Hot Music, Ragmentation, and the Bluing of American Literature is a lengthy, encyclopedic treatment of African American vernacular aesthetic influences in turn-of-the-twentieth-century American literature and beyond. While purporting to limit his study of vernacular aesthetics to so-called “hot music,” which emerges “from earlier African American musical genres such as minstrelsy and ragtime” and incorporates “elements of jazz improvisation and blues inflection” (84), Steven C. Tracy, professor of Afro-American Studies and blues musician, tends to color outside of the lines in his effort to recreate the dynamics of a vast musical inheritance. His study resembles the claim he makes about Zora Neale Hurston’s “Eatonville Anthology,” which he describes as a collage “much like a traditional improvisational blues lyric, which can be associational, and sometimes seemingly incoherent and non-thematic, while still forming a possible urtext for others to follow” (352).

His associative style, culled from an impressive familiarity...

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