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Monday, February 3, 2014

The King of Rags by Eric Bronson Book Tour and Giveaway

Title: King of Rags
Author Name: Eric Bronson



Eric Bronson teaches philosophy in the Humanities Department at York University in Toronto. He is the editor of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Philosophy (Wiley-Blackwell, 2011), Poker and Philosophy (Open Court, 2006), Baseball and Philosophy (Open Court, 2004), and co-editor of The Hobbit and Philosophy (Wiley-Blackwell, 2012), and The Lord of the Rings and Philosophy (Open Court, 2003). In 2007 he served as the "Soul Trainer" for the CBC radio morning show, "Sounds Like Canada." His current project is a book called The Dice Shooters, based loosely on his experiences dealing craps in Las Vegas.

Author Links -

Facebook: King of Rags | Goodreads | Amazon

Thank you to Author Eric Bronson for sharing his thought with us today;

In the classic Christmas movie, It's a Wonderful Life, George Bailey (played by Jimmy Stewart) hears the ringing of the bells and knows that his guardian angel has finally earned his wings. It's not such a wonderful life for the rest of us who hear only bells and don't understand the message.

But the more we learn about the music we hear, the richer is our world. In 1962, jazz saxophonist Sonny Rollins came out with a remake of the sweet pop song, "Where are You Now?" written 25 years earlier for the musical comedy, Top of the Town. It's a good enough song but when you picture Sonny Rollins sitting alone on the Williamsburg Bridge in New York City, pouring his heart out to the night wind and no one else, then you appreciate the original song lyrics all the more.

"All life through
Must I go on pretending
Where is my happy ending
Where are you?"

History is filled with the silent sounds of unheard music. Ever hear of Treemonisha? She's the mythical African American girl who saved her Southern village from ignorance and racial prejudice. Ragtime composer Scott Joplin wrote an opera about her story in the early 1900s. Probably you never heard of him either. But I bet you know his song "The Entertainer" that is still played on almost every battery powered children's piano at Toys R Us, and was featured in the Oscar winning film, The Sting with Paul Newman and Robert Redford. Joplin didn't think it was all so much fun. He wrote the song to be played slow and sweet.

But no one listened to Joplin. And no one listened to his opera either. It was still 50 years before America was ready for a Civil Rights Movement. Joplin broke himself writing the opera, died young in poverty, buried in an unmarked grave in New York City.

This February is going to be a long one for many of us. Why not try something new this month and listen to the music? I mean really listen. The saxophone you hear might be playing something more than you ever dreamed, and the bells you hear don't have to be ordinary bells. Many of the musicians you hear struggled all their lives to get their message out to us.

Tomorrow morning at work, try this. When you hear an old song that traveled a long ways to get to you over the radio or through your iPod, take a moment to pay attention to the sounds and the strains, and give credit where credit is due. Try on your favorite Jimmy Stewart impersonation, look up to heaven, and go ahead and say it.

"Attaboy, Clarence."


Author Links - The link for any or all of the following...

Book Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Neverland Publishing
Release Date: May, 2013
Buy Link(s): Amazon

Book Description:

King of Rags follows the life of Scott Joplin and his fellow ragtime musicians as they frantically transform the seedy and segregated underbelly of comedians, conmen and prostitutes who called America’s most vibrant cities home. Inspired by Booker T. Washington and the Dahomeyan defeat in West Africa, Joplin was ignored by the masses for writing the music of Civil Rights fifty years before America was ready to listen.

Excerpt One:

Whenever he had a difficult decision to make, Scott set himself up on the small hill with high grass and wildflowers. In the starlight he was especially careful not to disturb the patient, purple flowers. A traveling white schoolteacher once read to his class the story of the heliotrope from Ovid’s
Metamorphoses. Derided by the world and scorned by her lover the Sun God, a poor nymph keeps her eyes ever fixed to the sun. Streaked with purple, she is covered in leaves and flowers, roots that claw their way around her helplessness, forever binding her to the earth.

“‘An excess of passion begets an excess of grief,’” the schoolteacher quoted. “Don’t reach so high. You’ll be much happier if you lower your sights.”

But there was something about the nymph’s undying faith that touched him inside. She refused to be stuck here in this world, and that refusal brought hope along with the pain. Scott thought he understood the nymph’s eternal conflict. His music wouldn’t right the wrong, but it might help ease the loss. Long after the sun abandoned her, Scott sat among the heliotrope and played for her his coronet.

The hill had a further advantage: it overlooked the new train station. He was there one December day, ten years earlier, when the first Texas & Pacific railway pulled in from Dallas, on its way to Fulton, Arkansas. Since then his father had taught him to play the violin, banjo and coronet, but none of them could take him beyond his colorless world. Maybe the trains couldn’t either, but the tracks held that promise, going outwards, ever away. His mother believed the coronet was
the Devil’s instrument. Scott disagreed. Any instrument that brought relief to others was useful. It shouldn’t much matter who was dancing at the other end.

Under the wavering light of a half-moon, Scott played with all the sounds of the night: the high-pitched melody of cicada bugs over the running bass line of lumber cars and freight trains, garbage crates and short hauls sounding their syncopated iron rhythms: boom-chugga boom-boom: boomchugga boom-boom. The music of the night trains was the sound of waiting—waiting and waning and wasting away. The greatest secrets in life, Scott knew, lay not in the music or the

people who played it, but in the short, silent spaces that sometimes fell unexpectedly off the beat. The Stop Man taught him that without hardly even saying a word.


  1. Awesome excerpt!:O) I wish you well on your tour!

  2. Enjoyed the excerpt - thanks for sharing!

  3. Thank you for sharing this excerpt! Good luck on your tour!!

    Brooke - Pit Crew

  4. I really enjoyed the extra "thoughts". I think I might just take that little bit of advice and really listen to the music this month. I am sure that I have never sat back and really contemplated on what is behind the music.

    Thank you so much for sharing. Much luck on this great historic tour!


    1. Thanks, all, for supporting the tour and getting Joplin's story out there. Be careful about listening to the music, though. It can get a bit addicting!