Steve Lopez’s book The Soloist is about the true story on when the author met a Juilliard student turned homeless and mentally-ill musician, Nathaniel Ayers. The story begins when Steve, a writer for the L.A Times, first noticed Nathan playing violin in Pershing Square in the downtown section of the city. He was interested in him just for a story for the newspaper, but after his story gained popularity and people came out and wanted to help Nathan out, it soon turned into something more. They become friends and the book is set up in chronological order but includes flashbacks. This allows reader can get a image in their head of the events in the book, the two characters’ friendship grow and see Nathan deal with his schizophrenia.
When Steve first noticed Nathan playing his instrument in Pershing Square, he decides to come back later. He comes back but he isn’t there. Steve Lopez writes “But when I come back to look for the violinist in Pershing Square I come up empty. His disappearance only makes the mystery more provocative. Who was he? Where did he go? What is his story?”. Steve and Nathan finally meet three weeks later. This is when the story begins. They get to know each other better and become friends. They talk, go to concerts and other things.
As the story progresses you can see that both of the main characters grow, even if it sometimes rocky because of Nathan’s schizophrenia. At the beginning, Nathan did not want any help from the Lamp Foundation, an agency that helps the homeless in the Los Angeles area. But as time goes on he lets not just from the Lamp Foundation but others. As the story goes on, Steve grows as well. Even with the ups and downs he goes through with Nathan he helps him. He learns how to deal with Nathan when he is having problems. He finds out that he has a soft spot for him and likes to help those with mental illness including Nathan.
The story is told by Steve Lopez, so the story is told in his point of view of the events. “The way Steve (Lopez) writes the story, he also uses a timeline, but in a unusual way” says a writer on teenink.com. “He finds a way to incorporate flashbacks about Nathaniel in the story. Steve also incorporates events that were happening to himself at the time”. An example of a flashback about Nathan from the book. “The Juilliard pressure was gone, the spirit was light, the mood was festive. And when the pianist finished his piece, Russo turned to Nathanael (and said) “Boy, doesn’t that sound beautiful”.” Nathan demanded “What do you mean by saying “boy” are you racist?” Steve added this to the story as a flashback because it shows the beginning of Nathan dealing with his mental-illness. Nathan accused his best friend of being something he wasn’t. Turning a happy holiday party into a very awkward situation for not just him and his friend, Russo, but everyone else there too. During this time, Steve was on the other side of the country. “ While Nathaniel was at Juillard, the rare black student in the elite world of conservatory, I was at a junior college in the San Francisco Bay Area, where white suburban kids who couldn’t crack four-year schools were killing time while avoiding the draft.” The author adds this because they were both in the same situation. They were different. Nathan was one of the only black kids in all white school studying a type of music only played by white people. Steve was in college where kids more privilaged than and less smart did nothing while he worked hard. They were both in similar situations at the same time.
Many stories are told in chronological order. A great example of this is the Harry Potter series. There are seven books in the series. Harry goes to The Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry for seven years to graduate. Each book represents a year and tells the story of Harry and his friends. If the Harry Potter story wasn’t told in chronological order, readers would get confused when reading. Same can be said for this book. John Friedlander of Southwest Tennessee Community College said “It naturally fits in narration, because when we tell a story, we usually follow the order in which events occur. Chronological order applies to process in the same way, because when we describe or explain how something happens or works, we usually follow the order in which the events occur”. This is true. Telling a story in the order of which the events happened is the most natural way to tell a story and also the most effective. If you went from one point in the story then in the next paragraph something completely different is going on, the reader is going to be confused and not want to read. When you tell a story it is more interesting when you can use the most detail you can. The Soloist does a great job in telling the story it wants to tell.
The Soloist by Steve Lopez is a fantastic story on a really unlikely friendship between the author himself and former Juilliard student, Nathaniel Ayers. From the start to the end it will make you want to read more and more. The chronological order, which allows the reader to understand the events of the book more. Flashbacks are also key to the story because it allows readers to understand the characters and their actions. The chronological order also allows the reader to watch the two main characters go from total strangers to really good friends.
Lopez, Steve. The Soloist. New York: Berkley, 2008. Print.
Friedland, John. "Principles of Organization." Principles of Organization. Southwest Tennessee Community College, n.d. Web. 15 Jan. 2015. <http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/composition/organization.stm>
The Soloist by Steve Lopez." Teenink.com. Teenink, n.d. Web. 15 Jan. 2015.