cover image The Ragtime Fool

The Ragtime Fool

Larry Karp. Poisoned Pen, $24.95 (303pp) ISBN 978-1-59058-716-4

American obsessions with race and glory dominate Karp’s lively conclusion, set in 1951, to his Ragtime trilogy (after 2008’s The King of Ragtime ). Decades earlier, Brun Campbell was ragtime genius Scott Joplin’s only white pupil. Now an elderly barber in Venice, Calif., Brun frantically publicizes Joplin, ragtime, and himself. In Hobart, N.J., Alan Chandler, a 17-year-old piano student, has fallen in love with ragtime music. Both Brun and Alan are excited to hear that a journal Joplin kept may soon be published. In Sedalia, Mo., Joplin’s home for many years, diehard Klansmen are plotting to bomb an interracial ceremony honoring the composer. Brun and Alan race to Sedalia, where they find themselves caught in a confused swirl of various characters who want to steal the valuable journal—or stop its publication. Karp handles the intricate plot well, but the best part of the book is its picture of people torn between what they want to forget and what they need to remember. (Apr.)