I am not sure what I expected, and that was part of the book’s appeal. I admire Young’s work as a poet, and I was curious about his chronological approach to well, I’m not sure what. At first, it seemed like his thesis was about how true American culture had (has?) its origins in black culture. Fine and probably persuasive, but I’m not really sure what any of those key words mean.
After that, Young focuses on an era by era account of poetry and music and its meaning less in terms of its historical context and more in terms of its relation to the previous era. He sees patterns in the form of ‘storying’ – lying, but not. I am not sure I understood the argument well enough to agree or disagree.
I had uneven energy for the book. Some parts rolled along; others were a drag. I enjoyed sections on Dunbar and Public Enemy. I wish the book came with a soundtrack. I wanted more on jazz.