Some mild friction between two bright men sparks striking observations about music.

Edited transcripts of nine intense interviews with the celebrated British composer.

Guardian music critic Service is respectful and generous throughout these conversations, which traverse much of the geography of classical music, then and now. Occasionally, he even accepts a body blow without much complaint. In a discussion about Benjamin Britten, for instance, Adès calls the content of Service’s question “the most ridiculous idea I’ve ever heard.” The conversations focus often on Adès’ own compositions, especially his opera The Tempest (2004 premiere), based on Shakespeare’s play, and Service elicits from him a number of insights, large and small (he composes on an electric piano with earphones). Their talk also ranges into the past, and we learn that Adès loves Stravinsky and Beethoven, and that he admires Verdi’s “pure animal cunning.” Although there is some music-theory-techie talk here (discussions about stacked fifths and “irrational functional tonality”), most readers will have no trouble following the flow. Adès emerges as highly articulate, rarely wry and often peremptory—the words “I could be wrong” are not in evidence. But he does say many arresting and memorable things—e.g., “Writing music is like trying to capture the face in the fire”; “I think my music ought to affect something in the individual; not something in the shared, lizard part of the brain, as perhaps some stadium music does.” Service manages to get Adès talking rather than debating, but the interviewer does challenge when Adès says something surprising, like calling the finale of Brahms’ Symphony No. 4 “a terrible waste of space.”

Some mild friction between two bright men sparks striking observations about music.

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-374-27632-4

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Aug. 8, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012


The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

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



Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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