Nonfiction: Rolling Stones, Leonard Cohen’s Marianne, Guitar Rigs, & Harlem Photos | Xpress Reviews

Week ending June 13, 2014

Greenfield, Robert. Ain’t It Time We Said Goodbye: The Rolling Stones on the Road to Exile. Da Capo. 2014. 224p. ISBN 9780306823121. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9780306823138. MUSIC
Author and former Rolling Stone editor Greenfield (Exile on Main St.: A Season in Hell with the Rolling Stones; S.T.P.: A Journey Through America with the Rolling Stones), who accompanied the Rolling Stones on their so-called farewell tour of Britain in 1971, now presents his account of the ten-day event. Traveling with the group, Greenfield witnesses not only their performances but the various dramas that permeated their lives—for instance, the rivalry between Mick Jagger’s then girlfriend Bianca Pérez-Mora Macias and Keith Richards’s then wife Anita Pallenberg and the urgency of the success of the band’s next album. Written in present tense, Greenfield’s narrative has a breathless, immediate tone that places readers in the middle of the action. The author uses italicized sections of text to add additional context or information that he later on came to learn. Though Greenfield borders on self-indulgent at times, delving into his own thoughts and feelings toward the band, overall, this is a visceral and well-crafted portrait of the Stones at a crucial time in their career.
Verdict An enjoyable look at the group that’s likely to appeal to both Rolling Stones followers as well as fans of music journalism in general.—Mahnaz Dar, School Library Journal

Hesthamar, Kari. So Long, Marianne: A Love Story. ECW. Jun. 2014. 224p. tr. by Helle V. Goldman. illus. notes. index. ISBN 9781770411289. $24.95; ebk. ISBN 9781770905016. BIOG/MUSIC
Marianne Ihlen was muse to poet-songwriter Leonard Cohen, whose well-known song is the title of this book. Using extensive interviews with both individuals, journalist Hesthamar skillfully traces Ihlen’s story, carefully translated here by Goldman. As a young woman in the 1950s, Ihlen left Oslo, Norway, with writer Axel Jensen, ultimately settling on the Greek island of Hydra. After Jensen left her and their infant son, she entered into a relationship with Cohen, with each finding the love and inspiration they sought, only to part with heartache as their lives developed and changed over time. Hesthamar honestly presents Ihlen’s life and continuing quest to define herself as an individual, set in the context of her sometimes complex relationships with family and friends as well as with Cohen and Jensen. Although Ihlen traveled to Canada, Europe, Mexico, and New York, Hydra was always special to her, and the descriptions of its contrasting world, from its international artists to its native population, provide a vivid background for this richly textured and revealing narrative.
Verdict Readers will be drawn to Ihlen as representative of a young woman’s struggles in the changing society and artistic milieu of her time. Her story will provide an additional perspective for those familiar with Cohen’s work. Rare letters, poems, and photographs enhance the text. For large arts and humanities collections—Carol J. Binkowski, Bloomfield, NJ

Kahn, Scott. Modern Guitar Rigs: The Tone Fanatic’s Guide to Integrating Amps and Effects. 2d ed. Hal Leonard. 2014. 195p. illus. ISBN 9781480355156. pap. $29.99 with DVD-ROM. MUSIC
Roughly one in ten households in the United States contain at least one guitar, but only a fraction of the instruments are actually played. They come in a surprising variety—electric, acoustic, classical, baritone, tenor, etc.—and are used to create a similarly broad range of music. Perhaps this explains the degree of specialization available to contemporary guitarists and the level of technical sophistication some of these musicians must master in order to produce their particular sounds of choice. For those few electric guitarists using complex multieffects, loops, and computerized switching systems, Kahn’s ( new edition will be a welcome boon. The book and accompanying DVD do a fine job of deciphering the intimidating world of rack gear, signal processors, MIDI controllers, and custom rig creation. Additional features include a look at the elaborate stage systems used by Alex Lifeson (Rush), John Petrucci (Dream Theater), and other guitar heroes, as well as interviews with Bob Bradshaw and other specialists who design and build these creations. There’s a lot to know about these technological marvels!
Verdict Ample information for the select few who need it.—Dan McClure, Pacific Northwest Coll. of Art Lib., Portland, OR

Vergara, Camilo José. Harlem: The Unmaking of a Ghetto. Univ. of Chicago. (Historical Studies of Urban America). 2014. 269p. photos. notes. bibliog. ISBN 9780226853369. $55; ebk. ISBN 9780226034478. PHOTOG
harlem061314Since the 1970s, photographer and MacArthur fellow Vergara (American Ruins; Unexpected Chicagoland) has documented Harlem’s vibrant street life: the residents, the corner stores, the apartment life, the churches, etc., of this New York enclave. Vergara’s photos capture the overall vibe of this legendary neighborhood, as well as function as a fascinating time capsule. For instance, the artist’s time-lapse photography traces extreme economic shifts over several decades; these fascinating “before and after” images chronicle the ruins of the 1980s, the consumerism of the 1990s, and the corporatization of the 2000s. As part of the series “Historical Studies of Urban America,” the book is organized into two main sections: “Urban Fabric” explores concepts such as the housing projects and the subway and how these urban institutions influenced Harlem’s development and vice versa; the second section, “Culture,” looks at what makes Harlem visually unique, e.g., the landmarks, the graffiti, the advertising, the parades, and the fashions, among others. This beautifully designed volume features hundreds of color photographs, while Vergara’s own Harlem story interspersed in essay form helps to place his images within a personal as well as a historical context.
Verdict Recommended for those interested in street photography, African American history, and urban studies.—Shauna Frischkorn, Millersville Univ., PA

Young, Erin Taylor. Surviving Henry: Adventures in Loving a Canine Catastrophe. Revell. Aug. 2014. 224p. ISBN 9780800723569. pap. $13.99; ebk. ISBN 9781441246233. PETS
Young, a freelance humor writer for several online magazines, including Today’s Christian Woman, ventures into the ever-growing pack of dog memoirists with Henry, a boxer puppy. When Henry displays typical puppy behavior such as lack of discipline and bladder control, his owners enroll him in canine obedience classes. Even with instruction, he continues to misbehave, and Young’s accounts of various special collars to assist with leash training and barking issues become repetitive. Henry chews on pieces of furniture and other nonfood items, landing him at the vet’s office several times; additionally, several years later, he jumps into one of the house windows and is seriously injured but fortunately recovers following surgery. These days, Henry still has some behavior issues and while challenging her every day, Young believes he is a gift from God.
Verdict While this memoir is well intentioned, the choppy sentences and paragraphs and the overall dog-tired narrative is not as touching or entertaining as John Grogan’s Marley and Me.—Eva Lautemann, formerly with Georgia Perimeter Coll. Lib., Clarkston



  1. Nancy Bishop says:

    Well I must say that totally disagree with Eva Lautemann’s critique of Young’s Surviving Henry. I found the book to be delightful and engaging, and Young’s humorous writing had me guffawing throughout the entire book. Henry’s antics are, as Erin put it, like an “ADHD toddler on Mountain Dew.” I marvel at the family’s patience and persistent love they dole out to this dog. Survivng Henry is a thoroughly enjoyable read—if you need a good laugh, I recommend it.