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Monday, November 14, 2016

Stagecoach Festival 2017 Announces Line-Up:

Official Stagecoach 2017 festival

   Goldenvoice just announced the line up for the 2017 edition of the Stagecoach Festival or "California's Country Music Festival" as they are sub-titling it.  I've been going for several years, now and I highly recommend the experience, particularly in direct comparison to Coachella, which is essentially a non-starter unless you have artist level passes.    Staqgecoach works with three stages instead of five, and basically the main headliners have no direct competition.  The main attraction for me is the third stage, or the "Americana" stage, which usually has the majority of the non mainstream country acts worth seeing.

 The down-bill line up is particularly strong this year, and I'm not just saying that because homegirl Margo Price is playing Saturday.  If you look at the bottom lines of the poster you've got Cowboy Junkies, Terry Allen, Brent Cobb, Tommy James and the Shondelles, John Doe, Son Volt, Justin Townes Earle and The Zombies.  That's in addition to Los Lobos, Cyndi Lauper and Willie Nelson getting headliner status this year.

    I encourage people to give Stagecoach a try if they are "over" Coachella.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Song of Solomon (1997) by Toni Morrison

Book Review
Song of Solomon (1977)
by Toni Morrison

  One of the pleasures of a Toni Morrison is that she writes in the grand tradition of the 19th century novel.  Which is not to call her technique unsophisticated.  Morrison is a technician as well as a visionary, and this really comes into focus during Song of Solomon, the first Morrison novel in the 1001 Books list to be written largely about male, rather than female characters.   Here, the protagonist is Macon "Milkman" Dead, the scion of an upwardly mobile African American family in small-town Pennsylvania.  Like all of her novels, the characters are extraordinary in terms of their depths.  Unlike her earlier works on the 1001 Books list, Morrison has Macon Dead take a straight journey through time.  The story is a more-or-less conventional coming-of-age saga, albeit one adopted to the delayed adulthoods that many Americans experienced in the 20th century.

  Song of Solomon was Morrison's commercial and critical breakthrough.   It's hard not to think that some of this was due to her consciously "dumbing down" her style and writing a book with a man as a lead character.   But like all of Morrison's books, petty criticisms are drowned by the overwhelming power of her work.  

The Hour of the Star (1977) by Clarice Lispector

Book Review
The Hour of the Star (1977)
 by Clarice Lispector

   Clarice Lispector is the only female Latin American representative on the 1001 Books list up to this point.   The fact that she was Brazilian and Jewish tells you all you need to know about the state of women writers in Latin American countries.  Lispector is firmly within the tradition of 20th century experimental fiction.  She was famously difficult to read in her native Portugese, and the translator includes an afterword to explain that the weirdness in Lispector's English translation accurately reflects original weirdness in her prose.

  The Hour of the Star was Lispector's last book published during her life.  It is also on the more traditional side of her narrative range, about a woman from rural Brazil trying to make her way in the big city, told by a semi-omniscient narrator who sometimes seems to become the author (Lispector) mid-paragraph.  The depiction of an uneducated woman as a central narrative focus is itself unusual.  Even the characters written by other non-white non-male authors tend to be male, educated or both.

  Like many of the other titles from the mid to late 20th century, The Hour of the Star is hardly even a novella- 69 pages in the New Directions paperback.  With a list price of 12.95 USD!    Thirteen dollars for a seventy page book.   That's just nuts.

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