Music is the heartbeat of this novel about the world of hometown musicians--the jamming venues, the contests, the onstage cues, the subtle rules. The story focuses on four musicians: Carl Bradshaw, an aging Oklahoma fiddler; Amy Chandler, a young dumpling who can outpick most guitarists; Jack Martin, who lives in the shadow of a successful father; and Cora, an older woman on the edge of a world she believes can't be hers. The novel's structure reflects the sets of a performance on stage, with smaller sections that serve to introduce the musicians. Song titles, phrases, and sounds are part of the language, as are the characters' styles in speaking about music, creating it, and performing it. With its winning evocation of the joy of playing together, The Universe Playing Strings will remind readers of the movies Once and Crazy Heart.
"A taut little novel about a group of musicians looking for love in all the wrong places."--Denver Post
"Kinder's book reads as cleanly as Vince Gill plays guitar and would be a welcome addition to reading lists, not only for music lovers, but for all those fascinated by the diverse roles people play in life's symphony."--Daily Star-Journal
"A lovely composition, The Universe Playing Strings sings the universal song of human longing for connection. The undertone of a wordless answer to loneliness and doubt runs beneath its lines of elegantly crafted prose."--Foreword Reviews
"The Universe Playing Strings is held together by music, by characters playing music, singing songs, making their own songs. A character thinks, 'Life had moments of perfect beauty--the highest reach, the clearest note--and such surprises, over and over.' Not surprisingly, this book is a perfect beauty of a novel, a long song that hits all the notes."--Thomas Fox Averill, author of rode