Young Man with a Horn (novel)

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Young Man with a Horn
First edition cover
Author Dorothy Baker
Language English
Genre Biographic novel
Published 1938 (Houghton Mifflin)

Young Man with a Horn is a 1938 novel by Dorothy Baker that is loosely based on the real life of jazz trumpet player Bix Beiderbecke. The novel was adapted for the movie Young Man With a Horn (1950) with Kirk Douglas, Lauren Bacall, and Doris Day.

Plot introduction[edit]

A jazz fiction novel set in a world of speakeasies, big bands, and the Harlem Renaissance. It is loosely based on the life of the great cornet player Bix Beiderbecke who died of alcoholism in 1931 at the age of 28. It tells the story of Rick Martin, a tormented genius from childhood until his death at age 30.

The story also dwells on the white/black abilities to play jazz. However, Rick establishes a strong relationship to black musicians who in fact teach him a great deal. The book details both the widely accepted public view of the jazz musician of the time as well as a musician's own struggle for perfection. This drive finally destroys Rick.