A bit ago I started a thing where I ask members of my Reader List/Newsletter to recommend me books, and if they recommend me one I like I I promised (1) to write about it on the blog, and (2) to give them a free book from my catalog. I recently raised my head above water enough to grab one of their recommendations, and the result was quite pleasing.
The book in question is Sax Man’s Journal by Michael Bronte.
It’s available on Amazon for $.99.
Note: If you would like to get a couple free books, and also be eligible to recommend me books this way, you can join my Reader List here.
I was not familiar with Bronte’s work before picking it up, but given that Sax Man’s Journal is historical fiction set in the music scene of the early 1960s, it’s right up my alley. It’s also quite well done. Woody Altman is a kid at Princeton when we first meet him. Or, well, really he’s a 78-year-old man responding to a question from a daughter of a friend. But, yes, Princeton, 1961 comes along right quick. And let’s say, well, let’s just say Woody Altman is not exactly Princeton material. He is not always a particularly likable guy. He’s not particularly motivated to do much beyond play music and sit in poker games, two pursuits are not particularly suited to academic excellence, and Princeton lets him know that.
Princeton’s decision kicks off a ramshackle jaunt through Greenwich Village and the seedier and more exciting (is there a difference) sections of New York City in that time period. Bronte plays a little loose with fiction and fact in certain places, but I admit the appearances of real-life characters such as Peter, Paul, and Mary and Bob Dylan made me smile. These appearances are used in small measures, which the book earns. I’m not going to say much about the plot because that wouldn’t be nice, now, would it. I’ll say that it’s nicely laid out and resolves well. And that the first half of the book is particularly well constructed to draw a reader like me in.
It’s not the kind of book I would normally grab at a whim, but I enjoyed it quite a bit–which is proof positive that word of mouth is a big danged deal to us writers. I’m quite glad one of my list pointed me in the Sax Man’s direction.
Bottom line. You could use your $.99 in a whole lot worse ways. If a gritty coming of age tale set in the world of music as the folk/jazz age was transitioning to pop is your jam, you’ll probably like this one as well as I did.