This is one of those books that I can’t entirely tell if I liked all that much, but also that if you told it was actually really good, I would believe you. It’s not entirely that it was “over my head” so much is outside of my experience, especially in terms of language and style, that I didn’t find it as joyous to read as a lot of other readers seem to. That said, it’s clearly up to something impressive that I cannot deny it. So I came upon this book from reading the Collected Letters of Ralph Ellison, and especially from his long correspondence with Murray. The two were college friends and kept up letter writing and friendship for about 40 years. That book tells us that it faded toward the end, but I specifically recall when Ellison read and gave notes for this novel, or rather for pieces of writing that split off between this novel and a previous novel. Ellison was incredibly enthusiastic (but not in any kind of fake way — Ellison would not be able to pull that off). So the novel takes place in a fictional Alabama town as two young boys go off looking for adventure. The language is dialect heavy throughout, but also informed by a kind of improvised, musicality that sends it off into multiple directions at times, full of repetition, local color ala Mark Twain, and clearly linked to African-American folk tales and oral culture that I’ve only read some about in works by Henry Louis Gates or Zora Neale Hurston. So I found the book outside my experience (and certainly outside my expertise) and at times frustrating. But, what do I know?