Come blow your horn

Malcolm Jones simultaneously plays narrator and critic in his memoir of a Southern childhood marked by youthful idealism. Although Jones’ adolescence is riddled with trials, from his father’s alcoholism to his mother’s eventual nervous breakdown, the vast majority of his anecdotes are almost saccharine. Even as he condemns his former self-delusion, the memoir itself is awash in a healthy dose of forced positive thinking. For example, Jones chooses not to focus on most of the issues dividing the South in the 1960s; he does note the fact that many theaters were racially segregated, but delves into a long account of his interpretation of Reflections in a Golden Eye rather than revealing whether such bigotry ultimately affected him. The real strength of Little Boy Blues lies with the “postlude,” when Jones uses his mother’s old photographs (included in the text) to draw a quietly heartbreaking conclusion about the nature of family and loss.