- Photography Collections, History, Reference, Criticism, Etc.
Crescent City Slidemen, by Christopher Hillman, with Richard Rains and Mike Pointon “documents virtually all trombonists from New Orleans who have contributed to the city's traditional music from the birth of jazz to the present day.” I have, since my teens in the 1940s, been fascinated by New Orleans traditional jazz and so the publications and accompanying CDs by Chris Hillman Books (Successor to Cygnet Productions) are for me a joy to read and listen to. The books on New Orleans are supplemented by publications on Chicago and Kansas City bands, blues singers, and pianists. (For full information go to chbooks.info.) Crescent City Slidemen features such stalwart trombonists as Kid Ory, Roy Palmer, Jim Robinson, Tom Brown, Louis Nelson, and Gerog Brunis and reaches into the present with Frank Demond and Trombone Short (Troy Andrews). “Some More Trumpeters,” a supplemental chapter to the earlier Crescent City Cornets,” adds entries on almost two-dozen musicians. As I have observed in reviews of Hillman’s earlier publications, he and his collaborators are musical archaeologists, adept at unearthing all available information about the subjects of their investigations. A highly recommended text and a CD that will provide rewarding repeated listening. Photographs, illustrations of 78RPM record labels and LP covers, discography, bibliography, index, and a CD of 25 tracks by trombonists from New Orleans.
Brendan Wolfe’s Finding Bix: The Life and Afterlife of a Jazz Legend (University Of Iowa Press) “is anything but straightforward, as Wolfe discovers Bix Beiderbecke to be at the heart of furious and ever-timely disputes over addiction, race and the origins of jazz, sex, and the influence of commerce on art. He also uncovers proof that the only newspaper interview Bix gave in his lifetime was a fraud, almost entirely plagiarized from several different sources. In fact, Wolfe comes to realize that the closer he seems to get to Bix, the more the legend retreats.” “This book has the potential to spread Bix’s reputation and share his work with a wider audience. Similar to Peter Guralnick’s Searching for Robert Johnson, Brendan Wolfe’s book delves beyond the bio and music and into the often conflicting details of Bix’s personal life, an approach that sheds light on the facts of the subject’s life and the fleeting nature of truth.” Preston Lauterbach, author, The Chitlin’ Circuit and Beale Street Dynasty) “Funny, passionate, and touching—sometimes in the same sentence. While the book is about Bix, it’s also not really about Bix; the ideas it contains—identity, fame, originality, addiction, obsession, truth—are universal. The structure mimics a jazz song, specifically Bix’s music. Wolfe blends boundaries à la Leslie Jamison or John D’Agata, but retains the musical element as Amanda Petrusich would.” Jay Varner, author, Nothing Left to Burn Photographs, illustrations, notes, index.
As a jazz-struck teenager in the 1940s, I bought a first edition of Mezz Mezzrow’s and Bernard Wolfe’s Really the Blues (New York Review Books Classics) and avidly read it. (A few years later, I lent it to a friend who never returned it to me.) This welcome reissue has a perceptive introduction by jazz critic Ben Ratliff As a twenty-year-old in June 1950 visiting New York for the first time, I acquired a gift copy of Eddie Condon’s We Called It Music from Eddie himself at his eponyms club in the Village. Wise-cracking Eddie inscribed it, sitting with us at our table, to my then girl Mike and me, ‘This is a stronger sedative than cyanide. Eddie Condon.’ He also related to us an anecdote about Mezz that we were unable to make out anything of, the band, without amplification and with Wild Bill Davison leading on cornet, blowing at top volume. “Mezz Mezzrow was a boy from Chicago who learned to play the sax in reform school and pursued a life in music and a life of crime. He moved from Chicago to New Orleans to New York, working in brothels and bars, bootlegging, dealing drugs, getting hooked, doing time, producing records, and playing with the greats, among them Louis Armstrong, Bix Beiderbecke, and Fats Waller. Really the Blues, the jive-talking memoir that Mezzrow wrote at the insistence of, and with the help of, the novelist Bernard Wolfe, is the story of an unusual and unusually American life, and a portrait of a man who moved freely across racial boundaries when few could or did, ‘the odyssey of an individualist . . . the saga of a guy who wanted to make friends in a jungle where everyone was too busy making money.’’ “Mezz Mezzrow’s rambunctious enthusiasm for jazz and the world it shaped and defined keeps the pages turning . . .The lost world of the Jazz Age comes alive in these pages, replete with all the Chi-town bounce and streetwise braggadocio that came with the risqué territory...Mezzrow’s love of the music and the ‘bandid’ lifestyle is palpable and infectious, giving his story a novelistic verve. In many ways, Mezz is the Augie March of jazz.” Matt Hanson, The Arts Fuse Index.
Fats Waller (University of Minnesota Press), by Maurice Waller and Anthony Calabrese, with a Foreword by Michael Lipskin, is a reissue of the 1997 edition. “Thomas ‘Fats’ Waller was a legendary stride pianist, a wildly entertaining comedic singer, and the composer of such classic melodies as ‘Honeysuckle Rose,’ ‘Ain’t Misbehavin’,’ and hundreds more. This is the intimate, behind-the-scenes story of his exuberant life, as told by his son, Maurice Waller. The public knew him as a charming, rascally, and effervescent showman. Friends like Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Louis Armstrong, Irving Berlin, and George Gershwin knew him as a serious piano stylist and composer. Maurice Waller reveals the rarely seen side of Fats as a family man, struggling to juggle domestic affairs with the demands of being one of the era’s busiest jazzmen. From his earliest days as a child prodigy to his wild nights playing Harlem rent parties to his appearances on stages around the world and his eventual commercial success, it’s all here. Few stories capture the frenetic energy of the age quite as well as the life story of this rollicking, hard living jazz icon.” “Fats was my first jazz piano influence and his spirit is still vital to my approach to jazz . . . Maurice Waller’s book about his father clarifies what has been for so long just story and rumor. Now I feel I know his legend from an authentic source—his son. Thanks, Maurice. Fats lives, indeed.” Dave Brubeck “Maurice Waller’s look-back at life with, or mostly without, his father is an affectionate and remarkably objective portrait of a lovable, exasperating, comedy-prone, joy-spreading, and excessively self-indulgent and talented jazz pianist, organist, and composer, who was also a warm and generous parent. Christian Science Monitor Photographs, Recording Dates and Personnel, index.
Count Basie, Good Morning Blues: The Autobiography of Count Basie, as told to Albert Murray, with an Introduction by Dan Morgenstern. This reprint of the 1985 edition again “brings the voice of Count Basie to the printed page in what is both testimony and tribute to an incredibly rich life. . . . Count Basie was one of America’s pre-eminent and influential jass pianists, bandleaders, and composers, known for such classics as ‘Jumpin’ at the Woodside,’ ‘Goin’ to Chicago Blues,’ ‘Sent for You Yesterday and Here You Come Today,’ and ‘One O’Clock Jump.’ In Good Morning Blues, Basie recounts his life story to Albert Murray, from his childhood years playing ragtime with his own pickup band at dances and pig roasts, to his years in New York City in search of opportunity, to rollicking anecdotes of Basie’s encounters with Fats Waller, Frank Sinatra, Fred Astaire, Sammy Davis Jr., Quincy Jones, Billie Holliday, and Tony Bennett. In this classic of jazz autobiography that was ten years in the making.” Photos, index.
Elaine M. Hayes, Queen of Bebop: The Musical Lives of Sarah Vaughan (Ecco/Harper Collins) “brilliantly chronicles the life of jazz singer Sarah Vaughan, one of the most influential and innovative musicians of the twentieth century and a pioneer of women’s and civil rights. Sarah Vaughan, a pivotal figure in the formation of bebop, influenced a broad array of singers who followed in her wake, yet the breadth and depth of her impact—not just as an artist, but also as an African-American woman—remain overlooked. Drawing from a wealth of sources as well as on exclusive interviews with Vaughan’s friends and former colleagues, Queen of Bebop unravels the many myths and misunderstandings that have surrounded Vaughan while offering insights into this notoriously private woman, her creative process, and, ultimately, her genius. Hayes deftly traces the influence that Vaughan’s singing had on the perception and appreciation of vocalists—not to mention women—in jazz. She reveals how, in the late 1940s and early 1950s, Vaughan helped desegregate American airwaves, opening doors for future African-American artists seeking mainstream success, while also setting the stage for the civil rights activism of the 1960s and 1970s. She follows Vaughan from her hometown of Newark, New Jersey, and her first performances at the Apollo, to the Waldorf Astoria and on to the world stage, breathing life into a thrilling time in American music nearly lost to us today. Equal parts biography, criticism, and good old-fashioned American success story, Queen of Bebop is the definitive biography of a hugely influential artist. This absorbing and sensitive treatment of a singular personality updates and corrects the historical record on Vaughan and elevates her status as a jazz great. Author Elaine M. Hayes holds a doctorate in music history and is a recognized expert on Sarah Vaughan and women in jazz. She served as the editor of Earshot JazzSeattle magazine.” Photographs, notes, index. “You may think you know Sarah Vaughan, but this book reveals how much you don’t. Queen of Bebop is a much-needed addition to music scholarship.” Tammy Kernodle, author of Soul on Soul: The Life and Music of Mary Lou Williams. “A richly contextualized and beautifully researched listening guide for the career of Sarah Vaughn. In respectfully treating Vaughn’s unflagging artistry, drive, and the social justice stakes involved in working within and against the new kinds of hit-making strategies and technologies, Hayes’ treatment lifts us beyond the bop/pop divide.” Sherrie Tucker, author of Swing Shift: ‘All-Girl’ Bands of the 1940s and Dance Floor Democracy.
Jeroen de Valk’s Chet Baker: His life and music (Aspekt Publishers) is “the ultimate revised, updated and expanded edition Chet Baker was a star at 23 years old, winning the polls of America’s leading magazines. But much of his later life was overshadowed by his drug use and problems with the law. Chet Baker: His life and music was Baker’s first biography, published a year after Baker’s passing in 1988. It was available in five languages. Now finally, here is Jeroen de Valk’s thoroughly updated and expanded edition. De Valk spoke to Baker himself, his friends and colleagues, the police inspector who investigated his death and many others. He read virtually every relevant word that was ever published about Chet and listened to every recording; issued or unissued. The result of all this is a book which clears up quite a few misunderstandings. For Chet was not the ‘washed-up’ musician as portrayed in the ‘documentary’ Let’s Get Lost. His death was not that mysterious. According to De Valk, Chet was first of all an incredible improviser; someone who could invent endless streams of melody. . . . He delivered these melodies with a highly individual, mellow sound. He turned his heart inside out, almost to the point of embarrassing his listeners.’’ Jazz Times: ‘A solidly researched biography . . . a believable portrait of Baker . . . a number of enlightening interviews . . .’ Library Journal: ‘De Valk’s sympathetic yet gritty rendering of Baker’s life blends well with his account of Baker’s recording career.’ Cadence: ‘A classic of modern jazz biography. De Valk’s writing is so straightforward as to be stark, yet this is just what makes it so rich.’ Jazzwise: ‘It’s going to be definitive.’ Jeroen de Valk (1958) is a Dutch musician and journalist. He also authored an acclaimed biography about tenor saxophonist Ben Webster. www.jeroendevalk.nl.” Photographs, notes, index.
Rat Race Blues: The Musical Life of Gigi Gryce, by Noal Cohen and Michael Fitzgerald (Current Research in Jazz), “has established a new standard against which all future jazz biographies must be judged." Bill Barton, Signal To Noise “Gigi Gryce was a saxophonist and composer who worked with some of the best-known names in jazz during the 1950s, including Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk, and Max Roach. His many compositions remain a part of the jazz repertoire today. His remarkable rise from poverty led to conservatory studies and tours of Europe and Africa before he established himself as a fixture on the New York scene. His efforts as a music publisher were bold and groundbreaking, and his quiet, unassuming personality set him apart from most of his peers. In only a decade as a professional musician, he earned the respect and admiration of his colleagues and served as a mentor to numerous aspiring young players. Gryce's sudden disappearance at the start of the 1960s left the jazz world wondering as to his fate. Few were aware of his change of identity and professional rebirth. Misinformation about Gryce abounds and rumors have circulated for decades. Years of research and dozens of interviews were conducted for this book, resulting in a biography that finally tells the true story of this often overlooked figure and illuminates his contributions to one of the richest periods in jazz history. Winner of the 2003 Award for Excellence from the Association for Recorded Sound Collections, the first edition has now been updated with new information from another decade's worth of research and never-before-seen photographs.” “To say this biography is a comprehensive undertaking would be an understatement. It is also an interesting and important contribution to jazz literature.” Rob Bauer, IAJRC Journal “Cohen and Fitzgerald have done a heroic job of tracking down obscure facts and questioning the accepted details...a work of quality.” Brian Priestley, Jazz Research News Photographs, bibliography, index.
Lillian Terry’s Brother Ray, and Friends: On and Off the Record with Jazz Greats “offers readers a rare opportunity to hear intimate conversations with some of the world's greatest musical figures. Dizzy Gillespie offers his thoughts on playing with “sanctified” rhythm and the all-important personal touch in performance. Duke Ellington discourses on jazz history and concludes an interview to sing a self-written ditty in Italian. Ray Charles gives candid thoughts on race and politics while taking charge of Terry's tape recorder. Abbey Lincoln, Max Roach, Horace Silver, Bill Evans all provide Terry and her readers with unforgettable encounters. The result is a collection of profiles, some stretching over a decade or more, that reveal these performers in ways that illuminates their humanity and expands our appreciation of their art. . . . Lilian Terry has lived music. As a performer, she has shared the stage with Ella Fitzgerald and Nina Simone. She cofounded the European Jazz Federation and pioneered jazz education in Italy. Her work as a director-producer of radio and television programs have spread the music by introducing countless people to its legendary performers.” “Lilian Terry is of the music and for the music and she has the talent to use what she has learned in telling a story. There are a mess of wannabees who try so hard to be hip that they end up in the cornfield. The bonafides are few and far between. Lil is the real deal.” Ira Gitler “Lilian Terry has written nuanced portraits gained from the affection and trust these artists placed in her personally, as a professional in her field, as well as being a talented jazz singer. These writings uniformly go beyond these artists as stars to what makes them human. There is a lot of jazz history here.” Tad Hershorn, author of Norman Granz: The Man Who Used Jazz for Justice “Terry's book illuminates the artistic outlooks and personal values of well-known jazz musicians. Much of this book 's uniqueness and appeal comes from the author’s trusted relationships with her subjects. They opened up to her in ways that they did not to conventional interviewers.” Carl Woideck, author of Charlie Parker: His Music and Life Photographs
Mark Miller, Claude Ranger: Canadian Jazz Legend (Mark Miller). “Even before Claude Ranger disappeared in late 2000, his fate unknown, he had attained legendary status among Canada’s jazz musicians as an extraordinary drummer who repeatedly challenged the status quo on bandstands in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver. Willful, uncompromising and charismatic, cigarette invariably tucked into the left corner of his mouth, Ranger cut a compelling figure alongside Canadian and American stars alike — Lenny Breau, Jane Bunnett, Sonny Greenwich, Moe Koffman, P.J. Perry, Dewey Redman, Sonny Rollins, Don Thompson and many others. Claude Ranger: Canadian Jazz Legend presents a sympathetic portrait of this remarkable musician and offers a perceptive overview of the Canadian jazz scene during the 35 years in which, by turns, his career flourished, faltered and flourished again.’ Author Mark Miller is one of Canada’s most respected jazz critics. His photographs of musicians have appeared in many Canadian, U.S., and European publications. Photographs, notes, bibliography, discography, index.
He's Got Rhythm: The Life and Career of Gene Kelly (Screen Classics) (University Press of Kentucky), by Cynthia Brideson and Sara Brideson, is “the first comprehensive biography written since the legendary star's death. Authors Cynthia Brideson and Sara Brideson disclose new details of Kelly's complex life. Not only do they examine his contributions to the world of entertainment in depth, but they also consider his political activities―including his opposition to the Hollywood blacklist. The authors even confront Kelly's darker side and explore his notorious competitive streak, his tendency to be a taskmaster on set, and his multiple marriages. Drawing on previously untapped articles and interviews with Kelly's wives, friends, and colleagues, Brideson and Brideson illuminate new and unexpected aspects of the actor's life and work. He's Got Rhythm is a balanced and compelling view of one of the screen's enduring legends.” “The Brideson sisters―the authors of Ziegfeld and His Follies―cover Kelly's professional story in full detail. . . . He's Got Rhythm provides a comprehensive overview enhanced by references to many previously published works.” Jeanine Basinger, New York Times Book Review Photographs, notes, bibliography, index.
Portrait of a Phantom: The Story of Robert Johnson’s Lost Photograph (Pelican Publishing Company, Inc.), by Zeke Schein and Poppy Brite. “Two young black men stared back at Zeke Schein from what seemed to be another time. They stood against a plain backdrop wearing snazzy suits, hats, and self-conscious smiles. The man on the left held a guitar stiffly against his lean frame. . . . ‘That’s not B. B. King, Schein,’ said to himself. ‘Because it’s Robert Johnson’. . . . In the years since he died, only two known photographs of Johnson have ever been seen by the public. The first of those images is believed to have been taken in the early 1930s and has been described as Johnson’s “photo-booth self-portrait.’ The size of a postage stamp, it provided the public its first real glimpse of Johnson when it was published, more than a dozen years after it was found, in Rolling Stone magazine in 1986, the year that Johnson was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. . . . Not only was Schein more confident than ever that he had found a photo of Robert Johnson, he had a hunch who the other man in the photo was, too: Johnny Shines, a respected Delta-blues artist in his own right, and one of the handful of musicians who, in the early 1930s and again in the months before Johnson’s death, had traveled with him from town to town to look for gigs.” Frank Digiacomo, Vanity Fair “A fascinating trip into the world of blues history. . . . The details and anecdotes herein give a great perspective to ‘the Phantom.’” John Hammond, blues singer and musician Photographs, notes, bibliography.
Adam Gussow’s Beyond the Crossroads: The Devil and the Blues Tradition (New Directions in Southern Studies) (University of North Carolina Press). “The devil is the most charismatic and important figure in the blues tradition. He's not just the music's namesake (‘the devil's music’), but a shadowy presence who haunts an imagined Mississippi crossroads where, it is claimed, Delta bluesman Robert Johnson traded away his soul in exchange for extraordinary prowess on the guitar. Yet, as scholar and musician Adam Gussow argues, there is much more to the story of the devil and the blues than these cliched understandings. In this groundbreaking study, Gussow takes the full measure of the devil's presence. Working from original transcriptions of more than 125 recordings released during the past ninety years, Gussow explores the varied uses to which black southern blues people have put this trouble-sowing, love-wrecking, but also empowering figure. The book culminates with a bold reinterpretation of Johnson's music and a provocative investigation of the way in which the citizens of Clarksdale, Mississippi, managed to rebrand a commercial hub as ‘the crossroads’ in 1999, claiming Johnson and the devil as their own.” Photographs, illustrations, bibliography, index.
Mitsutoshi Inaba’s John Lee "Sonny Boy" Williamson: The Blues Harmonica of Chicago's Bronzeville (Roots of American Music: Folk, Americana, Blues, and Country) (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers) “offers the first full-length biography of this key figure in the evolution of the Chicago blues. Taking readers through Sonny Boy's career, Inaba illustrates how Sonny Boy lived through the lineage of blues harmonica performance, drawing on established traditions and setting out a blueprint for the growing electric blues scene. Interviews with Sonny Boy's family members and his last harmonica student provide new insights into the character of the man as well as the techniques of the musician.” Mitsutoshi Inaba holds a doctorate in musicology and ethnomusicology from the University of Oregon. He currently teaches courses on African American studies with a focus on music at Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, Tennessee. He is the author of Willie Dixon: Preacher of the Blues. “Mitsutoshi Inaba’s new biography of John Lee Williamson—the ‘first Sonny Boy’—is a must-have book not just for blues scholars, but for any serious student of the blues harmonica. Inaba has combined rich archival research and song-by-song analysis, including commentary by contemporary master Joe Filisko, into a vibrant portrait of the first star of the blues harp. I learned a lot from this study. Great work!” Adam Gussow, blues harmonicist, University of Mississippi Photographs, illustrations, bibliography, song index, general index.
I was turned on to John Fahey’s recordings in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1965 by a guitar-playing neighbor, Bill (Millhouse) Nixon. A decade later I caught John in performance and a half dozen years after that mind-blowing evening I interviewed him when he was about forty. I tell the story of my Fahey experience on my blog at http://www.wroyalstokes.com/2011/10/30/john-fahey-1939–2001/. Now we have Dance of Death: The Life of John Fahey, American Guitarist (Chicago Review Press, 2014), by Steve Lowenthal, with a Preface by David Fricke, “the first major historical and critical biography” of a musician about whom blues guitarist Steve James said to me, “I remember Bob Brozman sayin’ that any modern guitar player, contemporary guitar player, that plays finger-style country blues-influenced guitar who says he’s not influenced by John Fahey is a bullshit artist.’” “John Fahey is to the solo acoustic guitar what Jimi Hendrix was to the electric: the man whom all subsequent musicians had to listen to. Fahey made more than 40 albums between 1959 and his death in 2001, most of them featuring only his solo steel-string guitar. He fused elements of folk, blues, and experimental composition, taking familiar American sounds and recontextualizing them as something entirely new. Yet despite his stature as a groundbreaking visionary, Fahey’s intentions—as a man and as an artist—remain largely unexamined. Journalist Steve Lowenthal has spent years researching Fahey’s life and music, talking with his producers, his friends, his peers, his wives, his business partners, and many others. He describes Fahey’s battles with stage fright, alcohol, and prescription pills; how he ended up homeless and mentally unbalanced; and how, despite his troubles, he managed to found a record label that won Grammys and remains critically revered. This portrait of a troubled and troubling man in a constant state of creative flux is not only a biography but also the compelling story of a great American outcast.” “The wonderfully inventive, even utopian guitarist John Fahey spun what seemed to be an impenetrable web around his life, but Steve Lowenthal has picked away the strands with dogged research and eloquent passion, revealing an artist worth knowing and caring about.” Gary Giddins, author of Bing Crosby: A Pocketful of Dreams and Visions of Jazz Photographs, notes, bibliography, discography, index.
In the Midnight Hour: The Life & Soul of Wilson Pickett (Oxford University Press), by Tony Fletcher. “For this first-ever accounting of Wilson Pickett's life, bestselling biographer Tony Fletcher interviewed members of the singer's family, friends and partners, along with dozens of his studio and touring musicians. Offering equal attention to Pickett's personal and professional life, with detailed insight into his legendary studio sessions and his combative road style, In the Midnight Hour: The Life and Soul of Wilson Pickett is the essential telling of an epic life. “This biography of soul singer Wilson Pickett is distinctive for its voluminous and nonjudgmental accounting of his life, from early childhood on, and of the complex early days of rhythm and-blues recording. . . . In a book remarkable for its copious family research, Fletcher, a true devotee of the music, gives us the complete Pickett, more so than Mark Ribowsky did for Otis Redding, or James McBride has done for James Brown.” Booklist Photographs, notes, bibliography, index.
Jean R. Freedman’s Peggy Seeger: A Life of Music, Love, and Politics (University of Illinois Press) “Born into folk music's first family, Peggy Seeger has blazed her own trail artistically and personally. Jean Freedman draws on a wealth of research and conversations with Seeger to tell the life story of one of music's most charismatic performers and tireless advocates. Here is the story of Seeger's multifaceted career, from her youth to her pivotal role in the American and British folk revivals, from her instrumental virtuosity to her tireless work on behalf of environmental and feminist causes, from wry reflections on the U.K. folk scene to decades as a songwriter. Freedman also delves into Seeger's fruitful partnership with Ewan MacColl and a multitude of contributions which include creating the renowned Festivals of Fools, founding Blackthorne Records, masterminding the legendary Radio Ballads documentaries, and mentoring performers in the often-fraught atmosphere of The Critics Group. Bracingly candid and as passionate as its subject, Peggy Seeger is the first book-length biography of a life set to music.” “O, how I love this book! It gives me everything I wanted to know about my friend, the salty and sweet Peggy Seeger and her unique and prolific family. All the pain is there, but so are the achievements and the joys. This book goes on my shelf next to The Mayor Of Macdougal Street, and I can offer no higher praise than that.” Tom Paxton Photographs, notes, discography, index.
Barbara Martin Stephens Don't Give Your Heart to a Rambler: My Life with Jimmy Martin, the King of Bluegrass (Music in American Life) (University of Illinois Press). “As charismatic and gifted as he was volatile, Jimmy Martin recorded dozens of bluegrass classics and co-invented the high lonesome sound. Barbara Martin Stephens became involved with the King of Bluegrass at age seventeen. Don't Give your Heart to a Rambler tells the story of their often tumultuous life together. Barbara bore his children and took on a crucial job as his booking agent when the agent he was using failed to obtain show dates for the group. Female booking agents were non-existent at that time but she persevered and went on to become the first female booking agent on Music Row. She also endured years of physical and emotional abuse at Martin's hands. With courage and candor, Barbara tells of the suffering and traces the hard-won personal growth she found inside marriage, motherhood, and her work. Her vivid account of Martin's explosive personality and torment over his exclusion from the Grand Ole Opry fill in the missing details on a career renowned for being stormy. Yet, Barbara also shares her own journey, one of good humor and proud achievements, and filled with fond and funny recollections of the music legends and ordinary people she met, befriended, and represented along the way. Straightforward and honest, Don't Give your Heart to a Rambler is a woman's story of the world of bluegrass and one of its most colorful, conflicted artists.” “For anyone who has ever yearned to know more about the man behind the boisterous King of Bluegrass personality, Don't Give Your Heart to a Rambler should certainly offer an intriguing perspective.” Bluegrass Today Photographs, index.
David Yaffe’s Reckless Daughter: A Portrait of Joni Mitchell (Sarah Crichton Books/Farrar, Straus and Giroux) “reveals the backstory behind the famous songs―from Mitchell’s youth in Canada, her bout with polio at age nine, and her early marriage and the child she gave up for adoption, through the love affairs that inspired masterpieces, and up to the present―and shows us why Mitchell has so enthralled her listeners, her lovers, and her friends. Reckless Daughter is the story of an artist and an era that have left an indelible mark on American music.” "Joni Mitchell’s gift was so enormous that it remade the social space around her. As David Yaffe’s new biography, “Reckless Daughter: A Portrait of Joni Mitchell” (Sarah Crichton Books), suggests, it is no small burden to possess something as valuable as Mitchell’s talent, and it meant that this girl from the Canadian prairie would be in the world, whether she liked it or not . . . Yaffe, who teaches at Syracuse, charts these encounters with a sure hand, and is a brilliant analyst of how Mitchell’s songs are made.” Dan Chiasson, The New Yorker “Yaffe solidly traces the glory and gloom of a musical career that expanded our ears and hearts . . . The lonely girl ill with polio had survived to become a great artist. Yaffe’s book tells us how she got there.” Sibbie O'Sullivan, The Washington Post Photographs, notes, index.
Peter Ames Carlin Homeward Bound: The Life of Paul Simon (Henry Holt and Co.). “[Paul] Simon has . . . lived one of the most vibrant lives of modern times; a story replete with tales of Carrie Fisher, Leonard Bernstein, Bob Dylan, Woody Allen, Shelley Duvall, Nelson Mandela, drugs, depression, marriage, divorce, and more. A life story with the scope and power of an epic novel, Carlin’s Homeward Bound is the first major biography of one of the most influential popular artists in American history. . . . [Simon] scored his first hit record in 1957, just months after Elvis Presley ignited the rock era. As the songwriting half of Simon & Garfunkel, his work helped define the youth movement of the ’60s. On his own in the 1970s, Simon made radio-dominating hits. He kicked off the ’80s by reuniting with Garfunkel to perform for half a million New Yorkers in Central Park. Five years later, Simon’s album ‘Graceland’ sold millions and spurred an international political controversy. And it doesn’t stop there. The grandchild of Jewish emigrants from Galicia in the Austro-Hungarian empire, the 75-year-old singer-songwriter has not only sold more than 100 million records, won 15 Grammy awards and been installed into the Rock ’n’ Roll Hall of Fame twice, but has also animated the meaning―and flexibility―of personal and cultural identity in a rapidly shrinking world.” Photographs, notes, index.
I Am Brian Wilson: A Memoir (Da Capo Press), by Brian Wilson with Ben Greenman, “reveals as never before the man who fought his way back to stability and creative relevance, who became a mesmerizing live artist, who forced himself to reckon with his own complex legacy, and who finally completed Smile, the legendary unfinished Beach Boys record that had become synonymous with both his genius and its destabilization. Today Brian Wilson is older, calmer, and filled with perspective and forgiveness. Whether he's talking about his childhood, his bandmates, or his own inner demons, Wilson's story, told in his own voice and in his own way, unforgettably illuminates the man behind the music, working through the turbulence and discord to achieve, at last, a new harmony.” “[A] charming and powerfully written memoir that will engage a readership beyond the multitude of Beach Boys fans . . . . Despite his fame and success, Wilson comes off as a genuinely modest and gentle soul . . . .Wilson's emotional authenticity is beguiling as he takes readers deeply into his mind, voices and all, to describe his unique manifestation of musical genius.” Publishers Weekly Photographs, discography.
Jas Obrecht’s Talking Guitar: Conversations with Musicians Who Shaped Twentieth-Century American Music (University of North Carolina Press) “presents a celebration of the world's most popular instrument as seen through the words, lives, and artistry of some of its most beloved players. Readers will read--and hear--accounts of the first guitarists on record, pioneering bluesmen, gospel greats, jazz innovators, country pickers, rocking rebels, psychedelic shape-shifters, singer-songwriters, and other movers and shakers. In their own words, these guitar players reveal how they found their inspirations, mastered their instruments, crafted classic songs, and created enduring solos. Also included is a CD of never-before-heard moments from Obrecht's insightful interviews with these guitar greats. Highlights include Nick Lucas's recollections of waxing the first noteworthy guitar records; Ry Cooder's exploration of prewar blues musicians; Carole Kaye and Ricky Nelson on the early years of rock and roll; Stevie Ray Vaughan on Jimi Hendrix; Gregg Allman on his brother, Duane Allman; Carlos Santana, Eric Johnson, and Pops Staples on spirituality in music; Jerry Garcia, Neil Young, and Tom Petty on songwriting and creativity; and early interviews with Eddie Van Halen, Joe Satriani, and Ben Harper.” “For music fans, especially those with an affection for the guitar, it's essential reading.” Booklist CD of audio excerpts from interviews and track list, photographs, notes, index.
In James Arena’s Europe’s Stars of ’80s Dance Pop: 32 International Music Legends Discuss Their Careers (McFarland) “32 of the era’s most celebrated artists, producers and industry professionals discuss their lives and careers: Thomas Anders (Modern Talking’s ‘You’re My Heart, You’re My Soul’), Pete Burns (Dead or Alive’s ‘You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)’), Desireless (‘Voyage Voyage’), Phil Harding (PWL Mixmaster), Junior (‘Mama Used to Say’), Leee John (Imagination’s ‘Just an Illusion’), Liz Mitchell (Boney M.’s 1988 ‘Megamix’), Fab Morvan (Milli Vanilli’s ‘Girl You Know It’s True’), Taco (‘Putting On the Ritz’), Jennifer Rush (‘The Power of Love’), Sabrina (‘Boys’), Spagna (‘Call Me’), Amii Stewart (‘Knock on Wood’), Yazz (‘The Only Way Is Up’) and many more. Includes special commentary by Academy Award winner Mel Brooks and Audrey Landers, star of Dallas.” Photographs, Noteworthy Tracks, index.
Megan Marshall’s Elizabeth Bishop: A Miracle for Breakfast (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) “‘I really don't know HOW poetry gets to be written,’ Elizabeth Bishop once lamented, proposing some combination of mystery, surprise, and hard work. In a life marked by regular loss, inspiration would prove as elusive as happiness; the verse seemed to sneak up on her when she least expected. Megan Marshall here coaxes the self-conscious poet out of her shyness, her genius into words. She proceeds as did Bishop in her best verse, by description paired with astute reflection. And Marshall is daring, stepping out from behind the biographical curtain, effectively, ingeniously, and with a lovely twist at the end. A sure-handed, beautifully constructed book that captures the color of Elizabeth Bishop's life–melancholy and ecstatic, anchored by whiskey and words, by turns New England grim and toucan-vibrant–on the page. Megan Marshall performs her own miracle: Here is how poetry gets written.” Stacy Schiff, author of The Witches, Cleopatra, and Véra Photographs, notes, bibliography, index.
Karin Roffman’s The Songs We Know Best: John Ashbery's Early Life (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), “the first comprehensive biography of the early life of John Ashbery―the winner of nearly every major American literary award―reveals the unusual ways he drew on the details of his youth to populate the poems that made him one of the most original and unpredictable forces of the last century in arts and letters. Drawing on unpublished correspondence, juvenilia, and childhood diaries as well as more than one hundred hours of conversation with the poet, Karin Roffman offers an insightful portrayal of Ashbery during the twenty-eight years that led up to his stunning debut, Some Trees, chosen by W. H. Auden for the 1955 Yale Younger Poets Prize. Roffman shows how Ashbery’s poetry arose from his early lessons both on the family farm and in 1950s New York City―a bohemian existence that teemed with artistic fervor and radical innovations inspired by Dada and surrealism as well as lifelong friendships with painters and writers such as Frank O’Hara, Jane Freilicher, Nell Blaine, Kenneth Koch, James Schuyler, and Willem de Kooning. Ashbery has a reputation for being enigmatic and playfully elusive, but Roffman’s biography reveals his deft mining of his early life for the flint and tinder from which his provocative later poems grew, producing a body of work that he calls “the experience of experience,” an intertwining of life and art in extraordinarily intimate ways.” “Roffman opens a welcoming doorway into this poet’s life and work with her engaging, in-depth biography of Ashbery’s early life. . . . She is able to provide a remarkable quantity of detail―not merely the external facts, but also the internal thoughts and struggles of the artist as a young man...With its sharp, informed and unsentimental insight into both the man and his work, The Songs We Know Best is an invaluable biography of a masterful artist.” Robert Weibezahl, BookPage Photographs, notes, bibliography, index.
Rosalind Rosenberg’s Jane Crow: The Life of Pauli Murray (Oxford University Press). “Throughout her prodigious life, activist and lawyer Pauli Murray systematically fought against all arbitrary distinctions in society, channeling her outrage at the discrimination she faced to make America a more democratic country. In this definitive biography, Rosalind Rosenberg offers a poignant portrait of a figure who played pivotal roles in both the modern civil rights and women's movements. A mixed-race orphan, Murray grew up in segregated North Carolina before escaping to New York, where she attended Hunter College and became a labor activist in the 1930s. When she applied to graduate school at the University of North Carolina, where her white great-great-grandfather had been a trustee, she was rejected because of her race. She went on to graduate first in her class at Howard Law School, only to be rejected for graduate study again at Harvard University this time on account of her sex. Undaunted, Murray forged a singular career in the law. In the 1950s, her legal scholarship helped Thurgood Marshall challenge segregation head-on in the landmark Brown v. Board of Education case. When appointed by Eleanor Roosevelt to the President's Commission on the Status of Women in 1962, she advanced the idea of Jane Crow, arguing that the same reasons used to condemn race discrimination could be used to battle gender discrimination. In 1965, she became the first African American to earn a JSD from Yale Law School and the following year persuaded Betty Friedan to found an NAACP for women, which became NOW. In the early 1970s, Murray provided Ruth Bader Ginsburg with the argument Ginsburg used to persuade the Supreme Court that the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution protects not only blacks but also women - and potentially other minority groups - from discrimination. By that time, Murray was a tenured history professor at Brandeis, a position she left to become the first black woman ordained a priest by the Episcopal Church in 1976. Murray accomplished all this while struggling with issues of identity. She believed from childhood she was male and tried unsuccessfully to persuade doctors to give her testosterone. While she would today be identified as transgender, during her lifetime no social movement existed to support this identity. She ultimately used her private feelings of being ‘in-between’ to publicly contend that identities are not fixed, an idea that has powered campaigns for equal rights in the United States for the past half-century.” “A fascinating look at the incredible life of Pauli Murray, a mixed-race, transgender scholar, lawyer, activist, priest, and trailblazer who played a pivotal role in the civil rights and women's movements of the 20th century.” The Advocate “Historical figures aren't human flotsam, swirling into public awareness at random intervals. Instead, they are almost always borne back to us on the current of our own times. In Murray's case, it's not simply that her public struggles on behalf of women, minorities, and the working class suddenly seem more relevant than ever. It's that her private struggles-documented for the first time in all their fullness by Rosenberg-have recently become our public ones.” Kathryn Schulz, New Yorker Photographs, notes, bibliography, index.
Sascha Feinstein’s Wreckage: My Father’s Legacy of Art & Junk (Bucknell University Press) “recounts life with his father, Sam Feinstein, who was both a brilliant artist and a hoarder of monumental proportions. He collected only uncollectible objects—artifacts that required him to give them importance—and at the time of his death in 2003, his hoarding had literally destroyed all three of his large homes. Despite this, Sam Feinstein was a focused artist and art teacher. This strange double helix of creativity and destruction guides the various reflections in this memoir. Like his students’ canvases—paintings inspired by enormous still lifes constructed from the world’s refuse—this book incorporates a myriad of sources in order to create a more layered experience for the reader. The final result is the depiction of a painter with the highest artistic ideals who nevertheless left behind an incalculable amount of physical and emotional wreckage.” Bibliography, discography.
The Strange Case of Dr. Etienne Deschamps, The: Murder in the New Orleans French Quarter (Pelican Publishing Company, Inc.), by Christopher Pena, tells the true story of “one man [who] . . . In the era of Storyville and Bellocq, heard the spirits calling. Believing himself to be gifted with magnetic and hypnotic powers, Dr. Etienne Deschamps searched for the lost treasure of pirate Jean Lafitte. And he needed a young virgin to find it. Juliette Deitsh, poor, immigrant, and 12 years old, never stood a chance. In 1889, she was found dead from an overdose of chloroform in bed next to a distraught Deschamps. The deranged doctor’s heinous act made the legal authorities confront the question: Should the clearly insane Deschamps be executed for his crime? This incisive examination of the murder, trials, and conclusions invites readers to rethink this famous case.” Photographs, illustrations, bibliography, index.
Patricia Bosworth’s The Men in My Life: A Memoir of Love and Art in 1950s Manhattan (Harper/Harper Collins), “recalls her emotional coming of age in 1950s New York in this profound and powerful memoir, a story of family, marriage, tragedy, Broadway, and art, featuring a rich cast of well-known literary and theatrical figures from the period. From Bosworth—acclaimed biographer of Montgomery Clift, Diane Arbus, Marlon Brando, and Jane Fonda—comes a series of vivid confessions about her remarkable journey into womanhood. This deeply-felt memoir is the story of a woman who defied repressive 1950s conventions while being shaped by the notable men in her life. . . . The Men in My Life is about survival, achieving your goals, and learning to love. It’s also the story of America’s most culturally pivotal era, told through the lens of one insider’s extraordinary life.” “Deliciously vivid.” Penelope Green, New York Times Book Review “A stunner, a searing, suspenseful meditation on acting, being, and the distance in between. Not every inner life can hold its own against the behind-the-scenes drama at the Actors Studio; Bosworth’s steals the show.” Stacy Schiff, author of The Witches Photographs, index.
Caroline Fraser, Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder (Metropolitan Books/Henry Holt and Company). “Spanning nearly a century of epochal change, from the Indian Wars to the Dust Bowl, Wilder’s dramatic life provides a unique perspective on American history and our national mythology of self-reliance. With fresh insights and new discoveries, Prairie Fires reveals the complex woman whose classic stories grip us to this day. The Little House books, for all the hardships they describe, are paeans to the pioneer spirit, portraying it as triumphant against all odds. But Wilder’s real life was harder and grittier than that, a story of relentless struggle, rootlessness, and poverty. It was only in her sixties, after losing nearly everything in the Great Depression, that she turned to children’s books, recasting her hardscrabble childhood as a celebratory vision of homesteading―and achieving fame and fortune in the process, in one of the most astonishing rags-to-riches episodes in American letters.” “A fantastic book. We’ve long understood the Little House series to be a great American story, but Caroline Fraser brings it unprecedented new context, as she masterfully chronicles the life of Laura Ingalls Wilder and her family alongside the complicated history of our nation. Prairie Fires represents a significant milestone in our understanding of Wilder’s life, work, and legacy.” Wendy McClure, author of The Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie Photographs, notes, index.
Mark Twain, Autobiography of Mark Twain, Volume 3: The Complete and Authoritative Edition (Mark Twain Papers) (University of California Press), edited by Harriet E. Smith, Benjamin Griffin, and Victor Fischer. Acquisition of this completes our 3-volume set. Decades ago I bought a second-hand copy of what was purported to be Twain’s autobiography, but I later learned that it was a bowdlerized version of the authentic work. What a joy it is to read the true account of the great man’s life. “When the first volume of Mark Twain’s uncensored Autobiography was published in 2010, it was hailed as an essential addition to the shelf of his works and a crucial document for our understanding of the great humorist’s life and times. This third and final volume crowns and completes his life’s work. Like its companion volumes, it chronicles Twain's inner and outer life through a series of daily dictations that go wherever his fancy leads. Created from March 1907 to December 1909, these dictations present Mark Twain at the end of his life: receiving an honorary degree from Oxford University; railing against Theodore Roosevelt; founding numerous clubs; incredulous at an exhibition of the Holy Grail; credulous about the authorship of Shakespeare’s plays; relaxing in Bermuda; observing (and investing in) new technologies. The Autobiography’s ‘Closing Words’ movingly commemorate his daughter Jean, who died on Christmas Eve 1909. Also included in this volume is the previously unpublished ‘Ashcroft-Lyon Manuscript,’ Mark Twain’s caustic indictment of his ‘putrescent pair’ of secretaries and the havoc that erupted in his house during their residency. Fitfully published in fragments at intervals throughout the twentieth century, Autobiography of Mark Twain has now been critically reconstructed and made available as it was intended to be read. Fully annotated by the editors of the Mark Twain Project, the complete Autobiography emerges as a landmark publication in American literature.” “Covering just the last couple of years in Twain's long life, this is the concluding volume of the masterful University of California edition of his autobiography: unexpurgated, cross-referenced, and richly annotated. . . . The swan song reinforces things well established by its predecessors.” STARRED REVIEW in Kirkus Photographs, illustrations, notes, index.
As an admirer of Richard Ford’s fiction—especially his Frank Bascombe trilogy and short stories—I read with fascination this memoir, noting how his insight into the American character came about and was subsequently given expression in his writings. In Between Them: Remembering My Parents (Ecco/Harper Collins) Richard Ford “delivers an unforgettable exploration of memory, intimacy, and love. . . . For Ford, the questions of what his parents dreamed of, how they loved each other and loved him become a striking portrait of American life in the mid-century. Between Them is his vivid image of where his life began and where his parents’ lives found their greatest satisfaction.” ‘Affection and insightful. . .deep, attentive. . . In this slim beauty of a memoir, [Ford] has given us—the same way he has given us many times in his fiction—a remarkable story about two unremarkable people we would have never known, but for him.” Cheryl Strayed, New York Times Book Review Photographs
The Good Bohemian: The Letters of Ida John (Bloomsbury Publishing), edited by Michael Holroyd and Rebecca John “reveals the untold story of married life with one of the great artists of the last century. Twelve days before her twenty-fourth birthday, on the foggy morning of Saturday 12 January 1901, Ida Nettleship married Augustus John in a private ceremony at St Pancras Registry Office. The union went against the wishes of Ida's parents, who aspired to an altogether more conventional match for their eldest daughter. But Ida was in love with Augustus, a man of exceptional magnetism also studying at the Slade, and who would become one of the most famous artists of his time. Ida's letters – to friends, to family and to Augustus – reveal a young woman of passion, intensity and wit. They tell of the scandal she brought on the Nettleship family and its consquences; of hurt and betrayal as the marriage evolved into a three-way affair when Augustus fell in love with another woman, Dorelia; of Ida's remarkable acceptance of Dorelia, their pregnancies and shared domesticity; of self-doubt, happiness and despair; and of finding the strength and courage to compromise and navigate her unorthodox marriage. Ida is a naturally gifted writer, and it is with a candour, intimacy and social intelligence extraordinary for a woman of her period that her correspondence opens up her world. Ida John died aged just thirty of puerperal fever following the birth of her fifth son, but in these vivid, funny and sometimes devastatingly sad letters she is startlingly alive on the page; a young woman ahead of her time – almost of our own time – living a complex and compelling drama here revealed for the first time by the woman at its very heart.” “In the letters, erotic energy occasionally seems to be pushing in all directions at once . . . She may have forfeited her chance to paint, but her letters, salvaged by her granddaughter Rebecca, after a century during which the renegade Ida was not mentioned in the family, make belated amends. Between baby-minding chores, she proved to be a witty, wickedly outspoken writer, which ensures that she will now not be forgotten.” Peter Conrad, Guardian “A compelling glimpse of a lost age of bohemia that raises provocative questions about what it means to live freely.” Lara Feigel, Guardian “Ida's letters provide a fine example of how female voices can provide new perspectives on past eras, revealing a slice of social history as Victorian certainties morphed into Edwardian social experimentation. Ida's raw honesty about her situation draws the reader in, and the editors provide excellent notes framing the letters . . . the book is ultimately inspiring for her humor, courage, grace, and resilience.” Publishers Weekly Photographs, illustrations, index.
Jonathan Eig’s Ali: A Life (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) is “The definitive biography of an American icon, from a New York Times best-selling author with unique access to Ali’s inner circle. He was the wittiest, the prettiest, the strongest, the bravest, and, of course, the greatest (as he told us himself). Muhammad Ali was one of the twentieth century’s most fantastic figures and arguably the most famous man on the planet. But until now, he has never been the subject of a complete, unauthorized biography. Jonathan Eig, hailed by Ken Burns as one of America’s master storytellers, radically reshapes our understanding of the complicated man who was Ali. Eig had access to all the key people in Ali’s life, including his three surviving wives and his managers. He conducted more than 500 interviews and uncovered thousands of pages of previously unreleased FBI and Justice Department files, as well dozens of hours of newly discovered audiotaped interviews from the 1960s. Collectively, they tell Ali’s story like never before—the story of a man who was flawed and uncertain and brave beyond belief. ‘I am America,’ he once declared. ‘I am the part you won’t recognize. But get used to me—black, confident, cocky; my name, not yours; my religion, not yours; my goals, my own. Get used to me.’ He was born Cassius Clay in racially segregated Louisville, Kentucky, the son of a sign painter and a housekeeper. He went on to become a heavyweight boxer with a dazzling mix of power and speed, a warrior for racial pride, a comedian, a preacher, a poet, a draft resister, an actor, and a lover. Millions hated him when he changed his religion, changed his name, and refused to fight in the Vietnam War. He fought his way back, winning hearts, but at great cost. Like so many boxers, he stayed too long. Jonathan Eig’s Ali reveals Ali in the complexity he deserves, shedding important new light on his politics, religion, personal life, and neurological condition. Ali is a story about America, about race, about a brutal sport, and about a courageous man who shook up the world.” Jonathan EigWall Street Journal, and he remains a contributing writer there. He has written for the New York Times, The New Yorker, Esquire, the Washington Post, and other publications. He has appeared on Fresh Air with Terry Gross, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, and in two Kens Burns films for PBS. He is currently working with Burns to develop a documentary on Muhammad Ali. He lives in Chicago, IL. “Finally Muhammad Ali has a biography as big, complex, and memorable as the man himself—or as close as any book can come. From panoramic views of Ali's place in racial, political, and cultural conflicts, to gripping accounts of his fights, to vivid close-ups of his outsized personality and relationships based on new sources, Ali will fascinate you from beginning to end.” T.J. Stiles, author of Custer's Trials and The First Tycoon “Some people want to grow up to be an astronaut. Or maybe even president. Or heavyweight champion of the world. I always wanted to be a storyteller. The hardest story to tell is one that’s been told and told well before. In Ali, Jonathan Eig, a fearless reporter, as relentless on his turf as Muhammad Ali ever was within the ring, has taken on one of 20th century America’s biggest, baddest, most important stories and told it bigger and badder than it’s ever been told before. Ali: A Life floats like a butterfly and stings likes a bee. Stop the fight. It’s over. Eig in a knockout.” Jane Leavy, author of Sandy Koufax and The Last Boy: Mickey Mantle and the End of America’s Childhood “Ali is a marvelous biography - deeply reported, illuminating, dripping with detail chapter after chapter—in every way worthy of one of the great figures of 20th century America.” David Maraniss, author of When Pride Still Mattered: A Life of Vince Lombardi “Finally, after so many works focusing on this fight or that, the whole man, the whole life, is presented here. And what a revelation it is—to be able to see how this remarkable man was shaped by his world, and how that world was, in turn, profoundly influenced by this exceptional and complicated kid from Louisville. Bravo!” Ken Burns Photographs, note, index.
PHOTOGRAPHY, HISTORY, REFERENCE, CRITICISM, ETC.
50 YEARS AT THE VILLAGE VANGUARD: Thad Jones, Mel Lewis and the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra (Skydeck Music), by Dave Lisik and Eric Allen, includes “Hundreds of rare photographs, and many images of rare memorabilia such as posters, concert tickets, vintage advertisements and tour itineraries. In depth featured on Mel Lewis and the music of Thad Jones, Bob Brookmeyer and Jim McNeely. Profiles of all current members of The Vanguard Orchestra. Complete listing of personnel throughout the band's entire history. Exclusive coverage and photographs of the 50th anniversary celebration.” “Any fan of the orchestra simply has to own 50 Years At The Village Vanguard, the definitive book by Dave Lisik and Eric Allen, two musicians and educators who clearly love this big band.” Scott Yanow, author of The Great Jazz Guitarists: The Ultimate Guide and ten other books on jazz. Notes, bibliography, index.
This Fortieth Anniversary reprint ofAlbert Murray’s Stomping the Blues (University Of Minnesota Press), with an introduction by Paul Devlin “explores its history, influences, development, and meaning as only he can. More than two hundred vintage photographs capture the ambiance Murray evokes in lyrical prose. Only the sounds are missing from this lyrical, sensual tribute to the blues. . . . Murray argues beautifully and authoritatively that ‘the blues as such are synonymous with low spirits. Not only is its express purpose to make people feel good, which is to say in high spirits, but in the process of doing so it is actually expected to generate a disposition that is both elegantly playful and heroic in its nonchalance.’” “Insightful musical judgments, soulful social history, amusing anecdotes, and the most elegant prose this side of Ralph Ellison.” Village Voice Photographs, index.
Jerry Dantzic’s and Grayson Dantzic’s Jerry Dantzic: Billie Holiday at Sugar Hill (Thames & Hudson/W. W. Norton), with a reflection by author Zadie Smith. “In 1957, New York photojournalist Jerry Dantzic spent time with the iconic singer Billie Holiday during a week-long run of performances at the Newark, New Jersey, nightclub Sugar Hill. The resulting images offer a rare behind-the-scenes glimpse of Billie with her family, friends, and her pet chihuahua, Pepe; playing with her godchild (son of her autobiography’s co-author, William Dufty); washing dishes at the Duftys’ home; walking the streets of Newark; in her hotel room; waiting backstage or having a drink in front of the stage; and performing. The years and the struggles seem to vanish when she sings; her face lights up. Later that same year, Dantzic photographed her in color at the second New York Jazz Festival at Randall’s Island. Only a handful of the photographs in the book have ever been published. In her text, Zadie Smith evokes Lady Day herself and shows us what she sees as she inhabits these images and reveals what she is thinking. 90 illustrations.” “[Billie Holiday at Sugar Hill] “adds a quiet new dimension to the story we thought we knew about Holiday. With Jerry Dantzic, she revealed homier sides of her life which needed no explanations and invited no judgments: at home with her husband or her dog, or visiting her co-author and her godchild. In these images and in Mr. Dantzic's performance shots, she is not the tragic torch singer of myth but a middle-aged woman finding simple comforts from the maelstrom, no longer as sharp in her voice but undiminished in her ability to command a stage.” John Leland, New York Times
Barbara Kukla’s The Encyclopedia of Newark Jazz (Swing City Press, firstname.lastname@example.org) “includes more than 300 capsule biographies of Newark jazz musicians and singers, most with photos. There are more than 400 photographs in all, many of which are historic, and a wealth of flyers, including one for an appearance by John Coltrane at a city club in 1950. Newark’s own, Sarah Vaughan, one of the world’s most legendary jazz singers, is featured on the cover with James Moody, whose career is celebrated each November at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, and the blues and jazz singer Miss Rhapsody (1902-84) to whom the book is dedicated. ‘Most jazz books tend to be repetitive, so I try to dig up new stuff about artists like Sarah, Moody, Wayne Shorter and Woody Shaw,’ Kukla says. ‘This time I interviewed Sarah’s sister and Moody’s widow; former Newark Mayor Ken Gibson, who played in a band with Wayne Shorter in his youth, and Clem Moorman, who still performs professionally at age 101. He’s the father of singer Melba Moore.’’ Todd Panther, drumsintheglobalvillage.com Kukla worked at The Star-Ledger for 38 years, most of that time as editor of the popular ‘Newark This Week’ section. For information about the book or to schedule a talk, contact the author at email@example.com or (973) 325-370. The book is $29.99 per copy. Photographs, illustrations.
Publication of Paul Steinbeck’s Message to Our Folks: The Art Ensemble of Chicago (University Of Chicago Press) “marks the golden anniversary of the Art Ensemble of Chicago, the flagship band of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians [AACM]. Formed in 1966 and flourishing until 2010, the Art Ensemble distinguished itself by its unique performance practices—members played hundreds of instruments on stage, recited poetry, performed theatrical sketches, and wore face paint, masks, lab coats, and traditional African and Asian dress. The group, which built a global audience and toured across six continents, presented their work as experimental performance art, in opposition to the jazz industry’s traditionalist aesthetics. In Message to Our Folks, Paul Steinbeck combines musical analysis and historical inquiry to give us the definitive study of the Art Ensemble. In the book, he proposes a new theory of group improvisation that explains how the band members were able to improvise together in so many different styles while also drawing on an extensive repertoire of notated compositions. Steinbeck examines the multimedia dimensions of the Art Ensemble’s performances and the ways in which their distinctive model of social relations kept the group performing together for four decades. Message to Our Folks is a striking and valuable contribution to our understanding of one of the world’s premier musical groups.” “I would like to express my sincere gratitude to Steinbeck for Message to Our Folks. This book is more than we could have hoped for, telling the complete history of the Art Ensemble of Chicago in careful, engaging detail.” Roscoe Mitchell, founder of the Art Ensemble of Chicago. “Steinbeck has produced a major contribution to both music theory and the burgeoning field of critical improvisation studies, showing academic and lay readers alike how these boundary-shattering African-American artists realized their ambitious dreams, not only in sound, but through alternative communities of affect and agency that transformed experimentalism itself.” George E. Lewis, author of A Power Stronger Than Itself: The AACM and American Experimental Music. Photographs, notes, bibliography, index.
In Vinyl Freak: Love Letters to a Dying Medium (Duke University Press) “music writer, curator, and collector John Corbett burrows deep inside the record fiend’s mind, documenting and reflecting on his decades-long love affair with vinyl. Discussing more than 200 rare and out-of-print LPs, Vinyl Freak is composed in part of Corbett's long-running Down Beat magazine column of the same name, which was devoted to records that had not appeared on CD. In other essays where he combines memoir and criticism, Corbett considers the current vinyl boom, explains why vinyl is his preferred medium, profiles collector subcultures, and recounts his adventures assembling the Alton Abraham Sun Ra Archive, an event so all-consuming that he claims it cured his record-collecting addiction. Perfect for vinyl newbies and veteran crate diggers alike, Vinyl Freak plumbs the motivations that drive Corbett and collectors everywhere.” “John Corbett has the too-rare ability to combine academic rigor with very readable prose, and he tells good stories. As an avid record collector and close listener to a broad array of music, Corbett really knows his subject. You can practically smell the musty cardboard.” Kevin Whitehead, jazz critic for NPR's Fresh Air and author of Why Jazz?) and New Dutch Swing Album-by-album table of contents, illustrations.
Soul Jazz: Jazz in the Black Community, 1945-1975 (Xlibris Corp.), by Bob Porter, “is a history of jazz and its reception in the black community in the period from the end of World War II until the end of the Vietnam War. Previous histories reflect the perspective of an integrated America, yet the United States was a segregated country in 1945. The black audience had a very different take on the music and that is the perception explored in Soul Jazz.” “This book is about musical change: the different methods of playing the music, the differing attitudes toward the music coming from the black community, the comings and goings in the music business and media, and, finally, the adjustments of the musicians themselves. Each change in the music business, each new direction, each hot new sound, each new personnel lineup, brought fresh opportunity. These changes also meant that the old way of doing things would not be the same. The new innovations in music frequently mirrored the changes in the fight for equality. In 1948, President Truman ordered the desegregation of the American military. In 1954, the US Supreme Court reversed its separate but equal decision. In the mid-’60s would come the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act. The attitudes of the American people, as a whole, changed drastically, if slowly, over the time span of this book. There was a great deal of nonmilitary, racially inspired bloodshed in America during the years between the end of WWII and the end of the Vietnam War. Some musicians manned the barricades while others sat on the sidelines in the pursuit of equality. But by 1975, the United States was a very different place.” Author Bob Porter in the introduction to his Soul Jazz. Photographs, recommended listening, index.
Martin Torgoff’s Bop Apocalypse: Jazz, Race, the Beats, and Drugs (Da Capo Press) is “The gripping story of the rise of early drug culture in America, from the author of the acclaimed Can't Find My Way Home. . . . . Bop Apocalypse details the rise of early drug culture in America by weaving together the disparate elements that formed this new and revolutionary segment of the American social fabric. . . . Martin Torgoff connects the birth of jazz in New Orleans, the first drug laws, Louis Armstrong, Mezz Mezzrow, Harry Anslinger and the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, swing, Lester Young, Billie Holiday, the Savoy Ballroom, Reefer Madness, Charlie Parker, the birth of bebop, the rise of the Beat Generation, and the coming of heroin to Harlem. Aficionados of jazz, the Beats, counterculture, and drug history will all find much to enjoy here, with a cast of characters that includes vivid and memorable depictions of Billie Holiday, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Jackie McLean, Allen Ginsberg, William S. Borroughs, Jack Kerouac, Herbert Huncke, Terry Southern, and countless others.” “Torgoff has written the first authentic history of how drugs became part of American culture . . . highly readable . . . fascinating.” Washington Book Review Photographs, notes, bibliography, index.
Carolyn Glenn Brewer’s Changing the Tune: The Kansas City Women's Jazz Festival, 1978-1985 (University of North Texas Press) has been a long time coming and is most welcome. Accounts of the first of those festivals alerted jazz writers to the presence on the scene of female instrumentalists and some of us began to write about them. I proudly number yours truly among the several who included profiles of them in his books. “Even though the potential passage of the Equal Rights Amendment had cracked glass ceilings across the country, in 1978 jazz remained a boys’ club. Two Kansas City women, Carol Comer and Dianne Gregg, challenged that inequitable standard. With the support of jazz luminaries Marian McPartland and Leonard Feather, inaugural performances by Betty Carter, Mary Lou Williams, an unprecedented All-Star band of women, Toshiko Akiyoshi’s band, plus dozens of Kansas City musicians and volunteers, a casual conversation between two friends evolved into the annual Kansas City Women’s Jazz Festival (WJF). But with success came controversy. Anxious to satisfy fans of all jazz styles, WJF alienated some purists. The inclusion of male sidemen brought on protests. The egos of established, seasoned players unexpectedly clashed with those of newcomers. Undaunted, Comer, Gregg, and WJF’s ensemble of supporters continued the cause for eight years. They fought for equality not with speeches but with swing, without protest signs but with bebop. For the first book about this groundbreaking festival, Carolyn Glenn Brewer interviewed dozens of people and dove deeply into the archives. This book is an important testament to the ability of two friends to emphatically prove jazz genderless, thereby changing the course of jazz history.” ‘‘Thank goodness for people like Carol Comer and Dianne Greg who did their part to lift our culture by supporting and sharing with the world powerful music by powerful musicians who happened to be women. And thank goodness for people like Carolyn Glenn Brewer, who wrote so beautifully about them, reminding us that important things come from individuals with bold ideas and a lot of determination.” Maria Schneider, Grammy Award-winning composer and big-band leader “In Carolyn Glenn Brewer’s book, Changing the Tune, we get to experience a well-documented account about the many notable women who lent their voices to the world of jazz. Thank you for helping to erase the stigma women musicians experience by exposing this inspiring organization and its contributions to women in music.” Ellen Johnson, vocalist, producer and author of Jazz Child: A Portrait of Sheila Jordan Photographs, notes, bibliography, index.
Michael C. Heller’s Loft Jazz: Improvising New York in the 1970s (University of California Press) tells the story of “The New York loft jazz scene of the 1970s . . . , a pivotal period for uncompromising, artist-produced work. Faced with a flagging jazz economy, a group of young avant-garde improvisers chose to eschew the commercial sphere and develop alternative venues in the abandoned factories and warehouses of Lower Manhattan. Loft Jazz provides the first book-length study of this period, tracing its history amid a series of overlapping discourses surrounding collectivism, urban renewal, experimentalist aesthetics, underground archives, and the radical politics of self-determination.’ long-awaited, in-depth study of the loft music phenomena of the 1970s. Based on firsthand accounts, it tells the story of musicians, largely African American, in this time of intense creativity and of self-determination. It is a story that needs to be told as the musical evolution, largely ignored, continues into the present.” William Parker, bassist, composer, and author “During the 1970s, when graying critics were writing jazz’s epitaph, a pioneering group of musicians turned spaces of postindustrial abandonment into creative performance spaces, art houses, bohemian assemblies, sites of self-determination, and historical archives. Michael C. Heller tells these musicians’ stories, and the stories behind their stories, with a flowing, searching quality matched only by the words of the musicians themselves. A beautiful book, a free jazz study at its best.” Robin D. G. Kelley, author of Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original “Heller brilliantly reconstructs the loft jazz scene through a community history of rare depth, insight, and creativity. Building on Juma Sultan’s remarkable archive of documents and personal recordings, Heller upends our understanding of the New York loft scene through his deployment of community-developed primary materials and new interviews. A rich portrait of a creative improvisational movement.” Ingrid Monson, Quincy Jones Professor of African American Music, Harvard University Illustrations, notes, discography, bibliography, index.
Michael Stephans’ Experiencing Ornette Coleman: A Listener's Companion (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers) “explores the personal challenges Coleman faced, the music he created from one decade to the next, and the incredibly positive attitude he maintained in the face of so much negativity throughout his life. Revealing how Coleman became an iconic, enigmatic figure not only in jazz, but in much of contemporary improvisational music, Stephans weaves together analysis of Coleman’s recordings with interviews of those who knew Coleman best. Experiencing Ornette Coleman: A Listener's Companion encourages both jazz devotees and readers with little knowledge of the music to trace the inspirational journey of this now-seminal figure from his early years through the beginnings of the new millennium. Along the way, readers will learn about the music and motivations of the free jazz movement while experiencing an utterly human story of artistic genius and expression.” “Besides the massive amount of work Michael Stephans did commenting about Ornette’s music, guiding the reader step by step through the mine field, there is under the surface a challenging . . that the reader/listener open their hearts and minds to the beauty, joy and honesty emanating from the man’s art. Stephans’ ‘message’ goes beyond mere analysis into the spiritual realm, implying that if you allow yourself to enter Ornette’s world you will be touched in ways beyond the pale.” Dave Liebman, NEA Jazz Master Notes, bibliography, discography, WEB resources, index.
Monika Herzig’s Experiencing Chick Corea: A Listener's Companion (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers) “looks at the full span of Corea’s career, decade by decade, touching on the vast array of musical styles he engaged, from his initial work with Herbie Mann to his free explorations with Circle. It touches on his arguably most influential album Now He Sings, Now He Sobs, his involvement with Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew and subsequent efforts as pioneer in the fusion scene with Return to Forever, his duo collaborations, classical outings, and his acoustic and trio work in the 1990s and beyond. Learning how to listen to Corea is itself a bit of a magic carpet ride, given the range of material he has created and the breadth and depth of that work. Experiencing Chick Corea introduces this American Icon to audiences beyond the domain of jazz fans already familiar with this work. Monika Herzig places Corea’s creations in their historical and social contexts so any music lover can gain a fuller understanding of the incredible range of his work.” Monika Herzig has received the Outstanding Book Award by the Association of American University Presses in 2012 for her compilation David Baker - A Legacy in Music (Indiana University Press, 2011). She is a touring jazz pianist herself with numerous recordings as a leader on ACME Records, Owl Studios, Whaling City Sounds, and White Fir Studios. She holds a Doctorate in Music Education from Indiana University where she is a member of the Arts Administration faculty. Notes, bibliography, discography, index.
Charles Hersch’s Jews and Jazz: Improvising Ethnicity (Transnational Studies in Jazz) (Routledge) ‘explores the meaning of Jewish involvement in the world of American jazz. It focuses on the ways prominent jazz musicians like Stan Getz, Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw, Lee Konitz, Dave Liebman, Michael Brecker, and Red Rodney have engaged with jazz in order to explore and construct ethnic identities. The author looks at Jewish identity through jazz in the context of the surrounding American culture, believing that American Jews have used jazz to construct three kinds of identities: to become more American, to emphasize their minority outsider status, and to become more Jewish. From the beginning, Jewish musicians have used jazz for all three of these purposes, but the emphasis has shifted over time. In the 1920s and 1930s, when Jews were seen as foreign, Jews used jazz to make a more inclusive America, for themselves and for blacks, establishing their American identity. Beginning in the 1940s, as Jews became more accepted into the mainstream, they used jazz to ‘re-minoritize’ and avoid over-assimilation through identification with African Americans. Finally, starting in the 1960s as ethnic assertion became more predominant in America, Jews have used jazz to explore and advance their identities as Jews in a multicultural society.” Photographs, notes, bibliography, index.
Anna Harwell Celenza’s Jazz Italian Style: From its Origins in New Orleans to Fascist Italy and Sinatra (Cambridge University Press) “explores a complex era in music history, when politics and popular culture collided with national identity and technology. When jazz arrived in Italy at the conclusion of World War I, it quickly became part of the local music culture. In Italy, thanks to the gramophone and radio, many Italian listeners paid little attention to a performer's national and ethnic identity. Nick LaRocca (Italian-American), Gorni Kramer (Italian), the Trio Lescano (Jewish-Dutch), and Louis Armstrong (African-American), to name a few, all found equal footing in the Italian soundscape. The book reveals how Italians made jazz their own, and how, by the mid-1930s, a genre of jazz distinguishable from American varieties and supported by Mussolini began to flourish in Northern Italy and in its turn influenced Italian-American musicians. Most importantly, the book recovers a lost repertoire and an array of musicians whose stories and performances are compelling and well worth remembering.” Photographs, illustrations, notes, bibliography, index.
Elizabeth Vihlen McGregor’s Jazz and Postwar French Identity: Improvising the Nation) (Lexington Books/Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group). “In the context of a shifting domestic and international status quo that was evolving in the decades following World War II, French audiences used jazz as a means of negotiating a wide range of issues that were pressing to them and to their fellow citizens. Despite the fact that jazz was fundamentally linked to the multicultural through its origins in the hands of African-American musicians, happenings within the French jazz public reflected much about France’s postwar society. In the minds of many, jazz was connected to youth culture, but instead of challenging traditional gender expectations, the music tended to reinforce long-held stereotypes. French critics, musicians, and fans contended with the reality of American superpower strength and often strove to elevate their own country’s stature in relation to the United States by finding fault with American consumer society and foreign policy aims. Jazz audiences used this music to condemn American racism and to support the American civil rights movement, expressing strong reservations about the American way of life. French musicians lobbied to create professional opportunities for themselves, and some went so far as to create a union that endorsed preferential treatment for French nationals. As France became more ethnically and religiously diverse due immigration from Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean, French jazz critics and fans noted the insidious appearance of racism in their own country and had to contend with how their own citizens would address the changing demographics of the nation, even if they continued to insist that racism was more prevalent in the United States. As independence movements brought an end to the French empire, jazz enthusiasts from both former colonies and France had to re-envision their relationship to jazz and to the music’s international audiences. In these postwar decades, the French were working to preserve a distinct national identity in the face of weakened global authority, most forcefully represented by decolonization and American hegemony. Through this originally African American music, French listeners, commentators, and musicians participated in a process that both challenged and reinforced ideas about their own culture and nation.” Elizabeth Vihlen McGregor earned a PhD in history at the State University of New York at Stony Brook and has taught at the United States Merchant Marine Academy, the State College of Florida, and Anna Maria College. “Jazz and Postwar French Identity is an important contribution to the growing literature on jazz in France. Particularly valuable are McGregor’s studies of jazz and gender, and of the music’s place in French colonial and post-colonial experience; the author’s discussions of the local jazz scene’s framing of race, and its relationships with an imagined ‘America’, are equally concentrated and assiduous.” Tom Perchard, Goldsmiths, London University “Jazz and Postwar French Identity underscores the remarkable historical interconnections that exist between the United States and France, the multiple ways in which cross-cultural pollination occurred, how transnational relationships were formed, and ultimately how the complex process of disentangling these networks stands to have lasting implications for contemporary conversations on culture, identity, globalization, and of course racialization.” Dominic Thomas, Letessier Professor of French and francophone studies, UCLA, author of Black France and Africa and France Bibiography, notes, index.
John Lowney’s Jazz Internationalism: Literary Afro-Modernism and the Cultural Politics of Black Music (New Black Studies Series) (University of Illinois Press) “offers a bold reconsideration of jazz's influence in Afro-modernist literature. Ranging from the New Negro Renaissance through the social movements of the 1960s, John Lowney articulates nothing less than a new history of Afro-modernist jazz writing. Jazz added immeasurably to the vocabulary for discussing radical internationalism and black modernism in leftist African American literature. Lowney examines how Claude McKay, Ann Petry, Langston Hughes, and many other writers employed jazz as both a critical social discourse and mode of artistic expression to explore the possibilities ”and challenges ”of black internationalism. The result is an expansive understanding of jazz writing sure to spur new debates.” “Indispensable to African American literary and cultural studies, jazz studies, and internationalist leftist studies. Its discussion of how jazz is called forth as a form of utopianism as well as social and political criticism in radical African American writing marks an important step in the contemporary critical reconsideration of how conventionally discrete areas of history and culture may be seen in intersectional terms.” Gary Edward Holcomb, author of Claude McKay, Code Name Sasha: Queer Black Marxism and the Harlem Renaissance
The Bohemian South: Creating Countercultures, from Poe to Punk (University of North Carolina Press), edited by Lindsey A. Freeman “From the southern influence on nineteenth-century New York to the musical legacy of late-twentieth-century Athens, Georgia, to the cutting-edge cuisines of twenty-first-century Asheville, North Carolina, the bohemian South has long contested traditional views of the region. Yet, even as the fruits of this creative South have famously been celebrated, exported, and expropriated, the region long was labeled a cultural backwater. This timely and illuminating collection uses bohemia as a novel lens for reconsidering more traditional views of the South. Exploring wide-ranging locales, such as Athens, Austin, Black Mountain College, Knoxville, Memphis, New Orleans, and North Carolina's Research Triangle, each essay challenges popular interpretations of the South, while highlighting important bohemian sub- and countercultures. The Bohemian South provides an important perspective in the New South as an epicenter for progress, innovation, and experimentation. Contributors include Scott Barretta, Shawn Chandler Bingham, Jaime Cantrell, Jon Horne Carter, Alex Sayf Cummings, Lindsey A. Freeman, Grace E. Hale, Joanna Levin, Joshua Long, Daniel S. Margolies, Chris Offutt, Zandria F. Robinson, Allen Shelton, Daniel Cross Turner, Zackary Vernon, and Edward Whitley.” Photographs, index.
John Gennari’s Flavor and Soul: Italian America at Its African American Edge) (University Of Chicago Press) tells how ‘In the United States, African American and Italian cultures have been intertwined for more than a hundred years. From as early as nineteenth-century African American opera star Thomas Bowers—‘The Colored Mario’—all the way to hip-hop entrepreneur Puff Daddy dubbing himself ‘the Black Sinatra,’ the affinity between black and Italian cultures runs deep and wide. Once you start looking, you’ll find these connections everywhere. Sinatra croons bel canto over the limousine swing of the Count Basie band. Snoop Dogg deftly tosses off the line ‘I’m Lucky Luciano ’bout to sing soprano.’ Like the Brooklyn pizzeria and candy store in Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing and Jungle Fever, or the basketball sidelines where Italian American coaches Rick Pitino and John Calipari mix it up with their African American players, black/Italian connections are a thing to behold—and to investigate.” John Gennari is also the author of Blowin’ Hot and Cool: Jazz and Its Critics Photographs, notes, index.
