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3.19  ·  Rating details ·  96 Ratings  ·  19 Reviews
By 1929, the brief, brilliant career of Bix Beiderbecke--self-taught cornetist, pianist, and composer--had already become legend. From the summer of '26 at Hudson Lake, Indiana, when his genius blazed forth with a strange, doomed incandescence, Bix's career tragically reflected the chaotic impulses of a country suddenly awash in wealth, power, and a profound cynicism. Shy, ...more
Hardcover, 390 pages
Published May 31st 2003 by Counterpoint LLC (first published 2003)
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May 19, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Torn on this one. The fact that I finished it is a testament to the fact that I liked it on several levels. And yet at the end, I felt like it went out with a whimper rather than a bang and had dragged on too much. The style is heavily overwritten in a lot of places -- Turner seems to be laboring to capture the kinetic, slangy style so popular in the tabloids of the 1920s. Sometimes it works and sometimes it drives you crazy.

The book tells parallel stories; on the one hand, the embellished-but-m
Jun 16, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Louis Armstrong & Eliot Ness
At least Frederick Turner knows what his problem is. In 1929, the first-time novelist has placed front and center a real-life character who barely registers as a character at all: the jazz cornetist Bix Beiderbecke.

Right there on page 3, an old friend of Bix wonders what it is about old photographs that fail to capture any consistent essence of the young genius, the soft-spoken white kid who helped mold jazz into high art and who died of gin and pneumonia at the age of 28. Yup, the hair is right
Jan 05, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's an interesting imagining of the life of Bix Beiderbecke and others in the Prohibition era. I found the characters less than sympathetic, but it did leave me with something to remember.
Jun 12, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jazz and the 1920s are subjects I love, so I was happy to come across this book. It had lots of wonderful reviews, too, so I jumped right into it. But it took quite a while for me to feel the story; it’s a fictionalized biography of jazz coronetist Bix Beiderbecke but in the beginning it focuses just as much on the gang activity in Chicago, largely as experienced by Henry Wise (not his original name), former mechanic and driver for Al Capone, and his sister Helen/Hellie/Lulu, who is the girlfrie ...more
Elizabeth Harrison
I'm really torn by this book. I have never learned so much about numerous musicians, actors, public figures, jazz music, and the 1920s decade from any other book as much as I did with this one. I felt like I knew Bix Beiderbecke and I felt connected to what he was experiencing. I also loved how, for the most part, the details of the book were historically accurate, and every person mentioned was real and from that same time, location, etc.

However, I felt like the book was written in such an over
Jan 16, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Before I knew Bix was a real person, I was thinking three stars for the book. When I found out he was a real person, I was down to two. Then I went back to the front of the book and read this disclaimer: "This is a work of fiction. Though it draws on American history of the 1920s, its characters and incidents are the author's own inventions and are not intended to represent actual figures and events. The work, in other words, is an imaginative narrative, not a historical one."

Uh, bullshit. One s
Laura Guill
When I originally picked this, I thought it was going to be non-fiction, and I think I'd still rather read a non-fiction history of this period. Not because of the semi-fictionalization -- I didn't hate the story, necessarily -- but the conceit of the writing made this a tiring book to read. Perhaps it would have worked better as a short fiction, but I could have used more restful moments. Less non-stop, run-on sentences, especially when the events are of quieter, introspective nature.
Feb 06, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: 1920s
Don't read this if you're looking for an engaging story (the story is sparse), or if you're looking for historical info on Bix Beiderbecke (it's only loosely based on reality). Read it if you're looking for a book that evokes the FEELING of the 1920s. Or, at least, what I imagine the 1920s felt like.
Jan 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'd grown up hearing Beiderbecke's music but until I read "1929" never attached so much depth and emotion to his sound. Turner writes through a unique perspective to reveal three of humanity's favorite things: music, love, and history. Highly recommend this book if you've an interest for jazz and the past!
Jan 16, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Too tedious to finish.
Mar 22, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting, often dark read about Jazz musicians and gangsters - not too bloody, quite informative
Holly Danielle
Sep 24, 2016 rated it did not like it
Couldn't finish it!
Jan 04, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Like the time period, liked the book.
Tara Frye
Sep 03, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I thought it was going to be more exciting. Of Coarse it wasn't because, it was non fiction.
Jan 10, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bix-biederbecke
Tales of jazz legend Bix Beiderbecke.
Oct 03, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
lovely, sad story amidst the roaring twenties, jazz age and fueled with alcoholism.
Being a big jazz-age fan, I thought I was really going to like this one...not so much. I felt like it dragged along, but I kept reading in hopes that it would get better.
Dr Tnge
rated it really liked it
Oct 23, 2015
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May 04, 2009
Stefanie Lubkowski
rated it it was ok
Mar 18, 2010
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Sep 26, 2012
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Adriane Ziemer
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Jul 05, 2015
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Nov 12, 2012
Walter Five
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Aug 26, 2012
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