Friday, May 08, 2015

David Stout Denigrates a fine author



In spite of David Stout’s recent assertion in the New York Times in his otherwise fine eulogy to author Ruth Rendell, her body of work did not transcend the genre. Her work was truly of the genre, literature, fine and thoughtful writing, as was that of her contemporary, P.D. James. As is the crime writing of many others, from Arthur Conan Doyle to Harlan Coben. From Shakespeare to Michael Connelly, from Georges Simenon to Stieg Larsson. Obscurity and thoughtlessness are not valid criteria for “good literature,” just as cohesion, movement and character should not deny good writing from the lists of good literature.

Sunday, April 26, 2015



BAKKEN TRIO A MUSICAL WINNER

From MacPhail Center for Music in Minneapolis, the Bakken Trio of three artists present three classical versions, combined into a single chamber series. The concert on Sunday, April 26, consisted of pieces by three composers all of whom lived and produced around the end of the seventeenth century. All three, Mozart, Boccherini, and Franz Schubert, lived and worked mostly for European nobility and died in poverty. There was no medical coverage and no social security.
Today’s well-attended concert was an excellent selection of Mozart’s Violin Sonata in C Major, Luigi Boccherini’s Quintet for Guitar No. 4 in D Major, and the piano  Trio in B Flat Major by Franz Schubert.
Musicians on the program included Jeff Lambert, guitar, Judy Lin, piano, Stephanie Arado, violin, Helen, Chang, violin, Sabina Thatcher, viola, Pitnarry Shin, cello, with Mina Fisher as host for the program.
The audience was enthusiastic, the musicians accomplished, and the hall was well filled.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

EXCELLENT PHTOGRAPHIC JOURNEY TO REMOTE CHINESE LAND



Chinese Turkestan  
By Ryan Pyle
ISBN: 9780992864408
A 2014 release from
Ryan Pyle Productions

I confess, I wasn’t sure what to expect when I received a request to review this volume of photographs. Although I have worked as a free-lance photographer, my concentration for many years has been writing and reviewing crime fiction. Hence, readers may legitimately question my credentials here.

This book is a stunning accomplishment. During a period of eight years in the first decades of the twenty-first century, the author traveled several times to a remote, sparsely settled, part of Asia to learn about and document the ordinary lives of the people who live there. After graduation from a Canadian university, he eventually established permanent residence in China where he lives and produces award-winning documentaries.

His interest in Turkestan developed gradually and the images contained in this richly produced volume reflect his repeated visits along this section of the Silk Road. Here are images of a modern city closely juxtaposed with people living simple lives, engaged in work that we recall from our history texts of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Here are intimate portraits of citizens of every age, individuals and small groups in formal and informal settings. There are shop owners in street markets, individual customers, factory workers and farmers. Pyle offers the widest possible range of images so that it only requires a casual visit to these pages to acquire a sense of this lonely and special land. And then one is drawn again and again into a more thoughtful and intimate examination of these people, so distant from us in so many way. And yet so powerful in their human-ness. Every time I open the book I am reminded of some of the very early photographs of the people who lived on the Western plains and mountains of North American, before the European settlers arrived.

No expense was spared in the production of the book, the photographs, for the most part are carefully arranged to provide maximum impact to the viewer. I was troubled at times by the rich red borders which distracted my eye from some of the lesser black and white images, and there are cases where the impact of the image is lost because of its placement on the page and the layout strictures. However, these are small caveats in the overall interest this fascinating book of photographs should engender. “Chinese Turkestan” is a thoughtful, interesting and intimate look at the people, the culture and the land.