Stereo Stories’ contributor N.T. McQueen has recently published his fourth book, The Blood of Bones.
McQueen describes the novel as ‘a mythic, coming-of-age tale that speaks to the struggle of finding one’s identity against the expectations of where we come from. A visceral journey of violence and redemption, based off actual tribal practices, this novel will bring you into a new world hidden from time.’
The novel’s central character is a boy, Tesfahun, who lives in the vastness of the Omo Valley, among a tribe isolated from modern civilization where revenge killings and mingi children – omens of drought and pestilence – are left in the wilderness or thrown into the river for the sake of the tribe.
In-between writing novels, McQueen has found time to write, so far, eight Stereo Stories, each one different from the other.
His first, in 2018, was a roadtrip story, a tribute to his mother, via the melancholy pop of The Carpenters:
In my thirties, I hear Rainy Days And Mondays and think of those raindrops and my mom. Her rainy days and Mondays have ended but I still experience them. However, they carry with them a bittersweet melody of a backseat.
His second was a darker family story, via a punk version of Neil Diamond’s Sweet Caroline:
After that moment where life seemed beautiful, my father had a visit from the sherriff’s department and ended up serving a year in county for elder abuse (though forgery and theft charges were dropped in the plea deal). Still the song didn’t become despicable. That came later when I stood facing my father in court as his next victim.
Then came the jazz of Bill Evans’ Waltz For Debby and a story about the passing of childhood:
Not long ago, with my youngest daughter’s legs dangling from my shoulders and her hands resting atop my scalp as we walked home, she asked me to sing her a song. In that moment, I sang Waltz For Debby to her, holding her ankles in my massive hands under a setting summer sun. When I finished, she asked me to sing it again.
McQueen writes about his daughters again via the popular Hawaiian song He Aloha Mele
The girls signed up for hula lessons, learning the sacred moves of the kanaka. Moves of a gentle, spiritual sway where the hands told the story, sweeping and waving to talk story with each movement signifying a deeper resonance with the past and the people.
Recently McQueen’s Stereo Stories have included letters to Elliot Smith and Chester Bennington, with a letter to Chris Cornell in the pipeline.
On his website, the US author says:
Throughout my life, music has influenced me creatively and spiritually. In fact, I wanted to be a professional drummer in my youth but the realities of being a traveling musician did not sit well with my desire to be with my beautiful wife (also I did not have near enough dedication to practice). Regardless, music continues to inspire my creativity and writing, helping to shape emotions and draw out ideas buried somewhere in my subconscious. Spiritually, music connects me to a high realm, connects me in a way mere words simply can’t.
Many a Stereo Stories reader and writer would relate to such words.
Thank you, Nate.