How much of our gender shows in the way we act, dress, move, speak? How much comes from othersâ€™ perceptions? How many of our life choices are constrained by sexism and racism? As I read Jackie Kayâ€™s novel "Trumpet," these questions swirled in my head.
Joss Moody is born female in a small town in Scotland in the 1950â€™s. Moving to Glasgow and then London to live as a man, Joss, who is black, plays jazz trumpet in night clubs, falls in love with and marries a white woman, and adopts a black son. Becoming more well-known, traveling the world and releasing hit albums, Joss keeps the secret and so does his wife Millie. Like the real-life Billy Tipton, the jazz pianist who lived as a man, Jossâ€™ gender wasnâ€™t discovered until she died.
Jackie Kay tells Jossâ€™ story from many points of view. His wife Millie is hounded by paparazzi after her husbandâ€™s death; she longs to be considered â€śan ordinary widow,â€ť to get â€śrespect, not prurience.â€ť The doctor who examines Jossâ€™ body unwraps the chest bandages, feeling all the while â€śas if she was removing skin.â€ť The undertaker who undresses the body â€śsaw a man turn into a woman before his very eyes.â€ť
Read more from this review of "Trumpet" by Jan Hardy, Cataloging Specialist on the Back in the Stacks Blog.
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