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All reviews - Books (80) - Music (40)

Little Women review

Posted : 5 years, 6 months ago on 9 February 2012 03:07 (A review of Little Women)

A mother and her four daughters make due while their father is off fighting the Civil War. This book has a level of innocence that is rare in literature. In fact, this book doesn't have a mean bone in its body. This book is a tea cozy. This book is peach pie at your grandmother's house.


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Llibre Vermell - Music from the Red Book of Montserrat review

Posted : 5 years, 6 months ago on 9 February 2012 02:38 (A review of Llibre Vermell - Music from the Red Book of Montserrat)

Would you like to cram the audio equivalent of an entire Gothic cathedral into your stereo or iPod? This album will get you very close. These haunting and gorgeous songs to the Virgin Mary are from the Red Book of Montserrat, a 14th century manuscript. Sarband's performance of these pieces breathe them into vibrant life. Beautiful stuff.



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The story of a bad boy, review

Posted : 5 years, 6 months ago on 9 February 2012 02:19 (A review of The story of a bad boy,)

A bit like a less sophisticated, New England-version of Tom Sawyer, this autobiographical novel has fallen into relative obscurity. It concerns a mischievous boy who is sent to live with his grandfather in a quirky sea-side town, where he proceeds to get into a number of misadventures with friends and cohorts. There are some splendid supporting characters: Sailor Ben and his nautically-flavored cottage, the spinster Miss Abigail with her addiction to "hot drops", and the main character's nemesis, the dastardly red-head Conway. It's a fast and easy read, and quite entertaining.


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Fables (Everyman's Library Children's Classics) review

Posted : 5 years, 6 months ago on 9 February 2012 01:37 (A review of Fables (Everyman's Library Children's Classics))

More than just a children's book. If you're considering a career in politics, suffering the trials and tribulations of a hostile workplace, or simply being used as a doormat on a regular basis, this book should help. Sure, it's not exactly The Art of War, but its lessons on human nature are just as cogent today as they were in the 6th century BC. This is the 1692 edition, so the English is archaic, but one gets used to it. Also, the illustrations by Stephen Gooden are pretty awesome.


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The Oresteia: Agamemnon; The Libation Bearers; The Eumenides review

Posted : 5 years, 6 months ago on 9 February 2012 01:23 (A review of The Oresteia: Agamemnon; The Libation Bearers; The Eumenides)

A classic trilogy of plays featuring highly-dysfunctional family dynamics, murder, wailing, supernatural meddling, and a heap-load of vengeance. "Crush their skulls! Kill! Kill!" It's violent, but it's literature-- and it goes well with death metal. What more could you ask for?


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Górecki: Symphony No. 3 ("Symphony of Sorrowful Songs"); Three Olden Style Pieces review

Posted : 5 years, 6 months ago on 9 February 2012 12:57 (A review of Górecki: Symphony No. 3 ("Symphony of Sorrowful Songs"); Three Olden Style Pieces)

Everyone seems particularly (and somewhat inexplicably) partial to the Nonesuch version with Dawn Upshaw, but this version performed by a Polish singer & a Polish orchestra not only has a better arrangement, it has all the depth of emotion this incredible piece deserves. The 2nd movement, the prayer of Wanda Blazusiakowna, is one of the most beautiful things ever put to music.


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Crumb review

Posted : 5 years, 6 months ago on 9 February 2012 12:31 (A review of Crumb)

Some great ragtime tunes on here, performed by two adept musicians, David Boeddinghaus (piano) and Craig Ventresco (guitar). It makes me think of dusty old bar rooms with creaky wooden floors and train hopping hobos with interesting tales to tell.
Particularly good songs: "Pass The Jug" - a perfect song for sodden Depression-era winos
"Last Kind Word Blues" - I don't know where they found this scratchy old recording, but it's a gem.


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The Warner Collection, Vol. 1: Her Bright Smile Haunts Me Still review

Posted : 5 years, 6 months ago on 9 February 2012 11:55 (A review of The Warner Collection, Vol. 1: Her Bright Smile Haunts Me Still)

For over 2 decades musicologists Anne and Frank Warner traveled the back roads of America and made field recordings of local folk songs. They found everything from old English & Irish ballads, to sea chanteys, to Appalachian ditties and creepy shivery songs. Some of these offerings are a bit out of tune and the recordings are scratchy, but show-stopping gems like "Skin and Bones" make it worth the trouble.


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The Annotated Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions review

Posted : 5 years, 6 months ago on 9 February 2012 11:17 (A review of The Annotated Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions)

An unassuming square (literally) gets his orderly universe seriously shaken up by a visitor from a higher dimension, a mysterious sphere. From there he goes on mind-bending jaunts to a number of other dimensions and strange realities. This book provides plenty of interesting mathematical concepts to chew on, but the author also manages to slip in some very nimble jabs at Victorian culture. The annotated version is a bit long-winded at times, but oh-so-fun! Definitely the edition to get.


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The Golden Ass review

Posted : 5 years, 6 months ago on 9 February 2012 09:39 (A review of The Golden Ass)

A novel written in Roman times that also happens to be a darn good read? That would be this one.

Young Lucius takes a trip to Thessaly and runs afoul of a cranky priestess, who transforms him into a donkey. That's the main story, but this novel is seasoned with myriad smaller tales of sorcery, love, & murder, including a spell-binding rendition of Cupid & Psyche. Robert Graves' splendid translation brings this tale brilliantly to life; one can imagine Lucius's misadventures in vivid detail and it's easy to forget you're reading something that was written way back in the 2nd Century AD.


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