Violín (Spanish Edition) Kindle Edition
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He came before the day Karl died.
It was late afternoon, and the city had a drowsy dusty look, the traffic on St. Charles Avenue roaring as it always does, and the big magnolia leaves outside and covered the flagstones because I had not gone out to sweep them.
I saw him come walking down the Avenue, and when he reached my corner he didn't come across Third Street. Rather he stood before the florist shop, and turned and cocked his head and looked at me.
I was behind the curtains at the front window. Our house has many such long windows, and wide generous porches. I was merely standing there, watching the Avenue and its cars and people for no very good reason at all, as I've done all my life.
It isn't too easy for someone to see me behind the curtains. The corner is busy; and the lace of the curtains, though torn, is thick because the world is always there, drifting by right around you.
It isn't too easy for someone to see me behind the curtains. The corner is busy; and the lace of the curtains. The corner is busy; and the lace of the curtains, though torn, is thick because the world is always there, drifting by right around you.
He had no visible violin with him then, only a sack slung over his shoulder. He merely stood ad looked at the house - and turned as though he had come now to the end of his walk and would return, slowly, by foot as he had approached - just another afternoon Avenue stroller.
He was tall and gaunt, but not at all in an unattractive way. His black hair was unkempt and rock musician long, with two braids tied back to keep it from his face, and I remember I liked the way it hung down his back as he turned around. I remember his coat on account of that - an old dusty black coat, terribly dusty, as though he'd been sleeping somewhere in the dust. I remember this because of the gleaming black hair and the way it broke off rough and ragged and long and so pretty.
He had dark eyes; I could see that much over the distance of the corner, the kind of eyes that are deep, sculpted in the face so that they can be secretive, beneath arching brows, until you get really close and see the warmth in them. He was lanky, but not graceless.
He looked at me and he looked at the house. And the off he went, with easy steps, too regular, I suppose. But then what did I know about ghosts at the time? Or how they walk when they come through?
He didn't come back until two nights after Karl died. I hadn't told anyone Karl was dead and the telephone-answering machine was lying for me.
These two days were my own.
In the first few hours after Karl was gone, I mean really truly gone, with the blood draining down to the bottom of his body, and his face and hands and legs turning very white, I had been elated the way you can be after a death and I had danced and danced to Mozart.
Mozart was always my happy guardian, the Little Genius, I called him, Master of His Choir of Angels, that is Mozart; but Beethoven is the Master of My Dark Heart, his captain of my broken life and all my failures.
That first night when Karl was only dead five hours, after I changed the sheets and cleaned up Karl's body and set his hands at his sides, I couldn't listen to the angels of Mozart anymore. Let Karl be with them. Please, after so much pain. And the book Karl had compiled, almost finished, but not quite - its pages and pictures strewn across his table. Let it wait. So much pain.
I turned to my Beethoven.
I lay on the floor of the living room downstairs - the corner room, through which light comes from the Avenue both front and side, and I played Beethoven's Ninth. I played the torture part. I played the Second Movement of the symphony knew.
No matter who dies or when, the Second Movement of the Ninth Symphony, as does everybody. I loved the chorus singing the "Ode to Joy." I can't count the times during the cold years when I was away from my city.
But in these last few years, even before I met Karl, it was the Second Movement that really belonged to me.
Its like walking music, the music of someone walking doggedly and almost vengefully up a mountain. It just goes on and on and on, as though the person won't stop walking. Then it comes to a quiet place, as if in the Vienna Woods, as if the person is suddenly breathless and exultant and has the view of the city that he wants, and can throw up his arms, and dance in a circle. The French horn is there, which always makes you think of woods and dales and shepherds, and you can feel the peace and the stillness of the woods and the plateau of happiness of this person standing there, but then......
....... then the drums come. And the uphill walk begins again, the determined walking and walking. Walking and walking.
You can dance to this music if you want, swing from the waist, and I do, back and forth like you're crazy, making yourself dizzy, letting your hair flop to the left and then flop to the right. You can walk round and round the room in a grim marching circle, fists clenched, going faster and faster, and now and then twirling when you can before you go on walking. You can bang you head back and forth, back and forth, letting your hair fly up and over and down and dark before your eyes, before it disappears and you see the ceiling again.
This is relentless music. This person is not going to give up. Onward, upward, forward, it does not matter now - woods, trees, it does not matter. All that matters is that you walk...and when there comes just a little bit of happiness again - the sweet exultant happiness of the plateau - it's caught up this time in the advancing steps. Because there is no stopping.
Not till it stops.
And that's the end of the Second Movement. And I can roll over on the floor, and hit the button again, and bow my head, and let the movement go on, independent of all else, even grand and magnificent assurances that Beethoven tried to make, it seemed, to all of us, that everything would someday be understood and this life was worth it.
