A review of

Cadenza for the Schneidermann Violin Concerto

by Joshua Cohen

Central question: Even if you can force people to listen, can you make them understand?
Format: 390 pp., paperback; Size: 6" x 9"; Price: $18.00; Publisher: Fugue State Press; Editor: James Chapman; Print run: 2,200; Book design: James Chapman; Typeface: Venetian; Author’s most notable achievement in Prague: alienating the entire American expatriate community; Featured on author’s website: a convocation address for a school of bears; Monetary currency of a country in one of the author’s stories: human hair; Representative sentence: “Schneidermann he once insisted when he telephoned me to share, God let him shtup the bride! jus primae noctis invoked for such yearning! such need!”

The brilliant but obscure composer Schneidermann has disappeared, having walked out of a matinee showing of Schindler’s List never to return, leaving behind only Laster, his best student and only friend. Lest his mentor be totally forgotten, Laster rushes the stage during a performance of Schneidermann’s magnum opus and forces the audience to listen as he speaks of his mentor until dragged off by the police.

This is the entire plot, such as it is, of Joshua Cohen’s debut novel. A cadenza, he tells us in the preface, is an improvisatory solo passage near the end of the first movement of a concerto, one designed to showcase the virtuosity of the musician while exploring the themes of the main work. Laster’s hours-long testament to his vanished Schneidermann is the cadenza of the novel’s title.

We hope you enjoy this excerpt.

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—Kevin Dole 2

Kevin Dole 2 is the author of Tangerinephant. He lives and works in Ypsilanti, Michigan, not far from where Iggy Pop grew up.

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