The Piano Shop on the Left Bank
At first glance, The Piano Shop on the Left Bank is simply an autobiography covering the authors blissful years in Paris. This is actually something much rarer and more original: an extended love letter to the piano. One day, Carhart was walking through the back streets of Paris in the early morning--a place and a time he evokes beautifully, the street sweepers out cleaning the hidden alleys, and ...the smell from la boulangerie du coin. And then he noticed a small truck, unloading a piano ... It turned out to be delivering to the atelier of Monsieur Luc Desforges, a piano repairer of the old school. Desforges Pianos: outillage, fournitures. On the small, red felt-covered shelf in the window are displayed the tools and instruments of piano repair: tightening wrenches, tuning pins, piano wire ... the entire facade has a sleepy, 19th-century charm about it. One could say the same of Carharts book. It doesnt move fast, and it doesnt depend on powerful emotions or dramatic reversals for its effect. It is a quiet and loving meditation on the piano, as it features in French life, and in Carharts. He recalls his early days back in Virginia with equal vividness, when at the age of eight he took lessons from Miss Pemberton, playing a Chopin ballade or a Mozart sonata in the warm Virginia evening, with the soft murmur of crickets in the surrounding woods. The whole book is suffused with just this softness, slowness and dreamy eloquence. For piano lovers, an absolute must. For others, a book of tremendous charm and pleasure. -- Christopher Hart
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