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Books

On Bruce Springsteen's Music in Film and TV

Bruce Springsteen's music in film and television captured author Caroline Madden's imagination. She discuses her book, Springsteen as Soundtrack, and other things Springsteen in this interview.

Recent
Books

Five Women Who Fought the Patriarchy

Whether one chooses to read Square Haunting for the sketches of the five fascinating women, or to understand how misogyny and patriarchy constricted intellectual and public life in the period, Francesca Wade's book is a superb achievement.

Television

Why I Did Not Watch 'Hamilton' on Disney+

Just as Disney's Frozen appeared to deliver a message of 21st century girl power, Hamilton hypnotizes audiences with its rhyming hymn to American exceptionalism.

Books

'No Modernism Without Lesbians'

Philosopher and historian Diana Souhami's No Modernism Without Lesbians is a work of impeccable scholarship and a vibrant narrative about the essential and lasting philanthropy and patronage of the Arts by four remarkable lesbians.

Books

Lerone Bennett, Jr. Wrote Black History into Modern America at Ebony Magazine

E. James West's new book explores Lerone Bennett, Jr.'s impact as a popular Black historian. It's a gateway to a body of work that still speaks to Black rage, struggle and hope, yesterday and today.

Books

The Rules Don't Apply to These Nonconformist Novelists

Ian Haydn Smith's succinct biographies in Cult Writers: 50 Nonconformist Novelists You Need to Know entice even seasoned bibliophiles.

Books

The Kinks and Their Bad-Mannered English Decency

Mark Doyles biography of the Kinks might complement a seminar in British culture. Its tone and research prove its intent to articulate social critique through music for the masses.

Books

'Chasing Chopin' from the Concert Hall to the Jazz Club

Annik LaFarge's Chasing Chopin is a slim book but it stands out because it's a hybrid work—biography and journalism—with utterly lovely, vivid descriptions of Chopin's music.

Film

'Camille Claudel' Features an Electrifying Performance by Isabelle Adjani

Through a brazen performance, one to obliterate all performances that came before, Isabelle Adjani gives her Claudel a true body in which to house all her drive and desire in Bruno Nuytten's Camille Claudel.

Film

Bhogwan Singh: Hollywood's Longest-Serving 'Turban Wrapper'

Bhogwan Singh performed with snakes for a beach sideshow in Los Angeles before he got his chance with Universal Studios to fix Rudolf Valentino's turban.

Books

'Indian Sun: The Life and Music of Ravi Shankar' (excerpt)

Ravi Shankar was bemused by the Beatles, Rolling Stones, the Yardbirds and other bands using the sitar in rock music. Enjoy this excerpt from biography Indian Sun, by Oliver Craske (who worked with Shankar on his 1997 autobiography), courtesy of Hachette Books.

Oliver Craske
Books

When You Discover Your Father Had an Affair with Frida Kahlo...

The story of one of Frida Kahlo's short affairs, captured in Marc Petitjean's excellent book, The Heart, offers an inspired glimpse into the surreal Parisian art scene of 1939.

Books

Blues Everywhere She Goes: Odetta

Ian Zack's biography gives the often-overlooked Odetta a chance to keeping shining that little light of hers.

Books

Optimism and the Inquisition: The Extraordinary Life of Girolamo Cardano

Polymath Girolamo Cardano was beaten, imprisoned, survived a plague, and was banned by the church. Yet his work in medicine, engineering, mathematics and more is present in our lives today.

Books

Ted Templeman Biography Casts a Wide, Deep Net

Producer Ted Templeman and biographer Greg Renoff successfully capture a wide-ranging career in Ted Templeman: A Platinum Producer's Life in Music.

Books

On the Socially Conscious Filmmaker, Sidney Lumet

Maura Spiegel's biography provides a thorough and compelling look at the life and films of the progressive New York icon filmmaker, Sidney Lumet.

Books

The Rolling Stones Go to College

The Cambridge Companion to the Rolling Stones, the first book of academic essays about the band, considers not only what the band accomplished, but why, 60 years since they formed, the Rolling Stones still matter.

Books

The Curmudgeonly King of Noir Chronicled in 'Notes From the Velvet Underground: The Life of Lou Reed'

Howard Sounes' Notes From the Velvet Underground is a beautifully considered book, with enough detail about the life and career of Lou Reed for the geeks, enough context for the historians, and just enough juicy stuff for everyone else.

Books

Chavisa Woods: 100 Times (A Memoir of Sexism)

Chavis Woods' 100 Times (A Memoir of Sexism) is the ideal tool for inciting the collective rage needed to subvert gender-based harassment and violence.

