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Five Night Stand

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  291 ratings  ·  61 reviews
Legendary jazz pianist Oliver Pleasant finds himself alone at the end of his career, playing his last five shows, hoping the music will draw his estranged family back...

Frank Severs, a middle-aged, out-of-work journalist, is at a crossroads as his longtime dreams and marriage grind to a standstill...

And piano prodigy Agnes Cassady is desperately grasping for fulfillment be
Paperback, 307 pages
Published May 12th 2015 by Lake Union
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Average rating 4.12  · 
Rating details
 ·  291 ratings  ·  61 reviews

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Larry H
Feb 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
I'd rate this 4.5 stars.

Full disclosure: I received an advance copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.

Oliver Pleasant is a renowned jazz pianist who has been playing music since the 1930s. He has played with all of the greats, traveled the world, and made a bit of a name for himself among those in the know. Now in his 80s, he is ready to retire, so he plans to play five farewell shows at a New York City club before leaving his home in New York and moving to Memphis.
Mar 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015
Three lives intersect in a story reflecting on successes, regrets and disappointments along with a sprinkling of secrets. Centering on a jazz icon as he revisits his esteemed career traveling through the blossoming era of jazz. One man sharing his story, his passion for music evident, leaving a mark on others lives as they struggle with individual issues.

“Oliver sees himself as a carpenter, a craftsman putting notes and melodies together, fitting them when they will, stepping back to rest and
Jan 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This first novel reads like a work from the ripest part of a successful author’s career. Finely etched characters delineated with great insight and empathy, and a plot that builds and builds toward a unique and satisfying conclusion, are two of its many strengths. The story takes place mainly in New Orleans, Memphis and New York City (Memphis is at the center for more reasons than just geographical) and its evocation of the jazz scene in those three storied places is richly realized and reminisc ...more
Amazing novel.
A beautifully written tale of three disparate yet kindred souls – all at a crossroads in their lives.

Oliver Pleasant, an octogenarian jazz pianist of some renown is finally retiring from the music business. He is wrapping up his long career with a final five night stand on the stage of a New York hotel owned by an old friend. Sadly, his lifestyle of travel, music, and women have left him estranged from his grown children. The table he has reserved for his family remains accusingly
Jan 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing
What a beautiful book! It's a love letter to jazz music, first and foremost, but also to Memphis, New Orleans, and New York. Alley's evocative descriptions and unusual metaphors are as virtuousic as the main character's piano playing. The unlikely intersection of the three main characters is fascinating and believable. This may be a debut novel, but it doesn't feel that way at all. Poignant and unforgettable. ...more
Oct 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Loved it! Alley creates a distinct voice for each of the main three characters who are bound by jazz and history. I was completely drawn into their lives and wanted to know more about each of them. Loved the descriptions of 3 of my favorite cities: Memphis, New Orleans and New York.
Amy Samin
Nov 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the best book I have read in a long time. The characters are wonderful and complex, and their stories draw you in. The writing itself is like music. I was so sorry to finish this book, and will definitely read it again (and again).
Apr 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
84-year-old jazz pianist Oliver Pleasant is performing for his last five night stand before retirement. His career started at age 14 in 1935 when he lived in Winona, Mississippi. His career took him to Memphis and riverboats, to Harlem, to New Orleans, to France. Music was a harsh mistress, demanding awful sacrifices. His wife Francesca and their children lived without his presence. Now his wife is gone and his daughter won't see him. Nostalgia and regret, loneliness and loss, fatigue and pain a ...more
Apr 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I loved this story. It's a sort of fictional biography about a man who's in his '80's and his love of music, especially jazz. He started playing as a child and never stopped. He played all over and with some of the greats. Five Night Stand refers to the last five nights he will ever play before he retires and moves from New York down to Mississippi to live with his niece. A place where he hopes things have changed since he was last there and saw a young boy hanged for looking at a white woman.

Dec 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Lawrence
This book is absolutely wonderful, memorable, touching and amazing. I learned a lot about the history and music of jazz while reading this.
In this book several people, strangers to each other, happen to come together when attending a five-evening performance of 87 year old Oscar Pleasant, a jazz great, who is doing his last performance to retire. We read about the different characters, what brings them together, and most of all about the life of Oscar Pleasant.
This book made me emotional - both
Anna LeBlanc
Nov 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A coworker, and my daughters 4th grade teacher recommended this book, and I picked it up because I needed to fulfill a prompt for a reading challenge I am doing...”a book with a time of day in its title.” I am so glad I picked it up! I loved it! Alley is a masterful storyteller. The three (four?) main characters in three (four?) different walks of life all came together beautifully....they each had something to teach another. Their stories were captivating and timeless, but also real and I didn’ ...more
Denise Baer
Aug 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book isn’t a page-turner in the way most of us think of a page-turner. It is character-driven with lost characters struggling with pain in one form or another. Alley has written a great story and he makes it easy to get lost in his words. There’s a smooth rhythm throughout the book, just like the jazz legend of the main character, Oliver Pleasant. His music brings all the characters together. They love what the music does to them, how they find solace and happiness in it. The flaws of each ...more
Feb 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: net-galley
I received an advance copy of this book from NetGalley. Publication date is May 2015.

I am so glad I found this one - it made my heart sing.

Oliver Pleasant is a renowned jazz pianist who has been playing music since the 1930s when he started as a 14 year old in Winona, Mississippi. He is planning to play for five nights at the Capasso Hotel in New York City, hoping against hope that some members of his estranged family will come and see him. Every night there is a table just waiting for them.

