A Change of Key by Adrienne Jansen (Escalator Press, 2018), 252 pp., $28
I love all the musics, but classical is my least familiar, so I wondered how I might go with Adrienne Jansen’s new novel, A Change of Key. I wasn’t even that fussed on the title, which seemed a little mundane. But music is joy, and Adrienne does good joy. Life mightn’t be flawless, but there’s music.
Using the perfect strategy of setting her story in a block of flats, Adrienne is able to show us rather than tell us (as the rules wisely decree) the lives of people who, like migratory birds, have somehow blown off course and found themselves in a cage with an open door, here at the end of the world. Their lives are rich in terms of lived experience rather than money, and political, financial and personal wind currents may prevent them from ever returning to their original place of departure. The narrative is told through the carefully plotted unfolding of the characters’ conversations and thoughts, and each short chapter is an opportunity to lay out more of the story, sometimes with a smidgeon of plot action. [Read more…]