Synopses & Reviews
The acclaimed author of Veronica
and A Trip to the Stars
returns with a dazzling new novel based on one of the great legends of musical history.
New Orleans, 1900. The virtuoso cornet player Charles “Buddy” Bolden invents jazz, but after a life consumed by tragedy, the groundbreaking sound of his horn vanishes with him. Rumors persist, though, that Bolden recorded a phonograph cylinder, and over the course of a century it evolves into the elusive holy grail of jazz.
Florida, the present day. Dr. Ruby Cardillo’s life is falling apart. Her husband, a prominent cardiologist, has left her for a twenty-six-year-old. Her daughter, Devon, a once promising jazz pianist, has recently finished an enforced stint picking up trash along the interstate after a drug conviction. Ruby’s estranged mother has just died, but not before conjuring up ghosts that Ruby thought she had put behind her long ago. After a long career as a well-respected anesthesiologist, Ruby suddenly jumps the tracks, forgetting to eat and sleep, indulging her every whim, wearing only purple, consuming only bottles of 1988 Château Latour.
Then Ruby enlists Devon to accompany her on an impulsive road trip to New York, and both mother and daughter get more than they bargained for, discovering that their own shrouded family history is connected to the tantalizing search for Buddy Bolden’s long-lost cylinder.
Ranging from turn-of-the-century Louisiana to Roaring Twenties Chicago to contemporary Manhattan, Tiger Rag is at once a moving story of loss and redemption and an intricate historical mystery from one of our most brilliant storytellers.
“A literary omnivore, Nicholas Christopher is versed in classical lore and pulp fiction, and his novels [provide] a thrilling amalgam of the two: erudite, lyrical and breathlessly paced.”—The New York Times Book Review
"Poet and novelist Christopher (Veronica) mixes fiction with jazz history in this delightful dual narrative. In July 1904, Charles 'Buddy' Bolden, 'the father of all jazz trumpeters,' is in New Orleans recording 'Tiger Rag' with his band on three Edison wax cylinders. Since the recordings were never released and Bolden never cut another track, their whereabouts are of great significance. Jump to December 2010, when, after a messy divorce, middle-aged Miami anesthesiologist Ruby Cardillo contacts her daughter, Devon Sheresky, a jazz pianist and recovering drug addict. Together they drive to New York City so an increasingly manic Ruby can deliver a professional association speech and Devon can meet with Emmett Browne, an elderly music dealer who attempted to contact her recently deceased grandmother. As the chapters alternate between narratives, the schizophrenic Bolden is locked away at age 29, and one of his recordings makes its way to Devon's thieving grandfather, journeyman trumpeter Valentine Owen. Emmett tries to conspire with Devon to retrieve the recording from its present owner, the psychic Joan Neptune, who knew and banned the unsavory Valentine. Based on the real-life rumor the recordings exist, Christopher's intriguing yarn lays out how their zealous guardians have preserved Buddy Bolden's jazz legacy. Agent: Anne Sibbald, Janklow & Nesbit Assoc." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Nicholas Christopher is the author of five previous novels: The Soloist, Veronica, A Trip to the Stars, Franklin Flyer, and The Bestiary; eight books of poetry, including his new and selected poems, Crossing the Equator; and a book on film noir, Somewhere in the Night. He lives in New York City.