Seduced by Music + Book Recommendations

Writing a blog can get messy. Possible subjects for this post could easily include grief, memory, family, parties, things lost and found. Possible alternative titles for this post include the following: How to turn a blog about books into a blog about death, or more cheerfully, I’m just wild about books and 2018 will be our year! A blog can have many threads, but I’ll keep in mind that what I really want to say to you is this: I have some fantastic reading recommendations to share, I think you’ll love them.

I prescribe Margaret Atwood’s On Writers and Writing for all writers, readers and Atwood lovers. It’s not a how-to, and it doesn’t treat the process of writing as some mysterious practice reserved for brooding geniuses. Instead it’s a good humoured exploration that welcomes every reader. Dip in and out of it and be inspired.

I happen to live within easy walking distance of many book shops, including a small, charming, tightly-packed second hand bookstore where I’ve picked up quite a few treasures. One of those books is Patrick Süskind’s Perfume: The Story of a Murderer. Tackling the challenge of writing about scent is something that I’ve always really admired. It’s a beautiful book. Sublime and grotesque, what more could you ask for? Set in eighteenth century France we follow Jean-Baptiste Grenouille on his journey to capture the perfect scent. Spoiler alert: It involves murder.

Before we reach the main event, here I want to quickly let you know that the distinctive Australian literary journal The Lifted Brow released its second ‘Best Of’ volume and copies are still available here! It contains an assortment of essays, fiction and poetry. Something for everyone!

On Thursday I attended an event for the recently released Symphony of Seduction: The Great Love Stories of Classical Composers by Christopher Lawrence. You may be familiar with him from his career in Australian broadcasting, his earlier books, the documentaries he has produced- the list goes on. Symphony of Seduction contains a selection of vignettes from the lives of some of history’s greatest composers. From the comical to the sensual, this book will run the gamut. Are you curious? I am. There were plenty of reasons to brave the humidity for this event, when I heard about this book’s release I knew it would be on my shelf sooner or later. I go to these kind of events frequently, whenever there’s an author or a book I’m particularly interested in. As a lover of music this title stood out to me, but what made Thursday evening so special and memorable is the silver vein of memory that ran through from my childhood to now. I grew up listening to Christopher Lawrence on ABC Classic FM. Often with my late Grandfather, occasionally while performing some kind of interpretive dance (what can I say? Grandad was an extremely attentive audience) and this was my introduction to the world of classical music. Without launching into memoir mode, let me tell you that I will always be grateful for that. Grandad played the violin in an orchestra in his youth, and Grandma plays the piano. The connection runs deep for us. After Grandad passed away, I used music to keep him close and present. I’ve been reminded of the power this music has to move us, to carry us further than we could ever travel. Symphony of Seduction is set to fascinate, to beguile. Lawrence’s use of language is thoroughly enjoyable, weaving together some of the most fundamental elements at the core of human experience. What could be better? I must insist that you pick up a copy. Read it during long summer evenings, a glass of red wine at your side. Read it under the shade of a tree, blades of grass between your toes. Read it in a bubble bath. That’s what I’ll be doing.

Stay tuned for a full review of Symphony of Seduction. You can find the cd inspired by the book here.

Follow me on instagram @vivienne_austen if you’d like to see more of my book recommendations, my paintings and scribblings and occasional nonsense.


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