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The two haunting, poetic novellas that comprise The Bass Saxophonebrilliantly evoke the comedy and sadness of life under the Nazi and Soviet dictatorships. They are prefaced by a remarkable memoir of Skvorecky's jazz-obsessed youth. Jazz is a symbol of freedom in both these novellas.

In Emoke, which is set in the shadow of the Communist regime, jazz becomes the means by which a jaded young man plots the seduction of a mysterious girl enmeshed in superstition and the occult. Spurned, but fascinated, he is drawn into her tortured existence until catapulted into the final bitter comedy.

In The Bass Saxophone a young Czechoslovakian student living under the rule of the Nazis is lured by his love of jazz - the "forbidden music" - into secretly and dangerously playing in a German band, with bizarre and unexpected results.

Written with the lyrical intensity of a great jazz performance, these two extraordinary novellas are among Skvorecky's finest works.

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