The Thomas Cantor

A Story

by Sara Houghteling

One more exquisite Goldberg variation. I'm smiling.

Beautifully paced; richly imagined scenes.

What an exquisite piece. For those of us who grew up with the musically gifted, for those of us who have chased sleep, and for those of us who crave a glimpse back into a time of great minds, inspiration of the gods and cold stone floors, I thank you, Ms. Houghteling. Beautifully done.

This seemingly effortless, but acutely observed story that recreates from so many imaginative elements was flawless. To another writer held-breath enviable!

Richly deserves the award; sets a standard hard to follow. What was so magical was the sympathetic identification with each of the characters, Goldberg variations each and all, developing the the simple theme of youth to age but subservient to the towering talent that will outlast them all. A wonderful story!

Congratulations on winning the Narrative Prize. You pulled me into the development of the sensitive relationship between Goldberg and the Count. The second you identified the Thomas cantor as Bach I was hooked and thought, of course, Goldberg variations, but I had not heard the story. When I read “At the keyboard, the jovial child is gone,” I thought this writer understands the power of music. Also with the phrase “with a yelp [Goldberg] races ahead to the music room.” Your analysis of the variations (It repeats, changes key, drops to a lower register. The line climbs tentatively.) vividly characterizes the musical progressions. I wanted to know your musical background so I Googled you. All I could find was you married a musician. There’s a lot more to it. I also Googled the Goldberg Variations and found that there was a story connected to them but you made the story come alive and helped the reader enter the room with the Count and Goldberg. Thank you. (PS I sing in a chorus.)

I type this comment while tears of gratitude flow from my eyes. How beautiful, eloquent and completely surprising in every way. A magnificent story so carefully crafted. I found myself walking the hallways of the castle and even imagined the heavy wood crafted chairs sat upon. Even the stockings over bare feet upon the floor were laid out for us to envision. I could almost smell the kitchen fire when you wrote of the sausages and garlic hanging from the ceiling overhead. I am in awe of this story and I commend this writer for her exceptional storytelling. The ending was unforeseen and spectacular in it's simplicity. Thank you, thank you, thank you!


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