An engaging, melancholy, and uneasy journey through the recesses of the Big Easy.

SLEEPYTIME DOWN SOUTH

A musician’s impromptu trip to New Orleans leads to a glimpse of the future and a reckoning with his past in this novel.

Music is Peter “Maz” Mazewski’s life, and he is always on the lookout for something new. A talented clarinet player, in the early 1960s, he is named “the Benny Goodman of his generation.” Not content to bask in the glow of the appellation, Maz begins playing alto sax, earning a Grammy nomination. But by 1982, Maz has lost his groove and decides to leave his Chicago home and go to New Orleans. On the train, he encounters a group of men. Most are young and black except for an older white man who holds sway over the group. Trouble finds Maz the moment he enters the city. He’s robbed and then mugged of his cash. Undeterred, he finds a place to stay and starts looking up old friends. At a club, he reconnects with pianist Berta Bredeaux and meets Davis Leggit, the older man from the train. A DJ, Davis introduces Maz to a club that offers a new musical groove. Intoxicated by the changing city, Maz embarks on an exploration of New Orleans in search of the groove and Davis. Cannon’s (French Quarter Beautification Project, 2016, etc.) latest book is a character study of a man seeking to rediscover himself and his passion for music that moves with the pace of a keen psychological thriller. Maz is a complex protagonist; driven by the siren’s call of music, he’s willing to change instruments and styles seemingly on a whim. Music is a significant part of the narrative, and Cannon infuses the story with references to blues songs like “A Hundred Years from Today” and “Back O’Town Blues” and notable jazz musicians like Jack Teagarden and Fletcher Henderson. When Maz finally reaches New Orleans, he finds a city in transition; the places are familiar but new people, ideas, and dangers are beginning to alter the landscape. This tension is captured in a stroll Maz takes down Decatur Street. Years earlier, the street was known for its bars and prostitutes. The Decatur Street Maz walks down in 1982 is something far more respectable. He appreciates the thriving economy but believes it is inauthentic with its “loud, too forcibly upbeat forgeries of the local music.” His reunion with Berta provides insight into Maz’s love of music, and the scenes of her playing at a club called the Kozy Kove pulse with lively energy. Davis is a vivid and unforgettable part of Maz’s trajectory. A DJ and purveyor of pursuits that may or may not be legal or moral, he is the fulcrum of Maz’s final odyssey through the streets of New Orleans. Cannon’s narrative is a well-crafted page-turner suffused with a sense of foreboding. Maz’s destination feels inevitable and the author deftly captures the pathos as he slips from his friends, acquaintances, and, finally, sense of self.

An engaging, melancholy, and uneasy journey through the recesses of the Big Easy.

Pub Date: Dec. 31, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-60489-198-0

Page Count: 142

Publisher: Livingston Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 28, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

Did you like this book?

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 15

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2015

  • Kirkus Prize
  • Kirkus Prize
    winner

  • National Book Award Finalist

A LITTLE LIFE

Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

Did you like this book?

more