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The Magic Keys winningly evokes the coming to maturity of one of the great characters in contemporary American literature: Scooter, the central protagonist of Albert Murray’s highly acclaimed autobiographical novels Train Whistle Guitar, The Spyglass Tree, and The Seven League Boots.
Growing up brilliant and curious in Alabama, Scooter was told he was destined for greatness. Now newly married and a graduate student in humanities at New York University, he goes about discovering just what he is destined to be great at. Anchored by Eunice, his “Mrs. Me,” Scooter makes the rounds of Manhattan’s libraries, jazz hangouts, galleries, skyscrapers, and endlessly fascinating streets, meeting the people who will help him find his way: dapper Taft Edison, who is setting their down-home dialect onto the pages of his novel-in-progress; Joe States, a drummer who brings old expectations to Scooter’s new life; and Jewel Templeton, no longer his girl but still a believer. When his budding career takes him back to Alabama, Scooter discovers both the promise of everyday bliss and intimations of adventures to come.
In his inimitably musical, ardent prose, Murray captures the joyful rhythms of youth and the pulse of life at the moment when everything seems possible, in an exhilarating, tender, and masterfully crafted novel.