A love letter that sometimes loses control of its purpose.

WHY CLASSICAL MUSIC STILL MATTERS

Despite its decline in popularity, classical music retains enormous personal and cultural significance.

So avers first-time author Kramer (English and Music/Fordham Univ.), whose noble ambition here is to explain to a bigger classroom why more people ought to love what he loves. He’s a smart guy and knows that he will gain little by dissing pop culture, so he does his best to discuss and even salute the popular. He alludes to films ranging from the expected (The Pianist) to the surprising (Soylent Green) and to such TV shows as West Wing and The Simpsons. He tries to keep it real, even committing some pronoun-case errors for (presumably) an I’m-just-plain-folks effect. He does his best to show how people are like melodies, how the piano is a soul inside a machine. His passion is palpable on every page. He asks keen questions, such as, “How does the representation of pain give pleasure, particularly if the pain is strong and unrelieved?” But Kramer ultimately ends up preaching to the choir. He assumes his readers already possess considerable knowledge of music theory, discussing without any explanation major and minor keys, leitmotifs and contrapuntal interplay; he quotes Wittgenstein, Nietzsche, Kierkegaard and other heavyweights, as well as the poetry of Shelley, Wordsworth and Arnold. It’s almost as though partway through the manuscript he decided to forget about populism or popularity and give you his real—i.e., highbrow—reasons. The final chapter contains the most striking image: a busker playing a Bach violin sonata at a New York City subway station to an audience of more people than you would predict. This prompts Kramer to wax hopeful and even philosophical, but he underestimates one factor at least as powerful as the music: The girl playing it was hot.

A love letter that sometimes loses control of its purpose.

Pub Date: May 7, 2007

ISBN: 0-520-25082-6

Page Count: 248

Publisher: Univ. of California

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2007

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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

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IN MY PLACE

From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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