A warm, inspiring book by a man who seems to have little ego despite a career spent near the peak of his art. Recommended...

HERBIE HANCOCK

POSSIBILITIES

One of the most innovative and admired jazz musicians of his generation reminisces about his career.

Born in 1940, Hancock grew up in South Side Chicago, the second son of Southerners who came North during the Depression. His parents were of modest means, but when he began playing a neighbor’s piano, they bought a secondhand instrument for him. He quickly showed talent, winning a competition to play a Mozart concerto with the Chicago Symphony at age 11. In high school, Hancock began to play jazz, copying records of the popular pianists of the day. He went to Grinnell College to study engineering; music was too precarious a trade. But after nearly flunking out, he switched to music. A couple of years later, he was gigging in Chicago. Trumpeter Donald Byrd took Hancock under his wing and brought him to New York as a member of his band. Opportunities followed: record sessions, steady work with other bands and a hit record. But the big break was a call from Miles Davis, whose quintet Hancock joined in 1963. This historic band, with Wayne Shorter on sax and Tony Williams on drums, stayed together for five years, and Hancock’s stories of those years are the best in the book. Along the way, he married, traveled the world and began to play electric piano—the first step into a new musical world. After leaving Davis, he began to explore funk, fusion and even hip-hop. He began writing film music, eventually moving to Los Angeles. He also discovered Buddhism, which became a major source of inspiration. Major awards marked his later years, which on the whole highlight a tale of success and fulfillment. The only real low point is an involvement with crack cocaine, which he admits to for the first time in these pages.

A warm, inspiring book by a man who seems to have little ego despite a career spent near the peak of his art. Recommended reading for jazz aficionados.

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 2014

ISBN: 978-0670014712

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2014

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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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

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