It is very rare to randomly pick a title and enjoy it all the way through without rolling your eyes. Mitch Albom’s The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto is one such book. It’s the writer’s ability to drag the reader into the realm of magic without incepting any notion of surrealism, especially for cynical critics. The best example of this skill is the transforming portrait of Dorian Gray.
Mitch Albom, a sportswriter, has laid out the same form of the enchanting storyline with The Magic Strings. The novel is about a gifted guitarist who influences musicians. For the reader, flipping through four hundred pages would be lost in a flash, but the story of Frankie Presto would forever be engraved on the heart. The writer has beautifully sequenced the events of the story with realistic twists.
For avid readers, there is a very high likelihood that they enjoy music beyond the sake of ear candy. This very fact is what the writer aims at and then flowers that awareness. However, the story leans on so many genres of scenarios that it would be difficult for me to center it around music only. In fact, music is the boundary for this imagined world. The narrator himself being a piece of music literally orchestrates the entire theme in a symphonic fashion from beginning to the end. The beauty of this approach is unique.
For aspiring musicians, this book is not a spark but an ignition. It keeps burning each time you think how deep-rooted and influential rhythms and melodies are. The expressions used in the book such as the gait of an adolescent girl are a delight. It relates to real musicians and instrumentalists who in one way or another, were affected by the protagonist. Writers usually borrow pale and plain characters from real life, like unassuming people or pedestrians, a location on the globe, and sometimes a dramatic scenario that probably everyone can relate to. It’s completely opposite in this book. The writer from his imagination only adds the protagonists and few characters, but the rest include concerts, musicians, instrumentalists, producers, songwriters, and singers that are all from real life. Hence, the connection of these realities with Frankie is, as I mentioned earlier, pure delight.
Perfection lies in perspective and therefore, is different for everyone. Similarly, the book may subscribe to many perspectives but there are some unnoticeable downsides. The story leans on some old but classic scenarios, such as Frankie being beaten up by the city life and then finding a nice and trustworthy person. The love story is very dreamy, and almost too unlikely to take place as it did. For realists, this would be quite bitter to digest. Critics usually do not like faultless protagonists and that is something displeasing to look out for. Yet all these flaws eventually justify themselves throughout the plot.
The ending is incredible because the writer would throw so many pseudo endings at the reader that at some point, you just stop guessing and the unexpected would happen. There will probably not be another book that slams the search for music so seriously into the readers face.
Ali Azam is a student at the Aga Khan Higher Secondary School, Gilgit.