdom calls himself a sound being sounded, music being made, amid the noise of history. Michaels s voice will pass through you like live current and conduct you to parts unknown.
Carl Wilson, music critic for and author of "Let s Talk About Love: Why Other People Have Such Bad Taste"
"Sean Michaels has chosen an engrossing subject in Lev Termen, the Russian scientist and spy, most famous for his invention of the unusual instrument, the theremin. Michaels details Termen's rise to fame, his trips around Europe and America to demonstrate his creation (bankrolled by the Russian government and not without its costs), as well as his new life in the States and subsequent incarceration in a Russian gulag following a shift in relations with his homeland. "Us Conductors" is engaging throughout. A fascinating look at a fascinating man."
Liberty Hardy, RiverRun Bookstore
""Doctor Zhivago" meets "The Great Gatsby" in this lyrical novel in which the charming and magnetic inventor of the theremin is torn between the poles of capitalism and communism."
David Enyeart, Common Good Books
"Probably best known as founder of the influential music blog "Said the Gramophone," Michaels debut novel fictionalizes the life of Lev Termen scientist, spy and inventor of the theremin, an ethereal and eerie musical instrument."
"National Post"
"Hipsters and the tragically indie know Sean Michaels as the founder of music blog Said the Gramophone. In April, he ll release his debut novel, "Us Conductors," a fictionalization of the life of the inventor of the theremin. Yeah, I m not sure either, but Michaels writes about music with care and attention, so I m interested to see where this goes."
"Music blogger Sean Michaels has written a lushly imagined biography of the Soviet inventor of the theremin, one of the first electronic instruments."
"Toronto Life"
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About Sean Michaels

Sean Michaels is a writer and music critic. A two-time National Magazine Award winner, his work has been published by the "Guardian," "McSweeney's," the "Walrus," "Brick," "Pitchfork," "The Believer," and many other outlets. In 2003, he founded the music-blog Said the Gramophone. He lives in Montreal.
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Rating details

3.67 out of 5 stars
- 3,771 ratings
5 20% (768)
4 40% (1,497)
3 29% (1,103)
2 8% (313)
1 2% (90)
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