Picks and Pans Review: Blue Bossa

updated 04/06/1998 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 04/06/1998 01:00AM

by Bart Schneider

Fame is a pain, as trumpeter Ronnie Reboulet can attest. Beautiful and brilliant in his 1950s prime, Reboulet (who is loosely based on the late jazz great Chet Baker) lost it all—his career, his home life, even his teeth—to heroin addiction.

But fame is also destiny. So when his long-lost daughter and grandchild show up on his doorstep in 1974, it spurs Ronnie to begin anew. All in an instant he decides to become the family man he never was and to pick up the music (and the old familiar tunes, like Kenny Dorham's "Blue Bossa") he was sure had left him for good. For a short time he even succeeds. Unfortunately, despite his newfound role and recognition, Reboulet soon returns to the same old blue note.

With short, impressionistic chapters and syncopated prose, Bart Schneider, editor of the Hungry Mind Review, a St. Paul-based literary journal, delicately breathes life into a particular time (the mid-'70s) and place (post-Altamont San Francisco). And by using Patty Hearst's kidnapping as the novel's real-life backdrop, he also convinces us that celebrity, no matter how problematic, is one of life's most tempting addictions. (Viking, $24.95)

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