It is Palm Springs, California in 1958.
Harold Abelstein is fighting to hold on to his passion for R&B while being assaulted by county and western music, settling into a new high school, as well as Palm Springs cowboy life and living with his Aunt Enid.
Enid, cut off by Archie, her St. Louis sugar daddy, is struggling to survive impending poverty, Harold, an affair with Big Earl and the enmity of his ailing mother, Maybelle, who has a poisonous hatred for her, Harold and John Steinbeck, the latter who she figures must also be a Jewish person.
Praise for Desert Blues.
Swinging from poignant drama to edgy satire to farce, Albert's moving and funny first novel pairs an awkward orphaned adolescent immersed in 1950s rock 'n' roll and an unconventional ``kept'' woman.
…With a fine ear for dialogue, Albert perfectly captures a time and place-and the emotional chafing between family members who can't help but care for one another, despite themselves.
(stared review, Publishers Weekly, October 10, 1994)
Desert Blues has its full share of hilarious, and touching, moments. Albert skilfully cap¬tures the small western town ambience of the celebrity winter resort sweltering through the dog days of summer. (Booklist, 12/1/94)
Bill Albert has a keen and witty grasp of just how woeful and melancholy life can be. His brilliant insights are offered here with astute warm-heartedness, tempered by a lively and spirited hold on the intricacies and knottiness of the human plight, including the presence of genteel anti-Semitism. (Excerpt from Jewish Journal, June 1, 1995)