Monday, March 01, 2004

Reading List

Many interested titles reviewed recently, e.g., "Earth: an Intimate History." By Richard Fortey, rev. by Simon Lamb. History of the planet as narrated, so to speak, through the rocks. "This enticing book deserves to be read many times over," writes Fortey, presenting our planet to a wide audience in a way that they may never have imagined in their wildest dreams, and yet all this is the unavoidable message in the rocks."

"Tiger in a Trance" by Max Ludington. (Paperback Row, p. 30), novel set among followers of Grateful Dead touring circuit, per Bruce Barcott, "a merry romp through a wholly American subculture."

Kenneth Pollack's "The Persian Puzzle: The Conflict Between Iran and America", reviewer ernest R. May writes, "For a background understanding of U.S.-Iranian relations, "The Persian Puzzle is matchless"; Mark Stevens and Annalyn Swan's "De Gooning: An American Master", reviewered by Red Grooms, on the Rotterdam native who sailed as stowaway to U.S. in 1926, settled among other "Abstract Expressionists" in Greenwich Village (the hangouts of which, e.g., Waldorf Cafeteria, Cedar Tavern, "looks like a cockpit where visoionaries fight for the world's soul.

Editor's of NYTBR list "10 best books of 2004", inluding Colm Tibin's "The Master," which it describes as a "Novel about Henry James, his life and art--beautfilly written, deeply pondered, startingly un-Jamesian", Roth's "The Plot Against America, and "ingenious anti-historical novel." Chernow's Alexander Hamilton", an "exemplary biography"; David Hackett Fischer's "Washinton's Crossing," which is "impresseively researched" and "highlights the Battle of Trenton." Stephen Greenblattt's "Will in the World: How Shakespeare became Shakespeare," where "scholarship, speculation, and close reading combine in a lively study that gives shape to the life and context to the work."

Amoz Oz's "A Tale of Love and Darkness"John Leonard review's Nicholas de Lange's translation of Amos Oz's memoir. Oz's mother Fania Klausner, of Ukrainian bourgeoisie, philosophy student in Prague, leaving for Haifa in 1934, predicted that son would become man who is "quiet and full and closed like a well in a village that has been abondoned by all its inhabintants. Like me." She killed herself in 1952 in overdose of sedatives. Father diesd 20 yeawrs later. THis memoir mourns death of parents, but also death of socialist zionist dream. Oz writes, "Living memory, like ripples in water or the nervous quivering of a gazelle's skin in the moment before it takes flight, comes suddenly and trembles ina single instant in several rhythms or various focuses, before being frozen and immobilized into the memory of a memory." Fania met and married Arieh Klausner, "nephew of smugly famous right-wing scholar Joseph Klausner, so slysly satirized in S. Y. Agnon's novel 'Shirah'". This translation is "rendered from hebrew into supple, acrobatic English by Oz's longtime trnalator, Nicholas de Lange."

Yale Bookstore offering 20% discount from Dec. 6-11.

Perused entire "gifts" category of Signals Catalog . Nothing too exciting. Might be worth checking later though.

New York Times reviews: Best Classical CDs of 2004, 2 of particular interest to me (out of 25 listed):

"Bolcom: 'Songs of Innocence and of Experience', UYniversity of Michigan School of Music Orchestra and Choruses, Leonard Slatkin (Naxos) william Bolcom worked on his settings for [these 46 Blake poems] for 25 years. Leonard Slatkin conducts a gripping live performance of this ambitious masterpiece, over two hours of music for orchestra, multiple choruses and solits that audaciously synthesizes wildly diverse musical styles" --Anthony Tommasini

"Zippo Songs: Airs of War and Lunacy: Theo Bleckmann vocalist; Phil Kline, guitarist; others (Cantaloupe) from the words American G.I.'s in Vietnam etched on their Zippo lighters, Phil Kline has fashioned brilliant amerciian lieder fotr 21st century. Tinged with elements of the psychadelic 60's , as in an elegaic fugue on a Doors song, they communicate with a direct vernacular eloquence." -- Anne Midgette

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