The Books


by M.T. Anderson

Hardcover, 32 pages

Published by Viking Books for Young Readers (2003-09-15)

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Amazon Description

In Paris, at the turn of the twentieth century, when artists were experimenting with new ways of seeing things, Erik Satie had something new to say about music. Most people didn't understand his pieces; critics called his music surreal. But Erik Satie didn't care. He wanted to make music that followed no rules but its own. Satie's life was strange and wonderful, frenetic and lonely all at the same time. He was friends with Picasso, and with wizards and puppeteers; he scraped himself with a stone instead of bathing, and he once threw his acrobat girlfriend out a window. Now award-winning author M. T. Anderson tells the story of the irreverent French composer in a biography that is witty, accessible, and endlessly surprising, while Petra Mathers' fanciful illustrations capture all the vibrancy that was Erik Satie's topsy-turvy world.

Illustrations by Petra Mathers.

One Potato Review

The light – but also the considerable darkness – of one man’s artistic determination. “When will people get out of the habit of explaining everything?” fumes Satie. This is consistent with his sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes hilarious tantrums (he actually throws his girlfriend out of a window at one point; she’s an acrobat fortunately. Still, she leaves him). He plays the piano mostly, and participates in larger, conceptual spectacles which almost nobody understands. Furious audiences accompany these performances, and scandalized critics. There’s a little comprehension when he moves to Paris (of course), but Anderson is not romanticizing the perils of genius here – if that is what it is. Satie even chucks it for a while, or he tries to, “dropping in” to school again after twenty years, trying to get his act together, fix up, look sharp, though he cannot help himself in the end. Searching and sophisticated.   

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