“Ev’rything I’ve got belongs to you,” goes one Hart lyric that now, thanks to the author’s thorough, affectionate research,...

A SHIP WITHOUT A SAIL

THE LIFE OF LORENZ HART

The author of The Label: The Story of Columbia Records (2007) returns with a deeply sympathetic biography of Lorenz Hart (1895–1943), the talented, troubled lyricist of film and Broadway fame.

Marmorstein, who has published often about the popular arts, has done an enormous service for fans of stage and movie musicals of the early decades of the 20th century. Here, the author details Hart’s short life, explores his most productive professional partnership with composer Richard Rodgers, chronicles his descent into the alcoholism that killed him, speculates about his sexuality (his colleagues knew he was gay; the public did not), and provides numerous examples of Hart’s witty, sometimes risqué lyrics (risqué, of course, by 1940s standards). Hart, whose adult height perhaps touched 5 feet and who seemed always to have a cigar, wrote some 800 songs with Rodgers, many of which are Broadway classics, among them “Manhattan,” “My Funny Valentine” and “Where or When.” But Hart was a psychological mess. Perhaps due to his height (a constant joke about him in the press, and even from Rodgers’ mouth) or his sexuality (frequently he would disappear in the evenings) or the enormous pressure to write on quick deadlines, Hart became so increasingly unreliable that Rodgers approached Oscar Hammerstein II to write the lyrics for the show that would become Oklahoma! Hart subsequently wrote only a handful of songs. Marmorstein often summarizes the shows of Rodgers and Hart (routinely referring to them as “the boys”), sometimes too thoroughly, and there are so many interesting characters on his stage—like Cole Porter and George Abbott—that occasionally he loses track of Hart, who, sadly, left few intimate documents, excepting, of course, those wondrous words.

“Ev’rything I’ve got belongs to you,” goes one Hart lyric that now, thanks to the author’s thorough, affectionate research, holds another, profoundly poignant meaning.

Pub Date: July 3, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4165-9425-3

Page Count: 576

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: April 30, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2012

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2015

  • Kirkus Prize
  • Kirkus Prize
    winner

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

  • Pulitzer Prize Finalist

  • National Book Award Winner

BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

Did you like this book?

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor...

INTO THE WILD

The excruciating story of a young man on a quest for knowledge and experience, a search that eventually cooked his goose, told with the flair of a seasoned investigative reporter by Outside magazine contributing editor Krakauer (Eiger Dreams, 1990). 

Chris McCandless loved the road, the unadorned life, the Tolstoyan call to asceticism. After graduating college, he took off on another of his long destinationless journeys, this time cutting all contact with his family and changing his name to Alex Supertramp. He was a gent of strong opinions, and he shared them with those he met: "You must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life''; "be nomadic.'' Ultimately, in 1992, his terms got him into mortal trouble when he ran up against something—the Alaskan wild—that didn't give a hoot about Supertramp's worldview; his decomposed corpse was found 16 weeks after he entered the bush. Many people felt McCandless was just a hubris-laden jerk with a death wish (he had discarded his map before going into the wild and brought no food but a bag of rice). Krakauer thought not. Admitting an interest that bordered on obsession, he dug deep into McCandless's life. He found a willful, reckless, moody boyhood; an ugly little secret that sundered the relationship between father and son; a moral absolutism that agitated the young man's soul and drove him to extremes; but he was no more a nutcase than other pilgrims. Writing in supple, electric prose, Krakauer tries to make sense of McCandless (while scrupulously avoiding off-the-rack psychoanalysis): his risky behavior and the rites associated with it, his asceticism, his love of wide open spaces, the flights of his soul.

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor will it to readers of Krakauer's narrative. (4 maps) (First printing of 35,000; author tour)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-42850-X

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Villard

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1995

Did you like this book?

more