October 30, 2011 in Features

Book Notes: Schuller autobiography lands on shelves

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Gunther Schuller’s new autobiography, “Gunther Schuller: A Life in Pursuit of Music and Beauty” (University of Rochester Press, $49.95), has arrived on the nation’s bookshelves.

Schuller, who comes to Spokane every February as the music director of the Northwest Bach Festival, is one of the world’s leading composers and writers on music.

This 570-page volume covers only the first 35 years of his life, until 1960. So it doesn’t deal with his many Spokane musical experiences, which came much later.

But it does deal with his amazing early life in both classical music and jazz.

Travis Rivers, The Spokesman-Review’s retired classical music writer, describes the scope of the book in a back-cover comment: “Schuller gives a backstage look at not only his emergence as a composer but also such history-making events as the 1949 Fritz Reiner-led ‘Salome’ at the Metropolitan … and recording sessions in the ‘50s with Miles Davis, John Lewis and Ornette Coleman.”

The book is also, in some ways, Schuller’s ode to “the love of his life,” his late wife, Marjorie.

Orozco at Auntie’s

Daniel Orozco, the acclaimed short story writer who teaches at the University of Idaho, will read from “Orientation: And Other Stories” (Faber & Faber, $23) on Friday, 7 p.m., at Auntie’s Bookstore, 402 W. Main Ave.

Orozco will also talk about his upcoming work.

Amazon.com listed “Orientation” in its Best Books of the Month for May and said “you would be hard pressed to find a more consistent collection of short stories.”

The book also made it onto the long list for the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award. He has also been published in McSweeney’s and other literary journals.

If you’ve been present for one of his readings, you know you’re in for a night that will provoke both laughter and thought.

Some Veterans Day books

Here are a couple of books by Washington writers, appropriate for Veterans Day:

• “End the Silence,” by Dorothy Read and Ilse Evelijn Veere Smit (CreateSpace, $16) – This is Smit’s true story about growing up in the Dutch East Indies during World War II. She endured a Japanese concentration camp on Java and the ensuing Indonesian revolution.

Read is a Whidbey Island writer who helped to tell her story. Both authors will discuss the book at Auntie’s Bookstore on Nov. 11 (Veterans Day) at 7 p.m.

• “Breaking the Code: A Father’s Secret, a Daughter’s Journey, and the Question That Changed Everything,” by Karen Fisher-Alaniz (Sourcebooks, $14.99) – Fisher-Alaniz is a Walla Walla writer whose father, at age 81, dropped two notebooks on her lap. They were full of his World War II letters. She discovered that he played a secret code-breaking role in the war.

She and her father “confront a traumatic memory he had carried with him for more than 50 years.” Listen for an interview with her on Nov. 6 on NPR’s Weekend Edition Sunday.

Some Crosby quotes

A new book by Nick Thomas titled “Raised by the Stars” (McFarland, $35) includes interviews with 29 children of famed Hollywood stars, including Errol Flynn and Jimmy Stewart.

It also includes quotes from two of Bing Crosby’s children, Harry Crosby and Mary Crosby. Mary said she was “hopelessly spoiled” by being raised in a household with “Bing Crosby humming and whistling around the home every day.”

Here’s Mary Crosby on her acting career: “When I got the role of Kristin Shepard in ‘Dallas’ – yes, I’m the one who shot JR! – the producers were worried because they were concerned that the public wouldn’t accept Bing Crosby’s daughter doing all those nasty things to JR. But they took a chance, and it worked out well for me and the show.”

Nesbitt world domination

If you want a guaranteed entertaining children’s book presentation, head to Auntie’s Bookstore on Saturday, 2 p.m., for local author Kenn Nesbitt reading from his “The Ultimate Top Secret Guide to Taking Over the World” (Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, $7.99).

Your child (and you) will learn all of Nesbitt’s marvelous tips for how to achieve world domination. Example: Recruit lots of minions, preferably dumb.

How dumb?

“Any dumber and you’d have to water him.”

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