Epub Lewis Nordan Ó Music of the Swamp Kindle Ê Music of PDF \ Ó

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10 thoughts on “Music of the Swamp

  1. says:

    45 stars The sound of the rain was without thunder It was as constant as the feeling of loss that suddenly I felt inside me that now I knew had been with me all along a familiar part of me since the beginning of memoryA poignant sense of loneliness seeps through each of these interconnected short stories about a young boy growing up in the fictional town of Arrow Catcher Mississippi Yet it is not a dismal little book; instead it is laced with humor and nostalgia One minute my heart would break for Sugar Mecklin the eleven year old narrator The next I was laughing out loud and reading phrases over and over again sharing them with family members that tolerantly smiled in response to my unbridled enthusiasm Sentences like this that launched me from my couch and set me down directly in the Mississippi Delta of the 1950s Late in the summer deep in August when the swamps were steam baths and beavers as big as collies could be seen swimming in Roebuck Lake from a canebrake to a willow shade I passed my eleventh birthdaySugar Mecklin yearns for the love of his father a man damaged from alcoholism as well as plain old bad luck He longs to understand love especially the love of his parents for one another He digs both metaphorically and literally to find this meaning this hidden message of their destructive love There are a number of other characters in these stories each with their own brand of dysfunction Sugar tries to make sense of these too I remember as a kid trying to ‘get’ my parents attempting to figure out if other families were like mine Hoping that I wasn’t the only one with the same disappointments the same dreams Wishing with all my heart to find a connection to another young person that felt much like I did a confidante with whom to both commiserate and scheme Sugar strikes up a friendship with what he calls a ‘white trash’ kid someone who is perhaps steeped in even misery than the Mecklins What at first starts out to be a grudging sort of alliance born out of curiosity and pity eventually turns into a stirring little intimacy of the heart between two boys that share at least one thing in common their isolation It felt good to be hungry and to expect no food to relieve the hunger It was easy to pay the small price of a night’s hunger for the sweet isolation that Roy Dale and I were allowed to shareThere is a dash of magical realism in many of these stories the magic of childhood of innocence and dreams It is a gritty novel that is beautifully written and punctuated with longing Music of the Swamp left me thirsting for I said—and even as I invented this I believed it—I said that in the foreign language music of her song my ears and my heart opened up to a world larger and generous than the world of my parents and our geography


  2. says:

    Not many authors can mix humor poignancy tragedy and philosophy so successfully but Louis Nordan was up to the challenge Very loosely based on his own childhood in the Mississippi Delta he lets us enter his 11 year old psyche to smell touch hear and see his surroundings Was there ever a sadder loser than Sugar's father Gilbert or a wife and mother who tried so hard?The last sentence in this book sums it all up without giving anything away There is great pain in all love but we don't care it's worth itIf you're not familiar with Louis Nordan do yourself a favor and give one of his books a try He's one of a kind and deserves to be better known


  3. says:

    I don't blame my father What would be the point? There is a sense in which I blame the geography itself though that of course is useless as well So much promise so much innocence such powerful imagination that transforms the world into a magical realm full of wonder and song Where does it all go? When does it all turn to dust and ashes? 10 year old Sugar Mecklin wakes every morning in the small town of Arrow Catcher expecting to find mermaids singing to him from the murky waters of the Mississipi Delta What he discovers instead is a week old corpse tangled in the reeds And when Sugar goes for comfort to his father he finds Mecklin Sr lost in a drunken stupor listening to wrist cutting music on the turntable To uote Nick Hornby Is he depressed because he listens to the blues? Or does he listen to the blues because he is depressed? the true music of the swamp is not the symphony of nature heard by the boy but the lonesome cry of Robert Johnson's guitar at a midnight crossroads the wailing of Sonny Boy Williamson's harmonica the cracked voice of Bessie Smith or the roaring of Howling Wolf Daddy said It's funny how you end up somewhere and then that's your life Sugar Mecklin idolizes his father and most probably his father loves him back but the words remain locked inside their hearts and there is no bridge to cross the muddy waters between them What turns a man to heavy drinking when he has a beautiful wife and an intelligent boy by his side? Poverty broken dreams the scars from the war in Korea the tediousness of daily toil the stormy weather and the relentless heat? Or the secrets that he cannot spill in the innocent ear of his child? view spoiler very late in the book it is revealed that he is not the true father of the boy But raising Sugar should count for than the biological data hide spoiler


