The Soloist (Movie Tie-In): A Lost Dream, an Unlikely Friendship, and the Redemptive Power of Music
The Soloist (Movie Tie-In): A Lost Dream, an Unlikely Friendship, and the Redemptive Power of Music

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Now a major motion picture??An intimate portrait of mental illness, of atrocious social neglect, and the struggle to resurrect a fallen prodigy.? (Mark Bowden, author of Black Hawk Down)

This is the true story of journalist Steve Lopez?s discovery of Nathaniel Ayers, a former classical bass student at Julliard, playing his heart out on a two-string violin on Los Angeles? Skid Row. Deeply affected by the beauty of Ayers?s music, Lopez took it upon himself to change the prodigy?s life?only to find that their relationship has had a profound change on his own life.

Customer Reviews:

  • May work for a Newspaper human interest piece...
    Not so much in book form -- On second thought, I take that back, I think it could be a very compelling story, that's undoubtedly why they're making a movie out of it, right? -- BUT, personally I didn't find Mr. Lopez to be a very compelling writer.

    I'm sure plenty other people have gone over all the odds and ends of the book, and I'm sure it's safe to say they did it better than I could do -- but the fact of the matter is(at least in my case), here is this very weighty subject matter and the writing feels as empty as a drum, Mr Lopez simply got lucky and stumbled upon a story that even if you are a second rate writer, you would most likely have success--seems it deserves better -- three stars, ah well......more info
  • Great read, inspirational story!
    I heard about Steve Lopez on a Philadelphia sports radio show, he was a guest. The story about the Soloist sparked my interest, so I purchased the book and I could not put it down. I do not usually read these types of stories, I am more of a "chick book" reader, but this was great. I plan to read all of Steve Lopez's books....more info
  • Music of the Fingers and Mind
    Steve Lopez has written a moving story about Nathaniel, a homeless man, once a student at Julliard School of music. Mental illness has over taken his life and robbed him of what could have been another famous performer of classical music.
    Through Steve's articles in the LA Times, he opens a world to a stranger that he met on a street corner, living on Skid Row, and whose world revolves around nothing but music. Music takes Nathaniel into a mind of his own world that no one seems to understand.
    Beethoven rules his life. Nathaniel receives an opportunity to meet Yo Yo Ma who attended Julliard the same time he attended classes before his breakdown. Yo Yo gives Nathaniel an opportunity to play his cello.
    Many times Steve wants to give up on Nathaniel, but he perseveres and makes a break through. This book is moving and a whole new world opens to some of us that is unaware of of the struggles of mental health. You appreciate those who work hard to help change their lives and their world they live in....more info
  • Pity the movie's been delayed; in the mean time, the book's a treasure
    I scrambled to read Steve Lopez' book prior to the upcoming movie release. I was disappointed to hear that Dreamworks had pushed it back to Spring 2009. "Budget reasons" were supposedly behind this very late move - so late, in fact, that I'm seeing ads all over and magazine story tie-ins left and right. Looks like the studio was more than halfway pregnant for a Fall release. It's got to be a kick in the nether regions for Robert Downey Jr., who was hearing very strong Oscar buzz for his portrayal of writer Lopez.

    None of that, however, gets in the way of my admiration for this excellent book and its protagonists. What started out as a thought for a topic for a couple of columns for Lopez evolved into a true and lasting friendship, despite significant challenges and roadblocks along the way. It would have been easy for Lopez to move on to other things. Instead, he demonstrates a depth of character not shared by most of us. His commitment to Nathaniel Ayers is exemplary. Likewise, Mr. Ayers perseveres and reveals himself to be both a gifted musician and - when at peace with himself - a good friend.

    Lopez shows the reader that there's no happy, shiny ending to his friend's affliction. That doesn't mean there aren't small victories seeded in the disappointments and frustrations. The author's talent is the he makes us readers revel in those advancements and commiserate in the sorrow. You want the best for the both of them....more info
  • The Solist
    I liked this book so much that I couldn't put it down. I am not a speed
    reader but I managed to read this book within 3 days. I plan to see the
    movie, hope it is as good as the book.

