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Release: Immediate

'The Higher Jazz,' a new novel by Edmund Wilson, published by the UI Press

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- General readers and historians intrigued by the tumultuous 1920s will find Edmund Wilson's "The Higher Jazz," a timepiece to relive the era through a series of vignettes.

"The Higher Jazz," published by the University of Iowa Press and edited by Neale Reinitz, is an unsentimental portrayal of the 1920s. Reinitz's introduction sets the novel in the historical context of Wilson's life and writings, and it illustrates Wilson's method of composition. The novel, which Wilson did not complete before his death in 1972, was to be a character study that would carry a man through 15 years as a stockbroker, a Russian diplomat and a writer.

Wilson's hero instead emerged as a German American businessman who aspired to become a composer and pursue the American spirit through combined contemporary popular and modern classical in what Wilson called the higher jazz.

"The Higher Jazz" adds a dozen precious scenes and vignettes to Edmund Wilson's already panoramic view of America in the 1920s. The true protagonist of "The Higher Jazz" may be Manhattan itself -- a city whose parties, night clubs, burlesque shows, concert halls, and taxicabs keep his characters in a state of perpetual, dizzy motion," writes Jed Perl, art critic for The New Republic.

Icons such as Dorothy Parker, Robert Benchley, and Cole Porter appear in various guises of the book and help illuminate the novel against its historical backdrop.

Wilson was a preeminent American literary critic of the first half of this century. He is known for the critically acclaimed "I Thought of Daisy," and a small masterpiece, "Memoirs of Hecate County."

"The Higher Jazz" is available in bookstores for $34.95 cloth; $17.95 paper, or directly from the UI Press (773) 568-1550.