(image c/o BookPeople)
Since the book's release date on November 18:
* I wrote a piece for Huffington Post called “The Discomforts of Digital Music”—a plea for listeners to break out of the star system, which I think ultimately hurts us all. (A sample: “To me, the real gift of digital technology is not the feeding frenzy of infinite free music; it’s the possibility of fostering artistic communities that are viable precisely because they are intimate and idiosyncratic, and because they form spontaneously, through the unprecedented channels of communication to which we now have access. If such communities are allowed to derive from shared passion, shared passion itself will nurture economic justice.”)
* I did two book readings, one at Powell's in Portland (December 1), and one at Town Hall in Seattle (December 2). Both were great fun (though the Powell's event was better attended and sparked a longer discussion).
* In advance of the Powell's event, writer Robert Ham did a nice piece on me for the Portland Mercury. It was great to meet and chat with him, and I appreciated his smart questions. (I should clarify for the record, though, that I haven't been 42 since 2011.)
* For the Seattle Weekly, Gavin Borchert did this preview of my talk at Seattle's Town Hall:
It's a very flattering review. (A small correction: the “demythologizing without demeaning” line comes from the book’s introduction, not the afterword.)
* At the end of December, Decomposition made it onto Los Angeles Magazine’s “Best ‘Little’ Music Books of 2014”—a welcome surprise, to say the least. Matthew Duertsen called it “refreshingly unstodgy”—refreshingly going against the grain of some of the more glib criticism the book has received.
* (PhD candidate) Madison Heyling's in-depth analysis of Decomposition for Music and Literature as well is probably one of the more detailed and thoughtful write-ups the book has yet received, and for that I'm very grateful. (I know how hard it is to be a grad student and do other intellectual work, so I truly appreciate the time this must have taken.)
* Ethan Iverson gave the book some love, both on the DoTheMath site (“covers an exceptionally wide turf; indeed, I can't think of reading a previous book that glosses jazz, classical, and pop in equal measure and with equal conviction”) and on Twitter:
Read Andrew Durkin's (@uglyrug) new book DECOMPOSITION today. Fun and provocative; much food for thought. http://t.co/CokeMam74E
— Ethan Iverson (@ethan_iverson) December 4, 2014
As I remarked in my response to Ethan: that may be the first time anyone has called the book “fun”!
* * * * *Given the book’s polemic, I have been pondering how to respond to the criticism that has emerged alongside the praise (sometimes from the same critic). I've been a little hesitant, honestly. Aside from the trouble it takes to formulate a response—I’d much rather be spending that on new projects—doing so also runs the risk of seeming unseemly. After all, it’s a reader’s prerogative to read the way she reads. And a thoughtful writer always has to be comfortable with the possibility of miscommunication.
One of Decomposition’s troublesome aspects is that Durkin bases many of his arguments on a set of assumptions that he positions as universals about listening. For instance, he writes: “We have become accustomed to focusing on the end result of musical production as if that’s all there is to it.” Similarly, he pronounces: “There has been a great deal of anxiety about how we value music—but also what music means . . . and even what it is.”
* Heyling is wrong that I don’t cite Benjamin, however. I cite him twice.