Evangel of Robert Johnson
Told in four separate narratives and banned ever since its initial publication, Evangel of Robert Johnson spans across the Yazoo Delta of Mississippi during the Great Depression, weaving a story modeled after ancient poems in the epic tradition as biography for the Mythological Bluesman.
Part One reads as a film treatment with the sentence structure informed by Japanese Haiku, tracing the final seven years of Johnson’s life from the time he supposedly sold his soul to the devil for musical greatness to his life in saloons across the backcountry of the American South, to his only known recordings and his strange and untimely death.
Part Two is an Americanized adaptation of the four Gospels combined, with Robert Johnson serving as the child and father and spirit of mysterious and darkened creation risen from the ash and history of the American South, especially the Mississippi Delta, tracking down a part-historically-accurate and part-imagined bloodline for Johnson parallel to the bloodline of Christ.
Told by an unknown character who would have been a very close friend of Johnson, the perspective of Part Three adapts John Milton’s Satan as a folksy and charming Southern snake-oil man.
And the final section of the novel is itself strictly based upon Johnson’s own music and lyrics, reading as an opera of prose or modern-day epic music video, following a circus of freaks, called Mystics Medicine Show, bound for New Orleans, rendering myth and fact, history and invention, fiction and truth, Hell and earth--the blues of Robert Johnson as a gateway unto realms beyond this world.