    Daniel P. Testa...more info
  • A Quick Read
    I picked this up because it was 2009's One Book One Philadelphia. I wanted to learn more about the issue of homelessness, and I'm interested in public health. Although the narrative was interesting, I found the writing very dry. This wasn't a surprise - the author is a newspaper journalist - but the book reads very much like 25 separate articles. Lopez repeats himself over and over again, and revisits the same inner conflicts as if we hadn't read the previous chapters. I would have rather read a complete piece about Nathaniel instead of hearing Lopez's take on it every 5 minutes. His outlook is very superficial and unremarkable. I finished the book wanting more. I gave it 3 stars because it was a fun, easy read. I would recommend it for someone who needed something to read on a long flight or train ride....more info
  • Moolight Sonatas, Madness, and Mercy.......

    The Soloist is a poignant journey into the harsh world of a brilliant and talented homeless musician whose story will pluck at your heartstrings.

    Through the very compassionate and capable voice of Steve Lopez, the reader is led into a world of stunning surprises and shocking insights into the very real domain of mental illness and homelessness where doors are opened and scenes displayed with unrefined veracity.

    This novel seems to beg to be read as a clever work of fiction...however it is far from fictional!

    This is a true story of amazing strength and of the careful 'baby steps' required to navigate the delicate emotions that continually thunder inside the heads of the mentally ill... and to walk beside a man of enormous talent who is also afflicted with schizophrenia; living on the streets of Skid Row while creating beautiful music for all around him to hear.

    Nathaniel Ayers once had a brilliant career ahead of him in the music world and was a stand-out student at Julliard.
    Everything changed as his slow descent into mental illness evolved and one day he found himself on the outside desperately seeking the comfort of the euphonious chords that sweetly sooth the scattered thoughts of his present-day schizophrenia.

    Nathaniel worships Beethoven as he pushes his shopping cart full of instruments and his survival cache through the streets and tunnels in the slums of downtown Los Angeles.

    The chance meeting of Nataniel Ayers and Steve Lopez is what makes this startling story and the friendship that is formed fills the novel with charity, empathy and grace.

    This novel will change how you look at the mentally ill and homeless around you forever....Mr. Lopez has helped to shine a bright and fresh light on the 'stigma' of what we call madness.

    With true compassion, we see how delicate the path to well-being can be and learn the deeper meaning of "There but for the grace of God go I"

    Thank you Mr. really DID make a difference!...more info
  • Lopez Is Back!
    The Soloist recaptures the passion for the story that made THIRD AND INDIANA great. Written in a reporter's style, this is a story that will make an even better movie....more info
  • Let The Music Play
    Nathaniel Anthony Ayers, a gifted bass musician, studies at the Cleveland Music Settlement and Julliard. However, in his second year at Julliard, Nathaniel suffers a mental breakdown due to the fierce competition and because he was the only black student at a predominately white school. Later he's diagnosed as paranoid schizophrenic and he leaves the school. Thirty years later, Nathaniel settles in Los Angeles, homeless, where he discovers a statue of his favorite composer, Beethoven, in a park. He plays music on his beat up violin for the traffic in the tunnel. His passion for music gives him solace from the confusion in his mind.

    Steve Lopez, a columnist for the L.A. Times, passes by Ayers as he is playing. Fresh out of topics to write for his column, Lopez believes the talented musician would be a good story. He visits Ayers daily to learn more about him and soon they develop an extraordinary relationship. After learning about his illness, Lopez takes an interest in finding housing for Ayers, also finding his family and exposing him to the classical music world in L.A., which at times becomes frustrating for Lopez due to the uncooperative Ayers. But Lopez never gives up on him.

    THE SOLOIST is a beautiful story of two men and their special relationship. The story passionately told by Lopez not only takes the reader on a journey about Ayers and his music, but also about mental illness and homelessness. He touches on many cities that have Skid Rows, where many of the homeless live and the lack of support and medical attention for the people like Nathaniel.

    Reading THE SOLOIST touched my heart on so many levels and I highly recommend this poignant story to be read by everyone.

