Friday, June 19, 2009

Friday's Forgotten Books: SOMEWHERE THERE'S MUSIC by George Lea (Lippincott, 1958)

Haven't found an image for this one yet, and my computer's down, so can't scan in my copy's cover. It'a a reasonable, if blah, cover, for a slightly unusual production for 1958 of a first publication in "oversized" or "quality" paperback (to facilitate, says Lippincott, the wide distribution of this first novel at $1.50 a hit, when mass-market paperbacks were averaging 35c).

Where this novel is remembered, it's remembered as a jazz novel, involving as it does a second-gen jazz musician, returned from his military service and ready, if somewhat tentatively, to throw himself into the late '50s jazz milieu, even if his swing-era father doesn't understand the post-bop music the protag plays and seeks to play better. (To remember that over the space of a week fifty years ago that both the Brubeck Quartert's Time Out and the Ornette Coleman Quartet's The Shape of Jazz to Come were released is to realize just how much ferment there was in the late '50s, even if the popular support, Time Out's sales notwithstanding, was not up to the levels of the '30s and '40s.) He gets into a doomed affair, he decides to medicate his pain, and generally resents not being dug where he's not. Very much in the mode of the misunderstood young man novel that you know the shape of even if you haven't read many (or perhaps even any), it is a reasonably good portrait of the music scene of its time, even if novelists ranging from Nelson Algren to Nat Hentoff have done similar work better.

This is the weakest book that I've reviewed in this series, but it is still worth a look for those who are interested in young writers of the era, particularly if you want to see who was on the bench while the Kerouacs and McCarthys were (deservedly) getting more attention for their homerun hitting. (Mary McCarthy was a slugger, doubt it not.) I don't believe Lea published another novel. And if I'm going to post a cover scan for it, I'm going to have scan my own copy...

For more Forgotten books, please see Patti Abbott's blog.


pattinase (abbott) said...

A jazz novel; don;t think I've read one.

Todd Mason said...

From fairly recent, if retro, items such as TOO DEAD TO SWING, on back to THE YOUNG MAN WITH A HORN, they await you.