There have been changes in the jazz music scene and Edgar Pool (nicknamed “The Horn” by the young cats) has straddled a couple of the big changes, all the while staying true to his own sound. But jazz is more than just a sound – it’s a way of life. The music, the booze, the drugs, and of course the women … Edgar pushed the limits on all of these. For a man out of time (or perhaps ahead of his time), life is lonely.
This book is an exceptional example of capturing a mood. There’s a story here and it’s a depressing story, and the tone of the book hovers throughout. It starts with the opening sentence and never lets up.
Consider that it was four o’clock of a Monday afternoon, and under the dishwater-gray window shade—just the sort of shade one sees pulled down over the windows of cheap hotels fronting the sooty elevateds of American cities where the baffled and the derelict loiter and shift their feet—under this one shade, in the window of a building off Fifty-third Street on Eighth Avenue in New York, the wizened October sun stretched its old finger to touch the dark, flutterless lids of Walden Blue, causing him to stir among sheets a week of dawntime lying down and twilight getting up had rumpled.
Opening this book is like traveling back in time and walking through the 1940’s. Author John Clellon Holmes captures the gritty back-alleys, the sounds, the language, I swear … the smells, of the day.
I was pleasantly taken by surprise with this book (I wanted to read it because of the subject of jazz music, a passion of mine) and did a little research (ie: Google) on the author. I’d never heard of John Clellon Holmes before, and now I’m ashamed to even admit it. For those maybe in the same place as I was, Holmes was considered the first ‘beat’ novelist with his popular book, Go.
His contemporaries … and friends … were Jack Kerouc, Neal Cassady and Allen Ginsberg. Names in which I’m much more familiar and think of when I think of the Beat generation. Not surprisingly (to me) he was referred to as the “quiet Beat.”
I’ve long been in search of a book that not only incorporate music as a theme in the story, but in which the writing itself is almost like a score. This book is the first time I feel that the writing is score-like. This book about jazz, reads like a jazz performance, full of riffs and solos and easy to get into and enjoy.
This was really powerful and I’m while I’m really glad to have read it, I want to know why this wasn’t required reading in my college days!
Looking for a good book? The Horn by John Clellon Holmes is a classic from the Beat Generation and anyone interested in the Beat period of literature or jazz music should read this.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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publisher: Open Road Media
Kindle Edition, 256 pages