Wednesday, February 6, 2013

discussing Half Blood Blues by Esi Edugyan


Paris, 1940. A brilliant jazz musician, Hiero, is arrested by the Nazis and never heard from again. He is twenty years old. He is a German citizen. And he is black.

Fifty years later, his friend and fellow musician, Sid, must relive that unforgettable time, revealing the friendships, love affairs and treacheries that sealed Hiero's fate. From the smoky bars of pre-war Berlin to the salons of Paris--where the legendary Louis Armstrong makes an appearance--Sid, with his distinctive and rhythmic German-American slang, leads the reader through a fascinating world alive with passion, music and the spirit of the Resistance.

My thoughts...

-Half-Blood Blues is like smooth, mournful jazz. So rich, so full, so mellow with a subtle longing for hope.

-Esi Edugyan captured the language, the culture, the promise of an era.

-it's a study on how to develop a character's voice

-it isn't an easy book to read. Some of the imaginary. The slang. But it is worth it.

-The mystery leads the reader on:  what did Sid do? Why can't he forgive himself?

-I admire the power of the words bookmarked between 'It wasn't a dream' on page 303 to 304.
She takes us right there and doesn't let us go until we've seen everything.

Favourite quotes...

'My mind swum back through its fog.' (p. 121)

'Her voice thrummed like a muscle. It was low and rich, with the quiver of something mustering its strength.' (p. 122)

'She swung the thick, strong rope of her voice round the words, coming down hard on them, cinching them together. Then she flung the notes bold up in the air, high and horn-like. But her voice was at its core a sailor's voice, rough and mannish. Her low notes bitter croaks, filled with muddy regret.' (p. 122)

This story has residence beyond the book.
The kid's last words to Sid:  'I see you like it was fifty years ago.' 
(p. 309)

Questions that remain...

If I was Sid, what decision would I have made?

If I was "the kid", would have I forgiven?


***
I'm thrilled to write that I've finished writing No, Smoke The Other End. It is now with my first reader. 
And I've been preparing The Sweater Curse:  a novel for submission to publishing houses.

Yes, everything was going along swimmingly until...a flue bug found a cozy, new home. It's wiped me out. So I can only spend short periods on the keyboard. Thankfully I am able to do a lot of reading. : )
***
Next post:  Please welcome Johnny Ray

4 comments:

Darlene Foster said...

I loved this book. It is one of those stories that sticks with you for a long time. Esi Edugyan is a wonderful writer. Sorry to hear you have been ill but it sounds like you have some good things in the works.

Laurie Buchanan said...

Leanne - I love the quotes you highlighted. Wow!

Leanne Dyck said...

Oh, yes, Darleen. You are right. I must admit I had to take a short break while reading this book. Far from an insult, this reveals how powerful and effecting Esi Eudgyan's writing is.

Leanne Dyck said...

: ) Wow! Is right, Laurie. And believe me it's only a tiny bit of the story. Last year Esi Eudgyan won the Scotia Bank Giller--and for a good reason.