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Memoir: A Historyby Ben Yagoda
Synopses & Reviews
From an acclaimed cultural critic, a narrative and social history of the Great American Songwriting era.
Everybody knows and loves the American Songbook. But its a bit less widely understood that in about 1950, this stream of great songs more or less dried up. All of a sudden, what came over the radio wasnt Gershwin, Porter, and Berlin, but Come on-a My House” and How Much Is That Doggie in the Window?” Elvis and rock and roll arrived a few years later, and at that point the game was truly up. What happened, and why? In The B Side, acclaimed cultural historian Ben Yagoda answers those questions in a fascinating piece of detective work. Drawing on previously untapped archival sources and on scores of interviews—the voices include Randy Newman, Jimmy Webb, Linda Ronstadt, and Herb Alpert—the book illuminates broad musical trends through a series of intertwined stories. Among them are the battle between ASCAP and Broadcast Music, Inc.; the revolution in jazz after World War II; the impact of radio and then television; and the bitter, decades-long feud between Mitch Miller and Frank Sinatra.
The B Side is about taste, and the particular economics and culture of songwriting, and the potential of popular art for greatness and beauty. Its destined to become a classic of American musical history.
From Saint Augustine's "Confessions" to Augusten Burroughs's "Running with Scissors," the art of memoir has had a fascinating life. Yagoda, a critically acclaimed cultural and literary critic, offers the definitive history and analysis of the memoir.
Ben Yagoda's How to Not Write Bad illustrates how we can all write better, more clearly, and for a wider readership.
He offers advice on what he calls "not-writing-badly," which consists of the ability, first, to craft sentences that are correct in terms of spelling, diction (word choice), punctuation, and grammar, and that also display clarity, precision, and grace. Then he focuses on crafting whole paragraphs—with attention to cadence, consistency of tone, sentence transitions, and paragraph length.
In a fun, comprehensive guide, Yagoda lays out the simple steps we can all take to make our writing more effective, more interesting—and just plain better.
How to Not Write Bad uses this basic tenet — what Ben Yagoda calls “not-writing-badly” — to illustrate how we can all write better, clearer, and for a wider readership. Yagoda offers advice on crafting sentences that are correct in terms of spelling, diction, punctuation, and grammar and that display clarity, precision, and grace. He then moves on to the art of constructing whole paragraphs—focusing on cadence, consistency of tone, word repetition, sentence transitions, and length.
In a fun, comprehensive guide, Yagoda lays out the simple steps that we all can take to make our writing more effective, more interesting—and just plain better. As “lolspeak” and texts take over our linguistic consciousness, Yagoda emphasizes the lost art of grammar and the well-constructed sentence. He provides clear grammatical rules to help students and writers everywhere write better; this is a book for anyone who wants to improve his or her writing.
About the Author
Ben Yagoda is a journalism professor at the University of Delaware. He is the author of Will Rogers: A Biography; When You Catch An Adjective, Kill It; The Sound on the Page; The Art of Fact; and About Town: The New Yorker and the World It Made.
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