by Michael Ondaatje

Reviewer Rating:
5

Review

Coming through Slaughter has been called the best jazz novel ever written, with a lyrical writing style compared to jazz music. It’s a fictional biography about one of the original trumpet giants of New Orleans, Buddy Bolden. Though it takes place around 1907 and was written in the late 1970’s, it reads as timeless. The story uses the few known facts about Buddy Bolden and turns them into a gripping story. It follows Bolden through the last couple months of his sanity as he succumbs to schizophrenia. The characters and scenery are vivid and rich with the human condition. The story shifts perspectives, reflecting both his experience and also that of a police officer friend as he tries to find Buddy after he disappears when losing his grip on reality. There’s also love and desire in the frenzied mix. Personally, I found the writing sensational, and it’s a short but impactful read.  

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