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The Spanish Bow

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Young Feliu Delargo is baffled by his father’s bequest of a bow until the sound of a cello’s low C-string makes him taste ”bitter chocolate,” and he realizes he is meant to master the instrument. This colorful but uneven novel about Feliu’s career as a cellist in fin-de-siècle Spain focuses on his partnership with a fictional piano prodigy named Al-Cerraz, but it’s the historical details that give The Spanish Bow life. There are cameos by Pablo Picasso and Bercholt Brecht as well as crazed bomb-throwing anarchists, clock-collecting kings, and beautiful morphine-loving violinists. The characterization of the cellist himself, however, is so thin he seems little more than a one-note riff. B