Blind Singer Joe's Blues: A Novel

Overview


Set in the first two decades of the twentieth century, mainly around Bristol, Virginia (which is partly in Tennessee), the novel focuses on Hannah Ruth Bayless, an untutored Appalachian singer with a beautiful voice; her handsome, thieving, backwoods husband, Dudley Crider; their child Singer Joe, who is born blind and inherits his mother’s gift; and Pink Miracle, a fiddler from Oklahoma, who falls in love with and later marries Hannah Ruth, taking her away from Bristol and her family and forming a musical ...
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2006 Hardcover New in New dust jacket 0870745115. New.

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Overview


Set in the first two decades of the twentieth century, mainly around Bristol, Virginia (which is partly in Tennessee), the novel focuses on Hannah Ruth Bayless, an untutored Appalachian singer with a beautiful voice; her handsome, thieving, backwoods husband, Dudley Crider; their child Singer Joe, who is born blind and inherits his mother’s gift; and Pink Miracle, a fiddler from Oklahoma, who falls in love with and later marries Hannah Ruth, taking her away from Bristol and her family and forming a musical partnership with her. Broodingly lyrical, the novel deals with faith, blindness, betrayal and trust, the tug of family versus selfhood, and the claims of music versus the claims of ordinary life.
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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
Taylor (Lady of Spain, 1992, etc.) examines hard times in the early-20th-century South-and the music that resulted. The story isn't so much about Blind Singer Joe, a young Caucasian bluesman, as it is about his mother, Hannah Ruth Bayless. A poor girl whose only resources are her natural beauty and vocal ability, young Hannah marries a good-looking scoundrel who leaves before Joe's birth and returns sporadically. She works as maid to the Holts, a rich family whose daughter Amelia recognizes and nurtures Hannah's musical gifts, and who is perhaps falling in love with her. Amelia's brother Emmett also has an eye for Hannah; he gets her pregnant and then ignores her. Amelia raises baby Alex, Joe's half-brother, as her own, establishing a class division between Hannah's two sons. In short chapters with short paragraphs and sentences and lots of dialogue (but no quotation marks), the narrative details a generational progression of splintered families: children abandoned by one or both parents, siblings who die of disease, violence or suicide. Inevitably, Hannah leaves Joe to establish a career with her second husband, a gifted fiddler named Pink Miracle, but her music remains in Joe's blood. In the late-1930s prelude and coda that frame Hannah's story, Joe is a street musician in the Deep Ellum neighborhood of Dallas, knowing there's some resentment of him as a white man playing the blues, though he's as blind to race as he is to everything else. While he connects with both Pink and Alex and learns of a stepsister, Joe knows that he is essentially on his own in a world where everyone is ultimately alone. His insights should strike a responsive chord among fans of rural blues and country music.More compelling and less hokey than one might expect.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780870745119
  • Publisher: Southern Methodist University Press
  • Publication date: 11/28/2006
  • Pages: 232
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author


For over three decades ROBERT LOVE TAYLOR taught creative writing and Appalachian literature at Bucknell University. He is the author of two collections of linked stories and two other novels. His short fiction has appeared in such venues as Georgia Review, Southern Review, and Southwest Review, and in Best American Short Stories, the O. Henry Awards, and the Pushcart Prize anthology. A passionate old-time fiddler, he plays with the Buck Mountain Band in Virginia and North Carolina. He grew up in Oklahoma City and now lives in southwestern Virginia.
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