In 2016, Bob Dylan was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, and in 2010, Patti Smith won the National Book Award for her memoir Just Kids. These events decisively affirmed a place for rock music in contemporary literature and a larger unity between forms once considered incompatible. While not always on the same wavelength, fiction, poetry, and autobiography have intersected with the sound and essence of rock and roll to express disenfranchisement. The divergence between these expressions among disparate subcultures is demonstrated in three valuable new books.

Florence Dore’s Novel Sounds extrapolates beyond the standard narrative of rock history to argue that post–World War II southern fiction shared a subtextual “thematic resonance” with early rock and roll (3). The liberating sounds of African American music represented for the Southern Agrarians and New Critics alike a degeneration of vernacular (read: white folk)...

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