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The Night Train: A Novel

3.21  ·  Rating Details ·  658 Ratings  ·  163 Reviews

The author of nine novels, Clyde Edgerton has built a reputation as a sage commentator on the American experience. In The Night Train, Edgerton weaves the ultimately uplifting tale of friends Dwayne, a James Brown-inspired crooner, and Larry, apprentice to a jazz musician. One black, one white, Dwayne and Larry face daunting challenges to their friendship—and futures—in 19

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Published July 25th 2011 by Recorded Books, LLC (first published January 1st 2011)
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Jan 22, 2012 Lawyer rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone
Recommended to Lawyer by: If Edgerton wrote it, I read it
The Night Train: Clyde Edgerton's Mix of Jazz, Soul, and Life on Both Sides of the Tracks

"Ladies and Gentlemen, are YOU READY? LIVE FROM THE APOLLO, IT'S JAMES BROWN!!!"

Clyde Edgerton

I can't find Starke on any North Carolina map, anymore than I can find Listre on a map of that State. But Clyde Edgerton has the knack of convincing his readers they're real places, and if not, they should be.

I've been an Edgerton fan since the publication of his first novel Raney. The Night Train: A Novel is his t
Nov 07, 2011 Larraine rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When I go to the library, it's usually because I have reserved books waiting. I have a tendency to stay away from the stacks, especially the new books, because I have a tendency to "load up." After reading several unsatisfactory books, I was in the mood for some Richard Russo. I had read his recent books, so I thought I would reach back. Unfortunately the library didn't have Mohawk. They only had his recent novels, all of which I've read.

However I found this book on the new acquisitions shelf.
Charla Wilson
Jun 20, 2011 Charla Wilson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I was born and raised in the South. So, I am ashamed to admit that I had never heard of clyde Edgerton until Anna from Little Brown & Company contacted me about this book. I have since learned that not only is he Southern author, he is a great Southern Author that has many book credited to him! However, it may have the first book I have read by him but it will not be the last.

This was a wonderful story set inrural North Carolina dudring the early 1960's. While the rest of the world was being
Jul 05, 2011 Jessica rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
From the cover of this book, I thought it was going to be this awesome story of these two guys trying to form a band. Instead, I got some strange book that had no plot whatsoever. The Bleeder and Larry meet in the beginning of the book and the Bleeder wants to teach Larry how to play more music. From there, the book goes on to talk about random things, random scenes, and even more random people. By page 80 I had to stop because there was honestly no point to the story. Online, I read reviews whe ...more
Peter Kerry Powers
Not bad but not great. A good read for a long plane or bus ride. As with many novels by white people about black characters, the African Americans are unconvincingly one dimensional--in this case tending toward positive stereotype. The troubled politics of white appropriations of black musical culture are present but muted, and Dwayne's triumphant transformation into a white James Brown seems complicated only by its challenge to definitions of appropriate white behaviour, not by the way it conti ...more

What a great little book. And by little, I mean size. Subject matter is huge here. Set in 1963 in the deep South, Dwayne and his friend Larry(the black kid he's not supposed to hang out with, because, well, because he's black) find music. Dwayne loves James Brown and Ray Charles. Larry is apprenticing with a jazz musician named the Bleeder, and he hopes to be Thelonious Monk someday. Their mutual love of music draws them together and k
Jul 14, 2011 Teddy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: YA
Shelves: read-in-2011
It is the 1960's south and teenager Larry Lime Nolan is an aspiring jazz and blues piano player. He meets the famous Bleeder who takes him under his wing a teaches him how to play. Larry is black and lives on the black side of town. He works on the white side of town doing furniture repair.

The is a piano in the back of the furniture repair shop where Larry practices during his breaks. The owner's teenaged son, Dwayne Hallston also works there and becomes "secret" friends with Larry. His father
May 21, 2011 Djrmel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Amazing sense of time and place: early 1960's small town North Carolina. Martin Luther King Jr and the SCLC are beginning to make waves in little towns that thought everybody was happy with the status quo. Starke is just such a place, segregated by history, physically divided by railroad tracks. Edgerton uses the metaphor of his protagonist discovering Jazz at the same time as someone he considers a friend discovers R&B. Just as popular music began crossing over and blending genres in the 60 ...more
Amy Warrick

I fell in love with Clyde Edgerton on reading 'The Floatplane Notebooks' and while I still love that book, I have not felt the same with any of his novels, ever since. This one is too little, no meat on its bones. It should have been a short story, maybe. I read it through because I was expecting...something, maybe a whole book. But it didn't deliver...please, Mr. Edgerton, sit still, concentrate, and produce a real book next time.
Sep 05, 2011 Cindy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Shannon, Kim, Aimee
Having read Walking Across Egypt and loved it, I was looking forward to this novel. It just sounded like a "good read", sadly for me it was lacking in so many ways. Too many characters I cared nothing about, not much plot, and endless thoughts about music I couldn't relate to in any fashion. Perhaps a musician or artist would love this book, but I can't recommend it. Really disappointed.
May 30, 2017 Lynetta rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Clyde Edgerton's Walking Across Egypt is one of my favorite novels. It is the sort of peculiar that can happen in the country.

