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Race, Music, and National Identity: Images of Jazz in American Fiction 1920-1960 by Paul McCann

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Paul McCann is a scholar, and a Literature scholar at that who does not necessarily come to music naturally in his work. But McCann knows literature and American culture, and he attempts very well to bring jazz and fiction together in Race, Music, and National Identity. The book is a simple task for McCann; he describes this publication as being “concerned with exploring the connections between jazz and narrative fiction in the United States.” The time period is 1920-1960; thus, the jazz imagery examined by McCann is broad, jazz, in other words, in its infancy and mature, when America was offended by it, or as McCann writes its “increasing popularity…reflected a wider decay” to the public but also when acceptance of it as American had arrived.

The early fiction where jazz images and ideas appeared reflected the initial negativity according to McCann, which says much about the country overall and the attitude in power at the time. The writers produced fiction that succumbed to the obvious.

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