Listen To This by Alex Ross

Alex Ross (not to be confused with the prominent superhero artist of the same name) is a reviewer for The New Yorker magazine.  He was raised in the world of classical, with discovery other genres and application of his knowledge to them later in life.  The result is he knows his stuff, and he’s willing to explore quite the range.

This book is a collection of his essays, each as varied as the next, over a wide range of musical styles and compositions from across the globe.  My intent when I picked this up was two-fold.  First, as I’m currently trying to blog more about music, I wanted to really get an idea of how a professional goes about it.  Second, I’m always eager to expand my own knowledge and range, looking for further insights where I can find them.

That said, while I certainly attained both goals, this book is a slog to get through, even in audio format.  The author reads his own work.  Neither his writing style nor his vocal presentation are remotely interesting or exciting, the audiobook equivalent of stale bread and stagnant pond water.  Dare I say it, he comes across as pretentious and bored, which is the very last thing you want in a music critic.  What kills me is that the substance of what he’s trying to convey says otherwise, that he actually loves what he’s doing.  But the presentation is lackluster at best, and pretty much joyless at all turns.  At least now I know I’m missing nothing by not subscribing to The New Yorker.

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