When his son wept, he most frequently uttered a highly specific sound in A-flat minor. Can one do anything with this? It hurts me, of course, not that I have anything to say about it, because, because, but the real point is that if it didn’t hurt me it would be unconscionable to build it into my music, but since I, my God, how can I not weep when my children suffer? And therefore, it would be unconscionable not to use that A-flat minor, when it might somehow, well, it’s important to remember that each one of us has his work.
From William Vollmann’s novel Europe Central; the “he”—which, via the novel’s free indirect speech pivots to an “I”—is Shostakovich.