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What Is It All but Luminous

Notes from an Underground Man
Narrated by: Art Garfunkel
Length: 5 hrs and 8 mins
3 out of 5 stars (29 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

From the golden-haired, curly-headed half of Simon & Garfunkel - a memoir (of sorts): artful, moving, lyrical; the making of a musician; the evolution of a man, a portrait of a lifelong friendship and collaboration that became one of the most successful singing duos of their time.

Art Garfunkel writes about his life before, during, and after Simon & Garfunkel...about their folk-rock music in the roiling age that embraced and was defined by their path-breaking sound. He writes about growing up in the 1940s and '50s (son of a traveling salesman), a middle class Jewish boy, living in a red brick semi-attached house in Kew Gardens, Queens, a kid who was different - from the age of five feeling his vocal cords "vibrating with the love of sound"...meeting Paul Simon in school, the funny guy who made Art laugh; their going on to junior high school together, of being 12 at the birth of rock 'n' roll, both of them "captured" by it; going to a recording studio in Manhattan to make a demo of their song "Hey Schoolgirl" (for $7!) and the actual record (with Paul's father on bass) going to number 40 on the national charts, selling 150,000 copies....

He writes about their becoming Simon & Garfunkel, taking the world by storm, ruling the pop charts from the time he was 16, about not being a natural performer but more a thinker...touring; sex-for-thrills on the road, reading or walking to calm down (walking across two continents - the USA and Europe). He writes of being an actor working with directors Nicolas Roeg (Bad Timing) and Mike Nichols ("the greatest of them all")...getting his master's in mathematics at Columbia; choosing music over a PhD; his slow, unfolding split with Paul and its aftermath; learning to perform on his own, giving a thousand concerts worldwide, his voice going south (a stiffening of one vocal cord) and working to get it back...about being a husband, a father, and much more.

©2017 Art Garfunkel (P)2017 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"Garfunkel reveals flashes of real insight about the transcendent power of music and the inner workings of a singer's life." (Publishers Weekly)

"Garfunkel's writing is a lot like lyrics, filled with rhymes and meant for the ear. His soft voice gives his words a gentle rhythm.... Garfunkel's stream-of-consciousness style is enjoyable from the beginning and becomes even better as it goes along and listeners get into the rhythm of his life." (AudioFile)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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Accept This Book For What It Is...and Isn't

I'm reviewing the Audible version. I knew what I was in for when I saw him in concert in Plymouth, MA in June 2017. His voice, once so perfect, was now a 'work in progress' as Art said. But given his age and accepting of the limitations of time the concert was fine. But...in between songs he would quote some of the rambling passages from this book. 'So there I was, drinking my freshly squeezed..lah, de, dah, de dah.' on and on nonsense. It was uncomfortable and he came across so full of himself it was insufferable at times. But...his voice brings back so many memories, as flawed as it may be in spots by age, use and health.

So why buy the Audible book? I wanted to hear 'the voice' in the cohesiveness of the book with an open mind instead of snippets and to see if his poetic style might grow on me...and it did...to a degree. Sure, would have preferred an autobiography. Nonetheless, like I said, I knew what I was buying unlike some others and it has grown on me a bit since I was coming at it a bit differently. But I warn you, accept this as a poetic wondering of thoughts that don't necessarily tie together and from someone that has a high opinion of himself. This is not for everyone. As a long time fan I was aware of Art's personality and when you like someone you accept them as they are. No one likes everything about everyone.

I love Art and the songs I grew up on take me back to a special time that is long gone. Art made amazing songs more so with his talent. To try and figure how he sees the world and his life within it through this book is a challenge but I still mostly liked it. His biggest fault would seem to be lack of humility. But the great ones often suffer from a big ego without which they wouldn't have had the confidence to become the beloved talent that they rose to. Sooooo...I liked the book. Sometimes a lot. It has grown on me. But I started off as a big fan for whom Art's voice brings back magical memories and I was aware of his ego. In print or with another reader I know I would not have enjoyed it as much.

Please do not buy this book expecting an autobiography and then trash it with a bad review. It isn't an autobiography - understand what it is going in. I would recommend the Audible version which makes it easier to like as it comes across much better than on paper. Listen to a sample online.

I give bonus points for Art being himself and putting out the book that HE wanted. Don't be offended by the bad reviews Art. Take it as as a complement. They love you and wanted an autobiography. They needed a better understanding of what this book was about first.The autobiography will come later.

13 of 13 people found this review helpful

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Poetry from a friend

Any additional comments?

When I heard Art Garfunkel had a new book, and when I found out it was available as an audio book read by the author, I saved it. As soon as it came out, I listened to it twice. It was surreal and deep, and an opportunity to get into the mind of one of the iconic musicians of our generation. The book is a masterpiece, extremely personal and revealing of Garfunkel's soul. If you're not a fan already, you might have trouble getting into it. But if you're open to the mind of a poet - you might enjoy meeting him through this book.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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How lucky are we...

...that this gifted writer also narrated his great work of musings and streams of consciousness. If you are searching for a chronological account of the S&G historical timeline, from the man whose voice and musical direction made S&G the success that it was, keep searching...this isn’t it. However, if you can recognize that instead we have been presented a gift of a more personal, insightful perspective of this musical genius’ most intimate thoughts on his whole experience as an artist, and even more special, as a human being, then consider that you have stumbled upon a fortune.

His prose is absolutely beautiful (though I might expect no less from someone who is ridiculously well-read). I might even wonder what additional powerful works may have been born under the S&G moniker, had he felt empowered to contribute as a lyricist/poet as well.

I probably was born 40 years too late to really be a part of his generation, but S&G’s body of work, and Art’s contribution to it, is so timeless, (and unfortunately, the state of our country continues to disillusion us as much as it did in the 60s) that I’m grateful to be able to find meaning in it yet.

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Yawn

Boring introspective hippie monologue. Wanted to hear stories about the music. Perhaps they come later but I had to quit.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Pompous

Not sure why Paul Simon stop working with Garfunkel But it could’ve been from boredom can anybody be more pompous more verbal more vague more ridiculous

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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A book of poetry

Once I understood this was not really an autobiography I thoroughly enjoyed the poetry and eccentricity of Art Garfunkel.
I found many of insights profound and a book worth listening to again.

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bad

this is the worst book and presentation I have ever purchased. do not recommend this to anyone. listened to the whole book hoping it would get better. a waste of tims

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Paul
  • Dorchester, MA, United States
  • 11-09-17

pretty poorly written

returned it before finishing, stream of consciousness making little sense , started off ok but quickly deteriorated.

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  • Cybermatt18
  • 07-08-18

Thank goodness Simon wrote the lyrics...

Self-indulgent tosh. One of the few audiobooks I haven't been able to finish, no matter how special it might be to hear the text in the author's now frail voice. No matter too how erudite and well-read the author might be the constant self-aggrandising is painful. If you are expecting a simple chronological narrative look elsewhere. This is stream of consciousness, wandering drivel. The pain of loss if off-set by the winging and envy.

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  • Ali G.
  • 03-12-18

An absorbing ‘listen to read’

The fact that Art Garfunkel is reading his own memoir adds a further dimension to this absorbing ‘listen to’ read. It is brave in its honesty, and revealingly idiosyncratic and complex in its construction. It offers a real insight into the man along with a true sense of his personal journey. Definitely to be recommended – I will be listening to it again!