The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto is one of those books you aren’t looking for – instead you pick it up randomly at the bookstore and just happen to take it home. That being said, the author, Mitch Albom, is probably familiar to many. He wrote the popular book Tuesdays with Morrie. The books differ in their genres, non-fiction vs. magical realism, but the tones remain similar. There is a beginning, there is growth, and then there is the emotional ending. No one ever said that Mitch Albom couldn’t write a book to pull at the heartstrings.
However, in the case of The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto, this is perhaps a tad ironic and definitely symbolic. The main character is a famous guitarist and guitars have strings. This symbolism must not be lost when reading this book. Through carefully crafting said symbolism and combining it with carefully crafted and interesting characters, Mitch Albom has created a world where we can wander and dream – a place where strings are magic and music is everything.
The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto begins with Music and a funeral. Yes, Music with a capital “M”. However, Music is not a human character, but rather music itself. The spirit that provides music to every living creature has deemed it a worthy cause to tell us a story – the story of Frankie Presto.
Frankie Presto, the main character of the story, is a musical genius born during the Spanish Civil War, which took place from 1936-1939. His story begins with a fire and a church and quickly develops into one that is completely consumed by music. As he grows, he eventually leaves Spain for the musical landscape of North America. There he influences many famous musicians before himself becoming a pop star – along with his magic strings.
Despite this, at the peak of his popularity he disappears. Frankie has become burdened by the power of his magic strings. He will only return once that burden has been lifted. It’s a story of what happens when a single man can touch music – including the music that we all carry within our souls.
Intertwining Music and Words
Mitch Albom has done something with this book that is truly special. His writing style is simple and easy to read. Yet it fully encapsulates the cadence of the music which is telling Frankie’s story. In doing this, we are able to feel the power that music holds over us within our daily lives. The story ebbs and flows, just as a long musical piece might. This is fitting, especially in a story where Music is our guide. Albom has weaved together a story where one can almost hear the music as they read.
In a story about music, it is also inevitable that loads of musical terminology made its way into the story.Albom manages to incorporate all of these “foreign” words and explain them all one breath – educating the uninitiated and tipping his hat off to the veterans of the genre. This only adds to the pure musicality showcased throughout the whole entire novel. Music is front and center from start to finish in this story.
Everyone Joins a Band
A common refrain through The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto is that “everyone joins a band.” The author revisits the theme over and over again throughout the whole novel and he’s right to do so. This is part of the soul of music that leaks into our daily lives. Frankie literally joins bands in the novel, but the band doesn’t have to be limited to a music group. That club you joined in high school where you met your best friend or maybe the patrons at the local bar you frequent. These people are part of your band.
This is arguably the most important message of the novel. While the story is magical, this message keeps the narrative grounded in a truly authentic way. Not only that, but it grounds the ideas of music to people who may not have a strong musical background. There is something for everyone to enjoy. Albom has ensured that everyone can join a band.
The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto is an eloquent reflection on the natural flow of our lives and the musicality that we are all able to experience simply by being alive. It’s an absolute masterpiece that absolutely every musician should read. Yet the book remains extremely accessible to non-musician readers as well. The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto is a stunning piece of fiction. Everyone should read it. Just make sure you’re ready for the rollercoaster of emotions that comes along with giving your heart to Music.