Monday, March 15, 2010

Author of “The Soloist” Coming to Chico March 23, 2010


The 2009-2010 Community Book-In-Common project is featuring an appearance by the author of “The Soloist” ($15 paperback from Berkley Books), Steve Lopez.

The presentation is scheduled for Tuesday, March 23 at 7:30 p.m. at Chico State University’s Laxson Auditorium. Premium tickets are $20; adults/seniors are $15; students and children are $10. Tickets are available online at or by calling (530) 898-6333.

Books will be available for purchase the night of the lecture, and the author will be signing them as well.

Lopez is a columnist with the L.A. Times. “The Soloist” recounts his growing friendship over a two year period with a paranoid schizophrenic street musician, Nathaniel Anthony Ayers, who had played classical bass at Julliard thirty years before. (A film of the same name stars Jamie Foxx and Robert Downey Jr.)

Much has been made of the themes of homelessness and mental illness that pervade the book, but readers should know that it is also about self discovery. As Lopez says, "one reason I write a column is for the privilege of vicariously sampling other worlds, dropping in with my passport, my notebook and my curiosity." Fair enough, but the musician gets under his skin: "Nathaniel turns my gaze inward. He has me examining what I do for a living and how I relate to the world as a journalist and as a citizen."

There is more: "I experienced the simple joy of investing in someone’s life, and the many frustrations have made the experience all the more rewarding and meaningful. I might not have always made the right choices in trying to help, but I came by each one honestly. I worked through the arguments for and against commitment. I wrestled with definitions of freedom and happiness, and wondered at times who was crazier—the man in the tunnel who paid no bills and played the music of the gods, or the wrung-out columnist who raced past him on the way home from sweaty deadlines to melt away the stress with a bottle of wine."

A haunting question, and not just for columnists.

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