The True Adventures of Nicolo Zen

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This richly-detailed historical novel from master storyteller Nicholas Christopher features an unforgettable hero: Nicolo Zen is all alone in 1700s Venice, save for his clarinet, which a mysterious magician had magicked, allowing its first player to perform expertly. Soon Nicolo is a famous virtuoso, wealthy beyond his dreams. But he can't stop wondering if he earned the success or if it's due to the magician's spell. So he has the spell removed to test his own talents and capabilities. And throughout it all, he continues to think about the girl he met in Venice, what she might be doing and if she's safe from harm. 

With a guest appearance by composer Vivaldi, and brimming with fascinating period details, this is a compelling coming-of-age story full of universal themes teens will instantly recognize. The love story will conjure memories of Romeo and Juliet, perfect for teens who love stories set in other times, but without a paranormal storyline (as long as you don't count a magician who dresses all in white and can be in two places on once . . . ).
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About the author

NICHOLAS CHRISTOPHER is the author of six previous adult novels: Tiger Rag, The Soloist, Veronica, A Trip to the Stars, Franklin Flyer, and The Bestiary; eight books of poetry, including his new and selected poems, Crossing the Equator; and a book on film noir, Somewhere in the Night. He is also the poetry professor at Columbia's MFA program and lives in New York City.
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Reviews

4.0
3 total
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Additional Information

Publisher
Knopf Books for Young Readers
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Published on
Jan 7, 2014
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Pages
304
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ISBN
9780375897863
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Features
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Language
English
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Genres
Young Adult Fiction / Family / Orphans & Foster Homes
Young Adult Fiction / Historical / Europe
Young Adult Fiction / Performing Arts / Music
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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Nicholas Christopher
“A large, lavishly inventive novel . . . an American descendant of The Arabian Nights . . . erudite and artful entertainment.”—The New York Times Book Review
 
At a Manhattan planetarium in 1965, ten-year-old Enzo is whisked away from his young adoptive aunt, Mala. His abductor turns out to be a blood relative: his great-uncle Junius Samax, a wealthy former gambler who lives in a converted Las Vegas hotel surrounded by a priceless art collection and a host of fascinating, idiosyncratic guests. In Samax’s magical world, Enzo receives a unique education and pieces together the mystery of his mother’s life and the complicated history of his adoption. Back in New York, Mala only knows that Enzo has disappeared. After a yearlong search proves fruitless, she enlists in the Navy Nursing Corps and on a hospital ship off Vietnam falls in love with a wounded B-52 navigator, who disappears on his next mission. Devastated again, Mala embarks on a restless, adventurous journey around the world, hoping to overcome the losses that have transformed her life.
 
Fusing imagination, scholarship, and suspense with remarkable narrative skill, Nicholas Christopher builds a story of tremendous scope, an epic tale of love and destiny, as he traces the intricate latticework of Mala’s and Enzo’s lives. Each remains separate from each other but tied in ways they cannot imagine—until the final miraculous chapter of this extraordinary novel.
 
“A writer of remarkable gifts.”—The Washington Post Book World
 
“This labyrinthine novel . . . is animated by an encompassing lust for beauty.”—The New Yorker
 
“[Nicholas] Christopher is North America’s García Márquez; Borges with emotional weight. . . . This is one of those rare books that, by connecting the stars, catches you in its web.”—The Globe and Mail
 
Includes an excerpt of Nicholas Christopher’s Tiger Rag
Nicholas Christopher
The acclaimed author of Veronica and A Trip to the Stars returns with a dazzling new novel based on one of the great legends of musical history.
 
New Orleans, 1900. The virtuoso cornet player Charles “Buddy” Bolden invents jazz, but after a life consumed by tragedy, the groundbreaking sound of his horn vanishes with him. Rumors persist, though, that Bolden recorded a phonograph cylinder, and over the course of a century it evolves into the elusive holy grail of jazz.
 
Florida, the present day. Dr. Ruby Cardillo’s life is falling apart. Her husband, a prominent cardiologist, has left her for a twenty-six-year-old. Her daughter, Devon, a once promising jazz pianist, has recently finished an enforced stint picking up trash along the interstate after a drug conviction. Ruby’s estranged mother has just died, but not before conjuring up ghosts that Ruby thought she had put behind her long ago. After a long career as a well-respected anesthesiologist, Ruby suddenly jumps the tracks, forgetting to eat and sleep, indulging her every whim, wearing only purple, consuming only bottles of 1988 Château Latour.
 
Then Ruby enlists Devon to accompany her on an impulsive road trip to New York, and both mother and daughter get more than they bargained for, discovering that their own shrouded family history is connected to the tantalizing search for Buddy Bolden’s long-lost cylinder.
 
