Blue in Green By Wesley Brown
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The latest work from the veteran novelist called “one hell of a writer” by James Baldwin and “wonderfully wry” by Donald Barthelme: a timely meditation on the psychological impact of police brutality, through the lens of a day in the life of Miles Davis
Written by playwright and novelist Wesley Brown, Blue in Green narrates one evening in August 1959, when, mere weeks after the release of his landmark album Kind of Blue, Miles Davis is assaulted by a member of the New York City Police Department outside of the Birdland jazz club. In the aftermath, we enter the strained relationship between Davis and his wife, Frances Taylor, whom he has recently cajoled into ending her run as a performer on Broadway and retiring from modern dance and ballet altogether. Frances, who is increasingly subject to Davis’ temper—fueled by both his professional envy and substance abuse—reckons with her upbringing in Christian Science and, through a fateful meeting with Lena Horne, the conflicting demands of motherhood and artistic vocation. Meanwhile, blowing off steam from his beating, Miles speeds across Manhattan in his sports car. Racing alongside him are recollections of a stony, young John Coltrane, a combative Charlie Parker and the stilted world of the Black middle class he’s left behind.
Wesley Brown (born 1945) is a novelist and playwright. He is the author of novels including Darktown Strutters, Push Comes to Shove and Tragic Magic, which was reissued in 2021 to critical acclaim. He has led an active political life, having held memberships in the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and the Black Panther Party in the 1960s. In the early 1970s he spent more than a year in federal prison for refusing induction in the armed services during the Vietnam War. In this time, he drafted his first novel, which was edited by Toni Morrison. He is a professor emeritus of English at Rutgers University in New Jersey, where he taught for 26 years. Brown lives in Lawrenceville, Georgia.