New Release Books by Tom Piazza

Tom Piazza is the author of It Occurs to Me That I Am America (2018), A Free State (2015), Why New Orleans Matters (2015), Devil Sent the Rain (2011) and other 8 books.

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It Occurs to Me That I Am America

release date: Jan 16, 2018
It Occurs to Me That I Am America
This provocative, unprecedented anthology features original short stories from thirty authors, celebrating the fundamental ideals of a free, just, and compassionate democracy. Included are pages of daring, full-color and black-and-white art, that support our country''s founding premise as the land of the free. Royalties from the book will be donated to the American Civil Liberties Union.

A Free State

release date: Sep 15, 2015
A Free State
The author of City of Refuge returns with a startling and powerful novel of race, violence, and identity set on the eve of the Civil War. The year is 1855. Blackface minstrelsy is the most popular form of entertainment in a nation about to be torn apart by the battle over slavery. Henry Sims, a fugitive slave and a brilliant musician, has escaped to Philadelphia, where he earns money living by his wits and performing on the street. He is befriended by James Douglass, leader of a popular minstrel troupe struggling to compete with dozens of similar ensembles, who imagines that Henry’s skill and magnetism might restore his troupe’s sagging fortunes. The problem is that black and white performers are not allowed to appear together onstage. Together, the two concoct a masquerade to protect Henry’s identity, and Henry creates a sensation in his first appearances with the troupe. Yet even as their plan begins to reverse the troupe’s decline, a brutal slave hunter named Tull Burton has been employed by Henry’s former master to track down the runaway and retrieve him, by any means necessary. Bursting with narrative tension and unforgettable characters, shot through with unexpected turns and insight, A Free State is a thrilling reimagining of the American story by a novelist at the height of his powers.

Why New Orleans Matters

release date: Aug 25, 2015
Why New Orleans Matters
Tom Piazza''s award-winning portrait of a city in crisis, with a new preface from the author, ten years after. Ten years ago, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and the disaster that followed, promises were made, forgotten, and renewed. What would become of New Orleans in the years ahead? How would this city and its people recover—and what meaning would its story have, for America and the world? In Why New Orleans Matters, first published only months after the disaster, award-winning author and longtime New Orleans resident Tom Piazza illuminates the storied culture and still-evolving future of this great and vital American metropolis. Piazza evokes the sensuous textures of the city that gave us jazz music, Creole cooking, and a unique style of living; he examines the city''s undercurrents of corruption and racism, and explains how its people endure and transcend them. And, perhaps most important, he bears witness to the city''s spirit: its grace and beauty, resilience and soul. In the preface to this new edition, Piazza considers how far the city has come in the decade since Katrina, as well as the challenges it still faces—and reminds us that people in threatened communities across America have much to learn from New Orleans'' disaster and astonishing recovery.

Devil Sent the Rain

release date: Aug 23, 2011
Devil Sent the Rain
“WhateverTom Piazza writes is touched with magic." —Douglas Brinkley Acclaimed author Tom Piazza follows hisprize-winning novel City of Refuge and the post-Katrinaclassic Why New Orleans Matters with a dynamic collection ofessays and journalism about American music and American character, in DevilSent the Rain. “TomPiazza’s writing is filled with energy, and with tender, insightful words forthe brilliant and irascible, from Jimmy Martin to Norman Mailer. Time and timeagain, Piazza identifies the unlikely, precious connections between recentevents, art, letters, and music; through his words, these byways of popularculture provide an unexpected measure of the times.” —Elvis Costello

True Adventures with the King of Bluegrass

release date: Jan 01, 2009
True Adventures with the King of Bluegrass
Jimmy Martin was just twenty-two years old when Bill Monroe asked him to join the Blue Grass Boys. That invitation was the start of a career that spanned half a century and culminated with Martin''s induction into the International Bluegrass Music Association''s Hall of Honor. Always an enigmatic figure, Martin was as famous for his temper as he was for his talent. On assignment from the Oxford American magazine, fiction writer and music critic Tom Piazza drove from his home in New Orleans to Nashville to interview Martin and found himself pitched headlong into a world he couldn''t have anticipated. Martin''s mercurial personality drew the writer into a series of escalating encounters (with mean dogs, broken-down cars, and near electrocution), culminating in a harrowing and unforgettable expedition, with Martin, to the Grand Ole Opry. Though, or perhaps because, visits to the Opry like the one Piazza recounts were common for Martin, and though he frequently played on its stage and always hoped to become a member, he died before seeing his dream fulfilled. True Adventures with the King of Bluegrass is the funny, scary, and powerfully poignant portrait of one of the legends of American music. Co-published with the Country Music Foundation Press

The Southern Journey of Alan Lomax

release date: Dec 11, 2012
The Southern Journey of Alan Lomax
A Best Photo Book of 2012 by American Photo. A new look at the legendary folklorist and his work. More than fifty years ago, on a trip dubbed “the Southern Journey,” Alan Lomax visited Virginia, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Kentucky, and Tennessee, uncovering the little-known southern backcountry and blues music that we now consider uniquely American. Lomax’s camera was a constant companion, and his images of both legendary and anonymous folk musicians complement his famous field recordings. These photographs—largely unpublished—show musicians making music with family and friends at home, with fellow worshippers at church, and alongside workers and prisoners in the fields. Discussions of Lomax’s life and career by his disciple and lauded folklorist William Ferris, and a lyrical look at Lomax’s photographs by novelist and Grammy Award-winning music writer Tom Piazza, enrich this valuable collection.

My Cold War

release date: Sep 16, 2003
My Cold War
John Delano is in trouble. A professor of Cold War Studies at a small New England college, hetraffics in what others call "History McNuggets" -- gimmicky, easily digestible glimpses of our collective past. But as he struggles with his magnum opus -- a major new book on the "surfaces" of the Cold War era -- Delano''s life begins to fall apart. In a series of dazzlingly rendered and escalating encounters, he revisits the treeless vistas of 1950s suburbia, the streets of Dallas and the JFK assassination, the Summer of Love, and other landmark moments, and finally travels into the heartland to reconnect with his estranged brother. What he finds there, and what he makes of it, forms this novel''s poignant climax. Bob Dylan has said that Tom Piazza''s "stories pulsate with nervous electrical tension -- reveal the emotions that we can''t define." Now, in a breakout novel of power, subtlety, and range, Piazza braids together the inner and outer life of our times, in a story that will leave readers both shaken and exhilarated.

Understanding Jazz

release date: Jan 01, 2005
Understanding Jazz
Much more than just another history of this vital music and those who play it, Understanding Jazz is a multimedia master class and late-night jam session rolled into one-an indispensable guide to a deeper appreciation of jazz.

Blues and Trouble

release date: Oct 15, 1997
Blues and Trouble
Exploring the diverse landscape of American life, twelve stories capture the lives of people caught between circumstance and their own natures or on the run from fate, from a Jewish couple encountering a dealer in Nazi memorabilia to the troubled family of a Gulf Coast fisherman awaiting a hurricane

Blues Up and Down

release date: Jan 01, 1997
Blues Up and Down
Argues that history is being repeated as jazz music reinvents itself once again, using both musical traditions and new inspiration to propel this unique format to the forefront of current musical trends

The Guide to Classic Recorded Jazz

release date: Jan 01, 1995
The Guide to Classic Recorded Jazz
In a single source, this book serves as a field guide to available recordings as well as a highly accessible vision of the development and sound of the music, one that will give the reader some sense of what musicians think about when they play, what kinds of demands are placed on them, and what kinds of solutions they have to come up with.
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