Saturday, January 22, 2011

Table of Contents: The Big Payback - The History of the Business of Hip Hop

The Big Payback: The History of the Business of Hip-HopAuthor: Dan Charnas
Publisher/Year: New American Library, 2010
Synopsis: The Big Payback takes us from the first $15 made by a "rapping DJ" in 1970s New York to the recent multi-million-dollar sales of the Phat Farm and Roc-a-Wear clothing companies in 2004 and 2007. On this four-decade-long journey from the studios where the first rap records were made to the boardrooms where the big deals were inked, The Big Payback tallies the list of who lost and who won. Read the secret histories of the early long-shot successes of Sugar Hill Records and Grandmaster Flash, Run DMC's crossover breakthrough on MTV, the marketing of gangsta rap, and the rise of artist/ entrepreneurs like Jay-Z and Sean "Diddy" Combs. 300 industry veterans-well-known giants like Rick Rubin and Russell Simmons, the founders of Def Jam, and key insiders like Gerald Levin, the embattled former Time Warner chief-gave their stories to renowned hip-hop journalist Dan Charnas, who provides a compelling, never-before seen, myth-debunking view into the victories, defeats, corporate clashes, and street battles along the 40-year road to hip-hop's dominance.

What Others Have To Say
 The Los Angeles Times
"Charnas is a Columbia-trained journalist who also spent years inside the industry, working for pioneering producer-entrepreneur Rick Rubin and others. His time embedded in a tumultuous, momentous environment doesn't so much compromise his objectivity (though Rubin does get a lot of love) as allow him to get the kind of juicy details no one else has reported — the boardroom brawls, the moguls who mentored."

The A.V. Club
"Monumental in every way, The Big Payback: The History Of The Business Of Hip-Hop delivers not simply a new version of a well-known story, but one that’s a constant revelation. Every page is loaded with fresh, acutely detailed, great stories delivered in bite-size, and Charnas’ snappy pace makes getting through its 650-some pages a pleasure."

New York Journal of Books
"It is somewhat disappointing that what started as an honest expression of an underground culture has developed into a misogynistic, self-centered industry where status is determined, not by talent, but by what an artist owns (bling anyone?). This is, of course, a broad stereotype. There are still artists interested in the music and Charnas covers them all—the good, the bad, and the really, really successful."

"Charnas applauds hip-hop’s ubiquity, the way African-American artists from the inner city have transformed themselves and the pop charts with hits, which they then turned into business opportunities."

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Table of Contents: Louisa May Alcott - A Personal Biography

Louisa May Alcott: A Personal BiographyAuthor: Susan Cheever
Publisher/Year: Simon and Schuster, 2010
Synopsis: Louisa May Alcott never intended to write Little Women. She had dismissed her publisher’s pleas for such a novel. Written out of necessity to support her family, the book had an astounding success that changed her life, a life which turned out very differently from that of her beloved heroine Jo March.

In Louisa May Alcott, Susan Cheever, the acclaimed author of American Bloomsbury, returns to Concord, Massachusetts, to explore the life of one of its most iconic residents. Based on extensive research, journals, and correspondence, Cheever’s biography chronicles all aspects of Alcott’s life, from the fateful meeting of her parents to her death, just two days after that of her father. She details Bronson Alcott’s stalwart educational vision, which led the Alcotts to relocate each time his progressive teaching went sour; her unsuccessful early attempts at serious literature, including Moods, which Henry James panned; her time as a Civil War nurse, when she contracted pneumonia and was treated with mercury-laden calomel, which would affect her health for the rest of her life; and her vibrant intellectual circle of writers and reformers, idealists who led the charge in support of antislavery, temperance, and women’s rights.

Alcott’s independence defied the conventional wisdom, and her personal choices and literary legacy continue to inspire generations of women. A fan of Little Women from the age of twelve, and a distinguished author in her own right, Cheever brings a unique perspective to Louisa May Alcott’s life as a woman, a daughter, and a working writer.

What Others Have To Say
The A.V. Club
"Alcott remains a little cold and aloof throughout Cheever’s biography. While she wasn’t necessarily a snuggly figure, Cheever might have done better to emphasize the impact Alcott’s work made on her."

The Washington Post
"Cheever is a lively and likable writer, but she doesn't add anything new to what we already know about Alcott's life."

 Kirkus Reviews
"Alcott was able to exemplify her belief that an unmarried woman could be intelligent, successful and, perhaps more importantly, happy. Throughout the narrative, Cheever allows Alcott's complex humanity to reveal itself slowly, drawing the reader into her iconic life. Lively and astute."

Browse Inside

Monday, January 17, 2011

Line By Line: Stephen King, The Green Mile

The Green Mile : The Complete Serial Novel

"A man with a good wife is the luckiest of God's creatures, and one without must be among the most miserable, I think, the only true blessing of their lives that they don't know how poorly off they are."

 "It's strange how pain marks our faces, and makes us look like family."

"Sometimes the embers are better than the campfire." 

"We each owe a death, there are no exceptions, I know that, but sometimes, oh God, the Green Mile is so long." 

"Sometimes there is absolutely no difference at all between salvation and damnation."