Today is the official publication day – which is of course a great satisfaction just to get to. I’ve no idea how things will work out in terms of sales and so forth, but no writer ever got sweeter validation from his first readers than I have. For your reading pleasure, the first item is a link to a review in the Toronto Star by a long-time friend, James Cullingham (a filmmaker who made a great DVD on the blues singer John Fahey, In Search of Blind Joe Death – recommended!).
For you Dead Heads, here’s a bit from Dead.Net:
Then I got a letter from Bruce Conforth, whom I met years ago at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, now a faculty member at the University of Michigan. He’s coming out with a book next year himself – the first real bio of Robert Johnson – so of course I had to learn about some (not earth-shattering) mistakes, but that’s the nature of research. Bruce followed that up with some real praise, and since this book is squarely in his field, I’ve gotta say I was elated with my “grade” from him. Friendship doesn’t get you the ultimate accolade: the book will be assigned to his classes next semester. Now that’s what I’m talking about!
Had my San Francisco book reading/signing last Friday at Books Inc., and it was a pleasure. Since I wasn’t competing with the Giants, we had a nice full house and plenty of people I didn’t know. Nobody fell asleep or left early, so my rap seemed to go well, and we sold a respectable number of books. Special thanks to Bria at Books Inc. – a job well done at a very cool store.
Finally, I got a letter from my friend Bruce Carlisle (fellow St. Lawrence alumni, son of my favorite teacher there as a matter of fact). I share it with you not to show off – I mean, I like praise as much as anybody, but it’s what he’s praising that makes me so happy, that connection of history and literature among other things that is what I was after.
I can’t put it down. It’s not just the music history which I obsess about in the same way that I collect hockey stats; it’s the connection of the dots that were collected in my consciousness as largely abstract disconnected events and movements in American history. Among other things, you explain the roots of Southern discrimination and racism in a way that goes well beyond the caricatures that one might acquire growing up in an (ahem) household of Northern liberal academics. And, I’ll admit it. Until Saturday afternoon, nobody had ever really gotten through my thick skull why Huckleberry Finn mattered so much.
Thanks for inviting me in to your world.