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Beautiful Music

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A funny, poignant, thoughtfully rendered novel about love, fear, death, race, music, and the intense passions of youth.

$16.95 $12.71

What people are saying…

Beautiful Music is a sweet and endearing coming-of-age tale measured in album tracks.”
Wall Street Journal

“Danny Yzemski tunes out a dysfunctional family with Frank Zappa and Iggy Pop, shaking his countercultural fist at The Man in this eight-track flashback of a novel set in 1970s Detroit.”
O, the Oprah Magazine, One of O‘s Top Books of Summer

“For Danny, cracking the seal on a fresh piece of wax and dissecting cover art and liner notes are acts of nigh religious experience that unveil to him a community of fellow rockers across Detroit . . . It’s in these small moments — a lonely boy experiencing premature nostalgia — that Zadoorian shines.”
Washington Post

A Morning Sun Michigan Bestseller for March 2018!

“His third novel — Beautiful Music, about a radio-loving teen’s transformation through music during the early ’70s in Detroit . . . [is] rich with Detroit details (Korvette’s, Bill Bonds, Iggy Pop), [and] follows Danny through racial tensions at high school, his changing body and his imploding family life.”
Detroit Free Press

“Zadoorian takes us back to Detroit in the 1970s, which was still throbbing from the 1967 rebellion, and was in the throes of the energy crisis and the sexual revolution. Protagonist Danny Yzemski finds that growing up in such times can be . . . complicated. But with a little help from Iggy Pop, the MC5, and Led Zeppelin, he finds just the boost he needs to survive—and even grow a bit.”
Detroit Metro Times

“Michael Zadoorian’s Beautiful Music takes us back to Detroit of the early 1970s, when 16-year-old Danny Yzemski, a relatable composite of shyness, unsureness and anxiety, navigates his city and high school environments of elevated tensions and rapid change. When tragedy strikes, his favorite music saves his life.”
Daily Tribune

“Then there are writers and artists who journey back in time, ransack their memories of the ’70s, and embellish them to create a sort of time-lapse portrait. Michael Zadoorian’s fourth book, the terrific Beautiful Music, is a semi-autobiographical coming-of-age story.”
The Millions

“[A] raucous bildungsroman . . . Zadoorian touches on white flight, iconic radio stations, and the racial history of Detroit, but remains rooted in [protagonist] Danny’s transition out of his shell. With its echoes of works by Nick Hornby and Stephen Chbosky, Zadoorian’s ebullient novel is full of energy, pain, growth, and great music.”
Publishers Weekly

“A teenager in 1970s Detroit takes his first steps toward hard-rock rebellion after a soft-rock upbringing . . . [Zadoorian is] skilled at capturing the feeling of release that music can provide (‘something snaps in your heart and a jolt of pure happiness shoots through you better than all the dope in the world’) as well as the anxiety the novelty of that experience can produce in a sheltered kid . . . A likable bildungsroman that cannily evokes how music transforms teenage identity.”
Kirkus Reviews

“This affectionate, nostalgic novel about a sometimes-troubled teen is a crossover delight with appeal to both adults and teens.”
Booklist

“[Zadoorian’s] new novel speaks of death, race, music and youth in a voice that has been compared to Nick Hornby and Tobias Wolff. It is set in 1970’s Detroit at the cusp of punk, and centers around high school loner and music fanatic Danny Yzemski. One to look forward to for fans of rock music and sad, funny writing.”
Cleveland.com

“Zadoorian’s new novel Beautiful Music is set in ravaged 1970s Detroit, and focuses on the healing power of music.”
Bay Area Reporter

“An exceptional, engaging, and compelling read from first page to last.”
Midwest Book Review

“Set in early 1970s Detroit, a racially divided city still reeling from its violent riot of 1967, this novel is the story of a high school boy’s transformation through music.”
Publishers Weekly, Spring 2018 Announcements, Literary Fiction

“It’s late 1960s Detroit and young Danny Yzemski listens to CKLW on his radio. Dad loves music too, but his sound of choice are the beautiful music instrumentals that we now call elevator music. And mom? She sits on the couch drinking and ranting. Danny has to swerve to avoid the bullies at school and work both, and only his friendship with a tall kid with a white boy Afro who shares his taste for Iggy Pop, NME, and secret record runs to Korvettes (a discount department store), keep him sane. Let’s just say that things get worse before they get better, with the family disintegrating and racial tensions ratcheting up at school. Beautiful Music (told in rat-a-tat, diary-like entries) is both funny and poignant, nostalgic and surprisingly of the moment. Danny messes up sometimes, but you’ve got to give this kid props for trying. Rock on, Yzemski!”
—Daniel Goldin, Boswell Book Company (Milwaukee, WI) (staff pick!)

