Music, Art, & Literature | Nonfiction Previews, Nov. 2017

A-Trak. When the Needle Dropped: A DJ’s Journey. Scribner. Nov. 2017. 288p. ISBN 9781476745497. $25; ebk. ISBN 9781476745510. MEMOIR/MUSIC
His full name is Alain Macklovitch, but he’s known worldwide as A-Trak, and through his memoir he traks, er, tracks a huge trend in music: the emergence of the DJ as the star of the show and the parallel rise of Electronic Dance Music. His story races from his becoming the youngest person ever to be named World DJ Champion, to his stint as Kanye West’s personal DJ, to his work as an in-demand producer and independent record exec. Dance on.

Bennett, Alan. Keeping On Keeping On. Farrar. Nov. 2017. 736p. ISBN 9780374181055. $35; ebk. ISBN 9780374716974. MEMOIR/THEATER
A major British dramatist—who can forget The History Boys, which grabbed six Tony Awards, including best play—Bennett offers a bracing third collection of prose. Included are his diaries from 2005 to 2015, a key decade that saw four major theater premieres and the films of The History Boys and The Lady in the Van—plus essays, reviews, and irreverent bits of humor.

Davis, Stephen. Gold Dust Woman: A Biography of Stevie Nicks. St. Martin’s. Nov. 2017. 352p. ISBN 9781250032898. $27.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250032904. BIOGRAPHY/MUSIC
Gold dust indeed: Stevie Nicks helped vivify Fleetwood Mac when she joined the band with Lindsey Buckingham in the Seventies and has also had a memorable solo career, with all this music-making leading to multiple top-50 hits and well over a million records sold. Top rock journalist /biographer Davis chronicles her life, ranging from the affairs that inspired her greatest songs to her various drug dependencies, most dangerously on Klonopin.

Gray, Beverly. Seduced by Mrs. Robinson: How “The Graduate” Became the Touchstone of a Generation. Algonquin. Nov. 2017. 304p. ISBN 9781616206161. $24.95. FILM
With its release 50 years ago, The Graduate shaped a generation, few of whom can now utter the word plastics without flinching. Gray (Roger Corman: Blood-Sucking Vampires, Flesh-Eating Cockroaches, and Driller Killers and Ron Howard: From Mayberry to the Moon . . . and Beyond), who spent a decade in the film industry, aims to explain the film’s lasting power.

Hytner, Nicholas. Balancing Acts: Behind the Scenes at London’s National Theatre. Knopf. Nov. 2017. 352p. ISBN 9780451493408. $28.95; ebk. ISBN 9780451493415. MEMOIR/THEATER
Who better to take us behind the scenes at London’s National Theatre than its Tony Award– and Laurence Olivier Award–winning former director? Hytner’s memoir is more work than life, focusing on his staging Shakespeare, reviving classic musicals, commissioning new plays, and hammering out performances with the likes of Derek Jacobi, Helen Mirren, Tom Stoppard, and more.

Murphy, Cullen. Cartoon County: My Father and His Friends in the Golden Age of Make-Believe. Farrar. Nov. 2017. 272p. ISBN 9780374298555. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780374713041. BIOGRAPHY/FINE ARTS
There’s big in-house excitement about this study by Murphy, editor at large at Vanity Fair and son of John Cullen Murphy, who drew the keenly followed comic strips Prince Valiant and Big Ben Bolt back in the day. (C’mon, weren’t you just so totally in love with the prince?) The Murphy family lived in a part of Connecticut that boasted numerous top comic-strip cartoonists, gag cartoonists, and magazine illustrators, and Murphy fils re-creates their community here. With (no surprise) 140 color and black-and-white illustrations.

Perry, Michael. Montaigne in Barn Boots: An Amateur Ambles Through Philosophy. Harper. Nov. 2017. 240p. ISBN 9780062230560. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062230584. PHILOSOPHY
Given the rocking popularity of Sarah Bakewell’s At the Existentialist Café and Eric Kaplan’s Does Santa Exist? A Philosophical Investigation, why not New York Times best-selling humorist Perry’s take on that immortal French philosopher/essayist Michel de Montaigne? (In fact, this book pairs nicely with Bakewell’s How to Live; Or, a Life of Montaigne in One Question and Twenty Attempts at an Answer.) After a debilitating illness (“the journey began on a gurney”), Perry began reading Montaigne’s works, which he here relates to his own experiences as a “barn-booted bumpkin” feeding chickens and failing to fix a truck. With a 30,000-copy first printing.

Simmons, Gene. On Power. Dey Street: HarperCollins. Nov. 2017. 128p. ISBN 9780062694706. $16.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062694713. MUSIC
Power. You want it, but you don’t know how to get it. KISS front-man Simmons draws on his experiences as a multi-platinum recording artist and an entrepreneur, plus the stories of world-famous prevailers from Cleopatra to Warren Buffett and his own reading of Machiavelli’s The Prince, to give you the best advice on the matter. But note that this book is BISACed as music, not self-help.

Stevens, Norma & Steven M.L. Aronson. Avedon: Something Personal. Spiegel and Grau. Nov. 2017. 640p. ISBN 9780812994438. $38; ebk. ISBN 9780812994445. Downloadable: Random Audio. BIOGRAPHY/PHOTOGRAPHERS
Groundbreaking photographer Richard Avedon’s longtime business partner and confidante and now director of the Richard Avedon Foundation, Stevens joins forces with journalist and Edgar Award–winning author Aronson, also an Avedon friend, to clarify Avedon’s life and especially his art. Of course, there are black-and-white photos throughout.

Swift, Daniel. The Bughouse: The Poetry, Politics, and Madness of Ezra Pound. Farrar. Nov. 2017. 320p. ISBN 9780374284046. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780374709587. LITERATURE
Accused of treason for his fascist broadcasts in Italy during World War II, poet Ezra Pound ended up spending more than a decade at St. Elizabeths Hospital for the insane, where he was visited by the likes of T.S. Eliot, Elizabeth Bishop, and John Berryman. The Samuel Johnson Prize long-listed Swift homes in on the stories and conversations of these unusual literary gatherings to investigate the poet’s life at the time and the controversy that surrounds him still.

Barbara Hoffert About Barbara Hoffert

Barbara Hoffert (, @BarbaraHoffert on Twitter) is Editor, LJ Prepub Alert; past chair of the Materials Selection Committee of the RUSA (Reference and User Services Assn.) division of the American Library Association; and past president, treasurer, and awards chair of the National Book Critics Circle.

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