That night, the night after Karl's death, I played the Second Movement long into the morning; until the room was full of sunlight and the parquet floor was glaring. And the sun made big beams through the holes in the curtains. And above, the ceiling, having lost all those headlights of the long night's traffic, became a smooth white, like a new page on which nothing is written.
Once, at noon, I let the whole symphony play out. I closed my eyes. The afternoon was empty, with only the cars outside, the never-ending cars that speed up and down St. Charles Avenue, too many for its narrow lanes, too fast for its old oaks and gently curved street lamps, drowning out in their alien thunder even the beautiful and regular roar of the old streetcar. A clang. A rattle. A noise that should have been a racket, and was once I suppose, though I never in all my life, which is over half a century, remember the Avenue ever truly being quiet, except in the small hours.
I lay that day in silence because I couldn't move. I couldn't do anything. Only when it got dark again did I go upstairs. The sheets were still clean. The body was his face; I'd wrapped his face round and round with clean white cloth to keep his mouth closed, and I'd closed his eyes myself. And though I lay there all night, curled up next to him, my hand on his cold chest, it wasn't the same as it had been when he was soft.
The softness came back by midmorning. Just a relaxing of the body all over. The sheets were soiled. Foul smells were there. But I had no intention of recognizing them. I lifted his arms easily now. I bathed him again. I changed everything, as a nurse would, rolling the body to one side for the clean sheet, then back in order to cover and tuck in the clean sheet on the other.
He was white, and wasted, but he was pliant once again. And though the skin was sinking, pulling away from the features of his face, they were still his features, those of my Karl, and I could see tiny cracks in his lips unchanged, and the pale colorless tips of his eyelashes when the sunshine hit them.
The upstairs room, the western room, that was the one in which he'd wanted us to sleep, and in which he died, because the sun does come there late through the little attic windows.
This is a cottage, this huge house, this house of six Corinthian columns and black cast-iron railings. It's just a cottage really, with grand spaces on one floor and small bedrooms carved from its once cavernous attic. When I was very little it was only attic then, and smelled so weet, like wood all the time, like wood and attic. Bedrooms came when my younger sister came.
The western corner bedroom was a pretty room. He'd been right to choose it, dress it so bountifully, right to fix everything. It had been so simple for him.
I never knew where he kept his money or how much it was, or what would become of it later. We had married only a few years before. It hadn't seemed a proper question to ask. I was too old for children. But he had given so generously - anything I desired. It was his way.
He spent his days working on his pictures and commentaries on one saint, one saint who captured his imagination; St. Sebastian. He'd hoped to finish his book before he died. He had almost won. All that remained were scholarly chores. I would think of this later.
I would call Lev and ask Lev's advice. Lev was my first husband. Lev would help. Lev was a college professor.
I lay a long time beside Karl and as night came. I though, well, he's been dead now for tow days and you've probably broken the law.
But what does it really matter? What can they do? They know what he died of, that it was AIDS and there was no hope for him, and when they do come, they'll destroy everything. They'll take his body and burn it.
In think that was the main reason I kept him so long. I had no fear of fluids or any such thing, and he himself had been so careful always in the final months, demanding masks and gloves. Even in the filth after he died, I'd lain there in a thick velvet robe, my unbroken skin closing me in and saving me from any virus that lingered around him.
Our erotic moments had been for hands, skin against skin, all that could be washed - never the daredevil union.
The AIDS had never gotten into me. And only now after the two days, when I thought I should call them, I should let them know - only now, I knew I wished it had gotten me. Or I though I did.
It's so easy to wish for death when nothing's wrong with you! Its so easy to fall in love with death, and I've been all my life, and seen its most faithful worshipers crumble in the end, screaming just to live, as if all the dark veils and the lilies and the smell of candles, and grandiose promises of the grave, meant nothing.
I knew that. But I always wished I was dead. It was a way to go on living.
Evening came. I looked out the little window for a while as the street lamps came on. As the lights of the florist shop went on, just as its doors to the public were locked.
I saw the flagstone ever more covered with the stiff, curling magnolia leaves. I saw how wretched were the bricks along the side of the fence, which I ought to fix so no one would fall on them. I saw the oaks coated with the dust rising from the roaring cars.
I thought, Well, kiss him goodbye. You know what comes next. He's soft, but then it's decay and a smell that must have nothing, nothing to do with him.
I bent down and kissed his lips. I kissed him and kissed him and kissed - this partner of only a few short years and such considerately rapid decline - I kissed him and though I wanted to go back to bed I went downstairs and ate white bread in slices from the wrapping, and drank the diet soda, hot from the carton on the floor, out of sheer indifference, or rather the certainty that pleasure in any form was forbidden.
Music. I could try it again. Just one more evening alone listening to my disks, all to myself, before they came, screaming. Before his mother sobbed on the phone from London, "Thank God the baby is born! He waited, he waited until his sister's baby was born!"
