2 A.M. at the Cat’s Pajamas by Marie-Helene Bertino
I have to say that I liked this book a lot, though I can’t even tell you why.
This is a charming story follows the lives of a handful of ordinary, imperfect, and troubled people who end up together at the Cat’s Pajamas jazz club (Philadelphia’s #2 best jazz joint) at 2 A. M. one Christmas Eve. The city is gritty and the lives of the characters are somewhat sad and lonely—blue, in fact—but there is hope, and truth, and beauty here.
Sounds kind of like Jazz, no?
In fact, the novel is infused through and through with Bertino’s deep love of jazz, which is a force that cannot be denied, and which lifts people from ordinary life into a more beautiful world. (“Write what you know.” She has done that.)
The characters are interesting and we come to care deeply about them, even as they stumble along messing things up and misunderstanding each other. (“Kiss her, you fool! Right now!”)
The narrative and internal monologs are somewhat jazzy, riffing and jumping about unexpectedly. It’s a bit hard to follow in places, but, like jazz, you just have to go with the flow and eventually things resolve—or not.
- Marie-Helene Bertino, 2 A.M. at the Cat’s Pajamas, New York, Broadway Books, 2014.
Sunday Book Reviews