dio. He also, by fighting an antitrust lawsuit,
laid the groundwork for the studio system.
That this inventive, indefatigable man ended
his career in defeat is a real downer, but the
book is not. It’s a celebration of Fox’s spirit,
his determination, and his lasting impact on
the motion-picture industry. —David Pitt
Mastering Stand-Up: The Complete Guide
to Becoming a Successful Comedian.
By Stephen Rosenfield.
Nov. 2017. 272p. Chicago Review, paper, $16.99
Rosenfield has found rousing success as
an educator in the world of stand-up comedy. As the founding director of the American
Comedy Institute, he’s had the opportunity
of guiding such famous funny figures as Jim
Gaffigan, Lena Dunham, and Zach Woods.
In this book, Rosenfield makes his straightforward and proven-effective methods for
eliciting laughter available to the public. The
book is broken down into three parts: an introduction to the form, a guide to writing, and a
final third devoted to delivering and sustaining
entertaining stand-up throughout one’s career.
Rosenfield is thorough and frank though never
condescending. For example, he reminds budding comics to always move the mic stand back
to center stage before exiting so that the MC or
next performer won’t have to waste stage time
doing so. Readers will glean a better understanding of tone, timing, dress code, rewriting,
comic persona, and set-list organization. Using
the work of unequivocally effective stand-ups
(Richard Pryor, Lenny Bruce, Louis CK, Phyllis Diller) to illustrate, Rosenfield and his book
are breeding a new generation of comedic heroes. —Courtney Eathorne
Michael Graves: Design for Life.
By Ian Volner.
Oct. 2017. 304p. illus. Princeton, $30 (9781616895631).
Volner presents more than a biography of
postmodern architect Graves (1934–2015).
The book is also a history of the style Graves
popularized. Detailing Graves’ personal and
professional story alongside a broader one of
professional infighting and conceptual debates,
Volner has written an accessible book about a
challenging period in the history of architecture. Though Graves saddled his designs with
historical references and playful narratives, his
buildings often met with a confused and disappointed public. With a fine eye and clear
prose, Volner delivers straightforward explanations of such award-winning Graves designs
as the Portland Municipal Services Building
in Oregon and the Humana office building in
Louisville, Kentucky. Author and subject were
friends, and the relationship colors Volner’s
account of episodes private (Graves’ divorces)
and professional (Graves’ failed commission to
redesign the Whitney Museum of American
Art in New York). Ultimately, this connection
allows Volner to tell a touching and human
story of how a midwesterner shaped contemporary architecture. —Maggie Taft
Phil Spector: Sound of the Sixties.
By Sean MacLeod.
Nov. 2017. 200p. Rowman & Littlefield, $40 (9781442267053);
e-book, $38 (9781442267060). 781.66092.
The American music scene was in rough
shape at the end of the 1950s. Elvis was in the
army; Buddy Holly was dead; Chuck Berry was
in prison; Little Richard had retired. There was
a big hole in pop music, and music producer
Phil Spector filled it in the 1960s and ’70s,
with girl bands, new sounds, and big hits (the
Righteous Brothers’ “You’ve Lost That Lovin’
Feelin’” and the Beatles’ “The Long and Wind-
ing Road,” to name but two). In this insightful
book, the author traces Spector’s career from
fame to obscurity to eccentricity to seclusion
to imprisonment (he was convicted of murder
in 2009). MacLeod’s approach is to look at
Spector’s life as a whole and not to focus on the
legal case; he’s out to give Spector his due as a
musical genius, a man who richly deserved his
legendary status. Those interested only in the
sensationalistic side of Spector’s fall from grace
may be disappointed, but music fans will be
fascinated. —David Pitt
Race in American Film: Voices and
Visions That Shaped a Nation.
Ed. by Daniel Bernardi and Michael Green.
3v. 2017. 1,026p. illus. ABC-CLIO, $294
This reference work couldn’t have come at a