My Reading Life by Pat Conroy:
All writers are hostages of their own divine, unchangeable rituals. I am a prisoner of yellow legal pads and fountain pens. In habit lies safety. I like classical music playing softly in the background, and I carried a small transistor radio across the Atlantic to satisfy this harmless though fundamental need. But since the concierge had honored me with a residency on the sixth floor, I often had far more classical music than I desired. There was a flute player with the lung power of a small whale across the hall and an accordion player in the room next to mine. The accordion player, frail but absolutely indefatigable, would whack away at her indelicate instrument through much of the day. When the flute player practiced at the same time, the accordion player would become furious and there would be spirited disagreements between two-thirds of the artists in residence at the Grand Hôtel des Balcons. The concertos of accordion and flute made for a most obscene accompaniment.
I would turn the radio up loud, especially when the accordion lady began her daily assault against music. My room filled up with the sound of Mozart accompanied by accordion. By the end of the week I would rather have listened to a duet of tuba and spoons than listen to an accordion. I wanted to start a club to assassinate accordion players. When I memorized a long conciliatory French sentence and knocked on the accordion player’s door to register a mild complaint about the noise, she howled demoniacally at me for ten minutes and played her accordion far into the night as an act of retribution for my temerity. She was giving me my first memorable lesson into the nature of French national character and, more specifically, my first glimpse of that perverse and ornery creature, the Parisian.