Contrary Motion by Andy Mozina (4 out of 5)
Contrary motion is melodic motion in which one part rises in pitch while the other descends. The novel follows that pattern. But worry not, dear reader, it’s a pretty seamless motion. I saw the cover on this and had to order it. And harps! Mozina’s writing reminds me of Jonathan Tropper and Nick Hornby in a bar drinking Schlitz malt liquor instead of something they should be drinking instead…like Guinness or Heineken. Again, not a bad thing!
Matthew is a talented concert harpist living in Chicago. He’s waiting to audition for the chance of a lifetime- with the St. Louis Orchestra. Everything he has and is goes into making sure he’s ready for that audition.In the middle of preparing for this, his beloved father dies from a heart attack (while listening to a meditation tape, no less).Not to mention, his current relationship with the sexy but driven to silent mania lawyer is paying the price for his ambition and workaholic tendencies. He’s still in love with his ex wife and his daughter is now getting to the age where acting out is “all the norm”. Matthew’s side gigs include playing music for dying patients in hospice and playing at hotel brunches for a man that by all intent and purposes, despises him. Why does everyone give Matthew a hard time? Because he’s his own worst enemy. But aren’t we all sometimes? That’s what I really identified with here. You want to shake Matthew when he keeps messing up things with his girlfriend, then you see him in quiet moments of reflection and self-recrimination where you realize he really is still heartbroken over his divorce. Sure, he loves his girlfriend, but he’s not in love with her. Huge difference! Does our hero end up getting the girl? Or does he end up getting back with his ex? Does his daughter start to cope with the breakup of the marriage and her age? Does he get the huge job?
You’ll have to read this at times hilarious, at times heartbreaking book. I loved it. I just think Matthew was a little too uneven through much of the book- but hey, who hasn’t been there? If you say you haven’t, I’ve got a bronze statue of Alec Baldwin in Batman shorts to sell you. That back and forth see-saw emotional rescue, often without repose, was a bit too much for this reader. That was the only drawback. I really wanted to smack Matthew at times, but I’d have to smack myself too, because I recognize parts of myself in Matthew’s actions and unsaid declarations. Give it a try. It was fun.