He wrote music for the ears that could hear.

1937 in Leningrad with Stalin as the dictator. A man is sitting next to an elevator. He is waiting all night through. Waiting for Power to come and to take him to the Big House. But few, who were taken to the Big House, came back.

Julian Barnes chose a real Person for his new novel “The Noise of Time” Dmitri Dmitriyevich Shostakovich. One of the most famous and greatest soviet composers. Barnes reveals his difficult history in a wonderful way and with incredible, unbelievable talent.

The book is not a chronological report of Shostakovich’s life. Frequently, he interrupts the story with train of thoughts, reflections, flashbacks and memories. No, interrupt is the wrong word. “To enhance the story amazingly” suits better. All the thoughts and interjections are helping to understand Shostakovich’s personality, attitude and intention.

Barnes creates with an intensive, rich in images but nevertheless clear style of writing a formidable realistic and subtle picture of the composer. The author was gifted the talent to not only write feelings, but to let them live.

It feels like you could literally feel the fear, the self-doubts, the desolation and depression of Shostakovich. Barnes creates a small window, through which the reader can catch a glimpse of an artist’s life, oppressed by the Marxist-Leninist Soviet.

I think, the book helped me to understand his music, thanks to the acquired background. Even though Shostakovich “says”: What he hoped was that death would liberate his music: liberate it from his life […] his music would be . . . just music” (page 179). Frankly, before this book, I have simply admired his music, now I am beginning to understand.

Julian Barnes does not only tell the story of Shostakovich. Moreover he gives place to criticism. He levels criticism against other artists, but first and foremost there is critique of the system. A critique which is utterly reasonable and not in the least overblown. Quite the contrary. He opens the reader’s eyes and shows how it really was these days ago. How terrifying. Horrific. Cruel. And consequently the question arises: “How is the situation today? Am I, are we, the same cowardly audience, naïve and gullible, as the people are described in “The Noise of Time”?

Even though you are no aficionado of Shostakovich or his music, even though you could not care less about music, I can only recommend this book. It’s awesome, wonderful written, singularly and unforgettable. One of the best books I have read lately.

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Valentine’s Day

Roses, hearts, love poems, cheesy candle-light dinner, romantic dates……
And all these things because of a day? Because of Valentine’s Day?

Not with me. I cannot approve of this idea. It seems as if people would only honour their partners, lovers, crushes because a day tells them to do it. Like they would not do it otherwise. And often, they do not do it someday else. It is the specific date that makes them buy flowers, chocolate boxes. Makes them organise cheesy, romantic dates.

But it should not be like this. I do not want a lover who only worships me and our relationship one time a year. Because of a day. In a cheesy, dishonest way.

I want that someone shows me everyday that he appreciates me and our relationship. That he does not need a specific date to show me that our relationship is worth the appreciation. I do not expect flowers. No chocolate boxes. No grand gestures. All I want, all I desire is a small sign that I am worth someone’s love. Everyday.

I do not dislike Valentine’s day because I am single right now. Do not get this the wrong way. I do not like the concept which is behind Valentine’s day. It is nothing else than a good source to make money for lots of different enterprises.

Moreover do not think I am one of those who walk around disapproving couples who worship this day. Frankly, I do not care if anyone honours it. This is not my problem. Therefore this is not a reproof for those who like Valentine’s Day. What I am trying to say is that I just want to share my humble opinion. Nothing more, nothing less.

So what do u think of Valentine’s Day? 🙂

Favorite Quote from “Perks of being a Wallflower”

“Once on a yellow piece of paper with green lines
he wrote a poem
And he called it “Chops”
because that was the name of his dog

And that’s what it was all about
And his teacher gave him an A
and a gold star
And his mother hung it on the kitchen door
and read it to his aunts
That was the year Father Tracy
took all the kids to the zoo

And he let them sing on the bus
And his little sister was born
with tiny toenails and no hair
And his mother and father kissed a lot
And the girl around the corner sent him a
Valentine signed with a row of X’s

and he had to ask his father what the X’s meant
And his father always tucked him in bed at night
And was always there to do it

Once on a piece of white paper with blue lines
he wrote a poem
And he called it “Autumn”

because that was the name of the season
And that’s what it was all about
And his teacher gave him an A
and asked him to write more clearly
And his mother never hung it on the kitchen door
because of its new paint

And the kids told him
that Father Tracy smoked cigars
And left butts on the pews
And sometimes they would burn holes
That was the year his sister got glasses
with thick lenses and black frames
And the girl around the corner laughed

when he asked her to go see Santa Claus
And the kids told him why
his mother and father kissed a lot
And his father never tucked him in bed at night
And his father got mad
when he cried for him to do it.

Once on a paper torn from his notebook
he wrote a poem
And he called it “Innocence: A Question”
because that was the question about his girl
And that’s what it was all about
And his professor gave him an A

and a strange steady look
And his mother never hung it on the kitchen door
because he never showed her
That was the year that Father Tracy died
And he forgot how the end
of the Apostle’s Creed went

And he caught his sister
making out on the back porch
And his mother and father never kissed
or even talked
And the girl around the corner
wore too much makeup
That made him cough when he kissed her

but he kissed her anyway
because that was the thing to do
And at three a.m. he tucked himself into bed
his father snoring soundly

That’s why on the back of a brown paper bag
he tried another poem

And he called it “Absolutely Nothing”
Because that’s what it was really all about
And he gave himself an A
and a slash on each damned wrist
And he hung it on the bathroom door
because this time he didn’t think

he could reach the kitchen.”
Stephen Chbosky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower