RL's Dream is a novel about the blues--as an expression of black poetry and black tragedy and how they sit in judgment on the American experience. In contemporary New York, aging bluesman Soupspoon Wise is alone, ill, and dying. He has played his music in a thousand bars, clubs, and juke joints, but never so memorably as the time he played with one Robert "RL" Johnson in the Mississippi delta. That brief, indelible encounter with the great genius of country blues haunts Soupspoon, much as Johnson himself is said to have been possessed by Satan. And so Soupspoon proceeds to tell his story to Kiki Waters, the young white woman who has taken him in, another refugee from a South she can neither deny nor escape.