A rewarding journey through the career of one of the pioneers of minimalist music.

CONVERSATIONS

Artists in various disciplines share their thoughts on and with one of the most celebrated contemporary composers.

In this collection of transcripts from chats, most of them conducted via Zoom in 2020 and 2021, figures including sculptor Richard Serra, Kronos Quartet founder David Harrington, and composer Julia Wolfe share insights into minimalist composer Reich’s works, including It’s Gonna Rain, Electric Counterpoint, and Double Sextet, the last of which garnered Reich the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Music. While most conversations focus primarily on Reich (b. 1936), the book is strongest when there’s a genuine dialogue between composers, as when Reich and Stephen Sondheim discuss similarities in their work during a 2015 moderated chat (“we share a fondness for the same harmonic structures,” Sondheim says) or when Nico Muhly describes the ways in which Reich’s Music for 18 Musicians and a motet by William Byrd influenced his No Uncertain Terms. Conversations in which little is learned of the other participant’s output lack the depth of other exchanges. Even there, however, the shoptalk is a thrill to read. Reich fans will develop a greater appreciation of his music, with sections on his mastery of the use of tape loops, his innovations in phase music, the rehearsals for Drumming, and the use of strings in parallel with recorded voices in Different Trains. Those new to Reich will discover an eclectic composer who has drawn from sources as disparate as electronic devices made at Bell Labs in the 1960s and the music of 12th-century French composer Pérotin to create the hypnotic Four Organs. Conversations with conductors Michael Tilson Thomas and David Robertson are particularly rich thanks to their enthusiasm and expansiveness and the depth of technical detail—especially when Robertson speaks about conducting Reich’s Tehillim, The Desert Music, and other pieces and Thomas discusses the near-riot Reich’s Four Organscaused at Carnegie Hall in 1973.

A rewarding journey through the career of one of the pioneers of minimalist music.

Pub Date: March 8, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-335-42572-0

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Hanover Square Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 3, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2021

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A sweet-and-sour set of pieces on loss, absurdity, and places they intersect.

HAPPY-GO-LUCKY

Sedaris remains stubbornly irreverent even in the face of pandemic lockdowns and social upheaval.

In his previous collection of original essays, Calypso (2018), the author was unusually downbeat, fixated on aging and the deaths of his mother and sister. There’s bad news in this book, too—most notably, the death of his problematic and seemingly indestructible father at 96—but Sedaris generally carries himself more lightly. On a trip to a gun range, he’s puzzled by boxer shorts with a holster feature, which he wishes were called “gunderpants.” He plays along with nursing-home staffers who, hearing a funnyman named David is on the premises, think he’s Dave Chappelle. He’s bemused by his sister Amy’s landing a new apartment to escape her territorial pet rabbit. On tour, he collects sheaves of off-color jokes and tales of sexual self-gratification gone wrong. His relationship with his partner, Hugh, remains contentious, but it’s mellowing. (“After thirty years, sleeping is the new having sex.”) Even more serious stuff rolls off him. Of Covid-19, he writes that “more than eight hundred thousand people have died to date, and I didn’t get to choose a one of them.” The author’s support of Black Lives Matter is tempered by his interest in the earnest conscientiousness of organizers ensuring everyone is fed and hydrated. (He refers to one such person as a “snacktivist.”) Such impolitic material, though, puts serious essays in sharper, more powerful relief. He recalls fending off the flirtations of a 12-year-old boy in France, frustrated by the language barrier and other factors that kept him from supporting a young gay man. His father’s death unlocks a crushing piece about dad’s inappropriate, sexualizing treatment of his children. For years—chronicled in many books—Sedaris labored to elude his father’s criticism. Even in death, though, it proves hard to escape or laugh off.

A sweet-and-sour set of pieces on loss, absurdity, and places they intersect.

Pub Date: May 31, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-39245-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 11, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2022

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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