Bass Cathedral

(Author) (Contribution by)

Product Details

$16.95  $15.76
New Directions Publishing Corporation
Publish Date
5.28 X 0.6 X 8.0 inches | 0.5 pounds
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About the Author

Nathaniel Mackey was born in Miami, Florida in 1947. He is the author of several books of poetry, fiction, and criticism, and has received many awards for his work, including the National Book Award in poetry for Splay Anthem, the Stephen Henderson Award from the African American Literature and Culture Society, and the Bollingen Prize from the Beinecke Library at Yale University. Mackey is the Reynolds Price Professor of English at Duke University, and edits the literary journal Hambone.


His thick referential imagery highlights his acuity with literary and jazz history.

-- Jane Carr
More readable than its of Mackey's poetry, and of jazz, may find themselves right at home.
Not once does the conceptual language dampen the sound of the music inhabiting the prose.

-- Douglas Mullins
Writes letters about the mystery of music that speaks to our core instead of ...allowing us to bask in sound.

It a work in the act of being created...not simply writing about jazz, but writing as jazz.

-- David Hajdu
An open-ended exegesis of musical meaning that is equal parts African American history, Bedouin mysticism, and Mackey's own imagination. -- Travis Nichols
In the fourth installment of this National Book Award-winning poet and novelist's ongoing epistolary work of fiction, Mackey (Splay Anthem) is never shy of the unwieldy or the recondite, plunging readers into the heady thoughts of N., narrating letter writer and member of the fictional early '80s jazz ensemble Molino m'Atet, who are releasing their first album, Orphic Bend. Like the plot points of Mackey's previous novels (which feature first concerts, new drummers and intra-band love triangles), the album release here serves mainly to trigger Mackey's singularly styled vamps on jazz and its mystical connotations. Mackey works in a kind of otherworldly reality, where recognizable situations quickly give way to the fanciful: the band, at one point, finds that cartoon speech balloons appear from the grooves of their album (as they appeared from the band's instruments in earlier installments), causing confusion among the band members and their fans. I dreamt you were gone... begin the balloons; from here, Mackey takes off into the wilds of abstraction and imagination. Less stridently avant-garde and more readable than its predecessors, this poetic novel is nonetheless dense and challenging. It may not be for everyone, but fans of Mackey's poetry, and of jazz, may find themselves right at home.