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Train Whistle Guitar: A Novel by Albert…
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Train Whistle Guitar: A Novel

by Albert Murray

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Rating: 2.875* of five

The Book Report: Coming of age as an African-American lad in 1920s Alabama. Lightly fictionalized version of the author's memoir, [SOUTH TO A VERY OLD PLACE], which is superb and should have been left alone.

My Review: Not a novel. Just not. It's too much like the memoir for me to buy the novel designation. Murray writes beautiful sentences, goodness knows, but his choice to call this fiction is disingenuous. The only thing that really separates this from his earlier memoir is that he now has permission to make up dialogue and go into the inner life of his characters a little more.

Starting out with two strikes against it, that of coming-of-age (really, isn't that vein played out?) story and that of fiction following memoir (almost always the memoir is better), I was prepared to be disappointed. Perhaps that's one big reason why I was. But honestly, truly, and with all my heart, I tried to like this book. I like Mr. Murray's non-fiction ([The Omni-Americans], [Stomping the Blues]). I wish he'd stayed in that genre, or come all the way away from it and not used his memoir's material as the subject of his fiction. It just does not come off well in comparison.

SO too bad. ( )
1 vote richardderus | Sep 20, 2011 |
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