Tenth recounts the transformation of Julian Coates, an obscure professor in a California university, into a creative artist--through the force of fate and his own sometimes shaky but violent will. Called upon by an attractive BBC editor to give a radio talk on a German composer, Julian finds himself undertaking the task of completing the composer's unfinished Tenth Symphony--the symphony that has been mysteriously forgbidden to the world's greatest composers. He quickly encounters a formidable antagonist: the composers's "pest of a daughter" who owns the rights to his work. Soon Julian is enmeshed in a complicated web of intrigue involving three women; the editor, the heiress, and his blond and placid California mistress.
Tenth begins by attaching itself playfully to a well-known work of world literature--the Adrian Leverkuhn whose music is discussed is the protagonist of Thomas Mann's novel Doctor Faustus. From that point, however, Harris's novel assumes a tone quite its own, light and ironic, then tenebrous and metaphysical by turns. This is a novel directly in the tradition of Harris's previous work, gripping, unsettling, and elegant.
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