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Alex Ross's Bookcase

Nelson Alexander "Alex" Ross (born January 22, 1970) is an American comic book writer/artist known primarily for his painted interiors, covers, and design work. He first became known with the 1994 miniseries Marvels, on which he collaborated with writer Kurt Busiek for Marvel Comics. He has since done a variety of projects for both Marvel and DC Comics, such as the 1996 miniseries Kingdom Come, which Ross co-wrote. Since then he has done covers and character designs for Busiek's series Astro City, and various projects for Dynamite Entertainment. His feature film work includes concept and narrative art for Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2, and DVD packaging art for the M. Night Shyamalan film, Unbreakable. He has done covers for TV Guide, promotional artwork for the Academy Awards, posters and packaging design for video games, and his renditions of superheroes have been merchandised as action figures.

Photo by: Ruby Bradford

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The Varieties of Religious Experience: A Study in Human Nature is a book by the Harvard psychologist and philosopher William James comprising 20 lectures given at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. These lectures concerned the nature of religion and the neglect of science, in James' view, in the academic study of religion. Soon after its publication, the book found its way into the canon of psychology and philosophy, and has remained in print for over a century.

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(Amadeus). With style, wit, and expertise, Leonard Bernstein shares his love and appreciation for music in all its varied forms in The Infinite Variety of Music , illuminating the deep pleasure and sometimes subtle beauty it offers. He begins with an "imaginary conversation" with George Washington entitled "The Muzak Muse," in which he argues the values of actively listening to music by learning how to read notes, as opposed to simply hearing music in a concert hall. The book also features the reproduction of five television scripts from Bernstein on the influence of jazz, the timeless appeal of Mozart, musical romanticism, and the complexities of rhythmic innovation. Also included are Bernstein's analyses of symphonies by Dvorak, Tchaikovsky, Beethoven, and Brahms, a rare reproduction of a 1957 lecture on the nature of composing, and a report on the musical scene written for the New York Times after his sabbatical leave from directorship of the New York Philharmonic during the 1964-65 season.

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COMPLETE AND UNABRIDGED. With a new Introduction by Cedric Watts, Research Professor of English, University of Sussex. James Joyces astonishing masterpiece, Ulysses, tells of the diverse events which befall Leopold Bloom and Stephen Dedalus in Dublin on 16 June 1904, during which Blooms voluptuous wife, Molly, commits adultery. Initially deemed obscene in England and the USA, this richly-allusive novel, revolutionary in its Modernistic experimentalism, was hailed as a work of genius by W. B. Yeats, T. S. Eliot and Ernest Hemingway. Scandalously frank, wittily erudite, mercurially eloquent, resourcefully comic and generously humane, Ulysses offers the reader a life-changing experience.

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The Collected Poems of W. B. Yeats includes all of the poems authorized by Yeats for inclusion in his standard canon. Breathtaking in range, it encompasses the entire arc of his career, from luminous reworkings of ancient Irish myths and legends to passionate meditations on the demands and rewards of youth and old age, from exquisite, occasionally whimsical songs of love, nature, and art to somber and angry poems of life in a nation torn by war and uprising. In observing the development of rich and recurring images and themes over the course of his body of work, we can trace the quest of this century's greatest poet to unite intellect and artistry in a single magnificent vision. Revised and corrected, this edition includes Yeats's own notes on his poetry, complemented by explanatory notes from esteemed Yeats scholar Richard J. Finneran. The Collected Poems of W. B. Yeats is the most comprehensive edition of one of the world's most beloved poets available in paperback.

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A New York Times Notable Book

From one of our most powerful writers, a work of stunning frankness about losing a daughter.

Richly textured with memories from her own childhood and married life with her husband, John Gregory Dunne, and daughter, Quintana Roo, this new book by Joan Didion is an intensely personal and moving account of her thoughts, fears, and doubts regarding having children, illness and growing old.

As she reflects on her daughter’s life and on her role as a parent, Didion grapples with the candid questions that all parents face, and contemplates her age, something she finds hard to acknowledge, much less accept. Blue Nights—the long, light evening hours that signal the summer solstice, “the opposite of the dying of the brightness, but also its warning”—like The Year of Magical Thinking before it, is an iconic book of incisive and electric honesty, haunting and profound.

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This book was converted from its physical edition to the digital format by a community of volunteers. You may find it for free on the web. Purchase of the Kindle edition includes wireless delivery.

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Lectures and Writings

From the cover: "Silence by which John Cage means unintended, indeterminate noise...in written pages as "white paintings" of the mind--anectdotes of Schonberg and Suzuki- celebrations of Sate, Carese, Rauschenberg, private friends, mushrooms-and words and spaces on Meister Eckhardt-Zen-Dada-the RandomChaos-composition by hexagram, coin-tossing, paper fly specks-composition for prepared piano, magnetic tape, Happenings-Silence heard as the 13th tone-music as space-time transformation (bounded notes becoming unpredictable timesequences)-the indeterminancy of modern science-the one-in-allinorder-in-chaos and the (musical) rest in (Cagian) silence. Perhaps more than any other living composer, Cage holds up an auditory mirror of the sound of music around us....He has a validity that both disturbs and indicts." Saturday Review."

