Keillor, Garrison. The Keillor Reader. Viking. May 2014. 384p. photos. ISBN 9780670020584. $27.95; ebk. ISBN 9781101517772. LIT
Storyteller, radio personality, poet, essayist, and novelist Keillor (founder and host of radio variety show A Prairie Home Companion; WLT: A Radio Romance) is often compared to the likes of Mark Twain and writes frequently about the idiosyncrasies of small Midwestern town life. His stories are usually thought-provoking, full of nostalgia, and occasionally biting but always entertaining. And so it is with this collection of essays, monologs, poetry, and even some song lyrics. Most of these are new—at least to this reviewer—but there are a few zingers that appeared on A Prairie Home Companion. The stories, which are arranged in broad sections entitled “The News from Lake Wobegon,” “Iconic Pajamas,” “Guys I Have Known,” and “Life’s Little Day,” cover a wide range of events—from his popular childhood “tomato butt” tale, in which he fears imprisonment for lobbing an overripe tomato at his sister, to the more serious story of the drowning of his cousin Roger in 1951 and the fear of water that tragedy instilled in him. But even amid tragedy, Keillor can find something amusing, a small kernel of humor that makes life enjoyable. VERDICT Fans of A Prairie Home Companion and general audiences will enjoy this delightful volume of works by a master storyteller.
Felver, Christopher. American Jukebox. Indiana Univ. May 2014. 260p. illus. index. ISBN 9780253014023. $50. MUSIC
Author (Beat; The Late Great Allen Ginsberg; The Importance of Being) and filmmaker (John Cage Talks About Cows; Cecil Taylor) has made a career of being one of the most eclectic photographers of American cultural figures of the late 20th and early 21st centuries. His latest visually stimulating offering includes more than 240 photographs of people from the classical and avant-garde, rock, jazz, blues, R&B, folk, and country music genres. Several writers and photographic subjects, such as Ray Manzarek, Michael McClure, Ed Sanders, and David Amram, contribute essays of various lengths, which help to put the photos and the overlap among musicians of diverse genres into context. This reviewer can think of no other book in which one can find such vivid photos of such a wide range of subjects, including Cyndi Lauper, Philip Glass, John Cage, Keb’ Mo’, Marian McPartland, Aaron Neville, Odetta, Lou Harrison, Laurie Anderson, Willie Nelson, Doc Watson, and Ozzy Osbourne. The volume focuses on Felver’s work of the 1990s to the present, although it contains examples dating back to the 1970s. VERDICT Visually stimulating, eclectic, and illuminating, this is an essential coffee-table book for music fans.
Laird, Paul R. The Musical Theater of Stephen Schwartz: From Godspell to Wicked and Beyond. Rowman & Littlefield. 2014. 416p. photos. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780810891913. $50; ebk. ISBN 9780810891920. THEATER
Seated next to Stephen Sondheim in the front row of the American musical theater pantheon is the prolific and prodigiously talented composer/lyricist Stephen Schwartz (b. 1948). Throughout a career spanning four decades that includes such hits as Godspell, Pippin, and Wicked, Schwartz has been honored with multiple Tony nominations, three Grammys, and three Academy Awards. Musical theater scholar Laird (musicology, Univ. of Kansas) has written an in-depth study focusing on Schwartz’s projects and music. Acknowledging Carol de Giere’s biographical contributions in her 2008 book, Defying Gravity, the author concentrates on the music and musical styles of Schwartz’s theater and film work. Arranged chronologically, the title begins with an introduction to Schwartz with individual chapters on Godspell; his collaboration with Leonard Bernstein on Bernstein’s Mass; Broadway and off-Broadway shows Pippin, The Magic Show, The Baker’s Wife, Working, Rags, and Children of Eden; Schwartz’s work on animated features for Disney and DreamWorks; then the success of the musical Wicked; his opera, Seance on a Wet Afternoon, and works outside Broadway and Hollywood. VERDICT Laird offers a definitive musical analysis of Schwartz’s incredible career to date. A trenchant investigation that is both erudite and accessible, this book is an essential acquisition for all academic, professional, and large public library collections. Bravo, author Laird.
To log in to your account, click here. To view the new subscription options, Get Started With Book Verdict Pro Today.
Don't know if you have an account with us? It's easy to check and verify your email, or create a new account.
Visit Book Verdict for the full reviews.
