ROBERT TANITCH’S ROUND-UP OF BOOKS No 7
TELEVISION A Biography by David Thompson (Thames & Hudson £19.95). Thompson is a popular film critic and he is always a good and easy read. He carries his knowledge lightly. He now turns his attention to the history of Television and, as you would expect, he is chatty, witty, intelligent, thought-provoking and highly entertaining. What he has to say, for instance, about the loneliness of black role models and Friends (which used to be watched by 23-24 million at one time) immediately grabs the attention.
MUSIC FOR LIFE by Fiona Maddocks (Faber & Faber £12.99) 100 Works to Carry You Through. For those who think there ought to be more classical music in their lives, this is a useful, friendly book to remind you have works you have missed or want to hear again. The emphasis is on chamber and piano music. There are no operas or song cycles. There is plenty to choose from, plenty to discover and rediscover, an opportunity to find what you like and don’t like. All the music, familiar and rare, ancient and modern, is easy to sample on line.
TIPS FOR ACTORS by Fergus Craig (Oberon books £8.99). We all know Punch’s famous advice to couples about to get married. It’s the same advice you would give today to any wannabe actors. If you are already either a professional or an amateur actor, and you want to be a better actor, Craig’s tips will be absolutely invaluable, and if you follow them very carefully and put them all into practice, you will win many friends and you will soon be getting bigger roles and even winning awards. LOL.
MODERN DRAMA A Very Short Introduction by Kirsten E Shepherd-Barr (Oxford University Press £7.99). Exactly what it says it is: it starts with Ibsen and Chekhov and goes on to Penhall and Churchill. If you are looking for something to bring you up to date then this quick, snappy and pocket-size refresher will do very nicely.
ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI… by Kemp Powers (Oberon Books £9.99)is one of the best plays I have seen this year. On 25 February 1964, 22-year-old Cassius Clay beat Sonny Liston and became the heavy weight champion. Clay is joined by three of his very best friends: activist Malcolm X, the American football star Jim Brown and the great soul singer Sam Cooke. The meeting did take place but what is said on stage is pure fiction, giving Powers an opportunity to express four different views of racism and what it means to be black in a white society.
ROYAL BALLET 2016/2017 (Oberon Books £19.99). If you go regularly to Royal Ballet and would like a souvenir and record of the year, magnificently illustrated, there is no better book than this. 2016 was the year of Carlos Acosta’s retirement and the premieres of Wheeldon’s Straplesss, Scarletti’s Frankenstein, McGregor’s Obsidon Tear and a revival of MacMillan’s The Invitation after a long absence.