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Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Mozart and Leadbelly

Bought this by accident (I had never heard of the author, Ernest J. Gaines) because of the title only and it was well worth it too. The book is split in three parts, the first consists of essays describing his (Gaines') upbringing and how it influenced his writing, the second short stories, and the third is a transcribed interview. Gaines hails from the Deep South, Louisiana to be precise, and that is where he draws his writing material and inspiration as well. The whole thing isn't all that long, but his essays, the material that he draws on (with references to Lighnin' Hopkins for example, I did find it weird that a self-proclaimed country-blues fanatic mainly referred to jazz artists as sources of inspiration, but then maybe that was due to the intended readership), in combination with his short stories really made me want to read more by him.

As old as the Faulkner comparison is, as relevant is it when talking about Southern writers, and seemingly every promising Southerner has been compared at some point (it seems similar to the NBA searching for a new Jordan in every young star (starting with Grant Hill to now LeBron James)), the interesting twist in this case of course is that Gaines is black and thus has an inherent different outlook on the South. No, I don't think he has come even close to dethroning the great Faulkner for me, but I will read more by him if I find the time, that's for sure.

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