A kind review of Diddy-Wah-Diddy: A Beale Street Suite
“Corey Mesler has produced a marvelously original work here, conjuring the subcultural streams that flowed in, out, and around the old, built-bottom-up Beale. What does life feel like behind the blues, and that protean edifice in time called Beale Street? What did the people do there, I mean, in those authentic days before it crumbled and eventually resurfaced as a respectable mainstream tourist district?
Well, if any answers are out there, you have to tell them slant. It’s done here with language that’s been compared to John Coltrane, but it also might remind you of Robert Johnson or old men in spooky pawn shops. If they talk slick and fast and smooth.
Mesler turns up a few tricks. Like gloriously incongruous literary allusions. People can stare at the shocking sight of someone familiar and unfamiliar, until it clicks: “[T]hey stared until dawning came slowly on little cat’s feet.” (Conjure up a picture of Carl Sandburg walking down Beale in 1950, thinking about Lincoln and the fog.) How about a hit song from 1948 with the title “Stephen Daedalus’s Blues”?
And the language stretches its considerable, playful range over stories about everything you might imagine folks did there on Beale, and compelled other people to write songs about later. A horn player killed: “Dead he was, murdered in blood colder than the world’s heart.” Or, “This is how it was. At least in this tangled old tale which is a pulse-rate off tangentially from an accurate reading of tired reality.”
Good summary, that last quote. Go read this book.”
Paul Cook, on Goodreads