A celebration of what it means to be alive in a world of great music.


A vibrant new collection from New Yorker music critic Ross (The Rest is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century, 2007).

The author brings together the best of his writings, mostly from the New Yorker, with revisions, expansions and a few recently drafted pieces. As such, there is not much new for those who have followed Ross over the last 15 years, but for those who have not explored his work, this is a fine place to start. This book is the ideal introduction not only to the author’s criticism, but to what it means to be a great music critic. For Ross, that means writing with a personal mission that approaches music, as he puts it, “not as a self-sufficient sphere, but as a way of knowing the world.” Indeed, the author is at his best when he artfully pulls down the artificial yet powerful boundaries that keep the classical tradition apart as ponderous and exclusionary in favor of a worldview more embracing of personal musical responses that remain indifferent to genre and social class. The results are mostly successful. The promising second chapter, which traces a four-note musical figure over the course of Western music history, quickly devolves into pedantry, an effect that supports rather than undermines the premise that classical music and its more popular variants can resist the stereotypes associated with buttoned-up white men. Likewise, some of Ross’s arguments rely on the very same false constructs—the decline of classical music, the rising musical literacy—that he rails against elsewhere. Yet the author is delightfully convincing throughout most of the book. What is truly remarkable has less to do with the variety and breadth of his individual subjects—be it Bach, Brahms or Björk—and more to do with his gift to divine meaning within the aggregate of the musical styles, traditions and personalities to which he exposes readers.

A celebration of what it means to be alive in a world of great music.

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-374-18774-3

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2010

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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