Reviewed by Christopher Zoukis
Speaking of August Kleinzahler – and even if we weren’t, we should be – did you know that Kleinzahler is not only a humdinger of a poet, but also a dilly of a musicologist? The man who wrote Sleeping It Off in Rapid City also wrote Music: I – LXXIV.
Music is about likes and dislikes. Specifically, what Kleinzahler likes and dislikes as far as music is concerned. Music is also about personalities. The personalities, or lack thereof, of the music makers, and, at the same time, the personality and delightful eccentricities of Kleinzahler himself, who is sui generis.
The first essay in Music provides the reader with a taste of what’s to come. Entitled simply ‘Music I’, it’s about Liberace, who, the reader is informed, was born Wladziu Valentino Liberace. A musical prodigy, Liberace not only had a photographic memory, he was also – very obviously – gay. And as Kleinzahler puts it, “He was outrageously gay and campy and funny when homosexuality didn’t even seem to exist in the United States. In short, he was being very, very bad and getting away with it.”