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Digital Subscriptions > Quill & Quire > November 2017 > The soundtrack of your life

The soundtrack of your life

Greg Rhyno and Geoff Berner offer novels in which music provides continuity and meaning in characters’ lives

FICTION

To Me You Seem Giant

Greg Rhyno

NeWest Press

The Fiddler Is a Good Woman

Geoff Berner

Dundurn

THE MOST effective vehicles for nostalgia are often sensory: the sight of former stomping grounds revisited after time away; the unbearably saccharine wave of the vodka coolers you swore off after too many notoriously bad youthful hangovers; the whiff of a perfume worn by a former lover; or – arguably most potent – the melody of a song you’re surprised to find you still know every word to despite years of forgetting it even existed. All of these serve to remind us of our own stories, suddenly and unexpectedly transporting us back to a long-lost moment without the need for extrapolation.

A nostalgic rhythm of this kind runs through Greg Rhyno’s debut novel, To Me You Seem Giant. The story follows Pete, a teacher from Thunder Bay, Ontario, during the first semester working at his hometown high school after abandoning an attempt at a music career in Toronto. The story’s chapters are alternately narrated by pseudo-adult, 27-year-old Pete, and a teenaged version of the character, in his last year at the same high school, to whom music is not only the axis of his social world, but his very lifeblood. Though they represent very different life stages, both iterations of the character share the same struggles in their pursuit of self-acceptance, and both exist in a perpetual state of anxiety about whether they’re making the right choices and what they might be missing out on.

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