Critics' Picks: Diana Athill's memoir; 'Fire it Up'; 'New Voices 13'
Three things Seattle Times writers love this week: Diana Athill's memoir "Somewhere Towards the End," based on nine-plus decades of life; "Fire it Up" by raspy-voiced soul singer Johnny Reid; and the "New Voices 13" musical-theater extravaganza.
'Somewhere Towards the End'
Diana Athill, a longtime London editor whose writers included Jean Rhys and V.S. Naipaul, has written some terrific books since she retired at 75. Her 2008 memoir is a sly and lucid meditation on what her passions and priorities were as she was pushing 90. "Somewhere" takes on sex, death, gardening, writing, art, driving, illness, morale and religion (or the lack of it) as they look when you have nine decades behind you. Her spry and irreverent common sense and candor make for an invigorating read throughout. And she's still going strong at 94, publishing two books last year.
Michael Upchurch, Seattle Times arts writer
'Fire it Up'
So I'm at a country music festival, and this Scottish guy from Canada comes out singing soul music. Huh? But even crazier, he's one of the best things I hear all day. Johnny Reid is the real deal — a blue-eyed, raspy-voiced soul singer in the tradition of Van Morrison, Eric Burdon and Joe Cocker — with a little Otis Redding tossed in for sweetening. Reid's already huge in Canada (he moved there when he was 13), and it's only a matter of time before he breaks in the U.S. Check out "Fire It Up." If you're sitting down, you won't be for long.
Paul de Barros, Seattle Times music critic
'New Voices 13'
Maybe you've seen them in action at the Village Theatre or the 5th Avenue, Balagan Theatre or ACT. On Monday, some of Seattle's musical-theater finest will be on the bill to perform songs by up-and-coming stage composers in this year's edition of the crowd-pleaser annual concert, presented by Brandon Ivie's Contemporary Classics. The roster this time around includes Vicki Noon, Eric Ankrim, Don Darryl Rivera and a whole lot more talent, both fresh and seasoned. 7:30 and 10 p.m. Monday at Erickson Theatre Off-Broadway, Seattle (800-838-3006 or www.brownpapertickets.com).
Misha Berson, Seattle Times theater critic