Bringing to life the fabulous, colorful panorama of New Orleans in the first flush of the jazz era, this book tells the story of Buddy Bolden, the first of the great trumpet players--some say the originator of jazz--who was, in any case, the genius, the guiding spirit, and the king of that time and place. In this fictionalized meditation, Bolden, an unrecorded father of Jazz, remains throughout a tantalizingly ungraspable phantom, the central mysteries of his life, his art, and his madness remaining felt but never quite pinned down. Ondaatje's prose is at times startlingly lyrical, and as he chases Bolden through documents and scenes, the novel partakes of the very best sort of modern detective novel--one where the enigma is never resolved, but allowed to manifest in its fullness. Though more 'experimental' in form than either The English Patient or In the Skin of a Lion, it is a fitting addition to the renowned Ondaatje oeuvre.
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"At first listen, Dion Graham's narration of this historical novel about jazz pioneer Buddy Bolden, originally published in 1996, sounds breathy and at times overly dramatic. But he's just warming up. As the colorful details of the cornet player's life unfold, Graham cranks up the story's intense moments to great effect, while dialing the mood down with hushed tones and slower pacing when necessary. Ondaatje's lyrical writing holds nothing back when describing the sexual dynamics prevalent in Bolden's subculture at the time. But this moving audio is more about Buddy Bolden the troubled man than Buddy Bolden the womanizing musician. Graham's sensitivity is particularly effective in expressing the tragedy of Bolden's mental health issues and the isolation that black culture endured in post-civil-war New Orleans. T.W. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award © AudioFile 2019, Portland, Maine"
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