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An American original: Family access shed light on the genuis, enigma that was Thelonious Monk

Robin D.G. Kelley is nothing if not determined. It took him 14 years, from inception to publication, to write “Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original,” the definitive biography of the eccentric, gifted jazz pianist (1917-1982).

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CHINABERRY SIDEWALKS: Rodney Crowell's story of battles, redemption and the bonds of family blood

Rodney Crowell spent the past 40 years learning his way around the music business. Early in his career, he toured with Emmy Lou Harris. Country music superstars like Lee Ann Womack (“Ashes by Now”), Keith Urban (“Making Memories of Us”) and George Strait and Jimmy Buffett (“Stars on the Water”) have covered his tunes. He writes songs with Guy Clark. He played in a band, The Cherry Bombs, with the likes of Vince Gill and Tony Brown.

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Don’t believe everything a publicist tells you

When I was asked for an interview with Tana French, the talented author of “A Faithful Place,” a publisher’s representative politely replied, saying  French was working on a new book, with no time to chat.

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Nora Ephron jumps the shark: No laughs left in her pen

There was a time when Nora Ephron was one of the funniest writers around. She wrote the screenplays for “When Harry Met Sally,” “You’ve Got Mail,” “Sleepless in Seattle,” for Pete’s sake.

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Patrick Swayze tells his story

Patrick Swayze (1952-2009), the much beloved star of “Dirty Dancing” and “Ghost,” died too soon, but he lived a grand and glorious life. He battled demons, to be sure, but he had the chance to live his dream.

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