The World Got Away: A Memoir

Univ. of Illinois. May 2024. 248p. ISBN 9780252087912. pap. $24.95. MEMOIR
Rouse is a prolific avant-garde composer, director, and musician who first became known for his work in the 1980s NYC music scene. Rouse is best known for his opera trilogy: Dennis Cleveland (about a TV talk show host), Failing Kansas (inspired by Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood about the murder of the Clutter family), and The End of Cinematics (influenced by some of Susan Sontag’s essays). He also established a contemporary chamber ensemble called Mikel Rouse Broken Consort, which produced several albums, including Jade Tiger, Soul Menu, and A Walk in the Woods. Although labeled a memoir, this book offers a presentation of his work rather than a detailed account of his life, although he often refers to episodes in his life in a nonchronological way. For some readers, this roving, stream-of-conscious style may be too intricate, but the book offers scholarly readers some insight about totalism (a reaction to musical minimalism) and the scientific and mathematically based counterpoint, the Schillinger Method of Composition.
VERDICT A detailed account of Rouse’s work that’s also part memoir. The latter is presented nonchronologically, which may be too difficult for some readers to easily follow.
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