A challenging, unconventional, rewarding imagining of a jazz giant’s final years.


Crepuscule W/ Nellie

The relationships among jazz great Thelonious Monk; his wife, Nellie; and his friend and patron Baroness Pannonica de Koenigswarter are imagined in Milazzo’s debut novel.

Jazz is known as a musical form without form—improvisation and imagination replace structure and tradition. This novel mimics that concept, using various devices to imagine the relationships among Monk and those closest to him, including de Koenigswarter, who took him in during the last years of his life. In 1976, as his health deteriorated, the pianist came to Weehawken, New Jersey, to live with de Koenigswarter. The novel, like Monk’s work, is unconventional. It doesn’t contain chapters in the traditional sense but rather sections with titles like “Take #32” and “Rolls 1-6 (Negs. 500 – 563; 565 – 569; 572),” which lead into one another like the grooves of a vinyl album. Likewise, the book itself doesn’t include a beginning, middle, and end. Instead, it comprises diary entries, bits of conversation, telephone calls, handbills, and other scraps that either pick up a previous subject or introduce a new one. During his final years, Monk didn’t play the piano nor did he speak much. Similarly here, while he is clearly the sun around whom the others in the group orbit, he is rarely an active presence in his own story. When he does try to play the piano, the author makes clear—via striking, lush writing—that Monk is a diminished star on the verge of burnout: “The moan this Monk makes as he assays the notes again, a low attenuated fuss suggesting pain, arrests no one.” However, there are plenty of other stories to follow, such as Nellie’s ruminations on their life together and the baroness’s observations. Milazzo isn’t attempting historical accuracy so much as imagining a misunderstood life. Like jazz, the book isn’t for everyone, and it requires effort and time to digest and understand. However, also like jazz, the effort brings rewards.

A challenging, unconventional, rewarding imagining of a jazz giant’s final years.

Pub Date: Oct. 7, 2014

ISBN: 978-1937543600

Page Count: 408

Publisher: Jaded Ibis Press

Review Posted Online: May 7, 2015

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PLB 0-06-027617-7 paper 0-06-446722-8 New to the MathStart series is this quick take on sequencing, although almost any story with a beginning, middle, and end would serve as well. A sleepover is the premise; Rabbit invites his friends Mouse, Giraffe, and Elephant to the party. The action is described in a few short rhyming sentences that outline the order of events. Friends are invited inside, a pizza dinner is gobbled up, juice follows dinner, and ice cream sundaes for dessert conclude the meal. At bedtime, the four friends pull on their pajamas and zip themselves into sleeping bags while Rabbit’s mother takes a picture. Hand shadows and scary stories come with lights out, until Mouse is heard snoring peacefully. Just when it appears that it may be a stretch to locate the math involved, a final page asks, “What Happened at Rabbit’s Pajama Party?” to prompt children to think about what happened first, next, and last. Although Remkiewicz wiggles out of showing “hot fudge” by present a bottle of chocolate syrup instead, no one will question the accuracy of his animals’ zeal; they are all smiles, delightfully displaying silly expressions. Characteristically, the final spread offers tips and suggestions for adults who may want to extend the sequencing concept with follow-up activities. (Picture book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Sept. 30, 1999

ISBN: 0-06-027616-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1999

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Toddler-size sleuths can match cheerful barnyard animals to their appropriate sounds in this sparkling board book from Wojtowycz. Each spread features the typical habitat for a familiar animal, such as a grassy paddock or a clear blue lake. One page frames the question about a typical animal sound, such as, “Who says . . . Oink Oink?” The answer will be one of four friendly farm animals—duck, cow, pig, and horse—suspended on a colored ribbon, which can be placed into a slot on the facing page. Jewel tones dominate the illustrations; the color-coordinated ribbons provide additional clues to the correct answers. Deceptively simple in appearance, this wonderfully resourceful book is packed with learning opportunities, including reading, since every creature is labeled on one side with its name. An engaging first look at some favorite animals of the toddler set. (Board book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 1999

ISBN: 1-86233-084-0

Page Count: 10

Publisher: Sterling

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 1999

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