I just received in the mail the Spring 2004 catalogue of Yale University Press. I opened it to page 35, where I found (drumroll) A Terry Teachout Reader, complete with a thumbnail photo of the dust jacket, whose centerpiece is a reproduction of Fairfield Porter’s lithograph Broadway.
I can already see one problem with the Reader, which is that Yale has placed it under the category “Music/Essays,” which is right and not right at the same time. Yes, music figures prominently in it, but so do lots and lots of other things.
Here’s the flap copy, which I didn’t write:
Terry Teachout, one of our most acute cultural commentators, here turns his sharp eye to every corner of the arts world–music, dance, literature, theater, film, TV, and the visual arts. This collection gathers the best of Teachout’s writings from the past fifteen years. In each essay he offers lucid and balanced judgments that invariably illuminate, sometimes infuriate, and always spark a response–the mark of a critic whose thoughts, however controversial, cannot be ignored.
In a thoughtful introduction to the book, Teachout considers how American culture of the twenty-first century differs from that of the last century and how the information age has altered popular culture. His selected essays chronicle America’s cultural journeyover the past decade and a half,a nd they show us what has been lost–and gained–along the way. With highly informed opinions, an inimitable wit and style, and a genuine devotion to all things cultural, Teachout offers his readers much to delight in and much to ponder.
Anyone who comes from a small Midwestern town is genetically programmed to squirm at the prospect of seeing such effusive words emblazoned on his own dust jacket, but publishing is a business, and a boy, as Truman Capote once said, must peddle his book. At any rate, I’m proud of the Teachout Reader, and to see it in the Yale catalogue is a comfort on a cold, snowy day.
The Teachout Reader will be published in May–posthumously, if I become the first author ever to succumb to the common cold. Otherwise, I’ll be reminding you of its insidious approach, and as of today, you can pre-order it from amazon.com by clicking here.