First Sentence: That summer I would ride my bike over the bridge, lock it up in front of one of the bars on Orchard Street and drift through the city on foot, recording.
Back of the book:
Two twenty-something New Yorkers: Seth, awkward and shy, and Carter, the trust fund hipster. They have one thing in common: an obsession with music. Rising fast on the New York producing scene, they stumble across an old blues song long forgotten by history — and everything starts to unravel. Carter is drawn far down a path that allows no return, and Seth has no choice but to follow his friend into the darkness.
Trapped in a game they don’t understand, Hari Kunzru’s characters move unsteadily across the chessboard, caught between black and white, performer and audience, righteous and forsaken. But we have been here before, oh so many times over, and the game always ends the same way . . .
Quotes from the book:
Digital sound had an absolute cutoff, a sonic floor that repelled the listener and set an inhuman limit to the experience […] Whatever happened to soul, to the vibration of an animal-gut string, the resonance of lacquered rosewood?
“As he got in, I caught sight of his expression, an external blankness that wasn’t passivity or peace or even simple tiredness. It was like a lid on a boiling pan, masking some spirit-consuming interior battle.”
By the time I’d finished, it sounded like a worn 78, the kind of recording that only exists in one poor copy, a thread on which time and memory hang.
“I am often accused of lacking emotional response. In fact I think what I lack is emotional spontaneity. It takes me a while to release my reaction, for the feeling to bubble up from below.”
My memory is a mystical conspiracy of connections. Everything has already happened. I am merely a man, sitting in a chair, listening to a recording made long ago. The needle is travelling in a predetermined track. Eventually, sooner or later, it will hit the run-out groove at the end.
* * * *
Last Sentence: I listen to the buzz of the motor and think of what I learned by listening through the crackle and hiss, into the past: they either add dollars or days and if you don’t have dollars, all you have to give is days.