WHY IS THIS COUNTRY DANCING?

A ONE-MAN SAMBA TO THE BEAT OF BRAZIL

Everything you ever wanted to know about samba and the kindred sounds of Brazil, told with the neurotic hipness that leavens Krich's best writing (El BÇisbol, 1989, etc.). Krich serves up a tour de force through Brazilian popular music. Apparently he's has managed to talk with every composer and musician in the country—a motley crew of picaresques, deadbeats, eccentrics, geniuses, and just plain guys. From Sao Paulo to Rio, Recife, and Amazonas, style after musical style is drunk from: bossa nova, chorinho, lundu, trio electrico. But it's irreverent samba that captures Krich's heart. However far he wanders in pursuit of the peculiar and the telling detail (Krich is a lover of the odd fact and the strange encounter)—checking into the pedigrees of various high priests and goddesses, exploring the nether regions of mysticism, tracking down the inventor of the lambada—samba exerts enough gravitational force to pull him back into its spirited, high-stepping world. Krich is a student of the places he visits: Substantial doses of Brazilian history and landscape provide a context for the music and a shape to the country. A few short intermezzos serve as bridges between sections of the narrative—little dreamscapes often delivered with the creepiness of a sideshow barker—and each chapter comes equipped with a discography. You either warm to Krich's style or are quickly put off by it. It's aswarm with anxieties and prone to complaint, but intrepid, clever, informed, and pleasantly goofy. As polyrhythmic as Carnival itself: an artful blend of music, politics, and the land; a maelstrom of sounds and images from which Krich concocts an intriguing picture of Brazil.

Pub Date: Feb. 19, 1993

ISBN: 0-671-76814-X

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 1992

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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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Bibliophiles will love this fact-filled, bookish journey.

THE LIBRARY BOOK

An engaging, casual history of librarians and libraries and a famous one that burned down.

In her latest, New Yorker staff writer Orlean (Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend, 2011, etc.) seeks to “tell about a place I love that doesn’t belong to me but feels like it is mine.” It’s the story of the Los Angeles Public Library, poet Charles Bukowski’s “wondrous place,” and what happened to it on April 29, 1986: It burned down. The fire raged “for more than seven hours and reached temperatures of 2000 degrees…more than one million books were burned or damaged.” Though nobody was killed, 22 people were injured, and it took more than 3 million gallons of water to put it out. One of the firefighters on the scene said, “We thought we were looking at the bowels of hell….It was surreal.” Besides telling the story of the historic library and its destruction, the author recounts the intense arson investigation and provides an in-depth biography of the troubled young man who was arrested for starting it, actor Harry Peak. Orlean reminds us that library fires have been around since the Library of Alexandria; during World War II, “the Nazis alone destroyed an estimated hundred million books.” She continues, “destroying a culture’s books is sentencing it to something worse than death: It is sentencing it to seem as if it never happened.” The author also examines the library’s important role in the city since 1872 and the construction of the historic Goodhue Building in 1926. Orlean visited the current library and talked to many of the librarians, learning about their jobs and responsibilities, how libraries were a “solace in the Depression,” and the ongoing problems librarians face dealing with the homeless. The author speculates about Peak’s guilt but remains “confounded.” Maybe it was just an accident after all.

Bibliophiles will love this fact-filled, bookish journey.

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4018-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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