Saturday Review: “Naming The Unnameable and Communicating The Unknowable”: a review by Christy
Michael Gaspeny. A Postcard from the Delta (2022)
Michael Parker. I Am the Light of This World (2022)
We are so excited to start sharing book reviews forthcoming in our fall issue (due out in October)!
To begin, our Senior Associate Editor Christy Hallberg talked with Michael Gaspeny and Michael Parker for her podcast, Rock Is Lit. Her review, naturally, is much about their use of musical elements in their latest novels.
Hallberg writes, “Two of my most recent favorite rock novels just happen to have been penned by fellow
North Carolina natives: Michael Parker’s I Am the Light of This World and Michael Gaspeny’s A Postcard from the Delta. Like the protagonists of their books, both Michaels are rabid music fans. “
I Am the Light of This World “which begins in the early 1970s in a small east Texas town, takes
its title from the song “I Am the Light of This World” by blues and gospel singer Blind Gary Davis, who was a fixture on the Piedmont blues scene of Durham in the 1930s…” Hallberg goes on to discuss how this title track influences Earl, the protagonist, as well as other musical influences like Hank Williams and Lead Belly. Music accompanies critical plot turns, too, which Hallberg briefly touches on (minor spoilers, if you will).
“Every day I go to Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, and Robert Johnson like a fundamentalist studies the Bible,” Johnny, the main character, professes at the beginning of the A Postcard from the Delta. “Their music is sacred to me” (7). Hallberg quickly provides the character-driven action of the early part of the novel before getting into the quest portion. “On a lark, Johnny ditches school one afternoon, pops one
of his many blues mix tapes into his car tape player, and heads South on his holy mission, thinking,
“[m]aybe I could wash myself in the Mississippi and become a new person” (133). She reminds us Gaspeny himself has done the trip to MS before, so this is very much charted territory.