    Reviewed by Sharon Lewis
    of The RAWSISTAZ(tm) Reviewers
    ...more info
  • breaking stigmas
    wonderful book! shows the struggle of Nathaniel who has a severe mental health disorder makes the best of his world through his passion for music. although lives on skid row in los angeles, his only concern is playing the music that lives in his heart. shows the brotherhood of musicians who are inspired by Nathaniels' love for music. heartwarming story of a lifelong struggle of a man robbed of a chance at a "normal" life. ...more info
  • I am a friend of the author
    Steve Lopez has written a moving story of a talent musician and, in the process, written an illuminating two-year autobiography....more info
  • Book purchase
    product received was as advertised, and in great condition. Would buy from this vendor again....more info
  • excellent seller
    The seller contacted me immediatly and my book was shipped fast and as described... A+++...more info
  • Genius & Madness
    A Los Angeles reporter discovers a homeless musician playing a 2-string violin under a freeway bridge. The musician is not just hacking away, but he's playing Beethoven, Brahms, Schubert, Bach. Intrigued, the reporter begins spending time with the homeless man -- initially with the idea of getting a column or two out of his story, but soon realizing this is the larger story of the shameful treatment of homelessness in America.

    Written as a developing drama, it's easy to see why this book was immediately optioned as a movie, starring Jamie Foxx and Robert Downey Jr. It is a tale of ups and downs, frustrations and breakthroughs, human kindness and human cruelty. Nathaniel Ayers alternately soars -- impressing professional musicians with his sensitivity and technique -- and plummets into profanity-laced tirades against the world. Lopez's portrait of mental illness is harrowing and sobering, as he learns just how difficult (if not impossible) recovery can be.

    Some commentators (and reviewers) have accused Lopez of taking advantage of Ayers in telling his story for a book and movie, but I believe the spotlight that this turns upon the plight of the homeless is a greater goal. Let's hope the end of Reaganomics also brings with it some compassion for the newly disenfranchised victims of this economy....more info
  • Enlightening, Interesting, and a Good Read
    Enjoyed the book and found it very fascinating. Steve Lopez is a journalist and not a novelist but he still does a good job at bringing a great story to his readers. Most of all, he has been a good friend which is much more important than being any kind of writer....more info
  • Good book
    I thought this was a good book - a little too wordy - can't imagine it being a good movie although it will have great people playing the parts of the real people...more info
  • Read it, then talk about it
    The Soloist is one of those books that I want to give to everyone I know (and maybe even those I don't) just so we can talk about it later. On his way to work one day LA Times journalist Steve Lopez meets Nathaniel Ayers, a Julliard-trained homeless paranoid schizophrenic playing a broken and battered violin. The book chronicles their resulting relationship through all its complexities, challenges, and rewards. Though the title might lead you to believe that music redeems Ayers, I think it might ultimately be Lopez who finds redemption.

    The Soloist challenges what most of us believe about the homeless, the mentally ill, and what's "best" for them. For example, finding Ayers a place to live is the easy part - getting him to want to live there is a complex dance of trust, safety, and shared responsibility. Lopez gives Ayers assistance, time, money, friendship, family, and access to countless resources, but ultimately the friendship is defined by what Ayers is able to accept more than by what Lopez is willing to give.

    In the end, this is an amazing story of about humanism, commitment, community, courage, love, and acceptance. ...more info
  • Eye opening
    Steve Lopez knows how to tell a story for any reader to understand and become emotionally involved. He reveals how deep and severe of a problem homelessness in Los Angeles has grown to be. He opens the readers' eyes on how this is a problem created by public policy neglecting a much larger issue in the country which is Mental Health. But the best part of the book is the life lessons from a sad and unfair life a great passionate musician has had to endure. Lopez is excellent at telling his firend's life story while making the reader reflect on his/hers; Lopez makes the reader think on their own definition of a normal life while sharing Mr. Ayers's own definition of life and freedom.

