15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Chinese take-out, a bottle of gin, and thou: a superb biography of Billie Holiday,
This review is from: Billie Holiday: Wishing On The Moon (Paperback)
When writing about American jazz, Donald Clarke's prose style is often that of the hip insider: he captures Billie Holiday's world in a way no other biography or study of the singer has managed to do. This is neither a straightforward narrative or a cautionary tale, and readers attempting to breeze through its pages in order to pick off the highlights may well be thrown by Clarke's casual story telling, which is given to warm-hearted floating asides, including descriptions of sessions and performances, and analysis of individual records, all of it interspersed with vivid and often lengthy comments from his interviewees. Clarke cares deeply for this woman, his patience seems inexhaustible, and his anger at the racism and stupidity of the times can make a page tremble without disrupting the cool assurance of his methods, but he also has a sense of humor in all this: you have to love a biography that gives the last word to pianist Jimmy Rowles, whose affectionate two page monologue ends with Billie tucked into bed with Chinese take-out and a bottle of gin for company.