Customer Reviews for

The Soloist

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  • Posted January 7, 2012

    Powerful and Poignant!

    Rarely does a book possess the power to change one’s view of the world. The Soloist, by Steve Lopez, opened my eyes to the social tragedy of homelessness, and after reading it, I will never look at a person sleeping on the sidewalk the same way again. In simple and direct journalistic diction, Los Angeles Times columnist Steve Lopez provides frightening insight into homelessness and mental illness. As a columnist, Lopez constantly searches for his next story. He encounters “vagrant violinist,” Nathaniel Ayers on Skid Row playing Beethoven on a beat up, two-stringed violin and discovers that the promising classical musician studied at New York’s prestigious Julliard School until paranoid schizophrenia assaulted his mind. What started as an attempt to get a few columns worth of material turns into a friendship, as Lopez makes it his personal mission to get Ayers off the street. His poignant columns about Ayers in the Times result in donations of musical instruments and financial aid, but Lopez learns that despite help from others, the mentally ill must first learn to trust. After slowly building a friendship, Lopez establishes communication with Ayers’ estranged sister and seeks professional help for the mentally ill musician in an effort to get him off the dangerous streets of Los Angeles. Every step Ayers takes toward shelter, care, and safety leads to two steps back to Skid Row. In the process, Ayers teaches Lopez not only about music, but also about himself. The Soloist poignantly articulates the themes of lost dreams, friendship, and one man’s power to make a difference.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 1, 2011

    Phenomenal Book For Musicians and All Alike

    Nowadays homeless people are ubiquitous within society, there reasons for becoming homeless unknown. Nathaniel Ayers was once at the height of musical genius, when a corruptive disease took over him. Steve Lopez comes upon this violin virtuoso on Los Angeles skid row, by accident and sees his newest story. But this is not the only thing that will come of these two; an unlikely friendship will begin to bloom. And the two will make each other¿s lives turn for the better.

    This book has one major theme that friendship is the only gift that can feed the soul. This story makes all question what they stand for and what they really want from life. The greatest friendship is one in which a great beginning and ending is inevitable.

    For any musician anywhere this is a book of pure genius. Ayers became what every musician desires, to make something of his music. This book is a personal favorite for me, due to the ties and understandings of the concepts that the book addresses. This book stands among itself due to the exceptional writing in which the author uses, due to his experience in writing to entertain a reader.

    The reporter does tend to have an overly biased opinion. Being Ayers biggest supporter, and never looking at the glass half empty. This situation is a bit heavy and the writer needed to address the situation more head on and less diverted. Homelessness is a major problem of society nowadays.

    I would recommend this book for all musicians, more specifically orchestral instrument players. However I believe if you don¿t play instruments this book would be a bit confusing but still a good book. You should read this book if you enjoy books in which pursue the ideas that anyone can redeem themselves. No matter the lengths or boundaries that stand in the way.

    Although I thoroughly enjoyed myself reading this non- fiction book. I would recommend fiction any day of the week. So make sure you have lots of interest in non - fiction books before picking this book up.

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  • Posted June 20, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    The Soul of Imagination

    The Soloist is an excellent novel for those who suffer from mental illness. It is enlightening, poignant, heartfelt, and inspiring too. Nathaniel Ayers is a troubled artist who is dicovered by a blue-collar journalist on the streets of Los Angeles. The two form an intense friendship which leads Steve Lopez into the heart of madness. The story is told in various colours. You become empathic towards the former Julliard student from the eyes of the narrator. This movie demonstrates a need for all of us to understand the tortured mind of a paranoid schizophrenic. We all can contribute towards comprehending how this disease overrides our perception of reality. Nathaniel Ayers finds out that recovery is not a simple road to follow. His new friend Steve Lopez believes he can be rehabilitated through psychotherapy & medication. If only schizophrenia was such a uncomplicated disease. I speak from experience. I was highly affected by the experiences of Nathaniel Ayers on Skid Row. Steve Lopez becomes a true, loyal friend despite the anger and hatred Nathaniel spews out his troubled mind. We all should try to educate ourselves concerning these human characters. Our humanity depends on how we all should relate to each other no matter if we are black, white, prejudiced, apathetic, or just sympathetic. Music is univeral. The sounds of Nathaniel's cello that reverberate is quite stirring and beautiful. He is a natural expressionist. The music flows from his mind, through the body, into his fingers. It is important that this novel be recognised for its mercy as well as its humility. Anyhow, the Soloist takes us down a rather unappealing, dark journal of a man plagued his demons. There is darkness that surrounds the novel. There is beauty and grace which appear randomly throughout this book. The quality of Nathaniel life is diminished but with Steve Lopez's encouragement, there is always hope in the most bleakest moments. I want everyone to read this book. Be open to the power and mystery of how mental illness affects us. As Neruda once exclaimed, "the journey is concerned with the walking but not the destination". Walk on brothers & sisters.

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  • Posted January 1, 2009

    Touching Read

    This story was so very touching. Though I am a fan of most types of music, there were points where it flowed slowly or I was lost with the lingo of composers, numbers and scales. But overall it doesn't detract from the point. True friendship, love and a journey toward healing. I was moved by the struggle of both the main characters and inspired by their bravery. Stunningly descriptive, you really have the picture of poverty and illness put out there in stark truth. I rooted for them all the way. For Mr. Ayers to get better and for he and Mr. Lopez's friendship to endure. There were many special break throughs, heartbreaking setbacks, and best of all I think the magic of them helping each other find themselves. It also makes me feel uplifted to know how many good people are in this world as they rallied the journey of this pair.

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  • Posted December 28, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Comforting and warm hearted

    The Author Steve Lopez digs deep into the life of Anthony Ayers, the cello, violin, piano genius and his mental illness. The majority of this book made me feel sad for Mr. Ayers, but it also opened my eyes to Americas homless population and mental illness. I loved how Mr. Lopez not only took Mr. Ayers as a topic for a stoy, but he took him into his life as a friend and supporter. I do wish however, that the end of the book had a bit of a epiloge regarding Mr. Ayers and how he is doing with his music and current health status.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 18, 2008


    I enjoyed this book. I think it illustrates that many people who live on the street do so because they are mentally ill, and because they want to be there. The author, who first just wanted to get a story, found himself emotionally invested in the life of Nathaniel. Many times I wondered how the author could keep going back to help someone who didn't want to be helped. I credit him for sticking it out and really trying to make a difference both in Nathaniel's life, and the lives of the poorest and most neglected.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 13, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 9, 2012

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