Brian's Reviews > Half Blood Blues

Half Blood Blues by Esi Edugyan
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Feb 26, 12

Read from February 18 to 26, 2012

It's a rare work of art in which form and content meet; it's rarer still when they jump off the page and dance. I will confess I don't have an iPod or a collection of music either on a shelf or a hard drive. When I run, I listen for dogs and cars. But when the credits to Saturday Night Live role, it's an effort not too weep at the sax and the clarinet showing off for the keyboard. I know little about music, but it doesn't just touch me, it has the capacity to hurt and heal at the same time.

At the start of Half-Blood Blues I struggled a bit with the dialect and the author's insistence that I think, that I put 2 and 2 together for myself. By the end, without closing my eyes to the heartbreaking drama unfolding in front of me, I could hear the music not just in Edugyan's descriptions but in the voices of her characters, in the form of the novel. That's something. At the end of a performance like that you dry your eyes and know you've been in the presence of something great.

The story is beautifully put together; that is, the workmanship shows. This is a blues song in form. But the thing that makes it sing without sound waves, that has to be magic.
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