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On Celestial Music: And Other Adventures in Listening Paperback – March 21, 2012

3.8 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Praise for The Four Fingers of Death

"Moody's powers of invention, his ease in his own prose, his ability to develop interesting characters-in short, his enormous gifts as a writer-are on full display here."―Clancy Martin, New York Times Book Review

"[Moody's] energy and sheer inventiveness make The Four Fingers of Death an original and exhilarating read."―Jane Ciabattari, NPR.com

"Comic, grim, tender and masterful....Highlight[s] Moody's gift for being as thoughtful as he is entertaining."―Bloomberg

"The book is entertaining and often poignant, probing the limits of technology, consciousness, and language in the face of grief."―The New Yorker

About the Author

Rick Moody is the author of nine books. He lives with his family in Brooklyn, NY.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Back Bay Books; 1 edition (March 21, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 031610521X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316105217
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.2 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,530,736 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
It is not easy to write about music. I think everyone has experienced that moment when a song sets off some kind of emotion that you just can't find the words to describe. As a composer, I have always struggled with finding the words to describe my pieces. In my mind, I know what the piece is doing, but I am of the belief that it is much easier to music about music than write about it.

Author and musician Rick Moody has tackled the unenviable task of writing about music for many years. In this book, he compiles a varied collection of essays and thoughts that shed some light on his views of our world of music. Of particular note is his opening essay "Against Cool" in which he chronicles the word's journey from truly meaning cool to becoming another way to say "neat". He begins with the origin of the "cool" bluesy jazz of Miles Davis. He argues that the commercialization and over exposure of the cool (think Kool-Aid or Kool Cigarettes) diminished the value of the word.

In another well written section, Moody attempts to grasp what the music of heaven will sound like. To me, this was the most effective section. Moody somehow manages to relay his emotional connection/response to certain pieces and artists (Simon and Garfunkel, Arvo Part, etc.). Through these descriptions and personal recollections, Moody makes an interesting point about the sounds of the afterlife, and admits his fears of nonbeing.

Other sections of this book fail live up to the level of the better written ones. Like an album of music, certain essays really worked while others just fell flat. Despite Moody's fantastic writing, some of his pieces simply failed to come to any important point. With that in mind, this book is well worth reading for the many gems it contains. Anyone who has had a connection to music will find meaning in Moody's writing and gain a larger knowledge of the music that inhabits our world.
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Format: Paperback
In the literary genre of the essay, I can think of no better practitioner than the late Stephen Jay Gould, who combined effortlessly his encyclopedic knowledge of and exuberant passion for evolutionary biology with those he had in classical music, history, fine art and baseball. Who else but Gould could write a provocative scientific paper with his friend and colleague evolutionary geneticist Richard Lewontin entitled "The Spandrels of San Marco", evoking these cathedral supports as a metaphor in a most memorable appeal to their fellow biologists to think more critically about the origins and subsequent usage of traits by organisms? Who else but Gould could recollect singing the Berlioz Requiem with the Boston Symphony at Tanglewood as part of an opening prelude for a most erudite discussion on the evolution of the mammalian ear in his essay "An Earful of Jaw" (published originally in Natural History magazine and later republished in the essay collection entitled "Eight Little Piggies: Reflections in Natural History")? Gould wrote his essays as his primary means of educating the public on the scientific truth of biological evolution in brisk, vigorous prose replete with ample instances of wit and graceful style, transferring his knowledge and enthusiasm into exquisite gems of literary art. Like Gould, Rick Moody has an inordinate fondness and passion for music, which he conveys in his first collection of essays, "On Celestial Music And Other Adventures in Listening", but readers may find Moody's thoughts not nearly as edifying as Gould's were, and frankly, at times, even bewildering.

Moody's debut essay collection is a smorgasbord of literary treats, with some worthy of comparison with Gould's best.
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Format: Paperback
I struggled with this book off and on, due mainly to the nature of the author's tone. I'm not a big fan of the increasingly popular condescending, and pretentious "I'm so much cooler than you" hipster language. Nevertheless, the book itself is very entertaining. Although I don't agree 100 percent with Moody's outlook on the music industry, he's not without his valid points. His "Drummers of Europe" rant is hilarious and his chapter on the Brooklyn Record Club is entertaining. Although he takes aim at a couple of bands that I happen to enjoy (Such as Tool), he speaks favorably on bands such as The Who and Sonic Youth. We can't all agree on what we like to listen to, so I'll leave it at that. I purchased this book at the author's reading and book signing, and he was a very nice guy. If that encourages you more to pick up the book, then great!
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