At the turn of the century, the Storyville district of New Orleans had some 2,000 prostitutes, 70 professional gamblers, and 30 piano players. It had only one man who played the cornet like Buddy Bolden. By day he cut hair and purveyed gossip at N. Joseph's Shaving Parlor. At night he played jazz as though unleashing wild animals in a crowded room. At the age of thirty-one, Buddy Bolden went mad. From these sparse facts Michael Ondaatje has created a haunting, lushly atmospheric novel about one of jazz's legendary pioneers and martyrs. Obsessed with death, addicted to whiskey, and self-destructively in love with two women, Buddy Bolden embodies all the dire claims that music places on its acolytes. And as told in Coming Through Slaughter, his story is as beautiful and chilling as a New Orleans funeral procession, where even the mourners dance.