Berner, Geoff. “The Fiddler Is A Good Woman”, Dundurn, 2017.
Who is DD?
“The Fiddler Is a Good Woman” is about a “biography that doesn’t quite exist, about a violinist who can’t be found as told by people who don’t agree on much”.
Novelist Geoff Berner has been given the job of writing a biography of DD, a mysterious, charismatic, chimerical musician who has disappeared. As he searches for her, Berner interviews her friends, ex-band mates, ex-lovers, and others. He sees that each attempt to describe her casts doubt on the previous testimony. His project is quickly taken over by the stories that he hears and a complex, gifted and wounded DD emerges from what he learns. Yet the questions of who DD is and where did she go remain constant.
While the story is fiction, the book makes us believe it to be a true story because of Berner’s fine writing techniques. We hear from DD’s various co-artists and ex-lovers and we get multiple versions of DD of which some are created and others are destroyed. Each account has a unique and we forget that it is Berner who is controlling what the characters say. In DD, he has created a character that we meet only through the eyes of others and I can only imagine how difficult it was to write this. We see her passion for music, her hatred of domesticity and as a person who is always searching for more freedom. She is a lesbian who is irresistible to both men and women.
Geoff Berner is himself a musician so when he writes about music we know that we are getting the real story. He’s a singer/songwriter/accordionist who is a careful observer of the world he lives in. There is a lot of raw language and sexual meetings as we learn about DD’s life.
The characters want to mother, protect, exploit and/or sleep with DD. Each wants something from her but get nothing after she disappears. We read about the exploitation and debauchery on the folk/country circuit. This is a story about life on the as told through many entertaining perspectives.