cover image Treasure Hunt: A New York Times Reporter Tracks the Quedlinburg Hoard

Treasure Hunt: A New York Times Reporter Tracks the Quedlinburg Hoard

Donald Clarke, William H. Honan. Fromm International, $24.95 (304pp) ISBN 978-0-88064-174-6

Clarke (The Penguin Encyclopedia of Popular Music) points out in this unusual bio that Sinatra's ""control over himself as an artist was too absolute to allow him fully to be a jazz singer."" A similar restraint pervades Clarke's sentimental portrait of a singer the author grew up listening to and admiring--sometimes the book swings, but mostly it croons. Clarke seems to take every opportunity to mildly chide Sinatra for his infamous shortcomings--including his hero-worship of gangsters and lifelong promiscuity--almost like a savvy lover who does not want to inflate his mate's ego. When Clarke does briefly improvise, however, he does so beautifully, as when he suddenly inserts into a description of a big Sinatra hit these words: ""`I'll Never Smile Again' was number one when I was born, and my mother never forgot it."" Such statements effectively convey a sense of the time and place in which Sinatra was so important, and they help readers not of that era to understand why Sinatra means so much to so many. Reading page after page of rather tedious descriptions of Sinatra's albums, one wishes Clarke would reminisce more often, that he would perhaps write a memoir to the jumping, lilting rhythms of his beloved Sinatra records. Photos not seen by PW. (Sept.)