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February 15, 2017 BOOKLIST
Find more Top 10 Arts Books
From the double-identities of Superman to the many modes of Bob Dylan, the man behind the Muppets, the demons plaguing comedian Richard Pryor, and the hidden life of janitor and artist Henry Darger, the best 10 arts books reviewed in Booklist from November 15, 2012, to November 1, 2013, reveal the complex lives and profound quests of artists.
Anything Goes: A History of American Musical Theatre. By Ethan Mordden. 2013. Oxford, $29.95 (9780199892839).
Mordden traces the evolution of the musical, a quintessential American art form, and analyzes dozens of standout examples in this comprehensive, witty, and sassy history.
Duke: A Life of Duke Ellington. By Terry Teachout. 2013. Gotham, $30 (9781592407491).
Teachout brings a fresh eye and ear to Ellington’s virtuoso musical imagination and fecundity in this flaws-and-all, thoroughly entertaining, and invaluable portrait of the great jazz composer.
Furious Cool: Richard Pryor and the World That Made Him. By David Henry and Joe Henry. 2013. Algonquin, $25.95 (9781616200787).
Richard Pryor drew on his difficult life and ferocious energy to create his blazing comedy, and the brothers Henry detail every facet of his troubled life in this superbly written account of a manic genius.
Henry Darger, Throwaway Boy: The Tragic Life of an Outsider Artist. By Jim Elledge. 2013. Overlook, $29.95 (9781590208557).
Elledge’s adventurously researched and humanizing biography of the self-taught Chicago artist Henry Darger offers striking insights into his brutal childhood and disturbing, unforgettable, and, for Darger, cathartic life’s work.
Jim Henson. By Brian Jay Jones. 2013. Ballantine, $35 (9780345526113); e-book (9780345526137).
In the first full biography of Jim Henson, creator of the Muppets, Jones vividly chronicles the vast scope of Henson’s innovations, phenomenal productivity, knotty private life, zeal to do good, and astronomical influence.
Kansas City Lightning: The Rise and Times of Charlie Parker. By Stanley Crouch. 2013. HarperCollins/It, $35 (9780062005595).
Crouch captures with novelistic verve the early years of jazz master Charlie Parker’s short life in musically fertile Kansas City, illuminating his inspirations and capturing the excitement of his artistic daring.
The Making of Markova: Diaghilev’s Baby Ballerina to Groundbreaking Icon. By Tina Sutton. 2013. Pegasus, $35 (9781605984568).
Sutton is spellbinding as she tells the little-known story of how a Jewish Londoner, Lilian Alicia Marks, became Dame Alicia Markova, a prodigiously gifted, courageous, and world-renowned ballerina.
Once upon a Time: The Lives of Bob Dylan. By Ian Bell. 2013. Pegasus, $35 (9781605984810).
Bell investigates the many lives and personae of Bob Dylan, a singular and persistently mysterious figure who has always asserted his right of “artistic autonomy.”
Super Boys: The Amazing Adventures of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster—the Creators of Superman. By Brad Ricca. 2013. St. Martin’s, $27.99 (9780312643805).
In this exciting chronicle, Ricca reveals the roller-coaster story of Superman’s creation by would-be sf writer Siegel and his schoolmate Shuster, who nearly lost all connection to their hugely popular and profitable superhero.
William Wyler: The Life and Films of Hollywood’s Most Celebrated Director. By Gabriel Miller. 2013. Univ. Press of Kentucky, $39.95 (9780813142098).
Miller chronicles the life of the groundbreaking, three-time Academy Award–winning director William Wyler via close analysis of his now classic films, which include Ben-Hur and Wuthering Heights.
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