    As a working mom, it's rare when I find a book I cannot put down; but this was definitely one I had to finish and will save to share with my children one day. I'm looking forward to the movie, mostly for the great actors, but I am not expecting it to be as perfect as this book was for me.
    ...more info
  • Great reading
    The Soloist reads like an extended newspaper article. It is a fascinating expos¨¦ on mental illness among the homeless. It is also a book of insights - how music shapes our understanding of our environment, how we can grow internally when we openly face new circumstances, how our priorities can change as we age and mature. This is a fascinating, well written book that I highly recommend....more info
  • Great story about an Unusual Friendship
    This in an interesting story about a unique friendship. You learn a little about mental illness, classical music and newspaper journalism in the process of reading this fine book. However, the one think it lacked was more detail on the life of Nathaniel Ayers prior to his downward spiral to homelessness. I wanted to know more about what he was like before the sickness took over. It really didn't seem to me that the author spent enough time researching,interviewing and discussing that issue (although he made one trip to Ohio to visit his friends and family). But it was a very good read nonetheless....more info
  • A dishy little epic
    The book is fantastic. I picked it up last night, and I wasn't able to put it down, but for sleep and work, until I finished today. Lopez writes with the good humor and honest introspection of a news columnist, but for an entire three hundred pages instead of 1000 words. The crux of the story remains Steve Lopez' good-natured cajoling of schizophrenic Nathaniel Ayers into treatment and back into the world that broke him. The story is simple. Lopez hears Ayers as a street musician, realizes that he sounds better than most, and thinks to make a few columns out of it when he finds out that Ayers, 30 years ago, was a scholarship student at Julliard before suffering from a mental breakdown. Where Lopez succeeds in telling this story is in showing the dignity and sense with which Ayers has lived his fractured squalor.

    Ayers is unhinged, dirty, and overly paranoid. But Lopez surely has his own interest involved when stories of Ayers light up Lopez' column and insure Lopez' own relevance in an overly saturated news market, all of which begs the question-- which Lopez is fully aware of--is Lopez using Ayers in an untoward way, while at the same time, coaxing Ayers into housing and seeing a doctor. The twin stories of trust and vulnerability make the book riveting. Ayers' real illness, instability, and capacity for the most refined joy and dignity adds a thrilling dimension to this book.

    Classical musicians across the world lament the number of patrons who attend the concerts purely out of a sense of class or society, but Ayers' is a musician's dream. His learned and genuinely felt appreciation of music, balanced with his dangerous instability, makes for an enchanting story. Buy this book, just don't buy it here. Go to your local bookstore and buy this book....more info
  • Thank You Mr. Lopez
    Steve Lopez has written a masterpiece shedding light on mental illness, social work, the lack of government support, the human spirit and the homeless. The Soloist takes the reader on a journey inside one mans heart as he tries to help a lost soul -- Mr. Ayers. So many up and downs are had that in the end he realizes that some things can't be fixed and he can truly only provide the one thing that all of us need -- friendship. As a nation we are spending billions of dollars trying to bring democracy to a land that continues to resist change, it is of my humble opinion that we need to focus on the needs our growing homeless and those of that suffer from mental illess. Steve Lopez's The Soloist paints an accurate picture of the untold truth on a subject that isn't discussed nearly enough. Very well written and thought provoking. Kudos to all social work professionals and people like Steve Lopez. Highly recommended reading to all those who dare to know the truth. ...more info
  • What the movie won't do
    "The book was better." Moviegoers are always saying that.
    Back in 2005, *Los Angeles Times* columnist Steve Lopez wrote a series of stories about a homeless man who turned out to possess orchestra-level talent on several stringed instruments.
    Lopez turned his columns into *The Soloist* -- and now it's being turned into a movie (an early Oscar contender, no less, to be released Nov. 21) starring Robert Downey Jr. as Lopez and Jamie Foxx as Nathaniel Ayers, the musician who suffers from paranoid schizophrenia.
    So why not just wait for the movie? Downey Jr. is a great actor, and Foxx, having played another gifted-but-disabled musician in Ray, just might pull off the mix of inspiration and delusion.
    Because books provide detailed, verbal pleasure, that's why. In real life, fore example, Lopez is married and very much involved in the life of his young daughter; in the movie, he's divorced. OK, so screenwriter Susannah Grant (*Erin Brockovich*) needed to streamline the narrative.
    But scenes recorded for the movie won't capture the author's commentary. Movie directors can compel our focus, but they can't enter into the characters' interpretations. At one point, for example, Lopez decides to spend a night on the streets as a homeless person alongside Ayers, who demonstrates how he taps a stick on the sidewalk at night to scare off rodents. And Lopez observes: "He's a classical musician who has taken a great fall and now finds himself fending off sewer rats, but when I look into his eyes, I find no hint of regret, no recognition of this nightly collision between beautiful thoughts and ugly reality."
    Most important, the process of reading through the months and months of coordination it took among several people to get Ayers off the streets and into treatment (tentatively, provisionally) -- the reader's act of setting the book aside, then returning to it days later -- mimics the one-step-forward, three-steps-back hassles that Lopez endured just to make Ayers' life a little better. Movies accelerate problems, then "solve" them in two hours.
    Director Joe Wright allowed us a glimpse, in *Atonement,* of a happily-ever-after ending that's severely undercut by stark realities. Reader-viewers of *The Soloist* will anticipate an ending that offers the hope of continued treatment for Ayers, not a cure. Lopez's book ends with the question of whether Ayers will be able to continue attending concerts at Walt Disney Concert Hall, let alone performing in them. No sentimentalized Hollywood endings are welcome here.
    If they intrude, then this Thanksgiving, you can stroll out of a cineplex somewhere and justly say, "The book was better." ...more info
  • The Next Steps
    How often have most of us walked down the street and ignored the far too many homeless people that abound in most major urban centers in North America? One man I know with a schizophrenic son always carries large amounts of change in his pockets. He is generous with the change because, if circumstances were different, his son just might be among the homeless. Most of us simply tune the homeless out without thinking. Steve Lopez, to his credit, did not.

