Hongo’s memoir mixes audiophile obsession and cultural history to provide a warm resonance of human relationships to recorded music and voices; will find an eager audience.

The new memoir by award-winning poet Hongo (The Mirror Diary) combines family, poetry, Buddhism, and stereo equipment in a heady account of the audiophile’s attempt to find the truest note, along with a history of recorded music. One could approach the memoir as an exploration of the relationship between music and poetry, the craft (techne) and the speech (logos), but that leaves little space for the machines that now reflect “technology.” The stereo equipment that crowds this lengthy memoir traces Hongo’s obsession with finding the right sound for recordings of opera, jazz, and other genres. He also shares his personal influences, from movie directors to musicians, and what led him to pursue a career studying sound. Hongo writes that sounds have helped him make sense of life—his childhood in Hawai‘i, where he listened to his parents’ records; and his work as a poet, where he enjoys the solitude of writing.

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