Small presses like Pressed Wafer do not normally publish books by writers of August Kleinzahler’s stature. The essays in Music originally appeared as a music column in the San Diego Weekly Reader. Their reach is enormous: Thelonious Monk, Liberace, Bach, Hildegarde Knef, Dinah Washington, Rudy Van Gelder, Erik Satie, Muddy Waters, the Louvin Brothers … what Big Ears you have Mr. Kleinzahler!
When the column came to an end Kleinzahler thought he might have a book in hand but didn’t know what to do with it. He did not think his poetry publisher, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, was ready to publish a big book by a poet who had only begun to make his reputation as an essayist. Since Kleinzahler was a Pressed Wafer subscriber he thought of PW and the result is Music. For the book Kleinzahler revised his columns and added new material. Music is the only Pressed Wafer title to date to have been reviewed in the TLS. Published in 2009, it sells like a “slow nickel”, drummer Art Blakey’s term for the royalties generated by the sale of jazz records.
Cris Mattison designed this book. French flaps? Absolutely. Cris’s best design for Pressed Wafer rivaled only by George Scialabba’s What Are Intellectuals Good For? and W.S. DiPiero’s When Will I See You Again?