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Trumpet

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4.05  ·  Rating details ·  3,732 ratings  ·  286 reviews
Jackie Kay's mesmerizing and powerfully moving first novel is about the extraordinary life and seeming dissolution of a family -- about the boundaries of identity and the essential nature of love.

     At its center is Joss Moody, a celebrated jazz trumpeter who created music that convinced everyone who heard it that they knew the man who made it. But Joss's death has prove
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Hardcover, 278 pages
Published February 16th 1999 by Pantheon (first published August 21st 1998)
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4.05  · 
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 ·  3,732 ratings  ·  286 reviews


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BrokenTune
Nov 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
"When the love of your life dies, the problem is not that some part of you dies too, which it does, but that some part of you is still alive."

What makes up identity?

Is it your family?
You accent?
Where you're born?
Where you're raised?
Is it what you do?
Is it how you do it?
Is it the clothes you wear?
Is it your age?
Is your gender?
Is it who you fall in love with?
Is it who you respect?

Trumpet is a beautiful investigation into the question of how people derive a sense of identity under circumstances wh
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jo
this is the story of joss moody, a fictional trumpet player with a west indian father and a white scottish mother; the story is inspired by billy tipton, a real-life sax and piano player. in fact, there are no similarities between these two men except for the fact that they both were prominent jazz musicians and both were biological women who lived as men.

the element of race is so important in Trumpet -- as important, really, as the element of gender -- that billy tipton, who was white, seems b
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Modupe Field
May 21, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
How in God's name I have missed this book is amazing. I devoured it in 2 days. I am not usually a fan of people who write like poets but I have to say Jackie Kay's trumpet is a very well written book. When I first heard of this book, I though that I would be reading about how Joss Moody decided to become a man, how he managed to pull it off, the challanges he might have met along the way. But NO, this book is a whole lot bigger than that.

This book is all about love. How you can love someone so m
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Ben Babcock
Trumpet is the August pick for the Banging Book Club, an online, tweet-fuelled read of books about sex and sexuality hosted by Hannah Witton, Leena Norms, and Lucy Moon. This is a nice change of pace after a few months of non-fiction books. All of the fiction books so far have been excellent but in such different ways. The two previous novels (Asking For It and All the Rage) had similar topics but very different narrative and thematic approaches; each broke my heart, though. Trumpet is quite dif ...more
Steffanie
Sep 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I don't know how I had never heard of this book before my dear friend recommended it to me a few months back. How could I have missed such a literary masterpiece? I feel like this novel should be counted among the great and groundbreaking novels to date.

Jackie Kay really analyzed how prurient the world can be. Joss Moody is the main character, but does not narrate at all, and is actually dead from the first page to the last. Joss Moody, the famous Jazz Artist has a secret. How this secret affec
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Fiona
Jackie Kay is the current Scots Makar, Scotland’s national poet. She dedicated this book to Carol Ann Duffy, her ex partner and currently Britain’s Poet Laureate. With credentials such as these, I had high expectations.

‘Trumpet’ is a book of its time. It was written in the 1990s.

The nineties love the private life. The private life that turns suddenly and horrifically public. The sly life that hides pure filth and sin. The life of respectability that shakes with hypocrisy. ... The upper-class En
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Elizabeth
Thank fuck that's done. Not because it was bad - the opposite - because it was unrelenting, heart-breaking and brutal. Reading it's like being in a car crash, with you going through the windscreen in the first few chapters and the rest just the grind of the miles of asphalt against your face as you're carried forward by your own momentum.

This book is about the revelation after his death that Joss Moody was a trans man, given the name at birth of Josephine Moore. The book focuses largely on the
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Laura
Aug 01, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Beautifully written and extremely poignant, Trumpet explores issues of gender, race and identity in the modern world. The story is told through a series of short vignettes written from the perspective of people who knew or encountered Joss Moody, a world famous jazz musician who, it was found after his death, had been assigned female gender at birth.

Particularly moving are the pictures of the grief felt by Joss' wife after his death, the sense of betrayal experienced by his adoptive son and the
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Jess
Dec 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jess by: Sex and Gender in lit class
I read this one pretty fast--it's a quick read in general, but you just don't want to stop. The writing style perfectly winds all these characters and their reactions together in a way that is so sympathetic and believable that it is hard to understand how this is fiction.

