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Young Man with a Horn
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Young Man with a Horn

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3.79 of 5 stars 3.79  ·  rating details  ·  98 ratings  ·  18 reviews
Rick Martin loved music and the music loved him. He could pick up a tune so quickly that it didn’t matter to the Cotton Club boss that he was underage, or to the guys in the band that he was just a white kid. He started out in the slums of LA with nothing, and he ended up on top of the game in the speakeasies and nightclubs of New York. But while talent and drive are all y ...more
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Published September 11th 2012 by NYRB Classics (first published 1938)
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Sara
I picked this up because a) Dorothy Baker and b) there were some interesting stories attached to the film adaptation; namely, the Jean Spangler disappearance, and Lauren Bacall's oft talked about role as a mad lesbian femme fatale.
What a marvelous book and so startlingly different from Cassandra at the Wedding. Take that, writing workshop art police! Even more proof that you can write about gays and jazz and alcoholism and shockingly not be gay or an alcoholic or a jazz musician, although maybe
...more
Nicholas During
Young Man with a Horn takes a long hard look at the individual whose life is controlled around art, and then of course must suffer for it, in a very American way. What makes it good, is it acknowledges this, and even admits that writing is not necessarily the best form of art that creates a national culture. In this case, and Baker I think is saying in America's case, it is jazz.

Which is pretty cool for a reader who isn't really that in to jazz. In fact, I hadn't heard of Bix Beiderbecke before
...more
Roberto
Full of zing, it practically comes with a gin fizz, a dingy stage and a band, it makes you feel and hear every single note of the music and the telling of it feels like you're reading scripture.
Stenwjohnson
I’ve always been a big fan of the 1950 film “Young Man with a Horn,” the jazz melodrama starring Kirk Douglas, Lauren Bacall, and Doris Day (along with the behind-the-scenes, heavily-vibratoed trumpet of Harry James). It’s an evocative, solid period entertainment with excellent music, but there’s nothing to suggest that it has a literary source or narrative underpinnings of any serious ambition. Only the performance of Hoagy Carmichael as the narrator and oracular piano player Smoke embodies a t ...more
Belva Hull-pendergrass
I have completed Young Man With a Horn by Dorothy Baker and loved the way it was written, the storyline; just everything about this book. I found it to be quite marvelous. I do think that one would possibly have to like music and understand obsessions to perhaps not be bored. Reading it is rather like listening to Miles Davis, Gorden Dexter, Chet Baker & others of their caliber. I absolutely loved it.
The storyline is about a youngster named Rick Martin, who in just passing by pawn shops and
...more
Marilyn Di Carlo-Ames
Loved this book until the very end. Dorothy Baker had phenomenal insight into the world of music, particularly jazz, and fed it to us in a way that was natural to understand, but her swift ending of the book, and Rick Martin, was abrupt and untimely. It was disturbing and highly disappointing, as death is. Prior to the ending, the book was a strong read and most eloquently written. Fabulous find for an avid fan of jazz, such as myself.
Katlyn
The race relations presented in the book were interesting and made me curious to know more about Baker's politics, but even with concessions for the racism of the period the language was still hard to get past. Other than that it was beautifully written, capturing the depth of moments in a loose, rhythmic style without falling to loftiness.
Peter
This book suffers from being being a first - a first novel about jazz musicians, a first about amicable, equal relations between whites and blacks (although there are echoes of Finn and N. Jim here), a first about a white protagonist learning about jazz from black mentors - and therefore fails to portray these things in a manner that we might now consider sophisticated. But there are some great scenes here, and most importantly Baker's love of Dixieland jazz is contagious. The book lets us here ...more
Jessica
Feb 23, 2014 Jessica marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: maybe
Recommended by shelf talker at City Lights
Joseph Nicolello
I read the first couple of pages of this at least ten times before realizing that ten years ago I would have liked it ten times more when things like jazz history were still new to me but now they're not and I hope the next time I get heavy back into jazz culture/etc I revisit Dorothy Baker and she proves me wrong I'm sure it's a swell book and all but I just don't give a shit about a young man or a horn fuck at the moment.
Jeffrey
A great jazz novel first published in 1938 and beautifully re-issued by the New York Review of Books and so perfectly captures that elusive feeling of jazz music - like Ondaatje does in Coming through Slaughter!
Ken
The best tiong about this loosley-based-on-Bix-Beiderbeckes-life novel is that it sends you back to Bix's wonderful records. You can listen to his entire ouvre in the tome it takes to read this.
Kim
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Alastair
Didn't speak to me as much as 'Cassandra at the Wedding', which I found phenomenal & phenomenally funny. Still, a very nice meditation on 20s jazz & life.
Corey
3 1/2 stars. Interesting story about early jazz musicians, based loosely on the life of Bix Beiderbeck, told in uneven prose.
Jake M
Nov 28, 2012 Jake M is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
I love that this edition has the afterword by Gary Giddins - a major writer/thinker/critic!
Trudie
Aug 29, 2010 Trudie marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Movie with same name based on this book, jazz subject matter, rec. by Pamela E.
Sean
I enjoyed Rick's passion to push himself and his art forward. His friendship of Smoke and admiration for Jeff and Art illustrate the difficulties of working across races at a time of direct and open prejudices (in fact to a modern mind the racial epitaphs are jarring in there casual use).
Only quibble would be that end is well telegraphed and a little rushed.
Kimberly Rivera
Kimberly Rivera marked it as to-read
Dec 22, 2014
Mary
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Dec 14, 2014
Heather Lowther
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Dec 08, 2014
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Nov 18, 2014
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NYRB Classics: Young Man with a Horn, by Dorothy Baker 1 5 Oct 30, 2013 09:49PM  
  • Testing the Current
  • A Way of Life, Like Any Other
  • The New York Stories
  • My Face for the World to See
  • After Claude
  • Pitch Dark
  • A Meaningful Life
  • The Expendable Man
  • The New York Stories of Henry James
  • Blood on the Forge
  • The Unpossessed
  • Turtle Diary
  • The Outward Room
  • A Game of Hide and Seek (Virago Modern Classics)
  • The Pilgrim Hawk
  • Wish Her Safe at Home
  • Store of the Worlds: The Stories of Robert Sheckley
  • Nights in the Gardens of Brooklyn
Dorothy Baker (1907–1968) was born in Missoula, Montana, in 1907 and raised in California. After graduating from UCLA , she traveled in France, where she began a novel and, in 1930, married the poet Howard Baker. The couple moved back to California, and Baker completed an MA in French, later teaching at a private school. After having a few short stories published, she turned to writing full time, ...more
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