Coming Through Slaughter

Publisher: Vintage Canada
Many readers still claim this haunting, atmospheric novel of Michael Ondaatje's as their first love - a novel as sensual and erotic today as ever it was. At the turn of the century, the Storyville district of New Orleans had some 2000 prostitutes, 70 professional gamblers, and 30 piano players. But it had only one man who played the cornet like Buddy Bolden - he who cut hair by day at N. Joseph's Shaving Parlor, and at night played jazz, unleashing an unforgettable wildness and passion in crowded rooms. Self-destructively in love with two women, he embodied all the dire claims that music places on its acolytes. At the age of 31, Buddy Bolden went mad. From these sparse facts, Michael Ondaatje has created a story as beautiful and chilling as a New Orleans funeral procession, where even the mourners dance.


The questions, discussion topics, and author biography that follow are intended to enhance your group's reading of Michael Ondaatje's Coming Through Slaughter. We hope they will give you a number of interesting angles from which to consider this lively, haunting and seductive novel.

1. Although...

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"Anybody who cares about good writing ... should get this book and luxuriate in it." — Minneapolis Tribune

"One of the most innovative and liberating writers of our time." — Geoff Dyer, The Observer

"A beautifully detailed story, perhaps the finest jazz novel ever written." — The Sunday Times

"Coming Through Slaughter ... is so stuffed full of the dolour and lust that both buoys and blemishes a life, it reads like a story dying to be told." — Books in Canada