Meditations from a Musical Life
A collection of literary meditations, like a musical composition bearing the same description, is not necessarily linear, but often wanders, following the mind's movements and roaming overlapping territories. To guide the reader through the course of this book, I have supplied inclusive dates for each chapter, although each is made to stand alone.
The reader might also enjoy knowing that, because I write out of the world of music, musical gestures, forms, and other elements naturally influence the shapes and moods my pieces take. For example, Circular Breathing, a meditation in three parts, was conceived as a solo concerto, beginning, in musical terms, with an andante movement (walking tempo), shifting to lacrimoso (tearfully, sadly), and finishing with a moderato espressivo (moderate tempo, with expression). Five Sketches With B, written in five parts, was inspired by the clarinet and piano composition Five Sketches for Ann, revealed in the meditation to be a musical story in five movements. And Love From Afar is a personal riff on the comic opera, including two characters who represent aspects of myself: the Perfectly Eligible Woman Who Will Never Meet Her Match and the general manager, an update of the major-domo, or household manager, in operas by composers such as Mozart and Strauss.
Pieces in this book were published previously in Image (Opening, Reaching for the End of Time); the Florida Review (Green Cove); Boulevard (How I Got My Southern Accent), Circular Breathing, Five Sketches With B); the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle and the Austin American-Statesman (Three Bagatelles); the Cimarron Review (Aftermath); The Bloomsbury Review (Second Acts). Reaching For the End of Time was included in The Best American Spiritual Writing 2007 (Houghton Mifflin). Some pieces have been revised slightly since they first appeared, and the names of some individuals have been changed.