The nearest thing to a reasonable opinion is voiced by a gangster: No genius is worth too much heartache. Crime is done for the money. One suspects, however, that criminals are moderated by the laws, not by greed alone – they do not want to risk too much & may in fact think to acquire honor, respectability, legality.
Our protagonist is a guitarist of rare ability in a country where such men can make an easy living. People love a great player both for his skill & for the pleasure they take in the music, which they call beautiful. Maybe there’s enough improvisation in jazz to keep the players interested while making money, but our protagonist says he sometimes feels underpaid.
Perhaps he treats the world the way they treat his music. He is never punctual & rarely sober. He is a lowly man; his fun is shooting rats at the dump. How much pleasure can one take in ugliness? He also likes to watch trains pass. Maybe it’s the power, maybe it’s, they’re going somewhere. He likes to steal things & is a merciless pimp. He says he first had sex at seven years of age & that he is a great lover. For all this, he is very talkative.
The people he meets seem look like slaves or slavers depending on their relation with him. The women tend to be slaves, as well as his agent. The propertied men, legal or criminal, however, hire & fire him at will, quite immune to his charms. He marries a high-class woman who likes slumming – both attracted & repelled by his vulgar ugliness. She continuously psychoanalyzes him up until she traduces him with a gangster. She cannot change him; one wonders whether she learns much; she is trying to become a novelist & concocts some ideals about experiencing the human things.
There may be nothing good about his man, except he is good at playing guitar. Never has genius seemed more morally disgusting in its shamelessness. What people call creativity seems very comfortable with treating people like slaves, unconcerned with their humanity. One could almost say they are willing slaves. Those who pass judgment on him say he’s not the greatest guitarist in the world because he represses his feelings… He certainly seems unaware of the city.
However, one dumb girl falls in love with him. This is his chance to live up to his humanity. Maybe he remembers Django Reinhardt too much. He cannot improve himself, he cannot really compete, but he can insist on his very ugly life, as if it created his genius. It seems, an irreparable mistake alone allows him to forget the past. Genius is stiff-necked.
A mostly bitter & very rarely sweet story, full of jazz