The Teardrop Method, Simon Avery (TTA Press £8.00, 160pp, tp) November 2017.
Krisztina, the protagonist of Simon Avery’s excellent novella, The Teardrop Method, is a musician living in Budapest. A singer whose debut album earned her promising notice, she turned her back on the music industry in favor of love. In the aftermath of a devastating accident that befalls her partner, however, Krisztina begins to hear fragments of a new song, lyrics and a melody that she realizes are arising from her lover’s dying, and which cohere into a complete song once her partner has died. When the phenomenon repeats, Krisztina comes to understand that she can hear the particular songs of women and men approaching death, a kind of musical summation of their lives. Avery eschews the more sensationalistic possibilities of such a conceit in favor of a restrained, elegant meditation on grief and creativity, written in luminous prose. Writing well about music is always a challenge, one this novella meets admirably. Ultimately, the teardrop method refers both to the title of the new album that results from Krisztina’s experiences and to the method by which its songs were created, an embrace of grief and pain in order to move through and beyond it. It’s a testament to Avery’s skill that the album’s songs hover just at the edge of our hearing.
John Langan is the author of two novels, The Fisherman (2016) and House of Windows (Night Shade 2009), and two collections of stories, The Wide Carnivorous Sky and Other Monstrous Geographies (2013) and Mr. Gaunt and Other Uneasy Encounters (2008). With Paul Tremblay, he co-edited Creatures: Thirty Years of Monsters (2011). One of the founders of the Shirley Jackson Awards, he served as a juror for its first three years. He lives in New York’s Mid-Hudson Valley with his wife and younger son.
This review and more like it in the May 2018 issue of Locus.
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