A first-rate rock-'n'-roll history with enough lively detail and thoughtful analysis to put to shame the marginalization of women rockers decried by Gaar (editor of the music magazine The Rocket). Tracing the growth of the industry from its roots in late-40's rhythm and blues through today's video-driven stylings, Gaar exposes the consistent double bind of women ``frequently not seen as having the commercial potential of a male artist, and so...not given the chance to demonstrate that they could indeed sell records.'' Though saddled with an unshakable novelty image, women- -from Willie Mae Thornton (whose 1953 hit, ``Hound Dog,'' written for her, far predated Elvis's version), through the ``girl groups'' of the 1960's and the 1970's singer-songwriters, to the legions of punk, post-punk, pop, and rap performers of the past decade—have nonetheless established themselves as durable hit-makers. Drawing on the often rueful comments of her subjects (``You weren't really expressing yourself creatively, past proving to the world that girls could play like guys,'' recalls one), and on an extensive knowledge of both the artistic and business aspects of the music world, Gaar ably grounds her study against the larger context of social change, including the waxing and waning tides of feminism and prejudice. Most poignant is the odd juxtaposition of late performers Karen Carpenter and Janis Joplin, the former ``destroyed by the limitations inherent in playing the role of the good girl as Joplin had been destroyed by the limitations in playing the role of the bad.'' A number of minor inaccuracies (e.g., incorrectly marrying off Grace Slick and Paul Kantner) and some iffy grammar are rare weak points in an otherwise excellent, unusually comprehensive social and musical chronicle. Essential reading for rock fans—particularly those with large record collections and open minds. (Sixty b&w photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Oct. 23, 1992

ISBN: 1-878067-08-7

Page Count: 450

Publisher: Seal Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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...



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?


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?