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Elizabeth Boyd "The Literary Eagle" RSS Feed (Cambridge, Massachusetts United States)

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Bruce Springsteen and the Promise of Rock 'n' Roll
Bruce Springsteen and the Promise of Rock 'n' Roll
by Marc Dolan
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $20.57
89 used & new from $0.01

20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Truly Brilliant Biography of Springsteen and Study of American Culture, June 30, 2012
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This stunning, beautifully written biography was just named by the New York Journal of Books as one of a handful of "Outstanding Books that Best Represents America." I cannot do better than this review of it by Amanda Mark, a leading expert on American music and culture:

To those unfamiliar with the process of becoming a musical god (little g), it can sometimes seem like the feat was achieved overnight. Unless you are lucky enough to get in early and crowd the local dive bar at 2:30 A.M. every other Friday to catch the latest "It" band/singer, new superstars seem to Poof! into existence from zero to hero in less time than it takes to get to the bridge of a song.

Bruce Springsteen and the Promise of Rock 'n' Roll is not a story of an instant celebrity. This fame and fortune was earned through a lot of blue-collar hard work and old-school American determination.

For those of us who grew up in the eighties, Bruce Springsteen was ubiquitous. He was The Boss. He was Born in the USA. But he didn't start at the top of the pack. It took practice and grit for Springsteen to pull himself out of Asbury Park, New Jersey.

That's what this story is about.

An obvious fan (who would choose to write almost 600 pages about someone they disliked?), Marc Dolan chronicles Springsteen's journey starting at the very beginning of The Boss's musical life, chronicling the purchase of his first instrument, an old second hand guitar. This is the same guitar that Springsteen used to teach himself "Twist and Shout."

But Mr. Dolan's book does not focus exclusively on Bruce Springsteen. Musicians are often reflections of the society in which they live and work. It is just as important to understand the history of the formative era in order to better grasp how the artist found his musical voice. This book also tells the story of blue collar America in the 1960s.

Musically, the 1960s were a study in dichotomy. On one hand, singer/songwriters like Joni Mitchell or Bob Dylan were writing politically conscious songs. On the other, the British Invasion was all about having fun and rebelling through rock.

Somehow Springsteen managed to walk in both worlds. From the beginning, The Boss was never really interested in a solo career. He wanted to front a band of strong musicians, the more the merrier. Yet as he matured as a musician and songwriter, his set lists increasingly featured original material. Dylan especially was a powerful influence.

Marc Dolan's writing is descriptive, but not overly flowery or fan boy-ish. He is very adept at pulling the reader into his book and telling an interesting story--even if The Boss is not a mainstay on one's iPod.

In today's entertainment world, it is so hard to find acts that live up to all the overblown hype. Like The Boss himself, Bruce Springsteen and the Promise of Rock 'n' Roll more than delivers.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 8, 2013 2:58 PM PST


The Chaneysville Incident
The Chaneysville Incident
by David Bradley
Edition: Paperback
Price: $11.63
160 used & new from $0.01

33 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Neglected Masterpiece, September 24, 2010
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As we approach the thirtieth anniversary of David Bradley's masterpiece it is odd that this novel is not better known. I'm a professor at a large midwestern state university and teach it regularly, and all of my colleagues who have read it share my admiration of it. Frankly, I consider _The Chaneysville Incident_ to be one of the nine or ten greatest American novels of the twentieth century, and place it on a level with Faulkner's _Absalom, Absalom!_, Ellison's _Invisible Man_, and Morrison's _Beloved_. It is also, for the general reader, simply a stunning narrative, one that is impossible to put down and so powerful that it will leave you shaking. It's not unusual in literary history for masterpieces to fall through the cracks for long periods of time. Whitman sold 36 copies of the first edition of _Leaves of Grass_; Melville's _Moby-Dick_ languished in obscurity for over half a century; and Zora Neale Hurston would still be unknown if Alice Walker hadn't discovered her and_Their Eyes Were Watching God_. But it is still amazing to me that a book as manifestly spectacular and important as _The Chaneysville Incident_ is not better known. By the way, my students are always bowled over by it and every time I teach it I see more and more in it. Do yourself a big favor--buy it, read it, and you can thank me for it later.


The blackbird: Some observations on Melville's career and the place of The confidence-man within it
The blackbird: Some observations on Melville's career and the place of The confidence-man within it
by Robert Paul Lamb
Edition: Unknown Binding

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sheer Genius, January 10, 2006
The finest prose piece in the Engish language.


Hemingway: The Final Years
Hemingway: The Final Years
by Michael S. Reynolds
Edition: Paperback
Price: $21.55
74 used & new from $1.41

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Worthy Finale for a Scholarly Giant, July 9, 2001
There is little I can add to the above reviews. Long before this final volume of Michael Reynolds' masterpiece came out, he had already taken his place as our finest Hemingway scholar and one of the five or six greatest literary biographers of our time. This last volume merely confirms his position. Tragically, he succumbed to cancer shortly after this book appeared, but he left us a daunting legacy as a scholar. I doubt anyone ever understood the infinitely complex Hemingway as well as Professor Reynolds did. It is a cause for celebration when a major writer and a great biographer come together; these volumes will never grow old.


Maupassant and the American Short Story: The Influence of Form at the Turn of the Century
Maupassant and the American Short Story: The Influence of Form at the Turn of the Century
by Richard Fusco
Edition: Hardcover
23 used & new from $44.65

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Story Aesthetics of Maupassant, July 3, 2001
This is a superb scholarly analysis of the aesthetics of one of the most influential storywriters in world literature. The book is scholarly but, unlike so much of what passes for scholarship today, readable, original, and illuminating. With great thoughtfulness and in lucid prose, the author gets to the heart of Maupassant's story structures, demonstrating their variousness and placing them in the context of Maupassant's career. The author also makes a convincing case for Maupassant's influence on the American short story, beyond the usual cliches about O Henry's misappropriation of Maupassant's methods and the misunderstandings about the "Maupassant surprise ending" (which was an atypical technique and one that was more complex than other critics have understood). For anyone interested in the short story, or in first-rate literary criticism, this is a book worth reading.


Violin Concertos 3 & 5
Violin Concertos 3 & 5
18 used & new from $0.45

29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lin Sparkles, September 10, 2000
This review is from: Violin Concertos 3 & 5 (Audio CD)
I purchased this CD after reading Ted Libbey's glowing review, and because, with due reverence for such deities as Heifetz, Perlman, Laredo, and Mutter, I have become enamored, over the past few years, with Lin's subtle virtuosity. He plays in such a way as to focus all of one's attention on the piece, rather than on the performer, and his playing is so deft and deeply insightful that one almost takes his grace and power for granted. This CD shows these qualities at their best, and I have found myself continually going back to it and playing it again and again. It has become an indispensible member of my CD collection, and I cannot believe anyone who loves either Mozart or the violin can afford to be without it. It's really that wonderful. This is the first time I have felt compelled to write a review, but this CD demands it.


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