Aside from his trusty piano, Alfred Busi lives alone in his villa overlooking the waves. One night, Busi is wrested from bed by noises in his courtyard and then stunned by an attacking intruder--his hands and neck are scratched, his face is bitten. Busi can't say what it was that he encountered, exactly, but he feels his assailant was neither man nor animal. The attack sets off a chain of events that will cast a shadow on Busi's career, imperil his home, and alter the fabric of his town.
…the book he did not expect to write…which takes its place among his finest work. The Melody is to make these chimes of domesticity, warmth and plenty sound in a mobile, infinitely changeable relationship to that other metallic sound, the crashing of the bins. Crace is a polemical writer, but his writing is too subtly strange to feel like preaching. Crace builds his own laboratories, where he is free to bring his elements of interest into new configurations…with incantatory linguistic power.
On the morning I read Jim Crace's new novel The Melody, I was in our living room when I heard them: bells. Chiming over and over again, from I knew not where. It felt as if the book itself had created an atmosphere around me, as if I'd entered its world involuntarily — and I wasn't surprised ... Crace as author owns wiles far ahead of any reader's ... We might be rich or poor, young or old, fast or slow—but we each have a voice. To what end do we use it? The possibilities are haunting, and so is Crace's message, around which he has invented an entire world: We are only as meaningful as the help we give to others.
Jim Crace captures more concretely than perhaps any other writer the permanence of absence, Crace’s novels are nothing so straightforward as allegory; we are offered no takeaway messages or pat moralities.
A book at once full of wry humour and achingly sad, The Melody is every bit as strange, otherworldly, and finely wrought as readers have come to expect of Crace. This is a fine contribution to the oeuvre of perhaps the most underrated novelist writing in English today.