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Staff Picks Category: Appalachia

Sounds like Titanic by Jessica Chiccehitto Hindman []



After a childhood spent driving over the mountains of West Virginia to take violin lessons, Jessica is now officially a music student at Columbia University and on track to achieve her dream of becoming a professional violinist. As her first semester wears on, however, something becomes abundantly, horribly clear: Jessica isn’t good enough to play the violin professionally. Not even close. And the cost of her education is slowly crushing her, forcing her to take any job she can to survive.
So when Jessica is unexpectedly hired to play the violin at craft fairs and art shows by a mysterious man (identified only as The Composer throughout the book), she jumps at the opportunity. The Composer has a large, dedicated fanbase who obsess over his inoffensive, pennywhistle-heavy instrumental music, but Jessica quickly realizes that something is amiss about his live performances: they’re not live at all. As Jessica gets more and more involved in her work with the Composer, eventually touring across America with his group, she has to reckon with her own ideas of success and authenticity—all while pretending to play the violin in front of concert halls full of people.
This quick-moving memoir is a story of coming to terms with one’s own inescapable mediocrity after a lifetime of being called “gifted.” It’s also a funny and brutal look into the experience of someone who kind of, but not really, got to live out a dream—as well as a peek at the strange and mercurial composer whose fame was primarily based on the fact that his music shamelessly mimicked the soundtrack of the 1997 movie Titanic. Fans of quirky, biting, beautifully-written memoirs will love this quick read.

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