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Ben Ratliff Remembers Albert Murray

5.12.16 – 8.18.13

Albert Murray

By the late ’80s and early ’90s, which was when I first read and met him, Albert Murray occupied a funny space: He was both outmoded and exciting.

At that time most of his older books-even the best of them, the cultural-criticism sermon The Omni-Americans (1970), the novel Train Whistle Guitar (1974) and The Hero and the Blues (1973)-were out of print; you might only lay hands on them if you were familiar with the concept of the interlibrary loan. But he was just coming back into print with new fiction, which was just as looping and poetic and singable as what he’d done 15 years before. (Most of his fiction, influenced by Faulkner, European modernism and cadences of Southern black speech, seemed as if it could have been written at any point since 1930.)

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