Aparicio, Carmen Fernández & others. Miró: The Experience of Seeing; Late Works, 1963–1981. Yale Univ. 2014. 104p. illus. bibliog. ISBN 9780300204797. $35. FINE ARTS
Baskind, Samantha. Jewish Artists and the Bible in Twentieth-Century America. Pennsylvania State Univ. 2014. 239p. illus. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780271059839. $39.95. FINE ARTS
Corner, Frances. Why Fashion Matters. Thames & Hudson. Jun. 2014. 128p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780500517376. $16.95. DEC ARTS
Peterson, Jeanette Favrot. Visualizing Guadalupe: From Black Madonna to Queen of the Americas. Univ. of Texas. (Joe R. & Teresa Lozana Long). 2014. 332p. illus. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780292737754. $60. FINE ARTS
Beller, Thomas. J.D. Salinger: The Escape Artist. New Harvest. (Icons). Jun. 2014. 192p. notes. ISBN 9780544261990. $20. LIT
Goldstein, Laurence. Poetry Los Angeles: Reading the Essential Poems of the City. Univ. of Michigan. May 2014. 384p. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780472072248. $80; pap. ISBN 9780472052240. $35; ebk. ISBN 9780472120413. LIT
Ley, James. The Critic in the Modern World: Public Criticism from Samuel Johnson to James Wood. Bloomsbury. May 2014. 240p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781623563738. $120; pap. ISBN 9781623569310. $29.95; ebk. ISBN 9781623568276. LIT
Swan, Desmond. Apocalypse of Clay: A Study of Patrick Kavanagh’s Masterpiece ‘The Great Hunger’ and Ireland’s Coming of Age. Currach. 2014. 174p. photos. index. ISBN 9781782188261. $36.95. LIT
Vonnegut, Kurt. If This Isn’t Nice, What Is? Advice to the Young: The Graduation Speeches. Seven Stories. 2014. 144p. ed. by Dan Wakefield. illus. ISBN 9781609805913. $21.95. LIT
Batchelor, Bob. Bob Dylan: A Biography. Greenwood. (Biographies). 2014. 158p. photos. discog. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780313381027. $37; ebk. ISBN 9780313381034. MUSIC
Dick, Bernard F. The President’s Ladies: Jane Wyman and Nancy Davis. Univ. Pr. of Mississippi. 2014. 272p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781617039805. $35. FILM
Kubernik, Harvey. Turn up the Radio! Rock, Pop, and Roll in Los Angeles 1956–1972. Santa Monica. 2014. 336p. photos. index. ISBN 9781595800794. $45. MUSIC
Majewski, Lori & Jonathan Bernstein. Mad World: An Oral History of New Wave Artists and Songs That Defined the 1980s. Abrams Image. 2014. 320p. photos. ISBN 9781419710971. pap. $19.95; ebk. ISBN 9781613126660. MUSIC
Gros, Frédéric. A Philosophy of Walking. Verso. 2014. 288p. tr. from French by John Howe. ISBN 9781781682708. $24.95; ebk. ISBN 9781781682715. PHIL
Harvey, Matthea. If the Tabloids Are True What Are You? Graywolf. Aug. 2014. 160p. illus. ISBN 9781555976842. pap. $25. POETRY
Mao, Sally Wen. Mad Honey Symposium. Alice James. May 2014. 84p. ISBN 9781938584060. pap. $15.95. POETRY
Mishler, Susanna J. Termination Dust: Poems. Boreal: Red Hen. May 2014. 104p. ISBN 9781597099707. pap. $18.95. POETRY
Spirituality & Religion
Campbell, Sister Simone with David Gibson. A Nun on the Bus: How All of Us Can Create Hope, Change, and Community. HarperOne. 2014. 224p. notes. ISBN 9780062273543. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062273567. REL
Hudson, Christopher D. Navigating the Bible: The 5-Minute Guide to Understanding God’s Word. Barbour. (Illustrated Bible Handbook). 2014. 288p. illus. index. ISBN 9781624167546. pap. $12.99. REL
Miller, Karen Maezen. Paradise in Plain Sight: Lessons from a Zen Garden. New World Lib. May 2014. 192p. ISBN 9781608682522. pap. $15.95. REL
Rosales, Luis & Daniel Olivera. Francis: A Pope for Our Time; The Definitive Biography. Humanix. 2013. 223p. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781630060022. $21.95; ebk. ISBN 9781630060053. REL
Sports & Recreation
Algeo, Matthew. Pedestrianism: When Watching People Walk Was America’s Favorite Spectator Sport. Chicago Review. 2014. 272p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781613743973. $24.95. SPORTS
Bernstein, J.B. Million Dollar Arm. Gallery. 2014. 240p. ISBN 9781476765884. pap. $16; ebk. ISBN 9781476766201. SPORTS
