“Or had all those who sought to cast a new, unique look on the travels of Kerouac simply not cared to see this woman other than through Jack’s gaze? Was this drug-addled, prostituting Azteca deemed a distraction from the greater task of understanding the American writer? Was she not worth the trouble? Or did her trails running away from Jack—into the past and into the future—only expire into the thin Mexican air, leaving anyone foolish enough to take up the search fanning silken particles of light? But I will begin it, I tell myself, happily smoking my Te Amo in the sun outside the Café del Ángel, which itself no longer exists. I can start the story after B arrives and supplies me with all the requisite information.” (The Starlight Line, p. 47)
“I headed north again, crossing back over the westbound lane of Obregón and continuing the few blocks to the Plaza Rio de Janeiro, circled past the gray copy of Michelangelo’s David perched there amidst the fountain and went on one block more to the Casa Universitaria del Libro, another opulent, neocolonial residence from the early twentieth century situated at the intersection of Orizaba and Puebla, and now a building of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, dedicated to the advancement and promotion of literature.” (The Starlight Line, p. 59-60)
It is common practice among groups that play Sinaloan banda music—a style that emerged from small village brass bands in Northwestern Mexico after the Revolution, typically featuring a few clarinets, trumpets, trombones and saxhorns, plus a tuba, snare drum and tambora—to link their name to their place of origin. Thus we get Banda El Recodo and La Arrolladora Banda El Limón, two of the music’s most popular groups. This village association, and the broader regional identity of the music, is likewise a source of pride for the fans who live or have roots in the area.
My debut novel, The Starlight Line, has just been published by Red Giant Books. This has been in the works for a while now, but, after some unexpected delays, the book is finally out and itching to be read.
Part barroom Beat romance, part cubist caper, part speculative literary critique, The Starlight Line is sure to please. So get ye to your favorite local bookstore and order up some copies for you and your friends. (Also available from usual online suspects: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Powell’s.)
Some Advance Praise for The Starlight Line:
With echoes of Kerouac, Lowry, and Bukowski, Matt Marshall delivers a penetrating, but oddly reassuring, look into the souls of the drifters, drinkers and all the rest of us who just don’t fit in.
—Larry Kirwan, author of A History of Irish Music, Rockin’ the Bronx and Liverpool Fantasy, and former leader of Irish-American rock band Black 47
Matt Marshall’s novel, The Starlight Line, is a fascinating, complex, layer-cake of a book. The frame narration is semi-autobiographical; the narrator is a frustrated writer from Cleveland, searching for inspiration. The other layers interpenetrate and enrich the frame story: Jack London’s drug-addled wanderings; Trotsky’s assassination in Mexico; a writer’s search for Jack Kerouac’s mysterious muse, Esperanza Villanueva. Marshall’s skillful technique allows him to experiment with a variety of narrative voices that work like various instruments in a symphony. The voices add texture and depth to the story. In effect, Marshall produces a novel that is about the process of fiction writing itself.
—Philip J. Skerry, author of Dark Energy: Hitchcock’s Absolute Camera and the Physics of Cinematic Spacetime and Psycho in the Shower: The History of Cinema’s Most Famous Scene
Fresh in the glow of its 50th anniversary celebration, kicked off by a party a few nights earlier and extending through the end of the month, Nighttown put its eclecticism fully on display February 10, presenting powerful Scandinavian free-jazz group Atomic. The Nighttown faithful are, by and large, a straight-ahead crowd (two Manhattan Transfer shows set for Friday, February 13, sold out well in advance, for example), so it’s good to see the folks there are still willing to push the envelope—it is, in fact, part on the club’s vitality. Atomic, in just their second visit to Cleveland—the first a 2004 go at the Beachland Ballroom—made that vitality palpable, exploding with an orchestrated chaos that the 30 or so in attendance will likely not soon forget.
After spending the past 50-plus years mining the traditional music of what Greil Marcus has termed “old, weird America,” and expanding it into the contemporary worlds of folk, rock, country, gospel and other singular hybrids thereof, on Shadows in the Night Bob Dylan gives us his take on the Great American Songbook. Thankfully, Dylan doesn’t jettison the weirdness for the trip, choosing (unlike so many other rock and pop stars) to interpret these standards in his own idiom; choosing, that is, not to prop himself in front of some large orchestra with knockoff, ’50s-sounding charts, but to record the songs live with his five-piece touring band. The result is a wee-hours drift through the American psyche, one that is by turns eerie, achingly sad and warmly nostalgic, as Dylan pines for lost love, lost selves, waning life and the sentimental virtue of enduring.