Booklist Reviewers Turn a Phrase
"Mixing dystopian science fiction and urban noir with a
Palahniuk swagger, this could well be the debut novel
everybody is talking about over the next few months."
From the Editor
The Art of Rock
Last week, pondering our Spotlight on the Arts, I found myself wondering when rock would first have been considered part of "The Arts." In theory, because it is a form of music, even the most blue-nosed cataloger would have included, say, a 1956 book about Chuck Berry in the 781s—but that presumes the library would have purchased the book in the first place. (And that presumes a publisher would have found this wild new music worthy of immortalizing on paper.) Nowadays, we don't bat an eye at the term classic rock—after all, we have a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, so clearly it's part of our cultural history. Having rock and roll stand check-to-jowl with classical music, painting, dance, and sculpture as part of the arts is a cultural inevitability.
But that could only have happened once rock stopped seeming dangerous. When was that? I'm guessing the 1970s. And punk rock probably helped—after you hear some kid screaming about the Antichrist, who's going to worry about the Eagles? (Actually, no one ever worried about the Eagles. Punk rock is probably all their fault.)
On Monday morning, I learned that Lou Reed died, a passing that hit me harder than most. One of the first songs I ever learned to play on the electric guitar was "Sweet Jane," and even if my 13-year-old self scarcely understood what the singer was talking about, his music inspired me to make my own. As I grew older and began to understand the literary ambition of his lyrics, my debt grew deeper. I tried to marry my admittedly average musical skills with a love of literature to produce music that, while raw and primitive, hopefully became something akin to art.
He succeeded in that, and I didn't, but those years of struggle and creation were probably more profound, more exciting, than anything I've experienced—so far, anyway—as a writer. Fittingly, it was Reed's literary agent, not his record label, who announced the news.
Curious to learn whether Reed had ever been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, I checked and was relieved to see he had not. They'll probably do it now, but they shouldn't. Despite his vast influence as a songwriter, he wasn't a hit maker. And he's too damn cool to deserve canonization in a cheesy ceremony in Cleveland. Let his grave be a shrine to the rockers and poets—and those who want to be both.
P.S. I spent Monday listening to Reed's music, a form of homage I highly recommend. I also highly recommend Donna Seaman's "Great Reads: It's Only Rock and Roll, but We Like It."
Spotlight on the Arts
American Mirror: The Life and Art of Norman Rockwell
By Deborah Solomon
Esteemed art critic and biographer Solomon turns our perception of Norman Rockwell inside out in this fast-paced yet richly interpretative inquiry.
Top 10 Arts Books: 2013
From the double-identities of Superman to the many modes of Bob Dylan, the man behind the Muppets, the demons plaguing comedian Richard Pryor, and the hidden life of janitor and artist Henry Darger, the best 10 arts books reviewed in Booklist from November 15, 2012, to November 1, 2013, reveal the complex lives and profound quests of artists.
Inside the Dream Palace: The Life and Times of New York's Legendary Chelsea Hotel
By Sherill Tippins
Tippins continues her exploration of New York's creative synergy, begun in February House (2005), in this astute, star-studded chronicle of Manhattan's fabled Chelsea Hotel.
Core Collection: The Blues
By Donna Seaman
Albert Murray, a delving, clarifying, and dazzling critic, essayist, and novelist who died at age 97 this past August, was the world's most discerning and eloquent champion of the blues idiom, both as a bedrock musical art form and a guiding philosophical perspective.
Respect Yourself: Stax Records and the Soul Explosion
By Robert Gordon
Say "Stax Records" and certain names may come to mind: Otis Redding, Sam and Dave, Booker T. and the M.G.'s, Isaac Hayes.
Outgoing Mail: Dear Nijinsky
By Molly McQuade
I try to draw you. This is hard to do, because you were a dancer. You moved better than the others. You will not pause to pose.
