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Coming Through Slaughter (Vintage International) [Kindle Edition]

Michael Ondaatje
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $15.00
Kindle Price: $9.99
You Save: $5.01 (33%)
Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

Bringing to life the fabulous, colorful panorama of New Orleans in the first flush of the jazz era, this book tells the story of Buddy Bolden, the first of the great trumpet players--some say the originator of jazz--who was, in any case, the genius, the guiding spirit, and the king of that time and place.

In this fictionalized meditation, Bolden, an unrecorded father of Jazz, remains throughout a tantalizingly ungraspable phantom, the central mysteries of his life, his art, and his madness remaining felt but never quite pinned down. Ondaatje's prose is at times startlingly lyrical, and as he chases Bolden through documents and scenes, the novel partakes of the very best sort of modern detective novel--one where the enigma is never resolved, but allowed to manifest in its fullness. Though more 'experimental' in form than either The English Patient or In the Skin of a Lion, it is a fitting addition to the renowned Ondaatje oeuvre.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Editorial Reviews


"Anybody who cares about good writing ... should get this book and luxuriate in it." — Minneapolis Tribune

"One of the most innovative and liberating writers of our time." — Geoff Dyer, The Observer

"A beautifully detailed story, perhaps the finest jazz novel ever written." — The Sunday Times

"Coming Through Slaughter ... is so stuffed full of the dolour and lust that both buoys and blemishes a life, it reads like a story dying to be told." — Books in Canada

