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THE SKIN ABOVE MY KNEE: A Memoir ~Marcia Butler

Monday, January 1st, 2018

THE SKIN ABOVE MY KNEE is a very satisfying read, full of poetic, musical language, inspiration, abandonment, abuse, lyrical recovery and phrasing.  It is an autobiography and an etude of how to use music to balance and center the self while finding home.  “Music aficionados will find an extraordinarily kindred spirit here, and lovers of memoir will find this a sensationally satisfying one.” (-Booklist)

Marcia Butler is a professional oboist who does freelance work primarily in New York.  Her story is about a child who falls in love with Wagner Opera at age 4 and demonstrates unusual talent to her teachers at school.  These teachers encourage her talent and find lessons for her to advance.  Butler drives her self to be the best she can be and falls into the music and the praise.  She resides in a love-starved environment and has to lap dance for her father to avoid the beatings he administers to her sister.  Music is the escape and she practices 3 hours a day.

Her parents drive her sister out of the house.  Butler uses music scholarships and part time jobs to leave home and begin her career.  Her playing is exceptional and awarded.  Her love relationships are monstrous and difficult.  Her parents only hear her play 2 times in her career.  She is always searching for love and support.  The reader wants to hear her play and wants to hold her up and let her lean their way, holding on to her words and hoping to protect.   One gets lost in the music that we are not actuality hearing but rather are reading from the page.  Gorgeous and courageous, sparse and passionate the reader journeys into the self-destructive youth and it’s darkness only to emerge with a full life of sound and beauty.

The chapter of how the author makes her reeds is just amazing.  How to get the wood cuts perfect to produce the perfect outcome and resonance.  Bravo!

“In her debut memoir, THE SKIN ABOVE MY KNEE, Marcia Butler shows us how music – listening to it, playing it, losing it, and rediscovering it – can save us.  With bravery and honesty, she unflinchingly tells her story.”  (-Ann Hood, author of THE BOOK THAT MATTERS MOST)

Marcia Butler was a professional oboist for twenty-five years, until her retirement from music in 2008.  During her musical career, she performed as a principal oboist and soloist on the most renowned of New York and international stages, with many high-profile musicians and orchestras – including pianist Andre’ Watts, composer and pianist Keith Jarrett, and soprano Dawn Upshaw. (cover)

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I loved reading this book it is a favorite in 2017 for me and the Washington Post!

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