GLR September-October 2022

writing, is that the characters, even the most detestable, are com plex enough that their humanity cannot be dismissed. When Mungo, Jodie, and Poor-Wee-Chickie attempt to in tervene in a potentially lethal scene of domestic abuse, Stuart weaves in a political and emotional context that penetrates the behavior of all the participants. We’re given a chance to em pathize with everyone involved. Stuart creates tension in both of his novels through opposition: the performance of male cruelty against acts of tenderness. As the story barrels toward its close, fear rules, the closet door is locked on both sides, but nothing is as tidy or certain as in Romeo and Juliet , to which Young Mungo has been awkwardly compared. There are glimmers of longing that should not be mistaken for garden-variety hope. ____________________________________________________ Thomas Keith edits the Tennessee Williams titles for New Directions Publishing and co-edited Williams’ letters for W. W. Norton.


“flustered, realizing everything you just said is kind of wrong.” He uses metaphors, hand-drawn diagrams, and excerpts from scores to explain musical elements. For example, Bach “writes notes in groups of two,” but there is no way of knowing which note is the correct one. Denk imagines this puzzle like “a police man with two conflicting witnesses and no security footage.” As he advances through his musical education, he also be gins to apprehend his attraction to men. One of the few openly gay figures in classical music, he approaches this subject with humor, advising conservatory students “not to get involved mu sically with people you have even the remotest sense you might be in love with, which can be filed under Advice No One Will Ever Take.” While in NewYork, preoccupied by a piece of music, he stumbles on a cruising spot, coming across a man looking for a hookup. He simply stands there, not understanding the situa tion, until the man leaves. One disappointment in this part of the book is that Denk hardly talks about his romantic life. While his primary focus is obviously the music, his hesitancy in this respect feels a little strange, as he has no problem discussing other personal matters. He describes his need to connect as being “like someone who won’t stop talking, who won’t let anyone else speak, or even take a moment to breathe.” It would be interesting to know how this translates into some real connections in his life. ____________________________________________________ Charles Green is a writer based in Annapolis, Maryland. Janet Flanner’s tally is the first one ever made, she spends all afternoon shifting the furniture and helping Gertrude hang ninety-nine paintings while Alice bakes cookies in the Queen of Sweden’s oven. W ES H ARTLEY Gertrude and Alice move their famous salon from rue de Fleurus in Montparnasse to a flat in the Latin Quarter on rue Christine formerly occupied by Queen Christina of Sweden. Janet Flanner the New Yorker correspondent arriving on moving day with a housewarming gift of Gertrude’s favorite potted white flowers is handed a pencil and paper by Miss Stein, “Just put the flower pot anywhere Janet, and make me an inventory of my paintings.” One hundred and thirty-one canvases, five large Picassos including “The Portrait,” nineteen smaller Picassos, four cubist heads, a pair of natures morts , a Cézanne, several Matisse fauves , enough French moderns to comprise a private museum which of course they do.

Fun with Music Theory


EVERY GOOD BOY DOES FINE A Love Story, in Music Lessons by Jeremy Denk Random House. 366 pages, $28.99

E VERY GOOD BOY Does Fine is an engaging memoir by MacArthur “Genius Grant” pianist Jeremy Denk. With humor and intelligence, he recounts his life story through his music lessons and his love for music. Growing up in a difficult family situation, with an emotion ally distant father and an alcoholic mother, Denk begins piano lessons after his school urges his parents to find him an outlet for his “emotional trouble.” His parents find a teacher and he plods through the basic exercises. Finding pleasure in learning how to play and in discovering the emotional power of music, he soon moves on to another teacher, and then another. Before long, he at tends the conservatory at Oberlin College, then Indiana Univer sity, and finally the Juilliard School for graduate work. With each teacher, he learns more and more about music and performing it. This memoir truly is, as the subtitle states, “a love story”: Denk’s passion for and knowledge of music comes through on every page. The title comes from a mnemonic used by music stu dents to remember the notes of the treble clef. Every chapter be gins with a playlist of different musical works that he encounters in the period covered by that chapter. In an Appendix, he goes into detail about each piece, discussing the composer’s life while they wrote it, the experience of hearing and playing it, and even the best performances to listen to. The book is divided into three sections: Harmony, Melody, and Rhythm. For readers unfamiliar with music theory, some of the material might prove challenging. Denk recognizes this dif ficulty and tackles it with great humor, admitting, for instance, that when he tries to explain why a D-minor chord “doesn’t exist consecutively but simultaneously, or, really, abstractly,” he gets 44

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