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The Music Room by Dennis McFarland {Excerpt}

The Music Room by Dennis McFarland {Excerpt}

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Published by OpenRoadMedia
Dennis McFarland’s acclaimed debut novel, hailed by the New York Times Book Review as “a rare pleasure . . . Remarkable from its beginning to its surprising, satisfying end”

Musician Marty Lambert’s life is already falling apart when he receives the phone call that changes everything. His brother, Perry, has killed himself in New York, and Marty—with his marriage on the rocks and his record company sliding into insolvency—decides to leave San Francisco to investigate exactly what went wrong. His trip sends him headlong into the life his only brother left behind—his pleasures and disappointments, his friends, his lovely girlfriend, Jane—and finally, to the home they shared growing up in Virginia. Along the way, through memories and dreams, Marty relives their complicated upbringing as the children of talented, volatile musicians and alcoholics. Through the tragedy, Marty finally faces the demons of his past, ones he pretended he had buried long ago, to emerge on the other side of grief, toward solace and a more hopeful future.
Dennis McFarland’s acclaimed debut novel, hailed by the New York Times Book Review as “a rare pleasure . . . Remarkable from its beginning to its surprising, satisfying end”

Musician Marty Lambert’s life is already falling apart when he receives the phone call that changes everything. His brother, Perry, has killed himself in New York, and Marty—with his marriage on the rocks and his record company sliding into insolvency—decides to leave San Francisco to investigate exactly what went wrong. His trip sends him headlong into the life his only brother left behind—his pleasures and disappointments, his friends, his lovely girlfriend, Jane—and finally, to the home they shared growing up in Virginia. Along the way, through memories and dreams, Marty relives their complicated upbringing as the children of talented, volatile musicians and alcoholics. Through the tragedy, Marty finally faces the demons of his past, ones he pretended he had buried long ago, to emerge on the other side of grief, toward solace and a more hopeful future.

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Published by: OpenRoadMedia on Jan 27, 2014
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02/07/2014

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Dennis McFarland
THE MUSIC ROOM 
1
In the bicentennial year of our country’s independence from Great Britain, a time when I imagined the American masses celebrative and awash with a sense of history and continuity, my  wife of only four years decided it would be best for both of us if she moved in with her mother for a while— a trial separation, she said, though we both were so immediately relieved by the idea of parting, the real thing was bound to endure. In October of the previous year, she had suffered her second miscarriage— this one quite far along (almost six months); we’d begun to  breathe easy, we’d begun decorating a nursery— and afterward,  we succumbed to a stubborn disappointment that refused forgiveness, refused sexual and emotional healing. There had never been anything in our marriage quite as coherent as this two-headed tragedy. Madeline left for Santa Rosa in February, a rainy, blossoming-of-spring month in northern California. By the following August, I had decided to give up our large flat in San Francisco, where I remained, a rambling monk  with only random visitation rights to my past. The place, the flat,  was a daily encounter with guilt and failure, and though I knew enough not to believe in geographical cures for those conditions, that didn’t make me any less eager to escape its sinister Victorian charm. What Madeline didn’t have any use for in Santa Rosa I put into storage. I arranged for an absence from my record company, where things had long run better without me anyway. I thought I would travel for a few weeks, perhaps visit my  brother in New York. I imagined that on my return I might find
 
Dennis McFarland
THE MUSIC ROOM 
 better, altogether different living quarters— a houseboat in Sausalito perhaps, a geodesic dome on Mount Tam. My landlady had told me I should leave the flat “broom clean,” a task for which I’d kept a vacuum cleaner behind. In the unused nursery there were cobwebs, and on the walls and ceiling about a hundred self-adhesive stars and moons that glowed in the dark (better than any real starlit sky the night I brought my pregnant wife into the room and switched off the light to show her my handmade heaven). As I vacuumed away the cobwebs, I discovered that the little stars and moons had become dry over the months, and when I passed the vacuum across the surface of the wall, they let go easily. This was just the sort of thing I needed, the sort of thing I’d been needing for weeks. And as I stood there sucking the stars and moons from the nursery walls, and crying like a baby myself, the phone rang in the kitchen: a detective with the New York City police department’s homicide unit, informing me that early that morning my brother, Perry, had fallen to his death from the twenty-third floor of a midtown hotel, apparently a suicide. Stupidly, I asked the man to hold the line for a moment. I returned to the nursery, then moved to the French windows that overlooked the garden. On the south fence, a hummingbird darted in and out of a passionflower vine, and in a distant  window, across the length of two gardens, I could see a young nurse in white uniform and cap; I waved to her, but quite sensibly she didn’t wave back, and moved away out of sight.  When I returned to the kitchen, I saw that the receiver of the cardinal-red telephone lay on the bare floor. I picked it up and spoke into it. I relied on extreme politeness to get through the

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