    He took the time to be curious about one such person because of that person's talent for music and that led him on a journey to tell his readers in LA and eventually the readers of his book all over the world about the plight of those with mental illness. For his kindness to another human and for alerting people to this problem, he is to be commended.

    But the issue here is that in any caring society, people who are ill should not, for any reason, be allowed to plummet to the point where they wind up homeless or, as often happens, in jail. Dr. David Dawson, who wrote the preface to my book Schizophrenia: Medicine's Mystery - Society's Shame and wrote and directed the film Cutting For Stone said that "the mentally ill of many western countries are not faring as well as they might have in 1960 or 1970, despite our advances in knowledge, treatment, and our nations' wealth".

    The Soloist mentions that Ayers refused medication and some of the reviews have wondered how much autonomy we should give people who are sick to refuse treatment. One reason that Dawson and others have concluded that those with schizophrenia fare less well now than earlier is that we do allow too much autonomy. People who lack the capacity to understand that they are ill are still allowed to refuse treatment.

    Some European countries such as Norway and The Netherlands, as I pointed out in my book, have laws that do allow for treatment in these cases, do respect individual rights and do manage to avoid our problems of homelessness amongst the severely mentally ill.

    This book does help us to understand and be sympathetic but we must go beyond that as a society and deal with these problems at a societal level.

