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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
DonD Folk in Current Novels (31) Folk in Current Novels 03 Jul 02


When I saw a novel called "John Henry Days" on the 'New Fiction" shelf at the library, I scooped it up and took it home. As might have been expected, it has a lot to do with the John Henry ballad and legend and I enjoyed it and would recommend it. There is a considerable amount of consideration of the folk process and could well quaslify as a 'Cat thread if it were better written. *G* Actually it's pretty damn good. (Author: Colson Whitehead)

When I returned it I spotted another new book, the latest in the Lucas Davenport series of police procedural/thrillers and I'm in the midd;le of it.

Much to my surprise it has a Mudcat connection(?!?). The villainess (is that sexist?)Clara Rinker is a hit-person (compensating, non-gender-specific) visits a struggling St.Louis bar whose owner, Sellos, is an underworld connection. (Mortal Prey pp. 95-99):

She stepped inside the door, paused, let her eyes adjust to the gloom. A long-haired young man sat on a dais at the end of the main room, a guitar on one knee. He was saying, "...learned this song from an old Indian guy up in Dakota. I was working the wheat harvest, this was back in '99..."

Rinker thought, Jesus.

(There's a page of confrontation at gunpoint with the club-owner.)

'You got folk music downstairs, John," Rinker said. An accusation, and it nmade Sellos uncomfortable. She slipped the pistol back into her jacket pocket. They listened for a minute, and heard, faintly, through the floor, the singer's scratchy voice: ...the Sioux and the Arikira are gone, driven by the white man's trains, across those treasured free-wind plains, where the wheat waves like dollar bills, and overflows some banker's tills...

"Gotta pay the mortgage, Clara," he said. "The guy costs me nothin'."

"How're you gonna grow your bar traffic, John, with some asshole singing about freight trains and wheat? Folk music is WORSE than nothing. Hiring folksingers does nothing but encourage them. It's like letting cockroaches into your house."

"I gotta have something, and I can't hire country," Sellos said defensively. "Country people won't come down here. And blues are dead, except with the corduroy university crowd, and they can make a whole night out of a beer and a dish of free peanuts."

(more crime stuff till she's ready to leave)

She stood up and stepped away to the office door, and then said, "Listen, John, you gotta get rid of that fuckin' folk music, okay? Promise me?" She let out a thin smile. "I mean, I'm not gonna shoot you if you don't, but just do it for ... American civilization?"

What do you think of that?


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