Mississippi Masters

I was born in the great Mississippi Delta, that part of America that someone called the most Southern place on earth.   

--B. B. King, born on this day in 1925

In Delta Blues (2008), a history of King and the other "Mississippi Masters," Ted Gioia says that it is almost impossible to measure "the influence of the Delta on the sound of our musical lives":

One might as well try to imagine cooking without herbs and spices, or medicine before the arrival of penicillin. Our soundscapes were revitalized by the blues tonality, which found rich deposits by mining the cracks between the notes of our Western scales.… Without the blues, much of the music we hear every day would be fundamentally different, eviscerated and tepid. And without the Delta, we can hardly imagine the blues exerting such a powerful influence.

Daybook is contributed by Steve King, who teaches in the English Department of Memorial University in St. John's, Newfoundland. His literary daybook began as a radio series syndicated nationally in Canada. He can be found online at todayinliterature.com.


Crime fiction legends Dennis Lehane and Michael Connelly discuss the new book that unites their beloved sleuths Patrick Kenzie and Harry Bosch.

Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
Paradise and Elsewhere

Canadian short story marvel Kathy Page emerges as the Alice Munro of the supernatural from these heartfelt tales of shapeshifting swimmers, mild-mannered cannibals, and personality-shifting viruses transmitted through kisses.


When a persuasive pastor arrives in a sleepy farm town, his sage influence has otherworldly results (talking sheep, a mayor who walks on water). But can he pull off the miracle of finding kindly local Liz Denny the love of her life?  Small wonder looms large in this charmer from Andre Alexis.

The Hundred-Year House

When a poetry scholar goes digging through the decrepit estate of his wife's family to uncover a bygone arts colony's strange mysteries, he awakens a tenacious monster: his mother-in-law. A wickedly funny take on aging aristocracies from author Rebecca Makkai (The Borrower).