Rowan, Scott. The Cubs Quotient: How the Chicago Cubs Changed the World. Sherpa Multimedia. 2014. 384p. notes. index. ISBN 9780989500302. pap. $19.95. SPORTS
Vad, Vijay with Dave Allen. The New Rules of Running: Five Steps To Run Faster and Longer for Life. Avery. 2014. 272p. illus. ISBN 9781583335383. pap. $20. SPORTS
Wilner, Barry & Ken Rappoport. Crazyball: Sports Scandals, Superstitions, and Sick Plays. Taylor: Rowman & Littlefield. Aug. 2014. 223p. ISBN 9781589799127. pap. $16.95; ebk. ISBN 9780739141335. SPORTS
The World Cup
Agovino, Michael J. The Soccer Diaries: An American’s Thirty-Year Pursuit of the International Game. Univ. of Nebraska. Jun. 2014. 312p. ISBN 9780803240476. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9780803255661. SPORTS
Agovino (The Bookmaker; contributor, Atlantic and New York Times) has written a new memoir about his lifelong love of soccer. The book traces a path from his childhood in the Bronx watching World Cup matches on television to his career as a journalist covering soccer on a global scale. While telling his life story, Agovino discusses what was going on in the soccer world at the time and relates personal anecdotes of matches he saw or stadiums he visited. For readers already knowledgeable about soccer and its history, this book will be like spending time with a kindred spirit, eager to share his experiences. However, for those who aren’t in the know the material will be more than a little tedious as the descriptions of minor players and events come fast and furious and detract from the book’s ability to entertain as a memoir. VERDICT Recommended for soccer fanatics looking to deepen their love of the game.
Simpson, Paul & Uli Hesse. Who Invented the Bicycle Kick? Soccer’s Greatest Legends and Lore. Morrow. May 2014. 288p. photos. ISBN 9780062346940. pap. $14.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062346957. SPORTS
Enough of the social, political, and economic aspects of soccer—this book is fun. In a question-and-answer mode, coauthors Simpson (editor, Champions) and Hesse (Tor!) tackle the burning issues of the game, such as the oddest reasons for stopping play, which match produced the most red cards, and, as promised in the title, who invented soccer’s bicycle kick. Answers to these quirky questions run from one to six pages each and explore the sport’s history from its origins. The run through the game’s past and present includes colorful personalities such as legendary coach Stan Cullis, soccer’s “scariest” manager, and Colin Grainger, a 16-year soccer veteran who once shared a stage with the Beatles. The teams, leagues, venues, games, equipment, on-field moves, and records are also here, and all make for a light romp across the world’s most popular game. VERDICT With the World Cup just weeks away, this look at the lighter side of soccer is wonderful for serious and casual soccer fans and readers with a passing interest in the spectacle gearing up in Brazil.
Vecsey, George. Eight World Cups: My Journey Through the Beauty and Dark Side of Soccer. Times: Holt. May 2014. 304p. photos. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780805098488. $28; ebk. ISBN 9780805098495. SPORTS
As World Cup 2014 nears, author and New York Times columnist Vecsey reflects on covering the men, women, and places involved in the greatest world sporting event. From his personal beginning reporting on soccer from Spain in 1982 through the circus that was South Africa in 2010, Vecsey’s insights offer a unique look at the grace of the game as well as the underside of world soccer. Perhaps most interesting of all are his views of the world’s great and not-so-great players, coaches, and insiders of soccer, such as France’s Zinedine Zidane, FIFA official Sepp Blatter, and American Brandi Chastain, two-time gold medal Olympian and star of the 1999 women’s World Cup. Vecsey details the many colorful South American stars in riotous and poignant terms. At times the title reads like a travelog through the great cities of Europe and other soccer venues. His chapter on Germany (2006) is an expose on the host site selection and the bizarre ending to the cup. VERDICT Of the many recent excellent books on soccer, Vecsey’s work stands out.