Friday, October 31, 2014

On My Radar:

Brief Encounters: Conversations, Magic Moments, and Assorted Hijinks
Dick Cavett
Henry Holt and Co.
Hardcover

From the publisher's website:

Dick Cavett is back, sharing his reflections and reminiscences about Hollywood legends, American cultural icons, and the absurdities of everyday life.

In Brief Encounters, the legendary talk show host Dick Cavett introduces us to the fascinating characters who have crossed his path, from James Gandolfini and John Lennon to Mel Brooks and Nora Ephron, enhancing our appreciation of their talent, their personalities, and their place in the pantheon. We tag along as Cavett spends an afternoon with Stan Laurel at his modest apartment in Los Angeles, spars with Muhammad Ali at his training camp, and comes to know a young Steve Jobs—who woos him to be Apple’s first celebrity pitchman. He also offers piquant commentary on contemporary politics, the indignities of travel, the nature of comedy writing, and the utter improbability of being alive at all.

On his talk show, Cavett welcomed the leading figures from film, music, theater, literature, comedy, and politics, and engaged them in conversation that made viewers feel that the discussion was taking place in their own living rooms. Jimmy Fallon, the host of The Tonight Show, has called him "a legend and an inspiration" and has written a foreword that makes clear the debt that today’s talk show hosts owe to Dick Cavett.


To spend a few minutes, or an hour, or even a whole evening with Dick Cavett is an experience not to be missed, and now there’s no reason to deny yourself. Enjoy the conversation!



Thursday, October 30, 2014

On My Radar:

Billy Joel
Fred Schruers
Crown Archetype
Hardcover

From the publisher's website:

In Billy Joel, acclaimed music journalist Fred Schruers draws upon more than one hundred hours of exclusive interviews with Joel to present an unprecedented look at the life, career, and legacy of the pint-sized kid from Long Island who became a rock icon.

Exhibiting unparalleled intimate knowledge, Schruers chronicles Joel’s rise to the top of the charts, from his working-class origins in Levittown and early days spent in boxing rings and sweaty clubs to his monumental success in the seventies and eighties. He also explores Joel’s creative transformation in the nineties, his dream performance with Paul McCartney at Shea Stadium in 2008, and beyond.

Along the way, Schruers reveals the stories behind all the key events and relationships—including Joel’s high-profile marriages and legal battles—that defined his path to stardom and inspired his signature songs, such as “Piano Man,” “Scenes from an Italian Restaurant,” “New York State of Mind,” and “She’s Always a Woman.” Throughout, he captures the spirit of a restless artist determined to break through by sharing, in his deeply personal lyrics, the dreams and heartbreaks of suburban American life.


Comprehensive, vibrantly written, and filled with Joel’s memories and reflections—as well as those of the family, friends, and band members who have formed his inner circle, including Christie Brinkley, Alexa Ray Joel, Jon Small, and Steve Cohen—this is the definitive account of a beloved rock star’s epic American journey.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

What I'm Reading Now:

It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown: The Making of a Television Classic
Lee Mendelson with reminiscences by Bill Melendez
Dey Street Books
Hardcover

From the publisher's website:

Now available in a hardcover edition, the lushly illustrated It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown: The Making of a Tradition, stars Charles M. Schulz’s beloved Peanuts gang, and features hundreds of full-color images as well as enlightening anecdotes that take you behind-the-scenes of how the charming Halloween special was created.

Trick-or-treating has never been more fun—with Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Lucy, Sally, Schroeder, Linus, and, of course, the Great Pumpkin. Since its first airing more than forty years ago, It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown has become a beloved perennial classic synonymous with Halloween.

