Coming Through Slaughter
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.
The questions, discussion topics, and author biography that follow are intended to enhance your group's reading of Michael Ondaatje's Coming Through Slaughter . We hope they will give you a number of interesting angles from which to consider this lively, haunting and seductive novel.
Baker & Taylor
Set against the colorful backdrop of turn-of-the-century New Orleans, the life and times of pioneering jazz musician Buddy Bolden is portrayed in a combination of fiction, fact, and poetry. Reprint. 20,000 first printing.
Blackwell North Amer
At the turn of the century, the Storyville district of New Orleans had some 2,000 prostitutes, 70 professional gamblers, and 30 piano players. It had only one man who played the cornet like Buddy Bolden. By day he cut hair and purveyed gossip at N. Joseph's Shaving Parlor. At night he played jazz as though unleashing wild animals in a crowded room. At the age of thirty-one, Buddy Bolden went mad.
From these sparse facts Michael Ondaatje has created a haunting, lushly atmospheric novel about one of jazz's legendary pioneers and martyrs. Obsessed with death, addicted to whiskey, and self-destructively in love with two women, Buddy Bolden embodies all the dire claims that music places on its acolytes. And as told in Coming Through Slaughter, his story is as beautiful and chilling as a New Orleans funeral procession, where even the mourners dance.
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