Displaying articles for: October 2007
Her new book, which begins at her mother's deathbed and circles back through the author's St. Paul childhood, focuses with similarly fulfilling attention on the two people she comes from most directly, a dapper florist and a fierce, savvy Irishwoman. "These apparently ordinary people in our ordinary town, living faultlessly ordinary lives, ... why do I persist in thinking -- knowing -- they weren't ordinary at all?" Her answer to that question -- delivered in a voice by turns poetic, reflective, narrative, and incisive -- is an aptly dutiful, extraordinarily beautiful testament. -
But it's not Auslander's strategy to hide; rather, this often self-lacerating book holds nearly nothing back. The unvarnished mess of the author's family life -- from his mother's commitment to local respectability, to his rebellious brother's archetypal battle with a drink-tormented father, to his own growing obsessions with shoplifting and transgressive sex -- is brought forward in mesmerizing focus. Even more vivid are the scenes with the irascible characters responsible for the author's religious education -- which he unforgettably characterizes as "theological abuse." Infused with a unyielding rage (and sometimes nearly capsized by it) the story of how Auslander abandons their world for a loving one of his own choosing is also the tale of how he's never quite left it behind. --
At 79, Domino has become a musical symbol of both his beleaguered hometown?s dogged survival instinct and its lasting cultural significance. With the all-star Goin? Home, he gets the props he deserves. The thoroughly eclectic crowd includes Neil Young, Norah Jones, Tom Petty, Elton John, Lucinda Williams, and Robert Plant, sharing space with, among others, Dr. John, B. B. King, Herbie Hancock, Willie Nelson, Randy Newman, and Irma Thomas herself, all offering personalized takes on Domino-related material. The big man?s unique ability to blend the drawl of the blues with the ?big beat? is the lasting influence that ties these sincere and often inspired performances together. That the album opens with John Lennon?s ?Ain?t That a Shame,? seems fitting -- even a Beatle felt compelled to tip his hats to Fats, a true rock 'n' roll pioneer. --
That was 1,000 years ago, at a time when such travels were dangerous, daring, and uncertain in every way --and nearly unheard of for a woman. Nevertheless, Gudrid Thorbjarnardottir ventured forth intrepidly and was celebrated for her rare courage, as readers of the medieval Icelandic sagas of the Greenlanders and Eric the Red already know.
Like Heinrich Schliemann unearthing the truth of Homer's Troy in the 19th century, Nancy Marie Brown -- with the help of scientists, archaeologists, and 21st-century technology -- uncovers the real historical world of Gudrid and her unlikely voyages, and writes about them with erudition and grace in this fascinating, thoroughly enjoyable book. --
Fleming chronicles not only Sam's Western career but his work in China, where he learned acrobatics and opened four theaters; and the life of his family, including Fleming's grandmother, once a world-famous beauty. The result is an old-fashioned mystery, a poignant meditation on the ephemeral nature of fame, and an instructive history, tracing four generations of a polyglot, truly multicultural family, surviving and sometimes thriving as artists and citizens through a century's excitements. --
Herriman's nimble and surreal vaudeville show plays as brightly today as it did a century ago, influencing such artists as Patrick McDonnell, Tony Millionaire, Bill Watterson, Robert Crumb, and Jim Woodring. To quote Krazy: "I could look on thou forever in reptcha."
These stories don't merely record the horror of purges, denunciations, and mass arrests; Figes also portrays the idealistic fervor of the revolutionary generation, and the tragic beauty of simple family life under the shadow of an implacable power. His painstaking and inclusive method yields a majestic -- at times overwhelming -- profusion of narrative truth.
The signature Graham works Appalachian Spring (filmed in 1958) and Night Journey (1961) are riveting viewing, and will reward both the newcomer to Graham's oeuvre and the longtime admirer. Also revelatory are the 1957 television portrait A Dancer Revealed and the many interviews and extras also included. And for those who have followed modern dance from the 20th century into the 21st -- watch for a young Merce Cunningham in rare archival footage of an early performance of Appalachian Spring.
In keeping with Hancock?s open embrace, ?River? has its share of A-list collaborators. Guest vocalists including Norah Jones, Tina Turner, Corinne Bailey Rae, Leonard Cohen, and, on ?Tea Leaf Prophecy,? the muse herself, bring new life to such Mitchell anthems as ?River,? ?Court and Spark? and ?Amelia.? But attentive ears will also hear some gorgeous playing from Wayne Shorter, the brilliant saxophonist who has collaborated with Hancock since their mid-Sixties stint with Miles Davis. In a nod to Joni?s shared admiration for the saxophone stylist, Hancock even redirects the spotlight for a nimble reworking of Shorter?s own ?Nefertiti.? This curious blend of source materials -- which also finds room for Duke Ellington ?s ?Solitude? ? somehow coheres beautifully. As Mitchell throws her arms around the world in her own music, so Hancock honors her vision with this inclusive masterpiece.
Jerome Charyn's fiftieth book may be his best. Abraham Lincoln, known to his contemporaries as a man who loved to tell a good story, steps down from history's pedestal to narrate his improbable career with wit and charm. A bravura act of literary ventriloquism.
The name Eliot Ness and his struggles to bring down Al Capone have passed into the annals of pop heroism via "The Untouchables." But Douglas Perry's biography reveals the less glamorous -- yet no less thrilling -- truth behind the crimefighting myth.
Hassan Blasim offers his first-hand account of contemporary Iraq, in surreal short stories alive with awe, empathy, and a native son's vantage point.