Ask the Expert

Expertise has its own special allure.  Years ago, a good friend bestowed on me the gift of The French Laundry Cookbook.  Now, I will probably never undertake most of its involved, precise and fascinating recipes -- the time to do so just isn't there -- but I'm mesmerized by the insight into how Thomas Keller's genius turns ingredients into high art (Adam Gopnik's recent demurrals about cookbooks aside).  I could say the same thing about the fascinating detail a writer like William Langeweische gives into the work of keeping a plane aloft:  I'd never try to reproduce it, but the sliver of illumination into the pilot's work is one of the most delightful reading experiences.


So, even if you're NOT an aspiring hip-hop artist with a notebook full of rhymes,  a folksinger struggling to graduate beyond the open mic, or a garage band guitarist dreaming of an arena-sized apotheosis, you might find yourself becoming obsessed with Donald Passman's All You Need to Know About the Music Business, just out in a revised seventh edition.  I certainly am.   How does music copyright really work?  What exactly  does a record producer do, and how does he or she get paid?  How much do you stand to make if your song gets played over the end credits of Transformers 3:  Attack of the iPhones?  What about the trailer?  I didn't know that I wanted to know the answers to these questions -- but Passman's book is such a pleasurably informative browse that I do, I do, I do.


Needless to say, if you're a musician interested in making a living at it...there are reading incentives that should be pretty obvious.




July 22: On this day in 1941, on his twelfth wedding anniversary, Eugene O'Neill presented the just-finished manuscript of Long Day's Journey into Night to his wife, Carlotta.

Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
The Hundred-Year House

When a poetry scholar goes digging through the decrepit estate of his wife's family to uncover a bygone arts colony's strange mysteries, he awakens a tenacious monster: his mother-in-law. A wickedly funny take on aging aristocracies from author Rebecca Makkai (The Borrower).

Watching Them Be

What makes a film actor into a larger-than-life movie star? James Harvey's passionate, freewheeling essays explain why there are some faces (from Greta Garbo's to Samuel L. Jackson's) from which we cannot look away.


What if you called up the spouse on the verge of leaving you -- and instead found yourself magically talking to his younger self, the one you first fell for?  Rainbow Rowell, author of the YA smash Eleanor & Park, delivers a sly, enchanting take on 21st-century love.