Reading and Writing and the Occasional Recipe: Finishing the (Best books of 2010) Hat

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Reading and Writing and the Occasional Recipe

Finishing the (Best books of 2010) Hat

Friday, December 10, 2010

So The New York Times “10 Best Books” list is out for 2010 and all the usual suspects are rounded up. Jonathan Franzen, of course. Well, this is clearly the Year of Jonathan Franzen and maybe he deserves it simply for the hard work of producing a 675-page novel. I’m going to have to read “Freedom,” I know, but as someone who couldn’t get past about page 382 of “The Corrections,” I’m not looking forward to it.

I was more than sorry to not see one single book of poetry. Not one? Especially hard to fathom as I am being totally knocked out reading the National Book Award winner, “Lighthead,” by Terrance Hayes.

There are a few that I am planning to read, including the new Stacy Schiff biography of Cleopatra.

But the one on the list that I absolutely am loving and want to recommend most highly is “Finishing the Hat” by Stephen Sondheim. True, I am a Sondheim groupie. But even if you’re not, this book has important things to tell you in its humorous, honest, self-effacing way. It is not only about creating theater, but also about taking it in. It is about poetry, about taste, about what makes for good theatrical lyrics and why.

Above all, it is about creating art. Its title comes from a song in one of my favorite Sondheim shows, “Sunday in the Park with George.”
“There’s a part of you always standing by,
Mapping out the sky,
Finishing a hat...
Starting on a hat....
Finishing a hat....
Look, I made a hat...
Where there never was a hat.”

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