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Intermission [Kindle Edition]

Owen Martell
3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £8.99
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Product Description


"An introspective, original novel…It is hard to write about figures of recent history in a way that feels authentic and true, but Bill Evans is drawn here in all his quirkiness and mutability…This novel stands as a well-written lament. It is a clear-eyed exploration of a jazz intermission, of the forced break in the chaos, and an apt tribute to a music so full of life that even a pause, a silence, can go down howling." (Esi Edugyan Guardian)

"This fine if elusive novel about a jazz giant echoes his art in both its style and its story-telling…A novel as oblique, elusive but quietly hypnotic as its hero’s own playing." (Boyd Tonkin Independent)

"A sensitive depiction of an artist in mourning…A delicate and affecting work of fiction…[Martell] writes with elegant precisionIntermission is an impressive English-language debut, a deft and sensitive depiction of a family shadowed by loss." (Financial Times)

"The mood music conjured up is evocative, reflective and muted…Martell’s wonderful portraitis as vivid as it is sympatheticLingers in the mind like an elusive, mournful melody." (Daily Mail)

"Superb." (Irish Times)

Book Description

Captivating and hypnotic writing from a prize-winning novelist, whose prose is reminiscent of Marilynne Robinson's and Paul Harding's.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 281 KB
  • Print Length: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Cornerstone Digital (3 Jan. 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #260,059 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Waltz for Debby and Harry. 26 Aug. 2013
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
As a Double Bass player and big fan of Scott La Faro, I was drawn to read this book out of an interest in him as a musician and there is a certain fascination about those who die tragically young.

However, despite starting with the aftermath of his death, this book tells you absolutely nothing about La Faro or the music he made with Bill Evans - unless you count the fact that Bill's brother once shook his hand, but didn't know what to say to him.

This is what this book is like - it revels in the little, trivial details of everyday life that are usually ignored in books and works them up into long poetic descriptions in rambling internal monologues.

It's not until about page 140 that we get back to the music and there is a magical description of Bill Evans listening for the first time to the album :Sunday At The Village Vanguard in the company of his parents, at their Florida home.

But those first 140 pages are tough going and are about all the day-to-day things we busy ourselves with - like cooking and sharing meals, reading a story to a child, watching TV, going for a walk, maybe playing golf and so on. I can see that what this does is chart the process for Bill Evans to return from the depths of his grief at the death of his friend and musical partner - to some kind of "normality". If you can call the life of a Jazz musician/heroin addict, normal?

The last 20 pages or so are Bill returning to lucidity and making music with his new trio and other sessions - acknowledging the acclaim for his album and making money. All the things that went on hold, while he was in shock, living briefly with his brother and then his parents, who provide commentaries.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Missing months 30 Jan. 2013
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I found this reconstruction of the period in jazz pianist Bill Evans' life when he went to ground following the death of Scott LaFaro, the bass player in his jazz trio in 1961, interesting but not wholly involving.
The story, told from the viewpoints of his brother Harry, his mother Mary, his father Harry and himself, cover the weeks and months during which, locked in his grief, he retreated from the world.
The family stories are pretty bleak. Mary, Bill's mother, daughter of Russian immigrants and musical herself, and Harry, his father, son of a Welsh immigrant, seem to have barely spoken to each other in years; brother Harry comes over as a sad person, and Bill himself, until the very end, is almost a non-character, sitting about, not talking, unable to move on or return to the music he loves. They all inspired compassion in me, but not affection. The ending, briefly charting the rest of Bill's life and his family's tragedies, is bleaker yet.
The prose is beautiful, but I wanted more music, though I do appreciate that the family story has a music of its own. It just did not fully engage me, and I wanted it to.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars More poetry than novel 6 April 2014
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Beautifully detailed, multi layered, poetic writing, but the language is pretty much all there is. The plot is slight, barely existent; the characters are poorly developed and interchangeable. Even a highly literary novel such as this needs basic characters and at least the bones of a story to hang the poetry on. In Intermission, the language seems to wrap itself around the narrative like ivy; it strangles it: you cannot see the woods for the trees. After a while, the intense concentration required to follow the semblance of a plot becomes trying. I got rather tired. There is real loveliness here, but I felt I had to work a bit too hard for it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but sometimes hard-going story 16 May 2013
By Mr. K. Cross VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I own CDs by Bill Evans & love his music, so thought this book would prove riveting. Well, it wasn't as gripping as I'd hoped, & it plodded along in quite a dull manner during some sections of the book. I'll stick with the CDs!! I did manage to finish the book, but I had to force myself at times to carry on with it. The effect on Bill following the death of a band member was interesting &, at times. rather moving, but all-in-all, a bit of a yawn-fest. Sorry.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Well written but somewhat pretentious 27 Feb. 2013
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
In the background to this novel is the true story of the death at a tragically young age of jazz musician Scott Lafaro in 1961. Scott had latterly played with the Bill Evans Trio and Bill had been devastated by Scott's untimely death. This novel tells the story of Bill's life in the few months after Scott's death. The novel evokes the jazz scene in New York in the 1960s and it is clear that Lafaro and the Bill Evans trio were highly regarded and extremely influential. Even today there is a huge amount of information on the internet about these musicians and it is clear that their fame lives on. If you are a jazz fan, this novel will be of interest to you for this reason alone. However, if like me you are not a jazz fan, the novel will be of considerably less interest.

In the front cover of the novel we are told that after Scott's death, Bill disappears. This makes it sound as if he disappeared of the face of the earth - as if there was some great mystery attached to his disappearance. When we read the novel we find that there was no mystery. After Scott's death, Bill went to stay with his brother Harry for a short while and then went to stay with his parents in Florids for a few months. After this Bill returned to his normal life as a musician. So no mystery and indeed, no real story! And this is part of the problem. What we get are sections told from the perspective of Bill's brother, mother and father in which they think about Bill and worry about him. Nothing actually happens!

While I was able to appreciate the quality of the writing - its fluidity and eloquence - I also found it pretentious at times. The author had a tendency to use obscure words which most people would not understand. For example, within a single paragraph he uses the words "zoetropic" and "synecdochic".
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Evocative but less than convincing.
This is, all in all, an impressive read.

It evokes the jazz scene in early 60s New York well, particularly to a reader with little prior knowledge. Read more
Published 9 months ago by El Loro
4.0 out of 5 stars Brooding reflection on the experience of loss
This brief book tells of the personal crisis of the great jazz pianist Bill Evans during the summer of 1961 after the death of his colleague Scott LeFaro. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Al James
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Jazz Based story
Intermission is an excellent fiction based on the life of Bill Evans and his reaction to the death of Lefaro. Best Jazz based book since But Beautiful
Published 11 months ago by Mike Allen
4.0 out of 5 stars Portrait in jazz
Martell's first novel in English (his others are in Welsh) is a very curious proposition: a fictitious re-imagining of a very specific period from the life of post-bop jazz pianist... Read more
Published 13 months ago by Andrew Sutherland
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
It's not a musical biography it's a novel.
It isn't an action adventure, mystery or thriller.
It's a thoughtful study of family relationships, different viewpoints of the... Read more
Published 16 months ago by Chris
3.0 out of 5 stars Lost in grief, he lost the music
Martell's short novel takes a real event, the death of Scott LaFaro in a car accident in 1961, and imagines what followed. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Annabel Gaskell
3.0 out of 5 stars Difficult review
This is not a very easy book to review. It is a very short book (about 150 pages) written in the most exquisite prose, and yet I found it quite difficult to slog through. Read more
Published 19 months ago by R. Lawson
3.0 out of 5 stars A short intermission between your last book and your next
'Intermission' is a flight of fancy, based on legendary jazz pianist Bill Evans' lost months following the death, in a car crash, of his young bassist Scott LaFaro in June 1961. Read more
Published 19 months ago by Patrick Neylan
4.0 out of 5 stars Jazzy
I have a somewhat `colour supplement' knowledge of jazz: names, facts, dates, and some of the associated sounds. I'm no expert, not a fan. Read more
Published 19 months ago by Kartowidjojo
3.0 out of 5 stars Fade to background ...
The novel covers what happened to the jazz pianist Bill Evans following the death of his bass player Scott LaFaro ten days after a show at the Village Vanguard. Read more
Published 21 months ago by P. Millar
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