Farrar, Straus and Giroux (Byr): Vroom! by Barbara McClintock

Out Loud

Mark Morris's Out Loud is a "memoir not a cookbook." He "can't tell you the recipe exactly," but is masterful at describing the ingredients that influence his career as one of the world's foremost choreographers. Morris's influences are many and complex. He asked to flamenco at nine and at 10 won a guest role with Bolshoi Ballet. He loved The Lawrence Welk Show, opera, country music and the traditions and religious mythologies of cultures worldwide. His talent took root at a young age--he improvised shows in his Seattle living room and listened to musical pieces over and over again to decode them.

Inspiration intertwined with Morris's humor (battle-strengthened by the "queer humiliation" of junior high), style ("old men's overcoats and a different rhinestone brooch" every day), brash defiance and sense of self to form the foundation of his multi-faceted style. He beautifully exhibits these traits in Out Loud, which feels like a Morris composition--movements within movements, fits and flows, taken together to form an entrancing and hilarious whole.

Unsurprisingly, Morris is a superb storyteller. In addition to his many professional accomplishments (Mark Morris Dance Group, White Oak Dance Project, numerous awards and honorary doctorates) and high-profile collaborators (Mikhail Baryshnikov, Yo-Yo Ma), Morris shares his private life, friendships, delightful family lore and laugh-out-loud asides (how a bidet formed "the fountainhead of [a] lifelong obsession with water features"). One need not comprehend dance to appreciate Morris's impact or be a devotee to give this work a standing ovation. --Lauren O'Brien of Malcolm Avenue Review