The Universe Playing Strings Discussion Journal

Tuesday night was the last Super Moon for 2016 and our Book Bistro met for our last discussion of the year as well. I chose The Universe Playing Strings, by R.M.Kinder because it is a beautifully written book that offers great insight into a world of passion and heartache and music that many of us know little about—even here in Las Vegas, where superstars grace our stages and arenas regularly. I also have the privilege of knowing the author and knew that this connection could offer tremendous insight into the world of writing, publishing, and reading.universeplayingstringscover

The discussion started off slowly and our first responder was interested mostly in my connection to the author and the book. Then another member said the book was so realistic that she didn’t like the characters and was actually angry at Amy for putting up with George. Another couldn’t understand how Carl could give up half his savings, although as the book progressed he understood Carl’s character better. Others remarked that Carl needed to be needed, which is why he chose a relationship with his bi-polar neighbor. We discussed that although Jack was privileged, he seemed to live simply and not take advantage of his father, to be respectful, even though he seemed naïve. One of us liked how Amy fell in love with the guitar. Another really liked Cora.

Although one or two members felt that Carl was the main character in the story, several in our group dissented.  One of us had not finished the book because it didn’t have a plot and he believed he knew the characters well enough. He found them egotistical, always interested in being better than someone else. Another believed that the characters used sex and music to try to connect with one another, never succeeding. Still others liked the happy ending, although they wondered if it was as realistic as portended.

Since I know the author, I enjoyed sharing her dedication—writing and re-writing—her love for her characters and her great talent with both music and words. We discussed her choice to make this book positive and the choice she made to shorten it and focus on fewer characters.

And what was the significance of the Tennessee Tenor? I suggested that he represents Nashville, the heart of country music, the talent and success just out of their reach but rubbing shoulders with them briefly. I’m sure I didn’t say it that way— nor as elegantly as the author does herself. That’s why this is just a taste of what it’s like to connect with us in the book club . . . the rest is up to you!

  • Other works discussed:
  • The Art Forger (2013) by B.A.Shapiro
  • The Banger Sisters (2002) DVD
  • Crazy Heart (2009) DVD
  • Genius (2016) DVD
  • Go Set a Watchman (2015)/To Kill a Mockingbird (1960) by Harper Lee
  • Ricki and the Flash (2015) DVD