"WHAT A WASTE OF MUSIC": Review of HIT SO HARD by Patty Schemel

"WHAT A WASTE OF MUSIC": Review of HIT SO HARD by Patty Schemel

“What a waste of music not to take drugs!” opines drummer Patty Schemel in her 2017 memoir Hit So Hard (written with Erin Hosier). Sober since 2005, Schemel takes a look back at her life’s oppositional movements: her downward spiral into drugs and her rise to the rock ‘n roll top.

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LET FREEDOM RING: Review of NO TIME LIKE THE PRESENT: FINDING FREEDOM, LOVE, AND JOY RIGHT WHERE YOU ARE by Jack Kornfield

LET FREEDOM RING: Review of NO TIME LIKE THE PRESENT: FINDING FREEDOM, LOVE, AND JOY RIGHT WHERE YOU ARE by Jack Kornfield

No Time Like the Present values responding over reacting, creating space to understand and contextualize feelings. Its tone is wondering, compassionate, encouraging, and kind. It is also slyly political. Kornfield writes, “Politicians and media feed our fears…Yes, there are big problems…If you only worry, you’ll feel overwhelmed. What is indisputable is that you are here, now, and you can contribute…You are free to contribute to this world—every moment, every day.”  This call to action is the charge that all the drumbeats of the book seem to herald. Yet as Kornfield points out, “hatred never ceases by hatred, but by love alone is healed.”

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EBONY AND IVORY: Review of DOG YEARS: A MEMOIR by Mark Doty

EBONY AND IVORY: Review of DOG YEARS: A MEMOIR by Mark Doty

“To choose to live with a dog,” Mark Doty writes at the start of Dog Years: A Memoir, “is to agree to participate in a long process of interpretation—a mutual agreement, though the human being holds most of the cards.” In moving but restrained prose, Doty reveals the cards held closest to his chest: his feelings about loving and losing his canine companions, Arden and Beau.

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READING WITH A PENCIL: Review of BETWEEN YOU & ME: CONFESSIONS OF A COMMA QUEEN by Mary Norris

READING WITH A PENCIL: Review of BETWEEN YOU & ME: CONFESSIONS OF A COMMA QUEEN by Mary Norris

Copy editor Mary Norris investigates grammar—its usage and history—and frequently digresses. These tangents are the heart and soul of this quirky book. Many of them relate to her investigation of the English language, some are deeply personal, and others concern her work at the influential weekly magazine, The New Yorker.

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TURN AND FACE THE STRANGE: Review of CHANGING by Liv Ullmann

TURN AND FACE THE STRANGE: Review of CHANGING by Liv Ullmann

Reading a celebrity memoir, one is naturally curious about how that person became famous. If the book isn’t well-written, everything comes across as cliché. If it lingers too long in the time before success, the reader gets impatient to get to “their big break.” (I would argue this is because their fame is “where we know them,” so to speak.) Reading about a celebrity who isn’t well known to you, you’re either bored, or looking for clues to solve a mystery: what makes this person special? Liv Ullman, the author of Changing, was one of director Ingmar Bergman’s leading ladies and the mother of one of his children. I’ve seen only a few of her films. Things about Changing perplexed me, but I was never bored.

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WAKE UP ALONE: Review of PICASSO AND DORA: A PERSONAL MEMOIR by James Lord

WAKE UP ALONE: Review of PICASSO AND DORA: A PERSONAL MEMOIR by James Lord

Picasso and Dora strikes me as a faithful account, but admirably it’s not to James’s own vanity. He comes across as the worst of the lot. Even his own mother remarks at one point, “‘I’m sure it’s very interesting for you to have met these famous people, but I can’t help wondering what it is they see in you.’”

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