Two-Part Inventions by Lynne Sharon Schwartz
A Novel

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Synopsis

Two-Part Inventions begins when Suzanne, a concert pianist, dies suddenly of a stroke in the New York City apartment she shares with her producer husband Philip. Rather than mourn in peace, Philip becomes deeply paranoid: their life is based on a fraud and the acclaimed music the couple created is about to be exposed. Philip had built a career for his wife by altering her recordings, taking a portion of a song here and there, from recordings of other pianists. Syncing the alterations seamlessly, he created a piece of flawless music with Suzanne getting sole credit.

In this urban, psychological novel, author Lynne Sharon Schwartz brilliantly guides the reader through a flawed marriage and calculated career. Beginning with Suzanne’s death and moving backwards in time, Schwartz examines their life together, and her remarkable career, while contemplating the nature of truth, marriage and the pursuit of perfection.
 

About Lynne Sharon Schwartz

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Lynne Sharon Schwartz Lynne Sharon Schwartz grew up in Brooklyn, New York, in the 1950s, in a middle-class family. Her father was a tax lawyer, her mother a homemaker. Strongly influenced by her immigrant grandparents, Schwartz had a large, extended family with strong traditions and European values. As a child, she remembers noticing the details of things -- conversations, emotion, faces. By age seven, she was a writer, her themes were often philosophical and moral. "I wrote one about how the world came into being," she says. "And it was a kind of a deist vision of God who was...a kind scientist....I wasn't a genius or anything, I mean, I wrote like a seven-year old. But I thought about things. And my parents were wonderful. They encouraged me." With a Bachelor's degree from Barnard and a Master's degree from Bryn Mawr, Schwartz completed her course work for a Doctorate in comparative literature, when her life changed direction. She says, "I was just about to write my thesis, in 1972, and I couldn't face it; every topic I thought of was no good, and every time I went down in the NYU stacks I'd just get sick. Then suddenly it dawned on me: I was a little over thirty, and if I was going to write, I'd better write. I had thought it would happen -- I would wake up one day and be a writer -- but I didn't do it. That has a lot to do with the way women are brought up: you expect that things will happen to you, not that you should go and pursue them. So I dropped the Ph.D., went home, and wrote." For many years she wrote short stories, and in 1972 was approached by an editor who suggested she string a series of shorts stories together into a longer novel. The result was her brilliantly acclaimed first novel, Rough Strife, an intimate psychological portrait of a marriage in trouble. Perhaps because of her family background, as well as her years of studying European literature, Schwartz feels an affinity to 19th-century writers. Marcel Proust and Henry James are her literary idols and she was also influenced by the poets, Chaucer, Shakespeare, and Keats. "The way they use language has remained in my ear," she says, "and in my writing I try to keep a sense of the stages the language has passed through, and the way poets use it." She acknowledges that she is going against the current literary trend with its spare style but isn't particularly concerned about the criticism. She says, "I can't write that way because I simply don't see life that way. For me, every gesture, every sentence, every interaction is taught with meaning, with layers of complexity, and I can't write as if that weren't true."The Fatigue Artist is Schwartz's fifth novel, and her most autobiographical. In 1991, after a period of great stress, she found herself sick with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. For three or four months, she lay in bed with only the strength to talk on the phone. In many ways, the calls were life sustaining, and as she gradually felt better. She began to write down the anecdotes and stories her friends told her, as well as her own observations of what was going on around her in the contemporary world. Determined to use what life had to offer, she turned the illness into a witty and humorous novel of introspection and healing. "When I noticed all these...things happening around me, I kept thinking, I'll use it, I'll use it," she says. "It's not going to be a waste of time. I have a friend, a very old, close friend, and whenever we're going through anything difficult, we say to each other, 'Why worry? Why? Some day all of this will become literature.'" Lynne Sharon Schwartz currently lives in New York City with her husband and has taught writing and literature at Columbia, Boston, and Rice universities and at the Writers' Workshop at the University of Iowa. She has received numerous awards, and has been given grants for her fiction by the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. Her newest book, Ruined by Reading, will be published in May.OTHER WORKS BY LYNNE SHARON SCHWARTZ:Rough StrifeBalancing ActsDisturbances in the FieldLeaving BrooklynA Lynne Sharon Schwartz Reader:Selected Prose and PoetryThe Melting Pot and Other Subversive StoriesAquatinted with the NightReading Group Discussion PointsOther Books With Reading Group Guides
 
Published November 1, 2012 by Counterpoint. 290 pages
Genres: Education & Reference, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Two-Part Inventions

Kirkus Reviews

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The third figure in their chamber drama is the young and worldly émigré, Elena, who attracts both Philip and Suzanne: Does she possess what they lack?

Sep 16 2012 | Read Full Review of Two-Part Inventions: A Novel

Publishers Weekly

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Although the narrative initially places equal weight on Suzanne’s and Philip’s stories, it eventually shifts almost entirely to Suzanne’s point of view, resulting in an uneven perspective.

Sep 24 2012 | Read Full Review of Two-Part Inventions: A Novel

Kirkus Reviews

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When Joyce Hatto, the famous classical pianist, died in 2006 she was a respected and beloved figure.

Dec 11 2012 | Read Full Review of Two-Part Inventions: A Novel

Open Letters Monthly

By Lynne Sharon Schwartz Counterpoint, 2012“Only the music matters”—“it’s the music that matters”—“getting the music right was what we cared about”—“only the music mattered”—“it was the music that was important”: the primacy of “the music” is a leitmotif in Lynne Sharon Schwartz’s bleakly intelli...

Nov 05 2012 | Read Full Review of Two-Part Inventions: A Novel

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