Document Type

Honors Project On-Campus Access Only


A hearty thank you to Peter Bognanni for advising this project. Josh Marcus and Sam Downs provided invaluable feedback in workshops. Matt Burgess and Crystal Moten were extremely helpful late in the process.


It’s winter in the windy city and Louise Jefferson is tired. Her day job is monotonous, and her night one—playing harmonica in local blues bands—is hazardous and low-paying. But one day, she gets a chance to cut a hit record with one of the world’s best bluesmen. Royalties and gig money beckon, if Louise can keep her drinking in check. In a whirlwind two months, Louise becomes close with a Madam, visits a jailhouse with an ex-boxer, and witnesses a murder. Her story takes the reader from post-war Tennessee to the vibrant heart of Chicago’s Southside. The novella explores themes of historicity, alcoholism, racial strife, gender violence, and blues music. It evokes the 1950s American metropolis in all of its beauty and contradictions. Many different recording artists inspire this work, including Ma Rainey, Bessie Smith, Lucille Bogan, Little Walter, Willie Dixon, and T-Bone Walker.



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