Tuesday, October 16, 2012


Chopsticks Jessica Anthony and Rodrigo Corral

And, for our final book in Books in Stuff Week (which was much longer than a week!) we have something completely different!

Chopsticks is less a book in stuff and more a (almost) wordless novel. It's told mostly in photographs with some ephemera-- concert programs, ticket stubs, newspaper articles. There are some captions and letters, and text message chats, so it's not entirely wordless, but it's a similar effect.

Glory is a piano prodigy known for mixing classical pieces with pop culture themes, motifs, and musical references. She plays sold out shows across Europe. Frankie is the boy next door, whose family just moved from Argentina. Frankie is all Glory has outside of piano and her over-bearing father/teacher. Glory is all Frankie has in this country he hates and doesn't fit into.

But soon, Glory is falling, all she can play are variations on the Chopsticks waltz over and over and over and over and over again, ruining sold out shows. (As the jacket copy explains, it's the F and G notes moving apart and together over and over.) But as she unravels, we start to see another side and have to wonder how much is true, or even real.

Have you ever seen He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not? The twist and plot are very different, but there's something about the structure and how twists are revealed, as well as some undefinable things (and it's been years since I've seen the film) that really connect the two in my mind. After finishing Chopsticks, I had an overwhelming urge to see the movie again.

I liked the format, I liked the story. Even though I knew more about where it was going than I reveal in my plot summary, I was still surprised by a lot. I think it would make an excellent book discussion group-- there's enough in the plot to dissect, but the format and design will add more.

While it's not as ground-breaking as it could be, or as earth-shattering as it should be (but that might be because they jacket copy reveals waaaaaaay too much about where the plot is going, taking a lot of oomph out of it) I still really enjoyed it.

Now, this was also released as an app. From this review (which is super-spoilery) I learn that the app adds some stuff to the book-- you can hear the music, watch the videos they're watching, text conversations appear in "real time" instead of all at once on the page, and some items we see on the page can be moved in the app to reveal more. But, it's also a bit glitchy (one of the youtube videos isn't available anymore, the music and video isn't actually in the app, it's all external links). I haven't seen the app. I want to play around with it, but it's $7, and given that I already spent money on the actual book, I'd rather spend the money elsewhere. Also, it's something I'd save for the larger screen of the iPad.

I think this is something we're going to start seeing more of as authors play with adding content to their stories.

If you've played with the app and read the book, which would you recommend?

ALSO-- Frankie is Argentinian and I assume Glory's mother was Latina (her maiden name was Torres and Glory speaks fluent Spanish.) While race and language play a part in Frankie's story, it's not a huge part of the book, which focuses more on Glory's piano and Glory and Frankie's relationship.

Book Provided by... my wallet

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