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Zweck – By Stephen Deutsch – Stephen Deutsch

Zweck – By Stephen Deutsch


A Warning from H. H. Zweck

Of course, it’s too late now. If you’re reading this, it means that you have either bought this book, or worse, someone has given it to you (this might be a good time for you to examine the nature of that particular friendship). There might still be time to return it (unless you are one of those sad people who put their own names into every book they buy, or worse, your sinister friend has inscribed it with some sort of glib salutation). If you’re reading this in a bookshop, I advise you to put it back on the display and look nonchalant.

The problem here is not the subject (which is fascinating since it’s about me – I’m eponymous, and not many people can say that; can you imagine what it feels like to be eponymous?), but that the writer (so called) is a nincompoop, as you will discover painfully if you don’t give up now. It is also a book about music and some of the history of the last century, about which the writer has an encyclopaedic ignorance. With such a fascinating central character as myself, I’d hoped that a better writer could have been found; a Chabon, a Roth, a Bradbury, a Mantel, even. But everyone good seems to be unavailable or dead, and to be fair, they’re rather busy writing books which actually sell. So I’m left with a scribbler who ‘isn’t doing very much at the moment’, and writes in such a way that he can guarantee that the readership won’t get into three figures (and this includes his family and friends, who probably will want free copies anyway).

Still there? OK, so what I do to prevent this becoming even a bigger disaster, is to keep an eye on it; so from time to time, I interrupt the story and set matters a bit straighter. For example, for some reason he thinks it a good idea to use footnotes, to show off his non-existent erudition as well as to ‘subtly control the pace of the narrative’, or some such codswallop. I have tried to get the publishers to remove as many of annoying small-font pontifications as I can, but some still remain. But really, they’re unimportant, so don’t read them. And anyway, why should he interfere with your reading pace like a metronome? You might not believe me, but it could have been even worse. At first he decided that quotation marks were unnecessary as this is a ‘modern novel’. Take it from me: this novel is as modern as the clap. I managed to talk him out of that particular idiocy, saying that ‘the average reader might not be able to appreciate the subtlety of such lack of punctuation’. That’s what I told him. He thought about this for some time. I’ve known brighter dachshunds.
Anyway, best to begin so that we can finish. But don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Hermann Heinrich Zweck

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Product Description

Zweck, a Novel
and a Mostly Reliable History of Music
By Stephen Deutsch

Have you ever wondered:
How it feels to be eponymous?
Why some German pigeons were painted blue in the First World War?
What Ludwig Wittgenstein and Adolf Hitler had in common?
Whether Hermann Goering actually commissioned a piece for toy piano?
What connects Rachmaninoff to Sitting Bull?
Whether it is it possible to play the bass fiddle with only one hand?

In Zweck the reader will find answers to these and many other unasked questions.

It is 1972. Bernard Robins is in London – American, innocent, uninformed and arrogant – to make his name and fortune as a pianist, composer and conductor. He lives at the Kensington Music Society, a cacophonous, run-down mansion, a haven for aspiring musicians – afro-headed violinists, cellists in caftans, coloraturas from Colorado.

During his time there, Bernard accidentally encounters his long lost great-uncle, the eponymous Hermann Heinrich Zweck, a once eminent, now forgotten composer, who knew most of the leading figures of 20th century music and hated almost all of them. Zweck is engaged in a war against stupidity, laziness and cowardice with the world, and especially with Bernard and with Charles Forsythe – a hapless English musicologist whose only crime (grievous in Zweck’s view) is to be both English and an academic.

The romantic relationships the three principals have with strong women, ranging from promiscuity to endless love, change the lives of all concerned. Throughout the novel, Zweck engages in a battle of words with the author in a series of interruptions and monologues.

Zweck is about fame, identity, music, photographs of the shoes of famous men, dumplings, and capital punishment for musicologists.


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