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Bossa Nova

I went to hear some soothing low-brow Bossa Nova—a combination of Samba and jazz, with some Bolero influence—at the Cornelia Street Cafe last Sunday. I’m not a musician; I listen for pleasure. But I was with my husband who once played the tuba and has a good ear, and an opera singer/teacher of opera, and an opera singer/student . All of them had a lot to say about the singer’s voice which they thought light and underdeveloped. They were critiquing the performance and didn’t get into the music the way I did. I was really enjoying it and so were many others in the audience, some Brazilian, some not.

I’ve written here about a book club I once belonged to that annoyed me because the readers were not writers. They quickly dismissed a book that might have taken a year or more to write if it wasn’t entertaining, or immediately gripping, or they had to work to understand what the writer was trying to say. I eventually left the group, offending some of the members in my wake. But since I have written my first murder/thriller, I’ve changed my tune a bit. It’s hard to satisfy the demands of the genre and to write well at the same time. I’m now more admiring of books that others enjoy for whatever reason they enjoy them. It’s their privilege . Who am I to say that a work is not worthwhile, or not good enough. if many other people enjoy it? If a musician, or a writer, or an artist, or a filmmaker has succeeded in captivating an audience then that, in itself, is worth applauding, I feel.

Despite the disaffection at my table, I found the young Bossa Nova singer enchanting. I am not a professional and she didn’t ask me to evaluate her performance as a professional. That is another endeavor entirely, sometimes pleasurable, and sometimes not so pleasurable. My husband used to be a film critic and I remember him telling me that he wondered if he’d ever be able to enjoy films again. Now he is a screenwriter and he is always watching the script. I have the same experience of books: they have to be well written. I read twice, once for pleasure, once again to study what choices the writer has made. But I’m not going to tell anyone not to read a book if it is too low brow and/or it isn’t well written. They might enjoy it even if I don’t.

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