Ranging from turn-of-the-century Louisiana to Roaring Twenties Chicago to contemporary Manhattan, Tiger Rag is at once a moving story of loss and redemption and an intricate historical mystery from one of our most brilliant storytellers.

Praise for Tiger Rag
 
“The structure here is like a long and complex jazz arrangement. There is a comparatively simple theme set up against what might be thought of as distinctive chord changes. And then, against this main story, the author sets up what might be seen as highly individualistic solos. The themes of the male performers and the female audiences come together, separate, then come together again. If you love the world of jazz, if it’s a little like a religion to you, you’ll love this ambitious, thoughtful novel.” —The Washington Post
 
“Describing music in a book is a bit like trying to describe color to a blind person; it rarely goes well. The opening stretch of Nicholas Christopher’s latest novel Tiger Rag, however, paints a picture of a jazz recording session so vividly that the reader might want to keep a towel handy for mopping his brow James Brown-style.” —GQ.com
 
“Nicholas Christopher's new novel, Tiger Rag, is a New Year's treat that lovers of good music and good writing should not deny themselves. . . . Nicholas is a master at building a rich story populated with vivid characters on the bare foundation of historical record. Although no recording of Bolden and his band has yet surfaced, his sideman Willy Cornish, a trombone player, died claiming a recording session took place. Nicholas has imagined a satisfying and engrossing tale about what might have happened. He has fleshed out the lives touched by the wax cylinders that stored three versions of “Tiger Rag.” From the musicians who played with or followed Bolden, to the recording engineer and his assistant at the fateful recording session, Nicholas has created a colourful cast whose stories draw readers into their lives. . . . Nicholas is a poet as well as a novelist, and the book sings, thanks to his compelling descriptions and use of imagery. . . . [C]ompulsively readable.” —The Toronto Star


From the Hardcover edition.
Nicholas Christopher
Best known as a novelist, Nicholas Christopher began publishing poems in The New Yorker in his twenties, and has published eight collections, praised over the years by poets and critics as being among America’s most important poets. Reviewing his selected poems, Crossing the Equator, published eight years ago, The Washington Post said, “To read his richly honed and sensuous work, which has so much tensile strength, is to visit other worlds and then to return to our own disturbed by time, but also refreshed and reawakened.”

On Jupiter Place is his first book since that collection, and it contains material that is perhaps his most personal, autobiographical and intimate work yet. Beautifully made and carefully constructed, one might be reminded of Keats thinking that his poems were “little machines” of feeling. And everywhere in this book are moments of disorientation, where the wonder of the poem transcends understanding and leads its readers back into themselves slightly startled and richer for the effort. As Merwin has written, “his poems are vibrant with light and the surprise of recognition. He shows us again and again the luminous nature of the familiar.”

The Washington Post, reviewing his Crossing the Equator: New & Selected Poems, reported that "Nicholas Christopher is a fabulist...His fiction often puts me in mind of Jorge Luis Borges and Italo Calvino, two time-travelers who are his great precursors. His poetry tends to build on the work of Wallace Stevens, Elizabeth Bishop and James Merrill. Like them, he has a taste for the exotic, the faraway, the displaced, the imaginary.
Nicholas Christopher
“A large, lavishly inventive novel . . . an American descendant of The Arabian Nights . . . erudite and artful entertainment.”—The New York Times Book Review
 
At a Manhattan planetarium in 1965, ten-year-old Enzo is whisked away from his young adoptive aunt, Mala. His abductor turns out to be a blood relative: his great-uncle Junius Samax, a wealthy former gambler who lives in a converted Las Vegas hotel surrounded by a priceless art collection and a host of fascinating, idiosyncratic guests. In Samax’s magical world, Enzo receives a unique education and pieces together the mystery of his mother’s life and the complicated history of his adoption. Back in New York, Mala only knows that Enzo has disappeared. After a yearlong search proves fruitless, she enlists in the Navy Nursing Corps and on a hospital ship off Vietnam falls in love with a wounded B-52 navigator, who disappears on his next mission. Devastated again, Mala embarks on a restless, adventurous journey around the world, hoping to overcome the losses that have transformed her life.
 
Fusing imagination, scholarship, and suspense with remarkable narrative skill, Nicholas Christopher builds a story of tremendous scope, an epic tale of love and destiny, as he traces the intricate latticework of Mala’s and Enzo’s lives. Each remains separate from each other but tied in ways they cannot imagine—until the final miraculous chapter of this extraordinary novel.
 
