August 3, 2010 · 6:26 pm
The Unwanted Sound of Everything We Want: A Book About Noise by Garret Keizer (Public Affairs, $27.95, 385 pages)
“Lou Reed’s (music) is not noise; Gregorian Chant piercing my bathroom wall is.”
This is a highly entertaining and sometimes annoying survey account of noise around the world and its impact on humans. Garret Keizer occasionally cites relevant points, such as that one’s reaction to noise is often tied to personal factors. If I’m married to a professional pilot, the noise from the nearby airport does not bother me the way it troubles my neighbors. (Human transportation remains the number one noisemaker around the world.) He also notes, importantly, that we do not become “used to” noise, and that its damage to our ears is all too permanent.
But Keizer also includes considerable material of little relevance that seems to be an attempt to justify his travels around the globe in the guise of doing research for this book. Is he serious about discussing the noise made by foreign sex workers? Keizer also makes one whopper of a questionable pronouncement, which is that noise is something imposed on us against our will. If we enjoy something, such as rock music, it is not noise. Nonsense. I love Live at Leeds by The Who but played at any volume it remains noise, even if a joyful one.
This compilation of random thoughts and scientifically based findings on noise is interesting but meandering. The editor was missing in action.
This review was written by Joseph Arellano. Reprinted courtesy of Sacramento Book Review.
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May 3, 2010 · 6:46 pm
Wide Awake: A Memoir of Insomnia by Patricia Morrisroe (Spiegel & Grau, $25.00, 266 pages)
Insomnia, a very serious subject for anyone afflicted by it, is given star treatment by veteran writer Patricia Morrisroe as she describes her quest for enough good-quality sleep. The reader is brought up to date with a bit of family history, including her mom’s sleep problems, the terrors of Catholic school, and the remarkable fact that her grandfather – though he suffered from tinnitus – escaped insomnia. Morrisroe delivers her tale in an enjoyable, chatty tone that she no doubt cultivated when writing for Vanity Fair and Vogue. In this, her book is reminiscent of Lee Eisenberg’s Shoptimism.
Morrisroe illustrates her experiences related to sleep, or the lack thereof, with descriptions of the professional services of a psychologist, a psychiatrist and psychopharmacologist – who knew there was such a profession? She even went so far as to gladly embrace the notion of jet lag with the hope it would bring relief at the journey’s end.
Because sleep deprivation has taken on the image of an American affliction, drug manufacturers have geared up production of sleep potions with names like Lunesta and Rozerem. This book includes a survey of this category of drugs, how they are perceived and how they worked, or did not, for the author.
This review was written by Ruta Arellano. Reprinted courtesy of Sacramento Book Review.
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Tagged as A Memoir of Insomnia, book review, books, Catholic schools, insomnia, jet lag, Joseph's Reviews, Lee Eisenberg, Lunesta, memoirs, Patricia Morrisroe, psychiatrists, psychologists, psychopharmacologists, Rozerem, Ruta Arellano, Shoptimism, sleep, sleep deprivation, sleep studies, Spiegel & Grau, survey book, tinnitus, Vanity Fair, Vogue, Wide Awake