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Comment: Condition: Excellent condition., Binding: Paperback / Publisher: Vintage / Pub. Date: 1997-02-04 Attributes: Book, 384 pp / Stock#: 2067873 (FBA) * * *This item qualifies for FREE SHIPPING and Amazon Prime programs! * * *
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The Seven League Boots Paperback – February 4, 1997

4.3 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Jazz and fiction haven't invariably made a happy marriage. Often the jazz element seems incidental--an excuse to set the denouement in a smoky nightclub. Every now and then, however, a book appears in which the very texture of the prose is inseparable from the music, and Albert Murray's The Seven League Boots is a perfect example. The third and penultimate installment in a series, the novel revolves around an Alabama-bred bass player named Scooter. When the story opens, the Swing Era is in full flower. Scooter has just graduated from college, and he's immediately enlisted to play with the Bossman--a pianist and composer with a more-than-casual resemblance to Duke Ellington. Like Ellington's music, Murray's prose is a marvelous mixture of lyrical and gutbucket tonalities. And as the Bossman's orchestra tours the United States, Scooter undertakes a journey of discovery, in which centuries of American history are comically or tragically encapsulated. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

The young black hero of Murray's Train Whistle Guitar and The Spyglass Tree comes of age in this ambitious and vibrant conclusion to the trilogy, set in the 1920s. Here, Scooter has been nicknamed Schoolboy, for his new college degree. A talented bass player, Schoolboy is called to join the ensemble led by the legendary and innovative Bossman. A series of one-night stands eventually takes the band to L.A. for an extended stay. Although promised to a girl back home, Schoolboy acquires two lovers there. The first, Gayneele Whitlow, an "old down home broad," is a familiar fixture to the band; but it is for movie star Jewel Templeton that he takes a leave from the band. Though new to the jazz scene, Jewel becomes Schoolboy's patron, offering her home, her staff and herself in exchange for a foothold in the jazz world that fascinates her. Studio sessions and club dates keep Schoolboy busy, but the itch to be on the road returns. Even so, Jewel takes him abroad to experience Europe; it is only by leaving that continent, and her, that he learns what to come home to. Murray faithfully evokes the world of early black jazz here-as much through his prose, which soars, glides and hops in an energetic rush, as through his richly detailed evocations of various cities and landmark sites. Keenly observant and intensely curious, Schoolboy makes an engaging narrator, completing a story that, after three volumes, is as vital as the period in black American history that it evokes so well.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (February 4, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679758585
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679758587
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,389,164 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
Is Albert Murray the best living black author? Since Ralph Ellison (a friend of Murray's at Tuskeegee) died there has not a been a black author who has shown more insight, wit, and stylistic virtuosity than Murray. The Seven League boots is a fitting end to a trilogy of novels about Scooter, and again this book is a showcase for Murray's down-home mix of Joyce, Faulkner, and Duke Ellington poetics. In a book that warmly and humorously examines that ever-present rift between expectations and personal dreams, Murray never manages to drift into cliche. Much like the jazz music which forms the roots of both his style and his life, Murray confronts the demons of existance with the sound of surprise and wit. By an author who is far too overlooked, the Seven League Boots is a necessity for a lover of modern literature.
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Albert Murray probably wrote someplace why he titled the third book in his semi-autobiographical trilogy "The Seven League Boots," but I haven't found it yet. The definition of the term, at least by consensus on the internet, makes sense: Seven League Boots are boots of myth and fairy tale that enable their wearer to take seven league strides (about 24.5 miles). Googling the phrase even uncovered a 1950s newspaper advertisement from the American Trucking Association arguing that the trucking industry is "Today's Seven League Boots...overtaking your high cost of living." The wonder of traveling great distances in very little time is ubiquitous in Murray's third, triumphant novel. His protagonist, Scooter, faithfully stops amidst his various Swing Era adventures to assess his distance from the Spyglass Tree back in Gasoline Point, not only in terms of miles, but in terms of history, personal development, achievement and enlightenment. It is tantamount to an involuntary reflex for Scooter to credit the folks back home who put him on the right path and encouraged him along the way, especially the various "fairy godmothers" who intervened at pivotal moments just like those in the stories he heard when he was a boy.

The title choice could also be a nod to Richard Halliburton's book published in 1935 detailing his swashbuckling adventures all over the globe. Back in Scooter's childhood, detailed in the first book, "Train Whistle Guitar," Scooter and his best friend Buddy Marshal explored the canebrakes, woods and rivers of Gasoline Point imagining themselves to be "explorers and discoverers and Indian scouts as well as sea pirates and cowboys and African spear fighters not to mention the two schemingest gamblers and back alley ramblers this side of Philmayork.
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By Nastarana on February 14, 2012
Format: Paperback
There are two parts to this novel, and the first part is far better than the secend. In fact, the first part, which stands by itself, from page 1 to about 156 or thereabouts, is far and away the best modern writing I have encountered in a long time.

It is difficult for a non-professional reviewer to do justice to the brilliance of Mr. Murray's acheivement in those few pages. Not only is the writing as near to perfection as human frailty can manage, but the themes are of such seriousness and profundity as to ennoble what is already brilliant prose.

Then one comes to part two, which I found to be cliche-ridden and trite in subject although still expressed in excellent and readable prose. In addition, I must register a strong disagreement with Mr. Murray, on no less important point than that of "Worthy Use of Spare Time", which he would appear to think is mainly, if not solely, an attribute or practice of wealthy, charming, beautiful people. He should have known better. His story is set in the early part of the 20thC, after WWI, and before WWII. In those decades, American culture and Americans had not yet been corrupted by the stupidities of mass culture, and the country was crawling with rockhounds, birdwatchers, fossil collectors, amateur naturalists and astronomers, avid gardeners, amateur historians and archivists, and I could go on. So, no, Worthy Use of Spare Time, was not and is not only to be found among the beautiful people.

As for the charge of racism, mentioned above, I saw no such thing. Certainly, there is none of that coy so and so who happens to be such and such, which regretably infects the work of far too many African-American women writers.
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