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Instrumental Hardcover – 28 May 2015
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"The Supreme Court overthrew an injunction unanimously in May 2015, saying: 'A person who has suffered in the way that [James Rhodes] has suffered, and has struggled to cope with the consequences of his suffering in the way that he has struggled, has the right to tell the world about it. And there is a corresponding public interest in others being able to listen to his life story in all its searing detail" (THE SUPREME COURT)
"You might expect James Rhodes to have been crushed by his experiences. On the contrary I don't think I've ever read an autobiography which is this exuberant, this full of life, this addictively readable" (MARK HADDON)
"A poet once said great books help you to live your life. They also help you survive your ruin, and James Rhodes's Instrumental is a masterpiece of creative endurance. His passion is his programme, his heart is his true instrument, and you might not read a more moral or more loving book this decade" (ANDREW O'HAGAN)
"A searingly honest, moving and compelling account of a life damaged by abuse but saved by music. James Rhodes is a rare and gifted spirit with something vital to tell us all. This is a tough but beautiful book" (VICTORIA HISLOP)
"The publishing sensation of the year" (MAIL ON SUNDAY)
"A mesmeric combination of vivid, keen, obsessive precision and raw, urgent energy" (ZOE WILLIAMS GUARDIAN)
"Thrilling and harrowing . . . Unsurpassed and unsurpassable" (SUNDAY TIMES)
"Instrumental is no 'misery memoir' . . . I have rarely read so cogent account of the nature of victimhood . . . Visceral and palpable . . . Among the most powerful pages I've read all year" (SCOTLAND ON SUNDAY)
"Bravo to a survivor who refused to be silenced . . . What really marks this book out is his confrontation with the unsaid (or rarely said) aspects of child sexual abuse and mental illness . . . Some of these thoughts verge on the taboo and it takes clarity, courage and intelligence to say them as plainly and honestly as Rhodes does" (INDEPENDENT)
"We're locked inside his head for long periods and it's a manic place to be. But he is brilliant . . . and insightful . . . James Rhodes writes at full volume" (BLAKE MORRISON GUARDIAN)
From the Inside Flap
James Rhodes' passion for music has been his absolute lifeline. It has been the thread that has held him together through a life that has encompassed pain, conflict and turmoil. Listening to Rachmaninov on a loop as a traumatised teenager or discovering an Adagio by Bach while in a hospital ward - such exquisite miracles of musical genius have helped him survive his demons, and, along with a chance encounter with a stranger, inspired him to become the renowned concert pianist he is today.
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As a health care professional working with children this is a book we should all read. The introduction to the pieces of music is just an added bonus !
James Rhodes’s spirit is the beauty. His words spin across the page (or screen if you are a Kindle reader) creating a picture of a frenetic youth and man, someone on the run from appalling trauma. A whirlwind of love, madness, laughter and tears out of which comes passionate art, the music.
Ah... the music. I recommend listening to the pieces that begin each chapter in 'Instrumental' and to James Rhodes himself. I applaud his efforts to make 'classical' music a living force. His insights into the lives and struggles of the composers and performers bring artists such as Beethoven, Bach and Chopin down from the sacred ‘classical music’ mountain to the human level. Great writing.
‘Instrumental’ is a heroic book. I wish James Rhodes years of love, joy and musical creation. Plus, my own request, more writing please!
As most people know, there is another strand to Rhodes' life and that is mental illness. The 'treatments' he received were mostly useless at best and sometimes horrific. Even when it seemed to work, the results weren't long lasting. Sometimes we wonder why someone privileged and gifted should be so apparently self-destructive, but in this case we know, because he has chosen to tell us. From the age of six, he was violently sexually abused by a gym teacher. His account is heartbreaking, but the statement by a teacher is more so. It's hard for an adult to describe the child he was but the teacher helped us see a confident, sensitive boy who was destroyed while those who could help turned a blind eye. Sadly, the man who assaulted him died before he could be brought to justice.
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