Absolutely on Music—Conversations with Seiji Ozawa
Alfred A. Knopf
Best-selling Japanese novelist and nonfiction writer Murakami is also a music buff and a pal of legendary conductor Seiji Ozawa. He recorded a series of conversations with Ozawa, then set them down in book form (actually more in play form). The dialogue starts off with some rather esoteric musical disquisitions, but if you stick with it you’ll be glad you did. Especially good are the parts where Ozawa talks about his education and apprenticeship with guys like Leonard Bernstein, Herbert von Karajan, Eugene Ormandy and other baton-wielding musical titans. Ozawa comes off as a nice guy, modest and good humored.
– Bruce Collier
EDITOR’S PICKS – BOOKS OF THE YEAR
Pop Superstars on Audio, Narrating Their Stories. Bruce Springsteen’s Born to Run may be the man’s most intimate recording since 1982’s Nebraska. It’s also his longest, clocking in at around 18 hours, but you won’t notice as you take the long way home just to get to the end of another thrilling chapter. Phil Collins’ Not Dead Yet: The Memoir seems minor by comparison, but the ex-Genesis singer and drummer has retained the knack for compelling storytelling.
Can I also mention Amy Schumer’s The Girl With the Lower Back Tattoo, since she’s the reigning rock star of the comedy world?
The Promise Falls Tourist Development People Have Their Work Cut Out for Them. Linwood Barclay published two great works of fiction this year—Far from True and The Twenty-Three. The latter sort of ties everything up but leaves you wanting more. Thank God the author is so prolific.
That’s Why They Call Him the Master. Stephen King’s End of Watch, the superb finale to his Mr. Mercedes trilogy, took a preposterous premise and made it believable thanks in no small part to characters we’ve grown to love.
Series Highlights. Ace Atkins’ Robert B. Parker’s Slow Burn, the writer’s best take on Spenser yet, left the door wide open for some exciting follow-up developments. Michael Connelly’s LAPD detective Harry Bosch, on the heels of the excellent second season of the Amazon TV series, took on two pulse-pounding cases in The Wrong Side of Goodbye. And Lee Child’s latest Jack Reacher adventure, Night School, took readers back to our hero’s Army days.
Florida Writers Rule. Carl Hiaasen’s Razor Girl and Dave Barry’s Best. State. Ever. Both of ‘em hilarious and thought provoking.
Best Rediscovered Classic. W.C. Fields’ Fields for President, first published in 1939. A politically incorrect celebrity loudmouth in the Oval Office? Never gonna happen.
– Chris Manson
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