Counterpoint: A Memoir of Bach and Mourning

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$17.95  $16.69
W. W. Norton & Company
Publish Date
5.4 X 8.2 X 0.7 inches | 0.45 pounds

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About the Author

Philip Kennicott, the senior art and architecture critic of the Washington Post and a former contributing editor for the New Republic, won the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism in 2013. He lives in Washington, DC.

Lyrical and haunting.--Alex Ross "The New Yorker"
Full of arresting insights about the way music permeates our lives, as well as heartbreaking reflections on the wounds a parent can inflict on a child.--Michael O'Donnell "Wall Street Journal"
Immensely moving....With gorgeous prose and granular inspection, Kennicott has created a subtle and profound portrait of love, loss and the human condition.--Marcia Butler "Washington Post"
A thought-provoking and accomplished memoir, meeting Kennicott's own criterion that 'every good book or great piece of music carries with it the possibility of redemption.'--Martha Anne Toll "NPR"
With stunning candor and elegance, Kennicott explores the complexities of grieving for an emotionally abusive person with brief dissertations on longing, on learning, on perfectionism; the lasting memories that color our lives; a beloved dog that indelibly despises Bach.... Kennicott's approach turns what may have been a simple memoir into a shining, nonlinear meditation.--Zoë Madonna "Boston Globe"
A tender, wise, unflinchingly realistic and plain-spoken memoir.... In short, this is a beautiful and unexpectedly uplifting read which will have you reaching for both Gould's Goldbergs and the Chaconne, and perhaps even looking at the world with renewed thoughtfulness.--Charlotte Gardner "Gramophone"
Heart-wrenching....This book, marvelous as it is, might be merely another contribution to the subgenre of grief literature, were it not for Kennicott's extraordinary gift for writing about morning alongside music....By the end of Counterpoint, Kennicott has somehow managed not only to meditate on loss, but to say something, without resorting to cliché, about what it means to be alive and do meaningful work.--Adrienne Davich "Van"
A piano teacher once told me, 'We can be sitting here and play a phrase and suddenly there's beauty.' You can touch a page of this book for beauty, along with sadness and wonder and certainly joy.--Noah Adams, contributing correspondent, National Public Radio, and author of Piano Lessons
A wise, haunted, and beautiful book. I found myself reading paragraph after paragraph aloud, marveling at Kennicott's ability to create a full musical resonance with his words alone. Counterpoint is not only an intimate examination of a masterpiece--Bach's Goldberg Variations--but an unflinching and humane meditation on the lifelong process of growing up.--Tim Page, Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism and Thornton School of Music, University of Southern California
A story as complex and poignant as the great musical work at its heart, Bach's Goldberg Variations.--Paul Kildea, author of Chopin's Piano