So, let me begin…
I really loved Liz Moore’s Heft. It’s a story that has stayed with me, even years after reading it. As soon I finished reading Heft, I ordered a copy of Moore’s debut, The Words of Every Song. It took a while to arrive and then, when it did, I was busy with other books – I’m a bit fickle like that – and I added it to the TBR stack where it lingered (for four years). But I dusted it off last week, read the blurb, noticed that the book includes a playlist, and wondered why I’d left it so long.
The story is told as a series of fourteen linked vignettes, each focused on a different character involved in the music industry and each loosely linked to Titan, a record company. As with any book of this nature, some chapters are stronger than others. ‘Tia, a Terrible Dancer’ shines – it tells the story of the fattest member of a teen girl group, revealing the pain of costume changes and the resentments and jealousies that teenage girls perfect.
You have to wonder how much of this book is autobiographical – when Moore wrote it she was a full-time singer and songwriter living in Brooklyn (there was no hint of her music roots in Heft, short of the fact that she has a wonderful way with words). Her take on the music industry is authentic, without sounding the least bit show-offy. The stories don’t offer new insights into the industry (it’s not an exposé) because the real action is on the emotional front and music is simply the link for Moore’s snippets on life, love, loyalty and ambition –
“Her heart and her mind are filled with Lenore. How is it, she asks herself, that love can end for one but not another?”
“All her life she has hidden herself from her mother, and she presumes that her mother has done the same… We keep ourselves from each other, thinks Ellen. We all keep ourselves alone.”
My only complaint with The Words to Every Song is that not all of the characters get a conclusion to their stories and for a few in particular, I wanted to know where they ended up, for better or worse.
3/5 Solid (not ground-breaking).
Find the playlist for this book (and Moore’s thoughts on music and writing) here.
Cheetos seem to be the preferred snack of most musicians…