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Murray gives readers the redefined essence of his lifetime meditation on the blues as this musical style informs American life. Here are incisive essays on writing, music, and art that go beyond the social-science fiction of Negrohood to describe in no uncertain terms what it means to be American.
In this visionary book, the author of the legendary Stomping the Blues takes an audacious new look at black music and, in the process, succeeds in changing the way we read all literature. Albert Murray's subject is the previously unacknowledged kinship between fiction and the blues. Both, he argues, are virtuoso performances that impart information, wisdom, and moral guidance to their audiences. Both place a high value on improvisation. And both fiction and the blues create a delicate balance between the holy and the obscene, essential human values and cosmic absurdity. Encompassing artists from Ernest Hemingway to Duke Ellington, and from Thomas Mann to Richard Wright, The Hero and the Blues is at once an homage and a manifesto for a new black aesthetic. Erudite, eloquent, appreciative, and iconoclastic, it is further evidence of Murray's ability to turn the essay into a kind of poetry -- as enchanting as it is instructive.
If Gabriel García Márquez had chosen to write about Pakistani immigrants in England, he might have produced a novel as beautiful and devastating asMaps for Lost Lovers. Jugnu and Chanda have disappeared. Like thousands of people all over Enland, they were lovers and living together out of wedlock. To Chanda's family, however, the disgrace was unforgivable. Perhaps enough so as to warrant murder. As he explores the disappearance and its aftermath through the eyes of Jugnu's worldly older brother, Shamas, and his devout wife, Kaukab, Nadeem Aslam creates a closely observed and affecting portrait of people whose traditions threaten to bury them alive. The result is a tour de force, intimate, affecting, tragic and suspenseful. From the Trade Paperback edition.
The break-out novel by an unrecognized master--"a fictional tale spinner in the grand Southern tradition" (Washington Post Book World). Told from the point of view of a young Alabama college graduate in the 1920s, this brilliant novel recounts the exploits of a legendary jazz composer and his band on a tour that becomes a heroic journey "equivalent to the seven league strides of heroes in rocking chair story times."
The highly acclaimed novelist and biographer Albert Murray tells his classic memoir of growing up in Alabama during the 1920s and 1930s in South to a Very Old Place. Intermingling remembrances of youth with engaging conversation, African-American folklore, and astute cultural criticism, it is at once an intimate personal journey and an incisive social history, informed by "the poet's language, the novelist's sensibility, the essayist's clarity, the jazzman's imagination, the gospel singer's depth of feeling" (The New Yorker).
A deeply affecting, stylishly elegant novel of remembrance about a young African-American man's advent into the world of academia, an imaginary Alabama college, in the 1930s. "A classic . . . one of the great works of African-American writing . . . Murray plays more notes than Faulkner ever dreamed of or in". --Raleigh News & Observer.
This absorbing collection of letters spans a decade in the lifelong friendship of two remarkable writers who engaged the subjects of literature, race, and identity with deep clarity and passion. The correspondence begins in 1950 when Ellison is living in New York City, hard at work on his enduring masterpiece,Invisible Man, and Murray is a professor at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. Mirroring a jam session in which two jazz musicians "trade twelves"--each improvising twelve bars of music around the same musical idea-their lively dialog centers upon their respective writing, the jazz they both love so well, on travel, family, the work literary contemporaries (including Richard Wright, James Baldwin, William Faulkner and Ernest Hemingway) and the challenge of racial inclusiveness that they wish to pose to America through their craft. Infused with warmth, humor, and great erudition,Trading Twelvesoffers a glimpse into literary history in the making--and into a powerful and enduring friendship.
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