The Night Train was not my favorite when I began, but has a more important message than his others. It's 1963 and Larry Nolan and "a hemophiliac called the Bleeder" are in a bar called the Frog just north of Starke, North Carolina. (p 3) When the Bleeder asks Nolan, age sixteen, his entire name it is, "Larry Lime Beacon of Time Reckoning Breath on Me Nolan. They Call me
Jun 21, 2011 Hattie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

I have heard of the famous author, Clyde Edgerton, often throughout my reading life. For one reason or another I never had the chance to read one of his books until now. Clyde Edgerton's the NIGHT TRAIN is what I would call a regional novel. The setting of the story is 1963 in a North Carolina town. In this town the black and white people live close together and not so close together. The off and on relationship between the two races is like The Bermuda Triangle. It's very mysterious. I think on
Matt Simmons
Mar 12, 2012 Matt Simmons rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I am a reader of Southern literature. Like Edgerton, I'm from rural Eastern North Carolina. I know the world he's talking about here. And because of this, even when the book felt, from its opening, forced, I tried to give Edgerton room to speak to me--and I came away deeply dissatisfied. To be honest, I could not finish the book; around page 120, I simply gave up, as I found nothing in the book compelling, and saw Edgerton as simply occupying space mapped out by much better writers for some time ...more
Julie Smith (Knitting and Sundries)
This review first appeared on my blog:

Larry Nolan (full name Larry Lime Beacon of Time Reckoning Breathe on Me Nolan) is 16 in 1963 Starke, North Carolina. He works for a furniture shop owner as well as with his Uncle Young (actually his cousin - full name Young Prophet of Light and Material Witness to the Creation Trumpet Jones), who does odd jobs (picking up garbage, meat parts, etc.)

Dwayne Hallston is the son of the furniture shop owner and is determi
Aug 12, 2011 Angief rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
From the Publisher: In 1963, at the age of 17, Dwayne Hallston discovers James Brown and wants to perform just like him. His band, the Amazing Rumblers, studies and rehearses Brown''s Live at the Apollo album in the storage room of his father''s shop in their small North Carolina town. Meanwhile, Dwayne''s forbidden black friend Larry--aspiring to play piano like Thelonius Monk--apprentices to a jazz musician called the Bleeder. His mother hopes music will allow him to escape the South. A dancin ...more
Patti Albaugh
Aug 08, 2013 Patti Albaugh rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Patti by: College instructor
The Night Train is a loosely plotted novel about two adolescent boys, one black and one white, in a small Southern town in 1963. Larry Lime wants to play the piano like Thelonius Monk. His white friend Dwayne wants to recreate James Brown’s album Live at the Apollo. Together they have a forbidden friendship, but that doesn’t stop them from putting together a band called the Ramblers and pulling such stunts as throwing a rooster from the theater balcony during the movie The Birds or hiding Larry ...more
Sep 04, 2012 Sandie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's 1963, and things are changing in the South, even in small North Carolina towns. The Greensboro sit-in is in the news, Dr. Martin Luther King is on his crusade, and everyone is starting to realise that things will be different.

In one small town, Dwayne Hallston and Larry Lime Nolan become friends as each is interested in the new music starting to break through; the music of James Brown and the Apollo Theatre. Larry Lime wants to be a pianist like his idol, Thelonious Monk, while Dwayne has j
Carrie Rundhaug
I was offered this book by the publisher and I was very excited about the blurb. It sounded super interesting to me but unfortunately it didn't live up to my expectations. It took me forever to read and I had to force myself to finish reading it. It isn't that it is a bad book it just wasn't what I was looking for or what I was expecting.

The characters are definitely a positive in this book. They are interesting and well developed. I love the unique names that Edgerton has created for each of th
Sara Almeida
Dwayne Hallston loves music. At the age of seventeen, Dwayne and his band - the Amazing Rumblers - study the music of James Brown, hoping to recreate the sound of Brown's album Live at the Apollo. After hours of practice, the Rumblers earn a spot on The Bobby Lee Reese Show and have a chance to perform on television. At the same time, Dwayne's friend Larry Lime is studying the music of Thelonius Monk. Under the tutelage of a jazz musician known as the Bleeder, Larry Lime learns to play the piano ...more
Michele Denotter
Feb 12, 2013 Michele Denotter rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I don't usually write reviews, but this book was seriously terrible. Poor character development, no plot, boring throughout. I'm not sure how I made it through the entire book, but I kept thinking that there had to be something that was going to happen or some good lesson or something. Nope. Nothing.

