Thursday, 15 March 2012

Orange 2012: Half blood blues (DNF)

I tried really hard with this book, but am defeated by it. I'm not sure why I've struggled so much with it - I don't think it's a general "can't read anything literary" mood as, as an aside, I've just picked up the Emma Donaghue title and am loving it - just a case of "not the right book for me". My consolation is that Kindle-Sampling-Colleague feels somewhat the same about it, and indeed had discarded the book for her charity bag several months ago, only to be retrieved on the announcement of the longlist. It has been recieved with considerable acclaim from what I've read about it, and it wouldn't surprise me if it made it to the shortlist (that often seems to happen with the books that I struggle to finish).

Beginning during the Second World War in Paris, it tells the story of a group of jazz musicians who have escaped from Nazi Germany, but it seems that Paris is not much safer for the member of the band who is German. Years later, we the two African American band members, Sid and Chip reunite and find out more about what happened in these years.

It's certainly a different sort of novel, I don't think I've ever read any other novels about the jazz community (let me know if the comments if you can think of any that I shoudl read), and it's cleverly written using the sort of dialect that you might imagine coming from jazz musicians.

Maybe I'm not interested in jazz enough, maybe I prefer to read about the Second World War from the point of view of the Home Front in Britain, maybe I struggled with the language and the fact that I had to read it out in my head in order to make sense of that, or maybe I just wasn't gripped by it. It happens.

Kindle-Sampling-Colleague wonders if it might be easier to read it with a jazz CD on in the background - I hope she'll let me know how she gets on. Well, she might herself - she has started her very own blog, The TBR pile, so do pop over and say hello. It looks like she could be doing me out of a job or at least out of the guest posts that I was going to get her to write!


  1. You have me intrigued how I will fare with it...

    Jazz novels: Jazz by Toni Morrison, Trumpet by Jackie Kay and Fall on Your Knees by Ann Marie Macdonald has a Jazz section at the end.

  2. I made it to the end of this one, but I think my lack of love for jazz meant I didn't enjoy it as much as other people.

  3. Kindle sampling colleague here. I am grimly determined to master this one so, jazz CD in hand, I have retrieved it from the "Off to Charity" heap. I am also ploughing on with "On the Floor", after all, the reason I read the Orange Prize longlist is to experience books I would otherwise not attempt. Can't wait to here how Mrs W. gets on with "Lord of Misrule", I am on hand to offer up explanations of horse racing jargon:)

  4. Jazz CD did the trick. I *loved* this book.


Do leave a comment - I love to hear from people who read my blog.