My Book Babies

My Book Babies
You can find all of my books on Amazon, Barnes and noble, and through other retailers on my website,

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Fat Man Blues

If you hadn't already seen on my social media accounts, I am spending November participating in NaNoWriMo, and, as a result, blog posts will be a little thin on the ground this month.
Instead I would like to draw your attention to what I have been reading the last few days, new release Fat Man Blues, by the very talented Richard Wall. Here is the blurb:
"Hobo John" is an English blues enthusiast on a pilgrimage to present-day Mississippi. One night in Clarksdale he meets the mysterious Fat Man, who offers him the chance to see the real blues of the 1930s. Unable to refuse this offer, Hobo John embarks on a journey through the afterlife in the company of Travellin' Man, an old blues guitarist who shows him the sights, sounds and everyday life in the Mississippi Delta. Along the way, the Englishman discovers the harsh realities behind his romantic notion of the music he loves and the true price of the deal that he has made.
Blues fans will love this book, but you don't have to be a major blues fan to enjoy the story. I know nothing about the era, but I had great time reading this tightly written tale. I did then get myself onto YouTube and listen to some of the artists mentioned, discovering some very cool new (to me) music, including a song written specifically for this book.
If this novel is ever made into a film, it will have a scorching soundtrack.
I could go on at you for ages about the reasons I love it but your reading taste might well be wildly different from mine so instead I badgered and cajoled Richard into letting me share the opening chapter with you, so you can judge it for yourself:

Red’s was a juke-joint in Clarksdale, Mississippi, just across the tracks from the Ground Zero Blues Club. On the third night that I went in, the place was empty; except for Red, who was engrossed in a newspaper, and an obese black man I’d never seen before who was scribbling in a notebook at a table next to the stage, necking Tanqueray from the bottle and in a world that only he could see.
     I walked up to the bar. Red looked up, nodded at me, produced a bottle of Sam Adams and then carried on reading.
     “I’m a King Bee” by Slim Harpo was playing on the juke-box; I placed a five-dollar bill on the bar and sipped my beer to the hypnotic swamp-blues vibe.
     Slim Harpo stopped singing and the juke-box fell silent. The fat man lifted his massive head and blinked at me slowly.
     “Y’all dig the blues, White Boy?” he said.
     I said that I did.
     The fat man grunted. “I ‘member one time, Muddy Waters stopped by here, stood ‘sac’ly where you standin’ now. Man that cat could play.”
            He gave three hefty chuckles, took another drink and then belched. “What are y’all doin’ here?”
     I told him I was following the blues trail and was stopping in Clarksdale for a few nights.
            “Jus’ another white boy wants t’ play the blues, huh?”
     I shrugged.
     “Where’s yo’ accent from?”
     I told him it was from England.
     “Well,” he said. “This heyah’s what the blues is now. Blues is fo’ white folks, but it ain’t the real blues. I knows where the real blues is, ain’t that right, Red?”
     Red didn't look up but his head moved slightly. It could have been a nod.
     “Come over heyah, son,” said the fat man.
     I walked over.
     Up close he reeked of booze and body odour; beads of sweat covered his bald head, and the black t-shirt stretched across his huge bulk and black sweat pants that encased massive thighs were covered in stains that I didn’t want to think about. He cleared his throat and blinked slowly as he fought to salvage discarded words from his gin-soaked vocabulary.
     “See,” he said. “They’s a place where the blues is still like it was.” He leaned closer. “I can show yo’ that place, if yo’ of a mind?”
     I said maybe and asked him his name.
     The fat man blinked at me, his eyes glazing as he processed this, and then said, “I’ll get back to yo’ on that.”
            He stood up, wavered unsteadily and then left the bar through a door at the back of the room.
     I returned to the bar and asked Red who that was. He didn’t look up from his newspaper.
     “Tha's Fat Man,” he growled. “An’ tha’s all I’m sayin’.”
      True to his word, Red remained silent. I stayed for another beer and then said goodnight.
     Fat Man appeared from an alley at the side of the building.
     “So, yo’ wan’ see this place where the blues is at?”
     I wondered what sort of scam was about to be played. Maybe he was a hustler for another club?
     “Ain’t no scam,” he said. “An’ I ain’t no hustler. This place I knows, it ain’t no club, but is jus’ the sort o’ place yo’ need to see. Blues is wid y’all.”
     I asked him what he meant.
     “I saw yo’ diggin’ Slim Harpo,” he said. “Yo’ heyah cos’ yo’ woman gone an’ yo’ feelin’ low down. Yo’ got the sickness. Yo’ got the blues sho’ nuff.”
     I asked him how the hell he knew all that.
     “Yo’ wearin’ a weddin’ band but yo’ been heyah three nights on yo’ own, hittin’ the booze an’ diggin’ the blues. Yo’ got a dark aura, kinda sickly. Somethin’ bad be hangin’ wid yo’.”
     I said I had to go. Fat Man stepped in front of me. “Hear me, White Boy," he said. "I knows a place yo’ would ‘preciate. I’m talkin’ Charley Patton, Robert Johnson, Willie Brown.”
     Now I was certain he was drunk. I reminded him that they were all dead.
     He winked. “Maybe they is, maybe they ain’t.  Maybe yo’ ain't far behind ‘em. An’ I ain’t drunk, I jus’ been drinkin’. We gon’ talk again soon.”
     I stepped around him and walked back into town.

 Fat Man Blues Blues is out now as an ebook with rumours of a paperback soon to follow.

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