The most important characters of this novel is, sadly, fictional--Joss Moody is a mixed-race Scottish jazz trumpet player who chose to live his life identifying as male, despite that fact that he was born female and lived much
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Sara Salem
Mar 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a beautiful book!
Naori
I was going through some old notebooks and I came across some passages from this book that I just wanted to share. Billy Tipton, who is the subject of this novel, was an incredible jazz musician who was not only trans but also not out to two of his three wives, nor to any of his long time band members, until after his death. There is a great biography of him called Suits Me: The Double Life of Billy Tipton by Diane Middlebrook, that really chronicles both his life and his music in a very nuanced ...more
Deyonne Bryant
I've read this book twice, shortly after its publication and recently for a book-club discussion. The prose is lovely and the story compelling. However, I did not understand what motivated any of the major characters to do the things they did, excluding the son Colman. Millicent's love of Joss and grief upon losing him was written about in a convincing manner. However, I did not understand her character fully. She didn't seem to have any substance aside from loving Joss and holding his secret. I ...more
Jessica
This is the first Jackie Kay novel I've read and it was enjoyable, but there was a deeply upsetting aspect to it. The story follows the loved ones of late Jazz musician Joss Moody, who upon his death, it is revealed he is actually a woman. Now the narrative does skip between a few different people, some of whom aren't particularly sensitive considering pronouns, though I do see this is very realistic it is still upsetting. Still it was an enjoyable and interesting narrative, the story was addict ...more
Kat B.
Jul 27, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
After his death, it's revealed to the world that the famous male trumpet player Joss Moody turns out to have been assigned female at birth. Mostly a novel about the way his son grapples with this truth, the story is told through everyone's voice except for the deceased (save a few slightly-redeeming pages). The son's journey toward understanding his father is painful to read, but also somewhat powerful. Overall the book fell short of moving me, even felt frustrating at times, but was an interest ...more
Jennifer (aka EM)
A fascinating story, based on a real-life jazz musician (view spoiler), this novel explores issues of racial and gender identity from multiple angles with great nuance and sensitivity. Among other things, it is a beautiful meditation on love, on death, and on family. The writing is outstandingly beautiful; chapters are told compellingly from various points of view and feel almost as set-pieces exploring various characters' responses and the evolu ...more
Elizabeth Ducie
A fascinating exploration of the background to a secret revealed after the death of a famous trumpet player, Joss Moody. It is written from different points of view: in particular his wife, Millie, who is grieving, hiding and gradually working her way through her pain; his son Colman, who is distraught and hurting badly; and the odious reporter Sophie, who is just facile and mean. There are also snapshots from other people, on how Joss impacted on their lives. My only disappointment was that we ...more
Michelle
Feb 09, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
(Original review posted on my livejournal account: http://intoyourlungs.livejournal.com/...)

Why I Read It: Assigned for my Religious Themes in Literature class.

Like Mootoo Shati's Cereus Blooms at Night, Jackie Kay's Trumpet explores the complexity of sexuality and gender. The novel follows the aftermath of the great jazz trumpeter Joss Moody, and follows his wife as she deals with the grief that comes with losing him. We also follow his son Colman, as he struggles with the revelation that his f
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Stef Rozitis
This book was a sensitive, complex memoir style fiction about the life and loves of a trans-man. When Joss moody the famous trumpet player dies, his family and friends need to come to terms with stuff they never knew about his past. Theoretically this book owes a lot to Judith Butler showing very clearly that gender is a performance, and also the odd way that what you see depends partly on your vantage point, players create gender together as a social effect not purely as an individual choice (b ...more
Suzanne Egerton
Nov 03, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Trumpet is a delight. Very loosely based on an actual event which took place in America, Jackie Kay moves the action to Scotland in the second half on the twentieth century.
After the death of jazz trumpeter Joss Moody a lifelong deception is revealed which impacts in different ways on friends and family members. The shockwaves cause a press furore which drives his grief-stricken wife to seek shelter in the highland village which was the family's second home. Colman, the couple's adopted son, is
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Nicole
Aug 08, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those who appreciate a well-turned phrase
It’s not often that a book can completely surprise you. I mean ta-da, pull the wool over your eyes, gasp out loud surprise you.

