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Tonight at Noon

A Love Story


Sue Mingus (View Bio)
Hardcover: Pantheon Books, 2002; Paperback: Da Capo Press, 2003.

Tonight at Noon

A wonderful memoir of Charles Mingus — the legendary bassist and brilliant jazz composer — written by his widow. It describes their life together from 1964 to his death in 1979.

A 2002 New York Times Notable Book
A Los Angeles Times Best Book of the Year
Winner of the Prix Charles Delauney awarded by the French Academie du Jazz, for the Best Jazz Book of the Year

"TONIGHT AT NOON by Sue Mingus is a superbly poignant love story, an eloquent biographical sketch of the great jazz master Charles Mingus, and an elegy for the kind of human loss all of us undergo." — Harold Bloom

"They can put all the biographies on the back shelf. Sue Mingus has done what no one could or will do: capture Mingus's voice in all his difficulty and heart." — Rafi Zabor, author of THE BEAR COMES HOME

"There are those titanic figures who, in Walt Whitman's phrase, contain multitudes. Charles Mingus belongs in the...category. If anything, he contained extra multitudes.... TONIGHT AT NOON: A Love Story [is] the best portrait of the artist we're likely to possess, as well as an acute, often comical account of what can happen when worlds — racial, social, and tempermental — collide.... A jewel of a book." — Newsday

"The widow of the legendary bassist, band leader and composer Charles Mingus tells the story of their improbable love affair and marriage. They were an unlikely couple, a debutante from a proper Midwestern family and an antiestablishment maverick from the Watts section of Los Angeles, 'jazz's angry man.' When they first met in 1964, she was puzzled by his anger, outrage, and tempestuous life, so different from their own, which had been so different from her own, which had been founded on order and decorum. Yet she was not intimidated by his volatility and ferocious temper.... The second half of the book chronicles their descent into a living hell as Mingus battles [Lou Gehrig's disease].... This is a powerful and moving book, unsparing in its portrayal of the devastation caused by Lou Gehrig's disease and charged with insight into the personality of the jazz great." — Publishers Weekly

"The author communicates beautifully the painful ambivalence caretakers feel. She loves her husband fiercely, yet often considers killing him. Written with style, passion, love and music." — Kirkus Reviews

"It's an unqualified masterpiece. I couldn't put it down. It will set new standards in the future for such personal memoirs." — Gunther Schuller, Pulitzer prize-winning composer, conductor, author

"It's a superb book, a wonderfully-written love story and an amazing glimpse into the life of a profound man and his music." — James McBride, author of THE COLOR OF WATER

"Her focus is brilliant and acute throughout this riveting book." — Jazz Times

"Dazzling! It has momentum like a car without brakes." — Janet Coleman, co-author of MINGUS MINGUS

"By placing his explosive career in the context of their life together, Sue Mingus succeeds where his biographers have failed in showing how he transcended, personally and artistically, the anecdotes his outsized behavior generated." — The Weekly Standard

"A wonderful piece of writing, moving and unflinching. 'Bravery' is an odd word to use in relation to art, but there is a unique kind of courage and fearlessness in revealing this much of herself and her relationship.... The scale of the love and the fury described is totally involving. It also provides a vivid sense of all that had the be overcome to create such great and timeless music." — Elvis Costello

"A sympathetic story of a man who was tortured by genius, whom she loves as much now as she did when she helped him live out his terminal illness with dignity.... [A] heartbreaking story.... This is a memoir, and although that genre has been inundated in recent years, this is one of the finer examples. Sue Mingus, after all, can write.... And this one's not only for jazz aficionados.... With her unique perspective, powerful tale, and lyrical writing style, Sue Mingus, after all these years, delivers a story that helps us grasp why, exactly, Charles Mingus was so special. And it wasn't just his music." — Boston Globe

"A superbly written book. It's funny, lyrical, passionate, moving — even in the dark parts it's very funny." — Myra Friedman, author of BURIED ALIVE

"A brilliant memoir....her every-pore portrait of the relationship is indelible. A classic work." — Whitney Balliett

"[TONIGHT AT NOON] may well qualify as one of the great books every written about the daily life of a jazz genius.... The jazz greats of his time course through this book. So too does the astonishing humor, anger, brilliance, and terrible oddness of this man who made some of the greatest music of his time in any musical genre. Whether or not one should 'trust' the exactitude of such exhaustive reports and conversations over such a long period, only a fool would doubt the precision and veracity of her portrait of her late husband's ideas and soul. Few people have ever proved their fealty more than Sue Graham Mingus. Along with that, it's a wildly vivid and readable book." — The Buffalo News

"[Sue Mingus] shares her experience of something great, something horrible and, really, just something human. The depiction of how intensely life can be lived should resonate with many teenagers." — School Library Journal

"[An] eloquent memoir of her late husband." — Newsweek

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