Songbook

NICK HORNBY, MARCEL DZAMA

Published by McSweeneys Books December 2002, 2002
ISBN 10: 0971904774 / ISBN 13: 9780971904774
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Square paperoberboards, clean unused copy. CD present. Illustration & inscription by Dzama on ffep 7.25' x 7.25', 147 pages. Bookseller Inventory #

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Synopsis: McSweeney's is excited to release Songbook \226 a brand-new collection of short, personal essays by Nick Hornby on 31 of his favorite songs and songwriters. This hardcover book has 4-color illustrations by Marcel Dzama throughout and comes complete with a CD featuring 11 songs discussed within.

Proceeds from Songbook will benefit TreeHouse and 826 Valencia.

The TreeHouse Trust is a U.K. charity based in central London, established in 1997 to provide an educational Centre of Excellence for children with autism and related communication disorders.

826 Valencia is a nonprofit learning center in the Mission District of San Francisco, providing free writing-based tutoring and workshops for students throughout the Bay Area. Students can drop in for individual one-on-one tutoring, register for workshops, or attend field trips through local schools and community organizations.

Review: The personal essays in Nick Hornby's Songbook pop off the page with the immediacy and passion of an artfully arranged mix-tape. But then, who better to riff on 31 of his favorite songs than the author of that literary music-lover's delight, High Fidelity?

"And mostly all I have to say about these songs is that I love them, and want to sing along to them, and force other people to listen to them, and get cross when these other people don't like them as much as I do," writes Hornby. More than his humble disclaimer, he captures "the narcotic need" for repeat plays of Nelly Furtado's "I'm Like a Bird," and testifies that "you can hear God" in Rufus Wainwright's coy reinterpretation of his father Loudon's "One Man Guy" ("given a neat little twist by Wainwright Junior's sexual orientation..."). Especially poignant is his reaction to "A Minor Incident," a Badly Drawn Boy song written for the soundtrack of the film version of Hornby's book About a Boy. While Hornby was writing the book, his young son was diagnosed with autism--a fact that adds greater resonance to the seemingly unrelated song he hears much later: "I write a book that isn't about my kid, and then someone writes a beautiful song based on an episode in my book that turns out to mean something much more personal to me than my book ever did." Meandering asides and observations like this linger in your mind (just like a fantastic song) long after you've flipped past the final page.

The 11-song CD that accompanies the book is a great touch, but it's too bad it doesn't contain all of the featured songs--most likely the unfortunate result of licensing difficulties. Overall, Hornby's pitch-perfect prose, the quirky illustrations from Canadian artist Marcel Dzama, and a good cause--proceeds benefit TreeHouse, a U.K. charity for children with autism, and 826 Valencia, the nonprofit Bay Area learning center--add up to make Songbook a hit. Solid gold. --Brad Thomas Parsons

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Songbook
Publisher: McSweeneys Books December 2002
Publication Date: 2002
Binding: Hardcover
Book Condition: Very Good

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