700: Other Entertainment by Ned Rorem

by Gerard


700.904: Rorem, Ned. Other Entertainment: Collected Pieces. New York: Open Road, 2013 [1996]. Approx 336 pp. E-book.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 700: Fine Arts
  • 700.9: Historical, geographic, or persons treatment in the arts
  • +04: Special topics

Ned Rorem has had a celebrated career as a composer and a diarist, but he has also contributed many pieces to contemporary publications reviewing books, the lives of famous artists, and his experiences in the art community. Other Entertainment is a collection of such pieces ranging from 1978 to 1995. In it, Rorem discusses—among other things—his views on Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Unconsoled, the Frenchness of Jean Cocteau, an overview of American opera, and even small vignettes on those who passed in his lifetime (including Aaron Copland).

These pieces, while originally published in 1996, seem better than some of the book reviews being done today. The tone is all at once dignified, jocular, breezy, and learned. It’s hard to maintain such a voice for very long, but Rorem’s essays were very pleasurable to read, especially since I didn’t really know a lot about some of his subjects. This seems almost like the kind of book you would read to prep for a dinner party; you could trot out many of the opinions in the book without seeming too pompous. The other thing that surprised me was that I thought the world didn’t have any more diarists. I figured Samuel Pepys was the last real famous person to have a published diary. I guess you learn something new every day. A quaint and intriguing read.