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James McBride on "Song Yet Sung"

James McBride on “Song Yet Sung”: “

james mcbrideToday in The Baltimore Sun, find out how a whim brought author James McBride to Maryland’s Eastern Shore, and provided the spark of inspiration that led to “Song Yet Sung.” McBride’s latest (he also wrote the best-selling memoir “The Color of Water”) is the 2009 selection for the statewide reading program called One Maryland One Book.

He’ll appear at the Baltimore Book Festival on Sunday at noon (here’s a photo gallery of some other festival authors), and at Bridgeway Community Church in Columbia at 4 p.m. Here are some excerpts from Chris Kaltenbach’s story, which describes the book as “a tale of slavery, freedom and hard-fought victories whose opportunities could still be squandered, set in the labyrinthine swamps, bogs and waterways of the Eastern Shore”:

With the Eastern Shore as its pointedly idiosyncratic setting and “The [Underground Railway] Code” as a plot device relentlessly keeping readers on their toes, struggling to decipher the clues and keep pace with the narrative, “Song Yet Sung” flowed readily out of McBride’s imagination, the author says. Repeated visits to the region, including research at the Dorchester County Historical Society in Cambridge, helped the characters and events come to life.

“If you’re driving the back roads of the Eastern Shore, as soon as you pull your car over and start walking,

it’s not hard to imagine what it was like 150, 200 years ago,” McBride says. “There are lots of places where you can still see slave cabins, old windmills. And the water, the power of the water.

“The geography of the place really affected me strongly,” he says. “Just about any vantage point on the Eastern Shore, you’re not far from the water. You can smell it, you can feel it, you can feel it in the wind.”

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