May 20, 2009

The Wonder Singer by George Rabasa

George Rabasa's The Wonder Singer easily captures the imagination through deftly orchestrated prose and detailed description. The Wonder Singer is the story of famed opera singer Merce Casals, and her story as told to her ghostwriter Mark Lockwood. Through alternating chapters between the biography of Merce Casals and Mark Lockwood's musings and reviews of his interview tapes with Casals, her tragic and dramatic story unfolds like Aida or many of the other great operas she sang.

"There are moments when the order of life collapses in midbreath, when a missed heartbeat brings on an earthquake. At such a moment, this story takes an unexpected turn." (Page 1 of hardcover)

How can readers ignore the first, foreboding line of this novel? The Wonder Singer is more than a story of a famed opera singer, but the story of a ghostwriter who blossoms into his own when faced with giving up his dream job or plunging into the unknown. Lockwood teams up with the Casals' former caretaker Perla, who Lockwood fantasizes about having a torrid affair with, and Casals' self-proclaimed number one fan Orson La Prima, who dresses in drag to impersonate his favorite opera star. They are going to write Casals' story and celebrate her life against the wishes of her agent, Hollywood Hank.

"He [Nolan Keefe] had delicate handwriting, like a girl's, everything nicely rounded, the capital M done with a flourish. Every time he wrote out my name he seemed to be celebrating it. I [Merce] would read my name and see myself reflected in his consciousness. Sometimes he would write my name very small and I would sense he was saying it in a whisper, for my ears alone. Occasionally merce would be spelled out in uppercase, and it sounded in my mind like he was shouting it from the rooftop of the tallest building in New York. Once he even wrote the letters like notes in a pentagram, so that I could hear him singing." (Page 118 of hardcover)

Rabasa's prose is lyrical, enchanting, and absorbing, drawing readers into the vivid scenes full of emotion. The Wonder Singer is a character-driven novel examining the impact of early abandonment by a father on a gifted, young singer, her triumph as an opera star, and the drive and fear writers feel when they are faced with a project they would do almost anything to complete even if they feel outmatched and inexperienced.

"'Show me one false line I've written and I will eat the page.'" (Page 165 of hardcover)

About the Author:

George Rabasa was born in Maine and raised in Mexico. He lived in Mexico City on and off for several years until the fates conspired to drop him in exotic Minnesota, where he has lived since 1981.

His new novel, The Wonder Singer, came out in September of 2008 from Unbridled Books.

His collection of short stories, Glass Houses (Coffee House Press), received The Writer’s Voice Capricorn Award for Excellence in Fiction and the Minnesota Book Award for Short Stories in 1997. His novel, Floating Kingdom (Coffee House Press), was awarded the 1998 Minnesota Book Award for Fiction.

***Giveaway Information***

2 copies of The Wonder Singer by George Rabasa are up for grabs from Unbridled Books
Open to U.S. and Canada residents only; No P.O. Boxes.

1. Leave a comment on this post about why you want to read the book or who your favorite Opera singer is or what your favorite Opera is.

2. Comment on George Rabasa's guest post, here.

3. Leave a comment on this post as to where you follow this blog (i.e. Google Reader, Blogger Followers, Bloglines, Facebook, etc.)

Deadline is May 30, 2009 by 11:59 PM

Don't Forget About These Great Giveaways!

2 copies of The Last Queen by C.W. Gortner, here; Deadline is May 22 at 11:59 PM EST

1 Signed Copy of The Last Prince of the Mexican Empire by C.M. Mayo, here. Deadline is May 30, 2009, 11:59PM EST.


Anna said...

Glad you enjoyed the book, too. I really liked the passages you posted, and I agree "enchanting" is a great word to describe his writing.

No need to enter me, of course, but I'll post the giveaway in my sidebar.

Diary of an Eccentric

Julie P. said...

No need to enter me, but I just wanted to chime in that I really liked the book!

Iliana said...

Ooh please enter me. After reading your's and Anna's review, this book is definitely on my wish list...

Favorite opera singers? The Three Tenors of course! I am so bummed out I never got to see them perform live but I do have a recording of one of their performances on PBS. Listening to O Sole Mio can bring tears to my eyes.

gaby317 said...

Please enter me in your contest!

I loved Madame Butterfly and Carmen - those are my two favorite operas. My first year in NYC, my uncle treated me to Madame Butterfly at the Met.

gaby317nyc AT gmail DOT com

gaby317 said...

