Saturday, 2 February 2013


Author: Owen Martell

Published: January 2013 

What They Say: New York, June 1961. The Bill Evans Trio, featuring twenty-five year old Scott LaFaro on bass, play a series of concerts at the Village Vanguard that will go down in musical history. Shortly afterwards, LaFaro is killed in a car accident, and Evans disappears. Intermission tells the story of what happens next.

In measured, evocative prose, Intermission takes a period from the life of one of America's great artists and fashions it into a fiction of extraordinary imaginative skill and ambition. The novel inhabits the lives of four people in orbit around a tragedy, presenting an intense and moving portrait of the burden of grief, and of a man lost to his family and to himself. It is also a conjuring of a pivotal moment in American music and culture, and a unique representation of the jazz scene in the early 1960s.

Intermission is a novel of pure control and power, certain to establish Owen Martell as one of the most promising young writers in Britain today.

What Elaine Says: The only thing I like more than listening to music, is reading about music and musicality, so this, the first English language novel by Welsh writer, Owen Martell, seemed just right for me.  I'm happy to report that it is a beautiful piece of work but it didn't quite deliver the music I was hoping for.

Told from the point of view of four characters we get glimpses and sketches of the story but nothing truly tangible.  This is very purposely and very finely done.  The prose are evocative enough to keep the reader interested and at times, even a little hypnotic.

What was lacking in this for me however, was music.  With such beautiful and often lyrical writing, I was waiting for Martell to conjure up the dark, smoky, undulating, world of the 1960's jazz scene but alas it never came. I have no doubt that Martell is more than capable of delivering the music in writing but he just didn't choose to in this particular story which seems a bit of a shame to me.

Martell's writing really is skilled and very very beautiful.  His style is just spot on for me and I expect great things will come from him in the future.  He has a few other novels, but unfortunately for me, they seem to be written in Welsh.  Maybe our Welsh speaking Sheli will translate them for me!

Elaine's Rating: 7/10


" She thought of the sea and her mind sped her down empty streets, through red lights and stop signs, placing her in wash up to her ankles. Twelve feet high with nothing but a moving blue in her eyes."

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