Bill Dahl’s and Chris James’s (Art Consultant) The Art of the Blues: A Visual Treasury of Black Music's Golden Age (University Of Chicago Press) ‘charts the rich history of the blues, through the dazzling a “ray of posters, album covers, and advertisements that have shaped its identity over the past hundred years. The blues have been one of the most ubiquitous but diverse elements of American popular music at large, and the visual art associated with this unique sound has been just as varied and dynamic. There is no better guide to this fascinating graphical world than Bill Dahl—a longtime music journalist and historian who has written liner notes for countless reissues of classic blues, soul, R&B, and rock albums. With his deep knowledge and incisive commentary—complementing more than three hundred and fifty lavishly reproduced images—the history of the blues comes musically and visually to life.” “Art of the Blues provides a fascinating visual documentation of the music industry as well as insight into American culture. It’s difficult to quickly flip through this beautiful book because there are so many compelling images that deserve a closer look, whether it’s a publicity portrait of a young Etta James (taken by Hollywood photographer John E. Reed) or the 78 RPM label of ‘Adam Bit the Apple,’ recorded by Big Joe Turner for Houston’s Freedom Recording Co., which used the Statue of Liberty as part of its graphics.” Bobby Reed, Down Beat. Sources, index.
Julian Piper’s Blues from the Bayou: The Rhythms of Baton Rouge (Pelican Publishing Company, Inc.) is an “intensely personal and entertaining account [and] a snapshot of Blues from an outsider welcomed into the inner circles of Southern Blues icons. Englishman Julian C Piper spent a year abroad at Louisiana State University and played blues primarily at the Blues Box in Baton Rouge. There he met many of the musicians with whom he conducted interviews between 1987 and 1988. Those interviews form the basis of this book. Through his close friendship with Blues Box owner Tabby Thomas and his son Chris, Piper talked with blues luminaries including Silas Hogan, Arthur Guitar Kelly, Robert Pete Williams, Huddie (Leadbelly) Ledbetter, Lonesome Sundown, Chris Thomas King, Lightnin Slim (featured on the cover), Slim Harpo, Bruce Neckbone Lamb, Raful Neal, Kenny Ray Neal, Lazy Lester, and many more.” Photographs, notes, `index.
The Blues Why it Still Hurts So Good (Yakkabiz Publishers), by Marie B. Trout, “shows that to some contemporary fans, the blues is still life-saving and sanity-restoring, for others it provides access to cathartic and mood-enhancing elements, but for all it offers a break to just let go and be.” “What a monumental discourse into the mysteries and pleasures of the blues and a wonderful addition to one's library.” John Mayall, ‘the Godfather of British Blues’ and Blues Hall of Fame inductee Illustrations, notes.
Joshua Jelly-Schapiro’s Island People: The Caribbean and the World) (Knopf) Is “A masterwork of travel literature and of history: voyaging from Cuba to Jamaica, Puerto Rico to Trinidad, Haiti to Barbados, and islands in between, Joshua Jelly-Schapiro offers a kaleidoscopic portrait of each society, its culture and politics, connecting this region’s common heritage to its fierce grip on the world’s imagination. From the moment Columbus gazed out from the Santa María's deck in 1492 at what he mistook for an island off Asia, the Caribbean has been subjected to the misunderstandings and fantasies of outsiders. Running roughshod over the place, they have viewed these islands and their inhabitants as exotic allure to be consumed or conquered. The Caribbean stood at the center of the transatlantic slave trade for more than three hundred years, with societies shaped by mass migrations and forced labor. But its people, scattered across a vast archipelago and separated by the languages of their colonizers, have nonetheless together helped make the modern world—its politics, religion, economics, music, and culture. Jelly-Schapiro gives a sweeping account of how these islands’ inhabitants have searched and fought for better lives. With wit and erudition, he chronicles this ‘place where globalization began,’ and introduces us to its forty million people who continue to decisively shape our world.” Notes, bibliography.
Marc Myers’s Anatomy of a Song: The Oral History of 45 Iconic Hits That Changed Rock, R&B and Pop (Grove Press) “brings to life five decades of music through oral histories of forty-five transformative songs woven from interviews with the artists who created them. Bringing readers inside the making of a hit, Anatomy of a Song includes the Isley Brothers’ memorable song ‘Shout,’ Led Zeppelin’s ‘Whole Lotta Love,’ Janis Joplin’s ‘Mercedes Benz,’ and R.E.M’s ‘Losing My Religion.’ After receiving his discharge from the army in 1968, John Fogerty does a handstand and reworks Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony to come up with ‘Proud Mary.’ Joni Mitchell remembers living in a cave on Crete with the ‘mean old daddy’ who inspired her 1971 hit ‘Carey.’ Elvis Costello talks about writing ‘(The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes’ in ten minutes on the train to Liverpool. And Mick Jagger, Jimmy Page, Rod Stewart, the Clash, Jimmy Cliff, Roger Waters, Stevie Wonder, Keith Richards, Cyndi Lauper, and many other leading artists reveal the emotions, inspirations, and techniques behind their influential works. Anatomy of a Song is a love letter to the songs that have defined generations of listeners.” “In these pieces . . . songwriters and performers speak in their own voices, edited from interviews with Myers, about one of their signature songs. Because of Myers’s skill as an interviewer, their pride and enthusiasm come blasting through. Each story is a pleasure to read and will deepen your listening experience . . . Myers bears down hard on these songs and the artists rise to the standards he sets.” Anthony DeCurtis, New York Times Book Review
Rick Massimo’s I Got a Song: A History of the Newport Folk Festival) (Wesleyan University Press) is “The first-ever book exclusively devoted to the history of the Newport Folk Festival, I Got a Song documents the trajectory of an American musical institution that began more than a half-century ago and continues to influence our understanding of folk music today. Rick Massimo’s research is complemented by extensive interviews with the people who were there and who made it all happen: the festival's producers, some of its biggest stars, and people who huddled in the fields to witness moments—like Bob Dylan’s famous electric performance in 1965—that live on in musical history. As folk has evolved over the decades, absorbing influences from rock, traditional music and the singer-songwriters of the ‘60s and ‘70s, the Newport Folk Festival has once again become a gathering point for young performers and fans. I Got a Song tells the stories, small and large, of several generations of American folk music enthusiasts.” “The Newport Folk Festival has been at the center of all sorts of changes in American life for more than fifty years, and Rick Massimo tells it all. Through all of these changes he never loses his focus on festival producer George Wein, who never loses his focus on the vision that Pete Seeger had that this music was a joint creation between artist and audience. It is a story that needs to be told in this fragmented, divided time, and we owe Rick Massimo a debt of gratitude for telling it so well.” Jim Rooney, former Newport board member, record producer, and author of In It for the Long Run. Photographs, illustrations, notes, bibliography, index.
Brooke Halpin’s Experiencing the Beatles: A Listener's Companion (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers) “takes readers on a comprehensive tour behind the masterful instrumentation, timeless (yet sometimes mysterious) lyrics, and experimental recording techniques of the Beatles’ American releases from 1964 through 1970. Halpin explores the rock covers from which the four lads launched their careers; the original rock ‘n’ roll and love songs that fueled Beatlemania; the theatrical, psychedelic, world music, and orchestral elements which continually surprised audiences about the depths of the band’s talents, and the guest musicians whose contributions remain unknown to many listeners. Adding to the song analyses are personal vignettes to transport the reader back in time to experience the excitement of hearing the Beatles for the first time.” Brooke Halpin is an accomplished broadcaster, pianist, composer, painter, and published author. He wrote The Everything Playing Piano and Keyboards Book, The Only Basic Piano Instruction Book You’ll Ever Need, Playing the Piano and Keyboards, a Beatles quiz book, Do You Really Know the Beatles? , and the novel A Magical Mystery Time. “Part of the Listener’s Companion series, this book takes us through the Beatles’ recording career, from their early days covering American hits, to their early-1960s breakthrough with a string of songs about the uplifting nature of Love (‘Love Me Do,’ ‘I Want to Hold Your Hand’), to their mid-60s maturation with songs that were more complex musically and thematically, and on to their celebrated final recordings, which were made as the band was breaking up. Along the way, author Halpin provides insightful commentary on such matters as the way the Beatles’ Liverpool accents made American hits sound new; the way they would change a song’s tempo or orchestration to make it suit their voices and instrumental abilities; the way they combined their individual talents to create a sound unlike anything heard before. Halpin is clearly a fan, but he’s also an accomplished musician, and his ability to break the Beatles’ music into its component parts makes us appreciate these now-classic songs in a new way” Booklist Selected Reading, index.
David Malvinni’s Experiencing the Rolling Stones: A Listener's Companion (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers) “draws together a broad swath of postwar history as it covers the band’s origins in Swinging London, their interest in the Beat generation, the powerful attraction of Morocco on their lives and music, the infamous drug busts that nearly destroyed the band, the female muses who inspired them, the disaster at Altamont, their flight from England as tax exiles, and the recording sessions outside of England. Malvinni takes an especially close look at Keith Richards’ guitar work and its effect on the band’s music, as well as the multiple changes in the band’s members, such as the addition of guitarists Mick Taylor and Ron Wood. Experiencing the Rolling Stones delivers a musical adventure for both the lifelong fan and the first-time listener just discovering the magnitude and magnificence of the Stones’ music, stardom, and legacy.” David Malvinni, musicologist and classical guitarist, is adjunct professor of music and African American studies at Santa Barbara City College and author of The Gypsy Caravan: From Real Roma to Imaginary Gypsies in Western Music and Film and Grateful Dead: The Art of Rock Improvisation. “The ultimate read for the Rolling Stones fan.” PrevailPrevail Notes, Further Reading, Glossary, index.
The Who and Philosophy (The Philosophy of Popular Culture) (Lexington Books/ Rowman & Littlefield Publishers), edited by Rocco J. Gennaro and Casey Harison. “The remarkable depth and breadth of The Who’s music and their story as one of the most exciting and provocative rock bands over the last half-century are the subjects of the philosophical explorations in this collection. The Who were one of the most memorable and influential of the 1960s British Invasion bands—memorable because of their loudness and because they destroyed instruments during performances, and influential because of their success in crafting ‘Power Pop’ singles like ‘My Generation’ and ‘I Can See for Miles,’ long-playing albums Live at Leeds and Who’s Next, and the ‘rock operas’ Tommyand Quadrophenia. The themes that principal songwriter Pete Townshend imparted into The Who’s music drew upon the group’s mostly working-class London upbringings and early Mod audiences: frustration, angst, irony, and a youthful inclination to lash out. Like some of his rock and roll contemporaries, Townshend was also affected by religious ideas coming from India and the existential dread he felt about the possibility of nuclear war. During a career that spanned three decades, The Who gave their fans and rock critics a lot to think about.” Rocco J. Gennaro is professor of philosophy at the University of Southern Indiana. Casey Harison is professor of history at the University of Southern Indiana. “What a terrific book! Harison and Gennaro have assembled a wide-ranging collection of essays spanning the academic, the intellectual and what is oftentimes just plain fun. Any deep fan of the Who has spent plenty of time reading into the band’s Mod antecedents, the symbolism of violence in the destruction of their instruments on stage, Townshend’s simultaneous striving for the power and permanence of opera while insisting that pop music is ephemeral, and how Meher Baba has lain a continuing religious thread through Townshend’s musical ideas. This book is for that fan, and anyone trying to look for their own philosophical thread running through the songs and career of rock music’s most philosophically adventurous act.” David Simonelli, Youngstown State University Notes, index.
Durrell Bowman’s Experiencing Peter Gabriel: A Listener’s Companion (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers) “delves into the sounds and stories of the innovative, versatile, English pop icon. As not only a singer-songwriter and musician, but also a music technologist, world-music champion, and humanitarian, Gabriel has consistently maintained an unabashed individualism and dedication to his artistry. From 1969 to 1975, Gabriel served as the lead singer, flute player, occasional percussionist, and frequent songwriter and lyricist of the progressive rock band Genesis. The early version of Genesis made some of the most self-consciously complex pop music ever released. However, on the cusp of Genesis becoming a major act internationally, Gabriel did the unthinkable and left the group. Gabriel’s solo career has encompassed nine studio albums, plus five film/media scores, additional songs, videos, major tours, and other projects. As a solo artist and collaborator, he has worked with first-rate musicians and produced unrivaled tracks such as the U.S. No. 1 hit ‘Sledgehammer.’ Gabriel won six Grammy Awards in the 1990s and 2000s, as well as numerous additional awards and honors for his music and his videos, as well as for his humanitarian work. From his early work with Genesis to his substantial contributions as a solo artist, Gabriel’s music ranges from chart-topping pop songs to experimental explorations often filled with disarmingly personal emotions. Experiencing Peter Gabriel investigates the career of this magnetic performer and uncovers how Gabriel developed a sound so full of raw authenticity that it continues to attract new fans from across the world.” Durrell Bowman is a cultural musicologist, musician, and IT consultant. He is author of Experiencing Rush: A Listener’s Companion and co-editor of Rush and Philosophy: Heart and Mind United. Selected Listening, bibliography, index.
Listening for the Secret: The Grateful Dead and the Politics of Improvisation (Studies in the Grateful Dead) (University of California Press) by Ulf Olsson and Nicholas Meriwether “is a critical assessment of the Grateful Dead and the distinct culture that grew out of the group’s music, politics, and performance. With roots in popular music traditions, improvisation, and the avant-garde, the Grateful Dead provides a unique lens through which we can better understand the meaning and creation of the counterculture community. Marshaling the critical and aesthetic theories of Adorno, Benjamin, Foucault and others, Ulf Olsson places the music group within discourses of the political, specifically the band’s capacity to create a unique social environment. Analyzing the Grateful Dead’s music as well as the forms of subjectivity and practices that the band generated, Olsson examines the wider significance and impact of its politics of improvisation. Ultimately, Listening for the Secret is about how the Grateful Dead Phenomenon was possible in the first place, what its social and aesthetic conditions of possibility were, and its results. This is the first book in a new series, Studies in the Grateful Dead.” Notes, discography, bibliography, index.
On Becoming a Rock Musician (Legacy Editions) (Columbia University Press), by H. Stith Bennett with a Foreword by Howard Becker H. Stith Bennett has taught at the University of Illinois, the University of Washington, the University of Missouri, and Colorado Women’s College. He now lives off the grid in a cabin in Colorado, where he writes his own prose, poems, and songs. “The information captured in these pages remains as relevant today as it was thirty years ago when rock and roll was still in its nova stage. Bennett’s book is perhaps the only one of its kind to explain the relatively inscrutable process of how one finds their own ‘sound,’ and in so doing, he expands the reach of sociology deeper into the meaning of social music. A rare combination of scholarship and street smarts.” Ben Sidran, host of NPR's Jazz Alive) “At long last back in print and with a foreword by Howard Becker! This book is indispensable for any ethnomusicology of contemporary pop music. H. Stith Bennett brings the resources of phenomenology to the sociology of pop and rock music, meaning not only fieldwork but method. Bennett’s celebrated notion of recording consciousness is the key to On Becoming a Rock Musician, yet the book as a whole shows the reader how ethnomusicology is done.” Babette Babich, author of The Hallelujah Effect: Music, Performance Practice, and Technology Bibliography, index.
Sharon Ammen’s May Irwin: Singing, Shouting, and the Shadow of Minstrelsy (Music in American Life) (University of Illinois Press) recounts how “May Irwin reigned as America's queen of comedy and song from the 1880s through the 1920s. A genuine pop culture phenomenon, Irwin conquered the legitimate stage, composed song lyrics, and parlayed her celebrity into success as a cookbook author, suffragette, and real estate mogul. Sharon Ammen’s in-depth study traces Irwin’s hurly-burly life. Irwin gained fame when, layering aspects of minstrelsy over ragtime, she popularized a racist ‘Negro song’ genre. Ammen examines this forgotten music, the society it both reflected and entertained, and the ways white and black audiences received Irwin’s performances. She also delves into Irwin's hands-on management of her image and career, revealing how Irwin carefully built a public persona as a nurturing housewife whose maternal skills and performing acumen reinforced one another. Irwin's act, soaked in racist song and humor, built a fortune she never relinquished. Yet her career’s legacy led to a posthumous obscurity as the nation that once adored her evolved and changed.” “This is a valuable biographical study that assesses May Irwin’s contributions to comedy while also forging a path that avoided some of the grotesque and low comic traditions associated with female characters. Ammen reassesses Irwin’s work in vaudeville and musical comedy, discussing her in relation to both race and gender, and this is a welcome and much needed work on a remarkable comedienne.” Gillian M. Rodger, author of Champagne Charlie and Pretty Jemima: Variety Theater in the Nineteenth Century Photographs, illustrations, notes, bibliography, index.
In Love for Sale: Pop Music in AmericaDavid Hajdu “draws on a lifetime of listening, playing, and writing about music to show how pop has done much more than peddle fantasies of love and sex to teenagers. From vaudeville singer Eva Tanguay, the ‘I Don’t Care Girl’ who upended Victorian conceptions of feminine propriety to become one of the biggest stars of her day to the scandal of Blondie playing disco at CBGB, Hajdu presents an incisive and idiosyncratic history of a form that has repeatedly upset social and cultural expectations. Exhaustively researched and rich with fresh insights, Love for Sale is unbound by the usual tropes of pop music history. Hajdu, for instance, gives a star turn to Bessie Smith and the ‘blues queens’ of the 1920s, who brought wildly transgressive sexuality to American audience decades before rock and roll. And there is Jimmie Rodgers, a former blackface minstrel performer, who created country music from the songs of rural white and blacks . . . entwined with the sound of the Swiss yodel. And then there are today’s practitioners of Electronic Dance Music, whom Hajdu celebrates for carrying the pop revolution to heretofore unimaginable frontiers. At every turn, Hajdu surprises and challenges readers to think about our most familiar art in unexpected ways. Masterly and impassioned, authoritative and at times deeply personal, Love for Sale is a book of critical history informed by its writer's own unique history as a besotted fan and lifelong student of pop.’ “Love for Sale is easy to devour for anyone who still feels a pang of nostalgia or despair when walking past a bank branch where a record store used to be . . . [Hajdu] traces the history of pop from the sheet-music past to the streaming present with the friendly authority of a favorite teacher . . . Educational and entertaining.” Jim Windolf, New York Times Book Review Notes, index.
Sean Kay’s Rockin’ the Free World!: How the Rock & Roll Revolution Changed America and the World (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers) “takes readers inside ‘Bob Dylan’s America’ and shows how this vision linked the rock and roll revolution to American values of freedom, equality, human rights, and peace while tracing how those values have spread globally. Rockin’ the Free World then shows how artists have engaged in advancing change via opportunity and education; domestic and international issue advocacy; and within the recording and broader communications industry. The book is built around primary interviews with prominent American and international performing artists ranging from Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees and Grammy winners to regional and local musicians. The interviews include leading industry people, management, journalists, heads of non-profits, and activists. The book concludes with a look at how musical artists have defined the American experience and what that has meant for the world.” “Sean Kay’s Rockin’ the Free World! is a declaration of faith, in the music and in America.” The Huffington Post Photographs, sources, notes, index.
Daniel Wolff’s Grown-Up Anger: The Connected Mysteries of Bob Dylan, Woody Guthrie, and the Calumet Massacre of 1913 (Harper Collins) is “A tour de force of storytelling years in the making: a dual biography of two of the greatest songwriters, Bob Dylan and Woody Guthrie, that is also a murder mystery and a history of labor relations and socialism, big business and greed in twentieth-century America—woven together in one epic saga that holds meaning for all working Americans today. In this magnificent cultural study, Wolff braids three disparate strands—Calumet, Guthrie, and Dylan—together to create a devastating revisionist history of twentieth-century America. Grown-Up Anger chronicles the struggles between the haves and have-nots, the impact changing labor relations had on industrial America, and the way two musicians used their fury to illuminate economic injustice and inspire change.” “In this book—so soberly inflamed that the pages seem to turn of their own accord—the history of the American twentieth century is made of lodestars that don’t figure in conventional accounts… It is at precisely this moment that its story will be most fully heard.” Greil Marcus, author of Bob Dylan: Writings 1968-2010 Bibliography, notes, index.
Andrew McCarron’s Light Come Shining: The Transformations of Bob Dylan (Inner Lives) (Oxford University Press) “uses psychological tools to examine three major turning points - or transformations - in Bob Dylan’s life: the aftermath of his 1966 motorcycle ‘accident,’ his Born Again conversion in 1978, and his recommitment to songwriting and performing in 1987. With fascinating insight, McCarron reveals how a common script undergirds Dylan's self-explanations of these changes; and, at the heart of this script, illuminates a fascinating story of spiritual death and rebirth that has captivated us all for generations.” Notes, index.
Judy Kutulas’s After Aquarius Dawned: How the Revolutions of the Sixties Became the Popular Culture of the Seventies (University of North Carolina Press) “complicates the common view that the 1970s were a time of counterrevolution against the radical activities and attitudes of the previous decade. Instead, Kutulas argues that the experiences and attitudes that were radical in the 1960s were becoming part of mainstream culture in the 1970s, as sexual freedom, gender equality, and more complex notions of identity, work, and family were normalized through popular culture--television, movies, music, political causes, and the emergence of new communities. Seemingly mundane things like watching The Mary Tyler Moore Show, listening to Carole King songs, donning Birkenstock sandals, or reading Roots were actually critical in shaping Americans' perceptions of themselves, their families, and their relation to authority. Even as these cultural shifts eventually gave way to a backlash of political and economic conservatism, Kutulas shows that what critics perceive as the narcissism of the 1970s was actually the next logical step in a longer process of assimilating 1960s values like individuality and diversity into everyday life. Exploring such issues as feminism, sexuality, and race, Kutulas demonstrates how popular culture helped many Americans make sense of key transformations in U.S. economics, society, politics, and culture in the late twentieth century.” Photographs, bibliography, notes, index.
Adrienne Trier-Bieniek’s The Beyoncé Effect: Essays on Sexuality, Race and Feminism (McFarland) “presents a detailed study of the music and persona of Beyoncé—arguably the world's biggest pop star. Topics include the body politics of respectability; feminism, empowerment and gender in Beyoncé's lyrics; black female pleasure; and the changing face of celebrity motherhood. . . . Since her late-1990s debut as a member of the R&B trio Destiny's Child, Beyoncé Knowles has garnered both praise and criticism. While some consider her an icon of female empowerment, others see her as detrimental to feminism and representing a negative image of women of color. Her music has a decidedly pop aesthetic, yet her power-house vocals and lyrics focused on issues like feminine independence, healthy sexuality and post-partum depression give her songs dimension and substance beyond typical pop fare.” “Hugely comprehensive analysis of Beyonce, her cultural significance, her media representation and her part in issues such as race and feminism. This collection of essays covers an exhaustive range of subjects relating to Beyoncé in a way that’s extremely intellectual without being inaccessible. Some of the material becomes a little repetitive, as inevitably the different contributors draw on some of the same examples, but this does not detract from an impressive cultural critique.” Katy Goodwin-Bates, Fourth & Sycamore Bibliography, index.
Joseph C. Ewoodzie Jr. Break Beats in the Bronx: Rediscovering Hip-Hop's Early Years (University of North Carolina Press). “The origin story of hip-hop—one that involves Kool Herc DJing a house party on Sedgwick Avenue in the Bronx—has become received wisdom. But Joseph C. Ewoodzie Jr. argues that the full story remains to be told. In vibrant prose, he combines never-before-used archival material with searching questions about the symbolic boundaries that have divided our understanding of the music. In Break Beats in the Bronx, Ewoodzie portrays the creative process that brought about what we now know as hip-hop and shows that the art form was a result of serendipitous events, accidents, calculated successes, and failures that, almost magically, came together. In doing so, he questions the unexamined assumptions about hip-hop's beginnings, including why there are just four traditional elements—DJing, MCing, breaking, and graffiti writing—and not others, why the South Bronx and not any other borough or city is considered the cradle of the form, and which artists besides Kool Herc, Afrika Bambaataa, and Grandmaster Flash founded the genre. Ewoodzie answers these and many other questions about hip-hop's beginnings. Unearthing new evidence, he shows what occurred during the crucial but surprisingly underexamined years between 1975 and 1979 and argues that it was during this period that the internal logic and conventions of the scene were formed.” “Break Beats in the Bronx promises to be an important contribution to the social and cultural history of hip-hop. With zeal, rigor, and no small amount of style, Joseph Ewoodzie illuminates the defining moments and key personalities of hip-hop's early years before they recede into shadow.” Adam Bradley, author of Book of Rhymes and coeditor of The Anthology of Rap Photographs, Glossary of Terms, notes, index.