Breakfast with Lucian: The Astounding Life and Outrageous Times of Britain's Great Modern Painter
By Geordie Greig
Lucian Freud (1922–2011), "the greatest realist figure painter of the twentieth century," went audaciously far beyond "nude" to shockingly naked and forever changed portraiture.
Legends, Icons, & Rebels: Music That Changed the World
By Robbie Robertson and others
Wow. Just wow! This book is big in every way. Robertson, best known as a member of the Band, and his cowriters introduce the heavyweights of popular music to a new generation.
Top 10 Arts Books for Youth: 2013
The 10 best arts books for youth, all reviewed in Booklist between November 1, 2012, and October 15, 2013, run the gamut from an animal-themed DIY guide to a head-banging battle of the bands to a riot-inducing ballet.
By Robyn Bavati
If The Parent Trap were set at a dance school, you'd have this story. The prologue sets the scene: twin girls in a Brazilian orphanage are to be adopted by different families, one in Melbourne, and one in Texas.
Read-alikes: First Position
By Ann Kelley
Many little girls dream of being ballerinas—the tutus, the twirling, the grace. And for some, that dream never dies.
Go: A Kidd's Guide to Graphic Design
By Chip Kidd
Graphic design is everywhere we look—from the colors on a box of cereal to advertisements plastering the walls of buildings to the shapes of labels on toothpaste tubes and shampoo bottles.
By E. L. Doctorow
A man is talking about a friend, a cognitive scientist named Andrew, but it doesn't take long for the person listening to him, possibly a psychoanalyst, to ask if he, in fact, is Andrew.
Elizabeth of York: A Tudor Queen and Her World
By Alison Weir
The subject of the popular British historian's latest plunge into the fertile Tudor ground she has so successfully tilled in many previous books is the wife of the first Tudor monarch, Henry VII, who dethroned the last Yorkist king, Richard III, in a pitched battle and assumed the crown himself.
By Roddy Doyle
"Jimmy noticed how much he liked old songs that he'd always thought were shite. Decades of solid opinion were turning to mush."
By Dean Koontz
Addison Goodheart, who must never be seen, and last-nameless Gwyneth, who must never be touched, meet sensationally cute at the end of evading a big, enraged man shouting that he'll kill her.
By Isabel Allende
In her last novel, Maya's Notebook (2013), Allende illuminated a criminal underworld. Now she nimbly joins her detective novelist husband, William C. Gordon, in writing crime fiction.
By Adam Sternbergh
It's been a banner year for debut thrillers. Last February, we were treated to Roger Hobbs' Ghostman, about a thief who specializes in making all traces of his capers disappear.
Books for Youth
By John Corey Whaley
Travis Coates has lost his head—literally. As he dies from acute lymphoblastic leukemia, his head is surgically removed and cryogenically frozen.
At Leisure with Joyce Saricks: Whole Collections
Over the years, I've skirted the issue of whole-collection readers' advisory, although I've written about creating displays and making suggestions that cross genres and the Dewey Divide.
The Back Page: Elmore Leonard
By Bill Ott
I ended my review of Elmore Leonard's 2009 novel Road Dogs by saying "reading isn't supposed to be this much fun." I could just as easily have been talking about anything Leonard wrote from 1983 to his death earlier this year.
Books by Booklist Authors: Jack: The Early Years of John F. Kennedy
By Gillian Engberg
In 2003, Booklist Books for Youth Senior Editor Ilene Cooper's Jack: The Early Years of John F. Kennedy was published by Penguin's Dutton imprint to critical acclaim.
Fall E-reference Update, 2013: Databases and E-books
By Rebecca Vnuk
We asked publishers "What's new?" and they responded with the following information about their new reference databases, e-books, and e-book platforms as well as significant updates and enhancements to existing products.
What's New with . . . Gale Digital Collections
By Rebecca Vnuk
Gale, part of Cengage Learning, is a well-known publisher with a long and respected history of serving libraries and researchers. Ray Abruzzi, director, strategic planning, gives us some insight into the inner workings of the Gale Digital Collections program.