Here at Library of America we’re naturally excited about the release this week of Albert Murray: Collected Novels & Poems, the companion volume to the edition of Murray’s Collected Essays & Memoirs we published in 2016. But, rather than tell you about the new book ourselves, we’d like to let contemporary novelist Ayana Mathis sing the praises of Murray’s fiction—and read a stirring excerpt from it.
Speaking as part of a Murray tribute at the 92nd Street Y in New York City back on November 30, 2016, Mathis related her excitement after discovering Murray’s first novel, Train Whistle Guitar (1974), in a used bookstore in upstate New York. Before she’d even finished reading the book, Mathis said, “I couldn’t believe I didn’t know this person.”
The wreck has never been positively identified, however, and the Clotilda seemed lost to history and local legend—until last month. Taking advantage of low tides and an unusual weather pattern to visit a location suggested to him by older local residents, Alabama reporter Ben Raines discovered the remains of a two-masted schooner that may very well be the Clotilda, pending further corroboration. (Update: Subsequent research into the vessel discovered in the Mobile-Tensaw delta revealed that it wasn’t the Clotilda after all but a different nineteenth-century shipwreck.)
Meanwhile, we can’t forego an opportunity to mention that the wreck of the Clotilda appears in the striking endpapers map of our new Murray volume. Catch a glimpse below:
Albert Murray wrote about the #Clotilda in his 1975 novel TRAIN WHISTLE GUITAR, which we republish next month. Here’s a glimpse of where the ship appears in our awesome endpapers map: pic.twitter.com/bM111cnD9s
— Library of America (@LibraryAmerica) January 24, 2018