The Melody

 The Melody by Jim Crace

Alfred Busi is an aging performer struggling to find purpose after the loss of his wife and his career. He lives alone in a part of town where developers want to tear down all the older homes to erect modern new high-rises. Their plans also include clearing the nearby wooded area that shelters the homeless, several species of wildlife, and according to local legend, Neanderthals, or "humanzees", a feral hybrid of wild man and animal.

When Alfred is attacked in his own home by what he believes to be a wild boy, and again later on the street near his home, it fuels the town's desire to clear the area to protect the "haves" from the dangers the "have-nots" present. And in one surreal, half-crazed day, they do just that.

There is a third party narrator through most of the book, until the last quarter when he introduces himself and finishes the book in the first person. Alfred sort of fades away toward the end; he's still there, he just isn't the main character anymore. That was disappointing.

The story deals with grief, aging, and loneliness, but it also makes a statement about humans encroaching more and more on animal habitat, and the widening gap between people of comfortable means and those who have to scavenge for their daily food. 

It's different, fascinating in sections and tedious in others. There's a dream/nightmare-like quality about it, or maybe it's more like a fairy tale, the kind where danger is always lurking just off the page. 

I don't know how else to describe it. It's a weird one.  


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