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Young Man with a Horn (1938)
This novel, loosely based on the life of jazz great Bix Biederbecke, is one of the seminal tales of the gifted but tragically self-destructive artist. Rick Martin, the young man with a horn, is consumed by music but destroyed by bad booze, evil women and by his own impossible musical ambition.
There is a school of thought, of which this novel is emblematic, that true geniuses are tormented or even driven mad because they apprehend things that are beyond the comprehension of us mere mortals and become frustrated in trying to realize them fully and/or express them in terms that we can comprehend. (I saw this theme repeated most recently in the excellent movie Pi). It makes for some entertaining fiction, but it's a load of piffle.
Check out the excellent film version of the novel:
And try the music of Bix Biederbecke on:
See also:Music Literature
-ESSAY: Literary Footnote; OTIS FERGUSON, CRITIC (Malcolm Cowley, NY Times Book Review)
-ESSAY: In and Out of Storyville: Jazz and Fiction (Vance Bourjaily, NY Times Book Review)
-Compton's Encyclopaedia: BEIDERBECKE, Bix
-BIX BEIDERBECKE RESOURCES: A BIXOGRAPHY
-BIX BEIDERBECKE (Red Hot Jazz)
-Jazz in Film Bibliography: Introduction, Contents & How to Use the Guide (Library of Congress)
-REVIEW: of LOST CHORDS White Musicians and Their Contribution to Jazz, 1915-1945. By Richard M. Sudhalter (Jason Berry, NY Times Book Review)