The Special and the Ordinary

By: David Clapham

Item Code: DCTSATO Category: Tag:



Book Information

“But was music his life? If so, it was because of the man in the red dressing gown, years before, when John was eight years old.”

‘This coming-of- age tale follows childhood friends, John and Martin, from their youth to adulthood as they grow up in the industrial city of Porterfield, Britain, during the post World War II eras of the 1950s and 1960s…John’s “ordinary” persona is shy, intelligent, musically disposed, and exudes a serious approach to establishing himself as a musician…But, on the other end of the spectrum is Martin, whose “special” persona is charismatic, intelligent, precocious and exudes a lax approach to his path in life… While John works diligently to become rooted in the world as a classical musician, Martin easily flits, from being an evangelist to a faith healer to the legal field…

What makes this book worth reading is not that the story moves at breakneck pace, or hosts an intriguing mystery or posits evil lurking in the dark. Instead, it is the winning combination of intelligent context, intriguing characters and the author’s eloquent writing style all of which thoughtfully presents the many elements of the human condition as they occur within the lives of the characters.’

— Lisa Brown-Gilbert, Pacific Book Review

‘Throughout the novel, Clapham ties in the stories of other colorful figures in John’s and Martin’s lives…such as Katherine Clements, an ailing music star whom John accompanies on tour; Tamas Mihaly a Hungarian conductor whom Martin recruits for the [Porterfield] orchestra; and Wesley Johnson, an up-and-coming composer from the West Indies…The author makes a poignant statement about the subjectivity of success: even if one isn’t in the limelight, one may still make a considerable impact in the arts–and on the world.’

— Kirkus Reviews

‘John’s attempts to break into the music world fill the story with beautiful passages on the emotional impact that music has upon us…This lovely coming-of-age story addresses a central theme for many: How do we find satisfaction in our lives?’

— Constance Augusta A. Zaber, Clarion Review

David Clapham grew up in She eld and studied botany at Oxford. After working at the plant breeding station in Aberystwyth, Wales, he moved to Uppsala in 1973. David and his Swedish wife Lena have two children.

About the author


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About the Author

My hometown was Sheffield, an industrial city in northern England that is a model for Porterfield in The Special and the Ordinary. My father was the professor of botany at the university, and visitors included other botanists and professors of subjects such as music and education. My parents would comment on these people, my father with respect, whereas my mother was more down to earth; an acute and well informed observer, she would tell me and my elder sisters what was really going on, in contrast with the official version. I learned about the well-intentioned conspiracies that pervade ordinary life and are a subject of my first novel, Odd Socks. My family was musical and I played the cello in amateur orchestras and informal chamber music groups, often with professional musicians as teachers; these experiences were the background to my second novel, The Special and the Ordinary. I read botany at Oxford University, then worked for five years at the plant breeding station in Aberystwyth, Wales. I attended a conference in Rome where I met my future wife Lena. I moved to her in Uppsala, Sweden in 1973 and obtained a PhD degree in genetics. We have two grown-up children. Moving to a foreign country with its own language is a special experience, difficult but exciting and rewarding, and enabling you to see your native country in a new light— and also to identify with other immigrants.

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