A useful cultural history that is sure to please fans and musicologists.

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LOS LOBOS

DREAM IN BLUE

The first “critical history” of Los Lobos.

In his debut, former Hollywood Reporter music editor and Billboard senior writer Morris presents an overview of the seminal California band’s four-decade career, focusing on how their musical palate expanded over time. A longtime supporter (his was one of the last weddings Los Lobos played), the author attributes “Los Lobos’ totemic position in L.A.’s musical firmament” to their unique background and the individual members’ restless open-mindedness. Initially, the youthful Mexican-American amateur musicians wanted to play traditional folk, in keeping with the era’s Chicano consciousness. As they honed this approach in raucous restaurant and wedding gigs, they also found themselves inspired by LA’s fertile post-punk scene, where they found kinship with bands like X and the Blasters. This incongruous fusion of Mexican music with punk’s reverence for rockabilly and roots paid off; fervent early supporters and the band themselves were startled by a Grammy win for an early EP. With their major label debut, "it became apparent to the band's producers that something new was afoot in Los Lobos' music." Still, no one expected that their titular single from the 1987 film La Bamba (a Richie Valens cover) would be a sudden chart-topper. Unable to match its commercial success, despite the prodding of several record labels, the band went on to a series of experimental, acclaimed (but underselling) albums. As Morris summarizes, “after hitting a creative wall amid the snares of rock stardom, they forged into terra incognita.” The author writes with an encyclopedic knowledge of California rock and effectively uses interviews with band members and producers. Although his primary focus is on a chronological analysis of the band’s recordings and their production, Morris also deftly addresses insider aspects of the music industry, much transformed since the 1970s, adding depth to this otherwise brief account while clarifying how Los Lobos survived changes in styles and label politics to become an enduring cross-cultural institution.

A useful cultural history that is sure to please fans and musicologists.

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-292-74823-1

Page Count: 184

Publisher: Univ. of Texas

Review Posted Online: June 8, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

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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Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.

SEVERAL SHORT SENTENCES ABOUT WRITING

New York Times columnist and editorial board member delivers a slim book for aspiring writers, offering saws and sense, wisdom and waggery, biases and biting sarcasm.

Klinkenborg (Timothy; or, Notes of an Abject Reptile, 2006), who’s taught for decades, endeavors to keep things simple in his prose, and he urges other writers to do the same. (Note: He despises abuses of the word as, as he continually reminds readers.) In the early sections, the author ignores traditional paragraphing so that the text resembles a long free-verse poem. He urges readers to use short, clear sentences and to make sure each one is healthy before moving on; notes that it’s acceptable to start sentences with and and but; sees benefits in diagramming sentences; stresses that all writing is revision; periodically blasts the formulaic writing that many (most?) students learn in school; argues that knowing where you’re headed before you begin might be good for a vacation, but not for a piece of writing; and believes that writers must trust readers more, and trust themselves. Most of Klinkenborg’s advice is neither radical nor especially profound (“Turn to the poets. / Learn from them”), and the text suffers from a corrosive fallacy: that if his strategies work for him they will work for all. The final fifth of the text includes some passages from writers he admires (McPhee, Oates, Cheever) and some of his students’ awkward sentences, which he treats analytically but sometimes with a surprising sarcasm that veers near meanness. He includes examples of students’ dangling modifiers, malapropisms, errors of pronoun agreement, wordiness and other mistakes.

Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-307-26634-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2012

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