What is a rock novel? The simplest way to go about answering this question is to turn to novels that feature rock musicians as protagonists (like Don DeLillo's Great Jones Street), or that are accompanied by rock soundtracks (like Thomas Pynchon's The Crying of Lot 49), or that engage the form in other, similarly explicit manners. The more challenging way is the one that Florence Dore has chosen in Novel Sounds, her study of Southern fiction in the years of rock's advent. For Dore, rock is not simply a music: it's also a sensibility, one that has a great deal to do with sounds and rhythms and lyrics but isn't reducible to them. To rock, she argues, is to have a particular disposition toward institutions, toward technology, toward racial boundaries, and toward cultural change. It's therefore possible for novels to be “profoundly about rock and roll” even...
Review: Novel Sounds: Southern Fiction in the Age of Rock and Roll by Florence Dore
Thomas Austin Graham is an associate professor of English and comparative literature at Columbia University. He is the author of The Great American Songbooks, a musicological study of modernist fiction and poetry published by Oxford UP in 2013. His recent essays include studies of The Rite of Spring, the “Jazz Age” concept, and the historicization of popular song.
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Thomas Austin Graham; Review: Novel Sounds: Southern Fiction in the Age of Rock and Roll by Florence Dore. Journal of Popular Music Studies 1 December 2019; 31 (4): 177–179. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/jpms.2019.31.4.177
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