The Washington Independent Review of Books likes Commander Will Cushing!
In this witty, well-written biography, writes reviewer Grayson Clary, an unknown Union sailor finally gets his due.
“Historians, Southern-sympathizing or otherwise, have long marshaled heroic profiles to defend the honor of the Confederate states: Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, P.G.T. Beauregard, J.E.B. Stuart, the Grey Ghost, etc. Northern hagiography is, by comparison, underdeveloped. Jamie Malanowski’s new biography, Commander Will Cushing: Daredevil Hero of the Civil War, is a strong contribution to a regrettably thin genre. . . .
Commander Will Cushing restores a share of glory to the man, offering a sharply sketched adventure tale in the process. Where Cushing struggles to bear the weight of the narrative, his relatively thin résumé is to blame. Malanowski has done what he can to build up the pantheon of Union heroes. That’s good work — and worth reading.”
You can read the entire review here.
Dave Jensen and I went to the Complete Last Waltz concert at the Capitol Theater in Port Chester on Wednesday night. I wish the organizers had issued a program, because I do not know the names of the many excellent musicians who performed. Here is a partial list: Joe Russo, Sam Cohen, Scott Metzger, Dave Dreiwitz, Marco Benevento, Jeff Chimenti, Jon Shaw, Josh Kaufman, Nels Cline, Toby Leaman, Delicate Steve, Nicole Atkins, Jocie Adams, Binky Griptite, John Roderick, Jeremy Black, Eric D. Johnson, Ryan Miller, The Antibalas Horns, Elvis Perkins, and The Parkington Sisters. Top: A calisthenic “Who Do You Love?”. Below: “Dry Your Eyes”; “Furry Sings the Blues”; “Such a Night”; “Baby, Let Me Follow You Down”;
“All my life, I have loved music, and never in my life have I been the tiniest bit musical. Not only can I not sing in tune, I cause others to fall off key. Not only can I not dance, my dancing has often caused injury to others, most memorably on a St. Patrick’s Day in Chestnut Hill, Pennsylvania, when at the conclusion of a dance I exuberantly dipped my wife-to-be and smashed her head into a door frame. I took guitar lessons for two years, giving up only when my teacher noted that inasmuch I had never been able to tune my instrument, or even tell if it was in tune, I would probably always—his word—stink. Clap in time? Forget it.
And yet, when I saw that the legendary progressive rock band King Crimson, in its eighth incarnation, was on tour again, I was reminded that there was one night, nearly thirty years ago, when I did play an instrument, in a band, before an audience, capably. And we were great. As much as anyone, the man responsible was Robert Fripp, King Crimson’s cerebral, brilliant, exacting, intimidating lead guitarist.”
To read the rest on newyorker.com, click here.
The journalist Deborah Kalb was kind enough to asak me about writing, Commander Will Cushing, books, and other subjects. You can read the results right here.