Mad Amadeus Sued a Madam

In his preface to this volume, Roger Angell calls Allan Miller “the Dr. Leakey of the two-way whatsit.” We realize that the world of palindrome is probably a bit circumscribed, defined by a narrow band of fanatics who find as much satisfaction in a gem like “Sununu’s tonsil is not Sununu’s” as the civilized would in the discovery of a new planet. But this is a book for both the aficionado and the beginner, a delightful compendium of “a furtive collection of letters which, weirdly and all on its own, resembles itself perfectly when looked at from the other end.”

Expanding on the possibilities inherent in Miller’s often dotty combinations are the dashing and madcap drawings of Lee Lorenz, cartoonist and past art editor of The New Yorker.

This little book is meant to be fun, but it also serves a higher purpose. We’re not entirely sure what that purpose is, but as the author observes, “Our Muse looks after her own: Revere Her Ever.”

Allan Miller has been called “The finest maker of documentary films on music in the U.S.” by the New York Times.

He has produced and directed over 35 films and television programs around the world. He has won two Academy Awards: best Feature Length Documentary for his 1979 film From Mao to Mozart: Isaac Stern in China and best short feature in 1975 with Zubin Mehta and the Los Angeles Philharmonic for The Bolero. Small Wonders, the story of a violin program in the public schools of East Harlem, was nominated for an Academy Award in 1996 and made into a major motion picture starring Meryl Streep. In 2001 he directed The Turandot Project, a documentary about the making of the Puccini opera in Beijing under conductor Zubin Mehta and staged by legendary Chinese filmmaker Zhang Yimou.

In 2010 he directed You Cannot Start Without Me, a film about conductor Valerie Gergiev, following his rehearsals and performances in Russia, the UK, and the Metropolitan Opera in New York. In 2012 he directed I Sing Beijing, a film about young western opera singers in China learning to perform in Mandarin. His most recent film, Speak the Music, explores the life of Robert Mann and his fifty-one years as founding first violinist of the acclaimed Juilliard String Quartet.

For readers of The New Yorker, Lee Lorenz may be one of the most recognizable cartoonists alive today. He was the art editor of the magazine from 1973 to 1993 and the cartoon editor from 1993 to 1997. Over the course of his career, he contributed dozens of covers and nearly two thousand cartoons to the magazine. In addition to his cartoons for The New Yorker, Lorenz works as a freelance illustrator, serves on the boards of several nonprofit organizations that promote art, and plays cornet in a band called The Creole Cookin’ Jazz Band. He lives with his wife in Easton, Connecticut.

Roger Angell is the son of Katharine White, the first fiction editor of The New Yorker, and Ernest Angell, the head of the American Civil Liberties Union, and the stepson of the renowned prosaist E. B. White. This illustrious lineage produced an illustrious heir; Angell is a senior editor at The New Yorker and has written for the magazine for over seventy years, along with publishing a dozen books. The awards he has accumulated during this lengthy career include a George Polk Award for Commentary, a Kenyon Review Award for Literary Achievement, a Michael Braude Award for Light Verse, a PEN/ESPN Lifetime Achievement Award for Literary Sports Writing, and the J. G. Taylor Spink Award, the highest honor given to writers by the Baseball Hall of Fame. Angell has two children and lives in Portland, Oregon.