I drove my car across five states to bring it to Seattle. I probably shouldn’t have bothered.
Parking is such a scarce commodity that I pretty much ride the bus everywhere. I’ve put gas in my car a total of five times this year. All that bus riding has given me ample time for recreational reading, something I seldom indulged when I lived in Austin.
For a while I was reading quite a number of music-themed books, many of them checked out from Seattle’s impressive public library.
- Wendy Lesser, Music for Silenced Voices: Dmitri Shostakovich and His Fifteen Quartets I really don’t need anything else from Shostakovich other than his string quartets. I tried his symphonies and some of his chamber music works, but they don’t capture me the way the quartets do. Anyone who loves these quartets would enjoy Lesser’s examination of these works, especially in regard to the events of his life surrounding their creation.
- Rob Sheffield, Talking to Girls About Duran Duran The chapter about the Smiths is pretty much worth the entire book.
- Kim Cooper, Neutral Milk Hotel: In the Aeroplane Over the Sea I finished this book with the impression that other books in the 33 1/3 Series would match it in terms of readability, thoroughness and engagement. That was a wrong impression when I struggled to finish Ben Sisaro’s treatment of the Pixies’ Doolittle.
- Kyle Gann, No Such Thing as Silence: John Cage’s 4’33” I devoured Kyle Gann’s columns in the Village Voice when I was a precocious college student hell bent on being what would eventually become Nico Muhly (that is, a classical composer with rock credentials). But I think Gann bit more than he could chew with this book. The story of 4’33” seemed to finish about half way through the book, leaving Gann to fill the rest of the space.
- Thomas Larson, The Saddest Music Ever Written: The Story of Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings Thomas Larson could have focused exclusively on Barber and his relationship with Gian Carlo Menotti, and it would have been a must-read. But Larson added some bits of memoir and some questionable music analysis and ended up with a bit of a muddle.