    Marvin Ross
    author of Schizophrenia: Medicine's Mystery - Society's Shame...more info
  • The Soloist
    I highly recommend this book. It grabbed my attention. It was informative about the real world of homeless people on Skid Row in Los Angeles and the need for greater attention and care to be given to this population. The love and care and acceptance the author felt for the soloist was extraordinary. It is a book of love and hope....more info
  • The Soloist Soars
    A fabulous book with insight to homeless men and women that only Steve Lopez can bring. The music references and the "hook" that brought "The Soloist" back from the brink are terrific. I can't wait for the movie....more info
  • Just lovely
    There are very few page turners in non-fiction for me, but this book was difficult to put down. The impact of mental illness in our society is not examined enough, and The Soloist has an honest, respectful way of addressing the myriad issues which surround this crisis in our culture. An entertaining and meaningful book which strikes just the right pitch....more info
  • Redemption Through Music and Friendship
    Steve Lopez, a columnist for the LOS ANGELES TIMES, sees a derelict on L. A.'s SkidRow playing a two-stringed violin and is sure that there is a story there. And what a story it is. What began as a column for Lopez's newspaper eventually became this heartwarming book THE SOLOIST from which the film by the same name starring Jamie Foxx as Nathaniel Anthony Ayers, the brilliant musician who sadly is cursed with schizophrenia, and Robert Downey Jr. as Lopez was made. Mr. Lopez interviewed members of Mr. Ayers' family-- particularly his sister Jennifer Moore from Atlanta-- as well as former teachers and students from Julliard where Mr. Ayers was a brilliant double bass student before he became mentally ill, to flesh out his newspaper columns that produced so much interest from readers in the plight of this homeless man in love with Beethoven and who essentially lived out of a grocery shopping cart. So many people came forward with musical instruments for Mr. Ayers, that he eventually amassed two cellos, six violins, a double bass and a piano. He also was given cello lessons by Peter Snyder of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, a crafty move orchestrated by Lopez as a way to get Ayers out of the street and into an apartment. And Mr. Ayers ultimately met Yo-Yo Ma, one of his idols. "'I remember your hands from Julliard,'"-- where both men had playead in the same orchestra-- Ayers enthusiastically tells Mr. Ma upon when he meets him.

    Although the book is entitled THE SOLOIST, it really is as much about the writer as his subject. Mr. Lopez, obviously the most decent of people, is quick to acknowledge that Mr. Ayers gave him far more than he has ever given to Mr. Ayers. Mark Ragins, Lopez's "on-call doctor," reminds him: "'It is possible to cause seemingly biochemical changes through human emotional involvement. You [Lopez] literally have changed his chemistry [Ayers'] by being his friend.'" Lopez is not sure if he has changed Ayers' chemistry or not but recognizes their unusual but deep friendship. "He's changed my chemistry too." Mr. Lopez, because of Ayers, is now a lover of classical music although his beginning violin lessons with Ayers were less than successful. "If a friend is someone who inspires, who challenges, who sends you in search of some truer sense of yourself, Nathaniel is indeed a friend." More from Lopez on their friendship: "Nathaniel is a man unmasked, his life is a public display. We connect in part because there is nothing false about him, and I come away from every encounter more attuned to my own feelings than I would be after, say, an interview with the mayor or the governor. Nathaniel turns my gase inward. . . I'll never have a richer reward than knowing him well enough to tell his story."

    Mr. Lopez is indeed a fine, insightful writer. His descriptions of his life with his wife and daughter are often as moving as those of Mr. Ayers. His profound words about this two-year-old daughter Carolnie are as beautiful as anything any contemporary novelisthas written: "I've caught all the big milestones, but the really good stuff is nothing you can write in a journal. It's an expression that only you can see the changes in, it's the emergence of a personality unique to the world, it's the way she comes out of the bath with her hair all slicked back and you catch a glimpse of what she might look like when she is older."

    I finished THE SOLOIST that I cannot recommend too highly dthinking that Messers Ayers and Lopez are both lucky to have found each other. This book will make you sing. ...more info
  • Book better than the movie!
    It makes us realize how fragile life can be. The book is MUCH better than the movie. ...more info
  • An uplifting and touching story
    In The Soloist, Los Angeles Times columnist Steve Lopez tells the touching story of his friendship with Nathaniel Ayers, a gifted musician with a mental illness who ended up on Skid Row.

    In 1972, Ayers was a student at prestigious Julliard. His bizarre behavior, however, landed him in the psychiatric emergency room at Bellevue Hospital. Diagnosed as paranoid schizophrenic, Ayers took medication, tried counseling and even shock therapy, but nothing seemed to work. He eventually ended up homeless on the streets.

    Early in his encounters with Ayers, Lopez describes him as a mentally ill musician. He is corrected by a reader that Ayers is a musician with a mental illness. It is one of many lessons Lopez learns in his alternatingly frustrating and rewarding relationship with Ayers. Lopez learns a lot about himself, Ayers, friendship, music and mental illness along the way.