Film

Ludicrous Irony in Scorsese's 'The Irishman'

With its big performances and stellar script, The Irishman is the glorious culmination of Scorsese's lifelong fascination with mobsters and their built-in self-destruction.

Books

Irving Berlin: New York Genius (By the Book)

Exploring the interplay of Irving Berlin's life with the life of New York City, noted biographer James Kaplan offers a visceral narrative of Berlin as self-made man and witty, wily, tough Jewish immigrant. Enjoy this excerpt of Kaplan's book, Irving Berlin: New York Genius.

James Kaplan
Film

Cynthia Erivo's Performance Carries Kasi Lemmons' 'Harriet'

Cynthia Erivo's transcendent turn as Union spy, escaped slave, and Underground Railroad conductor Harriet Tubman shines through Kasi Lemmons' heroic but oversimplified biopic, Harriet.

Film

Rupert Goold's 'Judy' and the Queer-ing of the Biopic

Recent queer icon films Judy, Bohemian Rhapsody and Rocketman tease their key audience while keeping one foot solidly in straight land. Is this progress?

Film

Eddie Murphy Returns to Form (and Fun) in 'Dolemite Is My Name'

Director Craig Brewer helms his breezy tribute to Rudy Ray Moore, the '70s Blaxploitation icon who influenced an entire generation of young Black performers, with Dolemite Is My Name.

Books

William S. Burroughs and the Cult of Rock 'n' Roll

Critic Casey Rae depicts William S. Burroughs as a wise sage whom the wild creatives seek out for his wisdom... well, almost.

Books

Joanna Russ, the First Minister of Feminist Science Fiction

Gwyneth Jones's masterly account of the life and times of Joanna Russ serves as a timely reminder of the strides made in visibility and diversity in science fiction literature —and the distance still left to traverse.

Film

'Official Secrets' Is a Devastating Reminder of the Power of Deception

Gavin Hood's thriller about British whistleblower Katharine Gun's attempt to stop the Iraq War, Official Secrets, is nothing special artistically, but its intense relevance burns the screen.

Books

A Biography Worthy of 'Hiroshima' Author John Hersey

John Hersey covered Hiroshima and America's race riots with empathy, courage, and profound humility. Jeremy Treglown's biography, Mr. Straight Arrow, should bring a new generation of readers to Hersey's work.

Film

Chanya Button's 'Vita & Virginia' Imprisons and Cages Virginia Woolf

Looking upon Virginia Woolf with an immature and childish creative lust, writer/director Chanya Button and co-writer Eileen Atkins reduce her to a bland literary figure in Vita & Virginia, leaving us to remember the contrarian truth.

Books

Could Marion Turner's Book on Chaucer Alter Future Scholarly Work?

From Marion Turner's work, Chaucer: A European Life, Chaucer emerges as a man who lived through intrigue, rebellions, a peasant's rising, and above all, a determination to translate.

Books

When Harper Lee Came up Short: 'Furious Hours'

Casey Cep traces Harper Lee's winding road to defeat in Furious Hours.

Film

Lanthimos' 'The Favourite' Plays with History and Our Emotional Impulsivity

Stylistically risqué, The Favourite relates to a certain type of subversive British cinema from filmmakers such as Peter Greenaway, although it is not an imitation.

Books

On Warren Zevon, the "Kurt Vonnegut of Rock Music"

Author C. M. Kushins talks with PopMatters about the complicated legacy of Warren Zevon, from crack-up to recovery and back again, and his research for Nothing's Bad Luck: The Lives of Warren Zevon.

Books

'Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom' Is as Monumental as the Man It Chronicles

Noted historian David W. Blight offers readers the fullest portrait of Frederick Douglass yet in this "biography of a voice".

Books

'All the Lives We Ever Lived' Finds Comfort in Mourning with Virginia Woolf

These days, when personal grief becomes a public performance on social media, it's heartening to have a book such as Katharine Smyth's All the Lives We Ever Lived, wherein deep introspection is given space and literature provides both solace and inspiration.

Books

'The Song Is You' Is the Sinatra Biography That’s Not a Biography

The revised and expanded version of Will Friedwald's acclaimed Sinatra book, The Song Is You, is about the music and nothing but the music.

Books

Edward Gorey, Agent of Chaos

Two recent books on screenwriter, illustrator and author Edward Gorey, Born to Be Posthumous and Gorey's Worlds, are engaging works that show that Gorey's mystique remains safely impenetrable.


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