I knew that's exactly what she would say, and it was true, I guess; he had waited for his sister's baby, but not waited long enough for her to come home, that's the part that would keep her screaming longer than I had the patience to listen. Kind old women. To whose bedside do you go, that your daughter in London, giving birth, or that of your dying son?
The house was littered with the trash.
Ah, what license I'd taken. The nurses didn't really want to come during the last days anyway. There are saints around, saints who stay with the dying util the very last, but in this case, I was there, and no saints were needed.
Every day my old-timers, Althea and Lacomb, had come to knock, but I hadn't changed the note on the door. All Is Well. Leave a Message.
And so the place was full of trash, of cookie crumbs and empty cans, and dust and even leaves, as if a window must be open somewhere, probably in the master bedroom which we never used, and the wind had brought the leaves in on the orange carpet.
I went into the front room. I lay down. I wanted to reach out to touch the button and star the Second Movement again, just Beethoven with me, the captain of this pain. But I couldn't do it.
It even seemed all right for the Little Genius, Mozart perhaps, the bright safe glow of angels chattering and perhaps, the bright safe glow of angels chattering and laughing and doing back flips in celestial light. I wanted to ... But I just didn't move...for hours. I heard Mozart in my head; I heard his racing violin; always with me it was the violin, the violin above all, that I loved.
I heard Beethoven now and then; the stronger happiness of his one and only Violin Concerto which I had long ago memorized, the easy solo melodies, I mean. But nothing played in the house where I lay with the dead man upstairs. The floor was cold. It was spring ad the weather wavered in these days from very hot to winter chill. And I though to myself, Well, its getting cold, and that will keep the body better, won't it.
Someone knocked. They went away. The traffic reached its peak. There came a quiet. The phone machine told lie after lie after lie. Click and click and click click.
Then I slept, perhaps for the first time.
And the most beautiful dream came to me.--This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
- File size : 1488 KB
- Word Wise : Not Enabled
- Print length : 366 pages
- ASIN : B0083JC1FW
- Publisher : B DE BOLSILLO (16 August 2014)
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Language: : Spanish
- Best Sellers Rank: 1,690,389 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
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Top review from Australia
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Unfortunately, that art often becomes a soggy mess of melodrama and plotless meandering. Anne Rice's "Violin" was probably good for her mental/emotional health, and it brims over with genuine emotion... but as an actual novel, it's a big messy hallucinatory disaster. Methinks Anne should have just stashed this away in her desk.
The main character is Triana, a woman whose husband Karl recently died of AIDS. She also seems to have gone insane, since she hasn't told anyone about his death because she wants to cuddle with his dead body. While this is going on, she notices a strange man hanging around her house -- a man with a strange talent for playing Karl's Stradivarious.
The man turns out to be Stefan, a ghost with a connection to the Stradivarius. He and Triana embark on a trip through the centuries, exploring both their lives -- including the death of her alcoholic mother and young daughter. Wow, is this starting to sound like a certain gothic fiction author we're familiar with?
"Violin" is a mess. A big, sloppy, half-decayed, hallucinatory mess that makes you feel like you ate some bad mushrooms. There's not much of an actual plot -- possibly because this was published during one of the higher points of Rice's career, and she could actually get an entire book of morbid Mary Sue ramblings about cuddling with rotting bodies.
And honestly, most of this book is nothing more than that. Rice simply writes about Triana blathering about death and wallowing in the tragedies of her past, and occasionally waxing eloquent about violin music and Beethoven. You end up wishing the woman would just shut up, particularly since she expresses herself solely in run-on sentences of dripping purple prose.
And sometimes she goes into WAY too much detail about things we didn't need to know about, such as her dead mother's used menstrual pad COVERED IN ANTS. Is she trying to induce vomiting, or is that a fun side-bonus?
And Triana doesn't really help either. It's pretty obvious that she's Rice's self-insert, and she's not a very likable one. Not only is she painfully pretentious and self-absorbed, but she's also completely nuts and semi-suicidal. And she comes across as very selfish as well, since she keep Stefan captive in the world of the living because hey, she wants to play the violin.
"Violin" tries to be a ghost story, a paeon to music and an authorial catharsis, but it ends up deteriorating into a big smelly mess.
Top reviews from other countries
No No No, mediocre at the best of times. The first half of the book follows Triana as she wallows in self-pity following the death of her second husband. Once the ghost, Stefan, comes in they engage in a self-pity off, the millionaire middle-aged white lady who has everyone taking care of her (while she does nothing but feel sorry for herself) vs. the spoiled princeling. The violin seems to be the trophy in this contest, bringing the winner fame and money.
While each of them truly had some hardships in there lives, I didn't find either character to be sympathetic at all. Anne Rice writes well for the most part, and does create a good tone and atmosphere, but someone needed to reign her way in. At least in her vampire books, someone occasionally pulls Lestat out of his wallowing (poor sad immortal vampire), but in this book the main characters simply challenge each other to wallow harder.