Doorstoppers, War Stories, Fashion, Folkies | Classic Returns

War and its effects reverberate through this edition of LJ’s “Classic Returns” column, with breaks for French memoirs and fashion, American folk singers and folk songs, British crime classics and classic rockers, an abandoned Inuit boy, and a humongous collection of stories by Kurt Vonnegut.

Bob Dylan: The Essential Interviews. S. & S. Oct. 2017. 528p. ed. by Jonathan Cott. ISBN 9781501173196. $35; ebk. ISBN 9781501173202. MUSIC
Originally published in 2006, this collection of interviews with Nobel Laureate and singer-songwriter icon Bob Dylan spans his long career and many incarnations. Selected by Rolling Stone editor Cott, the interviews begin in 1962, with a transcription of a radio interview on WBAI (New York) conducted by Cynthia Gooding, and conclude with a new-to-this-edition Rolling Stone interview with Douglas Brinkley (2009). Other Rolling Stone interviews are featured—a conversation with Jann Wenner (2007), several with Cott; a  discussion with Kurt Loder (1984); two by Mikal Gilmore; a 1969 cover story by Wenner, etc., but additional publications are represented as well. Nat Hentoff’s Playboy (1966) and  New Yorker (1964) interviews are here, plus Jon Pareles’s New York Times piece (1997), and others. TV and radio discussions highlights comprise an early-days talk with Studs Terkel (1963) and a later meetup with Nora Ephron, Susan Edmiston, and Dylan. The iconic Milton Glaser “rainbow head” graphic adorns this new edition’s cover.

Chateaubriand, François-René. Memoirs from Beyond the Grave: 1768–1800. NYRB. Nov. 2017. 576p. tr. from French by Alex Andriesse. ISBN 9781681371290. pap. $18.95; ebk. ISBN 9781681371306. MEMOIR/hist
Writer, historian, diplomat, and French aristocrat Chateaubriand (1768–1848) wished not to release his copious memoirs to the public during his lifetime. To say he lived in “interesting times” is putting it mildly: in this unabridged section of roughly one-fourth of the original work, he recalls wandering through the grounds of his father’s castle, hunting with King Louis XVI, seeing the first heads of nobles carried on pikes through Paris, meeting George Washington, and his eight-year exile in England, concluding with his return to France.

Gary, Romain. Promise at Dawn. New Directions. Oct. 2017. 336p. tr. from French by John Markham Beach. ISBN 9780811221986. pap. $16.95. MEMOIR
Born Roman Kacew in Vilnius, Lithuania (or perhaps Kursk, Russia) in 1914, the author changed his name to Gary when he fled Nazi-occupied France to fight in World War II with the Free French Army. This 1961 memoir, translated by Gary using yet another pseudonym (he wrote under several others), is primarily a love letter to his mother, who raised him alone and often in dire circumstances. Gary went on to become a military hero, an ambassador for France, a prize-winning author, and a filmmaker. He was married to actress Jean Seberg for eight years and died of a self-inflicted shotgun wound in 1980.

Gillian, Ian with David Cohen. Highway Star: The Autobiography of Deep Purple’s Lead Singer. Lesser Gods: Overamstel. Sept. 2017. 224p. photos. ISBN 9781944713287. pap. $15.95; ebk. ISBN 9781944713478. AUTOBIOG/music
This first U.S. edition of Gillian’s autobiography, originally published in England in 1993, is just in time for the Deep Purple 2017 “Long Goodbye” reunion tour, marking the 50th anniversary of the band, recently inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Gillian’s story has all the excesses readers look for in a rock saga: nonstop partying, groupies, drugs, alcohol, friction with band mates; then the downward spiral and demise of the group. Gillian pursued a solo career and worked with Black Sabbath before reuniting with the band (sans guitarist Ritchie Blackmore). Deep Purple is working on its 20th album, Infinite.

Harper, Kenn. Minik: The New York Eskimo; An Arctic Explorer, a Museum and the Betrayal of the Inuit People. Steerforth. Sept. 2017. 304p. illus. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781586422417. pap. $20; ebk. ISBN 9781586422424. HISt/BIOG
The story of Minik, one of several Inuit people who sailed into New York Harbor in 1897 with Robert Peary, was originally published in 1986 as Give Me My Father’s Body. With a touching foreword by actor Kevin Spacey, which also appeared in a 2000 revised edition, the book tells of young Minik’s arrival in New York; the death of his father and others who accompanied him; the museum’s study of his father’s remains; and Minik’s unsuccessful attempts to return his father’s body to his homeland for a proper burial. In a 2000, an LJ starred review of Give Me My Father’s Body by Rose M. Cichy read: “Told in unembellished prose with heartbreaking excerpts from Minik’s own writings, this powerful book is recommended for all public and academic libraries.”

