Having mentioned Alex Ross’ book The Rest Is Noise a couple of times here, I was interested to see that it features as this week’s Book of the Week on Radio 4 (details and Listen Again here). The possibly puzzling title is dealt with in the first few moments. It concerns our relationship with 20th Century music – the classical component of which remains problematic for many listeners. I’m sure the same sad state of affairs obtains, although to a lesser extent, in the visual arts, literature, dance etc. There seems to be something about sound which brings out the conservative in many of us.
I yet to read this read this book but have to admit to having being impressed by Alex Ross’ demeanour at the 2008 Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction. One of six finalists, he looked genuinely delighted for Kate Summerscale whose book, The Suspicions of Mr Whicher: or The Murder at Road Hill House won the award.