Monday, September 7, 2020

"The Beethoven Sequence"

A graduate of Yale, Gerald Elias has been a Boston Symphony violinist, Associate Concertmaster of the Utah Symphony since 1988, Adjunct Professor of Music at the University of Utah, first violinist of the Abramyan String Quartet, and Music Director of the Vivaldi Candlelight concert series.

His novels include Devil's Trill, Danse Macabre, Death and the Maiden, Playing With Fire, and Spring Break.

Elias applied the Page 69 Test to his new novel, The Beethoven Sequence, and reported the following:
These are the final sentences of Chapter 8 of The Beethoven Sequence:
In his whole life, he had received one letter from his father, which he memorized, verbatim, in its entirety. It was on the reverse side of a postcard of a grizzly bear, which his father sent him when he and his drinking buddies went on a guys’ road trip to Yellowstone National Park, leaving his mother and him at home. The letter read: “Hey Lonny, What do you think of the size of this sucker, huh? Your Dad.”
These three sentences encapsulate the profound psychological trauma suffered by the book’s tragic protagonist, Layton Stolz, from his childhood onward. As such, they provide insight into how an otherwise decent man with good intentions could go off the mental rails and descend into a world of paranoid defensiveness, even as his cult-like idolaters grew into the millions.

With a father who neglected and belittled his son, even on his own deathbed, for having higher aspirations than he did, Stolz was emotionally damaged early on. His mother, also abused by the elder Stolz, was his sole provider of love and protection, until, on his eighth birthday, she slapped him on the face for a minor slight, revealing her pent-up rage. The pain of rejection from that slap lasted the rest of his life and sealed his fate.

For a man like Layton Stolz, a mentally imbalanced political outsider who never held public office, to become president of the United States may seem improbable, even horrifying. One of my goals in writing The Beethoven Sequence is simply to pose the readers this question: What if?
Learn more about the book and author at Gerald Elias's website.

--Marshal Zeringue