Alejandro Nava’s In Search of Soul: Hip-Hop, Literature, and Religion (University of California Press) “explores the meaning of ‘soul’ in sacred and profane incarnations, from its biblical origins to its central place in the rich traditions of black and Latin history. Surveying the work of writers, artists, poets, musicians, philosophers and theologians, Alejandro Nava shows how their understandings of the ‘soul’ revolve around narratives of justice, liberation, and spiritual redemption. He contends that biblical traditions and hip-hop emerged out of experiences of dispossession and oppression. Whether born in the ghettos of America or of the Roman Empire, hip-hop and Christianity have endured by giving voice to the persecuted. This book offers a view of soul in living color, as a breathing, suffering, dreaming thing.” “Alejandro Nava’s In Search of Soul is a learned and personal book. It excavates the vast territory of soul as a concept both in theology and in culture, spanning sacred and profane expressions in literature and music. Nava writes with easy erudition, equally at home in the pages of Nietzsche as in the phrases of Nas.”Adam Bradley, author of The Poetry of Pop “When asked to offer an example of ambitious, thought-provoking, rigorous scholarship, I submit this book as Exhibit A. Nava studies what he calls ‘the grammar of the soul’ through a variety of cultural artifacts, from the Bible to slave worldviews in Judaism and Christianity, to the work of Federico García Lorca and Ralph Ellison, and to the music, particularly the Black and Latin American traditions that are his passion and true schooling, of rap and hip-hop. He does all this with assurance and acumen, which allows him to achieve his goals handsomely. Frankly, I am not only grateful but jealous—I wish I had written it myself.” Ilan Stavans, author of Quixote: The Novel and the World and editor of The Norton Anthology of Latino Literature
David L. Parsons’ Dangerous Grounds: Antiwar Coffeehouses and Military Dissent in the Vietnam Era (University of North Carolina Press) relates how “As the Vietnam War divided the nation, a network of antiwar coffeehouses appeared in the towns and cities outside American military bases. Owned and operated by civilian activists, GI coffeehouses served as off-base refuges for the growing number of active-duty soldiers resisting the war. In the first history of this network, David L. Parsons shows how antiwar GIs and civilians united to battle local authorities, vigilante groups, and the military establishment itself by building a dynamic peace movement within the armed forces. Peopled with lively characters and set in the tense environs of base towns around the country, this book complicates the often misunderstood relationship between the civilian antiwar movement, U.S. soldiers, and military officials during the Vietnam era. Using a broad set of primary and secondary sources, Parsons shows us a critical moment in the history of the Vietnam-era antiwar movement, when a chain of counterculture coffeehouses brought the war's turbulent politics directly to the American military's doorstep.” “Through meticulous research, Parsons details the roles of the GI coffeehouses in both the movement against the Vietnam War and the subsequent cultural transformation of the U.S. military. A book of wonderful insights, this fine history of the GI coffeehouse movement has great relevance in our current epoch of endless war.” H. Bruce Franklin, author of Vietnam and Other American Fantasies Notes, bibliography, index.
Daniel Kane’s “Do You Have a Band?”: Poetry and Punk Rock in New York City (Columbia University Press) “reveals how the new sounds of proto-punk and punk music found their way into the poetry of the 1960s and 1970s downtown scene, enabling writers to develop fresh ideas for their own poetics and performance styles. Likewise, groups like The Fugs and the Velvet Underground drew on writers as varied as William Blake and Delmore Schwartz for their lyrics. Drawing on a range of archival materials and oral interviews, Kane also shows how and why punk musicians drew on and resisted French Symbolist writing, the vatic resonance of the Beat chant, and, most surprisingly and complexly, the New York Schools of poetry. In bringing together the music and writing of Richard Hell, Patti Smith, and Jim Carroll with readings of poetry by Anne Waldman, Eileen Myles, Ted Berrigan, John Giorno, and Dennis Cooper, Kane provides a fascinating history of this crucial period in postwar American culture and the cultural life of New York City.” ““Do You Have a Band?” is a formidably researched and galvanizing cultural history of the poetry–punk rock connection, with its lofty aspirations, history, gossip, and genius. This book continues Kane’s passionate scholarship of the formative years of the downtown New York performance/poetry worlds. When were we ever so free to incubate our wild desires in language and sound? Current and next generations of artists, rockers, scholars, and fans will love this book.” Anne Waldman, author of Voice's Daughter of a Heart Yet to Be Born “Critics have long remarked that Lou Reed, Richard Hell, Patti Smith, and other musicians associated with the emergence of punk rock began their careers in the New York poetry world. Why then are timeless evocations of the Rimbaudian maudit all we ever hear about their interest in poetry? Banishing these clichés with a critical power chord, Daniel Kane's “Do You Have a Band?” finally brings into view the actual landscape of later New York School poetics in which (and often against which) New York punk rock took shape.” Lytle Shaw, New York University, author of Frank O’Hara: The Poetics of Coterie. Photographs, notes, index.
Fred Carroll’s Race News: Black Journalists and the Fight for Racial Justice in the Twentieth Century (History of Communication) (University of Illinois Press) “traces how mainstream journalists incorporated coverage of the alternative press's supposedly marginal politics of anti-colonialism, anti-capitalism, and black separatism into their publications. He follows the narrative into the 1950s, when an alternative press re-emerged as commercial publishers curbed progressive journalism in the face of Cold War repression. Yet, as Carroll shows, journalists achieved significant editorial independence, and continued to do so as national newspapers modernized into the 1960s. Alternative writers' politics seeped into commercial papers via journalists who wrote for both presses and through professional friendships that ignored political boundaries. Compelling and incisive, Race News reports the dramatic history of how black press culture evolved in the twentieth centuryOnce distinct, the commercial and alternative black press began to crossover with one another in the 1920s. The porous press culture that emerged shifted the political and economic motivations shaping African American journalism. It also sparked disputes over radical politics that altered news coverage of some of the most momentous events in African American history.” “A thorough, well-researched, lively, and accessible account of the role of the Black press in the twentieth century. Race News is a sympathetic and politically astute analysis of the paths navigated by black journalists, and the role played by them, in many of the key struggles for racial justice in U.S. history.” Bill V. Mullen, author of Popular Fronts: Chicago and African American Cultural Politics, 1935-1946 Photographs, bibliography, notes, index.
Tom Adam Davies’ Mainstreaming Black Power (University of California Press) “upends the narrative that the Black Power movement allowed for a catharsis of black rage but achieved little institutional transformation or black uplift. Retelling the story of the 1960s and 1970s across the United States—and focusing on New York, Atlanta, and Los Angeles—this book reveals how the War on Poverty cultivated black self-determination politics and demonstrates that federal, state, and local policies during this period bolstered economic, social, and educational institutions for black control. Mainstreaming Black Power shows more convincingly than ever before that white power structures did engage with Black Power in specific ways that tended ultimately to reinforce rather than challenge existing racial, class, and gender hierarchies. This book emphasizes that Black Power’s reach and legacies can be understood only in the context of an ideologically diverse black community.” “This book is an outstanding contribution to an expanding body of innovative, insightful, and original scholarship on the Black Power movement. Davies builds upon an already firm foundation of histories produced in the last ten years, ultimately producing the most substantive and significant study of the impact of Black Power on the American political mainstream.’Jeffrey O. G. Ogbar, author of Black Power: Radical Politics and African American Identity “Davies’s argument about the role of white public policy makers in shaping the impact of Black Power is compelling. He demonstrates hard-thinking that brings together often-discrete historiographies behind an overarching interpretation. His case studies highlight the tension between social justice and technocratic solutions to urban poverty. Davies has provided the best analysis I have seen of why Black Power was more moderate and influential than is sometimes acknowledged, but also why the benefits to African Americans of post–Voting Rights Act black politics have turned out to be so constrained.” Anthony J. Badger, author of FDR: The First Hundred Days Photographs, notes, bibliography, index.
Ashley D. Farmer’s Remaking Black Power: How Black Women Transformed an Era (Justice, Power, and Politics) (University of North Carolina Press) “examines black women's political, social, and cultural engagement with Black Power ideals and organizations. Complicating the assumption that sexism relegated black women to the margins of the movement, Farmer demonstrates how female activists fought for more inclusive understandings of Black Power and social justice by developing new ideas about black womanhood. This compelling book shows how the new tropes of womanhood that they created--the ‘Militant Black Domestic,’ the ‘Revolutionary Black Woman,’ and the ‘Third World Woman,’ for instance--spurred debate among activists over the importance of women and gender to Black Power organizing, causing many of the era's organizations and leaders to critique patriarchy and support gender equality. Making use of a vast and untapped array of black women's artwork, political cartoons, manifestos, and political essays that they produced as members of groups such as the Black Panther Party and the Congress of African People, Farmer reveals how black women activists reimagined black womanhood, challenged sexism, and redefined the meaning of race, gender, and identity in American life.” Ashley D. Farmer is an historian of 20th century African American Women's History at Boston University. She specializes in women's and gender history, radical politics, intellectual history, and black feminism. Farmer is the author of eight articles and book chapters, as well as a pieces for popular outlets like The Independent and Black Perspectives. She has received research fellowships and grants from a variety of universities, foundations, professional associations, and libraries, including the Center for American Politics at Harvard University, the Clayman Institute for Gender Research at Stanford University, the University of Texas-Austin, the Wisconsin Historical Society, the Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Research on Women and Politics at Iowa State University, and the American Association of University Women (AAUW). Farmer earned her undergraduate degree from Spelman College and her doctorate from Harvard University. Photographs, illustrations, notes, bibliography, index.
Chocolate City: A History of Race and Democracy in the Nation's Capital (University of North Carolina Press), by Chris Myers Asch and George Derek Musgrove, “tells the tumultuous, four-century story of race and democracy in our nation's capital. Emblematic of the ongoing tensions between America's expansive democratic promises and its enduring racial realities, Washington often has served as a national battleground for contentious issues, including slavery, segregation, civil rights, the drug war, and gentrification. But D.C. is more than just a seat of government, and authors Chris Myers Asch and George Derek Musgrove also highlight the city's rich history of local activism as Washingtonians of all races have struggled to make their voices heard in an undemocratic city where residents lack full political rights. Tracing D.C.'s massive transformations--from a sparsely inhabited plantation society into a diverse metropolis, from a center of the slave trade to the nation's first black-majority city, from ‘Chocolate City’ to ‘Latte City’--Asch and Musgrove offer an engaging narrative peppered with unforgettable characters, a history of deep racial division but also one of hope, resilience, and interracial cooperation.” “An ambitious, kaleidoscopic history of race and politics in Washington, D.C. . . . Essential American history, deeply researched and written with verve and passion.” Kirkus Reviews, starred review. Photographs, notes, bibliography, index.
Herb Boyd’s Black Detroit: A People's History of Self-Determination (Amistad/Harper Collins). “The author of Baldwin’s Harlem looks at the evolving culture, politics, economics, and spiritual life of Detroit—a blend of memoir, love letter, history, and clear-eyed reportage that explores the city’s past, present, and future and its significance to the African American legacy and the nation’s fabric. Herb Boyd moved to Detroit in 1943, as race riots were engulfing the city. Though he did not grasp their full significance at the time, this critical moment would be one of many he witnessed that would mold his political activism and exposed a city restless for change. In Black Detroit, he reflects on his life and this landmark place, in search of understanding why Detroit is a special place for black people. Boyd reveals how Black Detroiters were prominent in the city’s historic, groundbreaking union movement and—when given an opportunity—were among the tireless workers who made the automobile industry the center of American industry. Well paying jobs on assembly lines allowed working class Black Detroiters to ascend to the middle class and achieve financial stability, an accomplishment not often attainable in other industries. Boyd makes clear that while many of these middle-class jobs have disappeared, decimating the population and hitting blacks hardest, Detroit survives thanks to the emergence of companies such as Shinola—which represent the strength of the Motor City and and its continued importance to the country. He also brings into focus the major figures who have defined and shaped Detroit, including William Lambert, the great abolitionist, Berry Gordy, the founder of Motown, Coleman Young, the city’s first black mayor, diva songstress Aretha Franklin, Malcolm X, and Ralphe Bunche, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. With a stunning eye for detail and passion for Detroit, Boyd celebrates the music, manufacturing, politics, and culture that make it an American original.” “Herb Boyd has done it again. Black Detroit is a powerful, timely, and important history of an iconic city whose hopes and dreams, triumphs and tragedies, continue to both challenge and shape the African American experience and American democracy. This brilliant history is a must read for students, scholars, and all those interested in the history of the civil rights movement and black freedom struggle.” Peniel E. Joseph, Author of Stokely: A Life Photographs, notes, index.
Nicholas Grant’s Winning Our Freedoms Together: African Americans and Apartheid, 1945–1960 (Justice, Power, and Politics) (University of North Carolina Press) “examines how African Americans engaged with, supported, and were inspired by the South African anti-apartheid movement. Bringing black activism into conversation with the foreign policy of both the U.S. and South African governments, this study questions the dominant perception that U.S.-centered anticommunism decimated black international activism. Instead, by tracing the considerable amount of time, money, and effort the state invested into responding to black international criticism, Grant outlines the extent to which the U.S. and South African governments were forced to reshape and occasionally reconsider their racial policies in the Cold War world. This study shows how African Americans and black South Africans navigated transnationally organized state repression in ways that challenged white supremacy on both sides of the Atlantic. The political and cultural ties that they forged during the 1940s and 1950s are testament to the insistence of black activists in both countries that the struggle against apartheid and Jim Crow were intimately interconnected.” “In this important new work, Grant has delved into an impressive array of sources to provide deeper understanding of the links and transnational conversations of black South Africans and African Americans. Around every corner, there are valuable arguments and interesting insights into the linkages between these movements.” James H. Meriwether, author of Proudly We Can Be Africans “In this engaging transnational history, Grant not only demonstrates the connections between the freedom struggles of African Americans and black South Africans, but also illuminates how and why these transnational linkages formed. Conceptually innovative and deeply grounded in archival work across multiple continents, this study weaves a fascinating story that will be a valuable resource for present and future scholars.” Robert Trent Vinson, author of The Americans Are Coming! Photographs, notes, bibliography, index.
In The Sound of Navajo Country: Music, Language, and Diné Belonging (University of North Carolina Press), “an ethnography of Navajo (Diné) popular music culture,” Kristina M. Jacobsen “examines questions of Indigenous identity and performance by focusing on the surprising and vibrant Navajo country music scene. Through multiple first-person accounts, Jacobsen illuminates country music’s connections to the Indigenous politics of language and belonging, examining through the lens of music both the politics of difference and many internal distinctions Diné make among themselves and their fellow Navajo citizens. As the second largest tribe in the United States, the Navajo have often been portrayed as a singular and monolithic entity. Using her experience as a singer, lap steel player, and Navajo language learner, Jacobsen challenges this notion, showing the ways Navajos distinguish themselves from one another through musical taste, linguistic abilities, geographic location, physical appearance, degree of Navajo or Indian blood, and class affiliations. By linking cultural anthropology to ethnomusicology, linguistic anthropology, and critical Indigenous studies, Jacobsen shows how Navajo poetics and politics offer important insights into the politics of Indigeneity in Native North America, highlighting the complex ways that identities are negotiated in multiple, often contradictory, spheres.” “Lively and entertaining, this cultural history traces the consequences of the sixties into the seventies, explaining--as well as any I've read--how sixties cultural norms were altered, but not completely transformed, by the politics, economics, and demography of the following decade. Full of examples and stories that will be familiar to many, this book is a pleasure to read.” Edward Berkowitz, George Washington University Photographs, notes, index.
Joshua Jelly-Schapiro’s Island People: The Caribbean and the World (Knopf) is “A masterwork of travel literature and of history: voyaging from Cuba to Jamaica, Puerto Rico to Trinidad, Haiti to Barbados, and islands in between, Joshua Jelly-Schapiro offers a kaleidoscopic portrait of each society, its culture and politics, connecting this region’s common heritage to its fierce grip on the world’s imagination. . . . Jelly-Schapiro gives a sweeping account of how these islands’ inhabitants have searched and fought for better lives. With wit and erudition, he chronicles this ‘place where globalization began,’ and introduces us to its forty million people who continue to decisively shape our world.” “Joshua Jelly-Schapiro possesses both a humanist’s irrepressible empathy and a journalist’s necessary skepticism. He reports carefully, researches exhaustively, cares deeply, and writes beautifully.” Dave Eggers, author of Heroes of the Frontier Notes, bibliography.
Marian Wilson Kimber’s The Elocutionists: Women, Music, and the Spoken Word (University of Illinois Press) “restores elocution with music to its rightful place in performance history. . . . Emerging in the 1850s, elocutionists recited poetry or drama with music to create a new type of performance. The genre—dominated by women—achieved remarkable popularity. Yet the elocutionists and their art fell into total obscurity during the twentieth century. . . . Gazing through the lenses of gender and genre, Wilson Kimber argues that these female artists transgressed the previous boundaries between private and public domains. Their performances advocated for female agency while also contributing to a new social construction of gender. Elocutionists, proud purveyors of wholesome entertainment, pointedly contrasted their ‘acceptable’ feminine attributes against those of morally suspect actresses. As Wilson Kimber shows, their influence far outlived their heyday. Women, the primary composers of melodramatic compositions, did nothing less than create a tradition that helped shape the history of American music.” “In her fascinating and long-needed study, Wilson Kimber reconstitutes and interprets a set of pervasive but neglected practices that include not only elocution but also melodramatic performance, recitation in combination with music, and the activities of the verse speaking choir. In so doing, she helps to recover an elusive but crucial element of cultural history: the sound of women's lives.” Joan Shelley Rubin, author of Songs of Ourselves: The Uses of Poetry in America “A century ago, popular literature reached many Americans through the interpretive voices of women, women who--typically barred from the men's world of political oratory--cultivated a performance art in the home, the theater, on the traveling circuit. While revealing the huge variety of music used to accompany spoken narration, Wilson Kimber brings alive again the forgotten art of elocution through a close examination of the 'sentimental keepsakes' and pedagogical traditions it sought to preserve.” Michael V. Pisani, Vassar College Photographs, illustrations, notes, index
Elizabeth Dowling Taylor The Original Black Elite: Daniel Murray and the Story of a Forgotten Era (Amistad/Harper Collins) “Chronicles a critical yet overlooked chapter in American history: the inspiring rise and calculated fall of the black elite, from Emancipation through Reconstruction to the Jim Crow Era—embodied in the experiences of an influential figure of the time, academic, entrepreneur, and political activist and black history pioneer Daniel Murray. . . . Though Murray and other black elite of his time were primed to assimilate into the cultural fabric as Americans first and people of color second, their prospects were crushed by Jim Crow segregation and the capitulation to white supremacist groups by the government, which turned a blind eye to their unlawful—often murderous—acts. Elizabeth Dowling Taylor traces the rise, fall, and disillusionment of upper-class African Americans, revealing that they were a representation not of hypothetical achievement but what could be realized by African Americans through education and equal opportunities. As she makes clear, these well-educated and wealthy elite were living proof that African Americans did not lack ability to fully participate in the social contract as white supremacists claimed, making their subsequent fall when Reconstruction was prematurely abandoned all the more tragic. Illuminating and powerful, her magnificent work brings to life a dark chapter of American history that too many Americans have yet to recognize.” “The Original Black Elite is a compelling biography of Daniel Murray and the group the writer-scholar W.E.B. DuBois called ‘The Talented Tenth.’ In this work, Elizabeth Dowling Taylor deftly demonstrates how the struggle for racial equality has always been complicated by the thorny issue of class.” Patricia Bell-Scott, author of The Firebrand and the First Lady. Photographs, illustrations, notes, index.
Tim Rutherford-Johnson’s Music after the Fall: Modern Composition and Culture since 1989 (University of California Press) “is the first book to survey contemporary Western art music within the transformed political, cultural, and technological environment of the post–Cold War era. In this book, Tim Rutherford-Johnson considers musical composition against this changed backdrop, placing it in the context of globalization, digitization, and new media. Drawing connections with the other arts, in particular visual art and architecture, he expands the definition of Western art music to include forms of composition, experimental music, sound art, and crossover work from across the spectrum, inside and beyond the concert hall. Each chapter is a critical consideration of a wide range of composers, performers, works, and institutions, and develops a broad and rich picture of the new music ecosystem, from North American string quartets to Lebanese improvisers, from electroacoustic music studios in South America to ruined pianos in the Australian outback. Rutherford-Johnson puts forth a new approach to the study of contemporary music that relies less on taxonomies of style and technique than on the comparison of different responses to common themes of permission, fluidity, excess, and loss.” “Tim Rutherford-Johnson is probably the most authoritative international chronicler of the composed music of our time, and in this book he manages the near-impossible feat of mapping a field that is changing by the day. He is a rigorous thinker, yet he avoids dogma and shows unexpected sympathies. What results is an indispensable work of intellectual passion.” Alex Ross, author of The Rest Is Noise and Listen to This Photographs, illustrations, notes, index.
John Zarobell’s Art and the Global Economy (University of California Press) “analyzes major changes in the global art world that have emerged in the last twenty years including structural shifts in the global art market; the proliferation of international art fairs, biennials and blockbuster exhibitions; and the internationalization of the scope of contemporary art. John Zarobell explores the economic and social transformations in the cultural sphere, the results of greater access to information about art, exhibitions, and markets around the world, as well as the increasing interpenetration of formerly distinct geographical domains. By considering a variety of locations—both long-standing art capitals and up-and-coming centers of the future—Art and the Global Economy facilitates a deeper understanding of how globalization affects the domain of the visual arts in the twenty-first century. With contributions by Lucia Cantero, Mariana David, Valentin Diaconov, Kai Lossgott, Grace Murray, Chhoti Rao, Emma Rogers and Michelle Wong.” ‘‘For ten years I have been looking for books to include in my graduate seminar on art and economics and artist’s alternatives to the art market. John Zarobell’s Art and the Global Economy is the ideal book for my class and for any artist interested in understanding the complex relationship between the creative mind and the challenging materialistic context in which it exists.” Enrique Chagoya, Artist and Professor, Department of Art and Art History, Stanford University Photographs, illustrations, works cited, index.
Jeremy Geltzer’s, Dirty Words and Filthy Pictures: Film and the First Amendment (University of Texas Press), “explores movies that changed the law and resulted in greater creative freedom for all. Relying on primary sources that include court decisions, contemporary periodicals, state censorship ordinances, and studio production codes, Jeremy Geltzer offers a comprehensive and fascinating history of cinema and free speech, from the earliest films of Thomas Edison to the impact of pornography and the Internet. With incisive case studies of risqué pictures, subversive foreign films, and banned B-movies, he reveals how the legal battles over film content changed long-held interpretations of the Constitution, expanded personal freedoms, and opened a new era of free speech. An important contribution to film studies and media law, Geltzer’s work presents the history of film and the First Amendment with an unprecedented level of detail.” “Valuable both as a specialized movie-history text and a meditation on morality, freedom of expression, changing notions of what constitutes the scandalous, and how, well, nothing ever stays the same.” New York Times Book Review Foreword by Alex Kozinski. Photographs, illustrations, notes, bibliography, index.
