For nineteen months William Zinsser, author of the best-selling On Writing Well and many other books, wrote a weekly column for the website of the American Scholar magazine. This cornucopia was devoted mainly to culture and the arts, the craft of writing, and travels to remote places, along with the movies, American popular song, email, multitasking, baseball, Central Park, Tina Brown, Pauline Kael, Steve Martin, and other complications of modern life. Written with elegance and humor, these pieces are now collected in The Writer Who Stayed.
"If you value vintage journalism of an old-fashioned vividness and integrity please, please read this book."—Wall Street Journal
"Our 'endlessly supple' English language will, Zinsser says, 'do anything you ask it to do, if you treat it well. Try it and see.' Try him and see craftsmanship."—George F. Will
"Zinsser—who, with On Writing Well, taught a whole lot of us how to set down a clean English sentence—last year won a National Magazine Award for his Friday web columns in The American Scholar. They're now in a collection that's completely charming, impeccably polished, and Strunk-and-White-ishly brief. He's the youngest 90-year-old you'll read this week."—New York Magazine
"In this account of the world adventures of two splendid jazz artists, Bill Zinsser has given us one of the most exciting books about America's original art form that I've ever read. It's a revelation."—Studs Terkel
Since 1955, Dwike Mitchell and Willie Ruff have been playing, teaching, and sharing jazz around the U.S. and around the world. William Zinsser, one of our finest chroniclers of American life, tells their story as he travels with the duo to China, to Davenport, Iowa, to New York City, and—with Willie Ruff—to St. Mark's Basilica in Venice, where Ruff journeys back to the roots of Western music in order to understand jazz's musical legacy.
Zinsser also accompanies Mitchell and Ruff as they visit their hometowns in Florida and Alabama. We listen as the two men tell of growing up in small towns in the American South of the 1930s and 40s; as they tell about the teachers, community leaders, and family members who believed in two young black men with talent but no formal musical training; as they tell of their struggles, their perseverance, and their ultimate success.
Jazz is indeed a uniquely American musical tradition, and there are no better guides to this inspiring art than Dwike Mitchell and Willie Ruff.
"[This is a] thoughtful, adept, and satisfyingly unusual book of reportage…Though its contents are entirely factual, it concerns lives that give the sense of being but fatefully, imaginatively, arranged, and it constantly suggests improvisation—that is, 'something created during the process of delivery,' as Mr. Ruff explains the term to the Chinese…He also tells them improvisation is 'the lifeblood of jazz.' William Zinsser's book reminds us that improvisation is the lifeblood of life, too. [This book is also] about difficult passages that end in victorious arrival. Mitchell & Ruff is a deservedly happy book."—New York Times Book Review
"A highly infectious, Studs Terkel-like chronicle about the unorthodox development of two distinguished musicians."—Publishers Weekly
"Jazz came to China for the first time on the afternoon of June 2, 1981, when the American bassist and French-horn player Willie Ruff introduced himself and his partner, the pianist Dwike Mitchell, to several hundred students and professors who were crowded into a large room at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music. Probably they were not surprised to find that the two musicians were black…What they undoubtedly didn't expect was that Ruff would talk to them in Chinese."—from Chapter 1, "Shanghai"
A provocative meditation on race, Claudia Rankine's long-awaited follow up to her groundbreaking book Don't Let Me Be Lonely: An American Lyric.
Claudia Rankine's bold new book recounts mounting racial aggressions in ongoing encounters in twenty-first-century daily life and in the media. Some of these encounters are slights, seeming slips of the tongue, and some are intentional offensives in the classroom, at the supermarket, at home, on the tennis court with Serena Williams and the soccer field with Zinedine Zidane, online, on TV-everywhere, all the time. The accumulative stresses come to bear on a person's ability to speak, perform, and stay alive. Our addressability is tied to the state of our belonging, Rankine argues, as are our assumptions and expectations of citizenship. In essay, image, and poetry, Citizen is a powerful testament to the individual and collective effects of racism in our contemporary, often named "post-race" society.