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Forum nameReading Challenges, 2010
Topic subjectPops: A Life of Louis Armstrong by Terry Teachout
Topic URLhttp://www.fmwriters.com/community/dc/dcboard.php?az=show_topic&forum=505&topic_id=469&mesg_id=1121
1121, Pops: A Life of Louis Armstrong by Terry Teachout
Posted by tianne, Sun Dec-26-10 02:27 PM
A very different kind of biography from No Name on the Bullet. Don Graham's book made me want to argue with him constantly-about his stylistic choices, about his attitude towards his subject and towards his subject's world.

Terry Teachout, by contrast, is a smooth, meticulous stylist who knows comparatively a lot about jazz, Louis Armstrong and his world and wants to share it with nonspecialist readers like me. He's careful to emphasize also how much we don't know about this world, and how difficult it is to truly understand some parts of what we do know. He also likes his subject, and treats him in a respectful but not too "fannish" way, noting Armstrong's failed marriages, ability to hold a grudge and marijuana use in a neutral, fairly nonjudgmental way that allows the readers to make up their own minds.

Plus it's about a famously cheerful man who refused to let hardship or discrimination get him down, who successfully made a living over a long, full life by doing something he loved and was extraordinarily good at. So it ends up being a very mellow, comfortable sort of read.