Mar 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
Five Night Stand impressed me as unique, not a page turner, but unique. The author concentrates on three lives. They each disclose conflict or strife health issues, close relationship and above all their connection to the music. It does not become too busy with people places and in depth romantic details.
Readers get to visit familiar playgrounds of New York, Memphis, (I've never visited Memphis), and New Orleans.
Oliver Pleasant is eighty five years old and a Jazz musician extraordinaire, hence
Katherine Borden
Jan 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Five Night Stand's characters and their music are so captivating; I felt like I was spending these five nights with them, wrapped up in their lives. It reads as beautifully as the music described on its pages must sound. I would highly recommend this book. ...more
May 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book. The characters were wonderful, and I found myself wanting to know more about them. Most;y, it was the feeling of being there, of being part of the music that I had throughout the book that made it so amazing. Even if you are not a fan of jazz, this book is a great read!
Nov 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Wow! This book is good. It's so good that it might even make me rethink my aversion to jazz. I loved the different stories that all came together. The Memphis references were the icing on the cake! ...more
Jan 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful writing. I want to recommend this book to everyone!
Jan 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful story rich with jazz history and endearing characters. Memphis talent at its best.
Harry Allagree
Aug 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This a truly legit novel! Richard Alley writes with genuine "soul", not surprising for a resident of Memphis, TN. It's like a short course in the unique American -- Black American, to be precise -- musical style called "jazz". Alley integrates the story of a Southern musician, Oliver Pleasant, & his family with the stories & struggles of Agnes Cassady, an accomplished young pianist with a serious physical affliction, and Frank Severs, a recently unemployed journalist who aspires to write a great ...more
Lois Melbourne
Mar 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I believe the prose in this book includes some of the best passages of any books I have read. I don't typically read fiction that makes me want to re-read a passage again and again to enjoy the writing or the essence of what was written. However, Five Night Stand had me doing that repeatedly. I often felt I was just wrapped up in the story's blanket and absorbed.

I can not wait to read more by Richard Alley.
Apr 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: e-book, novels
As someone who has a personal interest in and love of music, I was delighted with this extremely well-written book that enveloped the love of jazz and intertwined that love with the lives of three people who had never met before the final five performances of a legendary jazz piano player in New York City. All three also shared a background with the cities so often known for jazz: New Orleans, Memphis, and New York City. I was fascinated at how those three lives came together and was also please ...more
Scott Bagley
Jul 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Do yourself a favor. Turn on your Spotify or your Pandora. Or maybe dig out some old 10 inch records and drink up this amazing book.
Lori McMullen
Mar 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I love when a novel takes me to new places. Richard J. Alley's novel was quite a ride. Part jazz musician, part journalist, and part terminally ill patient. All three parts a little broken. All three parts worked. I'm ready to listen to some jazz, start a novel, and visit Memphis. Glad I found this novel on Kindle. ...more
Mar 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley, own
3.5 stars

Before last year's 2 A.M. at The Cat's Pajamas, I don't think I had ever read a book centered around jazz music. Now we have Richard J. Alley's Five Night Stand, which revolves around the five-night farewell performance of jazz pianist Oliver Pleasant. Unsurprisingly, because Oliver is retiring after a career spanning seven decades, Alley's book has a more elegiac tone than Bertino's, which is both a good and a bad thing.

Oliver's long career gives Alley ample opportunity to explore the
Jun 06, 2016 rated it liked it
This book was not the book I was expecting to read. I live in the Memphis area and Richard J. Alley was one of my favorite bi-weekly newspaper columnists. I understand that is father was a long-time cartoonist for the newspaper. Alley wrote about his life as a freelance writer and stay-at-home dad, raising four children with his wife, who is a teacher. His columns were heartwarming vignettes of a close-knit family. When he announced in his column that he had written a novel and that he was going ...more
Marilyn Gentry
Feb 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What A Storyteller!

Chose this book without a lot of expectations. But, wow, I loved it from beginning to end. I truly hated to see it end. Can't wait to see more from this author. The characters, their stories and how all were woven together were masterfully done. Made me find some of the people and their music on the net... So enjoyable. I would give it more stars if I could.
Apr 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
For just a moment I'd like to address the topic of Literature. There are several definitions and even more requirements that people say is required of a novel in order to be qualified as "literary," however I think one of the best explanations of what literature should be comes from Franz Kafka:

"If the book we are reading does not wake us, as with a fist hammering on our skull, why then do we read it?… What we must have are those books which come upon us like ill-fortune, and distress us deeply
Cynthia Archer
May 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
What a masterful story teller is Richard Alley! I enjoyed both the beauty of his story and the treasure of his words. "Five Night Stand" is about the last nights in the performance life of fictional jazz pianist, Oliver Pleasant. Oliver sets up a five night stand to close out his professional life in New York City. During those nights, his life intersects with several other people who are searching for answers in their own changing lives.
Along with Oliver, we meet Agnes, a young and talented
ARC received from in exchange for an honest review.

So I requested this pretty much as soon as I saw it, and I am so glad I received it. The story focuses intermittently on several main characters, namely: Oliver Pleasant, a jazz music legend who’s nearing the end of his career, and decides to do a “five night stand” of five live shows as a farewell to playing live; Frank Severs, a journalist who’s writing a feature story about Oliver as an effort to get his career back on track; an
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Richard J. Alley is the author of the novels FIVE NIGHT STAND and AMELIA THORN (May 2020), with stories and essays appearing in the anthology MEMPHIS NOIR, Oxford American and Memphis magazine, among others. He lives in Memphis, Tennessee, with his wife, novelist Kristy Dallas Alley, and their children.

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