‘Weekend Australian’ reviews ‘A Lasting Record’

18 Feb

A Last Record Cover 2I’m delighted by a very complimentary review in the ‘Weekend Australian’ of my new book ‘A Lasting Record’ http://www.theaustralian.com.au/arts/books/last-notes-of-a-prodigy/story-e6frg8nf-1226578113201.

Apart from noting some ‘excessive’ detail and my using Italian plurals, John McBeath has praised the book heavenwards. He says it will appeal to music lovers, of course. But he also writes that it will interest a ‘wider audience because of its poignancy, and the detective-story aspect of this Australia-related tragedy’.

Authors wrestle with the idea of market. Who’s going to read my book? What is its natural market? Is it of wide enough interest for non-specialist readers? Is there enough excitement, drive, energy in the story itself to padlock readers to the question  a good yarn always imposes: And then? And then?

Well, I’ve been confident ‘A Lasting Record’ will have huge general appeal. For a start, it’s about a famed concert pianist, William Kapell, who died young in an air crash. And it’s also about the eccentric cosmetics salesman, Roy Preston, who engraved onto acetate discs from radio broadcasts some of Kapell’s last performances. McBeath calls my telling of this aspect of the story an ‘amazing account’.  It’s about how those recordings became commercially released, a detective yarn worthy of a Scando thriller writer.

But it’s also about Willy Kapell’s rocky courtship of the gorgeous Anna Lou and the anti-Semitism it almost foundered on. And it’s also about Qantas’s shameful, in my view, defence of Anna Lou’s actions in New York courts to be compensated for the death of her celebrity husband. She was the only relative of the 11 passengers in the plane not compensated.

Of many heartening aspects of McBeath’s opinion is his apparent enjoyment of my dramatic (fictional) reconstructions of certain scenes in the book. He finds the run-up to the DC-6’s crash ‘utterly believable’. And Downes ‘credibly reconstructs an imagined scene as Preston makes the only known recording of the last ABC broadcast … of Kapell playing …’

I’m touched and over the moon.




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