But Katie Hafner makes it work, and brilliantly so. The book obviously does cover more than just that one specific part of Gould’s life. Hafner tells us about Gould’s childhood, his concert career, and his relationships with others. Through it all, she makes him into a very sympathetic and likable man, although many that knew him would have told you differently. Yet the focus never strays too far from Gould’s working relationship with the Steinway company, and his very particular demands for a piano.
That focus also encompasses Gould’s tuner for many years, a man who was almost entirely blind and certainly entirely gifted. I’ve played piano since I was five years old, and I had no idea of everything that could be done to tweak a piano’s sound or feel. It goes way beyond tuning to voicing and other such techniques that take hours upon hours of painstaking work. I found these descriptions as fascinating as anything Hafner had to say about Gould.
Glenn Gould was an eccentric man with unique demands for his perfect piano. Katie Hafner is an author who brings that search – and Gould’s world – to life in the most compelling way possible.