“I am such a huge fan of this book and this author. Beautiful Music, set in 1970s Detroit is just what the title states. A young Danny Yzemski is growing up chunky kid with a love of pop radio and an turbulent home life. He starts his freshman year in a new school being confronted by racial tension issues previously he only experienced through the news and his mother’s snide comments. When a tragedy happens, Danny’s mom becomes more and more obsessed with the world’s cultural changes and tries to drive them out of her life with booze and pills. In this storm, Danny finds comfort in music. Like beautiful music, this book is permeated with the power to make you sad, lift you up, and carry you home.”
Fountain Bookstore (Richmond, VA) (Staff pick, Kelly)

Beautiful Music reads like rock’n’roll music, and affected me deeply. Zadoorian writes a mean lyric disguised as a wonderful, emotive sentence. at the same time, Yzemski discovers how rock’n’roll music can lift one’s soul.”
Stuff I Like

“This is a wonderful nostalgic coming of age story — with the help of lots of music and for readers of a certain age, it will bring back plenty of memories. I highly recommend this book to any age!”
Girl Who Reads

“How do we find soul-saving comfort in moments when deep personal loneliness coincides with a world gone increasingly mad? This question is at the heart of Beautiful Music, Michael Zadoorian’s funny and melancholic novel that navigates the haunted history of the Rust Belt. Zadoorian shows how music has kept the region’s heart beating—especially Detroit’s—even in the most crushing and confusing of times.”
—Dean Bakopoulos, author of Summerlong

“Michael Zadoorian has captured an era when Detroit simmered with anger and fear while it simultaneously reverberated with the joyous noise of rock and roll. Beautiful Music eloquently evokes the beauty, confusion, and power of that late 1960s/early 1970s milieu.”
—Don Was, Grammy Award–winning producer, musician

“The story of Beautiful Music is painted with rich, exquisite detail and all the painful hyperawareness of growing up in a culture of mixed signals, confusion, and loss. Salvation comes through music. A miraculous safe place in which to belong.”
—Nancy Wilson, singer/guitarist, Heart

“Like Nick Hornby or the great Nick Tosches, Michael Zadoorian is the rare novelist whose prose crackles with the energy of the best rock and roll. Beautiful Music is a beautiful bildungsroman that does the sounds and spirit of his beloved Detroit proud.”
—Jim DeRogatis, author of Let It Blurt: The Life and Times of Lester Bangs

“Popping with Detroit cultural landmarks, Beautiful Music wraps a disturbing yet humorous tale of beleaguered adolescence in 1970s Motor City around the A-list rock music that made the dingy landscape an aural playground.”
—Steve Miller, author of Detroit Rock City

“Don’t let anyone tell you that a novel can’t have a soundtrack. Beautiful Music adds another chapter to Detroit’s rock and roll mythology, every scene shaking with bass, drums, guitar riffs, and driving vocals. But beneath it all, Zadoorian expertly portrays a quiet boy who’s navigating heartache at home, bullies at school, and racial tension in the air—a boy trusting in music to tell him that both he and his city will be okay in the end.”
—Adam Schuitema, author of The Things We Do That Make No Sense

Beautiful Music thrums like a guitar riff and rattles like a bass drum. This soulful, funny, transporting, and often electrifying novel will resonate with anyone who’s found their true passion—or is still on the hunt. It’s not just a great Detroit story and a great American story; it’s also a story about what it means to be human. I loved this book! In the words of Bob Seger, all I could do was turn the page.”
—Davy Rothbart, contributor to This American Life

“Like a song you can’t stop playing, Beautiful Music casts a spell on your heart. With clarity and tenderness, Zadoorian sweeps us into a life that we recognize as our own. Remember when you were lonely, scared, unsure, and then somehow found your own kind of bravery and actual, genuine joy? Beautiful Music will take you there—and give you the soundtrack to get you through.”
—Scott Sparling, author of Wire to Wire


Description

Set in early 1970s Detroit, a divided city still reeling from its violent race riot of 1967, Beautiful Music is the story of one young man’s transformation through music. Danny Yzemski is a husky, pop radio–loving loner balancing a dysfunctional homelife with the sudden harsh realities of freshman year at a high school marked by racial turbulence.

But after tragedy strikes the family, Danny’s mother becomes increasingly erratic and angry about the seismic cultural shifts unfolding in her city and the world. As she tries to hold it together with the help of Librium, highballs, and breakfast cereal, Danny finds his own reason to carry on: rock and roll. In particular, the drum and guitar–heavy songs of local legends like the MC5 and Iggy Pop. In the vein of Nick Hornby and Tobias Wolff, yet with a style very much Zadoorian’s own, Beautiful Music is a touching story about the power of music and its ability to save one’s soul.

Read a “Homestyle” feature on Michael Zadoorian at the Detroit News

Read a feature on Michael Zadoorian at the Detroit Free Press

Listen to an interview with Michael Zadoorian on Ann Delisi’s Essential Music on WDET 101.9, on WCBN’s Living Writers, and on the Daily Detroit podcast. 

Read an interview with Michael Zadoorian on Deborah Kalb Books.


Book Details

  • Paperback: 340 pages
  • Published: 5/1/18
  • IBSN: 9781617756276
  • e-IBSN: 9781617756443
  • Hardcover
  • IBSN: 9781617756177

Author

MICHAEL ZADOORIAN is the author of the critically praised The Leisure Seeker—now a film starring Helen Mirren and Donald Sutherland, released by Sony Pictures Classics this year. Zadoorian is a recipient of a Kresge Artist Fellowship in the Literary Arts, the Columbia University Anahid Literary Award, the Great Lakes Colleges Association New Writers Award, and the Michigan Notable Book Award. His other books are Second Hand: A Novel, and the story collection The Lost Tiki Palaces of Detroit. His fiction has appeared in the Literary Review, Beloit Fiction Journal, American Short Fiction, Witness, Great Lakes Review, and the North American Review. He lives with his wife in the Detroit area. Beautiful Music is his latest novel.

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