The Doctrine of Affections

by Paul Headrick

April 2010
5.5 x 8.5 paper 208 pp
ISBN 978-1-55111-978-6
CDN $23.95 | US $23.95

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Finalist for the 2011 Alberta Trade Fiction Book of the Year

A poverty-stricken guitar virtuoso navigates the political landscape of nineteenth-century Parisian society as he comes out of retirement for one final concert. A sessional instructor competing for the prestigious Interdisciplinary Chair in Aretha Franklin studies gets sidetracked by her obsession with a mysterious student in a yellow hat. A dying doo-wop DJ and his wife try to bridge the estrangement wrought by illness as they travel in search of the horns, drums, and vocals of highlife.

In the eleven stories that make up The Doctrine of Affections, Paul Headrick takes us on a fascinating journey into the heart of music. From the perfectly honed decrescendo of a symphony’s string section to the down-home chord progressions at a late-night kitchen party, Headrick’s stories question the subtle differences between hearing and listening, and communicating and understanding. The subjects of this collection are soloists, ensemble players, scholars, collectors, and lovers of music, but their experiences with risk, religion, relief, and often regret make their stories resonate for readers who are hearing their songs for the first time.



“With only two books to his name, Paul Headrick has already established himself as a subtle and charming writer with a great subject, which is music in all its manifestations—Sinatra and Crosby, opera, highlife, baroque, a single mother singing her child to sleep with jazz standards, a traveller comforting his mule on a long, all-night trek. Through his characters, Headrick shows us just how much music may move us, even to the point of altering our lives. Musicians and music lovers, I recommend this book to you. To the tone-deaf and the tin-eared (pity us!), I prescribe it.”
—Caroline Adderson, author of Bad Imaginings and Pleased to Meet You

“The stories in Paul Headrick’s The Doctrine of Affections deal with how and why music matters to us and why it can express feeling so movingly. Whether the music in question is classical, jazz, soul, or rock, Headrick’s stories always sound the right note: pathos, humour, irony, wistfulness, absurdity, joy. These stories express music from the inside out, with feeling, like the music Headrick so clearly admires and knows so well.”
—Bruce Baugh, Professor of Philosophy, Thomson Rivers University