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The Train in the Night: A Story of Music and Loss Hardcover – 2 Feb 2012

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 275 pages
  • Publisher: Jonathan Cape; 1st edition (2 Feb. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0224093576
  • ISBN-13: 978-0224093576
  • Product Dimensions: 14.6 x 2.5 x 22.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 456,645 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


A deft and heartfelt exploration of music, silence, adolescence, English pop and the emotional consequences of serious illness, and above all a discussion of something modern culture has very nearly lost touch with - the idea, and the desirability, of taste. (D. J. Taylor)

If The Train in the Night went no further than the list of life-changing music that drops in at the end, like an index, it would be just another retread of High Fidelity, but Nick Hornby's book is a boy's train-set in comparison to this. Coleman does nothing less than stage a noble rescue of that gauzy 18th-century girl, Taste. He explains better than anyone I've read the difference between liking certain music and being "into" it. (Brian Morton Independent)

His memoir...intercuts vivid biographical snapshots with the narrative of what he calls his 'calamity' in a story told with warmth, wit, candour and dry, self-deprecating humour and without a whiff of self-pity... Coleman is insightful and convincing in his musings on music's emotional impact, funny on his recollections of the pains of growing up and sharp in his analysis of the thorny issue of musical 'taste'. (Time Out)

It is often moving, and sad; because Coleman is a spirited person, who writes with an irrepressible Hornby-esque skip in his style, it is also often funny and admirable. (Andrew Motion Guardian)

Music journalism thrives on a rapid turnover - of talent, trends, writers even - so an opportunity to contemplate a lifetime in music's thrall is understandably irresistible. (Steve Jelbert Independent on Sunday)

Book Description

An account of one man's struggle to recover from the loss of his greatest passion in life - and a hymn to music.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Ms. K. Evans on 21 April 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I lost fifty per cent of my hearing three years ago, after having inflenza, and I am only 42 years old. The hardest thing for me to accept was how I thought I could never listen to music again, due to the massive distortion. I am a huge music lover, so it broke my heart when I could not even recognise favourite songs. I am still learning how to adjust how and what I can listen to.
This book was a huge comfort to me, as none of my friends, family, or even the professionals, understood how tremendously difficult this last three years have been for me.
I wish to give a huge thanks to the author, as I no longer feel alone.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By ACB(swansea) TOP 50 REVIEWER on 13 Feb. 2012
Format: Hardcover
This is a most thought-provoking account of a person,a professional, who relies on a basic sense plus an artistic appreciation of what he interprets before he puts it into perpetual ink. What happens when this is blown? Compensation may help in general but as a dedicated critic, the mind changes are incomprehensible. Nick Coleman expertly deals with his own 'horrors' that he has to face. The frustration can only be understood in the narrative. There are many more out there who have never had an impairment of one of the vital senses. It is an old conundrum as to which sense is most or least important,usually discussed by the clear-headedness of the intact. This is very personal to Nick Coleman's story. His professional loves, skilled writing are fortunately backed by his family with a clearly wonderful wife. His readings of the passion of music he has minced in his mind and their repurcussions are an inspiration. His story is not without humour or hope. Listening and articulating about music is a gift and a pleasure. The world has millions of sufferers. Few get the chance to summarise their problems. Nick explains the effect on his life. No sympathy requested: get on with it as best. Many are born or have acquired disabilities. This ,hopefully,addresses their difficulties and reinforces the help required in amenities etc. As a medical doctor with a psychology degree and first hand family problems of this disorder, I can only recommend this in the highest terms.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Tessa the tennis slave on 26 Jan. 2013
Format: Hardcover
How anyone can give this book 3 or 4 stars, I've no idea. Have they ever tried writing a book themselves? It should get 5 stars on prose style alone. Just on being grammarly.
But if I was being wholly subjective, I'd give it ..... 5 stars.
Because I, too was born in 1960 and so underwent a parallel process in terms of discovering Stevie Wonder was God at a certain age.(Younger than him, but then girls are more mature.)
And I, too, suffer from deafness in one ear. I had already given thanks that I don't have tinnitus before I read his scrapyard description of it and his longing for silence.
And I, too, set up my hi-fi before anything else when I move house and know to the last detail every middle 8 + harmonies that the Beatles, Kirsty MaColl and Kate and Anna McGarrigle ever created.
So if you're into music, this is the book for you. Nick Coleman has managed to communicate the impact of particular bits of music as no one ever has (and believe me, I've tried.) He does it by recreating the context (hormones, dullness of postwar, smalltime homelife, me-generation aspiration) in which it hit him, so we get a great deal more than technical know how, which never works. If you are over 40, there will be something here for you to relate to and if you're under, just listen and learn.
Also, going deaf has made the guy think about aural perception as never before, which is (obviously) very interesting and deeply connected to the question, What is Reality Anyway? Hospital incompetence deeply amusing (sorry, Nick). Death of Father deeply upsetting. (I cried) and all I can say is, thanks Nick Coleman and very best wishes to you, Jane and the kids. (I'd add one of those smiley things but can't see one here.)
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Charlie on 28 Dec. 2012
Format: Hardcover
This is beautifully written, and very thoughtfully organised, as Coleman shifts between an account of the development of the deafness and disorientation which stripped him of access to the music that he loved, and a retrospective account of the part music had played in his life as a young man: it's a very crafty way of writing a kind of autobiography, and a lot of the pleasure of the book lies in anecdotal recollections of, say, a teenager's terror of buying uncool LPs from the kind of people who run record stalls in markets. As you'd expect from a veteran of both The Independent and the NME, Coleman writes with incredible poise about the ways in which particular tracks work on the ear - the precision of his analysis probably draws, in part, on his training as a chorister, so one of the unexpected pleasures of the book is the juxtaposition of learned disquisitions on Yes albums with equally passionate accounts of various pieces of sacred music. One of the best and most enjoyable books I've read this year.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Sid Nuncius HALL OF FAMETOP 10 REVIEWER on 9 Feb. 2012
Format: Hardcover
I found this book engrossing, moving and entertaining. Nick Coleman is primarily a music journalist and a man for whom music of all kinds has been central to his life. A few years ago he suddenly lost the hearing in one ear which also had devastating effects on his balance and on his whole inner world whenever he moved or was subjected to sounds of any kind - including music which became physically painful to listen to. The Train In The Night is his account of this experience, interwoven with the story of the birth of his love of music as a child and teenager in Cambridgeshire.

Part of my interest in this book is due to my having suffered exactly the same failure of the inner ear. I know that this may bias me toward the book, but it would also make me very critical if I thought it badly done. In fact it is exceptionally well done. It is phenomenally difficult to convey the experience because it is so subjective, but Coleman does it extremely well. He describes the physical effects very vividly, but also manages to portray the terrible but intangible loss of so much of what makes music so special to us and conveys a sense of having been inside and a living part of it and now being reduced to the equivalent of looking at a flat line-drawing of a magnificent building. I found both this and the difficult, partial struggle back very poignant, as was the phenomenal degree of support and strength shown by Coleman's wife Jane, who emerges as a quiet heroine from the narrative.

I also loved the youthful music bits. Coleman is (as one might expect from a music journalist) insightful and eloquent about all sorts of music, and about the prejudices and little hypocrisies we bring to it.
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