half-blood blues-esi edugyan

unlike last year’s Giller prize winner, this book is available everywhere. i liked reading it on the subway and looking up to see an ad for it-this is a big deal coming from the girl who prides herself on not reading franchises. a recent conversation with a co-worker went like this, “wait-you haven’t seen any of the Star Wars?” “i feel the same way about you not knowing a single Prince song”. and, checkmate. like a Grace Jones Canada Dry commercial. i take it back, Shaheen-i recommend this for all the reasons i mentioned before, as well as the music history it offers. there’s just something so brilliant about a perfectly crafted sentence, and this book is rife with them. i sincerely hope that there is no lockout/strike of library workers, but just in case, i have taken the rash action of making all 60 of my holds active, and i’m watching my list hour after hour as more and more of them change status to “in transit”. this could either be amazing, or a disaster. oh well, high risk, high reward. now i can put back the Woody Allen story collection that i borrowed in sheer panic this afternoon.

“The room was overhung with lace, the mean sun burning through, lighting up everything. Hell. On the bed by the window lay a creature so ancient I’d swore it known Cain back in the day. Its skin was so ashy it looked grey, its face so scrawny it was caving in on itself. Looked like an enormous sea turtle.” (57)

just as armed as Jean Grae in this battle for imagery.

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2 thoughts on “half-blood blues-esi edugyan

  1. treme:

    “I was an American, so light-skinned folks often took me for white. Son of two Baltimore quadroons, I came out straight-haired, green-eyed, a right little Spaniard. In Baltimore this given me a softer ride than some. I be lying if I said it ain’t back in Berlin, too. When we gone out together in that city, any Kraut approaching us always come straight to me. When Hiero’d cut in with his native German, well, the gent would damn near die of surprise. Most ain’t like id, though. A savage talking like he civilized. You’d see that old glint in their eye, like a knife turning.” (9)

    “A city can change without being no different. I known that. Hell, I ain’t hardly recognized the Baltimore I came back to after Paris. But Berlin ain’t just any city. I remembered how Chip and me was in hot demand when we first got here. German jazz bands needed us for the sex of it. I mean, toss a few honest-to-god Yankees into your line-up and wham, you was the real thing. This festival, I known, wasn’t so different.” (41-2)

    “Listen, jazz, it ain’t just music. It’s /life/. You got to have experience to make jazz. I ain’t never heard no one under eighteen even sound like he know which end of his instrument to hold.” (181-2)

    “He talked against us like he begging us to listen. He wailed. He moaned. He pleaded and seethed. He dragged every damn feeling out of that trumpet but hate. A sort of naked, pathetic way of playing. Like he done flipped the whole thing inside out, its nerves flailing in the air. He bent the notes, slurred them in a way made us play harder against him. And the more we disagreed, the stronger he pleaded. But his pleading ain’t never ask for nothing, just seemed to be there for its own damn sake. In a weird way, he sounded both old and like he touching the trumpet for the very first time.” (156)

  2. anatomy and physiology:

    “As I leaned low over her, her features seemed the same, arranged in familiar calm, but there was a trace of something not her, a watermark left by the undertaker. A whimsy to her lips, maybe. As if in dying she’d learned a whole new kind of irony, a contempt for what she’d left behind.” (39)

    “What is luck but something made to run out.” (67)

    “So we passed, sure. But there was passing, and there was passing. Sometimes it seemed we’d passed right out of our own skins.” (70)

    “I was crying soundlessly. I dragged my damn face against my sleeve, feeling ashamed. I ain’t never thought fear had a taste. It does. In that small darkness it was a thing filling my nostrils, thick as sand in my throat, and I near choked on it.” (102)

    “So we cut out again, me and Chip. Don’t know what it is about that man. He’s like a weakness for me, even seventy years later. I ain’t a stupid man, no more than most. And he ain’t that damn charming. But it seems we is friends to the last. Why, I don’t know. The best I can say is that it’s like some rundown part of me. See, I got this torn rotator cuff, makes me favour my right arm. It’s like that. I just got this broken switch in my brain, can’t say no to Chip Jones.” (173)

    “We been half blind with relief, bringing our guilt with us like a packed bag we all stowed under our seats.” (207)

    “But I ain’t said it. I don’t know, I guess mercy is a muscle like any other. You got to exercise it, or it just cramp right up.” (223)

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