Tag Archives: Philadelphia

Make Good Art Speech by Neil Gaiman

Make Good Art Speech by Neil Gaiman Title: Make Good Art
Author: Neil Gaiman
Publisher: Headline, Hachette Book Group
ISBN: 9781472207937
Genre: Speech, Non-Fiction
Pages: 80
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 4/5

I picked this book only because of Neil Gaiman. Even though this was just a commencement address made by him in the year 2012 at Philadelphia’s University of the Arts, I knew I would enjoy it immensely and I did. There is something about such speeches that are so positive, that it makes you want to believe in a better world for one and all. I remember feeling the same when I read George Saunder’s speech on kindness in the form of a small book, “Congratulations, By the Way”, and this time it was a speech on making good art, aptly titled, “Making Good Art”.

“Make Good Art” speech is all about making good art and the purpose of art in our lives and generations to come. He encourages all artists – from painters to writers to musicians, to do just one thing – break all barriers and think out of the box (I know it is clichéd but it works) and make good art. That is all there is to it.

The book is a small one and doesn’t take time to finish, however, for the words to seep in, especially if you are an artist, means that you have read and reread it. You have to be one with what Gaiman says and the advice he dispenses. I love Chip Kidd’s illustrations and the ones that he does in this book, just blend effortlessly with Gaiman’s words.

“Make Good Art” is for everyone out there who have wanted to create something. It is about successes and failures and how it will not be an easy road every time you decide to create art. “Make Good Art” is perfect to be gifted to one who is confused about what he or she should do in life. It is a read for all of us.

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2 A.M. at the Cat’s Pajamas by Marie-Helene Bertino

2 A.M. at the Cat's Pajamas by Marie-Helene Bertino Title: 2 A.M. at the Cat’s Pajamas
Author: Marie-Helene Bertino
Publisher: Crown
ISBN: 978-0804140232
Genre: Literary Fiction
Pages: 272
Source: Blog For Books/Publisher
Rating: 5/5

This is one of those books that stun you. They take you by surprise and you do not really know what got into you. You do know that you loved reading it and cannot stop talking about it to people. “2 A.M. at the Cat’s Pajamas” is a book that demands your attention and once it has it, it does not let go, till you have finished the book.

I remember reading about this book somewhere and I so wanted to read it and when I did, I fell in love with it. Marie-Helene Bertino writes with such simplicity and makes you want to believe in all things nice and hopeful. Her characters are despairing, but never let go of hope and what it takes to be alive. There are odd moments in the book and yet what they only do is uplift you.

“2 A.M. at the Cat’s Pajamas” is a magical story. It is a story of three lives, colliding by coincidence; chance, by serendipity on Christmas Eve eve. The action takes place in Philadelphia. We all know how a city becomes a character in so many books and it is the same in this one as well.

There is a nine-year old Madeleine, who has recently lost her mother. She is clueless in the world. She smokes (yes for a nine-year old, I was taken aback but then got in the groove of the book). She wants to sing. She is obsessed with Jazz. At the end of the spectrum is her teacher, Sarina, who is recently divorced and something is soon going to happen to her. The third character is Lorca, the owner of The Cat’s Pajamas – a legendary jazz club, which is soon going to slip away from him. These three characters come together to discover love, life, happiness and hope.

The characters that meet each other in the course of a day and night are marvelous. There are other characters as well besides these three that add to the plot and drive the story forward. What struck me the most about the book is the honest voice in which it is written. The book is told from the third-person perspective and rounds up every emotion and scene very well. Bertino sets the story in such a way that everything is told or not told till 2 A.M, which in more than one way is the crux of the book.

“2 A.M. at the Cat’s Pajamas” is a charming, little book that makes you reinstate hope. As these three go through the day, and you with them as a reader, your spirits are lifted, you smile and laugh with them and feel a sense of melancholy when they are sad. Sometimes, it is also necessary for a book to have those brilliant fantastical moments (like Mark Helprin’s books do) to reinforce the magic of living. “2 A.M. at the Cat’s Pajamas” is a perfect book for the time when you are down and about.