"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

But If Your Voice Ain’t Dope then You Need to Chill

Michiko Kakutani, New York Times:

The story of Frank Sinatra’s rise and self-invention and the story of his fall and remarkable comeback had the lineaments of the most essential American myths, and their telling, Pete Hamill once argued, required a novelist, “some combination of Balzac and Raymond Chandler,” who might “come closer to the elusive truth than an autobiographer as courtly as Sinatra will ever allow himself to do.”

Now, with “Frank: The Voice,” Sinatra has that chronicler in James Kaplan, a writer of fiction and nonfiction who has produced a book that has all the emotional detail and narrative momentum of a novel.

Mr. Kaplan’s spirited efforts to channel his subject’s point of view can result in some speculative scenes, which make the reader race to the book’s endnotes in an attempt to identify possible source material. For instance Mr. Kaplan tries to recreate Sinatra’s tumultuous romance with Ava Gardner and tries, not always that convincingly, to map his complicated feelings about the mob. But at the same time Mr. Kaplan writes with genuine sympathy for the singer and a deep appreciation of his musicianship, and unlike gossipy earlier biographers like Kitty Kelley and Anthony Summers and Robbyn Swan, he devotes the better part of his book to an explication of Sinatra’s art: the real reason readers care about him in the first place.


1 williamnyy23   ~  Nov 1, 2010 10:37 am

Already ordered my copy...between this and Maddon's book on the Boss, this has been a good year for long anticipated bios.

2 Matt Blankman   ~  Nov 1, 2010 11:15 am

Man, I just picked up the Mantle bio, with a thought to reading Keith Richards' autobio after that and Sean Wilentz's Dylan book too. Now add another to the pile...

3 Matt Blankman   ~  Nov 1, 2010 11:19 am

By the way, that's one pretty lousy Sinatra album. He had a really tough time finding his artistic footing in the late 60s. No one was writing his kinds of songs anymore. So instead, you get a truly awkward "Both Sides, Now" and "Gentle On My Mind."

4 williamnyy23   ~  Nov 1, 2010 1:50 pm

[2] Have you started reading Mantle's bio. Been scared away from it a little by some of the more sensational parts, but maybe I am not being fair. Let me know what you think.

[3] Judging by the picture on the album, I think Sinatra probably agreed.

5 thelarmis   ~  Nov 1, 2010 2:12 pm

i just got the mantle biography for my pop's birthday a coupla days ago...

i used to play in a coupla groups that did a ton of sinatra. but mainly all the older classics. my reprise cd's of his are all from the 50's...

6 Matt Blankman   ~  Nov 1, 2010 3:32 pm

[5] He didn't start Reprise until the 60s. I believe the first Reprise albums are 1960 or 1961. I know the end of his Capitol run overlaps with the first Reprise albums. Capitol is clearly the peak material, but some of the stuff for Reprise is really excellent too, like his collaborations with Jobim, Basie & Ellington.

7 Matt Blankman   ~  Nov 1, 2010 3:33 pm

[4] Haven't started it yet. Another friend said he was scared away by excerpts that seemed "oily" too, but generally the newspapers take the excerpts that seem the most sensationalistic.

8 omarcoming   ~  Nov 1, 2010 5:32 pm

I am reading the Mantle bio. There are discussions of events that give a real sense of the man and his era. The salacious parts are just typical sensationalism of PR firms designed to sell the book. Actually, there is new information and it is quite interesting.

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