From black-face minstrel shows to multi-ethnic horse operas like Buffalo Bill's Wild West, a unified cultural history was being forged, which this novel brings to life in vivid detail. Subsequent transitions from vaudeville to Broadway to movies locked iconic American performances into the group mind of audiences like a collective memory or dream. Using revelatory flashbacks and poetic asides, Hairston suggests such collective dreaming transforms people the same way herbal and psychological voodoo can. The fantasy elements featured in Hairston's narrative such as faith healing, telepathy, astral travel, and teleportation are implicitly compared to the Promethean wonders of the electrical pavilion at the 1893 Chicago World s Fair.
Music is rightly described as yet another magic power; a way of changing peoples' moods and even a person s destiny. Using their mutual genius for period blues and bluegrass, Aidan and Redwood follow their dreams of self-reinvention along the same hazardous Blues Highway survived by Ma Rainey and Bessie Smith then transcended by Florence Mills and Josephine Baker. By the time this adventure ushers its characters into the pre-Code film industry, all that matters any more is transcendence: a physical and psychological transcendence of all obstacles to creative or social freedom. --Village Voice, Feb 23, 2011