Thursday, January 7, 2016

The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto by Mitch Albom

My mother-in-law saw this book on Dr. Phil or Oprah or something.  Usually that kind of publicity on a book is more of a deterrent for me than anything.  I know, I'm weird.  This time, though, my MIL was so excited by whatever she saw that she was raving about it and couldn't wait to get her hands on it.  So I took the bait and downloaded the audio on my library's Overdrive.  I'm glad I did!

This is the story of Frankie Presto, an international music start from the 50s, 60s and 70s that played with a ton of bands over the year including Elvis and Duke Ellington.  They say he was the greatest guitarist who ever lived.  The narrator is Music, himself, and Frankie is an obvious favorite of his disciples.  Frankie's life was rough from the very start, born in a burning church during civil war, abandoned during childhood, and pushed to the limits of survival a few times.  On the other hand, almost like magic, things would fall into place for Frankie when it was least expected and Frankie had a way of effecting people.

The story is being told while we wait for Frankie's funeral to start.  We don't know how he died until the very end.  There are very interesting interviews with many famous people in the funeral procession including Burt Bacharach, Tony Bennett, and Paul Stanley.  The story bounces back and forth between past and present time a lot.  I think it's hard to get that sort of storytelling right, but Albom did an excellent job.  It didn't feel patchy, it felt like it all tied together well.

I think this book should probably be consumed via the audio.  While I'm sure your imagination could read this in the many voices necessary, why bother?  The interview parts that are actually narrated by folks like Paul Stanley, Roger McGuinn and Ingrid Michaelson!

Do you resist popular books too?

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