The Hands of Pianists

The Hands of Pianists

by Stephen Downes
The Hands of Pianists

The Hands of Pianists

by Stephen Downes



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The Hands of Pianists' narrator is a neurotic freelance writer who aims to prove that pianos kill elite pianists. For decades, he has grappled with the guilt that followed an accident in which he sawed off his talented sister's fingers, ending her promising career at the keyboard. His investigations centre on the violent deaths at 31 of three great pianists, his detective work taking him from Melbourne to Geelong and Sydney, to the south of France, London, Sussex and the Czech Republic.

'This book is a work of metafiction, a sustained exercise, virtuosic in its technique and grand in its achievement. [It's] an extraordinary inhabitation of [Sebald's] idiom and strategy.
'The novel is, among other things, a complexly variegated detective story.
'It sounds horrific and it is but it goes along with a voice that is stately and composed, erudite in its command of the history of music, the trees of the world, the supremacies of craft in a 17th-century choir stall.
'[It's] written with absolute gravity, grace and a moody, constantly surprising sense of wonderment.
'It's a sermon by a hell of a musician intimately suited to a time of plague.'
Peter Craven, The Weekend Australian

'[...] I read the book in two non-stop sittings, fascinated and ready for more. My initial prejudices melted away when I saw that the narrator's obsession was a global search for meaning through music.'
'Downes takes the reader into the minds of pianists to explore what music and performance means to them. [...] He writes about stage-fright, pianists' hands, the quality of different pianos, recorded music, and much more, in addition to writing about the aesthetic qualities of music.'
Terry Pitts, Vertigo, the blog about Sebald-influenced writing

'Downes's narrative is a gadfly series of leaps and bounds through time, space, geography and the world of concert pianism. [...] [The] idea of the grand piano as homicidal is a novelty and Downes pushes it as far as it will go and then some more.'
Diana Simmonds, Limelight, Australian magazine of music, arts and culture

'[A] globetrotting journey [...] ruminating on the nature of music, of sacrifice, and the lives of artists, as the psychological motives of the narrator become clear.'
Cameron Woodhead, The Age, Melbourne

Product Details

BN ID: 2940162679431
Publisher: Fomite
Publication date: 12/20/2020
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: eBook
File size: 407 KB

About the Author

Stephen Downes is a Franco-Australian writer whose food-themed non-fiction has won international and national awards. Last Meal, one of his short stories, won the 2020 UK Fiction Factory’s competition, and others have been longlisted and shortlisted in prestigious British contests.
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