Lomax, John A. Adventures of a Ballad Hunter. (Focus on American History). Univ. of Texas. Sept. 2017. 292p. photos. index. ISBN 9781477313718. pap. $18.95; ebk. ISBN 9781477313732. MUSIC
Lomax (1867–1948), father of music ethnographer Alan Lomax, started the family “business” of collecting American folk songs, becoming in the process one of the genre’s foremost authorities. He and his informants created more than 5,000 recordings of America’s musical heritage, including work songs, children’s songs, fiddle tunes, religious dramas, blues, ballads, and spirituals. This 70th-anniversary reissue of his 1947 memoir recounts his life on the road (alone and with his son Alan and second wife, Ruby Terrill Lomax), his efforts to preserve and record the music he heard, and the lyrics to dozens of songs.

Steele, Valerie. Paris Fashion: A Cultural History. Bloomsbury USA. Sept. 2017. 332p. illus. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781635570892. $40; ebk. ISBN 9781474245494. DEC ARTS
First published by Oxford University Press in 1988, then by Berg in 1998, this revised and updated version has three times as many pictures, all in full color. Steele, the chief curator at New York’s Museum of Fashion Institute of Technology, writes in the introduction that updating this volume was not a simple matter of tacking on a new chapter:

“…bringing the story from 1997 to the present. The field of fashion studies has developed so much over the past twenty years that I really wanted to acknowledge the wealth of scholarship that has been done on fashion in general and on Paris fashion in particular. At the same time, I tried not to lose the conversational tone that made the book accessible to the general reader.”

In a review of the first edition, LJ reviewer Sally R. Simms called the title “perfectly apt,” the research “broad-ranging,” and the notes and bibliography useful, adding “Steele draws from the literature, politics, and art of the 14th to the 20th centuries; she is as fascinated by the treatment of ‘sartorial’ distinctions in Proust and Baudelaire as she is by fashion images in 19th-century French painting.” (LJ 5/1/1988)

Vonnegut, Kurt. Kurt Vonnegut: Complete Stories. Seven Stories. Sept. 2017. 944p. ed. by Dan Wakefield & Jerome Klinkowitz. ISBN 9781609808082. $45. F
More than half of American writer Vonnegut’s (1922–2007) output was short fiction; here, his longtime friend Wakefield (Going All the Way; New York in the Fifties), also a Hoosier, and Vonnegut scholar Klinkowitz (English, Univ. of Northern Iowa) gather 97 stories written between 1941 and 2007. With an introduction by author Dave Eggers and five previously unpublished stories, this anthology is organized thematically: War, Women, Science, Romance, Work Ethic v. Fame and Fortune, Behavior, The Band Director, and Futuristic. Wakefield and Klinkowitz take turns writing “headnote” introductions for the various sections.

Short Takes

Brown, Carter. The Wench Is Wicked/The Blonde/Blonde Verdict. Stark House. Oct. 2017. 296p. bibliog. ISBN 9781944520335. pap. $19.95. F
Prolific England-born, Australia-based author Alan Yates (1923–95) wrote more than 300 crime novels under the Brown alias, starting in the late 1950s. This volume features three “Lt. Al Wheeler” stories; Book 1, The Wench Is Wicked, here makes its U.S. debut.

Green, Henry. Concluding. New Directions. Oct. 2017. 224p. ISBN 9780811227001. pap. $13.95; ebk. ISBN 9780811227018. F
Green’s 1948 novel is set during a single summer day and concerns a retired scientist living on the grounds of a girls’ boarding school. This edition features the introduction, “Henry Green: Novelist of the Imagination,” by Eudora Welty, originally published in her book The Eye of the Story: Selected Essays & Reviews (1961).

Szabó, Magda. Katalin Street. NYRB Classics. Sept. 2017. 240p. tr. from Hungarian by Len Rix. ISBN 9781681371528. $15.95; ebk. ISBN 9781681371535. F
From one of Hungary’s greatest writers, this 1969 novel depicts the lives of three families during the German occupation of Budapest in 1944.

 

 

 

 

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Liz French About Liz French

Library Journal Senior Editor Liz French edits nonfiction and women's fiction reviews at LJ and also compiles the "What We're Reading" and "Classic Returns" columns for LJ online. She's inordinately interested in what you're reading as well. Email: efrench@mediasourceinc.com, Twitter: @lizefrench

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