    As their friendship strengthens, Ayers makes some progress that didn't seem possible. It makes your heart sing and tears flow. Lopez shows that one person can make a difference.

    I have purchased a number of copies of this book to give to my friends and relatives. I highly recommend it and I wish everyone would read it.
    ...more info
  • A moving story with great writing
    I normally don't read books like The Soloist. But after reading the first couple pages at the library, I thought it looked like a powerful, well written, story. And it was.

    This compelling true story of human strivings, failings, and compassion is simply hard to put down. Read it - you won't be sorry....more info
  • AN EYE-OPENER.........!!!!!
    When the worlds of L.A. columnist Steve Lopez and musician Nathaniel Ayers--who is both mentally ill and homeless--collide on a seemingly innocuous day in the city, the lives of both men will be changed forever. Lopez is struck by the beauty of the music from the most unlikely of sources. Where would a homeless man clad in dirty clothing be exposed to such culture? Lopez is immediately intrigued, and wonders about the man's life. Who is he? What is he? How did he happen to begin living on the street? Always looking for the next compelling column, Lopez feels certain that this curbside musician could be it. He soon becomes completely absorbed into the world of his disturbed new friend; and develops a newfound respect and recognition of those unfortunates who dwell on our city streets. He discovers that Nathaniel does, indeed have a story, and develops a series of columns for the L.A. Times chronicling Nathaniel and his downfall; and as he becomes more emotionally attached to this man, Lopez receives an education about mental illness and the effect that it has on not only one person, but all of their loved ones. Lopez also gets, as does the reader, an unsavory look into our country and the stigma that it attaches to mental illness. A fabulous, gut-wrenching peek into the underbelly of homelessness and the extenuating circumstances may lead to one living on the street. Readers discover how difficult it is to watch helpless as someone that you care for, who is ill, is left to fend for themselves. Regrettably also is the fact that as a country we have laws that defend an individual's right to be hungry, dirty, and live on the street, yet does nothing to protect their god-given right to human respect and decency. A tale beautifully told that will tug at your heart strings, and hopefully make you think differently about that gentleman or woman that sits on the steam grate. Absorbing.


    ...more info
  • Kindle Price Outrageous
    The paperback edition is available from Amazon for $3.99, but the Kindle price is over $9. Give me a break! This review, obviously, concerns only the price of the book, not the book itself. I won't purchase and read the book until the Kindle price drops....more info
  • Go for it
    Having read each of the columns where Steve Lopez introduced us to Nathaniel Anthony Ayers, I wasn't surprised by most of the content of the book. Where I was pleasantly surprised was in Mr Lopez' admissions that he was unprepared for the depth of Mr Ayers' illness, and that he, at times, attempted to rush Mr Ayers' treatment. His growth ahd changes are unmistakable. Mr Lopez is to be commended for what he has done to bring awareness to mental health issues faced by many residents of LA, and specifically Mr Ayers. ...more info
  • Compelling story needs more vivid treatment
    A film version of Steve Lopez's chronicle of his friendship with homeless man Nathaniel Ayers, a gifted musician who briefly attended the Juilliard School before falling prey to schizophrenia, is about to be released. One wishes for its success, since the story the author tells is so compelling it needs more than he can give it.

    This is not to denigrate the importance of Lopez' book. There is no doubt that he is a dedicated journalist and a man of more than usual sensitivity. While he tries to help Nathaniel, who despite his charm and talent is obviously a seriously ill man, he worries about compromising his journalistic integrity, of neglecting his family. The Soloist paints a disturbing portrait of the inadequacy of America's safety net for those who cannot cope with modern life due to mental illness, and offers vivid thumbnail sketches of some of the people at the front lines of the battle.

    Still, in the end this reader was slightly disappointed, though loath to admit it. Though a few scenes have a heart-wrenching immediacy--a meeting between Nathaniel and famed cellist Yo-yo Ma, for example--too often Lopez' workmanlike prose falls short of truly bringing either the story or the frequently hellish milieu in which it is set to life. Nevertheless, enough of a sense of the unique, arduous but rewarding relationship that exists between these two people comes through that The Soloist is still well worth reading. I'm eager to see the film version too....more info


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