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Here’s a short review from the US Review of Books on The Big Wide Calm to give you a feel for what the book is about.
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by Rich Marcello
Langdon Street Press
Many musicians dream of making it big, of perhaps finding that next new sound that will land them a recording contract and propel them to the top of the charts. Few, though, truly have the right combination of talent and charisma to capture an audience on stage, and even some of them will never get the breaks to make it past the nightclub circuit. Marcello tells the story of a young woman who has both the ability and the right connections to possibly take her to the next level, but will being famous for music that is only popular in the short run really be enough for her?
Paige Plant is a young and ambitious singer/songwriter who dreams of one day fulfilling her father’s prophecy of seeing her front the next Led Zeppelin. After auditioning for John Bustin, a respected but enigmatic musician of a past generation, she finds herself given a chance to move to John’s estate and work on her music for a year in his private, million-dollar recording studio. But as Paige soon discovers, working with John will do much more than give her a shot at fame and fortune; it will also forever change her musically and emotionally as her mentor guides her into creating multi-generational songs and challenges her to grow as a person.
While this book can rightly be called a coming-of-age story, it is also very much a tale of a young woman who discovers how to truly love. In the beginning, Paige is hard to like. Narcissistic and hedonistic, she is the type of character that one almost wishes to see fail. For Paige, other people seem to exist either to further her career or temporarily satisfy her voracious sexual appetite. She is the stereotypical diva-in-the-making, a future superstar who refuses to allow anyone to even contemplate sharing in her glory. However, throughout the course of the book she gradually learns that the ideas and contributions of others may actually enhance her songs, and that the beauty and power of her music to impact lives may be of greater importance in the long run than her. As she interacts with the brilliant but deeply damaged John, she discovers what it means to really care for someone other than herself, a revelation that culminates in possibly the greatest moment in her story when she becomes willing to literally take a couple of bullets for those she loves.
Marcello’s novel has a lot going for it. Well-written, thought-provoking, and filled with flawed characters, it meets all the basic requirements for best-of-show in the literary fiction category. The author does stumble a bit in one area, though, in his attempt to fully develop his protagonist. As Paige succumbs to her “sex tingle” time and time again irrespective of whether her partners are male, female, or one of each, the sheer number of encounters becomes tedious and actually distracts from the deeper message of the story he is telling. Aside from this, the author’s novel of a girl who discovers in a year’s time more about life, music, love, and herself than she could ever have imagined from the start of her journey is well worth reading.