A Ship Without A Sail: Book summary and reviews of A Ship Without A Sail by Gary Marmorstein

A Ship Without A Sail

The Life of Lorenz Hart

by Gary Marmorstein

A Ship Without A Sail by Gary Marmorstein X
A Ship Without A Sail by Gary Marmorstein
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  • Published in USA  Jul 2012
    544 pages
    Genre: Biography/Memoir

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Book Summary

"Blue Moon," "Where or When," "The Lady Is a Tramp," "My Funny Valentine," "Isn't It Romantic?," "My Romance," "There's a Small Hotel," "Falling in Love with Love," "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered" - lyricist Lorenz Hart, together with composer Richard Rodgers, wrote some of the most memorable songs ever created. More than half a century after their collaboration ended, Rodgers & Hart songs are indispensable to the repertoire of nightclub singers everywhere. A Ship Without a Sail is the story of the complicated man who was Lorenz Hart.

His lyrics spin with brilliance and sophistication, yet at their core is an unmistakable wistfulness. The sweetness of "My Romance" and "Isn't It Romantic?" is unsurpassed in American song, but Hart's lyrics could also be cynical, funny, ironic. He brought a unique wit and elegance to popular music.

Larry Hart and Richard Rodgers wrote approximately thirty Broadway musicals and dozens of songs for Hollywood films. At least four of their musicals - On Your Toes, Babes in Arms, The Boys from Syracuse, and Pal Joey - have become classics. But despite their prodigious collaboration, Rodgers and Hart were an odd couple. Rodgers was precise, punctual, heterosexual, handsome, and eager to be accepted by Society. Hart was barely five feet tall, alcoholic, homosexual, and more comfortable in a bar or restaurant than anywhere else. Terrified of solitude, he invariably threw the party and picked up the check. His lyrics are all the more remarkable considering that he never sustained a romantic relationship, living his entire life with his mother, who died only months before he died at age forty-eight.

Gary Marmorstein's revelatory biography includes many of the lyrics that define Hart's legacy - those clever, touching stanzas that still move us or make us laugh.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. A vivid panorama of pre-WWII musical theater and the efflorescence of Jewish-American tune - and word-smithing that created it. Marmorstein's take on his subject's life feels like a Rodgers and Hart show, nicely balanced between exhilarating spectacle and pithy revelations of character." - Publishers Weekly

"Brings a new dimension to so many familiar songs." - Booklist

"Though not a complete replacement of Frederick Nolan's 1994 Lorenz Hart: A Poet on Broadway, which is based on extensive oral interviews, Marmorstein's book has the advantage of copyright permission to reprint many Hart lyrics (which was denied to Nolan). This book is a worthy addition to the literature on the great American songbook." - Library Journal

"Starred Review. A deeply sympathetic biography of Lorenz Hart, the talented, troubled lyricist of film and Broadway fame. Marmorstein has done an enormous service for fans of stage and movie musicals of the early decades of the 20th century... 'Ev'rything I've got belongs to you,' goes one Hart lyric that now, thanks to the author's thorough, affectionate research, holds another, profoundly poignant meaning." - Kirkus Reviews

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Author Information

Gary Marmorstein

Gary Marmorstein is the author of Hollywood Rhapsody and The Label, and has written about film, theater, and popular music for The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, and Stagebill, among many other publications.

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