These sprightly, highly opinionated “adventures of an autodidact” reveal Christgau to be a highly literate, astute, and...

BOOK REPORTS

A MUSIC CRITIC ON HIS FIRST LOVE, WHICH WAS READING

A culture critic roams far and wide.

Veteran music critic Christgau (Is it Still Good to Ya?: Fifty Years of Rock Criticism, 2018, etc.) writes that he discovered his future profession when he read the journalism of Red Smith, Pauline Kael, Tom Wolfe, and Susan Sontag. This substantial collection of nearly 100 eclectic, thought-provoking, and idea-laden book reviews were published in a wide range of publications, many in the Village Voice (where he was a writer and editor from 1969 to 2006) and the Barnes & Noble Review. Christgau writes that they “dive deeper” into two broad themes, bohemia and politics. His range of topics is impressive, and his references are prolific. Unsurprisingly, many of the books reviewed are music-related, but Christgau is just as adept delving into capitalism, pornography, and literature. He begins with three reviews of books by “master stylists,” aka the “Collectibles.” John Leonard is a “small treasure,” Jonathan Lethem is a “hell of a critic,” and the “best of all,” Dave Hickey, has “been doing work that leaves your own flopping around on the deck.” One of the longest and best pieces is an outstanding overview of the “lumpily indefatigable” Raymond Williams. Christgau calls him a “socialist intellectual” with an “appetite for knowledge.” Another highlight is “A Darker Shade of Noir,” an incisive and wide-ranging assessment of Walter Mosley’s Easy Rawlins novels. Christgau makes a good case for why these “historically evolving books constitute the finest detective oeuvre in American literature, surpassing even that of card-carrying formalist Hammett and dwarfing Chandler and Leonard and Macdonald.” Other literary figures Christgau admires include Robert Coover, Michael Chabon (“language dazzling and deft”), and Roddy Doyle. There are also savvy assessments of autobiographies by Rod Stewart, Bruce Springsteen, and Patti Smith, whose M Train, writes the author, “transported me.”

These sprightly, highly opinionated “adventures of an autodidact” reveal Christgau to be a highly literate, astute, and discerning book critic.

Pub Date: April 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4780-0030-3

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Duke Univ.

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

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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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MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. AND THE MARCH ON WASHINGTON

This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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