Glenn Frankel’s High Noon: The Hollywood Blacklist and the Making of an American Classic (Bloomsbury USA). “It's one of the most revered movies of Hollywood's golden era. Starring screen legend Gary Cooper and Grace Kelly in her first significant film role, High Noon was shot on a lean budget over just thirty-two days but achieved instant box-office and critical success. It won four Academy Awards in 1953, including a best actor win for Cooper. And it became a cultural touchstone, often cited by politicians as a favorite film, celebrating moral fortitude. Yet what has been often overlooked is that High Noon was made during the height of the Hollywood blacklist, a time of political inquisition and personal betrayal. In the middle of the film shoot, screenwriter Carl Foreman was forced to testify before the House Committee on Un-American Activities about his former membership in the Communist Party. Refusing to name names, he was eventually blacklisted and fled the United States. (His co-authored screenplay for another classic, The Bridge on the River Kwai, went uncredited in 1957.) Examined in light of Foreman's testimony, High Noon's emphasis on courage and loyalty takes on deeper meaning and importance. In this book, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Glenn Frankel tells the story of the making of a great American Western, exploring how Carl Foreman's concept of High Noon evolved from idea to first draft to final script, taking on allegorical weight. Both the classic film and its turbulent political times emerge newly illuminated.” “Glenn Frankel comes to his subject with a widely praised book about John Ford's The Searchers and an impressive resume in journalism, including a Pulitzer Prize. Although much of Frankel’s material is familiar, the blacklist is a gift that keeps on giving. . . Frankel narrates this story well. He has a sure ear for the telling anecdote, and a good eye for detail.” New York Times Book Review.
Approaching Twin Peaks: Critical Essays on the Original Series (McFarland), Eric Hoffman and Dominick Grace, editors. “Though it lasted just two seasons, Twin Peaks (1990-1991) raised the bar for television and is now considered one of the great dramas in TV history. Its complex plots and sensational visuals both inspired and alienated audiences. After 25 years, the cult classic is being revived. This collection of new essays explores its filmic influences, its genre-bending innovations and its use of horror and science fiction conventions, from the original series through the earlier film prequel Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me and subsequent video releases.” About the Contrbutors, index.
This second edition of Roger Ebert’s, Awake in the Dark: The Best of Roger Ebert (University of Chicago Press) is not only a virtually definitive overview of film criticism as seen by one of the genre’s keenest and most informed observers, it is a great volume for browsing. Foreword by David Bordwell. “For nearly half a century, Roger Ebert’s wide knowledge, keen judgment, prodigious energy, and sharp sense of humor made him America’s most renowned and beloved film critic. From Ebert’s Pulitzer Prize to his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, from his astonishing output of daily reviews to his pioneering work on television with Gene Siskel, his was a career in cinema criticism without peer. Arriving fifty years after Ebert published his first film review in 1967, this second edition of Awake in the Dark collects Ebert’s essential writings into a single, irresistible volume. Featuring new Top Ten Lists and reviews of the years’ finest films through 2012, this edition allows both fans and film buffs to bask in the best of an extraordinary lifetime’s work. Including reviews from The Godfather to GoodFellas and interviews with everyone from Martin Scorsese to Meryl Streep, as well as showcasing some of Ebert’s most admired essays—among them a moving appreciation of John Cassavetes and a loving tribute to the virtues of black-and-white films—Ebert’s Awake in the Dark is a treasure trove not just for fans of this era-defining critic, but for anyone desiring a compulsively readable chronicle of the silver screen. Stretching from the dramatic rise of rebel Hollywood and the heyday of the auteur to the triumph of blockbuster films such as Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark, to the indie revolution that is still with us today, Awake in the Dark reveals a writer whose exceptional intelligence and daily bursts of insight and enthusiasm helped shape the way we think about the movies. But more than this, Awake in the Dark is a celebration of Ebert’s inimitable voice—a voice still cherished and missed.” Index.
Caroline Casey, Little Boxes (Coffee House Press). “What happens when television is part of your cultural DNA? Twelve writers talk about their influences, and they're more Magnum PI than Marcel Proust. This is cultural criticism from an enthusiast's point of view—taking sitcoms and dramedies and very special episodes seriously, not because they're art, but because they matter to us. Little Boxes is TV writing not as “Why I Loved Parker Lewis Can't Lose” but “What Is Up with Everyone in the 80s Having a Domestic: The Different Strokes/Gimme a Break/Mr. Belvedere/Charles in Charge Story.” “Little Boxes is a slim and thoughtful collection of essays that dig deeply into TV: why it matters to us, what makes it work, and what makes it fail.” Vox “The observations presented in Little Boxes not only hold an intellectual appeal to those interested in the cultural importance of television, but they appeal to anyone who has ever had a favorite television character, who still remembers a particularly poignant Very Special Episode or the first time you saw a version of yourself on screen. Really, this collection will interest anyone who has ever been captivated by a fictional world flickering on the small screen.” Atticus Review
Superheroines and the Epic Journey: Mythic Themes in Comics, Film and Television (McFarland), by Valerie Estelle Frankel, Foreword by Trina Robbins. “The heroine's journey echoes throughout ancient legend. Each young woman combats her dark side and emerges stronger. This quest is also a staple of American comic books. Wonder Woman with semi-divine powers gives us a new female-centered creation story. Batgirl, Batwoman and Black Widow discover their enemy is the dark mother or shadow twin, with the savagery they've rejected in themselves. Supergirl similarly struggles but keeps harmony with her sister. From Jessica Jones and Catwoman to the new superwomen of cutting-edge webcomics, each heroine must go into the dark, to become not a warrior but a savior. Women like Captain Marvel and Storm sacrifice all to join the ranks of superheroes, while their feminine powers and dazzling costumes reflect the most ancient tales.” “"Frankel uses myth the way it was meant to be used, to help people understand how their lives fit into a larger world. She offers great depth of analysis in understanding how the mythic characters of comics utilize the standard mythic tropes. This is a must-have." Matthew Wilhelm Kapell, author of Exploring the Next Frontier: Vietnam, NASA, Star Trek and Utopia in 1960s and 1970s American Myth and History Glossary, Works Cited, index
Christopher E. Bell’s Hermione Granger Saves the World: Essays on the Feminist Heroine of Hogwarts (McFarland). “The new essays in this book make two central claims. First, for some people, the word "feminist" has been either poorly defined or, in some cases, even demonized. Hermione Granger, of the Harry Potter series, serves as an outstanding example of what modern young feminism looks like: activist, powerful and full of agency, yet feminine, romantic and stylish--a new kind of feminism for a new kind of girl. The second claim the essays make is that our young, emergent feminist Hermione Granger is a pivotal character upon whom the entire series rests--not Harry Potter himself (or, at least, not Harry Potter solely). It is Hermione who solves every difficult puzzle, performs every difficult spell, and to whom her two male companions look for guidance and advice. Quite literally, on several occasions throughout the series, Hermione Granger saves the world through her actions. This is an outstanding model for young women (and for young men as well) who are confused about how feminism manifests and operates in 2012.” “Fun quirky, and intellectually stimulating...an easy read with well defined terms, accessible language, and plenty of topics to engage students"--Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts; "examines the idea of modern-day feminism through the lens of popular heroine Hermione Granger. . . seeks to reclaim feminism in the face of modern-day demonization.” Reference & Research Book News. Notes, Works Cited, index.
Sherilyn Connelly’s Ponyville Confidential: The History and Culture of My Little Pony, 1981-2016 (McFarland) is the “first comprehensive study of My Little Pony [and] explores the history and cultural significance of the franchise through Season 5 of Friendship Is Magic and the first three Equestria Girls films. The brand has continued to be on the receiving end of a sexist double standard regarding commercialism in children's entertainment, while masculine cartoons such as the Transformers have been spared similar criticism. . . . Beloved by young girls around the world, Hasbro’s My Little Pony franchise has been mired in controversy since its debut in the early 1980s. Critics dismissed the cartoons as toy advertisements, and derided their embrace of femininity. The 2010 debut of the openly feminist My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic renewed the backlash, as its broad appeal challenged entrenched notions about gendered entertainment.” Notes, bibliography, index.
Peter Shelley, Anne Bancroft: The Life and Work (McFarland). “Anne Bancroft (1931-2005) was an American film, television and stage actress, stage producer and film director. Respected for her acting prowess and versatility, she won the "Triple Crown"--an Oscar, a Tony and an Emmy. Her stage portrayal of Annie Sullivan in The Miracle Worker won the Tony Award for Best Lead Actress in 1959. She reprised the role for the 1962 film of the same name, winning the Oscar for Best Actress, but was perhaps best known as Mrs. Robinson in The Graduate (1967). Her extensive television work included numerous roles in movies and series, including Deep in My Heart (1999), for which she won an Emmy for Best Supporting Actress. A filmography/videography and information about DVD availability are included.” Photographs, bibliography, index.
David Goldfield’s The Gifted Generation: When Government Was Good (Bloomsbury USA) “examines the generation immediately after World War II and argues that the federal government was instrumental in the great economic, social, and environmental progress of the era. Following the sacrifices of the Greatest Generation, the returning vets and their children took the unprecedented economic growth and federal activism to new heights. This generation was led by presidents who believed in the commonwealth ideal: the belief that federal legislation, by encouraging individual opportunity, would result in the betterment of the entire nation. In the years after the war, these presidents created an outpouring of federal legislation that changed how and where people lived, their access to higher education, and their stewardship of the environment. They also spearheaded historic efforts to level the playing field for minorities, women and immigrants. But this dynamic did not last, and Goldfield shows how the shrinking of the federal government shut subsequent generations off from those gifts. David Goldfield brings this unprecedented surge in American legislative and cultural history to life as he explores the presidencies of Harry S. Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and Lyndon Baines Johnson. He brilliantly shows how the nation's leaders persevered to create the conditions for the most gifted generation in U.S. history.” “President Ronald Reagan famously insisted that ‘government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.’ David Goldfield's gracefully written The Gifted Generation is a bracing reminder that the first three presidents after Franklin Roosevelt demonstrated in concrete ways that an activist government did have a critical and positive role to play in improving the lives of Americans, black and white, poor and middle class. Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower and Lyndon had their partisan differences, but they shared a belief in the ‘Commonwealth’ ideal: a government that strengthened individualism by promoting equal opportunities for all its citizens.” Dan T. Carter, author of The Politics of Rage and Bancroft Prize winner. “David Goldfield blends solid scholarship with eloquent writing to argue that dynamic federal leadership was last practiced by activist presidents, 1945-68. He deserves particular credit for recognizing Dwight Eisenhower’s contribution, so shamefully neglected by historians. Goldfield skillfully reminds us that the continuing issue is not big or small government but 'good government’.” David A. Nichols, author of Ike and McCarthy Photographs, notes, bibliography, index.
Lynn Dumenil’s The Second Line of Defense: American Women and World War I (University of North Carolina Press) “In tracing the rise of the modern idea of the American ‘new woman’ . . . examines World War I's surprising impact on women and, in turn, women's impact on the war. Telling the stories of a diverse group of women, including African Americans, dissidents, pacifists, reformers, and industrial workers, Dumenil analyzes both the roadblocks and opportunities they faced. She richly explores the ways in which women helped the United States mobilize for the largest military endeavor in the nation's history . . . [and] shows how women activists staked their claim to loyal citizenship by framing their war work as home-front volunteers, overseas nurses, factory laborers, and support personnel as ‘the second line of defense.’ But in assessing the impact of these contributions on traditional gender roles, Dumenil finds that portrayals of these new modern women did not always match with real and enduring change. Extensively researched and drawing upon popular culture sources as well as archival material, The Second Line of Defense offers a comprehensive study of American women and war and frames them in the broader context of the social, cultural, and political history of the era.” Photographs, illustrations, notes, bibliography, index.
I was at Yale in graduate school earning my Ph.D. in classics, 1960-62. About half the twenty or so in the program were women. It would not be until the end of that decade that women could enroll in undergraduate studies. . One of my professors at Yale, Ann Perkins, who had joined the all-male Yale Classics department in 1949 when in her mid-thirties, was by 1960 a much-published authority on Middle Eastern archaeology and the art history of Greece and Rome and had served as a visiting professor at Columbia University and Harvard. In 1959 she was appointed for a year to the post of American Specialist representing the U.S. Department of State for a tour of duty in the Middle East, in which capacity she participated in conferences, lectured, and taught classes on ancient art history, in Egypt, Iraq, and Iran. Yet, after a decade at Yale, she was not permitted to instruct undergraduates and was still an untenured research associate. She left Yale in 1965, accepting a tenured position at the University of Illinois, where she remained as a beloved teacher and distinguished scholar until her retirement in 1978. Ann died in 2006 at the age of ninety-one. Anne Coffin Hanson, a historian of French and Italian art, was the first woman to become a fully tenured professor at Yale University, in 1970. Four years later, she was named chairwoman of the art department, another first for women at Yale. Nancy Weiss Malkiel’s ‘Keep the Damned Women Out’: The Struggle for Coeducation (Princeton University Press) “tells the story of . . . coeducation was achieved not by organized efforts of women activists, but through strategic decisions made by powerful men. In America, Ivy League schools like Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and Dartmouth began to admit women; in Britain, several of the men's colleges at Cambridge and Oxford did the same. What prompted such fundamental change? How was coeducation accomplished in the face of such strong opposition? How well was it implemented? Nancy Weiss Malkiel explains that elite institutions embarked on coeducation not as a moral imperative but as a self-interested means of maintaining a first-rate applicant pool. She explores the challenges of planning for the academic and non-academic lives of newly admitted women, and shows how, with the exception of Mary Ingraham Bunting at Radcliffe, every decision maker leading the charge for coeducation was male. Drawing on unprecedented archival research, ‘Keep the Damned Women Out’ is a breathtaking work of scholarship that is certain to be the definitive book on the subject” “In describing how single-sex colleges responded to the surge of interest in coeducation in the late 1960s, Nancy Weiss Malkiel has written an exceptionally thoughtful, balanced, and judicious account of a subject that aroused passionate feelings at the time on both sides of the issue.” Derek Bok, president emeritus of Harvard University “A monumental work of archival scholarship.” William G. Bowen, coauthor of Lesson Plan: An Agenda for Change in American Higher Education “Malkiel's book will serve as the foundational work on which all future considerations of the drive for coeducation, begun during the late 1960s, will be based. Its broad field of vision offers a wealth of information about the nature of academic administration and collegiate life.” Helen Lefkowitz Horowitz, author of Alma Mater: Design and Experience in the Women's Colleges from Their Nineteenth-Century Beginnings to the 1930s Photographs, illustrations, notes, bibliography, index.
Marjorie J. Spruill’s Divided We Stand: The Battle Over Women's Rights and Family Values That Polarized American Politics (Bloomsbury USA) “reveals how the battle between feminists and their conservative challengers divided the nation as Democrats continued to support women's rights and Republicans cast themselves as the party of family values. . . . The women's rights movement and the conservative women's movement have irrevocably affected the course of modern American history. We cannot fully understand the present without appreciating the events leading up to Houston and thereafter.” “We will gain courage, knowledge, and tactics from reading about the historic National Women’s Conference and the following decades of meetings, struggles, and campaigns that allowed women to decolonize our minds and begin to express ourselves as unique human beings.” Gloria Steinem Photographs, illustrations, notes, bibliography, index.
Various Authors, The Portable Nineteenth-Century African American Women Writers (Penguin Classics), Hollis Robbins and Henry Louis Gates, Jr. editors. “The most comprehensive anthology of its kind: an extraordinary range of voices offering the expressions of African American women in print before, during, and after the Civil War. Edited by Hollis Robbins and Henry Louis Gates, Jr., this collection comprises work from forty-nine writers arranged into sections of memoir, poetry, and essays on feminism, education, and the legacy of African American women writers. Many of these pieces engage with social movements like abolition, women’s suffrage, temperance, and civil rights, but the thematic center is the intellect and personal ambition of African American women. The diverse selection includes well-known writers like Sojourner Truth, Hannah Crafts, and Harriet Jacobs, as well as lesser-known writers like Ella Sheppard, who offers a firsthand account of life in the world-famous Fisk Jubilee Singers. Taken together, these incredible works insist that the writing of African American women writers be read, remembered, and addressed.”
Lisa A. Lindsay’s Atlantic Bonds: A Nineteenth-Century Odyssey from America to Africa (H. Eugene and Lillian Youngs Lehman Series) (University of North Carolina Press) “tells a story of [James Churchwill Vaughan’s (1828–93)] survival, prosperity, and activism against a seemingly endless series of obstacles. By following Vaughan’s transatlantic journeys and comparing his experiences to those of his parents, contemporaries, and descendants in Nigeria and South Carolina, Lindsay reveals the expansive reach of slavery, the ambiguities of freedom, and the surprising ways that Africa, rather than America, offered new opportunities for people of African descent. . . . Lisa Lindsay documents this ‘free’ man’s struggle to find economic and political autonomy in an era when freedom was not clear and unhindered anywhere for people of African descent.” Photographs, illustrations, notes, bibliography, index.
Ties That Bound: Founding First Ladies and Slaves (University Of Chicago Press) by Marie Jenkins Schwartz “Behind every great man stands a great woman. And behind that great woman stands a slave. Or so it was in the households of the Founding Fathers from Virginia, where slaves worked and suffered throughout the domestic environments of the era, from Mount Vernon, Monticello, and Montpelier to the nation’s capital. American icons like Martha Washington, Martha Jefferson, and Dolley Madison were all slaveholders. And as Marie Jenkins Schwartz uncovers in Ties That Bound, these women, as the day-to-day managers of their households, dealt with the realities of a slaveholding culture directly and continually, even in the most intimate of spaces. Unlike other histories that treat the stories of the First Ladies’ slaves as separate from the lives of their mistresses, Ties That Bound closely examines the relationships that developed between the First Ladies and their slaves. For elite women and their families, slaves were more than an agricultural workforce; slavery was an entire domestic way of life that reflected and reinforced their status. In many cases slaves were more constant companions to the white women of the household than were their husbands and sons, who often traveled or were at war. By looking closely at the complicated intimacy these women shared, Schwartz is able to reveal how they negotiated their roles, illuminating much about the lives of slaves themselves, as well as class, race, and gender in early America. By detailing the prevalence and prominence of slaves in the daily lives of women who helped shape the country, Schwartz makes it clear that it is impossible to honestly tell the stories of these women while ignoring their slaves. She asks us to consider anew the embedded power of slavery in the very earliest conception of American politics, society, and everyday domestic routines.” “In Ties That Bound, Schwartz provides a necessary corrective to the popular and scholarly literature on the First Ladies, accounts that tend to focus on their roles as fashionable hostesses. In this fascinating study, Schwartz shows how deeply slavery was embedded in the Founders’ households and explores in exquisite detail the fraught relationships between these Patriot mistresses and the men and women and adults and children whose labor they commanded. A lively and insightful book that complements—and at times contradicts—works glorifying the Founding Fathers and their wives and (white) daughters.” Jacqueline Jones, author of A Dreadful Deceit: The Myth of Race from the Colonial Era to Obama's America Photographs, notes, index.
J. Blake Perkins’ Hillbilly Hellraisers: Federal Power and Populist Defiance in the Ozarks (Working Class in American History) (University of Illinois Press) “searches for the roots of rural defiance in the Ozarks--and discovers how it changed over time. Eschewing generalities, Perkins focuses on the experiences and attitudes of rural people themselves as they interacted with government in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. He uncovers the reasons local disputes and uneven access to government power fostered markedly different reactions by hill people as time went by. Resistance in the earlier period sprang from upland small farmers' conflicts with capitalist elites who held the local levers of federal power. But as industry and agribusiness displaced family farms after World War II, a conservative cohort of town business elites, local political officials, and Midwestern immigrants arose from the region's new low-wage, union-averse economy. As Perkins argues, this modern anti-government conservatism bore little resemblance to the populist backcountry populism of an earlier age but had much in common with the movement elsewhere.” “Hillbilly Hellraisers is a stunningly original work that manages to clarify the actions of a misunderstood people at the same time that it reasserts complexity into their allegedly simple lives. Blake Perkins reminds us that regional stories have national, even universal, significance, but to truly appreciate that significance we have to first approach the stories of Ozarkers and other regional groups on their own terms and on their own turf. A must-read for anyone studying the Upland South and for those seeking a fuller understanding of the changing nature of anti-government protest.” Brooks Blevins, author of Ghost of the Ozarks: Murder and Memory in the Upland South “Using the Arkansas Ozarks as a case study, J. Blake Perkins sheds new light on the rise of anti-government conservatism in rural America during the twentieth century. Well written and thoroughly researched, his book is a welcome addition to the study of modern politics.” Bruce E. Stewart, author of Blood in the Hills: A History of Violence in Appalachia. Photographs, illustrations, bibliography, notes, index.
In Congo Love Song: African American Culture and the Crisis of the Colonial State (The John Hope Franklin Series in African American History and Culture) (University of North Carolina Press)Ira Dworkin, a professor of English at Texas A&M University, “examines black Americans’ long cultural and political engagement with the Congo and its people. Through studies of George Washington Williams, Booker T. Washington, Pauline Hopkins, Langston Hughes, Malcolm X, and other figures, he brings to light a long-standing relationship that challenges familiar presumptions about African American commitments to Africa. Dworkin offers compelling new ways to understand how African American involvement in the Congo has helped shape anticolonialism, black aesthetics, and modern black nationalism.” Photographs, illustrations, notes, bibliography, index.
Robyn C. Spencer’s The Revolution Has Come: Black Power, Gender, and the Black Panther Party in Oakland (Duke University Press) “traces the Black Panther Party's organizational evolution in Oakland, California, where hundreds of young people came to political awareness and journeyed to adulthood as members. Challenging the belief that the Panthers were a projection of the leadership, Spencer draws on interviews with rank-and-file members, FBI files, and archival materials to examine the impact the organization's internal politics and COINTELPRO's political repression had on its evolution and dissolution. She shows how the Panthers' members interpreted, implemented, and influenced party ideology and programs; initiated dialogues about gender politics; highlighted ambiguities in the Panthers' armed stance; and criticized organizational priorities. Spencer also centers gender politics and the experiences of women and their contributions to the Panthers and the Black Power movement as a whole. Providing a panoramic view of the party's organization over its sixteen-year history, The Revolution Has Come shows how the Black Panthers embodied Black Power through the party's international activism, interracial alliances, commitment to address state violence, and desire to foster self-determination in Oakland's black communities.” “Tearing down myths and distortions on virtually every page, The Revolution Has Come is the first substantive account of the Black Panther Party’s Oakland chapter—the iconic gathering that birthed the party and held on to its very last breath. Robyn C. Spencer’s incisive attention to gender, state repression, black radical alliances, philosophical and ideological debates, and the organization’s long decline makes this one of the most original studies of the Panthers to appear in years.” (Robin D. G. Kelley, author of Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination) Photographs, notes, bibliography, index.
Adrian Miller’s Soul Food: The Surprising Story of an American Cuisine, One Plate at a TimeSoul Food such a great read.” Nashville Scene
Stephen Elliott’s Sometimes I Think About It: EssaysVanity Fair). [It] gathers personal essays, reportage, and profiles written over fifteen years to tell a powerful story about outsiders and underdogs. Moving from the self to the civic, the book begins with a series of essays that trace Elliott’s childhood with an abusive and erratic father, his life on the streets as a teenager, and his growing interest in cross-dressing and masochism. These stories, which range from a comic portrait of a week spent hosting his younger brother to a brutal depiction of depression, provide a context for the essays that follow. Stepping out into the world, Elliott tells of a man who loses his family in a rock slide in Southern California, explores the vexing realities of life in Palestine, and paints a chilling picture of a young man caught in the prison-industrial complex. The last section, ‘The Business of America Is Business,’ shows Elliott’s abiding interest in the spectacle of money in America, from pop music to pornography to publishing, and it concludes with an off-kilter account of the tech industry’s assault on West Los Angeles. Building on the extraordinary storytelling that characterized his breakout book, The Adderall Diaries, Elliott’s search for dignity and happiness leads him to tell with great sympathy the stories of those who are broken and seek to be whole.” Stephen Elliott is the author of The Adderall Diaries and Happy Baby, which was a finalist for the New York Public Library’s Young Lion Award. He is the founding editor of The Rumpus and the director of the movies About Cherry and After Adderall.
