The Tenor Saxophonist's Story

Overview

The celebrated author of THE BASS SAXOPHONE, THE REPUBLIC OF WHORES, and THE BRIDE OF TEXAS has won international acclaim for the acerbic, funny, and haunting novels of his native Czechoslovakia, the wry world of political repression that shaped him as a writer. Once again, Skvorecky sharpens his mordant wit on familiar themes in this collection of interconnecting tales.
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Overview

The celebrated author of THE BASS SAXOPHONE, THE REPUBLIC OF WHORES, and THE BRIDE OF TEXAS has won international acclaim for the acerbic, funny, and haunting novels of his native Czechoslovakia, the wry world of political repression that shaped him as a writer. Once again, Skvorecky sharpens his mordant wit on familiar themes in this collection of interconnecting tales.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Acclaimed novelist Skvorecky (e.g., The Bride of Texas, LJ 2/1/96) combines his love of writing and of jazz in this story of an unnamed saxophonist whose overwhelming concern is to stay out of trouble. It's not surprising that the endearingly antiheroic young Czech (whose story resembles that of the author) steers clear of politics: the totalitarian regime has already expelled him from university because of suspected sympathy for the West. So the ten episodes that comprise his self-deprecating tale are linked by both his passion for life, love, and jazz and his distrust of truth and ideology. These are mellow memories of commonplace events rendered interesting and memorable through Skvorecky's wonderful deadpan humor, colloquial dialog, and a seamless narrative style that the four translators have worked hard to preserve. This slender collection of bittersweet refrains is highly recommended for all contemporary literature collections.-Sister M. Anna Falbo, Villa Maria Coll. Lib., Buffalo, N.Y.
Kirkus Reviews
The first English translation of an early (195456) episodic novel by the Czechoslovakian-born author of The Engineer of Human Souls (1984) and other chronicles of cultural dislocation and exile.

In ten vignettes, Danny Smiick, an apolitical young jazz musician (and the protagonist of the above-mentioned novel and of several other kvoreck titles) reminisces in diffuse fashion about his experiences and friendships in and around Prague in the immediate postwar, post-Stalinist period. Among other embattled souls, there's a newspaperwoman ("Madam Editor") whose hatred of "Bolshevism" altered under the pressure of practical considerations; an anticommunist judge who joined the Party in order to subvert its principles; and a gorgeous teenager ("Little Mata Hari of Prague") who may have masqueraded as a double agent. And in the final chapter, Danny weakly declares his wavering allegiance to "socialism" to a friend who offers to get him out of the country and to safety in the West. None of these characters is drawn with great vividness, nor do any of the opinions held or debated seem especially forceful. It's all communicated with a kind of whimsical Vonnegut-like indifference, expressed in exasperatingly digressive conversational asides, and in such shamelessly padded temporizing as the following three paragraphs (with which kvoreck begins a chapter): "When you play the tenor sax, sooner or later you ask yourself the question./What's it really for and why and so forth and so on./Life, that is." There's a scattering of appreciative talk about jazz, but we otherwise learn little about this wan character, other than that he simply desires to be left alone and not risk the complications besetting people who engage life more directly.

"I don't want to get involved," Danny Smiick explains. Neither will most readers.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780880015639
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 10/25/1997
  • Pages: 176
  • Product dimensions: 5.38 (w) x 8.25 (h) x 0.53 (d)

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