  4. says:

    Music of the Swamp is a gritty look at the childhood of a boy living in the Mississippi Delta Sugar Mecklin lives in a dysfunctional family but his greatest hope is to be loved by his alcoholic father Sugar is a sweet eleven year old kid trying to figure out life The book is composed of interconnected stories with some unforgettable eccentric characters Many are physically or psychologically damaged people dealing with poverty alcohol and bad luck A dose of Lewis Nordan's humor along with a sprinkle of magical realism and good writing helps show the crazy funny side of some tough situations in this sleepy Mississippi town


  5. says:

    Mississippi Delta boyhoodI stood looking at a greeting card in an art gallery in St Helena a Gullah Island that I had wanted to visit atter reading Mama Day by Gloria Naylor The painting was of black women in simple cotton floral dresses I almost bought the card and now I wish I had but it remains in my memory foreverSugar the boy in this book is at a lake in the very first or second chapter He sees a cow in the lake a brown cow and black people in white robes I saw the most beautiful golden brown cow and a group of black women in simple cotton floral dresses The church members were singing In The GardenI walk through the garden aloneWhen the dew is still on the rosesAnd the peace I feel while I tarry thereWhat a beautiful written and moving songeven for this ex Christian Some Christian music is just moving when they are beautifully written and the melodies stir one’s soul And I thought after reading this this is really going to be a great book of childhood memoriesLater I have never been so disappointed in a “growing up” book Sugar had a hard life and even with the author’s humor I was not hud He saw a lot of dead bodies for one thing His father was an alcoholic prone to suicide attempts and this in front of Sugar A cat lying on the couch had its neck broken when his father sat on it His parents ignored him when he came to them with some news any news His mother was depressed and when I finished reading the book last night I too was depressed It never let up on these topics Sugar kept hopping a train out of town and had to find his way back home If he had not returned the story might have been better I am glad that this morning I have forgotten the other harm done to animals and the neglect of Sugar I would give it one star if it weren’t for the memory of the baptism


  6. says:

    Not so much a novel as a series of childhood stories of a boy named Sugar Mecklin growing up in rural Mississippi with his drunk father and beautiful mother The writing is beautiful and the infusion of really horrible stuff with love makes it laugh out loud funny sometimes One could imagine this is lightly fictionalized memoir if not for the final essay by Nordan “Music of the Swamp The Invention of Sugar An Essay about Life in Fiction—and Vice Versa” Nordan spills the beans about how we writers lie and believe our own lies and why we do it I kind of wish I’d savored the end of the book at least a day before reading the essay It’s a sweet book


  7. says:

    Music of the Swamp is a deeply sad novel One that explores the terrain of severely dysfunctional families The story is set in the late 50s or early 60s in a backwoods town in the South It's essentially a swamp town inhabited by classic white trash families burdened by lack of education little work extreme poverty and alcohol and drug addictions The main story follows a young boy named Sugar Mecklin who both adores and hates his barely coherent alcoholic fatherNordan is a very strong writer I didn't truly enjoy this book as much as The Sharpshooter Blues but he continued his demonstration of powerful writerly skill The characters are peculiar and impenetrable but believable The settings and sense of place is incredibly rich and vivid The setting is perhaps even interesting than the main character I did find it hard to empathize with the main character despite his general innocence I couldn't uite find a way in to him to recognize him Even so there was a sense of raw honesty in his struggle to grow up surrounded by such bizarre failures and creeps that populated his lifeThe overarching theme is that of the missing father The absence of a strong yet intimate relationship between a boy and his father The failure of a marriage also due to alcoholism and a lack of intimacy The pain of the absence The pain of a hole in one's life The book rather lacks any exploration of what happens later The adult experience of a childhood ruined It's touched on briefly that the relationship dysfunctions and issues with alcohol are often inherited in their own way But without great depth That is perhaps the greatest weakness of this book But as a study of the pain experienced in childhood from an absentee parent it succeeds powerfully