Daniel Mendelsohn’s Waiting for the Barbarians: Essays from the Classics to Pop Culture The New York Review of Books, The New Yorker, and The New York Times Book Review have earned him a reputation as ‘one of the greatest critics of our time’ (Poets & Writers). In Waiting for the Barbarians, he brings together twenty-four of his recent essays—each one glinting with ‘verve and sparkle,’ “acumen and passion”—on a wide range of subjects, from Avatar to the poems of Arthur Rimbaud, from our inexhaustible fascination with the Titanic to Susan Sontag’s Journals. Trained as a classicist, author of two internationally best-selling memoirs, Mendelsohn moves easily from penetrating considerations of the ways in which the classics continue to make themselves felt in contemporary life and letters (Greek myth in the Spider-Man musical, Anne Carson’s translations of Sappho) to trenchant takes on pop spectacles—none more explosively controversial than his dissection of Mad Men. Also gathered here are essays devoted to the art of fiction, from Jonathan Littell’s Holocaust blockbuster The Kindly Ones to forgotten gems like the novels of Theodor Fontane. In a final section, ‘Private Lives,’ prefaced by Mendelsohn’s New Yorker essay on fake memoirs, he considers the lives and work of writers as disparate as Leo Lerman, Noël Coward, and Jonathan Franzen. Waiting for the Barbarians once again demonstrates that Mendelsohn’s ‘sweep as a cultural critic is as impressive as his depth.’” “Wide-ranging and absorbing, this new collection of essays from Mendelsohn is a joy from start to finish. . . . A wonderfully eclectic set of musings on the state of contemporary culture and the enduring riches of classical literature.” Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
The Collected Essays of Elizabeth Hardwick, Darryl Pinckney. “Elizabeth Hardwick wrote during the golden age of the American literary essay. For Hardwick, the essay was an imaginative endeavor, a serious form, criticism worthy of the literature in question. In the essays collected here she covers civil rights demonstrations in the 1960s, describes places where she lived and locations she visited, and writes about the foundations of American literature—Melville, James, Wharton—and the changes in American fiction, though her reading is wide and international. She contemplates writers’ lives—women writers, rebels, Americans abroad—and the literary afterlife of biographies, letters, and diaries. Selected and with an introduction by Darryl Pinckney, the Collected Essays gathers more than fifty essays for a fifty-year retrospective of Hardwick’s work from 1953 to 2003. ‘For Hardwick,’ writes Pinckney, ‘the poetry and novels of America hold the nation’s history.’ Here is an exhilarating chronicle of that history.” “Elizabeth Hardwick, long recognized as one of the great literary critics of the 20th century, is generously represented by this selection of her eloquent, erudite, chatty, and often very witty essays and reviews, with a warmly sympathetic and informative introduction by Darryl Pinckney.” Joyce Carol Oates “How crucial it is to have Hardwick’s Collected Essays now. For they are incorruptible. Their intelligence is prodigious, but never boastful. This major American writer dares, inspires, and cajoles us into reading and writing with renewed conviction and resistance to the meretricious.” Catharine R. Stimpson, feminist scholar, University Professor, professor of English, dean emerita of the Graduate School of Arts and Science at New York University, and founding editor in 1975 of Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society “Elizabeth Hardwick is our most original, brilliant, and amusing critic. Many of these essays are already classics for their insight and style.” Diane Johnson, author “Hardwick has a gift for coming up with descriptions so thoughtfully selected, so exactly right, that they strike the reader as inevitable.” Anne Tyler, author
Catherine Scott’s Thinking Kink: The Collision of BDSM, Feminism and Popular Culture
David DePierre’s A Brief History of Oral Sex
The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a PresidentBandy X. Lee, editor (Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Press). “The consensus view of two dozen psychiatrists and psychologists that Trump is dangerously mentally ill and that he presents a clear and present danger to the nation and our own mental health. This is not normal. Since the start of Donald Trump’s presidential run, one question has quietly but urgently permeated the observations of concerned citizens: What is wrong with him? Constrained by the American Psychiatric Association’s ‘Goldwater rule,’ which inhibits mental health professionals from diagnosing public figures they have not personally examined, many of those qualified to answer this question have shied away from discussing the issue at all. The public has thus been left to wonder whether he is mad, bad, or both. In The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump, twenty-seven psychiatrists, psychologists, and other mental health experts argue that, in Mr. Trump’s case, their moral and civic “duty to warn” America supersedes professional neutrality. They then explore Trump’s symptoms and potentially relevant diagnoses to find a complex, if also dangerously mad, man. Philip Zimbardo and Rosemary Sword, for instance, explain Trump’s impulsivity in terms of ‘unbridled and extreme present hedonism.’ Craig Malkin writes on pathological narcissism and politics as a lethal mix. Gail Sheehy, on a lack of trust that exceeds paranoia. Lance Dodes, on sociopathy. Robert Jay Lifton, on the ‘malignant normality’ that can set in everyday life if psychiatrists do not speak up. His madness is catching, too. From the trauma people have experienced under the Trump administration to the cult-like characteristics of his followers, he has created unprecedented mental health consequences across our nation and beyond. It’s not all in our heads. It’s in his.” Bibliography
Ulli Lust’s John Brownjohn, “is the first fictional graphic novel by Ulli Lust, whose award-winning graphic memoir Today Is the Last Day of the Rest of Your Life appeared in English in 2013. It is the story of an unlikely friendship and of a childhood betrayed, a grim parable of naïveté and evil, and a vivid, unsettling masterpiece. Germany, in the final years of the Third Reich. Hermann Karnau is a sound engineer obsessed with recording the human voice in all its variations—the rantings of leaders, the roar of crowds, the rasp of throats constricted in fear—and indifferent to everything else. Employed by the Nazis, his assignments take him to Party rallies, to the Eastern Front, and into the household of Joseph Goebbels. There he meets Helga, the eldest daughter: bright, good-natured, and just beginning to suspect the horror that surrounds her.” "Lust, author of the acclaimed graphic memoir Today Is the Last Day of the Rest of Your Life, turns The Karnau Tapes, Marcel Beyer’s chronicle of a quirky, Nazi-employed sound engineer who befriends a daughter of Joseph Goebbels, into a completely sui generis work: a masterpiece in faded hues, expressionistic pen strokes, and panels laid out to amplify a painful story.” Boris Kachka, Vulture.com (New York Magazine) “Following her award-winning graphic novel memoir Today Is the Last Day of the Rest of Your Life, Lust adapts The Karnau Tapes, Beyer’s dense, dark novel set during the collapse of the Third Reich. She is more than up to the task, transmuting the material with visual imagination and insight….It’s a rare adaptation that, rather than simply transcribing the source material, transcends it.” Publishers Weekly, starred review “Profound, with characters driven to find truths that ultimately prove devastating. Lust's clean, confident lines richly convey everything from a child's discomfort with a haircut to a dog’s eagerness to play to Karnau’s sheer bliss from a ‘quivering glottis.’...The illustration style and muted color palette (like an aged newspaper) achieve a haunting realism despite cartoonish exaggeration and expressionistic flourishes. Stunning.” Kirkus, starred review “Ulli Lust really nails my favorite part of storytelling . . . the small details that create great character.” Jaime Hernandez, author of Love and Rockets
Benjamin G. Martin’s The Nazi-Fascist New Order for European Culture
Guidebooks to Sin: The Blue Books of Storyville, New OrleansPamela D. Arceneaux, Foreword by Emily Epstein Landau “Between 1897 and 1917, a legal red-light district thrived at the edge of the French Quarter, helping establish the notorious reputation that adheres to New Orleans today. Though many scholars have written about Storyville, no thorough contemporary study of the blue books directories of the neighborhood's prostitutes, featuring advertisements for liquor, brothels, and venereal disease cures has been available until now. Pamela D. Arceneaux's examination of these rare guides invites readers into a version of Storyville created by its own entrepreneurs. A foreword by the historian Emily Epstein Landau places the blue books in the context of their time, concurrent with the rise of American consumer culture and modern advertising. Illustrated with hundreds of facsimile pages from the blue books in The Historic New Orleans Collection's holdings, Guidebooks to Sin illuminates the intersection of race, commerce, and sex in this essential chapter of New Orleans history.” To pursue this subject further, check out Ernest Bellocq, who photographed prostitutes in turn-of-the-century New Orleans. Several books of his photographs are available. “Guidebooks to Sin is the single most comprehensive and authoritative guide to Storyville's notorious blue books. Pamela D. Arceneaux carefully sorts out the genuine and the fake, the accurate and the apocryphal, to produce an invaluable resource for historians, collectors, and anyone interested in New Orleans history.” Gary Krist, author of Empire of Sin Illustrations, a few photographs, and index.
This year I received books as Father’s Day gifts and, a week or so later, 87th Birthday presents from my sons Sutton and Neale. From the later came Los Angeles Central Library: A History of Its Art and ArchitectureArnold Schwartzman, Stephen Gee, and John F Szabo. It was an appropriate gift since Neale has been in the employ of the L.A. Public Library since 2015. The volume tells the story of “[one of] the most beautiful libraries in the world, Los Angeles Central Library[,] . . . a monument to fine architecture and artwork [and] its renowned collection of the written word, and its world-class special collections. The Central Library and its history are as fascinating as any of the storied volumes found on its shelves. City leaders fought for decades to build a landmark structure and later battled to demolish it, yet generations of Angelenos have watched the building stand tall, survive fires, and endure into the twenty-first century, ready to face a high-tech society that thought it could live without books. Year after year Central Library proves its essential place in the heart of Los Angeles. Its beautiful building, paintings, murals, sculptures, decor, and storied tile work are captured by the lens of photographer and graphic designer Arnold Schwartzman. And its remarkable story of dramatic visuals and civic involvement is chronicled by architectural historian Stephen Gee.” “Arnold Schwartzman’s contemporary photography presents many delightfully artful details throughout the building that only the most intrepid visitor would be able to hunt down. Not only are the finished elements of the building shown, but blueprints and preparatory materials are juxtaposed with both historic and contemporary photos, adding to the richness of discovery.” Society of Architectural Historians/Southern California Chapter. Photographs, notes, bibliography, index. From Sutton I received Kory Stamper’s Word by Word: The Secret Life of DictionariesWord by Word brings to life the hallowed halls (and highly idiosyncratic cubicles) of Merriam-Webster, a startlingly rich world inhabited by quirky and erudite individuals who quietly shape the way we communicate. Certain to be a delight for all lovers of words, Stamper’s debut will make you laugh as much as it makes you appreciate the wonderful complexities and eccentricities of the English language.” Notes, bibliography, index. And also from Sutton: Also from Sutton, Bill Walsh’s Lapsing Into a Comma : A Curmudgeon's Guide to the Many Things That Can Go Wrong in Print--and How to Avoid Them MayLapsing Into a Comma>/em> zips along, making you think about the intricacies of grammar and editing—all while trying not to choke on laughter. The second half is Walsh's personally crafted style guide. Remember—Roommate: Two m's, unless you ate a room or mated with a roo.” Dana Van Nest Index.
I got interested in Robert Lowell after reading Megan Marshall’s Elizabeth Bishop: A Miracle for Breakfast (see entry for it above), in which Lowell figures prominently as Bishop’s long-term friend. In Robert Lowell’s New Selected PoemsKatie Peterson, “Robert Lowell’s poems are brought together from all of his books of verse. Chosen and introduced by Katie Peterson on the occasion of Robert Lowell’s one-hundredth birthday, New Selected Poems offers a perfectly chosen and illuminating representation of one of the great careers in twentieth-century poetry.” Index of titles and first lines.
Deborah L. Rhode’s Women and Leadership
This Updated edition of Martha Nussbaum’s Not for Profit: Why Democracy Needs the Humanities (The Public Square) (Princeton University Press) “makes a passionate case for the importance of the liberal arts at all levels of education. Historically, the humanities have been central to education because they have been seen as essential for creating competent democratic citizens. But recently, Nussbaum argues, thinking about the aims of education has gone disturbingly awry in the United States and abroad. We increasingly treat education as though its primary goal were to teach students to be economically productive rather than to think critically and become knowledgeable, productive, and empathetic individuals. This shortsighted focus on profitable skills has eroded our ability to criticize authority, reduced our sympathy with the marginalized and different, and damaged our competence to deal with complex global problems. And the loss of these basic capacities jeopardizes the health of democracies and the hope of a decent world. In response to this dire situation, Nussbaum argues that we must resist efforts to reduce education to a tool of the gross national product. Rather, we must work to reconnect education to the humanities in order to give students the capacity to be true democratic citizens of their countries and the world. In a new preface, Nussbaum explores the current state of humanistic education globally and shows why the crisis of the humanities has far from abated. Translated into over twenty languages, Not for Profit draws on the stories of troubling--and hopeful--global educational developments. Nussbaum offers a manifesto that should be a rallying cry for anyone who cares about the deepest purposes of education.” “For Nussbaum, human development means the development of the capacity to transcend the local prejudices of one's immediate (even national) context and become a responsible citizen of the world.” Stanley Fish, New York Times Opinionator Blog “A comprehensive look at today's worldwide marketplace for college students.” Michael Alison Chandler, Washington Post “This is a passionate call to action at a time when the nation is becoming more culturally diverse and universities are cutting back on humanities programs.” Vanessa Bush, Booklist “Against the commercialisation of the academy, [Nussbaum] poses a sentient, Socratic and cosmopolitan vision of higher education.’ Jon Nixon, Times Higher Education ‘It's an important and timely plea because the pursuit of so-called useful educational results continues apace, and because the threats to humanistic education are indeed profound.” Michael S. Roth, Chronicle of Higher Education Note, index.
In honor of her being appointed, in June of this year, the new poet laureate of the United States, I am including here again my appraisal of Tracy K. Smith’s’s memoir, which earlier appeared in my 2015 roundup. It has been a few years since I was as moved by an autobiography as I was by Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and Princeton professorTracy K. Smith’s Ordinary Light: A Memoir (Knopf). The book’s publicity blurb sums it up as “a quietly potent memoir that explores coming-of-age and the meaning of home against a complex backdrop of race, [religious] faith, and the unbreakable bond between a mother and daughter. . . . In lucid, clear prose, Smith interrogates her childhood in suburban California, her first collision with independence at Harvard, and her Alabama-born parents’ recollections of their own youth in the Civil Rights era. These dizzying juxtapositions—of her family’s past, her own comfortable present, and the promise of her future—will in due course compel Tracy to act on her passions for love and ‘ecstatic possibility,’ and her desire to become a writer. Shot through with exquisite lyricism, wry humor, and an acute awareness of the beauty of everyday life, Ordinary Light is a gorgeous kaleidoscope of self and family, one that skillfully combines a child’s and teenager’s perceptions with adult retrospection. Here is a universal story of being and becoming, a classic portrait of the ways we find and lose ourselves amid the places we call home.” Poet Darryl Pinckney, in The New York Times Book Review, says, “Her inclusive lists of influences—Elizabeth Bishop, Robert Frost, Philip Larkin, Yusef Komunyakaa—testify that black identity these days is way past black and white.” Tracy K. Smith’s three volumes of poetry, all published by Graywolf Press, are The Body's Question (winner of the Cave Canem Poetry Prize); Duende (winner of the James Laughlin Award of the Academy of American Poets and an Essence Literary Award); and her latest, Life on Mars (winner of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize, a New York Times Notable Book, a New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice, and a New Yorker, Library Journal, and Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year.)
Bill Goldstein’s The World Broke in Two: Virginia Woolf, T. S. Eliot, D. H. Lawrence, E. M. Forster and the Year That Changed Literature is “a revelatory narrative of the intersecting lives and works of revered authors Virginia Woolf, T. S. Eliot, E. M. Forster and D. H. Lawrence during 1922, the birth year of modernism. The World Broke in Two tells the fascinating story of the intellectual and personal journeys four legendary writers, Virginia Woolf, T. S. Eliot, E. M. Forster, and D. H. Lawrence, make over the course of one pivotal year. As 1922 begins, all four are literally at a loss for words, confronting an uncertain creative future despite success in the past. The literary ground is shifting, as Ulysses is published in February and Proust’s In Search of Lost Time begins to be published in England in the autumn. Yet, dismal as their prospects seemed in January, by the end of the year Woolf has started Mrs. Dalloway, Forster has, for the first time in nearly a decade, returned to work on the novel that will become A Passage to India, Lawrence has written Kangaroo, his unjustly neglected and most autobiographical novel, and Eliot has finished―and published to acclaim―“The Waste Land.” As Willa Cather put it, ‘The world broke in two in 1922 or thereabouts,’ and what these writers were struggling with that year was in fact the invention of modernism. Based on original research, Bill Goldstein's The World Broke in Two captures both the literary breakthroughs and the intense personal dramas of these beloved writers as they strive for greatness.” “Bill Goldstein beautifully explains why 1922 was a watershed period for English literature . . . A very important work to understand English literature, especially Virginia Woolf, T. S. Eliot, D. H. Lawrence, and E. M. Forster.” The Washington Book Review “Fresh . . . significant . . . comprehensive and exuberant . . . entirely full of life.” Eric Bennett, The New York Times Book Review Photographs, notes, bibliographical note, index.
Peter Wolfe Henry Green: Havoc in the House of Fiction (McFarland). Peter Wolfe is a Curators' Professor of English at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. The author of more than 20 books, he has also taught in Canada, New Zealand, Taiwan, Russia, Poland, and Australia. “By mid-career, many successful writers have found a groove and their readers come to expect a familiar consistency and fidelity. Not so with Henry Green (1905-1973). He prefers uncertainty over reason and fragmentation over cohesion, and rarely lets the reader settle into a nice cozy read. Evil, he suggests, can be as instructive as good. Through Green's use of paradoxical and ambiguous language, his novels bring texture to the flatness of life, making the world seem bigger and closer. We soon stop worrying about what Hitler's bombs have in store for the Londoners of Caught (1943) and Back (1946) and start thinking about what they have in store for each other. Praised in his lifetime as England's top fiction author, Green is largely overlooked today. This book presents a comprehensive analysis of his work for a new generation of readers.” Notes, bibliography, index.
A Grace Paley Reader: Stories, Essays, and Poetry (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), Kevin Bowen and Nora Paley, editors “A writer like Paley,’ writes George Saunders in his Introduction, ‘comes along and brightens language up again, takes it aside and gives it a pep talk, sends it back renewed, so it can do its job, which is to wake us up.’ Best known for her inimitable short stories, Grace Paley was also an enormously talented essayist and poet, as well as a fierce activist. She was a tireless member of the antiwar movement, the civil rights movement, the tenants’ rights movement, the anti-nuclear-power movement, and the Women’s Pentagon Action, among other causes, and proved herself to be a passionate citizen of each of her communities―New York City and rural Vermont. A Grace Paley Reader compiles a selection of Paley’s writing across genres, showcasing her breadth of work as well as her extraordinary insight and brilliant economy of words.” “[A Grace Paley Reader] reminds us that Paley the short-story writer was also Paley the activist, the pamphleteer, the poet, the community organizer, and the committed leftist . . . A Grace Paley Reader helps to return the writer to her historical moment, to the specific conditions that shaped her life as an artist and activist . . . Her fiction was more than just empathetic: It not only sought to understand the world from the point of view of others, but also insisted on how integral this sense of connection was to the work of radical politics.” Maggie Doherty, The Nation A Short List for Further Reading, Chronology
I’m a fan of Stieg Larsson's Millennium Series and an admirer of its heroine Lisbeth Salander. I’ve read the original trilogy and have seen the Swedish films based on them and the American film of the initial volume. Those disappointed that the original author is no longer with us to continue the series can rejoice that David Lagercrantz has taken over and produced two splendid sequels, 2015’s The Girl in the Spider's Web: A Lisbeth Salander Novel (Knopf) and the new The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye: A Lisbeth Salander novel (Knopf). Of course there are those still disappointed because they think that Lagercrantz’s effort doesn’t hold up to the standard set by Larsson. But I enjoyed both the fourth and fifth adventures of Lisbeth and agree with the Amazon.com The Review Notes comment on The Girl in the Spider's Web: “What I immediately noticed was how Lagercrantz followed Larsson’s blueprint and stuck closely to the original author’s imagination by keeping Lisbeth Salander’s vengeful and rancorous side intact, which is the result of her horrifying experiences early in life. Any other person with such a spirit may be disgusting but readers of the series do not bear any such attitude towards her. Rather, she is quite adorable, and fans of the series know that she possesses admirable qualities. Mikael Blomkvist is still the same person with new challenges and demons of his own.” “The enduring draw at the center of the Millennium series is that image of a strange and solitary young woman trying to even the score with all manner of bullies by dint of her brains and, when called for, some martial arts moves.” Maureen Corrigan, The Washington Post “Wonderful . . . It would be hard to imagine a sequel more faithful to its work of origin than this one. . . . Salander, though, emerges as the most dramatic, charismatic and effective investigator of them all: weak in social skills but unmatched in speaking blunt truth to corrupt power.” Tom Nolan, The Wall Street Journal
Deb Olin Unferth’s Wait Till You See Me Dance: Stories (Graywolf Press) “lures you in with a voice that seems amiable and lighthearted, but it swerves in sudden and surprising ways that reveal, in terrifying clarity, the rage, despair, and profound mournfulness that have taken up residence at the heart of the American dream. These stories often take place in an exaggerated or heightened reality, a quality that is reminiscent of the work of Donald Barthelme, Lorrie Moore, and George Saunders, but in Unferth’s unforgettable collection she carves out territory that is entirely her own.’ “A stunning debut collection. . . . 39 poignant, sharp-edged stories that cut right to the bone of the human psyche with precision and grace. . . . Unferth’s beguiling stories are not to be missed.” Kirkus Reviews, starred review “Deb Olin Unferth’s stories are wild, funny, and wonderful.” Geoff Dyer
John Haskell’s The Complete Ballet: A Fictional Essay in Five Acts (Graywolf Press) “choreographs an intricate and irresistible pas de deux in which fiction and criticism come together to create a new kind of story. Fueled by the dramatic retelling of five romantic ballets, and interwoven with a contemporary story about a man whose daunting gambling debt pushes him to the edge of his own abyss, it is both a pulpy entertainment and a meditation on the physicality—and psychology—of dance. The unnamed narrator finds himself inexorably drawn back to the pre–cell phone world of Technicolor Los Angeles, to a time when the tragedies of his life were about to collide. Working as a part-time masseur in Hollywood, he attends an underground poker game with his friend Cosmo, a strip-club entrepreneur. What happens there hurtles the narrator down the road and into the room where the novel’s violent and surreal showdown leaves him a different person. As the narrator revisits his past, he simultaneously inhabits and reconstructs the mythic stories of ballet, assessing along the way the lives and obsessions of Nijinsky and Balanchine, Pavlova and Fonteyn, Joseph Cornell and the story’s presiding spirit, the film director John Cassavetes. This compulsively readable fiction is ultimately a profound and haunting consideration of the nature of art and identity.”
Michael Chabon’s Moonglow: A Novel (Harper Collins). Masquerading as a memoir, Moonglow is a first-class work of fiction, a most enjoyable reading experience. No wonder it has racked up such a list of awards and has been a best-selling novel. It was, for example, an Amazon Best Book of November 2016: Winner of the Sophie Brody Medal • An NBCC Finalist for 2016 Award for Fiction • ALA Carnegie Medal Finalist for Excellence in Fiction • Wall Street Journal’s Best Novel of the Year • A New York Times Notable Book of the Year • A Washington Post Best Book of the Year • An NPR Best Book of the Year • A Slate Best Book of the Year • A Christian Science Monitor Top 15 Fiction Book of the Year • A New York Magazine Best Book of the Year • A San Francisco Chronicle Book of the Year • A Buzzfeed Best Book of the Year • A New York Post Best Book of the Year • iBooks Novel of the Year • An Amazon Editors' Top 20 Book of the Year • #1 Indie Next Pick • #1 Amazon Spotlight Pick • A New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice • A BookPage Top Fiction Pick of the Month • An Indie Next Bestseller “This book is beautiful.” A.O. Scott, New York Times Book Review, cover review. “In the days following the publication of Mysteries of Pittsburgh, Michael Chabon traveled to California to sit by his dying grandfather, a typically taciturn and reserved man. But Dilaudid had loosened his tongue, and out came a torrent of remarkable stories of full of secrets, love, pain, sex, and regret. Chabon’s remarkable new ‘autobiographical novel’ Moonglow is mined from, but not limited by, those conversations; as he states in his author’s note at the head of the book: ‘In preparing this memoir, I have stuck to facts except when facts refused to conform with memory, narrating purpose, or the truth as I prefer to understand it. Wherever liberties have been taken . . . the reader is assured that they have been taken with due abandon.’ The result is a sprawling, yet intensely personal, paean to his grandparents, their lives together and as individuals. World War II and its atrocities cast long shadows, as does the Space Race and the titular moon, which hangs over the story as a bright dream of escape and a dark reminder of failed aspiration. Like The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, Wonder Boys, and especially The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, this is classic Chabon: an intensely personal story uplifted by the shifting tectonic plates of truth and memory, floating atop his inimitably crafted, sometimes audacious, always original prose.” Jon Foro, The Amazon Book Review
Paul Kingsnorth’s Beast: A Novel (Graywolf Press), the second novel in a trilogy (the third is yet to appear), “plunges you into the world of Edward Buckmaster, a man alone on an empty moor in the west of England. What he has left behind we don’t yet know. What he faces is an existential battle with himself, the elements, and something he begins to see in the margins of his vision: some creature that is tracking him, the pursuit of which will become an obsession. This short, shocking, and exhilarating novel is a vivid exploration of isolation, courage, and the search for truth that continues the story set one thousand years earlier in Paul Kingsnorth’s bravura debut novel, The Wake. It extends that book’s promise and confirms Kingsnorth as one of our most daring and rewarding contemporary writers.” “To read Beast is a joy. . . . Kingsnorth’s gaze is so intense it forces a similar intensity from the reader. . . . In the end, your gaze has become as minutely focused as his hermit’s. You feel alive.” The Guardian
John Updike Remembered: Friends, Family and Colleagues Reflect on the Writer and the Man (McFarland), edited by Jack A. De Bellis, professor emeritus at Lehigh University, a founder of the John Updike Society (and a director 2009-2014), and an editor of the John Updike Review. “Fifty-three individuals present a prismatic view of the two-time Pulitzer Prize winner and his work through anecdote and insight. Interviews and essays from family, friends and associates reveal sides of the novelist perhaps unfamiliar to the public--the high school prankster, the golfer, the creator of bedtime stories, the charming ironist, the faithful correspondent with scholars, the devoted friend and the dedicated practitioner of his craft. The contributors include his first wife, Mary Pennington, and three of their children; high school and college friends; authors John Barth, Joyce Carol Oates, and Nicholson Baker; journalists Terri Gross and Ann Goldstein; and scholars Jay Parini, William Pritchard, James Plath, and Adam Begley, Updike's biographer.” Notes, bibliography, index.
