GHOSTS BEHIND THE SUN is Volume One of MONDO MEMPHIS, a dual encyclopedic history of Memphis written by Tav Falco and cultural critic Erik Morse. Volume Two, Morse's roman noir, BLUFF CITY UNDERGROUND, will be published in 2012.
MONDO MEMPHIS is both an original history of the gothic South and an intertext of the urban legends, rural fables and literary clichés that have made the Bluff City both a metropolis of dreams and a necropolis of terrors..
|Product dimensions:||6.90(w) x 9.90(h) x 0.70(d)|
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
CHAPTER THE FIRST
MIGRATIONS, PLAGUES AND LOST CAUSES
The road to Memphis is a long and unholy one. As a post mortem to the 60s, I pulled the green '50 Ford up to the side screen-door of the decrepit cabin at dawn, opened all its doors and lids and stuffed in junk, old clothes, pots and pans, and art supplies. Just enough room left to squeeze in behind the steering wheel and to work the 4-speed shifter bolted in the floorboard. My partner cranked the starter motor and cast off from the old cabin inherited now by denizens of spiders, snakes, and rodents already snugly at home within its planks and clapboard walls, cozy in the morning chill and warmed by the final embers glowing in the belly of the rustediron woodstove.
The rumble of the twin smitty exhaust pipes sounded muffled as the blue-dot taillights retreated down the gravel road strewn between the ruts with pine needles brown and fragrant. I followed behind on a black and silver Norton motorbike. We hit the main road and by the time we crested Gaylor Mountain - the highest peak on the Arkansas side of the Ozarks - the '48 Mercury flathead motor underneath the hood of the old Ford had come alive breathing the thin, rarefied air through 3-deuces sitting atop Offenhauser intake manifolds. The Norton was flying down the curves swooping past Devil's Den on the right and descending into the foothills of the mountain range that begins at Alma, then around and beyond Fort Smith heading east. By the time the Arkansas River came in sight a reedy, hollow sound was coming out of one exhaust pipe of the Norton. Oil had started pumping out of the left bank of the motor passing a fine but fierce spray from under the head gasket out into the crisp, turbulent air. Running on one cylinder, the engine speed had tapered off to 2700 rpm providing a maximum forward thrust of not more than 40 mph. At Alma the green Ford had already shot by me at 90 mph. The only solution was to stop and add more oil to the tank and then pull in behind a high balling semi-tractor trailer truck and ride in the back draft of its air stream. The drag of the semi pulled me all the way across the Arkansas delta and up Crowley's Ridge, then on to Memphis. Motor oil had now soaked through the sleeve of my motorcycle jacket, penetrated my left engineer boot, and completely drenched the rear wheel of the motorbike, which remained in a constant state of controlled skid. Yet this would not be my first foray into Memphis, nor would it be my last....
Volume Two is due in 2012