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High Lonesome World:
The Death and Life of a Country Music Singer

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New English Library, London, 1975
(price: 75p; 288 pages)
(originally published in the USA by Doubleday, 1969)

dedication: For Wayne Greenhaw

The blurb on the back:

This is the story of Wade Coley, a celebrated Country and Western musician. He is part devil and part angel. His voice is the part of him that is the angel, that can create such beautiful music. His voice sings with a high lonesome sound about a high and lonesome world, the world of bleak landscapes, remote country places and faceless people, that is the great American Mid-west.
But he himself is the devil. His face is a little mean, and his presence creates havoc in the lives of those around him. They each speak out in their different ways, in this novel, of how they love/hated Wade, how he betrayed them. And in the end of how it was those who made him famous, his adoring fans, who dragged him down and destroyed him.

Don't be fooled by the cover. This is a genuinely - and very surprisingly - good book. Babs Deal was just coming off the back of an Edgar nomination in 1966 for her novel Fancy's Knell and she knew how to write.

High Lonesome is the story of Wade Coley, a country star who's dead before the novel starts. What we get therefore is a series of friends, associates and acquaintances talking about Coley in retrospect in their own voices. Consequently there's something of the atmosphere of an oral history about the whole thing. It's not exactly earth-shattering but it works.


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