Weller, Anthony 1957-
WELLER, Anthony 1957-
Born September 18, 1957, in Macon, GA; son of George (a journalist and author) and Gladys (a ballet teacher and scholar; maiden name, Lasky) Weller; married Valérie Diane Moniez, August 4, 1989 (divorced 1993); married Kylée Lizbeth Smith, August 23, 1997. Education: Yale University, B.A., 1980; studied guitar under Rey de la Torre, 1975-79, poetry under Peyton Houston, 1976-95, and music composition under Julián Orbón, 1978-85.
Home—3 Adams Hill Rd., Gloucester, MA 01930-1303; and Italy.
Freelance journalist, professional guitarist, and music composer. Cofounder and guitarist, Chamber Jazz, 1992; guitarist, Jon Jarvis Trio, 1994—, and Herb Pomeroy Trio, 1997. Has taught music all over the world. Member, Kingsley Trust Association. Performed on recordings, including Now Begins the Song of the Guitar; A Guitar of the Americas; Twinkle Twinkle: Holiday Music for Classic Guitar; Simple Gifts; 110 in the Shade: Tommy Crook & Anthony Weller Guitar Duets; Aluminum Baby: The Herb Pomeroy Trio; Live at Café Beaujolais; Hear No Evil: The Jon Jarvis Trio; Never Never Land: The Jon Jarvis Trio, and One for David: Chamber Jazz.
Yale prize, Academy of American Poets, 1980; CAPS grant, State of New York, 1983-84, for poetry; Lowell Thomas Medal for Foreign Reporting, University of Michigan/Society of American Travel Writers, 1993.
The Garden of the Peacocks (novel), Marlowe (New York, NY), 1996.
Days and Nights on the Grand Trunk Road: Calcutta to Khyber (travelogue), Marlowe (New York, NY), 1997.
The Polish Lover (novel), Marlowe (New York, NY), 1997.
The Siege of Salt Cove (novel), W. W. Norton (New York, NY), 2004.
Also author of short stories and poetry. Contributor to periodicals, including Conde-Nast Traveler, Smithsonian, New York, Vogue, Forbes, Paris Review, Saturday Evening Post, Pendulum, National Geographic, Esquire, Gourmet, New York Times Magazine, Playboy, Yankee, Erizu, Geo, Merian, Pan, Lace Neck Review, Architectural Digest, and Travel & Leisure.
As a musician, guitarist, and composer, Anthony Weller has traveled around the world performing jazz and classical pieces solo as well as with fellow artists such as Tommy Crook and Arman Ratip and with groups like the Jon Jarvis Trio. His successful performing and recording career, which started when he was just eighteen years old, would be enough to satisfy most people, but Weller has also proved his mettle as a foreign correspondent and author of nonfiction, poetry, and novels. His poems and articles have appeared in national magazines, such as the Saturday Evening Post, National Geographic, and Travel & Leisure, and his novels have garnered considerable critical attention.
Weller's first novel, The Garden of the Peacocks, is set on an island in the Bahamas, where the sculptor Cristobal de la Torre lives in self-imposed exile. On the island, the artist has created a fantastic coral mural in a garden populated by peacocks. He invites his daughter, Esther, to come visit him and see his newest creation. Because their relationship has been strained, he coaxes her to come by telling her he is dying. On her way there Esther falls in love with a photographer named Thomas Simmons, but her fear of love causes her to flee to her father's island. Thomas pursues her, and when he arrives the clashes between egotistic father, emotionally troubled daughter, and insistent lover reach a climax. While a Publishers Weekly reviewer felt that de la Torre's "vanity and histrionics become a bit tiresome," the reviewer concluded that Weller's story is "an intelligent meditation on art's rewards—and also on its costs."
While The Garden of the Peacocks combines romance and the art of sculpture, Weller's The Polish Lover combines romance and jazz music. Jazz clarinetist Danny meets a Polish woman named Maja while he is performing in Amsterdam. Falling in love with her, his heart is doomed to be broken when she proves to be promiscuous. This story is simple and far from unique, but critics praised the way Weller combines the conceit of jazz music with his tale. For instance, Library Journal contributor noted how the "first lovemaking [scene] is an exquisite jazz riff." Bill Ott similarly commented in his Booklist assessment that The Polish Lover "is as much about jazz … as it is about love."
