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Madame Curie’s Piano Tuner, by Steven Barron

When newly licensed piano tuner RAYMOND DOVER visits the burg of Bucksnort, his intent is to provide services for a veteran’s retirement home. Shortly after arrival, he’s stricken with a mysterious amnesia and subsequently obliged to spend time at a county bughouse (Dixxmont) for observation and treatment. Therapeutic success leads to discharge, and Ray subsequently decides to stay on awhile in the area.

Bucksnort is archetypical, small-town America; a dream town of wearisome proportions; a sometimes metropolis with all the attendant vexations of other city centers but still with the blinkered, tar black menace. It is impossible to /know/ anyone in Bucksnort, and after frequenting, it’s also impossible to care.

Whether found or invented history, varied characters present, some historical while scores of others are conceived on the run. Recognizable eras are also referenced; timelines are breached and boarded and, together with the myriad personalities, are riffled and sailed across the page like casino playing cards.

Madame Curie’s Piano Tuner is a loose, less than linear assemblage of scenes, scenarios, staged bits, gags, etc., recounted by Ray. Soon enough, the moderately-adjusted reader may adjudge him an unreliable narrator. Still, for /these times/, he’s reliable enough, and though a vocal faction may seek to blow the confines, Ray makes clear long before final words are laid to page that exiting Bucksnort is easier said than done.

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