Albany, A(my) J(o) 1962-
ALBANY, A(my) J(o) 1962-
PERSONAL: Born 1962, in CA.
ADDRESSES: Agent—c/o Author Mail, Bloomsbury USA, 175 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10010.
Low Down: Junk, Jazz, and Other Fairy Tales fromChildhood, Bloomsbury (New York, NY), 2003.
SIDELIGHTS: Writer A. J. Albany, daughter of celebrated jazz pianist Joe Albany, recounts the tales of her tumultuous childhood in her first book, Low Down: Junk, Jazz, and Other Fairy Tales from Childhood. Albany was born in southern California in 1962 to drug-addicted parents Joe Albany and his third wife, who abandoned the family when Albany was five. Most of Albany's story, told in a series of vignettes, centers around the first nine years of her life. After her mother leaves, she is raised by her father in a number of impermanent residences in the Hollywood area, including a hotel where she encounters a host of unsavory, drug-addicted characters. In her memoir, she paints a vivid picture of Hollywood in the late 1960s and early '70s. Robert Ito, for Los Angeles Magazine, commented that Hollywood in those years was a "seedy, violent hole," but through Albany's recollection "it is also a magical place, full of charming oddballs and mysterious happenings." While her father is wrapped up in the heroin-infused jazz scene, Albany is often without adequate supervision, or even such basics as food. In the Augusta Chronicle Catherine New observed that rather than telling her story as a tragic tale, in a "tough and funny" writing style Albany "casts her maximally dysfunctional childhood as a triumph." In the midst of so many painful experiences, including her own subsequent drug use, being seduced by an uncle at age twelve, and attempting suicide at age fourteen, Albany also recalls some fond memories of her father. A reviewer for Kirkus Reviews noted that in a prose that "resembles the shimmering complexity of bop," Albany "unsentimentally captures the offbeat, fleeting pleasures: getting the television out of hock, taking trips to the Italian market with Dad, or catching a nap behind the bar at one of his late-night gigs." The reviewer found Albany's story overall to be "a vibrant testimony to survival founded on the author's childhood philosophy: 'find love in some form, even when it appears to be absent.'"
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, March 15, 2003, Deborah Donovan, review of Low Down: Junk, Jazz, and other Fairy Tales from Childhood, pp. 1263-1264.
Kirkus Reviews, February 15, 2003, review of LowDown, p. 279.
Los Angeles Magazine, April, 2003, Robert Ito, review of Low Down, p. 119.
Los Angeles Times Book Review, April 13, 2003, Carolyn See, "The Legendary Act of Survival," p. R2.
Augusta Chronicle,http://www.augustachronicle.com/ (June 28, 2003), Catherine New, "Low Down Celebrates Dysfunction."
Jerry Jazz Musician,http://www.jerryjazzmusician.com/ (November 11,2003) Paul Hallaman, interview with Amy Albany.*