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Albert Murray
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message 1: by Mala (new)

Mala | 146 comments Albert Murray

How refreshing to come across a mind that eschewed narrow & divisive racial tags & looked for cultural & intellectual synthesis in his aesthetics as well as in his life– for when one refuses to identify with victimhood; one is automatically empowered. Murray rejected both “the folklore of white supremacy” and "the fakelore of black pathology.”

"Mr. Murray insisted that integration was necessary, inescapable and the only path forward for the country. And to those — blacks and whites alike — who would have isolated “black culture” from the American mainstream, he answered that it couldn’t be done. To him the currents of the black experience — expressed in language and music and rooted in slavery — run through American culture, blending with European and American Indian traditions and helping to give it its very shape and sound.

With a freewheeling prose style influenced by jazz and the blues — Duke Ellington called him “the unsquarest man I know” — Mr. Murray challenged conventional assumptions about art, race and American identity in books like the essay collection “Stomping the Blues” and the memoir “South to a Very Old Place.” He gave further expression to those views in a series of autobiographical novels, starting with “Train Whistle Guitar” in 1974."

Here's the link:

The Writer in his own words:

"My approach to writing, which is based on organizing the material as the jazz musician organizes it. And it's based on trying to reach a language which swings like the music swings, and you get to that in prose through ( NR is so not going to like it!) Hemingway, so you've got that four-four, and that's going to echo Walt Whitman and everything else that's vernacular. So you're fulfilling the vernacular imperative -- that is, to deal with experience which is idiomatically American, but deal with it with a technique that would give it universal appeal and affect. And, of course, jazz is our most exportable aesthetic commodity."

"I don't regard myself as an African-American writer -- I'm an all-American writer, and I want your son and your cousins and so forth to want to be like the heroes that I write about. You know, I try to establish a basis for a national image, for national identity, and you know I've defined our culture as mulatto. You know, it's all interwoven, and it's most ironic that a nation which has achieved such magnificent innovations in communication and transportation could be stuck with the type of provincialism because people are different, because they should lead the world in terms of tolerance, if you want to use that word, in terms of sophistication -- that is, the appreciation of things which are different, that there are always two different ways of approaching. You've got xenophobia or you have exotica. You could get a healthy mix of both. You could be a little worried because they're different, but you could also be fascinated because they're different. You make a synthesis, and it's yours and it's universal."

"My novel is about what I want to be the ideal American character. I want to -- everybody wants to be -- just like when you put your horn, put a trumpet to your mouth, you want to be Louis Armstrong or Dizzy Gillespie or my young friend Wynton Marsalis -- put you in front of a band -- I keep telling everybody this, you know. You might look like a Viking; put you in front of a band, you wish you were Duke Ellington or Count Basie. And I want main characters to be that way, too, just as I was Odysseus, I was Siegfried, I was Beowulf, I was Roland -- I was all these people. They want -- I want them to be Scooter. That's the only objective for an ambitious writer: to take those idiomatic particulars and make something universal out of it that is true for mankind at large. That's the only thing worth struggling for because writing is not easy."


The can't do without Wiki:

Selected bibliography :

The Omni-Americans: Black Experience & American Culture (1970)
South to a Very Old Place (1971)
Train Whistle Guitar, novel (1974)
Stomping the Blues (1976)
The Spyglass Tree (1991)
The Blue Devils of Nada, a collection of essays (1996)
The Hero And the Blues (1996)
The Seven League Boots (1996)
Trading Twelves: The Selected Letters of Ralph Ellison and Albert Murray (2001).
Conjugations and Reiterations: Poems (2001)
From the Briarpatch File: On Context, Procedure, and American Identity (2001)

A delightful read:

"But here, at least, are a few things you might not know about one of the most original stylists in American letters, a philosopher of the blues, who championed resilience and improvisation against the cold certainty of life’s uncertainties, and helped articulate and explain the dynamic synthesis that is American culture, as much black as it is white, if not more."

message 2: by Mala (new)

Mala | 146 comments Ali,I got a teeny-weeny grudge... The writers that I create threads for,you always get their books but somehow you never come around to reading them! Perhaps it's time to change that ?!

message 3: by Mala (new)

Mala | 146 comments Sorry,haven't read his books yet,only read about him. ,but doesn't that confirm his Buried status?
Personally,I'd be interested in his non-fiction but you mostly got his fiction–
South to a Very Old Place,The Blue Devils of Nada & The Spyglass Tree– they all sound promising.
So does this perspective on him:
Albert Murray and the Aesthetic Imagination of a Nation - Google Books

message 4: by Mala (new)

Mala | 146 comments Sweet. You made some one very happy today :-)

message 5: by Gregsamsa (new)

Gregsamsa | 94 comments I have a ragged copy of Train Whistle Guitar somewhere. I think I'll pick that up as soon as I'm done with the somewhat dense stuff I'm in now... I hope.