I've posted a link to your contest on my blog's sidebar.


gaby317nyc AT gmail DOT com

Paula said...

Loved your review and the author sounds like a very interesting person. Would love a chance to read the book. I am a follower of your blog.

Paula said...

sorry forgot to post my email address

Anonymous said...

My favorite opera is Carmen.

Please enter me! Thanks!

nbmars AT yahoo DOT com

Dar said...

'Rabasa's prose is lyrical, enchanting, and absorbing, drawing readers into the vivid scenes full of emotion.' Gotta love a book that leaves you feeling like that.

No need to enter me Serena but I'll post on my sidebar for you.

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

I do want to read this, but no need to enter me (unless you do something goofy like forget!).

I'm dropping in to say hi; it's been too long since I caused trouble here. That'll have to wait -- the trouble, that is -- because today I'm merely saying thanks for the e-mail. I've got this posted at Win a Book for you.

Kristen said...

I don't have a favorite opera or opera singer because I've never been to one. Pitiful, eh? But the book looks great and I'd love to be entered. I'm also a follower.

whitreidsmama at

Janel said...

I've loved your posts from the author, so I'm sure the book will be great.

I have to say I've never really listened to opera, but I wouldn't mind reading about it!

jgbeads AT gmail DOT com

Janel said...

I subscribe in Google Reader :)

jgbeads AT gmail DOT com

claire said...

I'm not a big opera fan, but I love reading about opera. I know, it's weird. I just commented on Rabasa's guest post in your blog.

Why I want to win and read this: I noticed his favourite authors (from his post) are also my favourites. If his favourites are an indication of his writing, then it's more than likely I'll love this book, too.

I follow you through Google Reader. :D

dreamsongpoem at gmail dot com

Rachel said...

My favorite opera is La Traviata.

Thanks for the giveaway!

bermudaonion said...

Great review! I don't really care for opera, but I've only seen one - Madame Butterfly. I think it's funny that the author's on lived in places that begin with M. milou2ster(at)

Pam said...

I think this sounds like a great selection for my book club next year. Great review and I'd love to read it!

melacan at hotmail dot com

Pam said...

Follow you on blogger/google reader.

melacan at hotmail dto com

mindy said...

i would like to read this because it seems fascinating my favorite opera would be carmen thanks for the giveaway

LuAnn said...

I'd love to read this book because I've been hearing some great things about it.

LuAnn said...

I follow on Google.

jemscout425 said...

my favorite opera singer was beverly sills

A Reader said...

I love Madame Butterfly.
Thanks for the giveaway!

wendy said...

My favorite opera is Aida because the story is timeless and beautiful.

madamerkf at aol dot com

Cheryl S. said...

I don't really know much about opera. I don't have a favorite & the only opera singers that come to mind are Maria Callas & Pavorotti.

Please count me in - Thanks!

ruth said...

Thanks for this wonderful giveaway. My favorite opera is Gianni Schicchi. Emotional and beautiful.saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

Alexa said...

My favorite opera would be Carmen.

I Follow on Blogger.

Emilie said...

After myself (yes, I sing), my favorite opera singer would be Zinka Milanov, and my favorite opera is Arabella by Richard Strauss.

emvark at gmail dot com

Emilie said...

I follow on the google blogger thing.

emvark at gmail dot com

S. Krishna said...

I'm glad you enjoyed this one! I'm sad to say that I don't know much opera, so I'll pick Carmen as my favorite because I know songs from it!

skrishna [at] skrishnasbooks [dot] com

Carlene said...

I have never been to the Opera but know I would love it. Please include me in your giveaway.

windycindy said...

Maria Callas was one of my favorite opera singers. Josh Groban is also a classically trained singer who is fabulous! This author seems wonderful.
Many thanks, Cindi

windycindy said...

I am a fan/follower of your blog,
google reader page follower and
I also follow you on Twitter!
Thanks, Cindi

Teddy Rose said...

I have read some great review of this book including your and want to read it. Opera is not a favorite of mine but I loved Carmen.

I commented George Rabasa's guest post.

I follow via Google Reader.

teddyr66 at yahoo dot com

Teddy Rose said...

I also blogged about your giveaway here:

naida said...

Wonder Singer sounds like a good read. Great review. Great first line!

etirv said...

Madame Butterfly! Thanks, this sounds like an intriguing book!

Anonymous said...

This book sounds fascinating. My favorite opera would have to be Carmen. It was my introduction to opera.

I follow through FeedDemon

carolsnotebook at yahoo dot com