Excerpt from The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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The Music Shop

A Novel

by Rachel Joyce

The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce X
The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce
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  • First Published:
    Jan 2018, 320 pages
    Paperback:
    Nov 2018, 336 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Sarah Tomp

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1
The Man Who Only Liked Chopin

Frank sat smoking behind his turntable, same as always, watching the window. Mid-afternoon, and it was almost dark out there. The day had hardly been a day at all. A drop in temperature had brought the beginnings of a frost, and Unity Street glittered beneath the streetlights. The air had a Kind of Blue feel.

The other four shops on the parade were already closed, but he had put on the lava lamps and the electric fire. The music shop was warm and colorfully lit. At the counter, Maud the tattooist stood flicking through fanzines while Father Anthony made an origami flower. Saturday Kit had collected all the Emmylou Harrises and was trying to arrange them in alphabetical order without Frank noticing.

"I had no customers again," said Maud, very loud. Even though Frank was at the back of the shop and she was at the front, there was technically no need to shout. The shops on Unity Street were only the size of a front room. "Are you listening?"

"I'm listening."

"You don't look like you're listening."

Frank took off his headphones. Smiled. He felt laugh lines spring all over his face, and his eyes crinkled at the corners. "See? I'm always listening."

Maud made a noise like ham. Then she said, "One man called in, but it wasn't for a tattoo. He just wanted directions to the new precinct."

Father Anthony said he'd sold a paperweight in his gift shop. Also, a leather bookmark with the Lord's Prayer stamped on it. He seemed more than happy about that.

"If it stays like this, I'll be closed by summer."

"You won't, Maud. You'll be fine." They had this conversation all the time. She said how awful things were, and Frank said they weren't, Maud, they weren't. You two are like a stuck record, Kit told them, which might have been funny except that he said it every night, and besides, they weren't a couple. Frank was very much a single man.

"Do you know how many funerals the undertakers have had?"

"No, Maud."

"Two. Two since Christmas. What's wrong with people?"

"Maybe they're not dying," suggested Kit.

"Of course they're dying. People don't come here anymore. All they want is that crap on the High Street."

Only last month the florist had gone. Her empty shop stood on one end of the parade like a bad tooth, and a few nights ago, the baker's window—he was at the other end—had been defaced with slogans. Frank had fetched a bucket of soapy water but it took all morning to wash them off.

"There have always been shops on Unity Street," said Father Anthony. "We're a community. We belong here."

Saturday Kit passed with a box of new 12-inch singles, narrowly missing a lava lamp. He seemed to have abandoned Emmylou Harris. "We had another shoplifter today," he said, apropos of not very much at all. "First he flipped because we had no CDs. Then he asked to look at a record and made a run for it."

"What was it this time?"

"Genesis. Invisible Touch."

"What did you do, Frank?"

"Oh, he did the usual," said Kit.

Yes, Frank had done the sort of thing he always did. He'd grabbed his old suede jacket and loped after the young man until he caught him at the bus stop. (What kind of thief waited for the number 11?) He'd said, between deep breaths, that he would call the police unless the lad came back and tried something new in the listening booth. He could keep the Genesis record if he wanted the thing so much, though it broke Frank's heart that he was nicking the wrong one—their early stuff was tons better. He could have the album for nothing, and even the sleeve; "so long as you try 'Fingal's Cave.' If you like Genesis, trust me. You'll love Mendelssohn."

Excerpted from The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce. Copyright © 2018 by Rachel Joyce. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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