Dan Sandman

08: Trumpet by Jackie Kay

In Books, Fiction, Romance on 22/02/2013 at 12:00 pm

This week’s book, book 08, is Trumpet  by Jackie Kay. It’s about Joss Moody, a famous jazz trumpeter, who happens to be a woman living life as a man. It deals with the aftermath of Moody’s death; the reactions of his relatives, the media circus surrounding the gender-reveal, and the attitudes of the doctor and the registrar. The narrative alternates between the first person and the third person, moves skilfully between the past and the present, and uses varying chapter lengths to create a dynamic tempo.

Trumpet by Jackie Kay

Although Trumpet is a fictional love story, according to the author, it was inspired by the real life of jazz band-leader Billy Tipton who’s true story correlates closely to the one depicted. The story allows Jackie Kay to explore the themes of sexual, moral and racial identity within a late 90’s British context. For example, Kay uses one of her characters, the manipulative tabloid ghost writer character Sophie Stone, to question the British tabloid press’ insensitive treatment of sensitive topics. Coleman Moody, Joss Moody’s son, represents the sexual disgust shown towards his father by society. Driven by resentment, instead of defending his deceased father and supporting his bereaved mother, Coleman sells his story to Stone.

Reading the book was an enjoyable experience. It’s a relatively easy book to follow, a good page turner and builds up nicely to a satisfying climax. Its’ characters are well developed and given life through the writer’s semantic choices. For instance, Coleman frequently uses swear words and Stone consistently refers to herself in the third person. The first linguistic choice emphasises Cole’s resentments; the second illustrates Sophie’s mental instability.

I found this new book on the high-street for £7.99. Next week, as part of an interview for a place on a teacher training course, I’ll be asked to blow my own metaphorical brass instrument beginning with T and talk about Trumpet and several other books at Roehampton University. If all goes well, I’ll be training to teach Secondary School English in September.

Wish me luck!

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