As of yesterday I am an official card-carrying member of the Brooklyn Public Library. Having lived in the vicinity of the library on and off for the past three years, all I can say is that it’s about time. The sweet woman who prepared my card – my identification was based on my greencard photo ID and the address panel of my latest subscriber’s copy of the New Yorker – told me she was retiring in September. I told her she seemed too youthful to be retiring. That’s when she dropped the news that she was a great-grandmother.
With the last book – the first book – my research requirements were minimal, as I wrote primarily from memory. Memoir is by definition intensely personal. This time, my project is still very personal, but has a broader scope and context, hence the natural and pressing need for research. Women musicians, the history of the piano, the philosophy of music, Jane Austen’s piano-playing heroines, music teachers and the history of the piano lesson. Among a myriad of related topics, these are some of the clusters forming on my sheet of butcher’s paper as I collate the fruit of previous research and focus on a few months of dedicated writing, thinking and reading time.