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Dogs Bark, but the Caravan Rolls On: Observations Then and Now
by Frank Conroy
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 061815468X, Hardcover)Dogs Bark, but the Caravan Rolls On: Observations Then and Now, Frank Conroy's first nonfiction work since his acclaimed memoir Stop-Time, contains thoughtful pieces on jazz, writing, his father, and fathering. In addition to directing the Iowa Writers' Workshop, Conroy is a jazz pianist of some skill, as he proudly notes in this collection, taken primarily from articles published in Esquire and GQ. Profiles of Keith Jarrett, Wynton Marsalis, and the Rolling Stones are complemented by pieces about Conroy's own musical background, including a wonderful story of the Harlem club where Conroy became a regular, and of playing piano at a club without his bass player, who was late, only to have Charles Mingus arise from dinner and sit in.
On writing, there are some useful pieces regarding the process itself, particularly in "The Writers' Workshop." Conroy is direct and engaging, and he humbly discusses his childhood truancy, his flawed writings, and his family life. While some writers mythologize or sepia-coat their lives, Conroy tells it like it is, or was, but with careful thought and personal meaning to which readers can relate. As Conroy humbly jams with Marsalis, he confesses: "I feel like a child who has the skills to ride a pony but has been mistakenly mounted on Man o' War." After his first experience with Mingus, the great bassist said, "'You are ... an authentic primitive. That is true.' He leaned forward and lowered his voice. 'But you swing.'" Conroy's writings swing, too, and Dogs Bark, but the Caravan Rolls On has something for everyone, especially writers and jazz enthusiasts. --Michael Ferch
(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:58:35 -0400)
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