Music to Eat Cake By – Lev Parikian

Welcome to Halfman, Halfbook for my stop on the Blog Tour for Music to Eat Cake By by Lev Parikian and published by Unbound

About the Book

Today’s reader has choices: books about love, about life, about death – and everything in between. The variety is overwhelming, bewildering.

But what if the reader could play a part in producing something different, something about everything, about nothing, about everything and nothing at the same time? What if the reader could tell the writer what to write about?

Lev Parikian asked his readers those very questions, gathered their responses and then set out to write that book. Music to Eat Cake By is the result, a collection of essays exploring everything from the art of the sandwich and space travel to how not to cure hiccups and, of course, his beloved birdsong. Lev considers each subject with his signature wit and warmth, inviting the reader to wonder: what might we ask him to write about next?

About the Author

Lev Parikian is a writer, conductor and hopeless birdwatcher. His first book, Waving, Not Drowning, was published in 2013, and his second, Why Do Birds Suddenly Disappear? followed in 2018. His numerous conducting credits include the re-recording of the theme tune for Hancock’s Half Hour for Radio 4.

My Review

If you were to walk into any bookshop you would be able to find books on most subjects and the bigger the shop the more specialist and wider the range of books available. Most of the time you can find what you are looking for, but what if you had the opportunity to tell a writer a subject that you would like him to write about? And it could be an obscure a subject as you wanted to pick. Foolishly, Lev Parikian has done just that, funding his book through Unbound he gave people the opportunity to suggest things for him to write about.

To add a twist to this concept, he set each of the essays or musings a particular word length starting at four thousand words and dropping by 100 words each time down to the final chapter of 100 words with a subject suggested by his wife, Tessa. Asking people for subjects to write about has given us a book that mines a rich seam of Parikian’s life and background.

To say the subjects are diverse is an understatement, there is a longer essay on Where’s the cue ball going, allotments, scars gelato (most definitely not ice cream) and the link between chocolate, Wombles and musical theatres. There are a few chapters on some of his favourite subjects; cricket, music, and of course birds.

Like Lev himself, this is quite a unique book. He has a way with writing that will mean that you will be falling around laughing fairly soon into the book. I was with his description of just how bad amateur musicians can sound and a handful of pages in. This humour is a common thread in each of the chapters, whether it is him trying to remember the people whose wedding that he went to, the delights of getting older, how to stop hiccups and how to tell what species of elephant you are looking at.

They are very diverse subjects and I am fairly sure that one or two have been deliberately picked to be super difficult. Can’t think why that is… That said, he has risen to the occasion magnificently and each essay is entertaining, opinionated, full of snippets of his life and he often heads of on tangents, mostly because he can. He does manage to sneak quite a bit of cricket in too. As with all his other books, I thoroughly enjoyed this.

Don’t forget to visit the other blogs on the blog tour

Buy this at your local independent bookshop. If you’re not sure where your nearest is then you can find one here

My thanks to Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for arranging for a copy of the book to read.

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  1. Liz Dexter

    That does sound a fun book indeed, he is a good and amusing writer and I must pick up more of his.

    • Paul

      He has a slightly warped and dry sense of humour. I really should read his book on conducting too

  2. annecater

    Thanks so much for the blog tour support x

    • Paul

      You are very welcome, Anne

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