Illustrated with more than 250 full-color images, this beautiful edition celebrates the timeless television classic with:

The full script illustrated with screen art from the show

Photographs, storyboard excerpts, and production materials

Reminiscences and insider tidbits from executive producer Lee Mendelson and animator, the late Bill Melendez

Interviews with the original child actors who were the voices of the Peanuts gang


And much more!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Reading Now:

Jerry Lee Lewis: His Own Story
Rick Bragg
Harper Books
Hardcover

From the publisher's website:

The greatest Southern storyteller of our time, New York Times bestselling author Rick Bragg, tracks down the greatest rock and roller of all time, Jerry Lee Lewis—and gets his own story, from the source, for the very first time.

A monumental figure on the American landscape, Jerry Lee Lewis spent his childhood raising hell in Ferriday, Louisiana, and Natchez, Mississippi; galvanized the world with hit records like “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On” and “Great Balls of Fire,” that gave rock and roll its devil’s edge; caused riots and boycotts with his incendiary performances; nearly scuttled his career by marrying his thirteen-year-old second cousin—his third wife of seven; ran a decades-long marathon of drugs, drinking, and women; nearly met his maker, twice; suffered the deaths of two sons and two wives, and the indignity of an IRS raid that left him with nothing but the broken-down piano he started with; performed with everyone from Elvis Presley to Keith Richards to Bruce Springsteen to Kid Rock—and survived it all to be hailed as “one of the most creative and important figures in American popular culture and a paradigm of the Southern experience.”

Jerry Lee Lewis: His Own Story is the Killer’s life as he lived it, and as he shared it over two years with our greatest bard of Southern life: Rick Bragg. Rich with Lewis’s own words, framed by Bragg’s richly atmospheric narrative, , this is the last great untold rock-and-roll story, come to life on the page.

For nearly sixty years, Jerry Lee Lewis has been a monumental figure in American life. The wildest and most dangerous of the early rock and rollers, he electrified the world with hit records such as “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On,” “Great Balls of Fire,” and “Breathless.” His music was raucous, exuberant, slyly sexual; his wailing vocals were grounded by the locomotive force of his pumping piano. But his persona and performing style were what changed the world: whipping his long hair back, he would pound the keyboard like a coal-fired steam engine, then kick back the bench, climb atop the piano, and work the audience like the Pentecostal preacher he almost became. Poised to steal the crown from Elvis Presley, he seemed unstoppable—until news of his marriage to his thirteen-year-old cousin broke during his first British tour, nearly ending his career.

Now, for the first time, Lewis’s story is told in full, as he shared it over two years with Pulitzer Prize–winning writer Rick Bragg. In a narrative rich with atmosphere and anecdote, we watch Jerry Lee emerge from the fields and levees of Depression-era Louisiana, blazing a path across Bible colleges and nightclubs en route to international fame. He shared bills with Johnny Cash and Chuck Berry, toured Australia with Buddy Holly and Paul Anka, and went Cadillac for Cadillac with Elvis on the streets of Memphis—even as both of them struggled with the conflict between their faith and their music. After a decade in the wilderness, he returned as the biggest star in country music, but his victory lap became a marathon of excess, a time of guns and pills and Calvert Extra. He crashed Rolls-Royces and Lincolns, including one he drove into the gates of Graceland; suffered the deaths of wives and loved ones; and nearly met his maker twice himself. Yet after six marriages, a long spell without a recording contract, and a bruising battle with the IRS, he overcame a crippling addiction, remarried, and scored his biggest hit records since the 1970s. Today, as he approaches his eightieth year, he continues to electrify audiences around the world.


The story of Jerry Lee Lewis has inspired songs and articles, books and films, but in these pages Rick Bragg restores a human complexity missing from other accounts. The result is a story of fire and faith and resilience, informed by Rick Bragg’s deep understanding of the American spirit, and rich with Jerry Lee’s own unforgettable voice.




Saturday, October 25, 2014

On My Radar:

Food: A Love Story
Jim Gaffigan
Crown Archetype
Hardcover

From the publisher's website:

“What are my qualifications to write this book? None really. So why should you read it? Here’s why: I’m a little fat. If a thin guy were to write about a love of food and eating I’d highly recommend that you do not read his book.” 


