Dennis McFarland’s The Music Room is one of those novels that you don’t forget. I first read it 20 years ago. When my aunt recently mentioned it, I immediately knew the book she was talking about. I decided to read it again. Alcoholism, suicide and divorce figure prominently, yet it’s still a lyrical, poetic work of beauty, sensitivity and dark humor. Martin Lambert is going through a divorce when he receives news that his brother Perry, a composer, has committed suicide by intentionally falling from a building in New York. Martin heads to New York to handle his brother’s affairs and to try to come to terms with his death. He is forced to embark on an internal journey to understand how this appalling tragedy came about. Along the way, we experience Martin’s vivid memories of Perry, their alcoholic mother and her perennial drinking buddies, Felicia and Little Teddy, their father, who eventually drank himself to death, and Raymond, the family retainer. These characters are very precisely and sensitively described. You won’t forget them either.
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