Russ Rymer, the Joan Leiman Jacobson Nonfiction Writer in Residence, traveled far south and east, to Brazil and several stops in Europe, to gather information for his third and most recent book, Out of Pernambuco.
Rymer will discuss his research and latest book during “Out of Pernambuco: A Story of Murder, Slavery, Extinction, and the Modern Violin Bow,” as part of the Jacobson Center’s Working Writers series, on Monday, March 4, at 4:30 p.m. in Neilson Browsing Room.
As the title of Rymer’s talk suggests, while he documents the history and processes of constructing violin bows for his book—which, as with other string instrument bows, are made at the top level from superior quality wood called pernambuco, found in the Brazilian state of the same name—that process connotes a broad spectrum of life-and-death issues surrounding the wood from which bows are made.
As Out of Pernambuco documents, the existence of pernambuco is endangered, and along with its extinction could follow the livelihood of the artisans dependent on its wood for their craft—and of classical music as it is enjoyed worldwide.
Rymer traveled to Rio de Janeiro and Ilheus, Brazil, as well as Vienna, Paris and Germany, to interview musicians and craftsmen, wood dealers and historians that inform his story of the violin bow.
Rymer is the author of two previous nonfiction books, Genie: A Scientific Journey, and American Beach: A Saga of Race, Wealth, and Memory, and numerous articles for major periodicals. His novel, Paris Twilight, will be published this spring.
Out of Pernambuco will be published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and Berlin-Verlag.