I SAY ME FOR A PARABLE by Glen Alyn

I SAY ME FOR A PARABLE

The Oral Autobiography of Mance Lipscomb, Texas Bluesman
edited by
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 The oral autobiography of black East Texas farmer and songster Mance Lipscomb--a life that's one of the great American stories. Lipscomb (1895-1976) knew how to tell a tale, and had incredible tales to tell--about race and genealogy; about his allegiance to his part-Choctaw mother; about epic beatings by his father (who could play a cigar-box fiddle like a heavenly harp). The musician also speaks here about having his best friend, a cousin, and many acquaintances murdered by whites; about Frank Hamer, the Texas lawman who killed Bonnie and Clyde and who made Lipscomb his assistant and confidant when Lipscomb was ten years old; about farming (there's a dramatic account of share croppers readying mules to plow in the 4:00 a.m. darkness); about causing mass catharsis among 41,000 listeners when he played ``Motherless Children'' in Berkeley--ending his first-ever concert after just three songs. Lipscomb also demonstrates impressive insight into the structure of, and influences on, his musical style. But it was a mistake for editor-transcriber Alyn to begin with talk about Lipscomb's religious philosophy rather than to let that philosophy unobtrusively inform the narrative throughout. Moreover, Alyn's attempt to preserve Lipscomb's colorful speech through nonstandard spellings seems to trivialize his subject, and sometimes confuses (for instance, when ``rail'' is written for ``real,'' or ``miny'' for ``many''). Still, gratitude is owed Alyn for preserving Lipscomb's remarkable story. (Photos)

Pub Date: Sept. 27th, 1993
ISBN: 0-393-03500-X
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Norton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 1993