Us Wheatsheafers on Us Conductors

On May 1, 2015, in Good reads, by John Ellis

9780345813343_0Strange title but a nice little book regardless

The Wheatsheaf Literary Society met to discuss the Giller Prize-winning novel ‘Us Conductors‘ by Sean Michaels. Reviews were mixed but positive – somewhere in the neighbourhood of a 4-pint score (out of a possible 5 pints).

According to the publisher, the novel is inspired by the true story of the Russian scientist, inventor and spy Lev Termen – creator of the theremin – and of Clara Rockmore – its greatest player.

If you don’t know what a therimin is, geek out and watch this groovy video.

Michaels has managed to orchestrate (get it?) several stories into one. There is a love story, a spy story, a technology story and a long thread of misfortune. Yet, the book flows easily and the story lines merge well. It’s quite an accomplishment and a joy to read. I came away feeling sad for the main character. I read it as the story of a man who never got the chance to be in total command of his own creativity because of his obligations as a spy. He didn’t get the girl. He didn’t get to decide how his intellect would serve society. He didn’t get paid for his intellectual property. Without the spy stuff, he could be an intern at an ad agency.

Conclusion: 4 out of 5 pints from the Wheatsheaf Literary Society is one more reason why you won’t be disappointed by this year’s Giller Winner.



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