Creative Writing

Published on May 18th, 2016 | by Rafael Alvarez


Magnolia Vagabond No. 12: Mythical Mississippi

“Watching Son House perform bottleneck guitar was akin to seeing a locomotive on a downhill run…”

– Jas Obrecht, blues scholar


Back in 1988, when my head was so far up my hindquarters I failed to notice that Son House passed away in Detroit Rock City, I was trying to persuade a friend to road trip with me to Mississippi.

“It will be mythical,” I said in a final, last minute pitch before heading out in a brand new Chevy Celebrity station wagon, bought for carpool, used for indiscretion, the kind Son worried about in “Levee Camp Moan.”

“You treat me low down and dirty, baby, that’s the way you do…”

A vacuum tube broker and natural skeptic, my friend wanted to know just how, precisely, it would be mythical.

I could not tell him—who can predict the ways in which nine innings of narrative will end—and the nearly 30-year-old memories of Tupelo and Oxford and Hattiesburg, do not include him.

“My reasons for not going are lost to me now,” he said. “I can only say that when I travel I prefer dogs to people.”

Which would have put him right at home among the philosophers of the Great Magnolia State. The Local Voice Ligature

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About the Author

Rafael Alvarez is a reporter, short story writer & screenwriter based in Baltimore. He has been visiting & writing about Mississippi since 1984. A former staff writer for HBO's "The Wire," his new book is a collection of short fiction called "Tales From the Holy Land."

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