Five Night Stand

There are books. There is music. And sometimes there are books that read like music inside your head. You swear you are in one of those dark, smokey clubs. The ice might as well be clinking in your glass, and you get goosebumps on your arm as if the melody rose or someone’s suit jacket ran across your shoulder in the packed aisle. The upright bass thumps, the horns blow, and the piano, well, that piano just sings.

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That is what reading Five Night Stand by Richard J. Alley is like. The entire book is an ode to old-timey jazz, as we watch the retirement of a jazz piano legend. Or maybe, I should say we listen. Because while we are reading words on the page, it sure doesn’t feel like it. The moment you put the book down, you feel empty, as if you have turned off a radio. The music has stopped.

There aren’t very many characters in this story, and there don’t really  need to be. It really is a very simple narrative. A few people meet in the span of five days, and their lives intertwine for a few moments. But every moment was lovely and interesting and beautiful.

This book is a big yes for me. I just fell in love with the whole thing. Every breath, every song, every moment. I wanted Oliver to keep on playing, I wanted Agnus to find her music again, I wanted Frank to get the stick out of his ass, and I wanted Pablo to get everything he ever wanted. You’re going to have to find out what all that means. The book comes out on May 12. Buy this book. Go find the music.

 

NetGalley provided this ARC for an unbiased review.

 

It Happened on Broadway

I grew up in a family that loves musical theatre. From the time I was young, we watched Disney movies and acted them out in our living room. The carpet was light blue, so it was often the ocean. Or, in the reenactment I remember most vividly, it was the Nile River, since The Prince of Egypt was one of my absolute favorites. The music in that one, am I right? I’m pretty sure we have video of it somewhere, too. Gawd.

Oh, and of course there were church plays. My most notable performance being some weird joke about taxes during “We Like Sheep.” The adults all though it was hilarious, but my partner and I had no idea what was so funny. I sure wish I could remember the punchline now. Something about keeping receipts in a shoebox. *shrug*

My sisters and father were also pretty heavy in our local community theater, show choir, the works. I was much happier putting on plays at home than in front of people, so I stayed in the audience.

Then I met my husband, who was equally enthralled with the theatre–I’ve told you about that before.

All this to say, when I saw It Happened on Broadway on Netgalley, I jumped at the chance to read it. I thought it was going to be a grand history of the stage, an in depth look at some of the most favorite actors, producers, etc.

Unfortunately…I did not get what I wanted. For people who grew up in the golden age of Broadway (that is to say, people much older than myself, living in New York City), this may be the perfect book. They are going to be intimately acquainted with the people speaking in this oral memoir.

But for me, this was a bunch of mumbo jumbo. I knew exactly one person–Carol Channing.

And instead of that grand history? It was as if I was at a party, trying to grasp on to pieces of conversation from everyone around me. I was so confused. This is the type of introvert nightmare that I avoid! There’s no structure, no chapters or themes. Just a bunch of people thrown together talking.

Now, maybe if this were done documentary style on camera where we could see the vibrant personalities, this would have worked terrifically. But with words on a page, it was lacking something.

As much as I love theatre and history, I am just not the target market for this book. It’s too bounce-around, and I’m just not familiar with the contributors. I mostly skimmed through and read a few, grabbing memories from people I recognized, but I just couldn’t finish the whole thing. It didn’t hold my attention long enough. I am not going to completely discredit it, though, because I am sure there are a lot of people who are going to find this oral history extremely amusing. It was just wasn’t for me.

 

Disclaimer:  I was given an ecopy of this book by Netgalley for review.

Summer at Tiffany

As a small town gal, I was completely mesmerized when my family went to The Big Apple my senior year. The buildings! The people! The noise!

I loved it. There was so much to see, so much to do. And of course, I had a list of food that I wanted to eat. I was constantly getting distracted by all of the little shops.

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I could never imagine picking up and moving there though, especially not with $30 to my name. Could you? That would be way too overwhelming. But Marjorie Jacobson Hart did it, 60 years ago. And now she’s written about it, in Summer at Tiffany. This is a terrific memoir of two young friends off to see the big city. It’s nothing fancy, like any Midwestern story should be. But you can just about see their eyes about popping out of their heads when they walk into Tiffany’s for the first time.

It won’t take you long to read this, but it’s a very cute book. Something to rest your brain on.