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This bewitching play, Shakespeare's final work, articulates a wealth of the playwright's mature reflections on life and contains some of his most familiar and oft-quoted lines. The story concerns Miranda, a lovely young maiden, and Prospero, her philosophical old magician father, who dwell on an enchanted island, alone except for their servants — Ariel, an invisible sprite, and Caliban, a monstrous witch's son. Into their idyllic but isolated lives comes a shipwrecked party that includes the enemies who usurped Prospero's dukedom years before, and set him and his daughter adrift on the ocean. Also among the castaways is a handsome prince, the first young man Miranda has ever seen. Comedy, romance, and reconciliation ensue, in a masterly drama that begins with a storm at sea and concludes in joyous harmony. Students, poetry lovers, and drama enthusiasts will treasure this convenient, modestly priced edition of one of Shakespeare's greatest plays and one of literature's finest comedies.

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"John E. Woods is revising our impression of Thomas Mann, masterpiece by masterpiece."  --The New Yorker

"Doctor Faustus is Mann's deepest artistic gesture. . . . Finely translated by John E. Woods." --The New Republic

Thomas Mann's last great novel, first published in 1947 and now newly rendered into English by acclaimed translator John E. Woods, is a modern reworking of the Faust legend, in which Germany sells its soul to the Devil. Mann's protagonist, the composer Adrian Leverkühn, is the flower of German culture, a brilliant, isolated, overreaching figure, his radical new music a breakneck game played by art at the very edge of impossibility. In return for twenty-four years of unparalleled musical accomplishment, he bargains away his soul--and the ability to love his fellow man.

Leverkühn's life story is a brilliant allegory of the rise of the Third Reich, of Germany's renunciation of its own humanity and its embrace of ambition and nihilism. It is also Mann's most profound meditation on the German genius--both national and individual--and the terrible responsibilities of the truly great artist.

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Shortlisted for the 1998 Los Angeles Times Book Award in Fiction: "Stunning and strange . . . Sebald has done what every writer dreams of doing. . . . The book is like a dream you want to last forever. . . . It glows with the radiance and resilience of the human spirit."―Roberta Silman, The New York Times Book Review

"Ostensibly a record of a journey on foot through coastal East Anglia," as Robert McCrum in the London Observer noted, The Rings of Saturn "is also a brilliantly allusive study of England's imperial past and the nature of decline and fall, of loss and decay. . . . The Rings of Saturn is exhilaratingly, you might say hypnotically, readable. . . . It is hard to imagine a stranger or more compelling work." The Rings of Saturn - with its curious archive of photographs - chronicles a tour across epochs as well as countryside. On his way, the narrator meets lonely eccentrics inhabiting tumble-down mansions and links them to Rembrandt's "Anatomy Lesson," the natural history of the herring, a matchstick model of the Temple of Jerusalem, the travels of Sir Thomas Browne's skull, and the massive bombings of WWII. Cataloging change, oblivion, and memories, he connects sugar fortunes, Joseph Conrad, and the horrors of colonizing the Belgian Congo. The narrator finds threads which run from an abandoned bridge over the River Blyth to the terrible dowager Empress Tzu Hsi and the silk industry in Norwich. "Sebald," as The New Yorker stated, "weaves his tale together with a complexity and historical sweep that easily encompasses both truth and fiction." The Emigrants (hailed by Susan Sontag as an "astonishing masterpiece-perfect while being unlike any book one has ever read") was "one of the great books of the last few years," as Michael Ondaatje noted: "and now The Rings of Saturn is a similar and as strange a triumph."

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A Portrait of the World Before the War, 1890-1914

The Proud Tower, the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Guns of August, and The Zimmerman Telegram comprise Barbara W. Tuchman’s classic histories of the First World War era

During the fateful quarter century leading up to World War I, the climax of a century of rapid, unprecedented change, a privileged few enjoyed Olympian luxury as the underclass was “heaving in its pain, its power, and its hate.” In The Proud Tower, Barbara W. Tuchman brings the era to vivid life: the decline of the Edwardian aristocracy; the Anarchists of Europe and America; Germany and its self-depicted hero, Richard Strauss; Diaghilev’s Russian ballet and Stravinsky’s music; the Dreyfus Affair; the Peace Conferences in The Hague; and the enthusiasm and tragedy of Socialism, epitomized by the assassination of Jean Jaurès on the night the Great War began and an epoch came to a close.

Praise for The Proud Tower

“[Barbara W. Tuchman’s] Pulitzer Prize–winning The Guns of August was an expert evocation of the first spasm of the 1914–1918 war. She brings the same narrative gifts and panoramic camera eye to her portrait of the antebellum world.”—Newsweek   “A rare combination of impeccable scholarship and literary polish . . . It would be impossible to read The Proud Tower without pleasure and admiration.”—The New York Times

“An exquisitely written and thoroughly engrossing work . . . The author’s knowledge and skill are so impressive that they whet the appetite for more.”—Chicago Tribune

“[Tuchman] tells her story with cool wit and warm understanding.”—Time

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Listening to the Twentieth Century

Winner of the 2007 National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism A New York Times Book Review Top Ten Book of the Year Time magazine Top Ten Nonfiction Book of 2007 Newsweek Favorite Books of 2007 A Washington Post Book World Best Book of 2007 In this sweeping and dramatic narrative, Alex Ross, music critic for The New Yorker, weaves together the histories of the twentieth century and its music, from Vienna before the First World War to Paris in the twenties; from Hitler's Germany and Stalin's Russia to downtown New York in the sixties and seventies up to the present. Taking readers into the labyrinth of modern style, Ross draws revelatory connections between the century's most influential composers and the wider culture. The Rest Is Noise is an astonishing history of the twentieth century as told through its music.

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