Manjula Martin’s, editor, Scratch: Writers, Money, and the Art of Making a Living (Simon & Schuster) is “A collection of essays from today’s most acclaimed authors—from Cheryl Strayed to Roxane Gay to Jennifer Weiner, Alexander Chee, Nick Hornby, and Jonathan Franzen—on the realities of making a living in the writing world. In the literary world, the debate around writing and commerce often begs us to take sides: either writers should be paid for everything they do or writers should just pay their dues and count themselves lucky to be published. You should never quit your day job, but your ultimate goal should be to quit your day job. It’s an endless, confusing, and often controversial conversation that, despite our bare-it-all culture, still remains taboo. In Scratch, Manjula Martin has gathered interviews and essays from established and rising authors to confront the age-old question: how do creative people make money? As contributors including Jonathan Franzen, Cheryl Strayed, Roxane Gay, Nick Hornby, Susan Orlean, Alexander Chee, Daniel Jose Older, Jennifer Weiner, and Yiyun Li candidly and emotionally discuss money, MFA programs, teaching fellowships, finally getting published, and what success really means to them, Scratch honestly addresses the tensions between writing and money, work and life, literature and commerce. The result is an entertaining and inspiring book that helps readers and writers understand what it’s really like to make art in a world that runs on money—and why it matters. Essential reading for aspiring and experienced writers, and for anyone interested in the future of literature, Scratch is the perfect bookshelf companion to On Writing, Never Can Say Goodbye, and MFA vs. NYC.” “In this well-organized, fascinating anthology, a host of fiction and nonfiction authors share practical tips and emotional intelligence. . . . Highly recommended for both experienced and aspiring authors and for avid readers who want to learn the back stories of the contributors.” Kirkus Reviews
Michael Sims’ Arthur and Sherlock: Conan Doyle and the Creation of Holmes (Bloomsbury USA) “traces the circuitous development of Conan Doyle as the father of the modern mystery, from his early days in Edinburgh surrounded by poverty and violence, through his escape to University (where he gained terrifying firsthand knowledge of poisons), leading to his own medical practice in 1882. Five hardworking years later--after Doyle's only modest success in both medicine and literature--Sherlock Holmes emerged in A Study in Scarlet. Sims deftly shows Holmes to be a product of Doyle's varied adventures in his personal and professional life, as well as built out of the traditions of Edgar Allan Poe, Émile Gaboriau, Wilkie Collins, and Charles Dickens--not just a skillful translator of clues, but a veritable superhero of the mind in the tradition of Doyle's esteemed teacher. Filled with details that will surprise even the most knowledgeable Sherlockian, Arthur and Sherlock is a literary genesis story for detective fans everywhere.” “A warm and affectionate look at how Arthur Conan Doyle introduced the Great Detective and the Good Doctor to the world! Sims traces Holmes's literary ancestors as well as Doyle's personal contributions, producing a carefully researched but thoroughly readable work that will surely appeal to the millions of Holmes's admirers as well as students of crime-writing.” Leslie S. Klinger, Editor, The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes Notes, bibliography, index.
Roz Chast’s Going Into Town: A Love Letter to New York (Bloomsbury USA) “For native Brooklynite Roz Chast, adjusting to life in the suburbs (where people own trees!?) was surreal. But she recognized that for her kids, the reverse was true. On trips into town, they would marvel at the strange world of Manhattan: its gum-wad-dotted sidewalks, honey-combed streets, and ‘those West Side Story-things’ (fire escapes). Their wonder inspired Going into Town, part playful guide, part New York stories, and part love letter to the city, told through Chast’s laugh-out-loud, touching, and true cartoons.” “Those of us who prefer Roz Chast's work to just about any other amalgam of words and pictures since the Egyptian hieroglyphs will not be surprised that her book about New York is a complete delight from first page to last--but all of us may be instructed anew in how much her art depends on her close observation of detail. Everything in the city—from the positive emptiness of the Metropolitan Museum to the ominous emptiness of a subway car—is registered with a discriminating eye for the truth as real as her matchless sense of the wacky.” Adam Gopnik “The New Yorker magazine cartoonist has a style and sensibility like no one else’s. Here she employs it in a graphic memoir of and tribute to New York City. Though she now lives in the Connecticut suburbs, Chast grew up in Brooklyn . . . . As her own daughter prepared to move to the city for college, Chast compiled this volume that lets readers see New York through the artist's eyes.” Newsday, “Best Fall Books.”
My grandchildren, Coen (seven) and Maya (five), love these three books sent me by Pelican Publishing Company, Inc. Anansi’s Narrow Waist: A Tale from Ghana by H. Arrington and Nicole Allin “Long ago, all spiders were as round as the sun—and Anansi was the roundest of all. Anansi was very clever, but he was also very lazy, and he loved to eat. One day, hungry Anansi travels from village to village to eat with them. Each village asks Anansi to help make the food, but he would rather be lazy. Anansi leaves one end of a silken string from his web with each village, ties the other end around his waist, and asks the villagers to tug the string when the food is ready. He goes to another village, and another, and another . . . What will happen when all the food is done? This lively retelling of the Ghanaian folktale will delight all readers from ages 1 to 110.”
Chicory and Roux: The Creole Mouse and the Cajun Mouse, by Todd-Michael St. Pierre and Lee Randall, “Sophisticated city mouse Chicory never imagined she would venture beyond her elegant Creole home in New Orleans—until she falls asleep in a picnic basket and wakes up in the Cajun swamps! There she meets Roux, a simple country mouse, and together they experience the bucolic bayou life. Chicory persuades Roux to see what the city has to offer, and they journey to New Orleans for a taste of Creole culture. Idyllic picnics and lavish white-linen luncheons offer both delights and frights in this Southern retelling of Aesop’s classic fable. Whimsical illustrations and two original songs make this a story you won’t forget!”
Tad Lucas: Trick-Riding Rodeo Cowgirl, by Laura Edge and Stephanie Ford. “Tad Lucas has been called the greatest woman rider of all time. She traveled the world in the early 1900s dazzling crowds with her daring trick riding, bronco riding, and steer riding. After competing and performing for more than forty years, she was recognized by her peers for her accomplishments. She is the only woman honored by all three rodeo halls of fame: the National Rodeo Hall of Fame, the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame, and the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame. Lucas, born Barbara Barnes, embodied the spirit of the American West. Her courage, independence, and compassion helped keep that heritage alive. In her will, she established the Tad Lucas Memorial Award to honor women who excel in any field related to Western heritage. Her spirit lives on through her daughters and the millions of girls who follow their hearts—and ride their horses—across the West.”
J. .P. Martin, Uncle (NYRB Kids), with illustrations by Quentin Blake and Preface by Neil Gaiman. “If you think Babar is the only storybook elephant with a cult following, then you haven’t met Uncle, the presiding pachyderm of a wild fictional universe that has been collecting accolades from children and adults for going on fifty years. Unimaginably rich, invariably swathed in a magnificent purple dressing-gown, Uncle oversees a vast ramshackle castle full of friendly kooks while struggling to fend off the sneak attacks of the incorrigible (and ridiculous) Badfort Crowd. Each Uncle story introduces a new character from Uncle’s madcap world: Signor Guzman, careless keeper of the oil lakes; Noddy Ninety, an elderly train conductor and the oldest student of Dr. Lyre’s Select School for Young Gentlemen; the proprietors of Cheapman’s Store (where motorbikes are a halfpenny each) and Dearman’s Store (where the price of an old milk jug goes up daily); along with many others. But for every delightful friend of Uncle, there is a foe who is no less deliriously wicked. Luckily the misbegotten schemes of the Badfort Crowd are no match for Uncle’s superior wits. Quentin Blake’s quirky illustrations are the perfect complement to J.P. Martin’s stories, each one of a perfect length for bedtime reading. Lovers of Roald Dahl and William Steig will rejoice in Uncle’s wonderfully bizarre and happy world, where the good guys always come out on top, and once a year, everybody, good and bad, sits down together for an enormous Christmas feast.”
Donning my classics hat (http://archive.constantcontact.com/fs147/1102932454996/archive/1112415778593.html#LETTER.BLOCK35), I requested and received review copies of the following books.
The first of these, Barbara Graziosi’s Homer (Oxford University Press), was a delight for me since Homer was my choice of main author during my early-1960s doctoral training at Yale and I wrote my 1965 Ph.D. dissertation on an aspect of his oral-poetry diction. The jacket blurb describes the book well. “In this accessible and concise introduction,” the author “considers Homer’s famous works and their impact on readers throughout the centuries. She shows how the Iliad and the Odyssey benefit from a tradition of reading that spans well over two millennia, from the impressive scholars at the library of Alexandria, in the third and second centuries BCE, who wrote some of the first commentaries on the Homeric epics. Summaries of these scholars’ notes made their way into the margins of Byzantine manuscripts; from Byzantium the annotated manuscripts travelled to Italy; and the ancient notes finally appeared in the first printed editions of Homer, eventually influencing our interpretation of Homer's work today. Along the way, Homer’s works have inspired artists, writers, philosophers, musicians, playwrights, and film-makers. Exploring the main literary, historical, cultural, and archaeological issues at the heart of Homer’s works, Graziosi analyses the enduring appeal of Homer and his iconic works.” “Graziosi’s stimulating account of that resonance in such a short, up-to-date and readable book makes this the perfect introduction to Homer.” William Fitzgerald, Times Literary Supplement Illustrations, maps, bibliography, index.
In the same package was Homer’s The Odyssey (Oxford University Press), newly translated by classical scholar Anthony Verity, former Master of Dulwich College, whose translations for Oxford World's Classics include Idylls by Theocritus, The Complete Odes by Pindar, and The Iliad. The Introduction is by William Allan, McConnell Laing Fellow and Tutor in Classical Languages and Literature at University College, Oxford, whose publications include The Andromache and Euripidean Tragedy, Euripides: The Children of Heracles, Euripides: Medea, Euripides: Helen, Homer: The Iliad, and Classical Literature: A Very Short Introduction. “A labour of love, this translation offers an ‘enchanting’ experience and earns [Verity] a well-deserved place among the distinguished translators of the Odyssey.” Classics for All Map, notes, bibliography.
A few weeks later I received Daniel J. Gargola’s The Shape of the Roman Order: The Republic and Its Spaces (Studies in the History of Greece and Rome) (University of North Carolina Press), which was of especial interest to me since, in my 1960s professorial days, I taught about the Roman Republic in my history lecture courses and about its authors in seminars. This study “demonstrates how important the concept of space was to the governance of Rome. He explains how Roman rulers, without the means for making detailed maps, conceptualized the territories under Rome's power as a set of concentric zones surrounding the city. In exploring these geographic zones and analyzing how their magistrates performed their duties, Gargola examines the idiosyncratic way the elite made sense of the world around them and how it fundamentally informed the way they ruled over their dominion. From what geometrical patterns Roman elites preferred to how they constructed their hierarchies in space, Gargola considers a wide body of disparate materials to demonstrate how spatial orientation dictated action, shedding new light on the complex peculiarities of Roman political organization.” “In this highly original book, Gargola succeeds in looking at the Republic from a new perspective. Resisting the temptation to reconstruct the Roman Empire to appear more like a modern state, Gargola demonstrates the distinctive way the Roman elite conceptualized the geographical world around them. He analyzes what geometrical patterns they preferred, what hierarchies in space they constructed, how their domination worked, and how they managed the gods. This is cultural history at its best.” Martin Jehne, Technische Universitaet Dresden “Gargola's work displays an exemplary standard of scholarship and presents a very wide range of material in a novel light. His book is essential reading for serious students of the Roman Republic.” John Rich, University of Nottingham Maps, notes, bibliography, index.
Edward J. Watts’ Hypatia: The Life and Legend of an Ancient Philospher (Women in Antiquity) (Oxford University Press). “A philosopher, mathematician, and martyr, Hypatia is one of antiquity's best known female intellectuals. During the sixteen centuries following her murder, by a mob of Christians, Hypatia has been remembered in books, poems, plays, paintings, and films as a victim of religious intolerance whose death symbolized the end of the Classical world. But Hypatia was a person before she was a symbol. Her great skill in mathematics and philosophy redefined the intellectual life of her home city of Alexandria. Her talent as a teacher enabled her to assemble a circle of dedicated male students. Her devotion to public service made her a force for peace and good government in a city that struggled to maintain trust and cooperation between pagans and Christians. Despite these successes, Hypatia fought countless small battles to live the public and intellectual life that she wanted. This book rediscovers the life Hypatia led, the unique challenges she faced as a woman who succeeded spectacularly in a man's world, and the tragic story of the events that led to her tragic murder.” “Immersing Hypatia into her world of competing philosophers, jockeying bishops and local potentates, loyal students and rival monks, Watts restores the brilliant mathematician and philosophical leader, a woman all but submerged under the mask her violent death created. In the process, he also evokes the fabric of cosmopolitan late Roman Alexandria, a city in which Christians and others coexisted despite tensions that could and did erupt into moments of spectacular violence.” Susanna Elm, University of California, Berkeley Illustrations, notes, bibliography, index.
A Portable Cosmos: Revealing the Antikythera Mechanism, Scientific Wonder of the Ancient World (Oxford University Press), by Alexander Jones’s, Professor of the History of the Exact Sciences in Antiquity at New York University's Institute for the Study of the Ancient World. “From the Dead Sea Scrolls to the Terracotta Army, ancient artifacts have long fascinated the modern world. However, the importance of some discoveries is not always immediately understood. This was the case in 1901 when sponge divers retrieved a lump of corroded bronze from a shipwreck at the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea near the Greek island of Antikythera. Little did the divers know they had found the oldest known analog computer in the world, an astonishing device that once simulated the motions of the stars and planets as they were understood by ancient Greek astronomers. Its remains now consist of 82 fragments, many of them containing gears and plates engraved with Greek words, that scientists and scholars have pieced back together through painstaking inspection and deduction, aided by radiographic tools and surface imaging. More than a century after its discovery, many of the secrets locked in this mysterious device can now be revealed. In addition to chronicling the unlikely discovery of the Antikythera Mechanism, author Alexander Jones takes readers through a discussion of how the device worked, how and for what purpose it was created, and why it was on a ship that wrecked off the Greek coast around 60 BC. What the Mechanism has uncovered about Greco-Roman astronomy and scientific technology, and their place in Greek society, is truly amazing. The mechanical know-how that it embodied was more advanced than anything the Greeks were previously thought capable of, but the most recent research has revealed that its displays were designed so that an educated layman could understand the behavior of astronomical phenomena, and how intertwined they were with one's natural and social environment. It was at once a masterpiece of machinery as well as one of the first portable teaching devices. Written by a world-renowned expert on the Mechanism, A Portable Cosmos will fascinate all readers interested in ancient history, archaeology, and the history of science.” “My major contribution to this amazing lost-and-found story occurred when I was asked to referee a paper on the remarkable Antikythera Mechanism, which had been recovered from an ancient ship wreck. I told them, ‘You should really ask Alexander Jones.’ They did, and the unexpected result was that Jones, an outstanding scholar and an expert in both ancient Greek and antique astronomy, was invited to join the team. Here Jones describes the long and fascinating path to decipherment in the decades since the device was found by divers in 1900.” Owen Gingerich, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics Photographs, illustrations, notes, bibliography, index.
Laurel Fulkerson’s Ovid: A Poet on the Margins (Classical World) (Bloomsbury Academic). “Effortlessly breezing through an astonishing number of themes, Fulkerson creates an exciting and well-rounded introduction to Ovid, his work and his world . . . Not just for students, though, this book is a worthy read for anyone approaching the poet for the first time ... With a heady blend of history, politics, personality, poetry and biography, this concise book will encourage readers to dip into Ovid's work. Minerva [An] insightful and lively book. . . . [It] is delightfully illustrated with Ovid-inspired artworks; it lists good material for further reading and has a helpful glossary of proper names and Latin terms . . . . [A] splendid introduction to one of the world's great poets. Classics for All Reviews This lively, elegant book is both suggestive and comprehensive, covering all of Ovid's poetry and placing it in contexts historical, political, and literary. Fulkerson's clearly written, witty volume provides a superb review, from Ovid's high-spirited youth to his distressed old age, from his often-maddening love poetry to his often-mystifying exilic works, with impressive attention to his Metamorphoses. It will make an ideal introduction to this complex, challenging, even infuriating, but critically important poet. Highly recommended.” Sharon L. James, Professor of Classics, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill “The work of Ovid, a major poet of early imperial Rome, is often read (be it in Latin or in translation) in undergraduate courses, and it has recently become a flashpoint for discussions of trigger warnings because of the incidence of rape and objectification of women in the narratives. Released in the Classical World Series, which offers brief introductions to ancient topics, Fulkerson's book occasionally addresses those issues within a broader focus on Ovid's themes of displacement, marginality, and the poet's own exile. Tracing topics that crisscross Ovid's works (rather than proceeding poem by poem), Fulkerson is especially alert to the polycentrism of Ovid's poetry and the slipperiness of his stance as authority, both focal points of recent criticism. Perhaps more could have been conceded to the concerns of non-specialist readers; more numerous quotations and sustained discussion of particular texts might have provided hooks for a clearer understanding of what is at stake in engaging with this poet, even at the cost of less general discussion in this necessarily concise format. Fulkerson's enthusiasm and knowledge, however, make for a lively and accessible introduction to the poetry and the scholarship.” CHOICE Laurel Fulkerson is Associate Professor of Classics and Director of Graduate Studies at Florida State University, USA. She is currently editor of The Classical Journal and her writing includes The Ovidian Heroine as Author (2005). Illustrations, map, Further Reading, Glossary of Proper Names and Latin Terms, index.
Christopher Carey’s Democracy in Classical Athens (Duckworth Classical Essays) (Bloomsbury Academic) “Athenian democracy continues to capture the modern imagination. This book offers an account of the evolution and operation of the Athenian political system. It assesses the main sources for the history of Athenian democracy, examines the criticism of the model, ancient and modern, and provides a virtual tour of the political cityscape of ancient Athens, describing the main political sites and structures, including the theatre.” Illustrations, maps, notes, Suggested Further Reading, Some Key Events, Glossary, index.
Of Professor (of Greek and Roman History and Greek and Latin Literature at the University of Michigan) David Potter’s 2015 Theodora: Actress, Empress, Saint (Women in Antiquity Series) (Oxford University Press), now out in paperback, Claudia Rapp of the University of Vienna enthuses, “This book is much more than a straightforward biography or an apology for an empress who has been slandered as over-sexed or over-ambitious. Writing with palpable delight and a deep knowledge of the period, Potter weaves Theodora into networks of athletes and entertainers, generals and aristocrats, bishops and monks, showing her as level-headed, driven by self-interest, and fiercely loyal to her close circle of supporters. In the process, he offers new perspectives on the larger historical framework of the Later Roman Empire during a time of challenges and transformations, spiked with colorful insights into the daily life of women.” Maps, illustrations, dramatis personae, timeline, notes, bibliography, index.
Catalina Balmaceda’s Virtus Romana: Politics and Morality in the Roman Historians (Studies in the History of Greece and Rome) (University of North Carolina Press). Catalina Balmaceda is associate professor of ancient history at Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile. “Tracing how virtus informed Roman thought over time, Catalina Balmaceda explores the concept and its manifestations in the narratives of four successive Latin historians who span the late Republic and early Principate: Sallust, Livy, Velleius, and Tacitus. Balmaceda demonstrates that virtus in these historical narratives served as a form of self-definition that fostered and propagated a new model of the ideal Roman more fitting to imperial times. As a crucial moral and political concept, virtus worked as a key idea in the complex system of Roman sociocultural values and norms that underpinned Roman attitudes about both present and past. This book offers a reappraisal of the historians as promoters of change and continuity in the political culture of both the Republic and the Empire.” “Clearly written and effectively presented, Virtus Romana stands out among other studies of virtus. By tracing the concept through the context of historiographical narratives, this book will be useful to scholars in multiple fields.” Christina Kraus, Yale University Illustrations, bibliography, index.
Margaret Atwood’s Penelopiad (Canongate U.S.) took a dozen years to catch up with me and so I bought a copy, thoroughly enjoying it for its wit as well as for its critique of the treatment of women in Homer’s Odyssey. “Margaret Atwood returns with a shrewd, funny, and insightful retelling of the myth of Odysseus from the point of view of Penelope. Describing her own remarkable vision, the author writes in the foreword, ‘I’ve chosen to give the telling of the story to Penelope and to the twelve hanged maids. The maids form a chanting and singing Chorus, which focuses on two questions that must pose themselves after any close reading of the Odyssey: What led to the hanging of the maids, and what was Penelope really up to? The story as told in the Odyssey doesn’t hold water: there are too many inconsistencies. I’ve always been haunted by the hanged maids and, in The Penelopiad, so is Penelope herself.’ One of the high points of literary fiction in 2005, this critically acclaimed story found a vast audience and is finally available in paperback.” “Here—at the outset of the twenty-first century, with everyone else looking forward with great intensity and hoping to predict what our mysterious future might bring—is Margaret Atwood, one of the most admired practitioners of the novel in North America, taking the measure of the old Odyssey itself with a steady gaze and asking the reader to follow forthwith, even as she coolly rewrites that oral epic from the point of view of the hero’s wife.” Alan Cheuse, Chicago Tribune
W. Royal Stokes, Ph.D. (wroyalstokes.com) was the 2014 recipient of the Jazz Journalists Association’s Lifetime Achievement in Jazz Journalism Award. He has been observing the jazz, blues, and popular music worlds since the early 1940s. He was editor of Jazz Notes (the quarterly journal of the Jazz Journalists Association) from 1992 to 2001 and has participated in the annual Down Beat Critics Poll since the 1980s. He hosted his weekly ‘I thought I Heard Buddy Bolden Say . . . .’ and Since Minton’s on public radio in the 1970s and ’80s. He has been the Washington Post's jazz critic and editor of JazzTimes and is author of The Jazz Scene: An Informal History from New Orleans to 1990, Swing Era New York: The Jazz Photographs of Charles Peterson, Living the Jazz Life: Conversations with Forty Musicians about Their Careers in Jazz, and Growing Up With Jazz: Twenty-Four Musicians Talk About Their Lives and Careers. His trilogy of novels Backwards Over saw publication in 2015 and 2017. His The Essential W. Royal Stokes Jazz, Blues & Beyond Reader will see print in spring 2018. Publications he has written for, in addition to the Washington Post and JazzTimes, include Down Beat, Mississippi Rag, and JJA News. He was Program Director of WGTB-FM for the final two years (1977-79) of its existence. A founding member of the JJA, he authored, for JJA News, “The Jazz Journalists Association: A 25-Year Retrospective” (http://news.jazzjournalists.org/2013/06/the-jazz-journalists-association-a-25-year-retrospective/). He is currently at work on a memoir.