The Spyglass Tree is the story of a young African American who grows up in Gasoline Point, Mobile County, Alabama, and who attends a famous African American college, identifiable geographically as Tuskegee Institute (now Tuskegee University) in Tuskegee, Alabama. The story is a continuation of Murray’s first novel, Train Whistle Guitar (1974), which follows Scooter from the ages of ten to fourteen. This novel is told in a series of flashbacks, dealing alternately with Scooter’s days at the Mobile County Training Academy and at the university, ending with his full entry into the African American adult world after he spends a night riding shotgun as the bodyguard of Miss Hortense Hightower, a singer.
The early teen years of Scooter and Little Buddy Marshall are driven by their two ruling passions, blues and baseball. They are torn between the world of respectable people—the one that Scooter finds at school—and the unrespectable realm of bad men, exemplified by legendary local blues player Luzana Cholly, master of the twelve-string guitar. The two inseparable companions become distant, however, when Scooter is chosen as one of the “talented tenth” by his teacher, Miss Lexine Metcalf, at the Training Academy. With Scooter spending an increasing amount of time after hours at school, Little Buddy soon decides that he will take to the road in emulation of Luzana Cholly.
Scooter finds the distinction between the...
(The entire section is 575 words.)