  8. says:

    “I don’t blame my father What would be the point?” Sugar Mecklin age 1045 stars This is a haunting and sometimes hilarious series of nine connected stories and a powerful epilogue about a young boy named Sugar Mecklin growing up in the Mississippi Delta in the 1950’s You have to love Sugar all he wants is to understand and connect with his crazy alcoholic daddy and make some sense out of his parents’ bizarre relationship Lewis Nordan filled this novel to overflowing with iconic Southern images of “white trash” rural folk smoky honky tonks Mason jars with “hot paraffin lids” glass bottles of “Co Cola” in wooden crates Wonder Bread and oilcloth tablecloths the kind you wipe not wash And then he mixed in some music from the swamp Bessie Smith belting out the Delta blues on a 45 vinyl the boogie woogie beat “eight notes five up the scale and three down” and Jimmie Rodgers singing “Honeycomb” And there are several scenes in this book that I will never forget but I’ll let you discover them on your ownThis is a 1950’s Southern time capsule with a strong slant toward the dysfunctional and eccentric and filled with love in a thousand different forms Nordan’s writing has a melancholy tender touch here that really resonated with me A few parts felt slightly mystical and YA for me and I ocassionally had a “I’ve read this already” reaction but these are minor criticisms I now have to add his second novel ‘Wolf Whistle’ to my must read Southern Lit pile Yet another gem selected by the GR group ‘On The Southern Literary Trail’“There is great pain in all love but we don’t care it’s worth it” Sugar Mecklin as an adult


  9. says:

    This is a collection of short stories but all of them are told by the same narrator Sugar making the flow perfect The author does a fabulous job presenting tragedy but then relieving the reader with comedy Basically one minute I'm overcome with sadness and then I burst out laughing This is going on my favorite shelf and one that deserves to be reread in the future Many thanks to Moderator Diane B for choosing this book for On the Southern Literary Trail Book Club


  10. says:

    There is great pain in all love but we don’t care it’s worth it At times I was at a loss to know how to feel about this collection of interrelated short stories that center around the life of Sugar Mecklin a boy from the Mississippi delta The first story was rather funny I particularly liked that Sugar’s friend was named Sweet Austin I mean only in the Delta would you find kids named “Sugar” and “Sweet” But as the book progressed the humor gave way to a kind of poignant sadness and a feeling of the desperate hopelessness of a life in this town at the edge of the swampBy the time I reached the epilogue I felt the sunny hopeful life of this boy had been drowned in the rising waters that come in the aftermath of the hurricane Sugar and his mother endure It seemed a metaphor for their life with Sugar’s unpredictable and sometimes violent father I was left with the fear and conviction that Sugar had indeed become his father or his blind grandfather a spiteful and sinister old manThere is something deeply disturbing about two young boys sitting at the top of a staircase that leads into the cellar and watching the rats swimming in the flood waters There is something terribly troubling about a mother telling her four year old son that he will “always be white trash” There is something sad and crippling about a young girl whose mother spends far than she has to throw a birthday party that no one shows up forIn the end I felt this book was far and away sorrowful than uplifting and the music coming from the swamp would have been mournful than sweet By the end I was casting back to the beginning the joy of life that Sugar was experiencing when he heard his first Elvis song and the songs of the black church members that floated up from the river baptism shall we gather at the river the beautiful beautiful river but this is indeed not a river this is a swampPerhaps the pain was worth it but I kept thinking the miracle was that there was any love to recall