“A writer of remarkable gifts.”—The Washington Post Book World
 
“This labyrinthine novel . . . is animated by an encompassing lust for beauty.”—The New Yorker
 
“[Nicholas] Christopher is North America’s García Márquez; Borges with emotional weight. . . . This is one of those rare books that, by connecting the stars, catches you in its web.”—The Globe and Mail
 
Includes an excerpt of Nicholas Christopher’s Tiger Rag
Nicholas Christopher
Best known as a novelist, Nicholas Christopher began publishing poems in The New Yorker in his twenties, and has published eight collections, praised over the years by poets and critics as being among America’s most important poets. Reviewing his selected poems, Crossing the Equator, published eight years ago, The Washington Post said, “To read his richly honed and sensuous work, which has so much tensile strength, is to visit other worlds and then to return to our own disturbed by time, but also refreshed and reawakened.”

On Jupiter Place is his first book since that collection, and it contains material that is perhaps his most personal, autobiographical and intimate work yet. Beautifully made and carefully constructed, one might be reminded of Keats thinking that his poems were “little machines” of feeling. And everywhere in this book are moments of disorientation, where the wonder of the poem transcends understanding and leads its readers back into themselves slightly startled and richer for the effort. As Merwin has written, “his poems are vibrant with light and the surprise of recognition. He shows us again and again the luminous nature of the familiar.”

The Washington Post, reviewing his Crossing the Equator: New & Selected Poems, reported that "Nicholas Christopher is a fabulist...His fiction often puts me in mind of Jorge Luis Borges and Italo Calvino, two time-travelers who are his great precursors. His poetry tends to build on the work of Wallace Stevens, Elizabeth Bishop and James Merrill. Like them, he has a taste for the exotic, the faraway, the displaced, the imaginary.
Nicholas Christopher
The acclaimed author of Veronica and A Trip to the Stars returns with a dazzling new novel based on one of the great legends of musical history.
 
New Orleans, 1900. The virtuoso cornet player Charles “Buddy” Bolden invents jazz, but after a life consumed by tragedy, the groundbreaking sound of his horn vanishes with him. Rumors persist, though, that Bolden recorded a phonograph cylinder, and over the course of a century it evolves into the elusive holy grail of jazz.
 
Florida, the present day. Dr. Ruby Cardillo’s life is falling apart. Her husband, a prominent cardiologist, has left her for a twenty-six-year-old. Her daughter, Devon, a once promising jazz pianist, has recently finished an enforced stint picking up trash along the interstate after a drug conviction. Ruby’s estranged mother has just died, but not before conjuring up ghosts that Ruby thought she had put behind her long ago. After a long career as a well-respected anesthesiologist, Ruby suddenly jumps the tracks, forgetting to eat and sleep, indulging her every whim, wearing only purple, consuming only bottles of 1988 Château Latour.
 
Then Ruby enlists Devon to accompany her on an impulsive road trip to New York, and both mother and daughter get more than they bargained for, discovering that their own shrouded family history is connected to the tantalizing search for Buddy Bolden’s long-lost cylinder.
 
Ranging from turn-of-the-century Louisiana to Roaring Twenties Chicago to contemporary Manhattan, Tiger Rag is at once a moving story of loss and redemption and an intricate historical mystery from one of our most brilliant storytellers.

Praise for Tiger Rag
 
“The structure here is like a long and complex jazz arrangement. There is a comparatively simple theme set up against what might be thought of as distinctive chord changes. And then, against this main story, the author sets up what might be seen as highly individualistic solos. The themes of the male performers and the female audiences come together, separate, then come together again. If you love the world of jazz, if it’s a little like a religion to you, you’ll love this ambitious, thoughtful novel.” —The Washington Post
 
“Describing music in a book is a bit like trying to describe color to a blind person; it rarely goes well. The opening stretch of Nicholas Christopher’s latest novel Tiger Rag, however, paints a picture of a jazz recording session so vividly that the reader might want to keep a towel handy for mopping his brow James Brown-style.” —GQ.com
 
“Nicholas Christopher's new novel, Tiger Rag, is a New Year's treat that lovers of good music and good writing should not deny themselves. . . . Nicholas is a master at building a rich story populated with vivid characters on the bare foundation of historical record. Although no recording of Bolden and his band has yet surfaced, his sideman Willy Cornish, a trombone player, died claiming a recording session took place. Nicholas has imagined a satisfying and engrossing tale about what might have happened. He has fleshed out the lives touched by the wax cylinders that stored three versions of “Tiger Rag.” From the musicians who played with or followed Bolden, to the recording engineer and his assistant at the fateful recording session, Nicholas has created a colourful cast whose stories draw readers into their lives. . . . Nicholas is a poet as well as a novelist, and the book sings, thanks to his compelling descriptions and use of imagery. . . . [C]ompulsively readable.” —The Toronto Star


From the Hardcover edition.
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