The Fiddler is a Good Woman by Geoff Berner : A Review
Rating : 4/5
Date of Publishing : 07 November, 2017
I am drawn to novels that have a female lead and a varied plot. Hence, it came as no surprise when I found myself reading “The Fiddler is a Good Woman” by Geoff Berner. I was unaware of Berner’s status as an accomplished accordionist/singer/songwriter when I started on the book; but on reading the book I definitely have to agree that he is indeed a writer with great skill and full of potential. Although marketed as fiction, his way of presentation and writing had me in a trance such that throughout the duration of the book it was my reality. I even found myself “googling” few of the artist names mentioned in the book to listen to their compositions. Yes, Berner is a wizard of words and this book is his magical kingdom!
The book is presented as the outcome of Berner’s search for DD, an enigmatic and charismatic musician who is a prodigy on the fiddle. After making a huge impact on the lives of people around her, be it through music or through her diverse personality, she disappears off the surface of earth. Berner is tasked with finding her by interviewing her ex-bandmates, ex-lovers and friends. Will he be able to locate DD and find out the reason for her sudden disappearance? Read the book to find out.
Although fictional (yes, I have to keep reminding myself that), the book succeeds in making us believe it to be a true story because of Berner’s writing. Through the various accounts from different co-artists and her ex-lovers, multiple versions of DD are created and destroyed. This gives the readers a cumulative picture of DD as a musician and as a person. Berner’s writing will definitely have you believe the authenticity of these accounts. Each person who has provided an account has a style so unique that you will never believe that it is Berner who is the master puppeteer whose hands are controlling these fictional puppets. As Berner himself belongs to the clan of musicians, he is no outsider to the world of music festivals and after-parties which provides great originality to the account.
His creation of DD, the protagonist, entirely through the eyes of others was a great risk to undertake. Yet, he was able to create a unique personality who was quirky and bold with a passion for music, loathing domesticity and always searching for more freedom. She was described as a gateway lesbian and her charms proved herself irresistible for men and women. For us normal mortals, DD’s life is no less eventful than what we expect our music divas to have. To make the story progress and also to capture our interest, he has interspersed the account of various characters throughout the book rather than allocating an entire section to the same character. Berner also has a great sense of humor and made me laugh out really hard many times. His description of the stage banter of the punk rock band Low Johannas which was the last band played by DD is extremely hilarious.
“Speaking of abortion, let’s not forget the time I saw them perform at Rock for Choice. Their song selection for the event? An old trad chestnut called “I Wish My Baby Had Been Born.”
Overall, this books is a great read for lovers of good fiction who love great writing. If you are a fan of musicians and their lives, then this is your piece of insider information. You might gobble it up like a really good piece of cake. This book is an example of how good writing, humor and imagination can elevate a very simple plot to something really special.
About the Author :
Geoff Berner is the author of Festival man and the graphic novel We Are Going To Bremen To Be Musicians.