George Rabasa‘s The Wonder Singer easily captures the imagination through deftly orchestrated prose and detailed description. The Wonder Singer is the story of famed opera singer Merce Casals, and her story as told to her ghostwriter Mark Lockwood. Through alternating chapters between the biography of Merce Casals and Mark Lockwood’s musings and reviews of his interview tapes with Casals, her tragic and dramatic story unfolds like Aida or many of the other great operas she sang.
“There are moments when the order of life collapses in midbreath, when a missed heartbeat brings on an earthquake. At such a moment, this story takes an unexpected turn.” (Page 1 of hardcover)
How can readers ignore the first, foreboding line of this novel? The Wonder Singer is more than a story of a famed opera singer, but the story of a ghostwriter who blossoms into his own when faced with giving up his dream job or plunging into the unknown. Lockwood teams up with the Casals’ former caretaker Perla, who Lockwood fantasizes about having a torrid affair with, and Casals’ self-proclaimed number one fan Orson La Prima, who dresses in drag to impersonate his favorite opera star. They are going to write Casals’ story and celebrate her life against the wishes of her agent, Hollywood Hank.
“He [Nolan Keefe] had delicate handwriting, like a girl’s, everything nicely rounded, the capital M done with a flourish. Every time he wrote out my name he seemed to be celebrating it. I [Merce] would read my name and see myself reflected in his consciousness. Sometimes he would write my name very small and I would sense he was saying it in a whisper, for my ears alone. Occasionally merce would be spelled out in uppercase, and it sounded in my mind like he was shouting it from the rooftop of the tallest building in New York. Once he even wrote the letters like notes in a pentagram, so that I could hear him singing.” (Page 118 of hardcover)
Rabasa’s prose is lyrical, enchanting, and absorbing, drawing readers into the vivid scenes full of emotion. The Wonder Singer is a character-driven novel examining the impact of early abandonment by a father on a gifted, young singer, her triumph as an opera star, and the drive and fear writers feel when they are faced with a project they would do almost anything to complete even if they feel outmatched and inexperienced.
“‘Show me one false line I’ve written and I will eat the page.’” (Page 165 of hardcover)
George Rabasa was born in Maine and raised in Mexico. He lived in Mexico City on and off for several years until the fates conspired to drop him in exotic Minnesota, where he has lived since 1981.
His new novel, The Wonder Singer, came out in September of 2008 from Unbridled Books.
His collection of short stories, Glass Houses (Coffee House Press), received The Writer’s Voice Capricorn Award for Excellence in Fiction and the Minnesota Book Award for Short Stories in 1997. His novel, Floating Kingdom (Coffee House Press), was awarded the 1998 Minnesota Book Award for Fiction.
2 copies of The Wonder Singer by George Rabasa are up for grabs from Unbridled Books
Open to U.S. and Canada residents only; No P.O. Boxes.
1. Leave a comment on this post about why you want to read the book or who your favorite Opera singer is or what your favorite Opera is.
2. Comment on George Rabasa’s guest post, here.
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Deadline is May 30, 2009 by 11:59 PM
Don’t Forget About These Great Giveaways!
2 copies of The Last Queen by C.W. Gortner, here; Deadline is May 22 at 11:59 PM EST
1 Signed Copy of The Last Prince of the Mexican Empire by C.M. Mayo, here. Deadline is May 30, 2009, 11:59PM EST.