Emma Brockes didn't always love musicals. One of her most painful childhood memories is of her mother singing "The Hills Are Alive" while young Emma crossed the street en route to a babysitting gig. Mum said the music would keep muggers at bay. Emma found it warded off friends, a social life, and any chance of appearing normal.
Some people would slice off their arm with a plastic knife before they'd sit through Fiddler on the Roof or The Sound of Music. But musicals are everywhere, and it's about time someone asked why. Emma Brockes firmly believes that, in this world, our lives might be much better lived to a Broadway score. Smartly written and incredibly witty, What Would Barbra Do? is part memoir, part musical history tour, and, at its heart, the touching story of a daughter, a mother, and how musicals kept them together. It will have you laughing and singing.
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Emma Brockes is an award-winning writer at the UK Guardian. She studied English at Oxford University, where she edited Cherwell, the student newspaper, and won the Philip Geddes Prize for journalism. In 2001 she was named Young Journalist of the Year at the British Press Awards. In 2002 she was voted Feature Writer of the Year, one of the youngest-ever recipients of the award. What Would Barbra Do? is her first book. She lives in London.From Publishers Weekly:
Londoner Brockes, a 29-year-old playwright who writes for the Guardian, expounds on her love of musicals. When she was younger, she pretended to like the music her friends listened to, but she had inherited a fascination for musicals, both stage and film, from her mother. Off to college in 1994, she and her friend Adi became a "movement of two," listening to such recordings as Hits from the Blitz: The Best of Vera Lynn, periodically holding "Yentl and Lentil" evenings and creating play lists in which "any musical made post-1971 was automatically thrown out as unworthy." Analyzing her Golden Age favorites, she writes with wit and verve about everything from musical-haters, the flops of Rodgers and Hammerstein and the "secret language" of Mary Poppins to Esther Williams ("a sort of Bette Davis of the high diving board") and Funny Face ("a man woos a woman by undermining her theories of French existentialism with the rival philosophy 'think pink' "). A chapter on the five musicals "that stand the best chance of converting a hostile male audience to the charms of the genre" is delightful. Her passion is so contagious that this entertaining musical memoir, rambling and clever, might also be capable of creating converts. (May 1)
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