Sutherland, Luke Jelly Roll

ISBN 13: 9781862300309

Jelly Roll

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Jelly Roll

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When psycho saxophonist Malc walks out on The Sunny Sunday Sextet, the five remaining friends decide that for too long they've looked like "a bunch ay farmers at the Christmas dinner dance." Slicked up, they embark on a tour of the Highlands, acquiring a brilliant new sax player, Liam--only he's black. Tensions rise as the tour progresses, particularly for narrator Roddy, who idolises Liam while ignoring his own descent into druggy hell.

Luke Sutherland, shortlisted for the Whitbread's best First Novel Award, begins this novel bravely--perhaps recklessly--with a lengthy, expletive-filled conversation between the five surviving band members. At first, the dialect is hard to grasp, the characters apparently indistinguishable in the often ridiculous banter of five men together. And then, gradually, patterns start to emerge in the improvisation, and individual, idiosyncratic voices come through the melée, voices that become stronger as the novel progresses. The milieu--Scotland, drugs, music--has become overly familiar in the last few years, but Sutherland is his own man: a writer with a brilliant ear for the rhythms of speech, an eye for the tragicomic, and a fine sense of pace--which together draw you in mercilessly. --Alan Stewart

From the Back Cover:

Roddy, Mouse, Duckie, Fraser, Paddy and Liam - six guys in search of a sound, in a debut to savour.

The presence of a psychopath is never necessarily suited to shared artistic endeavour, particularly when you're a struggling jazz band on the verge of a tour of the Highlands of Scotland, in search of a new image, direction, a lease of life. Malc's sudden and characteristically violent departure leaves The Sunny Sunday Sextet a saxophone short and a series of gigs to fulfil. When Liam is introduced to the band, he seems perfect for the job: young...gifted...black.

For Roddy Burns, Liam is the antidote to the band's problems. But for the rest of them he represents a threat in many different ways. While Roddy puts Liam on a pedestal, his own life begins to tumble helplessly into a pit of drugs and sex. As the tour progresses, the lifeblood of the band slowly drips away, communication breaks down in a cycle of jealousy and recrimination and it rapidly become apparent that Malc may not have been the only psycho in the band...

Jelly Roll is a skewed examination of collective manhood in crisis, a frightening and blackly comic look at an unstoppable road through the nine circles of hell and beyond.

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Sutherland, Luke
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