A digital copy of this book was provided to me in exchange for an honest review.
When I talk about a book, I do not usually start with my experiences as a reader. I prefer giving my take on what the book is about, before going on to what I felt about it. But in this case, the experience of reading the book got me so intricately entangled with my own thoughts and retrospections, that I cannot follow a specific structure or pattern in my review. This is an all-out powerful book - one of introspections and reminiscences. Rob, the protagonist is an erst-while musician who take music critiquing for a living. Through Rob's eyes, author explores all sentiments of one looking back over the roads that have been crossed. It's mighty hard to categorise this book as music-based, primarily because it is so much more than that! Music is just the premise and platform that the author has chosen to look at an entire life's journey conceived by existentialism. The book touches one's soul many a time, and it is very hard not to empathise with the protagonist's longing for what once was and what could have been. That said, this book is in no way a melancholic take on life - in fact it is everything but that. It reinforces that one is not far from finding one's haven if one knows what to look for and where to look for it. And yes, the cat - if one is lucky enough! I particularly loved the use of the cat as the surprise companion Rob finds - where the author has used the cat as a wonderful abstraction figure to visualise Rob's companionship.
I was pretty impressed with the deep research that had gone into the making of the book. The author not only knows his way around Seattle's music circles, but is also adept at analysing the bands of the time, replete with their music and his inferences from those. Being someone who has never visited Seattle in her life, this book was a revelation, and I was left stunned at how much the author has taken in of the city, and how beautifully he has articulated all about it. One can't help wanting to read up all about the bands mentioned and look up the places that figure in the book - such is the compelling flavour that the book adds to the tale.
O'Leary is certainly a master of narration - his prose blends so tastefully into poetic recounts at many places, and yet this book gives no impression of being reserved for those with eclectic tastes. The language is a pleasure to read, and the book is hard to put down (I finished it one go, since the moment I started). This is definitely a must-read and I highly recommend it.
My rating for the book: 5 stars