Spanning three continents and two centuries, Twelve Bar Blues is an epic tale of fate, family, friendship and jazz. At its heart is Lick Holden, a young jazz musician, who sets New Orleans on fire with his cornet at the beginning of the last century. But Lick's passion is to find his lost step-sister and that's a journey that leads him to a place he can call 'home'. Meanwhile, at the other end of the century, we find Sylvia, an English prostitute, and Jim, a young drifter. They're in search of Sylvia's past, lost somewhere in the mists of the Louisiana bayou.
Patrick Neate has written a story that straddles time and space, love and friendship, roots and pilgrimage and everything between. Poignant and hilarious, it will hook you - like a favourite tune - till the end.
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Patrick Neate's second novel, Twelve Bar Blues, is a bouncy, ebullient book, "populated" (as one of its cast reflects midway through), "by absurd characters, dead ends and half truths" that tumbles "toward a punch-line that would seem inevitable with hindsight". It positively brims with outlandish, hilarious and moving (if occasionally hokey) tales. Literally "every name's got a story" and by jingo Neate delights in spinning each part of his yarn. Roaming through the black slums and early jazz joints of the Louisiana bayou to Africa, London, New York, Chicago and New Orleans at the end of the 20th century, his vista is extraordinary. There's Tongo Kalulu, the chief of the Zimindo, a proud African tribe, who, confused by his wife and enraptured by an attractive female American archaeologist, seeks the advice of Musa, his sex-obsessed witch doctor. There's Sylvia di Napoli, a "coffee-coloured" retired London prostitute, who has travelled to America in the hope of discovering her real father¹s identity. Also along for the ride is Jim Tulloch, a scruffy, big-hearted young Englishman half her age. Gluing these seemingly disparate elements together is the tragic love story of Fortis James "Lick" Holden, a long forgotten Louisiana jazzman who allegedly taught Louis "Dipper" Armstrong the "meanin' of the word hot" and Sylvie Black, his prostitute "sister (who wasn't no blood relation)". Chock full of jazz, poverty, sex and death, this enjoyable novel jives to a note-perfect if predictable ending, dispensing intelligent critiques of racism and sexism along the way. -- Travis ElboroughReview:
If I could choose one current British writer to tell tall tales around my fantasy campfire, it would be Patrick Neate ( Daily Telegraph)
An endearing romp. Continents, and eras, come together in an infectious celebration of a mixed-up music - and the mixed-up people who create it (Boyd Tonkin Independent)
A rollicking novel...energetic, divinely plotted. If the description of Lick raising the roof of a honky-tonk doesn't make your heart beat a little faster, there might be something wrong with your heart ( The Times)
Hugely enjoyable ( Independent on Sunday)
A formidable work of imagination ( Evening Standard)
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Book Description Penguin, 2002. Paperback. Book Condition: Brand New. 416 pages. In Stock. Bookseller Inventory # zk014028656X
Book Description Penguin UK, 2010. Paperback. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 014028656X
Book Description Penguin Books, 2002. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX014028656X