Troy Patterson
October 10, 2003 AT 04:00 AM EDT

No Matter How Much You Promise to Cook or Pay the Rent You Blew It Cauze Bill Bailey Ain't Never Coming Home Again

Current Status
In Season
Edgardo Vega Yunque

We gave it a B

Ripe, ungainly, streetwise, glaringly tricked-up, and heavy with reference to (and reverence for) American music, Yunque’s 638-page epic lives up to its title. One day in the mid-’80s, precocious half-Puerto Rican teen Vidamia Farrell — born on New York City’s scrappy Lower East Side, raised in its gilded suburbs — seeks the father she never knew. He, Billy Farrell, is a one-time pianist who lost two fingers and the bit of gray matter bearing his prodigious jazz knowledge in Vietnam. She resolves to buy him a piano, and Yunque riffs on themes of cultural identity. Less successfully, he further crams in discursions on puberty, post-traumatic stress disorder, and hermaphroditism; walk-ons by Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, and John Coltrane; and a load of unbelievable dialogue. Somewhere inside this baggy saga is a nice little story.

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