Words Without Music, for Sure

TITLE: BODY & SOUL

AUTHOR: FRANK CONROY

PUBLISHER: HOUGHTON MIFFLIN; 450 PAGES; $24.95

THE BOTTOM LINE: A novel about a pianist's rise to glory is long on sentiment but never quite manages to score.

After Thomas Mann's Doctor Faustus, the names of other memorable novels about musicians or composers do not come trippingly to mind. This dearth may have something to do with the ineffable nature of music. It is a language of pure sound that stubbornly resists translation. Descriptions may register in the mind, but they invariably miss the ears. Or, as Claude Rawlings, the pianist-hero of Frank Conroy's Body...

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