‘The King Of Jazz’ by Donald Barthelme

barthelme-donald-1977

The King Of Jazz by Donald Barthelme, 1977

The magic trick:

Using surrealism and comedy to skewer fickle and competitive American society

Jazz is ridiculous. The fickle nature of our society is ridiculous. Macho competition is ridiculous. Our insistence on bowing to silly rules of traditional and faux authority is ridiculous. Did I mention jazz is ridiculous?

“The King Of Jazz” manages to hammer home all these themes in that inimitable comic surrealist style we’ve come to love. And that’s quite a trick on Barthelme’s part.

The selection:

The two men who had been standing under Hokie’s window had followed him into the club. Now they said:

“Good God!”

“Yes, that’s Hokie’s famous ‘English sunrise’ way of playing. Playing with lots of rays coming out of it, some red rays, some blue rays, some green rays, some green stemming from a violet center, some olive stemming from a tan center-”

“That young Japanese fellow is pretty good, too.”

“Yes, he is pretty good. And he holds his horn in a peculiar way. That’s frequently the mark of a superior player.”

“Bent over like that with his head between his knees – good God, he’s sensational!”

He’s sensational, Hokie thought. Maybe I ought to kill him.

READ THIS STORY ONLINE

As always, join the conversation in the comments section below, on SSMT Facebook or on Twitter @ShortStoryMT.

Subscribe to the Short Story Magic Tricks Monthly Newsletter to get the latest short story news, contests and fun.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s