Cort Beauchamp’s LET THE GLORY PASS AWAY Playlist
When I sat down in 2012 to create the protagonist of Let the Glory Pass Away, a middle-aged, blocked South Carolina novelist named Cort Beauchamp, I knew I wanted him to seem like a character out of time.
For instance, he hails from a fictional small town, Tillman Falls, the antebellum character of which managed to survive Sherman’s March. He grew up in an aging plantation house called Hillsborough, though long after the estate’s so-called glory days.
In dealing with the modernity of the “big town” of Columbia, I wanted Cort to seem like a fish out of water, a venerable sub-trope of A Stranger Arrives. We would observe through his eyes the other characters, their desires, and the milieu of a modest but growing capitol city in the twenty-first century New South. We would learn as he learns.
This conceit evolved. Readers will still discover that while Cort may be a bit of a fuddy-duddy, he’s not quite so removed from the modern age—he knows how to use his tablet computer and smartphone. Mostly.
Part of my scheme in making this character seem like a walking relic came from the music he enjoys—Cort’s late mother, the text informs us, had been a pianist with a love of classical music that she also instilled in her son. “I’m not sure any music from the 20th century was ever played in our house,” or so he says at one point.
Familiar with classical music but no expert, as I composed the novel I dialed up the satellite radio channels. I made notes on pieces and passages of music, some familiar and some not, that I found moving or otherwise compelling. As a result, our narrator often refers to those passages of music he’s enjoying, and that I as the author heard during the writing process.
The following selections—often melancholic, occasionally triumphal, but uniformly sublime—are presented here so that readers may listen to what Cort hears, and perhaps find themselves as enriched by the experience as both my fictional character, as well as his creator, have been. If there’s a soundtrack to my novel Let the Glory Pass Away, this would be it. Enjoy!
James D. McCallister is a South Carolina author of novels, short stories, and creative nonfiction. His latest novel Let the Glory Pass Away releases in January 2017.