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Synopsis

Tom Piazza’s sharp intelligence, insight, and passion fuel this new collection of writings on music, literature, New Orleans, and America itself in desperate times.

For his first book since his award-winning novel City of Refuge and his stunning and influential post-Katrina polemic Why New Orleans Matters, Piazza selects the best of his writings on American roots music and musicians, including his Grammy-winning album notes for Martin Scorsese Presents: The Blues; his classic profile of bluegrass legend Jimmy Martin; essays on Jimmie Rodgers, Charley Patton, and Bob Dylan; and much more.

In the book’s second section, Piazza turns his attention to literature, politics, and post-Katrina America in articles and essays on subjects ranging from Charlie Chan movies to the life and work of Norman Mailer, from the New Orleans housing crisis to the BP oil spill, from Jelly Roll Morton’s Library of Congress recordings to the future of books. The third and final section delivers a startlingly original meditation on fiction, sentimentality, and cynicism—a major new essay from this brilliant, unpredictable, and absolutely necessary writer.

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