Ned Rorem's two previously published books (The Paris Diary; The New York Diary), were composed of sketchy, bittersweet self-revelations that were enhanced largely by the company he kept--a roster of cultural notables in both Europe and America. There is no heady debauchery in Music and People, again a surface compilation of criticism (fine) and very personal asides (poetics in search of a soul). Much of this is reprinted from previous appearances in The New York Review of Books, The New York Times Book Review, The Village Voice, Vogue and various music trade publications. At his best ""keeping an ear on my profession,"" Mr. Rorem does a brilliant critique on The Beatles music, whence it came, where it's going and in doing so explores the changes in musicology from the Coplandesque forties to the Dada randomness leading to the rock revival. Other composers and works explored include Richard Strauss, Bartok, Ravel, Stravinsky, John Cage, Pierre Boulez, Francis Poulenc. The ""People"" portions include notes on Sontag, Frank O'Hara, Ezra Pound, Jean Cocteau and Martha Graham, generally intimate, illuminating. Rorem is worst when refighting his own creative demons--the Miss Julie opera that was distressingly received. But ""Composers, good and bad, have always done a lot of talking, good and bad. The present volume is a perfect example."" An excellent summation.