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Less satisfying is Greene's concluding chapter on Invisible Man. Greene observes that Ellison "uses canonical Anglo-American, classical European, canonical African American, and classic African (basically in this order of preponderance in the novel)." However, the first two categories loom especially large, and one wishes for more specific links to the African American works discussed earlier . In partial explanation, though, Greene argues that the post-World War II African American novelist enjoys a greater freedom than ever before and no longer follows generic rules. For Greene, Ellison's work is a melting pot "ofintertextuality that installs, parodies, rereads, and interfaces texts ofvarious kinds, from various disciplines, from different cultures, from different historical periods ." InvisibleMan becomes the African American novel—a literary epluribus unum that describes Crevecoeur's creature, "the American, this new man." Blacks in Eden is a useful and trustworthy survey ofthe edenic trope in African American literature and a well-written and easily read journey through the literature that is often left out of canonical surveys. What is most striking, though, is how mainstream are the values expressed in these novels. Jefferson was wrong; Greene's critical look at the African American novel discovers America. Encyclopedia of the Blues By Gérard Herzhaft, translated from the French by Brigitte Debord University ofArkansas Press, 1997 336 pp. Paper, $28.00 Reviewed by Clyde Edgerton, who lives and writes in North Carolina. His fourth novel, Killer Diller, is about a blues band from a halfway house. Edgerton's interest in music is being nurtured at present by the work of his wife, Susan Ketchin, on a book about southern music. Ketchin and Edgerton are cofounders of the Tarwater Band. Although the book under review does not speak ofmusic notation or scales, I'd like for you to consider a C major scale on the piano: C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C—all white notes. Now start over. Skip the D and E, but add the black note between them, an E flat. Add the black note between F and G. Skip A and B, adding the black note between them. Now the scale looks like this: C, E flat, F, G flat, G, B flat, C. Go up and down diat scale. Play around with it. This is a blues scale, and it is Reviews 103 magic. Itis cool, hot. It flows. It has soul. It cries, laughs. It gets down. It gets dirty. Foreign to the Beach Boys, white Southern Baptist choirs, and most classical music, it has always been home base to Ray Charles, Aretha, and to (read aloud, ifyou're so inclined) Black Ace, Blind Blake,John Brim, Bumble Bee Slim, Carolina Slim, Cryin' Sam Collins, Elizabeth Cotton, Country Jim, Honeyboy Edwards , Sleepy John Estes, Blind Boy Fuller, B. B. King, Bobby King, Earl King, Eddie King, Freddie King, Litde Milton, Litde Oscar, John Littlejohn, Sonny Rhodes, Eddie Taylor, Melvin Taylor, Tabby Thomas, and T-Bone Walker. The above names are from two lists of "blues artists and dieir instruments" in Gérard Herzhaft's Encyclopedia ofthe Blues. One list is of traditional blues guitar finger pickers, and the other is a list of generally younger "flat pickers"—artists using picks while playing guitars more likely to be electric. (The break occurs between Blind Boy Fuller and B. B. King.) These two lists cover over 350 guitar players, each cited along with the title of a recorded song most characteristic of the performer's style. Herzhaft also lists blues harmonica players, piano players, and accordion players. Elsewhere in the book—under individual performers— are discussions of drums, bass, fiddle, and mandolin. These lists ofnames and songs are fascinating, but the essays forming the bulk of this book are what make the work essential, even for nonmusicians interested in southern history only—or sad stories only. In fact, you don't need to like blues music at all to find much of this book interesting and inspirational. The essays, each a half to a full page or more, cover hundreds of blues artists and related topics—blues revivals, blues shouters, zydeco, East Coast blues, Chicago blues— all listed alphabetically. Contemporary blues stars such as Robert...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1534-1488
Print ISSN
1068-8218
Pages
pp. 103-105
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-04
Open Access
No
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