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Myself When I Am Real: The Life and Music of Charles Mingus Paperback – International Edition, November 29, 2001
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"The definitive Mingus biography."--The Boston Book Review
"The best examination yet of an American original."--Washington Post
"The great bassist and composer's wild, turbulent life [is] wonderfully captured by Santoro....In sharp and lively prose, [he] digs deep into Mingus' past to sort out the strands of his life..."--Rolling Stone
"As Mingus's story unfolds, Santoro keeps the backbeat with perspectives on the socio-political churnings over those years, all of which affected Mingus's life and music....Santoro is on target, and his writing...soars."--The Boston Globe
"This is a biography as gargantuan in scope and ambition as Mingus himself, and highly recommended."--The Seattle Times
"Written with the elegant hand of an experienced journalist and the insight of a musician with first-rate ears, the book accomplishes the seemingly impossible task of casting a revealing light upon the inner life of its enigmatic subject."--Los Angeles Times
"Santoro brings his readers into the mind of this conflicted genius."--The Philadelphia Inquirer
From the Back Cover
"The best examination yet of an American Original" -The Washington Post
"The great bassist and composer's wild, turbulent life [is] wonderfully captured by Santoro." -Rolling Stone
"Santoro's unconventional but meticulously researched biography is deliciously entertaining examination not only of jazz's 'angry man' and his music, but of the times in which both flourished. Santoro casts Mingus as a central character in the restless drama of a postwar America wrestling to find its identity politically, socially, and artistically." -The Boston Globe
"Santoro brings his readers into the mind of this conflicted genius." -Philadelphia Inquirer
"Santoro's ambitious and engrossing biography has the vivd force of a bravura performance by one of its subject's classic Jazz Workship ensembles." -The San Francisco Chronicle
"The definitive Mingus biography." -The Boston Book Review
"Written with the elegant hand of an experienced journalist and the insight of a musician with first-rate ears, the book accomplishes the seemingly impossible task of casting a revealing light upon the inner life of its enigmatic subject." -Los Angeles Times
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But every positive evaluation of Mingus' giant-sized frame and protean talents invites its antithesis. Mingus was as much bully as leader, employing seductive charm when brute force was insufficient. He knew how to "lean" on people, imploring their loyalty and daring them to cross him. He was better at using flattery than receiving it, knowing that the weight of his image alone would secure the services of musicians capable of orchestrating and performing his music. And if gentle persuasion failed, his explosive temper and pummeling fists were always more than an idle threat.
The strength of Santoro's book is that, like every author's perfect "implied reader," he's capable of holding at once all of the foregoing contradictions, opposing viewpoints, and irreconcilable conflicts concerning MIngus. Above all, Santoro has a respect for the devalued word "genius." At a time when every parent's child is said to possess "genius," Santoro knows that the word goes beyond reductive synonyms and simple adjectives like "talent," "brilliance," "creativity," and "I.Q.": it's properly used only in describing those individuals whose passions and lives are inseparable. And beyond that is the requirement that the embodied passion of one gifted individual live in the lives of all those it has touched, whether during the subject's lifetime or afterwards.
If Santoro doesn't make the conclusive case for Mingus as genius, he uses Mingus to bring the word to life for us, making us all indebted to Mingus for awakening in us a higher consciousness of who we are and can be.
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If you are interested in the monthly payments Charles Mingus made on his car loan, this may be the book for you.Read more