In his grand return to fiction, Bass (Why I Came West) summons—with a lyrical style befitting his best nature writing—Arkansas and backwoods trio the Browns, the true-life country music trailblazers who pioneered the 1950s sound from which the novel takes its title. Now half-blind and living in obscurity in west Memphis, the group's oldest sibling, Maxine, ruminates on the trio's fateful rise and subsequent fall from grace, and her struggle to recover fame. (Or is it recover from it?) Maxine sets out to have a documentary made and relives on the page a yearning that perhaps only a song or accomplished novel could intone. We revisit her childhood in the woods; live through brother Jim Ed's and father Floyd's bloody struggles in the wood mill; witness sister Bonnie's love affair with a young Elvis; and experience Maxine's reverie in front of "a standing ovation more powerful than any drug." Like the sound Chet Atkins pulls from the Browns in the studio, the narrative has a pitch-perfect chorus of longing and regret, with an undertone that connects and heals. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 07/26/2010 Release date: 09/01/2010 Genre: Fiction
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