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Many readers still claim this haunting, atmospheric novel of Michael Ondaatje's as their first love - a novel as sensual and erotic today as ever it was. At the turn of the century, the Storyville district of New Orleans had some 2000 prostitutes, 70 professional gamblers, and 30 piano players. But it had only one man who played the cornet like Buddy Bolden - he who cut hair by day at N. Joseph's Shaving Parlor, and at night played jazz, unleashing an unforgettable wildness and passion in crowded rooms. Self-destructively in love with two women, he embodied all the dire claims that music places on its acolytes. At the age of 31, Buddy Bolden went mad. From these sparse facts, Michael Ondaatje has created a story as beautiful and chilling as a New Orleans funeral procession, where even the mourners dance.
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