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The Jazz Fiction Anthology by Sascha Feinstein & David Rife

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James Baldwin
James Baldwin

From the beginning, it seems obvious that when Sashca Feinstein and David Rife titled their anthology, The Jazz Fiction Anthology it was a little inaccurate. It suggests that this collection of stories is “it” or as they assert, the “most definitive collection” of jazz fiction ever. But this loose collection of jazz themed tales is hardly the alpha and omega of the literary genre known as jazz fiction.

It does represent jazz fiction from their perspective and there are good stories here – James Baldwin’s “Sonny’s Blues,” Ralph Ellison’s “A Coupla Scalped Indians,” Wanda Coleman’s “Jazz at Twelve,” and some others. But the chances taken here by the collectors are few. This is, in other words, Ken Burns’ jazz fiction; it sounds very good at times, holds onto tradition, and rarely ventures off the main drag where some things are also happening.

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