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Love, and All that Jazz

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Love, and All that Jazz
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love and all that jazz book coverIn Love, and all that jazz, Laurie Lewis again shines the clear light of memory on a time of glorious beginnings and hard consequences.


At the end of Lewis' previous memoir, the bitterly and beautifully honest Little Comrades, she left her young self newly married in New York City in the year 1952. But at that point, everything is about to change.

Downstairs from Laurie and Sol lives Gary, and it soon becomes clear that she and her interesting neighbour are drawn to each other in a way that feels inevitable to both of them. Knowing nothing of the risks she is about to encounter, Laurie jumps, without a look back or a second thought, into a perilous new life with the brilliant, Manhattan-cool, dangerously charming Gary Lewis. Quickly divorced and remarried, she is soon the mother of a baby, Amanda.

Gradually, Laurie comes to understand the truth about Gary and his mysterious past breakdowns. His idealism and longing for poetry in art, life and love are inseparable from his passionate attachment to the turbulent, stunningly inventive jazz of midcentury New York. With his famous (Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk and Zoot Sims, among others) and not so famous hip friends, his days and nights are a sleepless, drug-fuelled, nonstop celebration, and his addictions to heroin, pills and alcohol ultimately reveal the dark side of his hipness. Just as her mother (the writer Ellen Stafford) had done before her, Laurie would soon be forced to run, escaping back to Canada with her child to make a new life as a single mother.

With a satisfying job in publishing, and a home and friends for Amanda in Toronto, Laurie discovers the freedom and peace of mind that self-reliance can bring. She learns – as many women did in the latter decades of the twentieth century – the truth of Alice Munro's prediction about a change coming in 'the lives of girls and women'. Love, and all that jazz, can bring defeat. A declaration of independence, on the other hand, can build an exhilarating new existence in which difficulties are met head on, with confidence and resourcefulness. It may even mean that love can continue.

This is the story of a marriage, and all that came after it.

Love, lovers, jazz and dope, the wild gaiety, glamour and danger of New York's 1950s bohemia – Love, and all that jazz is an amazing tale of a gutsy and gorgeous Canadian prairie girl with resilience born of a childhood in a Communist family constantly on the run. She was an independent woman when the phrase was still an oxymoron. Laurie Lewis tells her intimate story with wit, panache and touching honesty.

—Michele Landsberg, feminist author of Writing the Revolution, activist and former Toronto Star columnist

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