STIR IT UP

MUSICAL STEWS FROM ROOTS TO JAZZ

An impressive variety of music is surveyed—rock, jazz, reggae, Afropop, Brazilian Tropicalia—in these reviews and interviews reprinted from the Nation, the Atlantic Monthly, and elsewhere. The collection starts, pointedly, with a Paul Simon interview about his collaborations with South African musicians on the controversial Graceland album. This story raises hopes for big topics from the essays to come: synthesis of international styles, cultural appropriation, politics, and music. But Santoro (Dancing in Your Head: Jazz, Blues, Rock, and Beyond, not reviewed) delivers a more diffuse collection. The pieces are about albums, or musicians, or musical ideas explored with particular musicians as examples—or all of the above. Sting discusses how ``there aren't any original ideas'' and where creativity does come from. The Bob Marley chapter serves as a short, informative history of reggae music, featuring Bob Marley. In the section on jazz bassist Tim Drummond, Santoro is content, for the most part, to let this outspoken man hold court. The jazz greats are perhaps best covered: John Coltrane, Charles Mingus, Ornette Coleman, Thelonious Monk, and others. Perhaps the influences and heirs-apparent are clearer in jazz. Or maybe jazz musicians just have the best stories to tell—Mingus, for instance, checks into Bellevue for a rest, ``as if it were a resort hotel,'' and then has trouble getting out. Sometimes Santoro's hip, smart style threatens to distract. Trail-blazing saxophonist John Zorn's music, for instance, contains ``pieces of a subatomic jigsaw puzzle whose Heisenbergian reality is connected by dots in the mind of the observer.'' Intelligent coverage of major artists—Elvis Costello, Bruce Springsteen, and David Byrne are all included—will appeal to many readers. But the overarching theme of cross-cultural pollination remains merely a rough reference point for the volume—a title pasted across a disparate, if thoughtful collection of writings.

Pub Date: July 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-19-509869-2

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 1997

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

DEAR MR. HENSHAW

Possibly inspired by the letters Cleary has received as a children's author, this begins with second-grader Leigh Botts' misspelled fan letter to Mr. Henshaw, whose fictitious book itself derives from the old take-off title Forty Ways W. Amuse a Dog. Soon Leigh is in sixth grade and bombarding his still-favorite author with a list of questions to be answered and returned by "next Friday," the day his author report is due. Leigh is disgruntled when Mr. Henshaw's answer comes late, and accompanied by a set of questions for Leigh to answer. He threatens not to, but as "Mom keeps nagging me about your dumb old questions" he finally gets the job done—and through his answers Mr. Henshaw and readers learn that Leigh considers himself "the mediumest boy in school," that his parents have split up, and that he dreams of his truck-driver dad driving him to school "hauling a forty-foot reefer, which would make his outfit add up to eighteen wheels altogether. . . . I guess I wouldn't seem so medium then." Soon Mr. Henshaw recommends keeping a diary (at least partly to get Leigh off his own back) and so the real letters to Mr. Henshaw taper off, with "pretend," unmailed letters (the diary) taking over. . . until Leigh can write "I don't have to pretend to write to Mr. Henshaw anymore. I have learned to say what I think on a piece of paper." Meanwhile Mr. Henshaw offers writing tips, and Leigh, struggling with a story for a school contest, concludes "I think you're right. Maybe I am not ready to write a story." Instead he writes a "true story" about a truck haul with his father in Leigh's real past, and this wins praise from "a real live author" Leigh meets through the school program. Mr. Henshaw has also advised that "a character in a story should solve a problem or change in some way," a standard juvenile-fiction dictum which Cleary herself applies modestly by having Leigh solve his disappearing lunch problem with a burglar-alarmed lunch box—and, more seriously, come to recognize and accept that his father can't be counted on. All of this, in Leigh's simple words, is capably and unobtrusively structured as well as valid and realistic. From the writing tips to the divorced-kid blues, however, it tends to substitute prevailing wisdom for the little jolts of recognition that made the Ramona books so rewarding.

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 1983

ISBN: 143511096X

Page Count: 133

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1983

Did you like this book?

more