The Big Music

Kirsty Gunn

The Big Music

Presented as a collection of found papers, appendices and notes, "The Big Music" tells the story of John Sutherland of 'The Grey House', who is dying and creating in the last days of his life a musical composition that will define it. Yet he has little idea of how his tune will echo or play out into the world - and as the book moves inevitably through its 4.2 out of 5 based on 7 reviews
The Big Music

Omniscore:

Classification Fiction
Genre General Fiction
Format Hardcover
Pages 496
RRP
Date of Publication July 2012
ISBN 978-0571282333
Publisher Faber and Faber
 

Presented as a collection of found papers, appendices and notes, "The Big Music" tells the story of John Sutherland of 'The Grey House', who is dying and creating in the last days of his life a musical composition that will define it. Yet he has little idea of how his tune will echo or play out into the world - and as the book moves inevitably through its

Reviews

The Independent

Michael Bywater

… a masterpiece … I mentioned Moby-Dick earlier and there are similarities: the inter-grafting of desperately human stories against a grand harsh environment, with a magical series of variations and digressions on a single theme. Like a lullaby, the book hypnotises and tips over into sleep. In sleep it assembles itself into a deep and beautiful structure of love, loss and the irresistible continuity of music and time.

07/07/2012

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The Guardian

Adam Thorpe

The actions of the children and the parents echo each other as do the notes of the piobaireachd, and time devolves its tyranny to space rather than chronology, mainly through the temporal dissolutions of memory. The staggeringly beautiful mountains and the stone-grey house are our only settings, and we begin to know them intimately, despite a lack of sensual detail.

27/07/2012

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Scotland on Sunday

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The Big Music is both challenging and conventional, a “novel” which will satisfy those who love poetry and narrative prose alike; it is often lyrical, sometimes flinty, soft as a bog, or as potently smouldering as a peat fire, smoking, secretive, intriguing. Much of it is devoted to history and to the mystical landscape of Sutherland, expressed in the language of nature and music, redolent too of human tragedy and resistance – and of transcendence, expressed through the making of the singular soaring music of the Highland bagpipe

01/07/2012

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The Sunday Times

Lucy Atkins

This novel, like the music it emulates, is thunderous, dissonant and beautiful. It certainly won’t be for everyone. True to form, it can also be uncomfortable and repetitive and sometimes irritating. But if you surrender to its size, soak up the complexities of its rhythms and themes, then it triumphs.

15/07/2012

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The Times

Kate Saunders

This is not an easy book: it’s poetic, densely written and unashamedly experimental …

18/08/2012

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The Financial Times

Susan Elderkin

This novel offers a remarkable study in the power of repetition – how words and phrases, repeated, take on a larger life, like chants or mantras. One wearies a little of the repetition towards the end, and the dominance of sound means that other senses are neglected. There are few smells or tastes in this book, and we don’t glean much about the landscape beyond its “indifference”, its peat and its heather. But perhaps this is missing the point. Reading The Big Music is intended to be a musical experience – concerned, as music is, with mood and emotion. And anything that bagpipe music doesn’t do, The Big Music won’t do either.

06/07/2012

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The Daily Telegraph

Keith Miller

There is something blustering about The Big Music, a bullying undercurrent to its insistence on the power of place. And there is something strange about so elaborate and distancing a methodology being set to work on a project which feels a little like being wrapped in an enforced embrace: the cerebral, experimental half and the flubbery, sentimental half of the book just don’t quite gel. Plus it’s not only bagpipes you need a high tolerance for to get through the book without reaching for the Lagavulin. It’s the whole romantic nationalism thing.

22/08/2012

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