Bacon. McDonalds. Cinnabon. Hot Pockets. Kale. Stand-up comedian and author Jim Gaffigan has made his career rhapsodizing over the most treasured dishes of the American diet (“choking on bacon is like getting murdered by your lover”) and decrying the worst offenders (“kale is the early morning of foods”). Fans flocked to his New York Times bestselling book Dad is Fat to hear him riff on fatherhood but now, in his second book, he will give them what they really crave—hundreds of pages of his thoughts on all things culinary(ish). Insights such as: why he believes coconut water was invented to get people to stop drinking coconut water, why pretzel bread is #3 on his most important inventions of humankind (behind the wheel and the computer), and the answer to the age-old question “which animal is more delicious: the pig, the cow, or the bacon cheeseburger?

Friday, October 24, 2014

Available Now:

This is the Story of a Happy Marriage
Ann Patchett
Harper Perennial
Trade Paperback

From the publisher's website:

Blending literature and memoir, Ann Patchett, author of State of  Wonder, Run, and Bel Canto, examines her deepest commitments—to writing, family, friends, dogs, books, and her husband—creating a resonant portrait of a life in This is the Story of a Happy Marriage.

This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage takes us into the very real world of Ann Patchett’s life. Stretching from her childhood to the present day, from a disastrous early marriage to a later happy one, it covers a multitude of topics, including relationships with family and friends, and charts the hard work and joy of writing, and the unexpected thrill of opening a bookstore.


As she shares stories of the people, places, ideals, and art to which she has remained indelibly committed, Ann Patchett brings into focus the large experiences and small moments that have shaped her as a daughter, wife, and writer.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

In My TBR Stack:

Nashville Songwriter: The Inside Stories Behind Country Music's Greatest Hits
Jake Brown
BenBella Books
Trade Paperback

From the publisher's website:

Fans of American country music love the personal, relatable stories artists share through their songs. For a country music enthusiast, singing along with a favorite track is more than just jamming to a catchy tune – it’s a way of connecting with the singer’s journey.
Nashville Songwriter gives readers the first completely authorized collection of the true stories that inspired hits by the biggest multi-platinum country superstars of the last half-century – recounted by the songwriters themselves. Award-winning music biographer Jake Brown gives readers an unprecedented, intimate glimpse inside the world of country music songwriting.
Featuring exclusive commentary from country superstars and chapter-length interviews with today’s biggest hit-writers on Music Row, this book chronicles the stories behind smash hits such as:
  • Willie Nelson’s “Always on My Mind”
  • Tim McGraw’s “Live Like You Were Dying,” “Southern Voice,” and “Real Good Man”
  • George Jones’s “Tennessee Whiskey”
  • Carrie Underwood’s “Jesus Take the Wheel,” and “Cowboy Cassanova”
  • Brooks & Dunn’s “Ain’t Nothin’ Bout You”
  • Lady Antebellum’s “We Owned the Night” and “Just a Kiss”
  • Brad Paisley’s “Mud on the Tires,” “We Danced,” and “I’m Still a Guy”
  • Luke Bryan’s “Crash My Party” and “That’s My Kind of Night”
  • The Oak Ridge Boys’ “American Made”
  • George Strait’s “Fool Hearted Memory,” “Ocean Front Property,” and “The Best Day,”
  • Rascal Flatts’s “Fast Cars and Freedom,” “Why Wait,” and “Take Me There”
  • Kenny Chesney’s “Living in Fast Forward” and “When the Sun Goes Down”
  • Ricochet’s “Daddy’s Money”
  • Montgomery Gentry’s “If You Ever Stop Lovin’ Me”
  • The Crickets’ “I Fought the Law”
  • Tom T. Hall's “Harper Valley P.T.A.” and “A Week in the County Jail”
  • Trace Adkins’s "You’re Gonna Miss This”
  • David Lee Murphy’s “Dust on the Bottle”
  • Jason Aldean’s “Big Green Tractor” and “Fly Over States”

And many more top country hits over the past 40 years! American