You know, ever since I got on Goodreads my actual reading rate has slowed remarkably. Anyone else experience this?

message 6: by Zadignose (last edited Aug 23, 2013 05:47PM) (new)

Zadignose | 153 comments I don't think the pace at which I read can change significantly, and it's pretty slow. I think several of the voracious readers around these parts read about three times as fast as I do, on a per hour basis, and spend about five times as many hours per day reading, so they read about fifteen books in the time I take to read one.

The only thing about Goodreads that "slows me down" is that I spend more time posting and reading about books and thus spend less time with a book in my hand really reading it.

But that's most likely exactly what you meant.

message 7: by Gregsamsa (new)

Gregsamsa | 94 comments That is exactly what I meant. This is not the first time you have said exactly what I meant.

btw: are you doing ESL in KO? I did that in the early nineties! Whoo those people DRANK! 'Least the ones I got shitfaced w/

message 8: by Zadignose (last edited Aug 24, 2013 01:04AM) (new)

Zadignose | 153 comments I reckon Korea must be among the top five alcoholic nations. I'd say number one, but I haven't been to Russia or various other highly-pickled nations.

P.S. but at least we don't have Romania's glue and paint huffing problem.

message 9: by Mala (new)

Mala | 146 comments Gregsamsa wrote:"I have a ragged copy of Train Whistle Guitar somewhere. I think I'll pick that up as soon as I'm done with the somewhat dense stuff I'm in now... I hope."

Thanks in advance for that! You are currently-reading Middle C right? Shdn't be dense for you considering how easily many have read & reviewed it!

"You know, ever since I got on Goodreads my actual reading rate has slowed remarkably. Anyone else experience this? "

Tell me abt it! My poor advice is to keep the social aspect of Gr to the bare essentials & you might be able to meet your reading targets. This methd won't make you terribly popular but then with a user name like yours,you wouldn't be too keen on that aspect anyway,no?

message 10: by Mala (new)

Mala | 146 comments Zadignose wrote: "I don't think the pace at which I read can change significantly, and it's pretty slow. I think several of the voracious readers around these parts read about three times as fast as I do, on a per h..."

Z,like yourself,I'm also a slow reader & I can't but marvel at the rate some readers here read & review books! It's like there's nothing else in their lives...
A writer works so hard on their books,for so many yrs– it seems kind of disrespectful that I shd finish it in a day or two!
I'd rather my reading be deep & focussed then fast & shallow but to each their own.

message 11: by Gregsamsa (new)

Gregsamsa | 94 comments OY don't get me started on page-turning with sticky footpads and the smell when antennae get singed by the reading lamp. My bulbous eyes do find Middle C a little dense but it's USA freakin' Today compared to Will Self's Umbrella and meantime I'm scribblin' notes in prep for my brutal take-down of Moby-Dick. But who has time for that jazz when I can refresh until six likes become seven?

Just kidding. I haven't earned seven likes on anything.

message 12: by Mala (last edited Aug 24, 2013 03:00AM) (new)

Mala | 146 comments Gregsamsa wrote:"I haven't earned seven likes on anything."

And that's why I wasn't able to 'like' your review of Blindness– cause it doesn't show up on the first page!
Just checked your profile & you've like 15 friends!–how are you gonna get tons of likes my friend? Another poor suggestion– make friends left,right & centre & 'like' every damn review that comes your way & don't forget to leave banal comments on them as well,e.g. "This review is better than the book itself."( It works everytime cause here reviewers are vain enough to believe they are better than the writers!!! )

Vanity thy name is Goodreads!
Ok,enough rant for one day.

message 13: by Mala (new)

Mala | 146 comments Ali wrote:" (Insert five paragraphs on my own peeves here)"

That's lazy! We all want those long long Ali paragraphs– I'll never tire of them!
And "talented wordsmiths"– I'm not one of them; at least,I'm not vain enough to believe that ;-)
Happy reading.

message 14: by Nate (last edited Aug 25, 2013 06:56AM) (new)

Nate (rockhyrax) | 354 comments Gregsamsa wrote: "You know, ever since I got on Goodreads my actual reading rate has slowed remarkably. Anyone else experience this? "

My reading rate and interest picked up incomparably after joining Goodreads, actually. First through helping me figure out what I actually wanted to be reading (things I had never heard of pre-GR, mostly), and then motivating me to finish quicker so I could talk about what I'd been reading right away. The actual reviewing is mostly fitted into other non-reading time, anyway.

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