Reviews & Comments

• 2014 Dactyl Foundation Literary Fiction Award Goes to Dennis Must

U S Review of Books Review

Steeped in the strains of postwar jazz and the lonely sound of train whistles in the night, this is a gritty, evocative novel of identity, race, and a particularly American kind of yearning. —Library Journal

This is a unique American novel, written in the language of the heartland before Jesus became a pawn in the political battle for the American soul. It is written in a subdued, subtle, understated lyrical style. It is as rich and diverse as America herself. It is at once a romance complete with trains, whorehouses, steel mills, and the death of the drive-in-movie theater and a coming of age novel in which the protagonist emerges from the chrysalis to transform into a singing butterfly.

Here, in Hush Now, Don’t Explain (Coffeetown Press), Dennis Must cuts a swath a mile wide and generations deep through the America of the lost dream. On a pilgrimage across a spoiling land and on a quest for lost parents, the dual protagonists—Honor and Billy—experience America as raw and pure and as complex as she has ever been. —Dactyl Review
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Hush Now, Don’t Explain is an extraordinary book. Jazz devotee Dennis Must creates an incredibly rich, original, sensual world that reads like a combination of Walt Whitman, jazz improvisation, and the wail of locomotives in the night. The coming of age story of a young woman named Honor, an orphan searching for her roots, and a biracial, fatherless boy named Billy trying to find “his tune,” Hush Now, Don’t Explain fuses the themes of identity, parentage, sexuality, race, and longing into a haunting refrain that lingers on, long after the last page is turned. —Paulette Alden, author of The Answer to Your Question, Feeding the Eagles, and Crossing the Moon.

Hush Now, Don’t Explain is a compelling novel about the quest of an unlikely trio, Honor, Augustus and Billy, and the longing for identity that shapes their lives.  Set in late 1940’s America this book sings with jazz as it examines gender stereotypes, race, ambition, and violence. Dennis Must writes with lyrical intensity; he has crafted an evocative, resonate tale in rich, vivid detail.  Hush Now, Don’t Explain is a beautifully written book. —Suzanne Frischkorn, author of Girl on a Bridge and Lit Windowpane

Dennis Must’s Hush Now, Don’t Explain—a lyrical, impassioned, Biblically-inflected road novel dealing with the adventures of three outcast runaways—goes Barry Gifford’s Wild At Heart one better. Charged with true American grittiness, pathos and glory, and at times veering dangerously close to total despair, Must’s masterpiece lights up the dark sky of contemporary literature like a Fourth of July fireworks display.”—Andrew Wilson, author of The Luzhang Bridges, Across the Bridge of Straw & Fog, and Osai’s Razor.

Jack Smith, Pleiades Book Review 2015

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