Started: April 2nd
Finished: April 15th
When I was in Saskatoon I decided that I was in the mood to read some current "literary" fiction, so I bought two Booker-nominated novels, both Canadian: Half-Blood Blues and the Sisters Brothers.
I've just finished Half-Blood Blues. The books that made last year's Booker shortlist were selected for "readabilty". But readable fiction isn't necessarily easy to read. Half-Blood Blues is wrenching. Nazis may make the best villains (a la Raiders of the Lost Arc), but there was nothing cartoonish about Berlin in the 40s or the fall of Paris near the beginning of the war.
But overall I enjoyed the book. The tone is convincing: you believe that you are hanging out with black jazz musicians, and feel the joys, demands, and disappointments of trying to make great music. And the period and the characters are fascinating. Who knew that for a black man Hitler's Germany of the 1930s was an easier place to live than the Southern US?
The fact that the author is Canadian shows up only as an Easter egg: Our Narrator shuts up an inquisitive cab driver by telling him that he's travelling to London Ontario. No one's curiosity extends to trips to Canada.