Our 1997 Editor’s Prize winner, Anne Miano, was also an author who had not been previously published. “The Oboist” features a narrator who is, to begin with, a violist. As her skills progressively improve, attention is increasingly focused on her. As a result, she develops a tremor that makes violin playing impossible. She stutters and is forced to recite Hamlet at the kitchen table. She leaves her violin and takes up the oboe, grateful that it is “virtually impossible to have a solo career as a concert oboist.” Her domineering mother who dreams Julia will one day be center stage as a premier violinist never forgives her, but Julia is happy in her anonymity. Or rather, she is safe. That is until a neighbor begins eavesdropping while she practices. He leaves notes of praise and Julia’s tremor returns. Her borderline agoraphobia forces her to leave her position at the New York Philharmonic and take a position with an orchestra in California. There she lives in blissful solitude until she encounters Margaret and Walter, two unconventional shepherds who gather the lonely and forgotten and feed them tuna casserole and offer them a space in which to be their own imperfect selves.

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Is that confusing? She is a violist (I suspect that actually a typo), playing violin, who switches to oboe and manages to play in the New York Phil? You gotta be kidding me!

Guess tha’ts why it’s called fiction.

1 Comment

  1. Wait, oboes don’t have solos? I think I should switch to violin… Seriously though, how can you be a performer if you can’t stand for anyone to listen to you?

    I think maybe she should become a real violist because they don’t have more solos than oboes (yes?) and it would be a more natural switch. I’ll just ignore any other falacies in the plot…