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Heroes and Villains: Essays on Music, Movies, Comics, and Cultureby David Hajdu
Synopses & Reviews
Heroes and Villains is the first collection of essays by David Hajdu, award-winning author of The Ten-Cent Plague, Positively 4th Street, and Lush Life. Eclectic and controversial, Hajdu’s essays take on topics as varied as pop music, jazz, the avant-garde,
comic books, and our downloading culture. The heart of Heroes and Villains is an extraordinary new piece of cultural rediscovery, original to this book. It tells the untold story of one of the most important—and, ultimately, one of the most tragic—figures in American popular music, Billy Eckstine. Through exhaustive new research, Hajdu shows how this great, forgotten singer, once more popular than Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby, transformed American music by combining sex appeal, sophistication, and black machismo—in the era of segregation. The cost, for Eckstine, was his career—and nearly his life.
Other essays in this expansive book deal with topical and surprising subjects like Beyoncé, Bobby Darin, Kanye West, Marjane Satrapi, Woody Guthrie, Will Eisner, the White Stripes, Elmer Fudd, Elvis Costello, Harry Partch, Ray Charles, Joni Mitchell, and more.
"In this rollicking collection of mostly previously published essays, Hadju (The Ten-Cent Plague; Positively 4th Street) combines the cutting candor of Lester Bangs and the measured and judicious cultural learning of Lionel Trilling as he takes aim at subjects ranging widely from jazz, rock and country music and cartoon characters like Elmer Fudd to broader cultural topics such as blogging, MySpace, and remixing. Hadju writes affectionately about the old Warner Brothers cartoons, recalling the respite they provided from the tumult of the 1960s, every night before dinner. In another essay, he uses the release of Joni Mitchell's album, Shine, as an entrée into a moving retrospective of her music and a bit of mourning over her recent absence from the music scene. In a superb comparison of the music of Lucinda Williams, Taylor Swift, and Beyoncé, he captures Williams as a woman rare among pop stars, possessing unfeathered intelligence, untheatrical carnality, and uncompromising humanity. Hadju's opening essay on jazz great Billy Eckstine is alone worth the price of admission, a poignant portrait of a brilliant musician whose star might have risen even higher had he been born in a different era. Hadju's essays never fail to amuse, please and provoke." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Book News Annotation:
Hajdu (Columbia U. School of Journalism), a music critic and author, collects 40 of his essays on a range of pop culture subjects. In addition to a new essay on singer Billy Eckstine and a few other previously unpublished essays, the essays discuss pop culture topics such as the music sold in Starbucks, and MySpace; jazz artists like Wynton Marsalis, Anita O'Day, and Susannah McCorkle; the blues and Alan Lomax, Dinah Washington, and Ray Charles; pop music and the White Stripes, Joni Mitchell, Sting, Elvis Costello, and a comparison of the music of Lucinda Williams, Taylor Swift, and Beyoncé; and other subjects like Marjane Satrapi, Woody Guthrie, Paul McCartney, Ken Burns, Will Eisner, Elmer Fudd, Harry Partch, and Josh Groban. Essays were originally published in The New Republic, The New York Review of Books, The Atlantic Monthly, The Los Angeles Times Book Review, The New Yorker, and other publications. Annotation Â©2010 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Incisive, intelligent, beautifully written essays by the acclaimed, bestselling author of The Ten-Cent Plague
Heroes and Villains is the first collection of essays by David Hajdu, award-winning author of The Ten-Cent Plague, Positively 4th Street, and Lush Life. Eclectic and controversial, Hajdu takes on topics as varied as pop music, jazz, the avant-garde, comic books, and our downloading culture.
The heart of Heroes and Villains is a daring new piece on the transformation of American film through the rise of the comic-book movie. Have comics made movies more juvenile, more sensational, more violent? And if so, are all those things necessarily bad?
Other essays in the book deal with topical and surprising subjects like Kanye West, Woody Guthrie, Will Eisner, the White Stripes, Elmer Fudd, Elvis Costello, Harry Partch, John Adams, Marjane Satrapi, Bobby Darin, Ray Charles, Joni Mitchell, and more.
About the Author
David Hajdu is the music critic for The New Republic and the author of The Ten-Cent Plague, Positively 4th Street, and Lush Life. He is a professor at the Columbia University School of Journalism, and he lives in New York City.
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