"With the right kind of death, a man can live forever."
This book is all kinds of hurt. Love gone bad, broken dreams, war, and the ultimate betrayal. Throw in some jazz – well, a lot – and you have a story that leaves you hearing its melody long after you’ve closed the book.
This is one of those novels in which you are so pulled in by the narrator, bassist, Sid Griffiths, that you forgo the original narrator, author Esi Edugyan. Edugyan’s language is simple. Elusive and pure. Layered in between the present and the past, from Berlin to Paris to U.S. during World War II, the story is centered, though not condensed, around the luminary, mixed-race trumpeter, Hieronymus “Hiero” Falk, and Sid Griffiths, both of the same jazz band. For more reason than one, the two form a strange brotherhood and competitive nature. As the war rages on, disrupting their lives and pillaging their music making, the band members find themselves separated from Hiero. Decades after the war has ended, the question of what happened to Hieronymus Falk, the now praised and legendary jazz musician, thanks to a discovered, lost record, haunts the world – but none more than Sid Griffiths.
Told from the perspective of Griffiths, the tone is melancholy. Sad throughout. Like he’s waiting to die, or something. It seems that Sid had almost always been this way, and we get to see why. But, still –
Edugyan is reminiscent of Kerouac and Morrison, in how she talks about music and love. A timeless classic in the tales of broken dreams.