It’s clear from the start that Joss and Millie Moody share a secret and now that their secret is out life will never be the same. You get that on page one. Now see, I thought the secret was something to do with racial tensions or how this black man and white woman met and married or maybe how they managed to adopt their son. Some sort of sinister family secret or crime c
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Madleen
Oct 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone who's got a heart
Recommended to Madleen by: found it in the library
This book is all about love.
It is an absorbing type of book, but not a page turner.
Reading it, is as if reading about real true feelings. One is overcome with tenderness towards the story, not some of the charakters.
This book is truthfull to the last extent; but it tells the truth gently.
The expressions, the descriptions, the short recollections.
This story touches your heart. It doesnt grip it, possess you; but grow on you, become part of you from the very beginning.
It will remain with you, m
...more
Bellish
Absolutely heartbreaking. Jackie Kay is just as good as I was led to believe and as a first novel (albeit from an established poet) this is phenomenal. I kept my sunglasses on long after the sun had gone down in an attempt to hide my tears from the other hotel guests around the pool.

There's a hell of a lot in here and I'm sure it will stand up to several repeat readings. For me, first time through, this felt like a study of grief and of family and of racial issues, and barely about gender at all
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Jay
Nov 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites
This is a masterful piece that I think will definitely be a top contender for my favourite book of the year. Reading this as a transgender man (female to male), this was an extremely personal read, that at times gutted me and at others greatly moved me. Jackie Kay's prose is utterly gorgeous; it almost reads like jazz, which is obviously very fitting for this novel. Kay handles her characters with such love and care that even the most spiteful ones can't quite be pinned down as villains. She spr ...more
Alan
Mar 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
3.5 stars rounded up. The story of a transvestite black jazz trumpet player, a woman who bound her breasts in bandages and stuffed socks in her/his pants, married a woman and adopted a son. As told by the people affected (mainly the wife and son, but also the reporter writing a book, the undertaker, schoolfriends etc.) I enjoyed a lot of it, some great writing, but felt the characters of the son and the tabloid journalist edged into stereotype. I preferred Kay's stories I think. Still well worth ...more
Amber
Everybody must read this.
Hannah Polley
It took me quite a while to read this book, considering it is quite short and I was away for a few days in the countryside. I did enjoy it but for some reason, I couldn’t read it for very long. I don’t know if it was because I found the subject matter very serious and it made me feel sad and I didn’t want to feel like that.

I just felt so sorry for the main character, Mrs Moody, as her husband has died and no one is treating her like a widow as she deserves and her son has turned completely away
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Yaiza Canopoli
Mar 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really interesting structure, beautiful writing, and interesting characters. The story is really unique as well, and it's a very immersive book that completely swallows you up. My only complaint is that the ending didn't feel like it came together all that well. I understand why this was done, but I wanted more from it.
Teodora Doncheva
Sep 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
That was a very hard book for me to read. It evoked a lot of painful memories. But I'm glad I read it, it was visceral and beautiful and bitter.
Sofia
Jun 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Slow burn, lasting.

"Life, he told me, was like a fork of lightning. He could see exactly where one decision violently parted company with another and a new future flared up before him."
Hannah
Apr 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars. Absolutely incredible. Moved me to tears.
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Born in Glasgow in 1961 to a Scottish mother and a Nigerian father, Kay was adopted by a white couple, Helen and John Kay, as a baby. Brought up in Bishopbriggs, a Glasgow suburb, she has an older adopted brother, Maxwell as well as siblings by her adoptive parents.

Kay's adoptive father worked full-time for the Communist Party and stood for election as a Member of Parliament, and her adoptive moth
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“When the love of your life dies, the problem is not that some part of you dies too, which it does, but that some part of you is still alive.” 71 likes
“Loss isn't an absence after all. It is a presence. A strong presence right next to me. I look at it. It doesn't look like anything, that's what is so strange. It just fits in.” 20 likes
More quotes…