Ben Wynne writes, “the names Charley Patton and Jimmie Rodgers are rarely
uttered outside the confines of documentary films or scholarly publications
dealing with American roots music. Most people do not routinely listen to
Patton or Rodgers records, and their songs are no longer heard on the radio.”
 And yet the music of Patton and Rodgers echoes through most popular music
from the middle of the 20th century to now, because Patton was one
of the foundational figures of the Mississippi Delta style of blues and Rodgers
was one of the foundational figures of what today is known as country music.
From Patton and Rodgers we can trace a direct line to Robert Johnson, Bill
Monroe, Hank Williams, Howlin’ Wolf, Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee
Lewis, Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, Bob Dyl…
I haven't published a lot over the last few years, not from lack of writing, but, as I noted in June, more from working on longer projects. Thus, I'm pleased to be able to note here some upcoming publications.
The biggest is my book Modernist Crisis and the Pedagogy of Form: Woolf, Delany, and Coetzee at the Limits of Fiction. The (expensive) hardcover will be out in January, and a (less expensive) paperback will follow about a year later. I certainly wish that Bloomsbury did like other academic publishers and released the hardcover and paperback at the same time (and/or provided an inexpensive ebook), but so it goes. It will be available at academic libraries, and interlibrary loan is a godsend. (I expect my next academic book will be open access and openly licensed.)
I also have two new stories coming out this fall: "A Liberation" in Conjunctions 73: Earth Elegies. This will be my second story in the print edition of Conjunctions (and I've had two stories on We…
It's not difficult to
trace the source of all the magic in Reginald Shepherd's first collection of
essays—the author's sensitivity to the fruitful borderlands between aesthetics
and politics—but pinning down each wondrous effect emanating from that source
might take a while.This is a book rich
with ideas and implications, a book that provokes and dazzles and sings. In the introduction to Orpheus in the Bronx, Shepherd calls
himself "someone who has looked to art and literature as a means for the
expansion rather than the constriction of horizons" (1), and that tendency
and quest is evident on every page of every essay.As a poet who is, among other things, black
and gay, he might s…
I've mostly neglected The Mumpsimus this summer because I've been working on other things, including another blog, one related to and in support of my new job as Interim Director of Interdisciplinary Studies at Plymouth State University: a blog called Finite Eyes.
I have drafts of a couple of uncompleted blog posts for this site, and I do hope to get around to finishing them, but I'm not sure when, as the busy-ness of learning a rather big new job does not leave lots of time for extra reading and writing. I'm also trying to turn my dissertation into a book worthy of proposing to a publisher, and this process has proved immensely time consuming and slow. So not a lot going on here, Mumpsimus readers, and not likely to be a lot for the foreseeable future. (Though there will be some, I'm sure, now and then.)
Few things are sadder than the truly monstrous.
—Nathanael West, Day of the Locust
I want to say a few words in praise of the Amazon Prime show Patriot, which I never would have watched without a friend saying how strange, surprising, and affecting it is. Because of work and life, I haven't been able to read any fiction more than the occasional short story for a month or so now — my brain is pulled in too many other directions for me to hold a novel's details in mind — and few movies or tv shows have felt like anything other than loud wallpaper. This state of mind probably contributed to my appreciation of Patriot, as its mood fit so well with my own moment.
Patriot does not seem to have gathered many viewers, at least not among people I know or critics I read. (Amazon, like other services, doesn't release viewing numbers, so we can only use anecdotal evidence to guess about popularity or lack of it.) Season 1 got noticed here and there, Season 2 less so. In a media envi…