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indypoet "indypoet" RSS Feed (Indianapolis, IN USA)

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Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend
Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend
by Susan Orlean
Edition: Hardcover
344 used & new from $0.01

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A compelling book-length personal essay about a timeless hero, March 11, 2012
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I have long been a fan of Orlean's through her New Yorker features and full-length investigations, so I was glad when my advanced creative nonfiction course chose this as one of our class texts. What is so compelling here is not only the story, which Orlean makes interesting for readers even remotely interested in the Rin Tin Tin saga, but her form and her methods of sizing up a story of a colorful artifact of American culture. Her adaptation of the mosaic/collage form of short sections within larger chapters and a nonlinear narrative that never gets confusing or too formally self-aware make this a really quick and fun read that is very instructive for the feature writer. But mainly it's a book and a story you can lose yourself in, with a treatment and tone that show Orlean's wry but affectionate take on the world around her. Orlean does sometimes force a larger theme of Rin Tin Tin as a friend of the orphan or the friendless, but it never really gets in the way here of articulate investigative reporting with just enough of the author to make it human. I can't imagine that any reader would be disappointed!


Harbison: Chamber Music
Harbison: Chamber Music
Price: $14.28
31 used & new from $1.63

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Gorgeous Historic Recording of a Song Cycle, August 23, 2009
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This review is from: Harbison: Chamber Music (Audio CD)
Like the other reviewers here, I agree that the true contribution of this cd to the chamber music of the last 50 years is the song cycle of Elizabeth Bishop poems sung by Ms. Liebrson. I will long put those six tracks on repeat to encounter the lyricism of her voice and Mr. Harbison's cool and apt interpretations of Bishop's tone and imagery in some of her most memorable poems. The rest of the cd has some interesting compositional moments and counterpoint between text, sometimes spoken, and chamber musicians. But with all of the great pieces commenting on the Nativity story, I find "The Three Wise Men" somewhat tedious and too straightforward. Not only is the writing for brass chorale a little stale, but I'm not sure how this adds anything to or re-imagines this well-known narrative. Sadly, I find myself skipping those tracks when I listen to the cd as a whole. I think the concept and form of these pieces is truly imaginative, and I love intersections of classical music and other art forms, particularly poetry and painting. This will be an excellent resource for my literature classroom.


Candyfreak: A Journey through the Chocolate Underbelly of America
Candyfreak: A Journey through the Chocolate Underbelly of America
by Steve Almond
Edition: Paperback
Price: $15.71
226 used & new from $0.01

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fun read with moments of insight, July 4, 2005
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Candy fans and kids at heart, of course, will love this book, but it does have moments of insight about the struggles of independent companies to stay afloat and the author's own struggles to assuage depression about the direction of his life via his obsession with all things made of sugar and chocolate. These moments border on self-pity and sentimental, but they end up adding depth and pathos to an otherwise fairly light and giddy travel narrative. If you can get past the vernacular turns of phrase that this academic sometimes fumbles or feels awkward using, this is a very satisfying read.


Imaginative Writing: The Elements of Craft (Penguin Academics Series)
Imaginative Writing: The Elements of Craft (Penguin Academics Series)
by Janet Burroway
Edition: Paperback
94 used & new from $0.01

87 of 89 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fresh?, August 23, 2003
Not to start a war here, but Janet Burroway's book *is* fresh, and it's the best, most comprehensive multigenre text on the market. And it's affordable both for university students and writers who want to use it on their own. No, it's not full of inspirational gobbledygook and gimmicky suggestions to touch the heart of the writer. Instead, it's a very smart book that asks the writer to join in the long histories of the genres it discusses and offers the most succinctly articulated descriptions of techniques and approaches that will not only get a writer started writing but that will also help that writer understand what makes good writing good. The most innovative aspect of Burroway's book is that it takes creative writing as a whole and discusses those basic elements that make all writing good, from the need for concrete imagery that says something to the need for narrative to move and develop across a work. And it offers dozens and dozens of recent examples to illustrate its points. As an anthology alone, this book would be a good read. But Burroway's comments very aptly help a reader to understand what is working well in each of her excerpts. No, it doesn't offer up elaborate metaphors about bones or light or any inner writing child as a way to nurture the soul of the writer. But from my experience as a writing instructor, it's not the soul of the beginning writer that needs nurturing. This book understands quite well the need to nurture the mind of the writer first.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 8, 2014 5:21 PM PST


The Last Days of Haute Cuisine
The Last Days of Haute Cuisine
by Patric Kuh
Edition: Hardcover
108 used & new from $0.01

11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars In Defense of Criticism, May 20, 2001
Why should pointing out the very glaring editing errors, awkward syntax, and confusing organization in a book be seen by other readers as harsh and uncalled for? Like some other reviewers, I very much want to like "The Last Days of Haute Cuisine," but I find myself tripping over clumsy, wordy sentences far too often, causing me to re-read whole paragraphs and lose a sense of continuity as I read the book. Frankly, I was happy to have my frustrations in reading the book confirmed by other readers. (And I'm delighted that I can still do this via Amazon.com, which creates a community of writers that 5 years ago was simply not possible.) But that doesn't negate all of the moments in which I am dazzled by Kuh's nearly poetic depictions of restaurant life and his fascinating anecdotes about the history of the restaurant business. Since Kuh spent most of his formative years in Ireland and admits to his troubles with French when he worked in restaurants there, I'm suspecting that he didn't write this initially in French or another language. I'm suspecting that he wrote this more as a series of casual anecdotes that an editor should have done far more with in terms of organizing and streamlining the prose. My French is poor, and I am more than a little put off by the liberal sprinkling of French phrases that aren't followed by any sense of translation, literal or paraphrased. I get the sense that Kuh is committing just the sort of snobbery that he accuses restaurateurs of committing in American restaurants before 1960. In a sense, Kuh's use of insider language, vague references, and untranslated French creates the effect of a kind of literary "le standing," and as I read the book, I feel like a poor, aspiring gourmande sent back out onto the street where I can only coo and whimper at the fur-wrapped dignitaries dining on toast points slathered in caviar. I was hoping that Kuh would have opened the door to restaurant history a bit wider for more readers to enter.


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