From the Inside Flap

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.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1119 KB
  • Print Length: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (March 23, 2011)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004QX06TW
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #164,657 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Voices Calling Out To Me From Fog May 6, 1997
By A Customer
I am a writer, a poet, a singer and musician. I first read "Coming Through Slaughter" seven years ago, and it has haunted me since. I have read many, many books but none have stayed with me like this one. Ondaatje shows us how it is possible to weave a narrative with pieces of song, faded photographs, snatches of conversation. This is the way Buddy Bolden should be remembered, felt as a phantom stretching through history. Ondaatje conveys New Orleans, and its rightful place in time as the birthplace of jazz, precisely. I've passed this book on to many others and am secretly gleeful that The English Patient has gathered all the attention, because Coming Through Slaughter deserves much more careful consideration, is not for the masses but for lovers of poetry, music, and history
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48 of 61 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fiction, not Fact March 25, 2000
By A Customer
A good novel. This is not, however the true story of Buddy Bolden. I say this not as a critisism of talented writer Mr. Ondaatje, but rather of the dozens of people on-line who I have seen recomend this book to people for learing about Buddy Bolden. If you want to know the facts about the real life person named Buddy Bolden, read Donald Marquis' book "In Search Of Buddy Bolden". Mr.Ondaatje's novel is a work of fiction which uses the name of Buddy Bolden and a few events of his life, while deliberately ignoring others for dramatic effect (eg, the real Buddy Bolden wasn't a barber)in a setting and story which is mostly the product of Michael Ondaatje's creativity.
I wish I didn't have to say this. I appologize to those who already are clear on the difference between fact and fiction. I am simply exasperated after 5 years of people wrongly recomending this book to people interested in early jazz as information about Buddy Bolden.
For entertaining fiction, read a Michael Ondaatje novel. For the facts about Bolden, read Donald Marquis' book.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful Story of Decay July 2, 2002
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Michael Ondaatje wrote this semi-biographical story of legendary jazz musician Buddy Bolden long before writing "The English Patient" and "Anil's Ghost". Ondaatje only writes two novels per decade, so it is both interesting and relatively easy to track his progress as an author. "Coming Through Slaughter" draws heavily on Ondaatje's poetic roots, as rhythmic sections of smooth unself-conscious dialogue alternate with straight narrative and passages of syncopated poetry. It is far shorter and contains more poetry than his later works -and this works well in a book about jazz. In this, it is less mature than "The English Patient", more rooted in a young man's poetic freeform and less in the disciplined construction of a novel. Perspectives shift from Bolden to his New Orleans friends, prostitutes, and the musicians around him who literally created jazz. Ondaatje has a unique style of piecing a novel together from disparate pieces like a jigsaw puzzle, pieces that don't always meet at the edges -at least until the whole is complete and the details slowly merge into a profound and intricate mosaic. This style, in its early stages, is on display here. Characters and themes emerge slowly. Ondaatje is a challenging author. You may be two pages into a scene and still not know quite who is talking, or about what, or when. But finally the rush of understanding as the scene fits logically into another that comes pages later.
Buddy Bolden, New Orleans cornet player, early jazz genius who dropped out of sight for two years and then made a triumphant if short-lived return, before dying in an asylum. This is the source. The facts about Bolden remain murky, and Ondaatje has created a life around him. It is a story as much about jazz, New Orleans, and decay as it is about the sad life of a single horn player.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars more art than book (which is a good thing) September 18, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition
First, it should be understood that this story is BASED on what is known about Buddy Bolden and his music, but much of the narrative is invented. Anyone wanting to know what really happened to Bolden should look elsewhere, as this book is basically a patchwork quilt of suppositions and exaggerations. However, that said, the writing itself is incredible, an unforgettable experience. Ondaatje attempts to penetrate the mystery of Bolden (the man and the myth) by employing prose paragaphs that are as straight and severe as cut wrists ... There is nothing extemporaneous here, nothing that doesn't tie directly into the theme, and nothing that will not be remembered long after the final page is finished. It's prose/poetry saturated with powerful, often disturbing imagery that explores questions like, what does the topography of a true artist's heart look like? and, do not the essential loves, passions, fears, and sicknesses we feel connect us all, whether we are blue-collar workers toiling in oblivion or modern-day Beethovens reinventing entire genres? As far as Bolden goes, the book ostensibly attempts to tell the reader he may have lost his mind because he transcended his bodily form through music, and his mind disintergated in the attempt ... But it is much more than this, and it is about much more than Buddy Bolden.
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12 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Listening for Lost Notes June 8, 1997
By A Customer
Michael Ondaatje writes yet another stunningly original little book--in this case, a fictionalized meditation on Buddy Bolden, an unrecorded father of Jazz. Bolden remains throughout a tantalizingly ungraspable phantom, the central mysteries of his life, his art, and his madness remaining felt but never quite pinned down. Ondaatje's prose is at times startlingly lyrical, and as he chases Bolden through documents and scenes, the novel partakes of the very best sort of modern detective novel--one where the enigma is never resolved, but allowed to manifest in its fullness. More 'experimental' in form than either The English Patient, or In the Skin of a Lion, it's as good a read as either
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great service, price, and excellent book condition. Win-win!
Published 2 months ago by Big Henning
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the finest pieces of literature ever written in the English...
It is my life's dream to make this beautiful tapestry of words about jazz, art, madness and New Orleans into a film that would do its wealth of staggering feeling for all four... Read more
Published 2 months ago by The Strongest Productions
5.0 out of 5 stars Very well done
The prose flows and bubbles mirroring the syncopated rhythms of very early "jass". It is a thoughtfully told story of the convergence of mental illness and genius in Jazz... Read more
Published 3 months ago by dvzydeco
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written like poetry
Beautifully written like poetry as only This writer can do. A painful life story set within the lights of this authors tremendous talent.
Published 4 months ago by lisa melilli
3.0 out of 5 stars Coming through Slaughter
Coming Through Slaughter is the imagined life story of the early jazz musician, Charles "Buddy" Bolden. Bolden was born around 1876 in New Orleans. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Steven Davis
4.0 out of 5 stars Very Enjoyable Tragedy
I'm watching treme' and know of Steve Earle's affinity for this book so decided to give it a go. It's told wonderfully and I'll need to re-read for the nuances, but I very much... Read more
Published 7 months ago by David Flynn
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent
Maybe the second best imaginative book about jazz. Slaughter refers to a street, not an act that exists in this version of the life of Buddy Bolden.
Published 11 months ago by Daniel R. Scott
5.0 out of 5 stars Hauntingly beautiful
Mr. Ondaatje has done it again. Lyrically moving portrait of a great Jazz musician. With so little written about him, the author makes him and his world come to life in... Read more
Published 12 months ago by kathy moult-applewhite
3.0 out of 5 stars c
But it was not easily understood. Sometimes confusing who is talking and whether it is in the present or not
Published 12 months ago by Arnold Pulver
2.0 out of 5 stars Not my to my taste
I found the style in which it was written practically unreadable. This is the first Ondaatje book I have read so I guess he
deserves another chance. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Mike Collins
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