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Faces in the Crowd: Musicians, Writers, Actors and Filmmakersby Gary Giddins
Synopses & Reviews
As an essayist and Village Voice columnist, Gary Giddins is widely known as a preeminent jazz writer. Walter Clemons, writing in Newsweek, hailed him as "the best jazz critic now at work", praising his "elegant prose" and "encyclopedic knowledge". Yet he has won a devoted audience for his reflections on popular culture, books, and movies as well--including a marvelous essay on Jack Benny that Gay Talese selected for Best American Essays of 1987. In Faces in the Crowd, Giddins once again demonstrates his graceful style and sharp wit in a brilliant collection of critiques, assessments, and profiles of major figures in the culture of our century. Faces in the Crowd is a virtual Gary Giddins reader, a potent collection of his finest writing from the last fifteen years. Ranging from fond reflection to interview-and-commentary to close critical analysis, Giddins explores the achievements of thirty-seven artists: show people, divas, musicians, and writers, ranging from Irving Berlin to Spike Lee, Billie Holiday to Kay Starr, Louis Armstrong to Miles Davis, Elias Canetti to Philip Roth. Through every essay, his observations are sharp, his reactions honest, his judgments right on target. In "This Guy Wouldn't Give You the Parsley Off His Fish", for example, he shows how Jack Benny revolutionized comedy, creating a memorable character who was the butt of every joke. He takes a new look at the great Dinah Washington, remarking that "few performers have taken a stage or stormed off one with quite the noblesse oblige of the Queen". Giddins also offers a fresh assessment of James M. Cain and other masters of hard-boiled fiction, and he delivers an aggressive critique of the liberties academics havetaken with such classic texts as Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury. Along the way, he reveals how he uncovered the true birthdate of Louis Armstrong; chats with Clint Eastwood about Charlie Parker; and exposes the curious plagiarism of Katherine Anne Porter by her own biogra
Thirty-seven profiles of major figures in the culture of our century.
In Faces in the Crowd Gary Giddins explores the achievements of thirty-seven artists, ranging from Irving Berlin to Spike Lee, Billie Holiday to Kay Starr, Louis Armstrong to Miles Davis, Elias Canetti to Philip Roth. He shows how Jack Benny revolutionized comedy; assesses the hardboiled fiction of James M.Cain, Raymond Chandler, and Elmore Leonard; recounts how he uncovered the true birthdate of Louis Armstrong; chats with Clint Eastwood about Charlie Parker. And, of course, he writes with authority on the great jazz musicians. This provocative and entertaining collection reveals why Gary Giddins has become one of the most influential critics of his generation.
About the Author
Gary Giddins is a columnist for the Village Voice and winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Visions of Jazz. He is also the author of a biography of Bing Crosby. His work has won numerous prizes, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, five ASCAP-Deems Taylor awards, and an American Book Award. He lives in New York City.
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