Each time Brad, Oscar P.'s big brother, starts playing the piano, the rain stops, summer returns, and the sun refuses to set. After Brad succumbs to the white plague, Oscar too spends his days fighting disease, confined to a hospital. Playing the organ at night for a mysterious sickly girl, he discovers his own talent, although years after recovery, he finds himself desperate, poor, and depressed—until the devil, otherwise known to the world as impresario Norman G, happens on him in a moment of crisis.
Inspired by the life of legendary jazz pianist Oscar Peterson, Mauricio Segura's Oscar evokes periods across time, from the Depression-era Montreal neighbourhood of Little Burgundy to the swinging cabarets of the 1950s, while offering a reflection on the bonds between an artist and the Caribbean diaspora from which he comes. But above all, Oscar is a poignant homage to a musical giant, a man who changed the face of jazz forever. (From Biblioasis)
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"This book is certainly not a biography. This is fiction. I read everything I could find on Oscar Peterson and I watched every documentary I could put my hands on. I also listened to his music for two or three years. The more I wrote this book, the more I created distance from facts and factual information. This fiction tries to fill in the blanks and the unanswered questions I had.
This fiction tries to fill in the blanks and the unanswered questions I had.- Mauricio Segura
"I wanted to portray the relationship between Oscar and his manager. This was important to me. I wanted to explore this weird relationship. Artists with money and success tend to be idealistic people and tend to look at money as something a bit dirty. This enabled me to explore all these taboo themes."
From the book
Just before meeting the devil in person, that fateful morning with its ashen sky, Oscar was gazing down at his reflection in the canal's oily waters with the firm intention of putting an end to his days. There were two or three people — at a factory window, on the footbridge over a lock, atop the church steeple next to his parents' house — who might have recognized from afar his imposing silhouette through the layers of stagnant fog that strangely, that day, no wind had come to disturb. Most of the inhabitants of Little Burgundy knew that in recent months, O.P., as everyone affectionately called him, had been in a bad way, as there'd been little sign of him in the jazz bars. Some said that he'd been trying to forget himself by working as a docker in the port, others that he was wandering about like a lost soul. But no one suspected that his despair ran so deep.
From Oscar by Mauricio Segura, translated by Donald Winkler ©2018. Published by Biblioasis.
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