Suspenseful, cinematic, lushly detailed, and filled with almost mythically
colorful characters, Song Yet Sung
demands a film adaptation from the
very first page. But if you wait for it to come to a theater near you, you'll
miss the easy music of James McBride's lyric styling. His third person narration
recalls a storyteller's tone, relishing the story and the telling of it, not
afraid to embellish a little to bring out the emotional undertone and engage the
audience. He draws the reader close, but his sweet prose softens the brutal
facts that shape the story, allowing the reader to wade into the terrible
history, instead of reeling away.
On one level, Song Yet Sung
is an adventure tale of the antebellum
American south, revolving around the complex nature of the relationships formed
by the institution of slavery. But in McBride's sensitive...
Beyond the Book
The Underground Railway Secret Code
Quilts hung out in a rainstorm, barrels stacked in careful sequence, boats
tied to the dock with five knots facing one direction, songs of freedom and
warning, a blacksmith's hammer ringing out in an undetectable sequence; all are
evidence of the secret codes of the Underground Railroad: cryptic communications
used to facilitate the safe passage of escaped slaves. The Code is central to
Song Yet Sung,
it's the mysterious, rhythmic backbone of the story, as much
a mystery to the main character as it is to the reader. Much of the Code
consisted of seemingly innocuous words or phrases that held greater meaning,
e.g.: "The wind blows from the south today" warned that slave hunters were nearby.
As with many oral...