Recent book reviews: Antiques and Los Romeros

Selling Dead People’s Things by Duane Scott Cerny. 5/5.
An engaging, witty, and often poignant memoir of life in the selling business. Cerny began dealing in desired goods at a young age, thanks to his dad’s connections to Playboy magazine, and from there developed the famous BAM in Chicago, an antiques shop full of wonders and delights, particularly mid-century modern furniture. Cerny tells tales of pieces he bought and sold, pieces he couldn’t buy, and pieces he couldn’t wait to get rid of–the later category including a variety of haunted objects.

My only quarrel with the book is the cover design. I’d give this book to everyone I know who’s ever been interested in collecting, old stuff, or Chicago history, but the gruesome cover will be a turn off to a lot of potential readers.

Los Romeros by Walter Aaron Clark. 1/5.
I had hoped, given the author’s status as a scholar, that this would be a thoughtful and in-depth study of Los Romeros, their playing and commissioning, and their role in the changing American musical landscape of the mid-twentieth century. I was disappointed. The book is a collection of anecdotes and non-sequiturs, accompanied by long lists (every fruit i the village market, etc.). The writing is florid and uncritical, and surprisingly superficial. The author uses ableist language and, despite a note in the preface about how he treats the term “Gypsy,” still engages in stereotypes about the Roma. Fans who are interested in trivia about the Romeros may enjoy this, but I expect more from a scholarly author publishing with a university press.

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