The upright piano player by David Abbott

Source – review copy

David Abbott was chosen as one of BBC culture shows  twelve new novelists this year for this his debut novel .He worked in advertising as a copywriter for the largest firm in Britain ,he was the man behind the original J R Hartley advert ,and in parts you can see that David really loves books .

The upright piano player is a later life tale ,a man Henry cage a successful business man in the world of advertising as the writer is as well , that is about to retire ,he has had it all at work ,been admired and reached the top of the ladder so to speak ,but at what cost thou ? Iis now facing a different world that outside work  ,a  lonely one as he is divorced from his wife  ,she is in the US ,so over the course of the book we find out what henry is about ,and he on whole is a bit to work  focus we find .This had led to his wife Nessa leaving him but now she wants to see Henry ,why his son is so distant .Plus we also have one of the nasty characters I ve met in fiction  Bateman that Henry crosses swords with back in uk as he spends time with his ex-wife in the US .secrets are uncovered along way and Henry tries to make a mend for his past .All that and a wonderful description of a visit to the book shop John Sandoe as henry is a book collector he loves First editions .We also get a great Orson Welles story that if it isn’t true certainly should be as the great man tries to record a voice over for an advert .

He decided to walk home via the John Sandoe  bookshop ,just off King’s road .Like all bookshops he loved ,It was small intimate ,a miracle of compression .Books everywhere .On the stairs to the paperback room ,stacks of books were kept on the treads leaving little room for going up and down (it was rumoured that no-one with a shoe size over ten had ever made it up there .)

A visit to Sandoe’s shop ,I m sure David has been here many a time himself .

I can see why it was picked by the culture show  it is a well crafted book ,in places it reminded me of Edward St Aubyn a clue to the exit  ,both involve men on the edge and henry is on the edge ,Davids past life as a copywriter is evident in reminds me the great Gold blend  campaign in the 80’s  an end of each chapter you wanted to find out what was going happen in the next ,Henry is a character that exists the workaholic man ,the blinkered serious man .But I ve rarely seen it so well told before .It is also nice to see a writer in later life as David is getting the chance to get published but also put on list like the BBC culture show one .I hope he goes on to write others books ,He has a way to keep you turning them pages this is a evening book at 240 pages you can finish it in a long evening .

Have you read this or any of the culture show choices ?

June 2011


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