The Soloist by Steve Lopez


Audiobook.  The subtitle gives you a good idea about this book:  A Lost Dream, an Unlikely Friendship, and the Redemptive Power of Music.  It is the true story of a talented musician struck down with schizophrenia when he was a young man at Julliard in the early 70s.  When the author, a columnist for the L.A. Times, encounters him, he had been living on the very mean streets for 30 years. 

Over the course of two years, the Steve Lopez becomes friends with Nathaniel Ayers, and with the help of mental health professionals who work on the streets, as well as help from members of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Nathaniel Ayers was coaxed off the streets into an apartment.  Lopez is realistic and lets us know that Nathaniel Ayers is not cured and may never consent to treatment. 

It's hard to say which is more compelling; the sad story of a very talented person robbed of his life, or the horror of the many people on the streets who live in unspeakable conditions.   The author points out that it's unthinkable that our society would allow cancer patients to live untreated in those harsh conditions. 

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