What We’re Reading (NYT on ‘Mystery Train’) (7/30/19)

“Greil Marcus’s Mystery Train was first published in 1975, when I was 2. His tinkering has kept it relevant through six editions, but his writing and ideas have rendered it ageless. I’ve been reading it for years; when I lent it to a friend I missed it so much I bought a second copy. Mystery Train is more than rock criticism. It explores the meaning of America through rock ’n’ roll. The chapter on Robert Johnson opens with the end of The Great Gatsby. Woodrow Wilson and D. H. Lawrence turn up in the Elvis section. A moment on the Band’s debut album inspires this: ‘You couldn’t ask for a more perfect statement of the conviction that America is blessed, or of the lingering suspicion that it is cursed.’ The Marcus worldview—the notion that pop culture matters as much as history and literature—is perfectly distilled in the prologue, where he connects the immortal sweep of art to Little Richard.”
– Manny Fernandez, Houston bureau chief, New York Times (July 30)

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