From Publishers Weekly
When Brookes finds that his beloved guitar has been hopelessly damaged by airport baggage handlers, he sets off on a journey to find the perfect handmade instrument to replace it. Inspired by the vast array of choices, as well as by luthier Rick Davis ("a luthier is a guitar maker who charges $1,000 per guitar"), Brookes becomes enthralled with the relationship between the instrument and the people involved with it, and how that link has developed and changed over time. The author, a regular commentator on NPR's Sunday Weekend Edition
, contrasts the story of a guitar being built from a few simple (yet carefully chosen) pieces of cherry wood with alternating chapters on the history of the instrument. In doing so, he reminds us that all instruments—even the iconic American guitar—are ever-changing. Instead of compiling a book filled with dates and anecdotes, Brookes wisely chooses to focus on personalities, like Rick, the economics student turned Vermont guitar builder; Joseph Kekuku, the Hawaiian inventor of the slide guitar; and Jimi Hendrix, who, by lighting his guitar on fire, provided evidence of "the electricity of the music" and "combined it with a kind of ritual sacrifice." Finally, Brookes receives his finished guitar, and readers share in his joy as well as in the feeling of continuing a long tradition of music history. Agent, Henry Dunow. (May)
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The guitar is an icon of Americana, whether in the hands of cowboy singers, Hawaiian slide players, or heavy metal shredders. Tim Brookes's cultural history of the instrument is moved along by a personal narrative: a description of the six months in which a master luthier built Brookes his first custom guitar. It's a tad surprising that this very American story is told in a British accent (he's an ex-pat living in Vermont), but Brookes is the perfect reader for his own material--passionate, knowledgeable, and funny. There are some unnecessary tangents and tenuous arguments, but Brookes has a musician's ear for storytelling, a dry sense of humor, and some terrific turns of phrase. D.B. © AudioFile 2005, Portland, Maine-- Copyright © AudioFile, Portland, Maine
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