These books will take you from the Ed Sullivan Show where the Beatles first played on American television, to the mystical darkness of the movie theater, to the smoky Harlem clubs where Duke Ellington tickled the ivories. Here are must-reads for that special hepcat or burgeoning cultural critic.
The Chronicle of Jazz by Mervyn Cooke
Part rich genealogy and part collection of emotional human stories, Cooke offers manifold ways of experiencing a beloved as well as ever evolving art form.
How to Read a Film by James Monaco
An indispensable guide to all of the critical gear one would need to understand and more fully appreciate the inner workings of a movie.
The Republic of Rock by Michael J. Kramer
A penetrating look into how the music amongst American youth cultures in San Francisco and Vietnam during the 1960s bred a generation of politically self-aware citizens.
Balanchine and the Lost Muse: Revolution & the Making of a Choreographer by Elizabeth Kendall
A portrait of the legendary ballet choreographer as a young man, the political landscape that shaped him, and the friend who haunted the foundations of his innovative career.
Instead of focusing on the established demi-gods of music history, music historian Elijah Wald shifts the spotlight to the audiences and the working musicians on the cusp of fame, who he argues are more accurate barometers of American society.
Dig: Sound and Music in Hip Culture by Phil Ford
A guided tour through the sonic and the surreptitious world of the mid-century counter-culture movement.
Before Agatha Christie became the world’s best-selling mystery writer, toxic compounds were, for a time, part of her everyday life.
For most of the First World War (1914–1918), Christie worked in a hospital as a nurse and later mixing medicines, as she recalled in her autobiography. “It was while I working in the dispensary that I first conceived of writing a detective story,” wrote Christie (1890–1976).
She first learned about “curare,” which is stored in clay pots like this one, as a young woman from a deceptively bland pharmacist…
Nobel author Doris Lessing dies at 94
Nobel prize-winning author Doris Lessing has died at the age of 94, The Guardian reports.
At 88 years old, she became the oldest author to win the Nobel prize in literature.
Born in Iran, brought up in the African bush in Zimbabwe – where her 1950 first novel, The Grass Is Singing, was set – Lessing had been a London resident for more than half a century. In 2007 she arrived back to West Hampstead, north London, by taxi, carrying heavy bags of shopping, to find the doorstep besieged by reporters and camera crews. “Oh Christ,” she said, on learning that their excitement was because at 88 she had just become the oldest author to win the Nobel prize in literature. Only the 11th woman to win the honour, she had beaten that year’s favourite, the American author Philip Roth.
Pausing rather crossly on her front path, she said “one can get more excited”, and went on to observe that since she had already won all the other prizes in Europe, this was “a royal flush”.
Later she remarked: “I’m 88 years old and they can’t give the Nobel to someone who’s dead, so I think they were probably thinking they’d probably better give it to me now before I’ve popped off.”
Lessing is the author of more than 50 novels ranging from political to science fiction.
Photo: Doris Lessing with her prize insignia of the 2007 Nobel prize in literature. (Shaun Curry/AFP/Getty Images)
— Maria Bustillos on the value of honest criticism in book reviews: http://nyr.kr/1aD3Fp7
Shopping list on an index card:Buy
Small chain with a padlock & key
Bottom of plant holder
4 pieces of parchment
50 new pins, black bottle
Found in “The Complete Novels of Jane Austen.” Published by Modern Library, circa 1937.
“It’s amazing what you find out about yourself when you write in the first person about someone very different from you.” —Doris Lessing
Among Haruki Murakami’s many significant literary achievements is the fact that the author has – since the 1990s – become “responsible for triggering and fueling the Japanese literature boom in South Korea.”
New Books in New York.
Two new books, both alike in dignity,
In fair Big Apple, where we lay our scene,
Ancient microbodies do mutiny,
Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.
From forth the cubicles of these two foes
A pair of star-cross’d texts take their life;
Whose misadventured piteous overthrows
With publication bury their Press’s strife.
Photos by Jonathan Kroberger for Oxford University Press.But, soft! what new edition through yonder window breaks?It is the east, and The Georgetown Dictionary of Iraqi Arabic is the sun.Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon,Who is already sick and pale with grief,That thou, her new edition, art far more fair than she.Be not her maid, since she is envious;Her vestal livery has a sick and yellow pallorAnd none but fools do read it; cast it off.It is my dictionary, O, it is my love!O, that she knew she were!She teaches yet she says nothing; what of that?Her pages’ discourse, I will answer it.I am too bold, ‘tis Iraqi Arabic she speaks,1180 of the fairest pages in all the bookshop.Having some business, I do entreat her pagesTo educate till ‘tis as the Tower of Babel were naught.What if her pages were there, such harmony in her signatures!The knowledge within her spine would shame that ruin,As daylight doth a lamp; her pages in the libraryWould through the shelves stream so brightThat patrons would sing and think it were not night.See, how she uses her spine to hold her board!O, that I were a jacket upon that board,That I might touch that spine!
Georgetown University Press is throwing down the gauntlet. Publishing pals what have you got?