The Perfect Sound: A Memoir in Stereo

Pantheon. Feb. 2022. 544p. ISBN 9780375425066. $30. MEMOIR
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.
VERDICT 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.
Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing