"I dare you to walk away from this book uninspired. Readers of all races will learn volumes from this far-reaching new book for our times"
Joe Martin – August 12, 2014:
I’m a sucker for any story that has a main character named “Joe.” Unfortunately, you don’t see many Joes around anymore. Those three letters just don’t have the pop of a Jayden or the weight of a Noah. But more than that, “Joe” comes with a connotation of the conventional, the mundane. “Ordinary Average Joe.” Nobody drinks a cuppa Joe anymore. The world has gone all cappuccino.
Happily, the character Joe Bluestone in Walker Smith’s exceptional Bluestone Rondo is anything but common. He is at once tragic, egotistic, pitiful, ambitious, a helpless victim and rotten to the core. And his story is absolutely captivating.
Joe is not alone, however, there’s an entire cast of exceptional people here. Each one has that complexity of character, that eternal parade of the duality between good v. evil which has bedeviled humanity since, well, since Cain and Abel. And there’s the core of Bluestone Rondo – a brothers’ rivalry; expanded. I won’t spoil a gripping read by foisting my own feeble attempt at sociology upon it, and I’m hesitant to taint this novel by calling it “important,” but you will walk away from Bluestone Rondo a changed person. And Walker Smith’s special magic is such that you won’t even notice she’s got a grip on your soul until it’s way too late.
Three other characters in the book are also worth distinction: New York, 1950s, and Jazz Music. Historical fiction is a high-wire act, juggling facts, events, characters, and plot all while knowing that one false reference or misplaced dialect will cause the whole circus tent to collapse. Walker Smith dances on that wire and, as a result, turns 1950s New York into a vibrant, living character. And I’ll admit right off that I’m no big fan of jazz. Given a choice, I’ll go for the gutbucket blues every time. Anything more than three chords and you’re just showing off. But the jazz musicians in Bluestone Rondo are so passionate and knowledgeable about their craft, they breathe so much life into the art form, I’ve started second guessing my own preferences. Maybe I should find that old Coltrane album I’ve stashed away. Give it another chance.
Or maybe I’ll re-read Bluestone Rondo. It is the best jazz album I’ve ever read.
Not that bad