The Psalms of Israel Jones

What happens to a man who is marked by his culture to be a demigod? Does it crush him? Can he live on in spite of it? And what happens to this Odysseus’s son when he plucks up the broken bow of his falling father—in this case, an electric guitar—and attempts the quest himself? This grafting of myth onto the sensual world of modern rock is the heart of The Psalms of Israel Jones, providing the premise for a father-son journey toward spiritual redemption. While celebrities regularly give up their private lives, Israel Jones takes it further: he’s surrendered his life, his nervous system, maybe even his soul, setting the stage for a raucous ride through the rock underworld.

Says Lee Abbott (author of Dreams of Distant Lives, Strangers in Paradise, and Love is the Crooked Thing) about The Psalms of Israel Jones:

I love this book, not least for the zillion other writers (and religious thinkers) I find in it, among them Dickens, Melville, Jonathan Edwards, Increase Mather, Walker Percy, Billy Sunday, Thomas Merton . . . The plot is straight out of On the Road with the same moral risk and ambiguities. [And] I love the music we get to “hear” between these margins, from the great blues artists of yore (Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, etc.) to the superstars of more recent times (Springsteen, the Grateful Dead, etc.). Is Israel Jones a nearly mythic figure come to redeem us? Sure. But he’s also a fellow who respects an art form born of anger and woe and desperate times. His story obliges us to look back even as we drift farther and farther from the promises we once upon a time made.

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