First of all, I never really felt that I liked or disliked any of the characters. A lot of the time, I couldn't really tell if they liked or disliked each other. Everyone was so blase about things th
Oct 20, 2011 Betsy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This novel of the 1963 race and musical experience in a tiny town in North Carolina was well constructed. Larry Lime is a teenager from the African American side of the tracks who is introduced to jazz by a brilliant guitarist called the Bleeder. The Bleeder teaches Larry Lime the chords and changes on the piano, then accompanies him. The passages in which Larry Lime discovers he gets it, and almost immediately understands that IT has gotten HIM are lovely. Larry Lime enjoys a guarded friendship ...more
Jan 05, 2012 Judy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
In the 1960s in rural North Carolina, two very different young men are drawn together in a closely guarded friendship based largely on their shared love of music. Larry Nolan loves jazz and he is being tutored to play jazz piano like Thelonius Monk by a jazz guitarist called The Bleeder. Larry's mother welcomes The Bleeder's help because she hopes that her son's musical talent will ultimately allow him to escape the South. Larry's friend, Dwayne, lives across the railroad tracks in the white sec ...more
Aug 21, 2012 Janet rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Two teenage boys, one white and one black, are fast friends in the non-demonstrative boy way, against all the rules of 1960s rural North Carolina. They live across the literal tracks from each other in Starke, a divided small town that is only fictional because it really doesn't exist; Edgerton draws it so thoroughly and precisely that it really should be on the maps and in the history books. Larry Lime, the black teen, is learning to be a jazz musician under the tutelage of local legend The Ble ...more
Nov 29, 2011 Dyana rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a well written book (except there is alot of dialogue, and Edgerton doesn't use quotation marks), but there is no plot. It takes place in 1963 in North Carolina during the height of racial tensions. It chronicles the friendship of Dwayne, a white boy, who loves James Brown and aspires to be him musically; and Larry Lime, a black boy, who loves the jazz of Thelonius Monk. Jazz is their mutual passion. Dwayne has his own band, and Larry Lime is being taught jazz by a local musician named ...more
A little gem of a book. It may be true that you need to have spent time in the Carolinas to understand just how good a writer Edgerton is. The Night Train is an evocative coming of age tale of two musically gifted teens, one black and one white, in the Jim Crow South. The novel is tiny, about 40,000 words in length. If you read this one at a normal pace, it'll be like going through a small Southern town at 45 miles an hour. You won't get anything out of it. But if you read it slowly, this book w ...more
Peter Berry
Apr 02, 2014 Peter Berry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Clyde was coming to speak at a local college in support of the library. In preparation I ordered his latest, "Night Train" and started to read without looking into what the story was about. After a few chapters I wasn't sure if I would finish, but then I got to thinking... This is a story of kids with dreams, kids with problems... Hey, that was me growing up! Reading with renewed interest I found that Clyde had taken me back in time to when not all people where equal, what a history lesson!

Set i
I've been a fan of Edgerton since WalKing Across Egypt, and it's always a treat to discover one I've missed. I appreciate his ability to create wonderful, quirky characters and intelligent, issue-filled stories hidden in down-home phrases. This is an entertaining look back at small time life in NC in the 60s, folksy social commentary and comedy. Evocative, involving, upbeat, engaging. One reader's comments made me think about Edgerton for Richard Russo readers--and that match will work for some. ...more
Jan 14, 2014 Patrick rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: southern-studies
The James Brown record album Live at the Apollo looms large in this story of race relations in rural North Carolina in 1963, and that by itself is enough to give the book at least two stars.

Why stop with two? Well, the time capsule tone of the story is damaged by chapters that yank the reader (unnecessarily, in my opinion) from 1963 to 2011, when a has-been local radio personality is being interviewed about his talent show back in the day.

Beyond that, the book is a bagatelle, neither as musical
Gabrielle (GabAboutBooks)
First of all, this book was a goodreads giveaway! Unfortunately, this was one of those books that I had to force myself to finish. Something about the style it was written in made me a little wary. The story itself wasn't terrible, but the way it was written was something I couldn't get over. With no way of telling when someone was talking to another it made certain parts confusing - which inevitably made it hard to follow along. I also wanted more to the story, there were a few moments where I ...more
Aug 12, 2011 ILoveBooks rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

This is a very intriguing and well-written novel. Set in the 1960's, race is a hot issue. Dwayne and Larry are two unlikely friends-Larry if African-American while Dwayne is white. They both love music, this is really what brings them together. The secondary characters are just as interesting and fun to meet in most cases. Larry's mother, for instance, has high hopes for her son; she wants him to use music to make his way north and to a better life.

Dwayne has a band called the Amazing Rumblers,
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Clyde Edgerton is widely considered one of the premier novelists working in the Southern tradition today, often compared with such masters as Eudora Welty and Flannery O'Connor.

Although most of his books deal with adult concerns--marriage, aging, birth and death--Edgerton's work is most profoundly about family. In books such as Raney, Walking Across Egypt, The Floatplane Notebooks, and Killer Dill
More about Clyde Edgerton...

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