Saturday, March 28, 2009

Song Yet Sung

I just today returned from a week at the beach (to horrible, rainy/snowy cold weather here at home, I might add). I took James McBride's 3rd novel, Song Yet Sung, with me to read and I did complete it. I liked it a lot. At times, I found it a little difficult to follow...there are lots of characters and much written about the Maryland Eastern Shore, but each character adds to the story. I wish that I had the time to thoroughly study each character because I think that there are probably lessons to be learned from each. I will definitely return to reading this book again at some point.

Here is the review from Publishers Weekly:

Escaped slaves, free blacks, slave-catchers and plantation owners weave a tangled web of intrigue and adventure in bestselling memoirist (The Color of Water) McBride's intricately constructed and impressive second novel, set in pre-Civil War Maryland. Liz Spocott, a beautiful young runaway slave, suffers a nasty head wound just before being nabbed by a posse of slave catchers. She falls into a coma, and, when she awakes, she can see the future-from the near-future to Martin Luther King to hip-hop-in her dreams. Liz's visions help her and her fellow slaves escape, but soon there are new dangers on her trail: Patty Cannon and her brutal gang of slave catchers, and a competing slave catcher, nicknamed "The Gimp," who has a surprising streak of morality. Liz has some friends, including an older woman who teaches her "The Code" that guides runaways; a handsome young slave; and a wild inhabitant of the woods and swamps. Kidnappings, gunfights and chases ensue as Liz drifts in and out of her visions, which serve as a thoughtful meditation on the nature of freedom and offer sharp social commentary on contemporary America. McBride hasn't lost his touch: he nails the horrors of slavery as well as he does the power of hope and redemption. (Feb.)
Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information

I was quite interested in Liz, "The Gimp" and "the Woolman"...fascinating characters.

I was totally taken with Liz's references (both veiled and less-veiled) to her visions of Martin Luther King Jr. in the future. The book has also captured (or perhaps re-captured) my interest in learning more about "the Code". I always take it as an indication of a very good book if the book leaves me wanting to learn more about the subject. That usually means that the book has really caught my interest.

The book was dedicated to Moses Hogan. That even got my curiosity and this is what I found:

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Moses George Hogan (March 13, 1957 - February 11, 2003) was an African-American composer and arranger of choral music. He was best known for his very popular and accessible settings of spirituals. Hogan was a pianist, conductor and arranger of international renown. His works are highly celebrated and performed by high school, college, church, community, and professional choirs across the globe today. He died at the age of 45 of a brain tumour, and his survivors include his father and mother, a brother and four sisters. His interment was located at Mount Olivet Cemetery and Mausoleum.

As a funny side-note, before I left for vacation, I was going through my TBR pile (To Be Read pile) and found that I had bought 2 copies of this book. Apparently it had really caught my interest each time I went to the store!

1 comment:

Bybee said...

It took me a moment to realize that this is the same author that wrote The Color Of Water. Song Yet Sung sounds great!