Young Man with a Horn – Dorothy Baker (1938)


young man with a horn

My third read for the 1938 club was Dorothy Baker’s first novel Young Man with a Horn. The novel catapulted Baker into the literary limelight – and for many years it remained her best known work having been made into a film starring Doris Day, Kirk Douglas and Lauren Bacall. I read her later novel Cassandra at the Wedding (1962) a few months ago – and loved it. Cassandra at the wedding remains my favourite of the two – but Young Man with a Horn is a brilliantly assured novel, wonderfully atmospheric, it simply oozes jazz. Although not in any way biographical, the novel is said to have been inspired by the life of legendary horn player Bix Beiderbecke.

“Our man is, I hate to say it, an artist, burdened with that difficult baggage, the soul of an artist. But he hasn’t got the thing that should go with…

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