CONTACT: MELVIN O. SHAW
100 Old Public Library
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0010; fax (319) 384-0024
'The Higher Jazz,' a new novel by Edmund Wilson, published by the
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- General readers and historians intrigued by the tumultuous
1920s will find Edmund Wilson's "The Higher Jazz," a timepiece
to relive the era through a series of vignettes.
"The Higher Jazz," published by the University of Iowa Press
and edited by Neale Reinitz, is an unsentimental portrayal of the 1920s.
Reinitz's introduction sets the novel in the historical context of Wilson's
life and writings, and it illustrates Wilson's method of composition. The
novel, which Wilson did not complete before his death in 1972, was to be
a character study that would carry a man through 15 years as a stockbroker,
a Russian diplomat and a writer.
Wilson's hero instead emerged as a German American businessman who aspired
to become a composer and pursue the American spirit through combined contemporary
popular and modern classical in what Wilson called the higher jazz.
"The Higher Jazz" adds a dozen precious scenes and vignettes
to Edmund Wilson's already panoramic view of America in the 1920s. The
true protagonist of "The Higher Jazz" may be Manhattan itself
-- a city whose parties, night clubs, burlesque shows, concert halls, and
taxicabs keep his characters in a state of perpetual, dizzy motion,"
writes Jed Perl, art critic for The New Republic.
Icons such as Dorothy Parker, Robert Benchley, and Cole Porter appear
in various guises of the book and help illuminate the novel against its
Wilson was a preeminent American literary critic of the first half of
this century. He is known for the critically acclaimed "I Thought
of Daisy," and a small masterpiece, "Memoirs of Hecate County."
"The Higher Jazz" is available in bookstores for $34.95 cloth;
$17.95 paper, or directly from the UI Press (773) 568-1550.