Re: RARA-AVIS: Blue books

From: Joy Matkowski (
Date: 29 Feb 2004

You have the advantage of me in understanding the allusions in this series. Knowing little of the history of the blues, I never could discern what was real and what was imagined in the plots, and the villains were implausible, so I gave up after the second one.


Karin Montin wrote:
> Leavin' Trunk Blues is another story altogether. Mark Sullivan has
mentioned it a number of times. Ruby Walker, serving life in prison for killing Billy Lyons, asks Nick Travers, a blues tracker -- a university professor who hunts down old songs and musicians and writes about them -- to clear her name. At first he doesn't really believe she is innocent, but then events lend credence to her claim.
> An unusual thing about this story is not just that it is based on a
well-known song about a murder, which tells us whodunnit right off the bat, but that virtually all the characters are either from songs or are actual historical figures. At the same time, I was reading the companion book to the PBS blues series produced by Martin Scorscese, and the same names kept cropping up. I wondered how their descendents feel about having them portrayed as they are in the story.
> The historical background was interesting and there was a lot of action.
It was good, but not great. I think I'll try to read his Crossroad Blues, about the death of Robert Johnson, which most people seemed to agree was better.

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