Wong argues for a new model for tragedy in this debut work of literary criticism.
The stage tragedy was once at the artistic center of the culture, though much has changed in the centuries since Marlowe and Shakespeare gave the world Doctor Faustus and Macbeth. Wong argues that those dramatists succeeded in part because they had a model to work from: Aristotle’s Poetics. Essentially a tragedian’s how-to guide, Poetics has long since been rendered obsolete. Even so, a model is a valuable thing to have, and Wong seeks to provide a new one in the interest of returning the art form of tragedy to its former cultural relevance: “My term risk theatre derives from the notion that risk is central to the idea of tragedy. Risk theatre posits that each dramatic act is also a gambling act. Thus, the tragic occurs when risk runs awry, and risk theatre entertains by dramatizing this risk.” In an age of risk, when society lacks stability and to be heroic is to be a gambler, tragedies must find a way to dramatize the existential wager that people make every day. Wong outlines the structures and underlying theories of risk theatre, exploring how this model uniquely replicates the crises of our time. He also offers a historical overview of tragedy and analysis of the ways the genre functions as a medium both of entertainment and education. The prose here is academic but not alienating, and the author’s passion for his subject comes across in nearly every statement: “I propose that risk theatre prefers dangerous and uncertain settings not because, as some suppose, tragedy is an unhappy art, but because tragedy is a risk art. Because desperate times call for desperate measures, volatile settings increase the appetite for risk-taking.” The average reader can be forgiven for not giving tragedies much thought—that is part of Wong’s point—but the author’s diagnosis and remedy for the current state of theater are imaginative and quite persuasive. Playwrights will take a particular interest, but artists of any medium should consider Wong’s notion of the centrality of risk to the contemporary human condition.
An ambitious, thought-provoking critique of tragedy in the 21st century.
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").
Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)