Nashville Burning: A Novel

Nashville Burning: A Novel

Nashville Burning: A Novel

Nashville Burning: A Novel

Synopsis

Nashville Burning is set in three Aprils, those of 1967, ’68, and ’69, in Music City. In the first, after an event at Vanderbilt University featuring Martin Luther King Jr., Stokely Carmichael, Allen Ginsburg, and Strom Thurmond, riots broke out in North Nashville, and that part of town burst into flame—as did self-satisfied notions about civil order and structure in Nashville and the South. The next April, after the assassination of Dr. King in Memphis, Nashville riots took place again, and fire claimed its function. Nashville Burning presents characters caught up in those events and that time—events ranging from the thoughtful and sincerely well meaning to the truly felonious and certifiably insane. The novel is humorous, yet serious. Its fire is literal and emotional, and it is not to be stoked.

Excerpt

the orioles, the tomtits, the wrens, the cardinals, the finches purple and red, the robins, the mockers, the pileated woodpeckers and the downies, the larks, the doves, the wood pigeons, each and every songbird real and would-be in Nashville—all fowl large and small, regally colored or dun, admired, pestilent, or ignored, all able to sing, squawk, scream, shriek, or whistle—were tuning up at the first hint of light in the eastern sky across the Cumberland River. It was early spring, and all residents of the Athens of the South had to suffer being informed by birdsong of that stirring in the loins of each creature cursed with a pounding heart and pumping blood. Ever old, ever new.

The announcement by the birds of Nashville of the coming of the dawns of spring made the chancellor of Vanderbilt University stir a bit in his sleep, despite the thickness of the walls of the mansion on Cherry Mount Retreat in which he abided and despite its smoothly and quietly functioning climate control. It roused the residents of the stone homes farther west in Belle Meade, those with expanses of well-tended groundrds and drives and courts and pikes and runs and ways and avenues and allées. the birds’ songs spoke with strength and mindless purpose to those at rest in the homes built more closely together and nearer the streets of Hillsborough Village and Green Hills and West Meade and across the Cumberland in East Nashville. the song reached North Nashville, as well, where most of the Negroes or colored or blacks or whatever they currently called themselves in . . .

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