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Customer Review

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent book, 9 Feb. 2012
This review is from: The Train in the Night: A Story of Music and Loss (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. Examples include both a terrific description of what makes Marvin Gaye's I Heard It Through The Grapevine so brilliant and a thoughtful and touching passage on Christmas carols.

The prose is very readable and there is a great deal of insight, honesty and wisdom in this book. It has a great deal to say about the importance of music and how we respond to it, and more generally about how people respond to crises of their own and of those they love. Very warmly recommended.
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Review Details

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Sid Nuncius
(No. 1 Hall OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   

Location: London

Top Reviewer Ranking: 23