Displaying articles for: February 2011

Lizard Music

Were you aware that William Burroughs wrote a young- adult novel starring Encyclopedia Brown back in 1976?  Or that, in their prime, the Firesign Theater produced a whole album involving an invasion by lizard-men from an invisible island?  Or that Roger Corman filmed, in only six days, a script by Roald Dahl based on a lost story by George MacDonald titled At the Beck of the Norse Whim?  No?  Oh, that's right:  you don't have access to those alternate timelines where such things are solid facts.  But apparently Daniel Pinkwater does.

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Suburban Triumph

"Their goal is to make old structures of feeling signify anew," wrote Robert Christgau last summer about Arcade Fire and their album The Suburbs. Sunday night the record picked up the Grammy for Album of the Year.  In "Maturity for Modern Kids"  Robert Christgau gives his take on why this "exceptionally principled" Montreal band is also capable of getting a jaded crowd to reach for the sky.

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The Cello Suites

Eric Siblin's cleverly dovetailed and enticingly readable investigative account of the famous rediscovery of J. S. Bach's masterful scores for solo cello, at the hands of Pablo Casals in the late nineteenth century, and their subsequent elevation to the consensual apex of musical beauty, puts paid to the quip (supposedly first made by comedian Martin Mull) that "writing about music is like dancing about architecture."  The image of misguided critical futility inherent in Mull's comparison has no place with a writer like Siblin, who can charmingly and empathetically convey the sweet sounds of a live performance through the medium of black marks on a white page—which, ironically, is exactly how Bach's music was first conceived, transcribed and precariously transmitted down the centuries.

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Reading the Headlines: Egypt

Our intrepid correspondent, Adam Hanft, enters the stacks and returns with some timely reading on Egypt past and present.

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July 25: On this day in 1834 Samuel Taylor Coleridge died of heart disease at the age of sixty-one.

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Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
Paradise and Elsewhere

Canadian short story marvel Kathy Page emerges as the Alice Munro of the supernatural from these heartfelt tales of shapeshifting swimmers, mild-mannered cannibals, and personality-shifting viruses transmitted through kisses.

Pastoral

When a persuasive pastor arrives in a sleepy farm town, his sage influence has otherworldly results (talking sheep, a mayor who walks on water). But can he pull off the miracle of finding kindly local Liz Denny the love of her life?  Small wonder looms large in this charmer from Andre Alexis.

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).