|If Southern period novels are your thing,|
why not try this one?
If the elements above tend to entice you, then by all means: The Night Train has 'em.
Want to know what I really thought? Personally?
(Warning: If you are already a Clyde Edgerton fan - Killer Diller, The Bible Salesman - just go buy the book. If you choose to read on, don't say I didn't warn you...)
Would I personally read this novel, if I had it to do all over again? Not so much.
It's not quite a coming-of-age tale, as our two protagonists are already in late adolescence, and although some conflicts arise, they don't seem to change either guy much, if at all.
Not quite a period piece, although it strives to be.
Not quite a catalogue/celebration of popular music at the time, although - in addition to all the place names and characters - dozens of songs and artists are mentioned, rehearsals are staged.
Not quite the laugh-fest the cover blurbs imply. (I chuckled once. The entire time. And - ask folks who know me can attest - I'm as likely to guffaw as anybody.)
I kept wondering if this 'novel' was actually the exposition for a heftier novel-to-be, or the first in a series of short novels. If so, it doesn't stand on its own particularly well.
At best, The Night Train is a quietly episodic exploration of daily life in one small community, and of how music may have influenced a few young people to bridge some aspects of the racial gap during the Civil Rights Era. **/5
p.s. Despite the fact that this novel didn't impress me, I'm quite grateful to Hatchette Books for providing it: I truly had expected to enjoy it, given the themes and content and reviews. And I have appreciated the other books I've read and listened to from their imprint. I sure hope this doesn't take me out of the loop for future offerings from Hatchette, but there's no way I would want to compromise my honest response to The Night Train on that account. Fingers crossed; caution to the winds.
Action: Shift my read-n-review balance away from ARCs I can't peruse beforehand and toward library books I can sample or books trusted readers recommend. I'm going for a 20/80 split, and I'll dedicate much of the 80% to non-Western writers for the rest of the summer and into the fall as I prep to teach World Lit. My action for all of those will be to write a quick rec. with my students and their families in mind, and to post those on a separate site for easy reference next year. Of course, I'll post 'em here too!