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Symphony for the Man by Sarah Brill.

April 8, 2020

Symphony for the Man Symphony for the Man. Sarah Brill.  Australia: Spinifex Press, 2020.

4 stars

A tender novel by an Australian woman, about two people adrift in their world but, in small ways, reaching out.

Sarah Brill was born in Perth and now lives in Sydney.  She is a playwrite who has also written for the media.  Her first novel dealt with anorexia.  This is her second novel to be published by Spinifex Press.

Her new novel alternates between the stories of two individuals.  One is an older, homeless man who lives a barren existence along a beach in Sydney.  The other is a marginally more functional young woman with no musical background who observes the man and decides to write a symphony for him.  While the man continues his meaningless routine, she begins to reach out, taking a job and learning about music. When she begins to leave him tokens of her attention, he doesn’t know how to react.  Gradually their small gestures, and those of others, combine to enrich their lives without offering long-term solutions.

Brill’s writing is as tender and simple as the story she tells. Her images are striking.  She looks squarely at her characters without portraying them as either heroes or victims. She gives us a glimpse into to lives of those whom we usually ignore or avoid.

I recommend this book gladly.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. April 9, 2020 4:46 am

    I have no musical talent whatsover so writing a symphony wouldn’t be the first thing I’d think of doing if I encountered that homeless man 🙂 Cooking maybe or even needlework so I could make him some clothes…

    • April 9, 2020 10:17 am

      Yes, I think most of us would respond that way–which is part of why this book is so alluring.

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