The Singer and His Songs
In The Singer and His Songs, the reader is taken through the short course of Chris Smith’s life. Chris starts off disadvantaged, the son of poor World War II refugees from Estonia who wind up in Australia. Chris lives through his teen years there, and experiences the infancy of rock-and-roll. Reserved and haunted by a sense of not belonging, Chris nevertheless reaches the height of fame through his abilities in guitar/vocal composition and performance. He is a “natural” talent without formal training. Chris also meets his true love—twice—women with whom he forms lasting attachments. April, his first girlfriend, is his soulmate. Their meeting is “Romeo and Juliet-esque” in that they are drawn together after catching sight of each other at a dance. Much of Chris’s life seems fated. After giving him music and April, Fate snatches both away when his family leaves Australia. Chris finds both again, however, before the tragic end of his life that leaves an enduring legacy.
This is a compelling story, its strength in its plotline that keeps the reader riveted. The writing style itself is strong—clean and direct. Where the story could be strengthened is in focus and depth. The plot is so broad, moving from the years after WWII and his parents’ immigration, through Chris’s childhood years, adulthood, and the end of his life, so depth is sacrificed. For example, the reader is told, repeatedly, what a wonderful performer Chris is. However, there are few details on what he looks like, feels like, or sounds like on stage. There is a similar concern with the relationship with April. The reader is told about their great love, but there is no real love scene showing them talking to, touching, or kissing each other for an extended period. The story might be improved by shortening or cutting the backstory of how Chris’s family immigrated, and starting with Chris picking up a guitar for the first time, the real story beginning. Then details, especially sensory ones, can be added to show Chris’s relationship to music and April, thus pulling the reader more into the story.