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NOVELS AND SHORT STORIES BY AUTHOR

PUBLISHER
Blank Forms Editions

BOOK FORMAT
Hardcover, 5.5 x 8.25 in. / 68 pgs.

PUBLISHING STATUS
Pub Date
Active

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D.A.P. Exclusive
Catalog: FALL 2022 p. 37   

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ISBN 9781953691118 TRADE
List Price: $20.00 CDN $28.00

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In stock

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BLANK FORMS EDITIONS

Blue in Green

By Wesley Brown.

The latest work from the veteran novelist called “one hell of a writer” by James Baldwin and “wonderfully wry” by Donald Barthelme: a timely meditation on the psychological impact of police brutality, through the lens of a day in the life of Miles Davis

Written by playwright and novelist Wesley Brown, Blue in Green narrates one evening in August 1959, when, mere weeks after the release of his landmark album Kind of Blue, Miles Davis is assaulted by a member of the New York City Police Department outside of the Birdland jazz club. In the aftermath, we enter the strained relationship between Davis and his wife, Frances Taylor, whom he has recently cajoled into ending her run as a performer on Broadway and retiring from modern dance and ballet altogether. Frances, who is increasingly subject to Davis’ temper—fueled by both his professional envy and substance abuse—reckons with her upbringing in Christian Science and, through a fateful meeting with Lena Horne, the conflicting demands of motherhood and artistic vocation. Meanwhile, blowing off steam from his beating, Miles speeds across Manhattan in his sports car. Racing alongside him are recollections of a stony, young John Coltrane, a combative Charlie Parker and the stilted world of the Black middle class he’s left behind.
Wesley Brown (born 1945) is a novelist and playwright. He is the author of novels including Darktown Strutters, Push Comes to Shove and Tragic Magic, which was reissued in 2021 to critical acclaim. He has led an active political life, having held memberships in the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and the Black Panther Party in the 1960s. In the early 1970s he spent more than a year in federal prison for refusing induction in the armed services during the Vietnam War. In this time, he drafted his first novel, which was edited by Toni Morrison. He is a professor emeritus of English at Rutgers University in New Jersey, where he taught for 26 years. Brown lives in Lawrenceville, Georgia.


PRAISE AND REVIEWS

author of Mumbo Jumbo

Ishmael Reed

Miles Davis was a cruel, narcissistic bully who hated his skin color and cultivated an image as that of a pug. He practiced by beating up his wife, Frances Taylor, and Paul Chambers, but when it came to his business he was a pussycat. He played at Birdland, owned by the mobsters and where musicians were regularly called niggers and short-changed. He knew better than to raise his fists at these guys. He squandered money on the mob’s products. The cop who beat him up was probably owned by the mob too. New York cops at the time, authoritarian, catholic, hated race mixing unless it was them doing it.
Wesley Brown is a writer’s writer. His dialog in Blue in Green is remarkable. He knows the varieties of the American language in and out. We get fascinating portraits of Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk, Billie Holiday, Clark Terry, Lena Horne, Katherine Dunham, Eartha Kitt, and others. An insider named Freeloader provides comic relief. Before the salespersons dictated trends in Black literature, a major publisher would have published this book. Thanks to Blank Forms and other midsize presses, the Black literary tradition, whose fictional standards were set by Brooks, Wright, Himes, Polite, Bambara, and others, is alive.

author of Four Lives in the Bebop Business

A. B. Spellman

Wesley Brown attempts a difficult thing with this book: He attempts to walk inside the consciousness of Miles Davis at a very complex point in his very complex life. Beaten by police for smoking a cigarette outside Birdland, married to a brilliant and accomplished dancer, leading a sextet that has genius at every station, and fending off demons that are co-authors of his being, Brown’s Miles is a man who is troubled and proud. This novella is lyrical, insightful, and beautiful.

author of Negroland: A Memoir

Margo Jefferson

Blue in Green is a gorgeous jazz composition. In love and in torment, Miles Davis and Frances Taylor are co-creators and lead soloists. Brown surrounds them with an ensemble of brilliant friends, rivals, and mentors: Monk, Coltrane, Cannonball Adderley, Katherine Dunham, Lena Horne, Eartha Kitt. All have their say—shrewd, ebullient, dissonant. When I closed the book, I wanted to begin it all overagain: see, hear, and re-experience every note of Wesley Brown’s wonderful prose music.

author of Read Until You Understand: The Profound Wisdom of Black Life and Literature

Farah Jasmine Griffin

As he writes about Miles and Lady Day in Blue in Green, Wesley Brown does more 'with less.' In this concise novella he renders the music and the musicians with intelligence, depth, clarity, and beautiful wisdom. An extra bonus: though it is a story of Miles, Frances, fully imagined, finally gets her due. Blue in Green is a true gift from a great writer.

author of Come Back in September: A Literary Education on West Sixty-seventh Street, Manhattan

Darryl Pinckney

Wesley Brown approaches African American history with such originality. In his novella, he inhabits the mind of a creative legend, Miles Davis. Brown writes beautifully about musicians. He conveys so memorably the artistry of jazz and the passion of black life at a critical moment in our social history.

Blue in Green

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