In The Siege of Salt Cove Weller gets away from themes about art to write what People reviewer Jeremy Jackson described as "a gloriously strange book, both whimsical and brooding." Set in its author's home state of Massachusetts, the novel is distinctly New England in flavor and involves a small community's resistance to imposed change from outside government authorities. When the state government determines that an historic wooden bridge is too dilapidated for repair and needs to be demolished, the town of Salt Cove takes the unusual step of seceding from the United States in an unlikely bid for self-determination. Told in a darkly comic vein, the narration is taken up by no fewer than thirty-one often-quirky characters, and ends in a dramatic confrontation. "This is a very strange book but a splendid one, too," commented David Pitt in Booklist, the critic going on to dub the novel "surreal, weird, utterly playful."
As a musician and journalist, Weller has traveled extensively, and he has often written about the locales he has visited for magazines. Thus, it is not surprising that in addition to fiction he would pen a travel book about one such journey: Days and Nights on the Grand Trunk Road: Calcutta to Khyber. The road of the title is a major trade route in India that has been used for thousands of years, and Weller hoped that by traveling along it he would gain an ideal perspective of the mysteries of East Indian culture, history, and people. However, with the journey complete, he writes in his book that he failed to penetrate the true India. Still, the trip also manages to convince him that the future of the country is not bright. Weller's failure, surmised Apurba Kundu in an article in Journeys, stems from "Weller's concentration on the past [which] clouds his understanding of the future. His interpretation of Indians as a people with a 'past … too deep to swallow, so it swallows them' fails to account for their remarkable entrepreneurial and political skills." Commonweal critic Thomas Swick speculated that the problem results from Weller's inability to connect with the Indians: "After all the miles of museums and temples … we realize that if this book lacks anything it is human experiences." Still, Kundu concluded that Weller provides readers with "a stimulating description of a trip up the Grand Trunk Road." Swick further added praise for the author's "wonderful ability—important in a travel writer—to come upon the odd bit of trivia."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, October 1, 1996, Ted Leventhal, review of The Garden of Peacocks, p. 324; September 15, 1997, Alice Joyce, review of Days and Nights on the Grand Trunk Road: Calcutta to Khyber, p. 207; February 15, 1998, Bill Ott, review of The Polish Lover, p. 986; April 15, 2004, David Pitt, review of The Siege of Salt Cove, p. 1427.
Boston Globe, August 18, 2004, David Mehegan, "At Home in the World: Anthony Weller Has Gone from Globe-trotting Writer to New England-based Novelist," p. F1.
Commonweal, January 30, 1998, Thomas Swick, review of Days and Nights on the Grand Trunk Road, p. 25.
Forbes, September 22, 1997, review of Days and Nights on the Grand Trunk Road, p. S206.
Journeys, June-December, 2000, Apurba Kundu, review of Days and Nights on the Grand Trunk Road, p. 204.
Library Journal, October 15, 1997, Robert Andrews, review of Days and Nights on the Grand Trunk Road, p. 81; January, 1998, Jo Manning, review of The Polish Lover, p. 146; May 15, 2004, Christine DeZelar-Tiedman, review of The Siege of Salt Cove, p. 117.
People, June 28, 2004, Jeremy Jackson, review of The Siege of Salt Cove, p. 48.
Publishers Weekly, September 2, 1996, review of The Garden of Peacocks, p. 112; August 25, 1997, review of Days and Nights on the Grand Trunk Road, p. 54; April 12, 2004, review of The Siege of Salt Cove, p. 37.
Anthony Weller Web site,http://www.anthonyweller.com (December 20, 2004).
Contra Costa Times Online,http://www.timesleader.com/mld/cctimes/ (August 29, 2004), David Mehegan, review of The Siege of Salt Cove.*