A charming, delightful collection for Beatles fans and music fans in general.



What’s your favorite Beatles song?

That’s what literary agent and author Blauner (editor: The Good Book: Writers Reflect on Favorite Bible Passages, 2015, etc.) asked some well-known novelists, journalists, music critics, actors, and musicians. Each contributes a pithy essay explaining why. Organized chronologically, a few standards are here—“I Want to Hold Your Hand,” “Yesterday,” “Let It Be”—as well as a few surprises. David Hajdu, music critic for the Nation, picks a song that usually ends up on the worst-songs list, “You Know My Name (Look Up the Number).” In an interview, however, Paul McCartney said it was “probably my favorite Beatles track.” John Lennon “relished” it, as well, and Hajdu finds it “irresistibly, if vexingly, compelling.” Singer Shawn Colvin writes, “lyrically, I can’t think of another heartbreak song as satisfying to sing as ‘I’ll Be Back.’ ” Rosanne Cash picks “No Reply” from 1965: “a handful of words, expertly woven into a fierce melody.” New Yorker staff writer Adam Gopnik is a fan of the 1967 double A-sided single “Strawberry Fields/Penny Lane,” a “perfect expression of the Beatles’ art at the high point of their artistry.” Chuck Klosterman “loves” the “sixth-best song [“Helter Skelter”] on their fifth-best album” because it “intermittently resembles the blades of a lawn mower falling out of alignment after hitting a brick.” Throughout the collection, we learn a great deal about how these songs came to be written and what the Beatles thought about them. Lennon dismissed “Let It Be” as “a bad Christmas carol.” The first song a female musician played on was “She’s Leaving Home.” Other Beatles’ fans picking their favorites include David Duchovny, Jane Smiley, Amy Bloom, Pico Iyer, Rebecca Mead, Jon Pareles, Alec Wilkinson, Touré, and the sly Rick Moody, who cheats, picking the “Golden Slumbers”/ “Carry That Weight”/ “The End” medley.

A charming, delightful collection for Beatles fans and music fans in general.

Pub Date: May 23, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7352-1069-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2017

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This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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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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